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'Reign' recap: 'In a Clearing'

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Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW

Reign

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
3
run date:
10/17/13
performer:
Adelaide Kane, Toby Regbo
broadcaster:
The CW
genre:
Drama

Oh, my dear Royals. If you have yet to watch the November 13 episode of Reign, turn back now. I’m serious: Make like Nostradamus and say something unnerving before disappearing in a fabulous fur coat. GET!

King Francis is dead. He is dead and there are no take-backsies this time. We’ve known for some time that Reign was going to remain true to this aspect of Mary’s story, but did knowing what was coming soften the blow or just make it so much worse? It was an interesting and not-often seen creative choice that turned the dramatic tension from a question of “if” to a question of “when.” To be honest, I enjoyed (is that the right word? Probably not.) watching Toby Regbo (and Francis, really) get to play out his final episodes with a sense of knowing — they were some of his strongest.

Oh man, I’m really going to miss that guy. I’M SO SAD, YOU GUYS. All I want to do is curl up in my bed and play A Great Big World’s “Say Something” on repeat while a hose is directly aimed at my window so it looks like it’s raining, but ALAS, I know I must be strong — strong like Mary, Queen of Scots — and recap this mother.

Post-resurrection, Mary and Francis are YOLTing hard (You Only Live Twice). Francis feels reinvigorated, and Mary pays no mind to the fact that her mother died just as Francis was miraculously brought back to life. Or that her mother died at all, really. Since Marie de Guise confided in Mary that she was sick, Mary has been at peace with the whole thing. Is it me, or does she seem more relieved than anything? Now Mary needs to appoint a new regent in Scotland, and she’d like it to be her half-brother James. He may be Protestant, but he’s family, ya know?

The monarchs are in a great mood, and Nicholas sees this as the perfect time to present Mary with an intriguing (also: pretty terrible) offer from Elizabeth. Elizabeth knows the war in Scotland isn’t benefiting anyone, and she’s ready to call a truce—if Mary agrees to withdraw her claim to the English throne. Francis can’t believe Mary would even consider signing such a peace accord — Mary’s birthright is her most precious possession. Mary believes this may be the only way to have peace in Scotland, and anyway, Francis is her most precious possession. Aw. If there’s a line of 16th-century royal greeting cards, that should be on it.

Mary wants to give her brother a chance at ruling a unified Scotland, so she and Francis put quill to paper and sign the accord. They also almost immediately switch out Mary’s banners hanging in the throne room to remove the English line. Kudos to you, French court banner maker, whoever you are! That’s some quick turnaround time. Mary has no regrets — France is home.

Catherine’s also pretty psyched that Francis has a new lease on life. She celebrates like many of us do: by redecorating and talking nonstop about her son putting a baby in his wife. Seriously, Catherine hasn’t looked this happy since she had her dainty but fierce hands around Diane’s neck (btw, whatever happened with that?). The celebrating doesn’t last very long though. Guess who’s back with some horrible news? Why, Nostradamus, of course! Dude sure knows how to ruin a good resurrection high. He’s been having strange visions again — a tree in a clearing with white flowers covered in blood, etcetera — and he fears the danger is not over for Francis. Catherine must warn him.

Francis brushes the seer’s visions off, and though he appreciates his mother’s concern, she can’t keep him in a cage, “even one built with love.” To think that just a few short weeks ago, Francis was helping his wife toss Catherine in a prison with a tiger! Francis wants to enjoy this second chance he’s been given, not waste it worrying about what may or may not be fated. Before Catherine has the chance to shackle him to his bed, he and Mary are off to Paris to dance under the stars at the Louvre.

The romantic gesture is not lost on Mary, who can’t seem to keep her hands off her husband. She has the carriage pull over and suggests a little skinny-dipping pit stop. Skinny-dipping in the 1500s seems like a tall order; that’s a lot of layers to rip off! But the young monarchs are in it to win it. They get their dip on and then THEY GET THEIR DIP ON. Who needs Viagra when you can just die and be brought back to life by a witch’s blood magic? It’s so simple!

