In order to oust Topcliffe and keep the Catholic population of England safe, Will knew that he couldn’t directly attack someone so close to the queen. At least not before making the truth behind Topcliffe, the man behind the religious fervor and pronounced dedication to her majesty’s cause, available to the public at large. Thus far, Topcliffe has been able to hide his predilections for torture and underage boys behind his position of power and association with the queen, but if Will were to go to anyone with this news, he’d be laughed out of London. Instead, it’s time for him to write.
On the next episode of Will, Shakespeare’s work continues on Richard III, his attempt at exposing the real Richard Topcliffe to the citizens of London. By thinly veiling his critique of Topcliffe through the play, he gets to feign ignorance of its true message while getting those who see the play to do his dirty work; he won’t put himself in danger if there’s enough of a difference between the character and the man himself, while the play generating enough of a buzz should help his message spread to those who need to hear it. Buoyed by the Pope’s support, this is Shakespeare’s chance to take Topcliffe down for good by tarnishing his reputation and making it clear what’s being done in the queen’s name. If enough unrest can be generated around Topcliffe, Elizabeth will have no choice but to relieve the man of his duties, but once Topcliffe figures out what Shakespeare’s doing, can Will keep himself long enough to let due process take its course?
Elsewhere on Will, James confronts Richard over the latter’s decision to board himself up in a plague house, while Alice contemplates a perilous mission deigned worthy by Southwell.
Will airs tonight at 11:00 on TNT.
Can Shakespeare get his play out into the public sphere without interference from Topcliffe? Will James be able to convince Richard to leave Autolycus’ side and save himself? Could Richard’s decision play into Alice’s determination to martyr herself for the cause?