I know Shakespeare is trying to get about fifty years of history crammed into three plays, but things went from bad to worse very fast in Act V. York came back from Ireland with his army and played nice with the king for about two seconds before turning on him and proclaiming his intention to take the throne for himself. Henry politely refused and York went to war against the crown. The play ends abruptly with York declaring victory in battle and giving chase to Henry back to London. It was almost a side-note that York’s son Richard killed Somerset during the battle. His great foe is slain, but now he has bigger fish to fry.
Act V was quite short, though heavy on the action. Where Cade’s rebellion took a good long time, we got very little with York turning on his sovreign. I didn’t love this act, mainly because I just spent a while getting to know John Cade and enjoying how he was characterized through Act IV, but now we’re back to relatively two-dimensional characters hacking away at each other. The action was intense and exciting, but seemed oddly uneven for the end of the play. This was clearly the end of the middle and suffered from the same storytelling woes as many other famous seconds, like The Two Towers or Mockingjay or Fifty Shades Darker. I guess the good news is it was short. The bad news is it’s more forgettable for its brevity.
I hope the third play picks up where this one left off. Perhaps we’ll get another good character like Cade or Joan of Arc in Part Three.