Reign has put a face to Mary’s competition. Here, Fifty Shades of Grey actress Rachel Skarsten sits in full Queen Elizabeth I regalia, looking ready to challenge Mary’s throne. She already sent her men to help Condé take the castle in a bloody siege—a move that almost worked, until Mary stepped in to reveal she’s pregnant with his child. But the Virgin Queen has always loomed large on the show as Mary’s primary rival, not only because she has a legitimate claim to the throne, but also because she and Mary are more similar than they think.
“No single character understands Mary’s unique circumstances more. No character is more of a threat to her happiness and her life,” executive producer Laurie McCarthy said in a statement in January when announcing Skarsten’s casting. “Elizabeth’s debut in the season finale is a catalyst for events in season 3, when Reign will chronicle the lives, loves and tribulations of three queens: Mary, Catherine, and now Elizabeth.”
Of course, in actual European history, Elizabeth eventually won the long struggle between the queens, imprisoning Mary for 19 years and then beheading her in 1587. But this is Reign—and Reign‘s version of Elizabeth will make her first appearance during tonight’s season finale at 9 p.m. ET on the CW.