By Maureen Lee Lenker
October 25, 2020 at 09:10 PM EDT
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Credit: Starz
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  • TV Show
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  • Starz

This week's episode of The Spanish Princess is titled simply "Grief," and it delves into how both Catherine (Charlotte Hope) and Henry (Ruairi O'Connor) are coping with the loss of another child.

For Catherine, it is an incredibly isolating experience, making her a scapegoat in the court. Both Henry and Wolsey (Philip Cumbus) seem to blame her for the loss of the baby, pointing to her decision to ride into the Battle of Flodden.

Henry struggles to bring himself even to touch Catherine, and she is left alone in her grief. Not only is she mourning the loss of her child, but facing the mounting pressure and stress of the expectation of providing an heir to the throne (and of course, Henry assumes it is all her fault).

Charlotte Hope, who portrays Catherine, was determined to bring an emotional authenticity to this episode, conveying the very real loss that numerous people face when it comes to miscarriage and infertility. Though she's done plenty of research on the real Catherine of Aragon, in this instance, she actually found modern accounts more valuable than historical record.

"[I had] a lot of conversations with friends who've had those experiences, which were really important because it's a lot more prevalent than we perhaps give it credit for in the media or in fiction," she tells EW.

Hope also found memoir useful, particularly when it came to the dynamic between Catherine and her friend/lady-in-waiting Lina (Stephanie Levi-John), who recently gave birth to twins, securing the one thing Catherine wants most. "I read Notes to Self by Emily Pine," she says. "She has a chapter on the baby years, and she talks about trying to conceive through IVF and not being able to, and at the same time watching her sister get pregnant, and how difficult that was. That really reminded me of Catherine's relationship with Lina, but it's also just one of the most brutally honest, most powerful essays I've ever read."

By episode's end, Catherine had found the strength to visit Lina and her babies, even if it's still crushing for her to face her friend's joy in the thing she yearns for herself.

Catherine of Aragon, of course, did not have IVF available to her as an option for her fertility woes in the 16th-century. But Hope said making sure the show felt vital and of this moment hinged on bringing in the emotional resonance of that contemporary experience.

"It felt really important to me that Catherine feels steeped in that modern perspective," she says. "Obviously, science is different now, but I think that the expectations on women are pretty similar. It's so financially and emotionally draining. The difficulty that some women have conceiving takes as emotional a toll. I tried to  base as much of my research in modern day struggles with IVF as much as historical reference."

The Spanish Princess airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Starz.

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The Spanish Princess

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  • TV Show
seasons
  • 2
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network
  • Starz

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