You know what else works really well for Reign? When they don’t even pretend at historical accuracy. As Torrance Coombs (our lovely-eyed Bash) said, Reign is ‘historical fantasy’ more than anything. Mary’s earlier years were boring as hell, I mean, the most interesting parts of Mary’s life, as told by history, comes much later. We’re talking unhappy marriages, murder and eventually something called the ‘Babington Plot’ (none of which occur in France). Oh yeah, the Tudor Era was my favourite history subject in college (high school for you Americanised few). I say Tudor because I only learned about Mary, Queen of Scots via my obsession with Good Queen Bess.
Reign’s strongest episodes feature four things, creative liberties with Mary’s story, random acts of violence, plot-line revalations that might not make sense except for the fact that it totally does and leave for Megan Follow’s Catherine de Medici to outshine everyone in the episode. Yes, even Bash’s eyes. This episode is a treasure trove of soap that culminates in one of the most intense scenes of this season yet.
Mary and Bash are trying to protect his cousin’s pagan baby. And they’re making eyes at each other but all our eyes are fixed on Catherine, her ruthless Medici family and the unfortunate soul accused of having an affair with her.
“Hello old friend, too bad you didn’t see this one coming.”
“Somehow I never see anything coming that could help me.”
NOZZZY! Of course that’s who Henry’s accusing Catherine of treason and adultery, that sound is my 14 year old sister screaming about double standards behind me. The Medici’s pressure on the Pope meant Henry couldn’t get his marriage with Catherine annulled- so he’s keen to get rid of her through other avenues. Thanks to the Medici pull, however, Catherine has the chance to perhaps save herself, or at least secure Francis’ spot as king again, but how does she go about it? By trying to expose Bash’s dark past. She only succeeds in exposing her own dark past, it would seem. Speaking of dark, we find out why Noz thinks it’s okay to keep Clarissa in a cage, he feels responsible for her. Nozzy’s dad tried to remove this bastard baby’s birthmark and botched it up so badly the baby’s face had to be covered by a sack for the rest of her life- Nozzy feels responsible because not only was it his dad’s fault that Clarissa ended up looking the way she did, but also because he couldn’t just kill her or release her into the wild as a kid. I love that it’s been how many episodes and Mary’s barely gotten a glimpse at Clarissa, but Catherine sees Clarissa lurking in the shadows and grabs a hold of her like damn, no fear. Catherine’s face when Noz tells the story, though. How can she go from cruel and harsh to confused and hurt in 60 seconds flat, Follows is ridiculously rivetting.
Catherine’s inquisitor turns out to be Henry’s friend, Richard Delacroix, she had banished from court a long time ago. Henry thinks he’s got someone not ridiculously loyal to her but what Henry doesn’t know that Richard and Catherine had a thiiiiiiiiiiing going on. Just call her Mrs Jones. The reveal was enough to make me go ‘what?! WHAT?!’ Especially after (Richard’s mule comment) finding out that once upon a time Henry and Catherine were happy, or were at least in love with each other early on in their marriage. I didn’t know I could ship Catherine and Henry, but I shipped them so much in those few minutes they were discussing, well shouting, their past mistakes at each other.
And then Reign pulls a fast one on us and Catherine is suddenly in the Richard’s arms as he comes to tell her that Henry’s had second thoughts about the trial. Everything seems to just snowball at this point. Because Bash and Mary’s storyline finally start to converge with that of what we’re all fascinated by. The lady looking after the pagan baby reveals what we’d been suspicious of since Nozzy told Catherine the story of the deformed baby having a weird birthmark and what happened to it.
CLARISSA IS CATHERINE AND RICHARD’S LOVE CHILD. Bash and Mary rush to narc, I mean which is totally what they should have done after all she’s trying to get Bash killed, trying to pin him as a pagan. Henry, proving he’s quicker in the noggin than we give him credit for puts two and two together when hearing the pagan-baby’s carer’s story about Queen Catherine’s illegitimate child with a portwine birthmark and the fact that his ‘friend’ Richard has the same kind of birthmark. Richard tried to save Catherine but only ended up condemning himself and so Catherine gives one last ditch effort to expose Bash as a pagan by bringing up Diane’s pagan decorations. But it doesn’t go quite as she planned.
Henry’s reaction to one of the guards just trying to tell the truth is so very Game of Thrones. It may be the first time I ever found King Henry attractive, not sure what that says about me. But hey, I’m here for it. As Follows utters ‘well played’ just before she’s dragged out you can almost feel her desperation. Henry’s rage is splattered all over her face in the guard’s blood and Catherine may have seen through it, his real anger does reside in what he perceives as not just Catherine’s ultimate betrayal, but Richard’s too. I mean, yo that’s one of the most important rules of the Bro Code. Don’t bone a bro’s wife.
However the episode isn’t finished with you yet. Because the Medici then advise Catherine that the best way to save face is to take some poison and that final montage of Catherine getting ready does seem to lead trick you into a false sense that Catherine’s about to do the unspeakable. Instead she makes her way to Mary’s chambers, where Mary had been doing the opposite (stripping down for a bath) and tries to poison her. Deciding to go kamikaze, before Clarissa bursts in to save Mary’s day, and in the process also save Catherine who rejects her. It’s all very disorientating, but at least Mary winds up back in Bash’s arms just as the credits roll.
Savour these Mash/Mabastian moments, Mash shippers- because Francis will be back soon enough and history will intervene at some point. (And yes, I’m aware that this comes at the end of a review that barely even mentions Mary and Bash.)
As Catherine is dragged off by guards, yet again, and Mary says ‘we’ve killed you’, I have to wonder how Catherine will get out of this bind this time.
– Life lessons from dear old dad:
– After this season I might just start reviewing them in real time, that is the day it airs on the CW. Thoughts?
– Quote/Shade of the week goes to King Henry: “No one cares, Kenna.”