If last week’s premiere focused on how Mary handled the news of Francis’ imminent death, the latest installment of Reign is all about expanding that circle of trust: It’s time to deliver the news to the rest of the family.
Francis has been thinking about the best way to protect both his country and his wife after he dies, and reaches one conclusion: Mary needs to marry Prince Charles. As one can imagine, Mary is not thrilled. After knowing True Love with Francis, Mary can’t imagine entering into a marriage solely for political reasons. But, as Mary has proven time and again, she’s a tough broad and understands how to play the royalty game; she’ll do it.
Now that Francis and Mary are a united front, they gather the rest of the family to fill them in on Francis’ fate. Each member of the family reacts differently to the news of their brother’s death, but not one of them hugs Francis. Let’s find out how the members of the House Valois start to prepare for the impending transition of power.
Charles and Catherine: Upon hearing that he’ll soon be the King of France, Charles reacts as one would imagine a young teenager would, and makes it all about himself. Charles is petrified. He rides himself pretty hard for not taking his King Classes seriously. Although the Dauphin slept through the majority of Tithing 101: Making Peasants Pay For It, it becomes very obvious that he received full marks in Benefits of Kinging 312: Being a Jerk is Totally Cool Because, Hey, You Can Behead People Now.
When he learns of Francis’ matchmaking plans, Charles looks at Mary like she’s some decrepit, disgusting hag, and he can’t imagine ever having to marry someone so old (I’m not exaggerating! Okay, maybe a little). Francis and Mary explain that by having Charles marry a queen, they’ll circumvent the need for a regent to rule until Charles comes of age. Charles has a top-notch hissy fit, demands to see Catherine, and storms out, yelling, “I don’t want to get married, and I don’t have to!” Which begs the question: Did the Reign writers tap my phone?
Francis wants to keep a tight lid on the details of Catherine’s arrest. If her treason is discovered, nobles will call for her head. Mary thinks Francis is crazy for letting Catherine live, but he’s dying, so she’ll do him a solid. What they can agree on, however, is that it may be dangerous to let Charles meet with Catherine — unless they can control the situation.
Francis gives Mommy Dearest the bad news, and then allows Charles to meet with her. Catherine advises Charles to humor Francis by agreeing to the marriage. When Charles is king he can do as he pleases. It’s a somber moment as they both realize that when this happens, Francis will be dead. Not one to linger on the emotional, Catherine swiftly moves into her first lesson for the soon-to-be king: finance! She gives Charles explicit directions to contact a Lord Germain and request a “full reckoning of the realm’s accounts.” She explains this will impress the noble, but we all know that with the French throne vulnerable, the Queen Mother couldn’t care less about balancing the royal checkbook.
Turns out, the phrase Catherine had Charles send to Germain is code for the go-ahead to bust into Navarre and exterminate the entire Bourbon line — babies and all. Francis and Mary, of course, have been spying on Catherine and are able to stop the assassination plot. They invite Charles down to the village to make sure he sees what his mother is capable of. The kid is incensed that his own mother would have allowed the blood of children on his hands. Catherine defends her actions; the Bourbons are a real succession threat. She reminds Charles and Mary (Francis is off resting) who was behind the latest attempt at a coup. In case you didn’t realize, Mary: That’s called shade.
Catherine’s plan has backfired, and Charles agrees to wed Mary. I guess she isn’t such an old lady shrew after all! Mary swings by Catherine’s cell to rub it in her face that another one of Catherine’s sons will be her husband, and she casually mentions that although Francis won’t have his mother executed for treason, Mary may have better luck convincing Charles. Catherine demands an audience with Francis, and when this request is denied she begins slamming her head against the door in an attempt to injure herself. Oh, Catherine, such the drama queen!
Claude: Princess Claude, like her younger brother, is mainly concerned with how Francis’ death will affect her current lifestyle. After the family meeting, Claude huffs around her bed chamber in search of her prized zibellino blanket (that’s Italian for sable, peasants). When Leith, still her assigned guard, informs her that the blanket is on a coach headed toward Paris, she demands he go after it. But now that Catherine is in prison, Leith knows he doesn’t have to bend to every whim of the entitled princess; he’ll sit this one out, thanks. But, Leith, you know this isn’t just about a blanket, right? MEN.
Later, Leith overhears Claude pleading with Prince Charles to keep Francis’ promise of allowing Claude to marry whom she’d like once Charles becomes king. Charles, yet to learn his first kingly lesson at the hands of Catherine, is still being the worst. His sister will marry whomever he commands.
Leith feels for Claude. He discovers that the blanket she’s obsessing over was a gift from King Henry. She’s lost her father’s protection, and now she’ll lose her brother’s. She’s scared. Leith can’t do much in the way of helping her escape a political marriage, but he can sit with her until she falls asleep (BE STILL MY HEART). Make out already, you two! YOUR RECAPPER COMMANDS IT.
Next: Detective Bash is back on the case
Bash: Shouldn’t Bash be a little more upset about this? Wasn’t it possibly Delphine healing Bash that caused Francis’ illness to return? I mean, if you believe in that stuff, which, like, I totally don’t. Bash promises to protect little John once Francis is gone (bastards have to stick together!), and then heads out for another episode of Law & Order: French Court.
