With Henry gone this week, the Reign writers knew exactly what they needed to do: Bring in a new king who is as attractive as he is paranoid, and who loves nothing more than a good threesome. But before we start talking about Antoine, there is one thing that we cannot overlook, because it is the exact reason why we love this show so very much: There is a deadly Bible! Not only did it belong to Henry, but now it’s been poisoning Catherine? So are we to assume that the Bible was the reason Henry once humped a woman out of a window? Because just when I thought that moment couldn’t get any better, it does. Welcome to France, where Bibles drive people mad, unsafe sex is an understatement, and it’s completely acceptable to fool around with someone who calls himself your “parental figure.” Ah, the 1500s.
We start things outside the castle, where some random girl spots the first bloom through the snow. So basically, she’s just discovered the latest reason for them to throw an elaborate party. Better know as Winter’s Ease, this party is supposed to signify new beginnings. And for Antoine, that means visiting French Court for the first time in years and requesting to renew the peace treaty between France and Navarre. Well, that, and requesting funds from France in order to accommodate for the fact that Nevarre is now overrun with French Protestant refugees running in fear of prosecution from the crown.
Just like that, Antoine has ruined Francis’ good mood—earlier, he’d found an abandoned chateau that he was going to expand for his own new beginning with Mary. But instead, he’s forced to turn to Narcisse, who’s either being held in the world’s nicest dungeon or is enjoying all the luxuries of court. Seriously, he makes life as a prisoner of the crown look just fine to me.
Essentially, Francis needs Narcisse to gather information on Antoine and the state of his country. Of course, Narcisse suggests having a “sudden accident” get rid of Condé if he’s the problem, but Francis turns him down. How does Narcisse know that Condé has been buzzing around Mary? He’s supposed to be IN JAIL. Regardless, he agrees to help—because he has no choice—before he’s let off his leash and runs straight to Lola.
Still obsessed with bathing, Narcisse asks Lola to meet him after the feast so that they can go to the hot springs together. If she wears the flower he gives her on her dress to the feast, he’ll know she’s in. (Honestly, if Francis wanted to torture Narcisse, all he’d have to do is take away baths.)
With Narcisse off to find out the truth about Antoine, Catherine gives us some background on the war between the families: With the Bourbons also being rightful heirs to the throne, they nearly tried to take over when Francis was sick as a young boy. That then spurred King Henry to send the Bourbons out to fight in the front lines of the Italian war. It was there that Antoine and Condé’s brother Marcus died. And now, Antoine thinks it was Bash who did the killing.
Antoine tells Condé that when he went to meet Marcus during the war, he passed a French soldier on the way to the villa, and by the time he got there, Marcus had been stabbed in the back. However, Condé assures his brother that he’ll need more proof before making such an accusation toward the king’s deputy. Antoine’s move? Flirting with Kenna (because he’s literally trying to be the new Henry).
And considering that Bash spends most of the episode in a nearby town where people claim a man rose from the dead, Antoine has plenty of time to trick Kenna. Although, to be fair, it doesn’t take much for her to let it slip that Bash fought alongside Henry in the Italian war. And yet, it’s still not enough evidence for Condé. Also, can we talk about how Antoine straight up told Kenna that he wanted to learn all her secrets, and it actually worked? Either the man’s even prettier in person, or Kenna just doesn’t have a lot going on upstairs in the way of politics.
But one person we know has a lot going on upstairs? Catherine, who seems to be full-on losing her mind after she envisions Francis coming to her, telling her that Clarissa is still alive, and then dying. Because, you know, prophecy crap. Screaming for help, Mary enters to find Catherine saying Francis is dying, and yet, no one’s there. Suddenly, Catherine decides she’s the new Nostradamus and that she can have visions, when really, all she has is syphilis. At least that’s what the doctor who examines the sores on her hands and mouth says. Catherine’s reaction: “Oh Henry! Oh that is SO like him!” You know, it really is.
Seeing her mother in pain—or rather, hoping to—Claude calls in a syphilis specialist to put Catherine through the agonizing cures, which include having birds peck at your feet and suck out the bile, and being trapped in some sort of barrel-sized sauna, which they call a Mercury Oven. But first, Catherine informs Francis that if she dies, she wants him to say that it was from consumption … while she was helping orphans. Oh yeah, this woman knows politics.
So while Catherine suffers through her many treatments, Claude finds Narcisse and makes two requests that very directly contradict each other: She asks for a mentor … and a lover. Narcisse, how about you don’t refer to yourself as a “parental figure” at the very moment you agree to be her lover? That’s just a bad pitch.
