The Lion In Winter
2015-12-24, 1:35 p.m.
Well, it’s my first day of vacation, and I am spending it waiting for the mail, which hasn’t come yet. I’m watching a bunch of South Park Christmas specials, which most people probably do not want recapped. Anyway, since I probably won’t have time to update for the day once leave here, I’m going to post a review of something else....
“What family doesn't have its ups and downs?” -Eleanor of Aquitaine
So the other night I decided to watch one of those holiday movies in which the entire family comes for Christmas and tries to kill each other. You know, The Lion in Winter. I’m obsessed with the TV show Empire, which is based off of the show (well, that and Dynasty), so what the heck.
Meet the fighting, feuding Plantagenets! Henry II is king of England, and even though he’s still hale, hearty, and banging his supposed future daughter-in-law at the age of 50, he’s still in need of picking a successor son since his oldest one died. The candidates at bat at are:
Richard, current oldest son and pretty much the most reasonable candidate. Why not this guy? He’s his mother’s favorite and apparently gay (though I’m not sure how much the latter is a problem for his father).
Geoffrey, the middle child, who literally nobody wants in office for some reason. Nobody even MENTIONS him as a possibility, and why not? He’s a sneaky bugger, but then again, so are they all, so what’s the difference? Okay, eventually Henry basically calls him out for being the equivalent of a robot in the 1100’s, that’s why.
John, the baby, who is just the worst. He’s Henry’s favorite, we’re told, but why? He’s utterly putrid and acts like an idiot, even though he claims to have some smarts. Look at how dumb he looks. Seriously, it’s like he’s playing a hunchback a lot of the time for…no reason.
Anyway, it’s the holiday season, and thus Henry lets his very estranged wife Eleanor out of royal prison (which she’s been in for ten years after supporting a rebellion against her husband) for Christmas, but the tree and presents are soon forgotten as Henry and Eleanor alternate between taking pot shots at each other, scheming about their sons, and pledging their eternal love in between their eternal hatred.
Other parties involved in the drama are:
Princess Alais of France: supposedly Richard’s fiancée for SIXTEEN YEARS, currently Henry’s mistress, supposedly mostly got raised by Eleanor as a kid, which is…totally weird for them both. Henry is also making comments about how he’s going to marry her off to John, or just get an annulment and marry her himself… who knows?
King Phillip II of France: visiting for the holidays to tell Henry to shit or get off the pot, i.e. marry her off to Richard or give back the dowry Henry long since already spent. Apparently he and Richard had some kinda thing going on at one point?
Extra bonus points for awkwardness: Eleanor’s first husband was king of France, these are the kids from a later wife of his.
Anyway….in one sense of the word, nothing changes in this show. Eleanor goes back to prison and she and Henry aren’t back together despite their love-hate relationship, Henry’s still not going to actually pursue an annulment or marry Alais off to anyone else or for that matter, pick an heir. It’s a reset and nothing changes.
On the other hand, there’s a lot of eavesdropping behind curtains, scheming with the king of France, declarations of treason, attempted murders, people getting thrown into the basement jail and romantic betrayal. Happy holidays, y’all!
Henry wants (a) Eleanor’s land, the Aquitaine, handed over to John, and (b) an annulment so he can marry Alais and have more sons because he’s fed up with this lot. (Though when he proposes to her, Alais cites what others say in the show: the lives of her kids and her are forfeit when Henry eventually bites it, so what’s the point?) Eleanor is all, “That is the single thing of which I would have thought you had enough.” Anyway, Eleanor snaps and says she’ll sign over the Aquitaine IF…. Richard and Alais are married off. RIGHT. FREAKING. NOW. So she pokes the bear until Henry stomps off to look for a priest and drag everyone off to the chapel…but of course somehow it doesn’t come off.
Henry and Eleanor have a love-hate relationship from second to second, switching back and forth from cussing each other out, threatening other people (Eleanor likes to imply she had sex with her father-in-law even when she says she didn’t), making out with Alais in front of Eleanor. Oh yeah, and then there’s the awkwardness of Eleanor basically raising Alais and then Alais is now boinking Henry. And poor Richard thinks Phillip loves him and hoo boy, does Phillip NOT, and he’s mean about it, and blabs about their sex life to his dad. Gross.
Meanwhile, pretty much every dude in the show is attempting to plot with King Phillip behind every other dude’s back, and then they all find this out by hiding behind the draperies a LOT. Eventually Henry just chucks all the kids in the dungeon and then Alais points out either they’ll need to be locked up forever or killed…but Eleanor makes sure all her sons are armed for that possibility, just in case. In the end, Henry doesn’t go through with it and nobody thought he could, but things end in a stalemate anyway. Happy Christmas, y’all!
It’s also incredibly quotable.
“I know. You know I know. I know you know I know. We know Henry knows, and Henry knows we know it. We're a knowledgeable family.” -Geoffrey. And yet, I’m not entirely sure I know what he knows. That Richard is gay, I guess?
“In a world where carpenters get resurrected, everything is possible.” -Eleanor
“I can’t be your mistress if I’m married to your son.”
“When I bellow, bellow BACK.” -Henry
“Had I been sterile, darling, I’d be happy today.” -Eleanor, mother of ten children, to her favorite child’s face.
‘”I’m not a fool! I’ve studied three languages. I’ve practiced law.” -John. O RLY?
“I dressed my maids as Amazons and rode bare-breasted halfway to Damascus. Louis had a seizure and I damn near died of windburn... but the troops were dazzled.” -Eleanor on the Crusades.
“I’m locked up with my sons. What mother doesn’t dream of that?” -Eleanor.
“I'd hang you from the nipples, but you'd shock the children.” -Eleanor while deciding what jewelry to wear.
“Of course he has a knife, he always has a knife, we all have knives! It's 1183 and we're barbarians!” -Eleanor
“For the love of God, can't we love one another just a little - that's how peace begins.” -Eleanor
“You’re a stinker and you stink!” -John, master of insults.
“If you’re a prince, there’s hope for every ape in Africa.” -Geoffrey as John trips and falls.
“My God, if I went up in flames there's not a living soul who'd pee on me to put the fire out!”
“Phillp! We’re supposed to start a war!” -John
“Geoffrey: There's a masterpiece. He isn't flesh: he's a device. He's wheels and gears. And Johnny: Was his latest treason your idea? I've caught him lying, and I've said, 'he's young.' I've found him cheating, and I've said, 'he's just a boy.' I've watched him steal and whore and whip his servants, and he's not a child; he's the man we made him.” -Henry
“I don’t doubt John loves me.”
“You’re a cold bloody bastard and you don’t love ANYTHING.” -John to Henry
“You know what I’d like to have for Christmas? I want to see you suffer.” -Alais to Eleanor, and then they start hugging and crying. Whaaat?
“We could populate a country town with girls who have born you sons.” -Eleanor to Henry.
“Your sons are part of you.”
“There will be pork in the treetops come morning!” -Eleanor
“I’ll only do it wrong. You kill him, I’ll watch.” -John, finally figuring out he’s an idiot.
“I could have conquered Europe, but I already had women in my life.” -Henry.
“Come the resurrection, you can strike me down again.”