Part of the problem with Reign‘s first season was how many of the characters seemed to be on different shows at some points. The blend of supernatural, political and romantic drama didn’t always flow well. Not to mention the way things just seemed to happen and didn’t matter once the episode ended. Things went more sideways than forward, but eventually Reign hit a nice place where big things were happening, pushing things forward and affecting everyone, only to lose sight of that somewhere near the end. Season two’s started off much stronger. While the premiere’s plague could have been just another something to be shoved into Reign‘s history closet, the aftermath is proving to be much bigger than it first appeared and it looks like it’s going to inform the rest of the season.
Narcisse arrives at court to see his son’s body, quickly discovering that Edward was murdered by Mary and vowing vengeance. Since he can’t touch Mary, as queenly as she is, he targets Nostradamus and the guards who tossed Edward into the sealed room, planning to have them drawn and quartered. Craig Parker’s no stranger to playing despicable men with too much power, and he does so well here. He’s a strong foil to Francis and Mary, whose usefulness and influence can’t be denied, but we’re still holding out for that painful death Nostradamus foresaw for him.
Though by the episode’s end Narcisse is just as much Francis’ enemy as he is Mary’s, this week’s episode is frank about the threat Narcisse poses to Mary. She’s his target, despite the men he’s actually having killed. It’s her he’s punishing because it’s her who ordered his son’s death. While everyone’s calling Mary’s actions in the premiere a “mistake”, it’s hard to see how it was one. Sure it caused them some pretty big problems, however temporary, but if Edward was anything like his father (as he apparently was) his death is no great loss. It’s only a mistake because it means the nobles may cause problems
And that is a big mistake by Catherine’s measure, and of course by the late Henry’s. Henry was, as Catherine is, beholden to the nobles. Even Henry (who threw his wife into a cell for no reason and planned to have her executed) was willing to bend over backward to satisfy nobles like Narcisse. Apparently the abuses of power don’t extend to throwing Craig Parker into a plague-ridden cell and leaving him there. I admit that every time people reminded Francis he was king that I kept waiting for someone to say “You can do whatever you want just kill the guy.” But Mary’s apparently the one who makes impulsive decisions and just murders people in the name of justice, which actually makes me like her a million times more than I already did.
One of Reign‘s central themes has always been Mary and Francis negotiating their roles as rulers and their morality as people, and Narcisse initiates a clash between the two. If they stop him without proof, the nobles will rise up, but if they let him do what he wants then they’re bowing to the murderous whims of Craig Parker and officially deciding that their rule isn’t going to be about their subjects but about them. Both mention how they don’t want to be like France’s previous king and queen, though they both say so regarding Francis’ newborn son.
Francis and Mary’s reunion is a sweet one, observed by the entire court, but hanging over it is the presence of Lola and her son. Mary’s obviously conflicted, torn between her hurt and jealousy over Lola and Francis’ son but knowing that it’s natural and right for Francis to want a relationship with that son. First she tells Francis not to claim his son then she changes her mind because she doesn’t’ want to become embittered like Catherine. She hopes opening her heart will make it easier and make her hold onto the person that she is, though that’s a tall order considering their very unusual circumstances. It’s not just Mary’s feelings that rest on this but also her rule.
Not to mention the strain that’s present in her relationships with Francis and Lola. Despite how understanding Mary tries to be, there’s still the lingering fact that Francis and Lola slept together and conceived a child. But all sides are trying. Lola helps Mary find damning information on Narcisse, and Francis and Mary are still very in love and their partnership is one that ends up saving the day, blackmailing Narcisse with forged letters proving his guilt.
However much Francis and Mary don’t want to be like Henry and Catherine it’s perhaps too late. Just as Henry was haunted after murdering his brother, Francis’ guilt over killing Henry is slowly consuming him. Mary grows more ruthless day after day and her alliance with Nostradamus is a big indicator of how Mary’s growing into Catherine’s former role. But while Henry and Catherine were accepting of their roles as quasi-villains, Francis and Mary are doing everything they can to prove otherwise. Francis vows to be a better father and king, and Mary swears to protect Nostradamus (and follows through) while Catherine washes her hands of it after Nostradamus’ betrayal of her.
And let’s go to that, shall we? The last mention this show made of Clarissa being alive was “The Consummation”, and her name hasn’t been mentioned since. Nostradamus kept this quiet to avoid having an awkward conversation with Catherine that would mean she’d essentially signed her son’s death warrant by encouraging his and Mary’s marriage, but once Nostradamus is facing death, he loses all fear. He tells Catherine, in only so many words, that Clarissa’s still out there somewhere, which means Francis’ death is still on the table. It’s hard to determine if this is Reign‘s way of promising Clarissa’s return or just making Francis’ impending death a plot point of the season, but I’m at least glad someone over at Reign recalled that this happened.
Reign‘s got the political machinations post-plague covered, but what is Reign without some looming supernatural threat for Bash to mull over? Like like last week Bash is warned about a coming “reckoning”. All those treated unjustly in life and in death are going to come back for retribution, which of course doesn’t bode well for anyone in the castle. Bash is no stranger to killing folks (he just killed that woman last week), neither is Mary and Francis has perhaps the biggest issue in Henry’s spirit apparently possessing the nurse and naming him a “usurper”. It’s only episode two so I wonder how quickly this apocalypse will come, how long it will last and if we’re going to be treated to actual zombies crawling their way out of the ground or what.
This show is so silly sometimes. I love it.
- Why does Narcisse look younger than his own son?
- I thought the nurse was going to kill the baby when she was possessed by Henry, but that probably would have been too morbid, even for this show.
- Leith and Greer are so boring now that they’re not making out anymore. It’s not even interesting to see them share screentime, and it’s especially not interesting to see an aggrieved Castleroy promising to destroy Leith and stalling his and Greer’s marriage because he’s questioning her loyalty.
- I’m wondering what Conde’s role is going to be going forward. He seems to be acting as Francis’ conscience at this point, encouraging him to be a better king. Maybe Reign is trying to give Francis a support system similar to that of Mary and her ladies. He’s got Bash, Leith and now Conde so I guess he’s good on that front.
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