Things are getting more dangerous by the day in Shakespeare’s London – something that became more evident than ever in this week’s installment of Will. “Something Wicked This Way Comes” was a heavy hour loaded with emotional moments, confrontations, and major developments for Will, Marlowe, & Co.
Check out the synopsis below:
Tensions rise as Will (Laurie Davidson) and Alice (Olivia DeJonge) continue to collaborate, while Anne (Deirdre Mullins) attempts to adjust to London life. Love forces Marlowe (Jamie Campbell Bower) to confront his darkest fears. Presto (Lukas Rolfe) is forced to confront true evil.
Now let’s break it down. Be warned: this one ends in tears.
TENSIONS ARE RISING
I feel like we say this every week, but tensions are rising in London – and now, they’ve started to boil over. Just when you think the situation can’t get any more intense, it does just that.
The episode kicks off with anti-Catholics proselytizing in the marketplace – a demonstration that very quickly turns violent. Fists are flying, bottles are breaking, people are getting stabbed and cut down with swords. The action is made personal because Will and his family are right in the thick of it, with Will’s son Hamnet going missing as soon as things go south. It’s a tense few minutes before father and son are safely reunited – and it’s safe to say that the whole family is shaken by what went down.
Meanwhile, Topcliffe is up to his old tricks with some shiny new torture devices – and some shiny new ideas about how to use them. This guy has got to get a new hobby.
We also see conflict between cousins Shakespeare and Southwell. Topcliffe has decided what he wants the play Will is writing for him to be about: a vehicle to discredit Southwell, to be performed in front of the Queen so that she’ll be disinclined to listen to the book the Catholics plan to present to her. Though Shakespeare doesn’t want to write it – and Southwell highly encourages him not to – Topcliffe is threatening his family, so he feels he has to go through with it. Given Southwell’s influence, I’m thinking it’s a bad idea to cross him, too – so we’ll see where this leads.
LOVE’S A BITCH
If there’s one thing we learned from this episode, it’s that love’s a bitch. Let’s break it down:
Alice and Will are still collaborating, despite their many relationship complications. She inspires him to write the prequel to Henry VI rather than the sequel – something that no one has really done before. They work on it together late into the night, one thing leads to another, and they decide to sleep together one last time. Yeah, that seems likely.
After this romantic interlude, Alice returns home – where her mother spots Will outside. Things get complicated when, a short while later, Alice breaks off her engagement to the rich Keenan Cooper, who has realized that she doesn’t love him. While Alice is relieved and hopes to continue her fling with Will, Mistress Burbage breaks the news to the playwright first. She speaks some hard truths, pleading with Will to see that he’s thinking with his little head instead of his big one and that he’ll leave Alice ruined. He must “be cruel to be kind.”
Will takes this advice to heart – perhaps a little too much so. He confronts Alice, calling her a slut and a whore so that she won’t try to be with him again. We see the toll this takes on Will, who collapses in tears as soon as she flees, also crying. But we are 100% NOT OKAY with his methods. Slut shaming our brilliant bby girl Alice? NO THANK YOU.
Oh, and Will’s noble methods don’t even leave him with a happy ending. After watching the latest play, Anne decides to take the kids back to Stratford. She’s realized that Will’s true love is his work, and that he should stay to be free to live his life in the theatre. She has to live her own life, too. They share a beautiful moment that sums up the divide between them shortly before her decision to leave – Will states, “I cannot speak of what’s inside me. That is why I write,” to which Anne replies, “But I can’t read.” THE FEELS.
Things aren’t going well for Marlowe or Presto, either – more on that in a moment.
HERE COME THE TEARS
For a show with such a powerful rockstar aesthetic and timeless Shakespeare material, we didn’t expect to have this many feelings. This episode brought the tears, hard. Beyond the confrontation between Alice and Will and Anne’s departure for Stratford, Marlowe and Presto had their own troubles that made us all kinds of sad.
The older man Marlowe visited in last week’s episode turns out to be his lover. Unfortunately, he’s deathly ill. This may offer some insight into Marlowe’s own obsession with death and overcoming it – but the man warns him that he can’t conquer death with knowledge. I was struck once again with how Marlowe is such a babe, but still emo af. He left us with a beautiful but oh-so-sad line: “How can I shine when I have nothing inside me but darkness?”
In line with the sadness theme, Marlowe’s lover dies in his arms by the end of the episode. If we thought Marlowe was mad already, I’m guessing we haven’t seen anything yet. Here is someone he seemed to actually care for deeply, and now that man is gone.
Presto is also having a rough go of it. His sister’s madame lures him into working at the whorehouse, wearing one of the dresses he uses as his cutpurse disguise. Pres nearly goes through with the sexual encounter – with none other than Topcliffe – but ultimately stabs him in the side and makes a run for it. (Okay, can we just… TOPCLIFFE. It makes total sense, but man does that guy get more messed up by the day.) Presto grabs his sister and they run for their lives, but unfortunately Apelina is shot in the back and perishes.
Presto does manage to get away, but he’s understandably distraught by losing the last of his family. Similarly to Marlowe, this seems to have been the last person he really cared about. We see Pres’ madness come out right away, though – struck by rage in the Burbage theatre, he shreds costumes with his dagger before setting the place on fire. Considering the Burbages were already facing financial ruin, this does not bode well for the future of the company.
Will airs Mondays on TNT.
Featured Image by: Steffan Hill