If you thought Catherine de Medici, lover of poisons, banisher of castle ghost children, and equine master chef, was going to stay locked up in prison for long, well, have you even seen Reign before? Of course Catherine was going to figure out a way to regain Francis’ trust — I just assumed it would be through some deliciously underhanded scheme, not through the rational (albeit last resort) thinking of Mary, Queen of Scots. For better or worse, these two ladies understand just how valuable the other can be in getting what they want.
So, how do we go from Mary threatening to have Catherine executed to her realization that Catherine is the only way to keep France and Scotland safe? Well, first, we can thank Prince Charles for being the worst.
Young Prince Charles is sure making it difficult for Mary to find a silver lining in their betrothal. When Mary brings up keeping the French-Scottish alliance strong, Charles immediately assumes she means making sweet, sweet heirs. Which, first: ew. And furthermore: NO. Thankfully, Mary doesn’t have to address the heir situation just yet, as Charles gets distracted by the arrival of an old friend, the Duke of Toulouse’s daughter, and big time party girl, Constance.
No matter! Mary has more pressing issues to deal with: Francis is getting worse, and all the time he’s spending away from court is arousing suspicion in the new English ambassador. Remember him? Elizabeth (who, frankly, I kind of missed) ordered Nicholas and his espionage skill set to get comfy in French court. Nick is peeved he hasn’t seen Francis yet. He’s getting ancy and Mary knows that’s not a good thing.
Before Mary can deal with Nicholas, she has another thorn in her side to tend to: Catherine. Catherine’s been relocated to the infirmary thanks to some self-inflicted wounds. I’m not just talking about the head-banging we saw last week — sister friend also bit out a chunk of her own cheek and left it on the prison floor. Say what you want about Catherine, but she’s committed to the cause.
After hearing of Catherine’s constant demands to see Francis, Mary goes to check on her mother-in-law, and, of course, very nicely remind her that Francis never wants to see her face again. Catherine has an equally sweet response, and tells her “vampire bitch” daughter-in-law that she is the cause of every single tragedy they’ve faced. Family is the best!
Mary barely has time to fill Francis in on Catherine’s antics, when CSI Bash busts in with news of a guest at court: King Antoine. I’ve been wondering when we’d get the scoop on Condé’s current situation (I was a fan, don’t hate)! For some reason, everyone agrees that it would be a great idea for Mary to deal with Antoine, you know, since she’s the one who betrayed his brother by going stab-town on his, I imagine, very taut abdomen region. But, she loved Louis once, so okay, WHY NOT?
Condé is being held by mercenaries, and to get him safely back to Navarre, Antoine needs his brother’s guaranteed safe passage through France. To get this from the crown, he’s willing to convert to Catholicism and credit it to Mary. It would be a big win. Mary counters: Louis can travel safely through France if Antoine renounces his claim to the French throne. Antoine blows a gasket, and despite Mary showing up with a sick coat game, the King of Navarre refuses to negotiate with the woman who “destroyed” his brother. Antoine will only talk to Francis.
So, they rally Francis from bed, put him in his finest furs, and the monarchs make their way downstairs to see Antoine. Just as Francis is reminiscing about the good ol’ days when he and Mary could accomplish anything together, he weakens and takes a big spill. We’ve all been there, Francis! Stairs are hard. They rush him back to his chambers.
NEXT: Lola’s big decision[pagebreak]
While Mary and Francis continue to hide Francis’ condition away from court, Lola attempts to hide her relationship status with Narcisse under his covers. Once again, Narcisse brings up marriage, and even though last week Lola asked for his patience, Narcisse needs a more concrete promise and so he officially proposes.
As most gals with common sense do when faced with a big decision, Lola weighs the pros and cons of marrying Narcisse. Lola rattles off a few of the reasons for and against the union, but if I had to guess, I would think the full version, written down in her royal diary or something, would look a little like this:
Lady Lola’s Pros + Cons for Marrying Lord Narcisse
• King forbids it
• Catherine’s wrath
• Friends hate him
• Not loyal to crown (or anyone)
• Ate his horse*
• Makes me feel strong
• Good in the sack
• Name is Stéphane (pretty cool)
*not his fault
It’s pretty clear what Lola should do, and therefore she does the exact opposite: She agrees that when the time is right, she’ll marry Narcisse.
Timing is everything on Reign, and just as Lola resolves to follow her heart, she has a family meeting with Francis and is forced to rethink her decision. Poor Francis! He can order people to get married or not get married all he wants, but even he’s aware he’ll have no control once he’s gone. So instead of talking to Lola as her king, he talks to her as John’s father. It is heart-breaking. Francis knows John will never remember him, and he so desperately wants his son to have a strong and kind father figure in his life. Well, that’s enough for Lola to pull Narcisse aside at Antoine’s welcome feast and call the engagement off. Lola’s life belongs to her son.
Speaking of Antoine’s welcome, Francis does a solid job of keeping up appearances when he strolls into the party — sans stair falling — and shares a romantic dance with his wife to Sam Smith’s 16th-century classic, “Stay With Me.” Are the two of them basically just floating angels on the dance floor? Probably, but I can’t be sure because I CAN’T SEE THROUGH MY TEARS.
