Requiem of the Rose King Episode 4 Review
About Requiem of the Rose King Episode 4
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind/And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
That line may not have come from any of the four plays Requiem of the Rose King is based on (it’s from A Midsummer Night’s Dream), but it definitely feels a bit true of the relationships in this episode. Although perhaps the lines that come before those are a bit more on point here: “Things base and vile, holding no quantity/Love can transpose to form and dignity.” Neither Edward nor Henry seem to be looking with the eyes, but in Edward’s blind pursuit of Elizabeth Woodville, he’s absolutely seeing her all-consuming need for revenge as something far lovelier…or perhaps he’s just confusing sex with love. In any event, even before Richard quietly expresses his disapprobation of Edward’s desire (and plan) to marry her or Warwick is presented with that marriage as a fait accompli, we can tell that this is a capital “b” Bad Idea.
That’s not just from a romantic perspective, although even if Elizabeth wasn’t gunning for Edward’s head, the mere fact that he’s the king puts their relationship on seriously unequal footing. By marrying a woman with little to no power in the hierarchical scheme of things, Edward is making a bad political decision as well. Wedding the King of France’s sister would have brought him ties to that nation, to say nothing of its crown (or so Warwick may imagine); it would have been a sound political move, especially considering that both of his predecessors, Henrys V and VI, fought wars against and in France. Simply speaking, it would have been a nice way to secure at least a temporary guarantee of peace, and since Edward’s crown was paid for in part with blood, that would have been a nice reassurance for his people. It also would have kept Warwick on his side, someone he now risks alienating even if his younger brothers marry Warwick’s daughters.
And then there’s Richard and Henry. At the start of this episode, we see Richard feeling very conflicted about that whole sex thing, which, thanks to his brother, he may equate with love to a degree. Because Richard has been made to feel so badly about his body, he deems himself unworthy of love and more than a bit freaked out by sex, something that Edward’s blind pursuit of Elizabeth may have facilitated. But the most important thing here is that after York’s death, Richard believes that he’s lost the only person who will ever love him, and that’s conflicting with Henry’s devoted avowals of affection. Richard, it seems, wants to love Henry and is attracted to him, but fears that this only gives in to his hated femaleness. His love with his father was strictly familial; with Henry, there may be a romantic and/or sexual component that he can’t handle. For most of this episode we see him fighting his own attraction to Henry’s kindness and freely offered affection, even as he uses a story to try to tell Henry about his own supposedly monstrous form.
This episode also confirms that the art and animation really do look better when action isn’t the main focus. (That’s potentially a bit of an issue, since according to Kathryn Harkup in her book Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings, and Broken Hearts, this cycle of plays has the most swordfights in all Shakespeare.) The juxtaposition of black and white is particularly well-used here, with Henry practically glowing angelically against Richard’s gloom. It highlights the differences in their personalities, yes, but it also works with Richard’s own perception of them – his demonic darkness versus the light of the love Henry offers. There are also slightly fewer stills and faceless scenes this week, but the use of painted still shots of Henry and Richard in the river as Edward tells Elizabeth a story about inescapable fate works well.
Because fate, or maybe history, is coming for them all, and a raging torrent has nothing on them.
Rating: 3/5 Stars.
Requiem of the Rose King is currently streaming on Funimation.
Source: Rebecca Silverman from Animenewsnetwork.