Mark Rylance's Cromwell was fascinating from the first episode. By the middle of "Anna Regina", the 3rd episode of Wolf Hall on PBS, he has become mesmerizing. We can never have enough of looking at him.
The subtilties and range of what Rylance communicates via his eyes and mouth alone, saying nothing, is, at the very least, worthy of all acting awards. Because of the thick, all enveloping masculine fashion of the era, particularly for somber administrative and legal fellows such as Thomas Cromwell, body language is out, so it's all in Rylance's head, so to speak.
The production's parallelisms and foreshadowings are quite faithful to Mantel's novel -- if I'm recalling correctly; it's been some time since I read Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.
Favorite ones from this episode were his sister-in-law / mistress's off-handed observation that even if /when her husband succumbs to his maladies, because she's Cromwell's "sister" it's illegal for them to marry -- the very argument by which Henry VIII justifies his desire to divorce Katherine.
Another favorite was the sudden irruption of lust-fantasy on Cromwell's part, while conversing amiably with Anne Boleyn, in which his fingers trace around her neck, down between and over, across the high swell of her breasts uplifted by the stays in the bodice of her low cut gown. Rylance's face remains blank, yet conveys his shock at himself, and even -- maybe? -- a sense of Anne's eventual fate? or that may just be for us to think of -- all simultaneously. Also, for the first time, we get a sense of Anne as a beguiling beauty (this is particularly good as earlier in the archery scenes we are wishing someone would give her a time-out, if not a spanking, in response to her total brattiness when her shots didn't go as she wished). This makes for a a special poignancy, when, in another
conversation after Anne is confined to wait out the conclusion of her pregnancy, she says that she's always been desired, but this is the first time she feels valued. All of which we see Rylance taking in, knowing, as do we, just how fragile is her state of value, depending as it does entirely upon what her womb delivers.
So many foreshadowings -- even Anne's coronation ceremony as Queen of England, has her outstretched arms on either side, flat on the cathedral floor, in the pose of her final fate.
It seems that this production cannot do, and has done nothing, not even a tiny detail, wrong!
Unexpectedly, so far my favorite character is actress Charity Walkefield,'s Mary Boleyn, speaking only in terms of a character's likeability, of course, as this is Rylance's - Cromwell's show all together. But the other Boleyn girl has a sprightly good-natured understanding of the world and its matters, and terrific sense of humor.