It’s becoming more and more obvious that Prince Charles is no King Francis. While this magical dance is happening, Charles is alone with Constance attempting to um, make heirs. Constance is pretty hardcore though, so Charles swipes some opium that had been offered to Francis for his pain (he turned it down, OF COURSE). Constance takes it, starts choking, and collapses. Charles enlists his sister’s help because, well, Claude most certainly has experience with partying too hard. Claude’s Plan A would be to ask her mother, a woman who “manages tragedy with ruthless clarity,” for help. Since that’s impossible, she goes for the next best thing: Narcisse.
Narcisse wisely wants nothing to do with this whole situation, but when they realize Constance is still (barely) breathing, Narcisse macgyvers a little charcoal stomach pumping system and, forcing Charles to help clean up the mess he made, they save Constance. Narcisse reminds Charles that what he does reflects on his brother, a dude with a LOT of pressure already on him, if you haven’t noticed, and he commends Claude for her quick thinking.
Since Claude’s never done anything right in her life, she wants to share the big news with Leith, who earlier she confessed “lifts her spirits.” He was shirtless at the time, so, can she really be held accountable for anything that came out of her mouth? Unfortunately, she walks in on Leith getting it on with one of her ladies-in-waiting. When she questions him about it, he admits that he doesn’t want to make the mistake of falling for yet another woman above his station and… that could happen here. Important question: WHY AREN’T THESE TWO MASHING FACES YET?
Maybe CSI Bash could solve that mystery for us — oh no, I’m sorry, he’s stuck in the story line that will never end. Yes, Bash is still hot on the trail of Delphine, but does anyone care? Bash does have one important job this evening, though: He alerts Mary that Antoine has been meeting with the English ambassador. In fact, Nicholas has offered Antoine Queen Elizabeth’s full support if Antoine does not sign away his claim to the French throne. Even though this means “Adios, Condé!” Antoine considers it.
NEXT: The solution? Catherine.[pagebreak]
Now, Mary needs to figure out a way to force the English to rescind their offer. The solution to her problem is clear: Sic Catherine on them.
Mary releases Catherine from prison, and the Queen Mother surprises Nicholas in his room. She threatens to spill the beans on Elizabeth’s plot to disgrace Mary and for good fun, she’ll throw in the details of Liz and Dudley’s relationship, unless he backs off Antoine. Nicholas may be new to France, but he knows not to mess with Catherine de Medici. Especially when the woman has nothing to lose.
With England out of the way, Francis and Mary meet with Antoine. Francis is trying to rush Antoine into signing away his claim, but before pen is put to paper, Francis’ ear starts bleeding. This is not ideal. Antoine wants to walk away from the rushed deal, but Francis shows him that a dying king is his worst enemy; a dying king is capable of anything. “Anything” includes threatening the entire country of Navarre and also killing Antoine’s giant guardsman. So, sure, Antoine signs away the Bourbon claim to the throne.
After a run-in with the none-too-pleased English ambassador, Mary faces a truth one guesses she’s known all along: The French-Scottish alliance has nothing to do with the French throne, and everything to do with Francis’ love for his wife. Catherine’s been right all along, Elizabeth will never end her crusade in Scotland, and France can’t offer the protection Mary needs. She tells Francis she can’t marry Charles (praise!) and that Charles needs Catherine — a woman who would do anything for her family and for her country.
Before they release Catherine, however, there’s a wedding to attend! That’s right, Francis is so impressed with how Narcisse handled Charles, he finally understands what Lola sees in the guy. He gives his blessing for them to wed — immediately. He wants to be there to publicly sanction the union and probably he just really loves weddings.
The newlyweds don’t have much time to celebrate though. While canoodling in the hallway, who should appear to wish them well, but the newly freed Catherine de Medici. It is as badass as it sounds. Catherine wishes the two long and healthy lives together, which in Catherine-speak roughly translates to RUN FOR YOUR LIVES.
Having sufficiently put the fear of god in Lola and Narcisse, Catherine goes to gaze upon the king and queen’s thrones. She’s just come from her first real conversation with Francis since learning of his impending death. She promises to take care of the people Francis loves when he dies — including Mary, and this brings him some comfort. She apologizes for not always being the mother Francis needed, but he knows she had her own way of doing things, and this brings her some comfort.
Back in the throne room, Catherine glances at the queen’s side, but ends up taking a long overdue seat in the king’s throne. Put your feet up, girl! Catherine is finally getting everything she ever wanted, but at a price she hoped she’d never have to pay. Life, man.
Outfit of the Week: It’s a tie — Mary and Greer’s gowns seen during Antoine’s party. Mary’s dress gets points because it’s her Last Dance Dress (treasure it, girl), and Greer’s bold printed ballgown both looks great and holds so many secrets. Greer is basically the Gretchen Weiners of French court now.
The Queens’ Corner of Harsh Lady Truths:
- “If she tries to bite anything else, shove a bit in her mouth.” —Mary being practical about her mother-in-law
- “I don’t have much to live for these days, but I can still die for my children. Withdraw your offer or I will burn Elizabeth’s name to the ground.” —Catherine doesn’t play, y’all