Alice Oscura, Featured Writer
Plot: Follows the future Queen Elizabeth I in her younger years before she was able to claim the throne of England.
Disclaimer: Contains minor spoilers
Review: Whenever drama is based on actual historical figures or events the writers or creators almost always take certain liberties with the actual story to add some form of dramatic flair to astound the audience. However, the STARZ-released series Becoming Elizabeth tampers very little with the true circumstances. Instead, the secret to its success lies not only in its tasteful execution but in its sensual undertones that it identifies so closely with the Tudor dynasty. The series was created by Anya Reiss (BBC’s Eastenders-2018) and premiered on the 12th of June. Season 1 consisted of eight almost hour-long episodes.
This impressive period piece will astound the audience with detailed costume designs and set architecture. Then comes the brilliantly twisted story that has become infamous when recounting the history of the Tudors. After King Henry VIII died, he left behind a succession crisis due to his actions against his many wives. The King’s obsession with having a male heir brought England to the brink of destruction and created a religious divide between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants. Thus began a political and religious war that was waged not only between the King’s three heirs but by those in the court who wished to climb the ladder of power and success. At the time, the King’s true heir was 12-year-old Prince Edward VI. However, there was worry and panic because the next in line to the throne was the devout Roman Catholic Princess Mary, who was also a fanatic and was sure to try to return the now mainly Protestant England to Catholicism by bloody means if necessary. Then there was Princess Elizabeth born out of the King’s marriage to Anne Boleyn.
The series follows the story of a young Princess Elizabeth (Alicia von Rittberg) who may be naïve at times but ends up learning the hard way that the establishment wishes to manipulate the heirs of the deceased King Henry VII so that they can be on the winning side. Elizabeth falls for the charms of her stepmother, the Dowager Queen Catherine Parr’s (Jessica Raine) new husband Admiral Thomas Seymour (Tom Cullen) which lands her in hot water. As a result of which she is saved by her wit and Admiral Seymour is sent to the chopping block. By the end of season one, the Princess’s brother, King Edward VI (Oliver Zetterström) is surely dying and both her and her sister Princess Mary (Romola Garai) have fallen out of favour with him. The Lord Protector Sir John Dudley (Jamie Parker) decides to make a play to have the dying King choose his heir in the event of his death. It is hinted in the season finale that his heir would be Lady Jane Grey (Bella Ramsey). The lines have been distinctly drawn between sisters Mary and Elizabeth. Both made a play to capture the throne when their brother was on his death bed. However, when the King made a temporary recovery he threw them both out of court since he couldn’t trust them due to their selfish motives.
The performances of the entire cast are magnificent, and the dialogue is superb and suitable to the period. German actress Alicia von Rittberg’s soft-spoken and eloquent portrayal of young Princess Elizabeth is mesmersing. Her character tries to learn the ropes of the establishment and sees just how dangerous it is to make alliances with the wrong person at the wrong time. She also had to learn that as a woman at that time she was merely a commodity to be bartered or bargained with for the sole purpose of gaining new political alliances for her country. A task in which she had no say or rights for refusal.
So far there are no confirmations on whether or not the series will be renewed for a Season 2. But sources online have indicated that there’s no reason that it won’t be since the network has a great track record with the renewal of these types of period dramas.
In conclusion, it is a great, climatically building series that depicts an era of British history that was filled with lots of turmoil and royal scandals.
Score: 8 out of 10
Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump. I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. Read More
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