Review: Showtime's 'The Tudors'

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In the third season of The Tudors' reign on Showtime, it's Jane Seymour ‘s (Annabelle Wallis) turn. Demure and of noble birth, she possesses a regal air that the scheming Anne Boelyn (Natalie Dormer) never brought to bare during her time as England's queen and Henry VIII's (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) second wife.

But Seymour, who returns Catherine's "illegitimate" daughter Mary (Sarah Bolger) to the court, has faith in Catholicism, which brings fear to Henry's advisor Sir Thomas Cromwell (James Frain) and his consolidating power base. It also invokes rebuke from the King, who, while professing his love in their bed, warns his wife not "to spoil things." Given her husband's track record, it's probably not a bad idea to mind that royal command.

Somewhat less ribald -- although Lady Ursula Misseldon (Charlotte Salt) does give rise to both the King and a new favorite at court, Sir Francis Bryan (Alan Van Sprang) -- and much more political, the third season's early focus is on the Reformation and uprising in the north. There, peasants are rebelling against Cromwell's orders to destroy statues and desecrate the Church.  With things going wrong for the crown and Cromwell, Henry appoints old friend and liege Charles Brandon (Henry Cavill) to suppress matters, something he's not necessarily equipped to do from either a military or moral perspective.

For its part, the Catholic Church has new messengers and foils in the personages of Cardinal Von Waldburg (Max Von Sydow) and Father Reginald Pole (Mark Hildreth). The latter just happens to be a claimant to the English throne, and has been charged with helping to raise money in the courts of Europe to fund the revolutionary march of the "Pilgrims of Grace" against Henry and Cromwell's religious realm.

Not quite the bedroom chamber romp of the first two campaigns -- at least through the first two installments -- the third season's charm lies in the interpersonal intrigues of those with ambition and duty who must stay ahead of Henry's impulses toward ruthless imperiousness.

The third season of The Tudors premieres April 5 at 9 p.m. on Showtime.

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