What’s the cost of a king’s life? Tonight’s installment of Reign answers that question — and the outcome is not pretty. It’s an answer that Mary and the gang at French court will be grappling with for a long time (or at least for the next few episodes). So, what’s the cost of a king’s life? Let’s find out.
Mary receives an urgent letter from her mother, Marie de Guise, alerting her that there’s been a surge of English forces in Scotland. Their supply chain has been cut off and if France can’t make a big assist, Scotland will be lost. Francis is sure Elizabeth knows he’s dying and she’s testing his power. He refuses to look weak, so against the counsel of his advisors, Francis quickly decides to send in two of their best warships. “It’s on like Donkey Kong, Liz!” he shouts, in my imagination.
Unfortunately, Francis should’ve listened to his advisors — better yet, he should’ve called upon the most badass of advisors: Catherine. Catherine interrupts a perfectly good sparring session between Francis (he’s been taking magical Austrian herbs and feeling so much better) and Charles, to inform her sons that their two ships were sunk and hundreds of French lives were lost. If they had asked her opinion before attacking, she would’ve provided some intel on the sleek new ships the English Navy built. Let her treason be good for something, guys!
Francis would rather his mother concentrate on the real reason he released her from prison: To secure enough privy council votes to ensure she’s appointed regent for Charles. Catherine assures him that she has the privy council under control. She’s been wining and dining Lord Clavelle, and his vote is as good as hers — or so she thinks.
Lord Clavelle is a bit of a grump. Catherine’s been going out of her way to keep him happy — which is basically Catherine’s own personal hell — but she still hasn’t been able to win his vote. She even drags Claude in on the act, pimping her out to Clavelle’s son. (The mother-daughter get-your-charm-on primping was perfection. These two ladies are more fun when they’re working together rather than trying to, you know, murder each other slowly via soup.) When Operation Claude doesn’t work, Catherine asks the noble point blank what it’ll take to get his vote. In short: nothing. He’ll never vote for Catherine because years ago, she ran over his daughter’s foot in a carriage, ruined her chances to wed, and a year later the girl killed herself. Well, that’s unfortunate.
Catherine’s need for privy council member votes has put her in a vulnerable position. Anyone with an ax to grind could use this unique hold over the Queen Mother to his advantage. And, of course, by “anyone,” I mean Narcisse.
When Narcisse catches Catherine harassing Lola in the castle hallways (and almost blowing up his spot on Bath Rat-gate), he knows something must be done. Narcisse is a smart dude. His now step-son John, thanks to Francis, has almost enough lands to earn a seat on the privy council, which would ostensibly be Narcisse’s seat since, you know, John’s a little tied up learning how to eat solid foods. A seat on the council means a say in Catherine’s regency, which means Catherine will have to play nice with Narcisse and Lola if she wants his vote. To get the extra lands, Narcisse turns his honeymoon into a looting excursion. He ends up getting what he needs to secure a spot on the council, but the means by which he procures those lands raises some red flags for Lady Lola.
Narcisse thinks he has Catherine right where he wants her, but he’s wrong. Catherine sashays up to the guy and reminds him how much fun the two of them had together. They’re equals, after all. Narcisse insists that he loves Lola, but Catherine may be right: There is still some definite heat between the ex-lovers.
All this privy council business will have to wait, though, because there’s still war raging in Scotland. Mary tries to make a trade with Nicholas: two captured English generals for the removal of English troops. Nick tells her that Elizabeth will never cede to Marie de Guise or the Scottish, and his orders are simply to just sit tight until the French tire of dying for the Scots and for Francis to croak. Nicholas is a cold-hearted snake and he needs to make out with someone immediately. Those are my orders!
Mary calls him a vulture, because she’s the best, and leaves her room — allowing Nick enough time to steal the cipher she and her mother use to communicate. Later, Greer spots Nicholas colluding with one of Mary’s servants in her bar (Greer owns a bar now!), who hands over the letter Mary sent to her mother containing very valuable Information on French movements in Scotland.
Mary doesn’t sweat it. Why? BECAUSE IT’S ALL A RUSE. Nicholas did exactly what Mary hoped he would do, and now the ambassador has sent bad intel on to Elizabeth. Watching Mary be underestimated by a man and then have it blow up in his face makes my tiny, cold heart grow three sizes.
Sadly, the French monarchs don’t have much time to celebrate their win. Francis is out with Charles, trying to impart some kingly wisdom on the kid, who took the downed warships in Scotland pretty hard. Though Francis means well, his advice is basically: Fake it till you make it, little bro! Which, although possibly true, may not be the most comforting. Also not comforting? Watching your brother fall off his horse and crash to the ground.
NEXT: Adventures in temporary death!