The White Queen episode (1×10) “The Final Battle” – TVAD Award Revealed

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The White Queen 110 Margaret Beaufort

The White Queen draws to a close with some excellent performances… but the very best is a performer who has already earned this accolade once before!

In my article about episode 8, I expressed my dismay as to why some critics have not taken to her portrayal. It seems that fans have spent more time asking whether she is pregnant than just sitting down and appreciating a very complex but highly skilled performance. She proves it in every single episode – I was tempted to select her every single week! – but this episode is one of her absolute finest hours. The only two-time TVAD Award winner from The White Queen! Yes, for her incredible turn as Lady Margaret Beaufort, the Red Queen, the TVAD Award for Best Performance goes to Amanda Hale!

OB-ZB123_beaufo_G_20130925181650“I’ve lost my appetite.”

She’s been a multifaceted villain for nine weeks but now, both Hale and the writers understand that it is time for her to just be out and out mean. So she sits in the darkness, plotting, biting out cool replies to her husband, precisely as she should. The stakes must be raised – it’s episode 10, it’s all about the scale – and that is achieved thanks to Hale.

In the banquet scene she continues the performance she has built up for weeks. Brooding and elegantly spoken, Amanda Hale has never made us turn against her in spite of her villainy. She does constrained emotion very well, her face trembling with the strain of these political scandals and troubles. It is Beaufort’s greatest hits – we even get a return of the hint that she is starving herself that was referred to subtly in early episodes. When Hale flounces out of the room, I as a viewer just want her to flounce back in again!

“You are the monster!”

Margaret Beaufort’s strength of faith is by far the most intriguing thing about her character, and Hale plays it with respect and realism, and a gentle touch of over-devotion. Her divine God’s sign scene from earlier in the series was unforgettable, and she matches that here. Her clashing with Lizzie is excellently played and works well given how much the excellent Freya Mavor (last week’s winner) resembles the White Queen, her mother. They prey side by side with a stilted tension, but Beaufort soon loses that calm assuredness and lunges for the girl’s face. Hale’s performance is primal and affecting, but never pantomime. She still evokes sympathy through her blind conviction even when she’s doing horrible things like that. We end the scene on her shaking hands, and even that is subtly played by Hale. She communicates so easily her internal battles: she’s being ungodly, but she’s doing God’s work. There is a very small hint of madness to Hale’s portrayal of Beaufort, and it’s brilliant.

Her Finest Hour

Her begging Stanley kickstarts a run of exemplary scenes from Amanda Hale at the show’s climax. When she says, for the hundredth time, that it is God’s will that he will be King, she says it with a teary frown on her face, as though she can’t quite believe that anyone doesn’t understand that – such is her own complete faith. And that just sums the entire character up. Her breakdown has been coming for ten weeks, and every last emotion is wrung from it. Her face swells with heartbreak: “I thought I had a calling.” Everything she believed in slips away, and Hale’s face says it all. Her eyes widen almost in the disbelief that she ever believed such a thing.

amandaandhenryforw_2646079b“Let me see him.” Margaret’s reunion with her son was devastatingly sad and beautifully acted. “Are you really here?” he asks her. She doesn’t reply, her face crumpled. “And is God here?”

The horror of the subsequent battle suggests that God wasn’t there. But Margaret is victorious, and it’s euphoric: she was right! Her gasping breaths convey the full sense of relief. That moment would not mean anything to us as viewers unless Hale had worked as tirelessly hard as she has, ensuring we see her as a sympathetic figure, someone to root for. I was definitely rooting for her!

Very rarely is there a cast of characters in a television series in which the vast majority of them really deserve a TVAD Award, and if there had been chance they would have all received them. Amanda Hale completely embodies everything that was so good about the performances in this series, and that is not to say that the series was perfect. She was strong, with conviction and nuances and she developed. Well done all.