New ‘Mary & George’ Episode Has It All: Orgies, Murder, and Julianne Moore


Any show with an episode that begins with an orgy and ends with a murder is my kind of show. As much as I adored all of the nefarious scheming that has come with the first two episodes of Mary & George, I didn’t expect things to take a lethal turn so quickly. Episode 3 is packed with story, and if you’re not paying attention, it might’ve been a bit difficult to keep up with the intricacies of Mary Villiers’ (Julianne Moore) plotting. But fear not, I come bearing details to bridge any mental gaps you might have after watching Mary sow suspicion all over England.

Episode 3 begins in 1616, a few months after Mary’s second-born son George (Nicholas Galitzine) was welcomed into King James I’s (Tony Curran) royal fold, aka, his fuckbuddies. Given that it took a solid two years of maneuvering for Mary to get the king to notice her son, this new position is ideal, but not comfortable. For George to stay at the king’s beck and call, he must constantly prove himself, in addition to outsmarting the king’s right-hand pole—I mean, man—the Earl of Somerset (Laurie Davidson). Somerset despises anyone who threatens his position, and if George fights back, there’s a chance the king could retaliate. Therefore, it’s George’s mummy who must come to his rescue in a triumphant display of absolute power against all their adversaries.

But first: A sex party. At an orgy arranged by Somerset for the king, a shrouded figure plays the cello while men disrobe and toy with royalty. Afterward, while lying in bed together, the king tells Somerset, “I sometimes wonder if you mean to hold me not so much by love, as by all.” To translate: The king is paranoid that his lover is seeking not just love, but power as well. Somerset refutes the king’s suspicions, telling him that, “Love is all.” His words are enough to quiet the king’s concern, at least for a bit. When His Majesty departs, Somerset snatches the sheet off the cello player to reveal a defeated George underneath. “See?” Somerset asks. “He’s mine.”

Neither Mary nor George are happy about this stall in their plans, which Mary makes quite clear when she attends the king’s court for a party. She arrives, made up in her best Mary, Queen of Scots drag—or, I guess for her, just Mary I of Scotland—with a white-powdered face and an antiquated cupcake ruffle neckline. When George spots her, he tries to tell her that she looks foolish, but she’s preoccupied with the status of George’s relationship with King James. “Somerset has had me too busy doing anything low, away from James, so he and the Scots can toy with me and treat me like shit,” George tells her. A quick cut reveals that Somerset and his men pinned George to the ground, plucking some of his pubic hairs off. “What happened to Sir David?” George asks. “It was easier before he vanished.” If you’ll remember, Mary poisoned Sir David at the end of Episode 2, after he threatened to reveal that her lineage was fraudulent.

George explains to her that he’s had sex with the king exactly twice (“Unless you count manually,” he adds, referring to a royal handjob) before their conversation is interrupted by Lady Hatton (Nicola Walker), who is ready to rib Mary as much as she did in last week’s episode. “Perhaps your son had the best idea,” Lady Hatton says after George scuttles away, “an early exit.” When she goes on to accuse Mary of dallying with a prostitute, who she assumes did Mary’s ghoulish makeup, Mary spits on Lady Hatton’s shoe. “Even your phlegm is off-color,” Hatton retorts.

An illustration including  Amelia Gething (“Frances Coke”) and Nicola Walker (“Lady Hatton”) in the series Mary & George on Starz

Amelia Gething (“Frances Coke”) and Nicola Walker (“Lady Hatton”)


But Lady Hatton, though bothersome, provides some use to Mary. As the pair watch Somerset pretend to kill the king in a mock play. “Not the first body the Somersets have slain, apparently,” Lady Hatton tells Mary. Afterward, Mary is approached by the king, who tells her that George is a very good boy. “He is, and it’s a shame that he is being treated quite so unkindly,” she says. When the king seems confused, Somerset interjects and questions Mary’s sobriety. “Maybe it’s time for a dignified retreat,” Lady Hatton suggests. “Not that ‘dignified’ is the right word.” In Anger, Mary charges Lady Hatton, but is stopped and asked to leave.

Still at the party, George is approached by attorney general Sir Francis Bacon, who knows of Mary’s real lineage, but doesn’t reveal it to her son. Instead, he offers him the opportunity for a new royal liege to help George’s position rise in the king’s eyes. “I can guide you better than mama,” Francis says. “Shouldn’t be hard, you deserve so much more than her. Let me give it to you.” After some additional prodding, George is intrigued, and taken to a brothel for further conversation, where Francis suggests that he have sex with a male prostitute to expand his horizons past the king. It proves a regretful decision, leading George to contract a sexually transmitted pox all over his body.

