WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Requiem of the Rose King Episode 10, "My Name Is Richard Plantagenet," and Episode 11, “That is my...my punishment,” now streaming on Funimation.
Requiem of the Rose King utilizes dramatic irony in the best and worst way possible. Every viewer knew who Richard and Henry really were from the very first episode and could already predict the trajectory of their relationship. Unfortunately the two characters didn't know, subsequently falling in love without ever realizing the other's real identity. There are a lot of characters who have the same first name in this series, so it's little wonder Richard never suspected his Henry would be the Henry.
When Richard found out who Henry really was in Episode 10, he was utterly destroyed. This was the man he had been willing to throw his life away to live with. Never in a million years did he think he would fall in love with his mortal enemy. The conflict between the Yorks and Lancasters has come to a close, but it does little to bring the closure Richard seeks.
In Episode 10 of Requiem of the Rose King, the final battle between Lancaster and York sees Richard rush across the battlegrounds in search of King Henry. As soon as he killed Henry, the final piece to his avenging his father would be complete and he would be reunited with his beloved in their forest. Without him realizing it, Richard's vision of Joan and his father -- one attempting to lead him astray and the other attempting to guide him -- foreshadows his inner conflict.
Joan taunts Richard as per usual, but this time there's a note of warning in her voice: if he pursues this any further, he'll find that the king he seeks to kill is the same man as the one he holds close to his heart. There's no way to tell if her intentions were genuine, but for a moment it looked as though Joan was sincerely trying to help Richard.
The tension ratchets up a hundredfold when, on the other side, Henry is coming to terms with the realization that he has failed as a king. For years, he had stood to the side and watched as his people died for him and all he'd done was pray for salvation. Seeing Richard was the last straw in pushing Henry's sanity over the edge.
Richard's light had initially been his father; when the latter died, his son had sunken into darkness -- but it was one he wholeheartedly embraced. When he met Henry, he found another source of light in his life, more pure and innocent but still unconditionally accepting. The problem was was that in order for Richard to fully embrace Henry, he needed to leave the hell his father's death had put him in. He believed that by killing the king, would he finally "gain light."
The moment when Henry confesses he is the king of England is powerful, and it puts Richard in a deeper hell than before. At least with his father's death, he had a goal and it was clear what he needed to do. But what was he supposed to do here? A motif of drowning has been threaded throughout Requiem of the Rose King, but the imagery focused on Richard being choked to death by the monsters. Episode 11's motif changes to an image of him sinking into a pile of skeletons -- he's still a victim, but Buckingham and his father's words are now forcing him into being a mindless killing machine as punishment.
Episode 11 also has more characters revealing their true identities. Even though Edward is revealed to be Henry's son, it hardly has the same impact on Richard that Anne's reveal did; despite Edward's attempts to court him, Richard had never really cared for him. Seeing Anne impersonating Edward and then defending him was a double whammy of betrayal for Richard, who had already -- mistakenly -- heard Anne's refusal to marry him.
In Richard's eyes, the Lancasters had taken everything from him and humiliated him. There's a certain eerie and sad beauty in Edward's final scene. For him, being killed by Richard, whom he has loved, would be poetic -- romantic even. As Richard's sword sinks into Edward's body, rose petals flutter away. But the stark red of the rose petals is symbolic in another way as it promises more bloodshed in Richard's future.