Tonight’s episode of Reign, “The Lamb and the Slaughter” has Catherine at her most monster-in-law ish. She’s not even poisoning people or threatening anyone with bodily harm or social ruin she’s just planning the christening for Lola and Henry’s son and bursting into Francis and Mary’s bedroom while they’re having sex. These moments are few and far between, and Catherine’s more self-serving qualities have been nudged onto the backburner with recent events, but for the first time Catherine may actually be the happiest character in an episode.
Mary being pregnant is what makes her happiest, leading her to burst into Francis’ and Mary’s bedroom (where they are in bed and naked) to congratulate them on what she hopes to be a coming son. Her giddiness is unlike anything we’ve seen from Catherine so far, and it’s not the coming grandchild that thrills her so but that this child is going to solidify Mary’s rule as queen.
Now there will be no more questions about her viability as a wife and queen. As soon as she gives birth to a son, Mary’s set in her role and in her place, and she no longer has to worry about whispers surrounding her lack of children. The announcement itself is so muted, occurring at the episode’s beginning despite Mary having suspected for weeks, removes a lot of the tension, and I’m assuming that Mary’s pregnancy is going to be shortlived even before the miscarriage. But it does give everyone something to be happy about, and after all these rough times it’s nice to see that.
Mary’s pregnancy even lessens some of the sting in the christening of Lola and Francis’ son, perhaps even facilitating a reconciliation between the two. To be fair they haven’t really been all that in conflict. As Lola points out, Mary’s never really gotten angry with Lola for sleeping with Francis, and her devoted assistance to Lola during her pregnancy is proof of that. It’s been frustrating to watch, to say the least as Mary’s swallowed down whatever feelings she may have in the name of protecting Lola when she needs her. Going into this episode there’s the expectation that Mary’s finally going to get to air her feelings about their current situation, but it ends up not being all that different from the last talk (in “Dirty Laundry”) Mary and Lola had about this. Mary questions why Lola would have slept with Francis at all knowing that Mary’s feelings for him remained, but Mary raises her voice so I suppose that makes it different in some way. She does at least bring up that she kept Lola’s secret for her and has been nothing but good to her despite her betrayal and would just like Lola to seem a little bit guilty.
Mary’s just not that resentful of a person. She certainly has her moments where she lashes out, and this season has proved that much. When warranted, Mary’s more than capable of ruthlessness, but she’s not quick to turn her ire on Lola. It’s only when Lola comes to Mary and Francis for a favor that Mary even bothers telling Lola how she holds her responsible for her own less than ideal situation of being thought Francis’ mistress, now trapped at court by Francis’ desire to parent his son.
Though Adelaide Kane sells Mary’s controlled rage and sadness well, Anna Popplewell doesn’t do as great on her end. Her performance has never really lived up to the story for Lola which has hammered home how important her freedom is. There’s an indifference in Popplewell’s portrayal that keeps this from coming through, and during hers and Mary’s argument Lola comes off as more mildly annoyed than anything else.
Reign does its best with her, however, giving her a storyline of her own. When Estelle (Camille Stopps), the girl who helped Lola while she was pregnant and was last seen being carted away by Narcisse in a cage, reappears at court as his wife, Lola resolves to help escape Narcisse about whom rumors circulate regarding the deaths of his first three wives. Estelle goes to Lola because she’s the most powerful woman she knows. With everyone thinking she’s Francis’ mistress there are some perks being offered to her, but there are just as many disadvantages, particularly to Lola’s plans for freedom. Though Popplewell’s not the best, Reign‘s story for her is somewhat compelling. She’s stuck at court now, having to negotiate for a cottage further away from the castle, and she’ll probably never marry because men are going to be too afraid to anger the king. Lola’s life has become just what she didn’t want it to which makes her sudden semi-friendly status with Narcisse so suspect.
Whatever partnership that may end up becoming, Mary and Lola make up when Mary helps her spirit Estelle away. The two of them drinking on the floor in their respective giant gowns is a very nice image, and on some level it’s nice to see them trying to make the best of their difficult situation. And they do so by Mary agreeing to become the baby’s godmother which is a sweet gesture on both of their ends, though it becomes tragic when Mary miscarries the morning of the christening. It’s very sad to watch her hold Lola and Francis’ son only hours after losing the baby she wanted so badly, and to do so with no one knowing except Conde who watches sadly from afar.
In another corner of the episode, a shepherd chased by three horseman “with hands as cold as ice” draws the attention of Bash and Conde. The story is that these horseman demanded the shepherd’s soul in exchange for protection, an offer he refused. When he murders his entire family and his chest is marked with a strange symbol, his soul has been taken anyway. The whole reckoning thing is on a very slow burn. There are only hints here and there (like Estelle throwing herself off a cliff because she sees her dead family at the bottom; Catherine seeing the two girls running through the castle) to propel it forward, but when is it actually going to come to fruition? There’s only so many apparitions that one person can take.
And seeming to exist on another show entirely is Greer’s ongoing saga with Leith and Castleroy which ends up being one of my favorite parts of the episode (surprisingly). Though Kenna talks up the benefits of passion in a marriage and Leith’s return to court has Greer tempted as well, she still runs to Castleroy and tells him to marry her. Though he calls off their engagement because of Greer’s superior love for Leith, Greer makes him pause with the suggestion that they finally try for more passion in their relationship. And they never have tried it, content with going along with the more conservative route of being close friends who are going to be married soon, and I’ve never really wanted them to try it.
Or at least I didn’t think I did, but I greatly enjoy this turn in Greer’s story. and Greer’s speech about desiring certainty rather than passion is very fitting for her. Throw in my dimmed opinion of Leith, and I’m partial to seeing were this goes for her. It’s doubtful her and Castleroy falling into bed together means her and Leith are done, but I wish it did. Greer’s looking for the same independence Lola is, but she’s going to get hers a different way. Greer’s independence is going to come in her peace of mind, a peace she’s never going to have with Leith who’s content with the bumpy road of ascending to greater heights. Greer’s looking for stability, and that doesn’t have to mean an unhappy marriage it just means one where she’s always going to be certain of where she is and where she’s going.
- Catherine is in fine form this episode, dropping insults everywhere. My favorite may be about Greer who she says she’s feeling a bit warmer to now that she’s going to marry the “spectacularly rich” Castleroy.
- Catherine mentions that restless spirits roaming the castle are more dangerous to pregnant women. Are we assuming that Mary’s miscarriage is due to these spirits, despite the sage scattered around?
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