We did it, Royals! We made it through that seemingly never ending months-long drought of Reign. To thank us for our patience, we’ve all been gifted with the news of a fourth season renewal. Thanks be to Nostradamus (and the CW) for that, because if I had to suffer through a life without my badass queens, saucy 16th-century hook ups, and the opportunity to discuss the ramifications of putting a rat in your lover’s bathtub, why, I’d probably just toss myself off a balcony Amy Dudley-style.
But that’s just me. How are the rest of your faring? Were you counting down the days until the castle serial killer was finally revealed? Thankfully, “Succession” does provide a definitive answer to that mystery, but also, maybe we should have a chat about how you spend your time. Were you really so enthralled with CSI: Bash? Let’s be real, finally seeing the murderer’s face after weeks of trudging through the lackluster plot wasn’t even the most jaw-dropping revelation in this episode. That award goes to a little something that goes down in merry ol’ England… and involves a wig. Oh, we’ll get to it later, because it is awesome.
First, let’s check in on the residents at French Court.
It’s King Charles’ coronation and the event has both of our queens attempting to bury any thoughts of Francis the best way they know how: Mary by focusing on problems in Scotland, and Catherine by having lots of sex with her firestarter-turned-king’s guardsman, Christophe.
Last we saw Mary, Queen of Scots, she was kissing Gideon and liking it. Since their plan to trick Elizabeth into thinking Gideon succeeded in his mission to seduce Mary had worked a little too well, Mary’s been avoiding the English ambassador. She has bigger issues at the moment, anyway.
There’s news from Scotland that a protestant reformer by the name of John Knox has been speaking out against Mary, and has a lot of followers to back him up. He’s against all Catholics and women in power, and he wants a male leader in Scotland – so basically he’s the worst. The Scottish Ambassador Lord Cunningham advises Mary to consider marrying King Eric of Sweden. He’s not into mermaids, but he is Protestant, and an interfaith marriage may appease some of her enemies. Mary thinks appeasement shows weakness and she’s curious to hear how that other female monarch feels about Knox. Oh, interesting, the only way to communicate with Queen Elizabeth is through her ambassador. I guess Mary will have to go gaze upon Gideon for a bit. How terrible for her.
Gideon assures Mary that Elizabeth isn’t a fan of Knox either, but the Queen of England would be hard pressed to speak out against a protestant leader. Now that that’s out of the way, Gideon has more important business to discuss with Mary: Will she be dancing with him at the coronation? He goes on to say that he only wants to offer her a friendly face on what he knows will be a very emotional day, but, like, Mary was just informing you of a very serious threat to her crown and her life, dude. Priorities. Mary attempts to brush him off, emphasizing their need to keep things all business, all the time.
Unfortunately, keeping personal things out of their relationship becomes a lot harder when Gideon’s daughter, Agatha shows up. Mary can sense Gideon’s having trouble bonding with Aggie, so she suggests you know, actually spending some time with the kid. (Mary’s pitch perfect “Oh, Gideon” response upon hearing Gideon’s idea of parenting was delightful.) And thus, Gideon ropes Mary into spending a day with him and Agatha at a local carnival. There’s men on stilts, camels, and lots of sexual tension. A successful carnival if I’ve ever seen one!
Eventually, Mary puts all of her training as a diplomat to good use when she has a lovely heart-to-heart with Agatha about her father. Aggie’s worried that she’ll be separated from him again and is afraid to trust him. Mary assures the little girl that her father is a good man and all he wants to do is keep her safe. It seems to work. On the ride home, Gideon expresses his gratitude for Mary’s help. It was a good day. Perpetual mood-killer Mary ruins the nice moment by bringing up her latest suitor predicament.
Gideon, although it completely defies Elizabeth’s orders, encourages Mary to consider the Swedish King. She’s a queen, and she needs to do whatever it takes to protect her reign. With that in mind, Mary alerts Cunningham to her decision, but unfortunately she’s too late. The situation has gotten a little more complicated, and by complicated he means terrifying — Knox has stormed Edinburgh Castle and is burning effigies of Mary in the streets. So, that’s not great.
A marriage won’t fix the escalating situation, but Mary believes raising an army will. She’s headed off to the Vatican to ask for funds in fighting the Protestants. Gideon attempts to stop her — even if she claims she’s only fighting Knox, Elizabeth will see it as an act of aggression against England. He tries to appeal to Mary’s heart, and asks her what would happen if they meet on opposite sides of the battlefield. But Mary wants to keep it all business, remember? Without hesitation, she tells him she’d strike him down. So, no second date, then?
NEXT: A new meaning to “pouring salt in the wound”