Anyone else super pumped that this Vatican plot against both Elizabeth and Mary’s lives has been swiftly resolved? It was undoubtedly one of Reign‘s clumsier threats against our queens. It seemed so clunky and overly complicated that even the characters had to repeatedly explain what was going on to one another (and the audience). But it is no more! Now we can set our focus on much more important questions, like: When Mary returns to her throne in Scotland, exactly how much plaid will she be wearing? Inquiring minds want to know!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk attempted regicide.
Since Mary and Gideon have yet to alert Elizabeth of the Vatican’s plan to have her assassinated, Mary is still pretending to go along with her cousin’s succession scheme — to have Mary named Elizabeth’s successor as long as she marries Dudley. Wasting no time, Dudley is already in France and proposes to Mary. It’s très romantic, you guys. He tells Mary that she’s pretty decent at archery, reminds her that neither of them really have any option, and admits that they’ll probably never be in love, but their marriage could be “congenial.” Every little girl’s dream proposal!
Mary is calm about the betrothal not because she needs a new start, like Dudley, but because she knows it isn’t actually going to happen. She’s so sure that she and Gideon can stop this whole mess that she promptly says yes to Dudley and then heads back into the castle, removes her engagement ring, and hops into bed with Gideon. Mary is a boss. A badass boss.
Post-sexual relations, Mary, her flawless hair, and Gideon finalize their plan. The Vatican will want to install a Catholic king in place of Mary, and the most likely candidate is a distant cousin of both Mary and Elizabeth: Joseph Tudor. It just so happens that Joseph Tudor sought asylum in France when Elizabeth ascended to the throne. Mary also discovers that shady Archbishop Ridolfi has been borrowing royal carriages to run “holy errands.” This does not mean going to Target and spending less than $100. Mary realizes that Archbishop Shady has been in touch with Joseph Tudor all this time.
Gideon finds Joseph Tudor (as well as letters confirming his collusion with the Vatican), kidnaps him, and tosses him on a boat bound for England. He has all the evidence he needs to save both his queen and his queen, if you know what I’m saying. Unfortunately, Archbishop Shady won’t go down without a fight. A servant boy saw Gideon at Joseph’s home, and Gideon is tossed in the dungeon — but not before he can hide the documents proving the entire plot.
There is one person left at French Court who can help get the proper information to Elizabeth without endangering Mary: Robert Dudley. It is unfortunate, then, that Dudley and Gideon are, well, less than friends. Dudley’s hated Gideon since that time Gideon seduced Elizabeth. He also doesn’t take too kindly to Gideon brazenly sleeping with his fiancée. Gideon’s not much of a fan of Dudley, either, but he implores him to find the evidence he hid and bring Joseph Tudor to England. It rings a bit false that Dudley even has to think about it since his OTL Elizabeth is in danger, and as Gideon points out, exposing an assassination plot will surely absolve his sins over in England, but hey, Dudley’s never been the smartest dude at court.
Dudley comes around, though, and quickly finds himself back in front of Elizabeth. He hands over Joseph Tudor and the letters Gideon found, and Elizabeth reacts to the news in a very Elizabeth way: Since she can’t blame the Church outright, she’ll have Joseph Tudor drawn and quartered. She reams out her entire privy council for forcing her to name a successor and both rescinds her offer to Mary and vows to never name a successor again, and for good measure, she makes the entire council commend Dudley for the good work he’s done; he’ll be welcomed back at English Court, please and thank you.
On Mary and Gideon’s end, it’s a bit of a win-lose situation. Yes, Mary won’t be implicated in the plot at all, thus saving her from suffering Elizabeth’s wrath, and because she is no longer Liz’s successor, she does not have to marry Dudley. Both Mary and Gideon have freely admitted to actually caring about one another, and there’s been a lot of face stroking, so you know they mean it. But both understand they’ll never truly be able to be together — at least they can still “practice diplomacy” in the castle, right? Not really.
The Vatican still wants to punish someone for messing with their plans and calls for Catherine to hand over Gideon so that he can be tried and hanged. This makes very little sense because the Vatican is trying to keep its machinations hush-hush, but sure. Catherine, who is none-too-pleased that the Vatican is attempting to oust female monarchs, does Mary a self-serving solid and negotiates a prisoner swap with Elizabeth: She’ll return Gideon to England if Elizabeth returns one of Catherine’s generals. In the end, it is Dudley who convinces Elizabeth to accept: He informs her that Gideon was the one who uncovered the entire plot, and for bonus points, keeping Mary and Gideon both alive but separated will actually be more painful for Mary in the long run. And so to save his life, Mary bids farewell to the G-man and this too-much-talk-not-enough-action succession plot.
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