The White Queen: War at First Hand, Review

“War at First Hand” reshuffles the deck in The White Queen’s game of thrones.

After weeks of wedding planning, The White Queen moves onto the battle fields and into the bedrooms to spill royal blood and reshuffle the deck in their game of Go Fish. Okay, I’ve said hinted at it before, I’m not exactly a Game of Thrones fanatic, but for some people it is heroin for fantasy fans. The White Queen is methadone for Game of Thrones junkies. It keeps them going during the dry spell between seasons but it doesn’t have the kick. It doesn’t give that high.

“War at First Hand” opens in France in 1470. This gave me hope, until Anne Neville (Juliet Aubrey) started talking and the first thing that came out of her mouth was they were going back to England. The Bad Queen Margaret of Anjou (Veerle Baetens) assures Anne that the captain says it is safe and Anne says “with a knife at his throat” or neck, can’t read my notes. I complained about the lack of humor in The White Queen before and I was reminded by her line reading. Not all wit comes from words and here was a line that could have dripped with anything but pure pleading. The high that Game of Throne junkies chase is that the actors will squeeze whatever they can out of the words they’re given. The writers count on that. I understand that The White Queen is fraught with terror and threat and historic intrigue, but a little subtly goes a long way.

The White Queen is set in desperate times, but every scene is played as if it might just be the last scene they play out in life. When Jacquetta (Janet McTeer), Elizabeth’s mother, comes to give news and make plans it’s all made to feel like they should be packing suitcases or something. There’s no down time. The rubber band is always stretching, it never takes flight. But at least they were up to no good. It’s good to see witches at work. They could work a little harder at it. I mean, they don’t have to go into a full ritual, but throwing a piece of paper into a fire? I could do that. I guess you get out of it what you put into it, because ultimately their magickal working isn’t going to work out in the long run.

George (David Oakes) and Eddie (Max Irons) patch things up after George promises to set Warwick (James Frain) up for slaughter. Eddie goes back home to Westminster to see his son before he goes back off for another battle. Oh, he also gets to see his wife, Elizabeth (Rebecca Ferguson). For a man in love like Eddie is, there’s something missing. He was supposed to be nuts about her, but he barely looks at his queen. Elizabeth is always looking at Edward with love. Looking into his eyes at all times, but not our Eddie. He’s always looking around for something that’s just over her shoulder. I get it when he was looking to see his son, but when she mounts him on the eve of battle he’s checking the ceiling to see what needs spackling.

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Lady Margaret Beaufort (Amanda Hale) has been righteously eye-fucking Jasper since he got on the scene. She won’t screw her husband, Henry, or anyone else for that matter, but she’s got some serious fantasy role-play going on in her head every time she looks at him. Henry’s getting ready to go to battle, for the other side. He’s really not happy to see Prince Henry (Michael Marcus) be made King. And could you blame him? The family he married into is crazy. But in White Queen crazy is a relative thing. All their relatives are out of their minds with something. You don’t really know who to root for or who to care for. They all have such a disregard for each other. They’re barely in the same room sometimes. Half the characters only hear what they want to hear and the other half are talking into the wind. When Henry is on his death bed and says hang on, I can’t really sign off on the whole Prince Henry thing, Maggie zips off for a quick goodbye, before catching him mid-death rattle. However, kudos on the death rattle. You don’t hear those that often on TV. Most TV deaths are loud.

King Edward does a sneak attack while Kingmaker Warwick is rallying his troops for the battle of Barnet. Warwick is almost whipping his army into a frenzy, doing his best British Vince Lombardi when Eddie chops them all off at the knees. That’s where it looks like when they off Warwick, that they got him right above the knees. But he’s dead and his daughter, Anne, in desperate mourning, basically says `fuck mummy I’m going off with the fostering pestle that raped me and his wretched mother who hates me because, well, maybe I can give birth to a king.’

And maybe that king will be suffocated in his sleep with his own pillow.

Den of Geek Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars


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3 out of 5