Let me start by saying that I am a Shakespeare nerd. I read his plays and sonnets for fun, and I genuinely enjoy them. So, of course, I was extremely excited to hear that a show about the Bard was out there. After quickly finding out that no one else I know was watching it, I thought it was time to take to the Internet. So here we are.
I’ll be doing recaps of Will for the remaining episodes of the season. If you haven’t watched yet, or if you’re in need of a refresher of the overall important plots and characters, then here’s a general overview of what’s happened so far.
London is full of religious turmoil. Catholics are denied religious freedom, and they are tortured and killed. Still, the streets are crowded and there are plenty of parties and taverns. Consequently, it is easy to get swept away in the London excitement.
Will Shakespeare is sick of living in Stratford making gloves to support his wife and three children. With a dream, talents in acting and writing, and a letter to be given to his cousin, he headed to London. He weaseled his way into a theater company, where he finds success writing plays.
Upon his arrival, Presto, a street boy, learned that Will is Catholic. Presto cut Will’s hand, effectively marking him for his religion. When Topcliffe – the torturer and killer of Catholics on the Queen’s behalf – came for the man with the cut hand, Christopher Marlowe cut one of Will’s fellow actor’s hands to frame him. This other man, Baxter, is apprehended instead of Will – a plot about which Will continues to feel guilty.
Love and lust
Will quickly befriended the people of his newfound theater troupe, especially Alice Burbage, the daughter of the theater’s owner. Alice and Will quickly fell prey to their lust for each other, beginning an affair. Even after Will’s wife, Anne, surprised Will in London, Alice and Will just couldn’t keep away from each other.
In the most recent episode, Will lashed out at Alice in attempt to lessen her affection for him. Alice’s mother was the true culprit of Will’s outburst, as she knew about their relationship and accused Will of ruining Alice for other men. I hope they make up soon because – not gonna lie – I ship it.
More on Alice
Alice is independent and ambitious, but these traits were not exactly valued in women at the time. She wants to make her own destiny and one day own her father’s theater, but her parents are more concerned with her remaining pure and marrying into a family with financial stability. Alice repeatedly calls off the advances of Keenan Cooper, who her parents practically set her up to marry. She prefers a relationship out of love, rather than a business transaction. And she loves Will.
She helps Will write his plays, simultaneously acting both as his muse, but also as his co-author. But considering her gender, Will gets all the credit for the plays, and Alice’s intelligence is consistently overlooked.
Marlowe is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting characters in the show. He takes Will under his wing, determined to show the new playwright the spoils of fame in London. Marlowe is no stranger to a good party, though he may have a more complicated life than he leads on. He is the definition of a tortured artist. There is never a dull moment with Marlowe.
After getting spooked after a transcendental ritual at a party, he turned to his lover – interestingly, the Catholic Edward Arden – for comfort. Sadly, Arden died, and now Marlowe has to deal with the effects. Prone to extremes, it will be fascinating to watch how Marlowe deals with his grief.
He’s ruthless, he’s manic, and actually quite terrifying. Topcliffe’s scenes are the goriest and most disturbing. He tortures and kills Catholics, and his methods are quite eclectic. If you’re at all squeamish at the sight of blood or pain inflicted on people, then look away for the majority of his scenes.
Topcliffe got word that Will may be a Catholic. Rather than killing him, he intends to use Will to write an anti-Catholic play. While Will struggles with the task, Topcliffe’s men wreak havoc on the streets of London when Topcliffe’s target, Father Robert Southwell – Will’s cousin – takes his own cause to the public.
Southwell is Catholic, and he attempted, multiple times, to recruit Will into his fight. He wants religious freedom and is big on pro-Catholic propaganda, making him Topcliffe’s nemesis, so to speak.
Caught in the crossfire of the public propaganda is the sister of Presto – street rat and con artist. Presto scammed people in order to protect her from needing to work in a brothel, so it will be interesting to see how he goes about his revenge.
The other Burbages
James Burbage – Owner of the theater, he now faces a challenge besides his rebellious daughter. His theater is in danger. The whole situation is ominous, and I know from the preview that things escalate in Monday’s episode.
Richard Burbage – Richard quickly became one of my favorite characters. He is fun and carefree. Richard is self-proclaimed best actor in England, and he flaunts it. Richard is a fast-favorite, and I always look forward to seeing him on my screen.
Still with me?
If you made it through all that, congratulations. I’m impressed. I know it’s a lot, but everything above is only the basics of the show. There really is no substitute for watching the real thing.
The show is aptly-described as “punk-rock Shakespeare.” Don’t think you can write a report on Shakespeare with the information on the show, but it is interesting and entertaining – exactly what a TV show should be.
Are you watching ‘Will’? Let us know at @PureFandom on Twitter!
Will airs Monday nights on TNT at 11/10c.