The White Queen: Poison and Malmsey Wine, Review

Sibling rivaly almost turns a pillow fight into a war in The White Queen's Poison and Malmsey Wine.

One year later, and of course Elizabeth (Rebecca Ferguson) is pregnant, after all she’s trying to at least tie her mother who had 14 kids. Or is that a curse? The Queen’s maids are all afraid of the witch queen, but they attend to the birth even as she is putting on heirs. Even Margaret (Amanda Hale) wants to be in on the new stillbirth, though she was barred specifically by Elizabeth. But Maggie proves that batshit beats bewitchery as she breathes life into the baby by what looks like pure force of will. Who’s the witch?

“Poison and Malmsey Wine,” the seventh episode of The White Queen, has become a parlor comedy without any laughs (they even blew an opportunity for a stock mother-in-law joke) as all the royal dysfunctional families continue to live under one tower. The claustrophobia causing a kind of castle fever as accusations of witchcraft, curses and the evil eye are thrown around in a deepening brew of inbred insanity. Poison is what everyone believes is in their future and Malmsey Wine is Queen Elizabeth’s favorite wine, given to her by the King of France.

Sibling rivalry kills thousands as these families declared war by sheer whim. Anthony, Elizabeth’s brother sees this and wants nothing else to do with it. He doesn’t see it as the family pillow fight it really is. In this case it is the royal cunt, George (David Oakes), who wants new feathers. He wants to be king, or regent, of France. The petulant ex-prince is jealous because his brothers have each taken a piece of the action. Edward (Max Irons) is king and Richard (Aneurin Barnard) has more titles than Stephen King and all he gets is a T-shirt. Not even a White Castle franchise and it’s the White Queen’s fault because she’s branch manager of the family tree and keeps digging up his roots. 

It’s a shame that The White Queen telegraphs everything so blatantly so often. It robs the show of any kind of suspense. This is a show that should always be holding something back, but it always shows its cards. Early on we know that George is well on his way to a tyrannical tantrum. Where does he get his balls big enough that he would think he’s entitled to anything? He’s turned against his brother twice. He keeps trying to leap frog into a throne. Michael Corleone would have given him a kiss of death episodes ago, but no, not Georgie. He is the family favorite and grew himself a wisp of a kingly beard. Of course he’s plotting with King Louis of France. Do they have to tell us? A little mystery, please, a smidgeon of suspense, something to keep the viewer on its toes, besides mounting corpses and blatant betrayals. We know George is crazy when he pushes whores away. Edward throws money at him and he uses it to buy his own sorcerer.

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Aha, his own sorcerer. Finally something I can latch onto. George hires a certain Mr. Bardett to counteract the magick that Elizabeth has been throwing at him: causing storms and killing babies. My head popped up. A magickal duel. Like in the Roger Corman film The Raven, where Boris Karloff, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre, royalty if ever there was in a film, threw spells at each other from across castle walls as Scarabus, Dr. Craven and Bedlo. They fooled me good. There was no magickal duel, just a downsized, well-hung wizard. And a conveniently poisoned wife, Lady Isabel Neville  (Eleanor Tomlinson).  Anne Neville (Juliet Aubrey) goes on the witch hunt trail.

Witchy hysteria rules the castle as everyone thinks they know who the next victim is. Elizabeth wrote names in blood of the people she cursed. She did it with a quill pen with a black feather and three opals. Give the details. She can’t just be a witch because you say she’s a witch. Let her do some real witchcraft. But I do like the size of George’s balls as he crashes a party in a cheap novelty store mask thrown by the very people who want his head. When he gives it to them, he rises to occasion as the true royal cunt he is as he even gets to spoil King Louis’ gift to Elizabeth by being drowned in it.  Elizabeth should have paid the executioners to switch her fine Malmsey Wine for some cheap Thunderbird. Who’s George gonna tell?

“Poison and Malmsey Wine” was directed by Colin Teague and written by Emma Frost.


Den of Geek Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars


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3 out of 5