NEXT: The threat of England
Making a much better pitch elsewhere is Mary, who’s finally ready to let Francis sleep in bed with her. At least she thought she was ready, but when she hears the sound of a man’s breath next to her, she freaks out and runs to a (freakishly large) dog. But in a beautiful moment, Francis assures her that her nightmare is over, and—finally!—she allows him to hold her!
And the hug does Mary a lot of good. The next day at the feast, she and Francis hit the dance floor looking as happy as ever, while Condé watches, only stopping to tell his brother that he needs to stop trying to get information out of “bewitching little siren” Kenna. Antoine more or less agrees, but not until after he reminds Condé of how Marcus died. It seems that after Bash—or someone–stabbed Marcus, he lost the use of his legs and was so miserable that he drove his wife away and drank himself to death. In other words, he wasn’t technically murdered.
Speaking of technicalities, Narcisse returns with news that Navarre really is in need of help. Not only that, but England has reportedly offered to give them funds in exchange for letting English troops into Navarre, putting them right on the French border, ready to invade whenever they see fit. With this news, Mary runs straight to Condé, but he refuses to spy on his brother. As a friend, he offers her advice: To give the money to Antoine. When in doubt, any king can be bought.
After shutting down Mary’s attempts to use his personal feelings for her against him, Condé returns to his date, Lola, who’s busy trying to convince herself that she doesn’t like Narcisse. After catching him making out with Claude, Lola tells Kenna that she wants a reliable man. And when Condé asks her to dance, she accepts. (Though she never takes Narcisse’s flower out of her hair.)
As for Narcisse, he leaves Claude behind after he finds out that her idea of having a lover is doing “everything but.” As he tells her, some people merely believe they have power while others actually have it. And without sex, she has no power over Narcisse. (Maybe if she’d mentioned bathing he would’ve stuck around.)
But as for those people who actually have power, Mary and Francis meet up with Antoine to discuss his situation with England. He quickly admits that Elizabeth approached him with the deal—money for allowing troops into Navarre—but he hasn’t agreed. Instead, he’s come to France to give them an opportunity. As for why Elizabeth is looking to start something, it seems pretty obvious: England is a Protestant country, and based on France’s actions, she thinks that France is planning to attack her and have Mary take her throne.
With this news, Mary realizes that she’s never going to feel safe again. Something is always going to be a threat. There is no chateau for Mary and Francis; there is no new beginning. So Mary decides to free Francis. She tells him to find love with someone else, but he doesn’t want to be free.
Francis: “How could you send me to another?”
Mary: “Because I love you and one of us should be happy.”
She kisses him on the cheek and the two of them sit in silence. I have no words.
Also professing love, Bash returns from the village after meeting a Greek man who claimed that a woman in white pulled him from his grave. Sadly, hunters killed the man before Bash could stop them—but will he stay dead?—but it did teach him a lesson: He doesn’t want to kill something out of ignorance, like those hunters did. He wants to know the entire truth of Kenna’s heart. Her response? “Bash, my heart really isn’t that complicated.” It might be true, but regardless, Bash prefers to think of her heart as one of those drinks at Christmas with too much spice. And personally, he can’t imagine his life without spice. Okay, solid try there, Bash, but one of those drinks at Christmas? Where are you pulling these lines from? Good thing Kenna loves you (and is forcibly tied to you for life).
And, saving the best for last, when Narcisse pays a visit to Catherine, he figures out that she doesn’t have syphilis. With sores only on her mouth and hands, he suggests poison, but she has a system in place of food tasters. So what else does she touch often that no one else uses? Henry’s Bible, a.k.a. the one he read before he went mad. And when she pours some sort of liquid on it, it steams. The Bible is deadly!!! (There’s a sentence I never expected to write.)
Also deadly is Antoine. Yep, the party boy of the 16th Century has decided that Bash did in fact “kill” his brother—or rather, paralyze him and cause him to kill himself—and he wants revenge. He also really wants a threesome, so #priorities. Wait, does this make Condé and Antoine the hyenas of Pride Rock? They don’t follow Scar—Narcisse—but they feel that the throne is rightfully theirs. And they’d probably look really good in shadowy places. Other suggestions? I’m open.
To sum everything up, Frary is absolutely heartbreaking, Narcisse is back to making skin crawl, and the Bible is deadly.
King Henry’s ranking: “Who needs shoes to rule? My Bible’s making me crazy!”