It’s become a bit of a talent of mine to be able to watch television and despite the difficulty in connecting emotionally to some characters, I can connect intellectually. I can see all the threads that I’m meant to follow to whatever emotional conclusion the show’s going for, even if the emotion doesn’t quite come across. Even if I don’t feel a certain character’s regard for another, there’s usually some kind of reason niggling at the back of the characterization that makes sense. If I latch on to that, this can be just as good as emotionally connecting, and for Reign‘s midseason finale, “Fated”, this tactic worked quite well. This isn’t to say “Fated” was bad. It was actually very decent as far as midseason finales go, leaving off on a nice cliffhanger and making a few pretty big turns in its story, but Reign suffers from wonky characterization in a few places.
When Francis stops flip-flopping, he really stops flip-flopping. After weeks of going back and forth about his feellings for Mary, he declared that he hoped Mary was pregnant after their night together because it would surely speed up their marriage. Lucky for them Henry was willing to do just that if Mary laid claim to the English throne when the queen died. This would lead to war between Mary and Elizabeth and England and Scotland, but it would also allow Mary to be with Francis who eased her worries and encouraged her to take advantage of this time together and get married. With “Fated” being so heavyhanded in Francis and Mary’s bliss, it was clear they wouldn’t stay that way for long, and Catherine, especially was intent on stopping the marriage by poisoning Mary.
It was only Nostradamus’ intervention that caused Catherine to rethink murder and try a different strategy: telling Mary the truth about Nostradamus’ vision of Francis’ death and hoping Mary would remove herself from the equation to save his life. Though this is surely another way of holding off on Mary and Francis’ happiness, it unfolded far more organically than any of Francis’ convulated reasonings behind staying away from Mary. Due to our knowledge of Francis’ prophesized doom since the pilot and Mary’s intense feelings for him, it makes sense that she’d sacrifice her own happiness to see Francis alive.
But it would only work if Mary believed in the prophecy so Nostradamus told her of another ominous vision. I admit that when he revealed that one of Mary’s ladies would die, I wrote in my notes, “Take Ainsley” because I forgot that Aylee’s name was Aylee which basically sums up all my feelings about her. Though it was certainly sad to see Mary and her friends gathered around the body of one of their own, if one of them had to go I’m glad it was the one Reign wanted nothing to do with. Apparently Nostradamus’ previous prediction that Aylee would never go home again meant the writers had this planned for a while, but they should have tried harder to get the audience to care about Aylee so her death was more upsetting and less of a relief. This is the part where my intellectual understanding is far greater than my emotional one. Even though Aylee was my least favorite lady, I can understand how the other girls are so affected by her death. Done right Aylee’s murder could spur on a variety of changes in the characters, and it seems to have already begun for Mary in particular which was exactly what Aylee’s killer intended.
And the person who killed Aylee? Clarissa. Wanting Mary to believe Nostradamus’ prediction and avoid Catherine’s own homicidal urges, she poisoned Kenna’s drink and Aylee drank it. The revealing scene was disturbing, giving us a few glimpses of Clarissa’s physical body without the bag (she’s got an unfortunate hair situation happening, and I don’t think some deep conditioning and a brush will suffice to fix it) while Nostradamus violently screamed at her and forced her to look at Aylee’s dead body. Their relationship is obviously not normal, and though Nostradamus displayed some level of fondness for her a few weeks back his true colors were made apparent as he reminded Clarissa that she was nothing but a monster. I can’t say a disagree with the monster bit since she did kill an innocent girl, a close friend of another girl Clarissa claims to care for.
From Clarissa’s many instances of assisting Mary, it’s been apparent that she feels some kind of kinship with her, but since the shot of her lying underneath Mary’s bed her help has taken on a creepy context. With Olivia’s mysterious disappearance in the tunnels (and still no one’s asked about her), it’s clear Clarissa’s a dangerous friend to have. Whatever happened to Olivia, it’s safe to say that she won’t be returning in the same condition as she left, and considering her antagonistic relationship with Mary, Clarissa hurting her on Mary’s behalf wouldn’t be unexpected.
Even though Clarissa is going to pay some kind of price for killing Aylee, her plan still worked, convincing Mary of the truth of Nostradamus’ prophecy and compelling her to flee France to save Francis. Ignoring his pleas to stay, Mary rode off on horseback alongside Bash in a both hilarious and satisfying scene. Francis fell ridiculously to his knees while Mary rode away, stoic and determined. Though Toby Regbo’s face was unintentionally amusing, it did a few good things. I’d say there was a bit of anger there as Mary ignored his call. When the two inevitably reunite, I’m betting they won’t be on the best of terms. This time at least Francis will have a legitimate reason for not wanting anything to do with Mary.
Meanwhile Henry made Kenna aware that he doesn’t value her more than Diane, spurring Kenna to action. Even though Diane’s plan to legitimize Bash fell through, Kenna found out anyway and took the information to Catherine. Though it’s good to see Kenna doing something more than making out with Henry, she’s certainly not on the level of the women she’s doing battle with. As Catherine said, Kenna’s almost offensive in her betrayal and stupidity. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call Kenna stupid, she definitely lacks the foresight that Diane and Catherine have.
To succeed at court Kenna needs to start thinking several steps ahead which she clearly wasn’t doing when she went to Catherine and offended her right away by talking as if she isn’t another woman Henry’s cheating on his wife with. Kenna wasn’t at all concerned about ruffling Catherine’s feathers, but her lack of worry wasn’t out of confidence but ignorance. She is a teenager so she doesn’t comprehend the land of adult scheming that Catherine and Diane live in. So while Kenna was close to horrified at the thought of getting Diane executed for treason, Catherine didn’t bat an eye and later planned to force Diane to poison Kenna. Though Diane smashed Catherine’s poison instead, she’s not opposed to murder either. After all last week’s siege rested on her hopes that Henry’s legitimate sons would be murdered. If Kenna wants to become a real contender in this game, she’s going to have to become a lot more ruthless – and a lot smarter. That may be on the way as Kenna looked suspiciously to the smashed cup at Aylee’s side.
This review is running long already, but I’ve neglected Bash who’s become one of my favorite characters, and as his story also tied in excellently to “Fated”, I can’t not talk about it. Scared off by Catherine’s threats to tell Henry about Diane’s attempts at legitimizing Bash, Diane warned him that they were no longer safe, and both agreed to leave. Naturally Bash was going at the same time as Mary so they went together.
The love triangle is another one of those matters where my brain really enjoys it even if my emotions are really “eh” about it. I’ll go to my grave lamenting the lack of chemistry between Torrance Coombs and Adelaide Kane, and now that Reign is really going ahead with their romance, I’m going to just cross my fingers and hope they generate some sparks over the hiatus. I can understand Bash and Mary’s friendship, and there’s definitely potential for it to grow into more. Bash is far closer to the “just a boy” Mary once wished Francis could be, and he won’t die if Mary ends up with him either so I understand the appeal. Surely their journey together is going to include some romantic somethings, but the mutual, romantic attraction we keep being told is there just never comes across. Hopefully that’ll be rectified in the second half of the season.
Reign doesn’t return until January. So until then, leave your thoughts in the comments.
Leave your thoughts in the comments.