We knew it was coming. We just didn’t know when. And now, only five episodes into Reign‘s third season, King Francis is dead.
But before you relive his best moments, EW spoke exclusively to showrunner Laurie McCarthy about what Francis’ death will mean for those he leaves behind and whether Mary will find love again. Here’s a rundown of what’s coming next on the show that McCarthy says will “embrace change as opposed to hiding from it”:
On Catherine: “It doesn’t just affect Mary’s life, it affects Catherine, who after a lot of really interesting, dramatic struggle, goes on to become a leader in her own right,” McCarthy says, adding, “She becomes the regent of France for decades to come.” However, nothing will be easy for Catherine. “[His death] shifts the power dynamic at court between Narcisse and Catherine. There’s going to be a huge battle for the regency coming up and a blossoming relationship between she and Narcisse because his ambition is going to be awakened again.” Sorry, Lola.
On Mary and Elizabeth: McCarthy says Francis’ death “heightens the dynamic between Mary and Elizabeth, because suddenly they’re both vying for the same men, really. It makes Mary more of a threat to Elizabeth because the question becomes who is she going to marry next and because she has to make a political marriage, will it be something that puts Elizabeth in even more jeopardy?” Furthermore, his death “puts a young king, even younger than Francis, on the throne and that shifts the dynamic in France as well.” Hope you’re up for the challenge, Charles.
On Claude: It’s sometimes easy to forget that as a member of the royal family, Claude can also be used by both allies and enemies, a fact that could become more prominent now that Francis is gone. “Claude has a close relationship with her brother and she’s got his protection but once he’s gone, what does that do to her life, knowing that nobles get traded for marriage as well,” McCarthy explains.
On the loss of an epic romance: By losing Francis, fans also lose Frary, the couple at the center of it all. But McCarthy is confident that they will be able to fill that void … if they feel the need. “I think that there will be another epic romance. I’m not promising that it’ll be an epic romance for Mary right away, but there are other epic romances coming, and one of them is Elizabeth and Dudley in England,” she says, adding, “I think the show’s more than that. I trust that the architecture of the show can hold an epic romance but that that’s not all that the show is.”
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On Lola: Lola might be a married woman, but she still just lost the father of her child. “The dynamic is that she gave birth to the son of the King of France,” McCarthy says. “She couldn’t go anywhere. Well, now she can.” (And it sounds like she might want to if her husband is getting involved with Catherine’s schemes again.)
On Mary’s recovery: The biggest question, of course, is how this loss will affect Mary. “I think she’s going to recover because she will find her strength,” McCarthy says. “It puts her in frankly a scrappier position because she’s not just losing the love of her life, she’s losing the alliance with France and what that foretells is that at some point, she’s going to return to Scotland, she’s going to lay claim to the throne that is actually her throne in the country that she was born to rule. And we’re very well positioned for that to be coming down the line very much in the same way that this season we’re expanding to the court of Elizabeth, to England. It’s actually going to give her more stories and more challenges.”
After all, as McCarthy puts it, “In the scheme of her life France was not only tenuous but really just the first chapter of her life.”
That being said, don’t expect another epic romance to be waiting for Mary when she gets to Scotland. “If I were a fan, here’s what I would be worried about: ‘Are you going to basically try and shove another romance between Mary and someone else at us that dishonors her relationship with Francis?’ And I would say that we will not,” McCarthy says. “We’re going to follow the course of her life, and she’s going to have to make certain moves and she will find love again, but it won’t feel false.”
Reign airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.