Delphine points to a kitchen maid as the next victim of whoever is on the latest murder spree at court. Since the kitchen used to be Leith’s domain, Bash charges him with getting a head count of all the servants. He returns with news that all kitchen servants are accounted for, except one young girl who ran off to get eloped. Bash heads off to the elopement locale, and lo and behold — he finds the girl and her lover murdered. Delphine’s intel was correct, but it still doesn’t prove her innocence.
Lola: We find Lola blissfully unaware of her baby daddy’s current condition, taking another bath. Unfortunately for her, she’s not bathing alone. Lola reaches down and, horrified, pulls out a dead rat with a note attached: “One rat down, two to go.” Will Lola ever be able to bathe again? Find out next week on Reign! Spoiler Alert: The answer is yes, probably. The lady loves baths, guys!
Lola storms into the quarters of fellow bath lover, Narcisse, and immediately blames the threat on Catherine. Add it to the list of why they can never be together! Even publicly rejecting Narcisse has put Lola in danger.
This, naturally, pushes Narcisse to pursue Lola even harder. He builds a little sex picnic area for the lady near her favorite berry picking spot (because, sure) and pleads his case. Since they’re already suffering for being together, shouldn’t they just be together? They might as well get some benefits, right? When Lola brings up keeping things casual again, Narcisse confesses that he wants Lola forever. Perfect answer, you rogue!
Later, Mary has a heart-to-heart with her pal. Lola explains that she’s really into Narcisse’s ability to do whatever it takes to get what he wants (remember that later, girl). Mary warns her to be careful and finally alerts Lola to Francis’ illness, which, for Lola, means that marrying Narcisse will become a real option in the future. Lola says all she can think about right now is Mary and Francis, but, immediately goes running into Narcisse’s arms and tells him that marriage isn’t off the table anymore — he just needs to be patient.
The day is Narcisse’s! His plan worked; Lola is his. What plan, you ask? Oh, Narcisse was the one who put the rat in Lola’s bath, trying to scare her into marriage. Now, Lola, what were you saying about being attracted to Narcisse’s fierceness?
Meanwhile, in England: Good Queen Bess is dealing with the fallout from “The Medici Issue.” In short: Elizabeth is a hot mess. The Vatican knows it was Elizabeth who was working with Catherine to besmirch Mary’s reputation, and an attack on Mary is perceived as an attack on all Catholic monarchs. This puts her tenuous relationship with King Philip of Spain (also very Catholic) in jeopardy. Lizzie’s privy council orders her to prove that she had nothing to do with the threat to Mary.
Also on the agenda of this very pleasant meeting: England needs a new ambassador in France. The gesture will send a message of peace. Last week, Robert Dudley’s loony wife Amy slept with a privy council member for an unnamed favor. This week, we learn that Amy’s plan is to have her husband nominated for the ambassador position — this gets him out of France and away from Elizabeth.
Elizabeth tackles one problem at a time. First, she persuades her friend Lady Donatella to testify that Catherine de Medici is her cousin and Donatella gave her asylum in England. Elizabeth swears she’ll only receive a minor punishment. Elizabeth is very, very wrong. Resident Party Pooper Lord William tells Elizabeth that since she was seen with Catherine, Donatella’s story must include a tiny little part about introducing Elizabeth to Catherine and lying about her identity. This warrants much more than a “minor punishment,” and Donatella is not happy. She threatens to recant. Elizabeth assuages her friend’s fears with gold, but then orders her arrest for treason. Way harsh, Tai.
As for the ambassador problem, Elizabeth decides the best way to keep Dudley from being sent off to France without throwing too much suspicion on the true nature of their relationship, is to emasculate him in front of the privy council. Dudley is rightfully outraged that Elizabeth would put her desires above his reputation. Dudley steps on a land mine. Elizabeth goes off on the fact that his marriage is the real problem here. Was it just me, or was that a not-so-thinly veiled threat on Amy’s life?
All of this rage might be a good thing for Lizzie. She’s taking matters into her own hands and using this ambassador position to her advantage. She commands an old, shady looking friend, Nicholas, to head over to French Court. She requires an ambassador with a special skill set. He’s going to double cross the French! He’s a spy, guys!
Outfit of the Week: This may be a controversial pick, but OOTW goes to Catherine’s prison-wear. It was startling to see Catherine de Medici, usually so meticulous, stripped of her gown and tiara. Sister didn’t let it stop her, though. She was hurling insults at guards, threatening her daughter-in-law, and attempting to take out entire bloodlines, just like the good ol’ days. Mary was right: Catherine will scheme and plot as long as she breathes — regardless of what she’s wearing.
The Queens’ Corner of Harsh Lady Truths:
- “I’ll marry your brother, even though it breaks my heart.” – Mary, tackling an unconventional family issue #royalpeopleproblems
- “Do see to it that the Tower permits her to keep her head.” – Elizabeth demonstrating the benefits of friendship with a queen
- “Who cares about right or wrong if you’re dead?” – Catherine de Medici explaining court life to her young son