Mary & George episode 4 recap: A trip to Edinburgh, Scotland forces George to learn a lesson

Things are looking good for the Villiers in Mary & George episode 4, but their luck hasn't been without tough decisions or tough lessons.
Mary & George -- Courtesy of Starz
Mary & George -- Courtesy of Starz /

Mary & George continues on Starz this Friday with episode 4, "The Wolf and the Lamb," and we figure out what the title means pretty early into the episode. Last week's episode ended with George and King James VI reconciling after the Earl of Somerset was found guilty of murder, and it looks like George is fully into the thick of it with his lover now. He's quickly learning what that all entails.

Though being the king's paramour comes with power, it also comes with many complications. James is not a simple person; he's been through a lot and channels his emotions in unexpected, not always pleasant ways. Despite this, George learns a very important life lesson in Mary & George episode 4, and he and the king end up in a good place by the time the credits begin the roll. My full recap below:

Here's what happens in Mary & George episode 4

The episode begins on an interesting note as we see a scene of two gravediggers digging up a grave. They're not allowed to tell anyone about what they're doing, and as the audience, we're kept in the dark. But don't worry — that'll come back later in the episode and all will make sense. We then cut to George and James in bed together, seemingly very content. But that peace is cut short when James suddenly bites George's arm — incredibly hard — causing George to cry out in pain. As George is tending to his wound a little bit later, James is surprised at the fuss he's making. He begins to kiss George's arm aggressively, giving him love in a way George is not used to.

James then calls himself a wolf and George a lamb, hence where the title of the episode comes from. This theme is depicted throughout the rest of the episode as George travels with James to Edinburgh, Scotland, on business he is not aware of. James names Sir Francis Bacon the Keeper of the Seal, someone to fill in for him while he's gone, and they're on their way. Meanwhile, problems continue to arise for Mary and her son John. Without warning, John walks into the lake — though he doesn't know how to swim — and Sir Thomas Compton saves him and brings him inside to Mary. Thomas is frustrated with the troubled family he married into.

Mary & George - Season 1 2024
Mary & George episode 4 /

Mary tells George that John must've walked into the water because he wanted to go to France like George did and didn't realize it was just a lake, not the ocean. Do we really believe that explanation? I'm not sure, but we know John has emotional problems that cause him to lash out and prevent him from making logical decisions, so at this point, it's unclear what his motivations were.

Though George and James are back on, Mary is still nervous about their family's future. She knows that because she doesn't own anything and her children are all unmarried, they could be done for in a matter of moments — especially if James gets bored with George. Because of this, she decides to pursue the marriage between John and Frances again, even if that plan went horribly in her first attempt. This time, however, she gets Frances' father Sir Edward Coke on board by reminding him that George and James are an item. If his family marries into the Villiers', that would mean they would be closer to the king. It's a flimsy promise, but one Edward falls for anyway.

George's short-lived relationship with Pete begins

In Edinburgh, George feels shut out by James who neglects him during a meal. He's already exhausted from the king's mood swings and erratic behavior, but what can he do? He must endure. During his first day in Scotland, he and his brother Kit meet a man named Peter Carr, who happens to be Somerset's cousin. Although he comes off a little strong, he and George begin to flirt and it doesn't take long for the two to have sex. Kit warns George against Pete, but George thinks he's overreacting. He says he's allowed to stray from the king, but he quickly learns that couldn't be further from the truth.

James confronts George about his activity with Pete, clearly unhappy. He values loyalty above most virtues, something George must learn the hard way. Feeling betrayed by George, the king kicks him out and tells him to find another bed to sleep in.

Mary & George - Season 1 2024
Mary & George episode 4 /

Mary's lover Sandie helps her locate Frances, but on their way back with her, they're confronted by Francis Bacon. Mary is very clearly doing something unethical by stealing Frances like that, but she reminds everyone involved that a marriage contract has been signed by Edward. Frances really has no other choice but to wed John. She attempts to be cordial with Lady Batton who is still, understandably, furious about the whole ordeal.

Sandie later informs Mary of an incident caused by John. For whatever reason, he sliced Jenny in the face, likely taking out her eye. Sandie is horrified by Mary's response, who believes they can simply pay Jenny off with the dowry they'll be receiving. Sandie is not used to the world of schemes of deceit, something Mary excels in.

Pete reveals his true intentions with George

George and James agree to get out and explore Scotland, but it turns out not to be the best idea for James' sanity. He has some type of paranoid episode when he thinks someone moved their horses and quickly gets to thinking people are out to get him. He walks into the water and Pete goes after him to pull him out. The group goes back but James wants nothing to do with George, kicking him out of his room.

Pete jumps at the chance to be with George alone and they go off together. Pete tells him about a Lord Lennox and a Lord Ruthven who lived there, the latter of whom kidnapped the king and held him as a prisoner for 10 months. This would explain why James has been so paranoid being in Edinburgh. Things then take a turn when Pete reveals his true intentions getting close to George. He begins to strangle him for what he did to his cousin, nearly killing him. But George is saved when Kit shows up and shoots Pete, killing him.

Mary & George - Season 1 2024
Mary & George episode 4 /

George grows closer with James and his mother

We then cut to George and James in bed, with James apologizing and taking responsibility for pushing George away. James then tells George about his first great love, Lord Lennox. Though Lennox betrayed him, he still loved him, and the whole point of the trip to Edinburgh was to retrieve something he had buried there: Lennox's embalmed heart. James learned the hard way not to be so trusting, and he tells George he will teach him the life lessons he needs. They go and bury the heart somewhere new together.

The fourth episode of Mary & George ends with the Villiers feeling more powerful than ever. King James promotes Kit in his court for saving George, and John and Frances get married. At the wedding, Mary tells George she'll find a suitable wife for him, which George smirks at. There's no doubt he's nervous to see what's in store next, but at this point in the show, he definitely trusts his mother. Whether that's a good or a bad thing!

New episodes of Mary & George are released every Friday on Starz. Keep up with us at Show Snob for our coverage of the gripping historical drama!

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