Everyone’s Finally Getting Laid on ‘Mary & George’

Upon her unceremonious exit from the king’s party, Mary is beckoned by a man (Matt Barkley) outside the palace, who asks her to accompany her. He reveals himself to be the Earl of Essex, the former husband of Countess Somerset (Pearl Chanda), who he says cursed him by witchcraft to get a divorce and marry the Earl of Somerset. He warns Mary to stay far away from the Somersets and departs, but she catches back up with him later, demanding to know what he’s hiding. The Earl tells Mary that the Somersets cursed and murdered Sir Thomas Overbury, who legally objected to a wedding when Countess Somerset left him. The Earl points Mary in the direction of a local palm reader, who he says enacted the curse.

Mary visits the psychic witch under the pretense of a business transaction. Stroking the lines in Mary’s hand, the palm reader tells Mary, “If you are ready to proudly wear a false face, blood will fall. But not yours.” This is all the encouragement Mary needs to go forth with her new grand plan. She proceeds to blackmail the palm reader, telling the witch she knows that she had a hand in the Somersets’ murder of Sir Thomas Overbury. Mary offers her impunity in exchange for information and evidence, and the palm reader obliges, showing Mary the wax voodoo dolls she was paid to make. Among the dolls is a new one, molded for George. Suddenly, the Earl of Somerset plucking his pubes makes a little more sense.

Mary cleverly finds a way for the evidence against the Somersets to make it into the hands of Sir Edward Coke (Adrian Rawlins), a judge in the state’s official court—and Lady Hatton’s husband. The word quickly spreads throughout England, and Francis Bacon approach’s George’s sick bed to tell him that Somerset is shitting his breeches with anxiety. “He’s been begging at the king’s feet for days to issue a preemptive pardon against all possible charges,” Francis says. “The king had it drafted, but we told the king a general pardon against all past crimes is impossible to sanction or sign.”

A photo including Adrian Rawlins (“Sir Edward Coke”) in the series Mary & George on Starz

Adrian Rawlins (“Sir Edward Coke”)


Mary pays the Somersets a little visit to revel in the sight of their plans and power coming undone. She tells both the Earl and his Countess that she knows about the curse, and that she found George’s doll too. “You’re pathetic in every way,” the Countess says to Mary. “If we were to have poisoned Overbury, anyone we plotted with would be the most loyal of animals. The sort who know, to keep us all safe, they must keep their mouths forever firmly shut.” Mary giggles in the Countess’ face. “The thing about mouths is there are countless ways to open them,” Mary says before taking her leave.

In a last-ditch effort for survival, Somerset tries to seduce a still-ailing George, and lies to his face, telling George that he loves him and needs him desperately. George plays along, fucking Somerset on the floor. Afterward, Somerset falsely believes he’s safe, and tells George that he’ll do anything for a pardon, even letting his wife hang if he has to. “I barely have the energy to leave my bed, let alone beg the king for your freedom,” George sneers. “I just wanted, like my mother, to fuck you, and then be the last thing that you think of before you hang.”

Semen-Guzzling Sodomites Set the Stage for ‘Mary & George’

The evidence against the Somersets is presented in the high court, and both husband and wife are found guilty. When the verdict is delivered, a marvelous panning shot trails up to Mary’s face, watching her plan reach its final stage. Both Somersets are hung, and Mary has defeated two of her most powerful adversaries. To celebrate, Mary reintroduces a healed George to the king, and George plays a cello concerto for his royal highness. But Mary’s work is far from over, as Sir Francis Bacon still holds a trump card over her.

“Was it all deliberate?” Francis asks Mary, as the two of them gaze at George playing his instrument for the king (not a euphemism this time). “James does love an underdog, and you played the role perfectly.” Mary tells Francis that she knows all about how George contracted his venereal disease, and tells Francis to stay away from her and her son. “Sir David and I always disagreed about the boy’s potential,” Francis responds. “I did warn Sir David not to threaten you. Blackmail is a low art, but you went lower.”

Mary asks him if he’s threatening her, and ponders aloud whether she should threaten him back. “I assume you have,” he says. Suddenly, a new game and a new enemy are in play, jeopardizing Mary’s scheme just as it was beginning to settle down. Just when she was making progress, Mary is back in square one. But if her next move is as thrilling as what she was able to do with the Somersets—who we initially believed to be the biggest roadblocks in Mary and George’s road to royal favor—then there are even more deliciously calculating episodes awaiting us.

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