Speaking of Delphine, she feels pretty bad that she bound Bash’s soul to her’s through that blood/sex/magic ritual without asking. She offers to unbind them by covering Bash with squid ink and holding him underwater in a bathtub for a while. (Serious question: What is with these people and baths? Please discuss in the comments.) This is great for Bash — no more crosses burned into his chest! — but leaves Delphine vulnerable to an even stronger connection with the serial killer they’ve been tracking. CSI Bash uses this connection to his advantage though, and they discover the killer’s home base: a stable with a hidden door that leads to a room full of jars holding his victims’ hearts. Bring me back to the squid ink bath, maybe?

They’re closer than ever before to catching the killer, and CSI Bash has Delphine to thank for that. He thanks her with his tongue. But before we have time to even outline the four-page essay on why that hook-up is a bad idea, there’s trouble afoot in the forest (of love).

NEXT: Nostradamus does it again!

[pagebreak]

Mary lets Francis rest while she goes back to the carriage for sustenance, but she is grabbed by an imposing group of men. Francis senses something’s not right, and goes looking for Mary. He hears her struggling and runs after her, only to pass by…A TREE IN A CLEARING WITH WHITE FLOWERS. Francis is visibly spooked, but has no time to linger — he has a queen, his queen, to save.

Francis takes on all of Mary’s captors without hesitation (where are the guards? YOU HAVE ONE JOB). He’s brave and gallant, but he still ends up getting his head bludgeoned into the ground repeatedly. I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure that’s not great.

Francis still ends up fighting the last assassin off, but the damage has been done. Francis collapses. He knows this is the end. They were given a gift of a few extra days to be happy together, but this is his true fate. He asks Mary to make sure John is cared for, and to stay in France until Catherine becomes regent, but most importantly, he asks her to love again. It’s sad, but does it feel cheapened by the “death bed” scene we had just last week? Like, how many teary death-bed conversations do we need here? I’M SORRY, that’s the grief talking (No, but really, discuss this once you’re done with the bath stuff).

Mary is grieving, too. She’s in such shock that she can’t bring herself to leave Francis there in the forest. Catherine has to physically pull her away and the ladies hold on to each other. It’s very fitting. Mary and Catherine agree on so little, but they both loved Francis with all of their being. They both feel lost without him. They’ll need to lean on one another to survive this blow.

While Catherine’s grief takes the form of sadness and a renewed sense of urgency in becoming regent, Mary’s grief is just plain, old anger. Still wearing her gown covered in Francis’ blood, Mary storms in to see the English ambassador. She vehemently accuses Elizabeth of being behind the attack. She’s sure the accord was a distraction — the only way Mary isn’t a threat to Elizabeth is if she’s dead. Nicholas denies it repeatedly, Elizabeth would never want to set a precedent for murdering monarchs, but Mary will have her revenge. She grabs the peace accord, still yet to be made official with Elizabeth’s signature, and tosses it in the fire. England cannot have her birthright: “England has taken enough from [her] this day.”

But Mary isn’t done. She runs into the throne room and tears down the new banners (somewhere, that banner maker is weeping), removing all evidence that the accord ever existed. And then Mary screams.

Adelaide Kane, everybody; slay on, slayer.

Mary’s calmed down a considerable amount by the time the funeral rolls around (this is really happening, people). Narcisse has learned that the assassins were in fact not the English — they were Scots. A group of radical Scottish Protestants are fighting for self-government and wanted to eliminate Mary before she could appoint a new regent. To Mary, this just means that Nostradamus’ prophecy from the very beginning — that Mary would be Francis’ undoing — came to fruition.

She apologizes to Catherine and hands over the Queen of France’s crown. Catherine makes it clear she does not blame Mary. Mary made her son happy, and that’s something. In all honesty, Catherine does have to play nice with Mary since Nostradamus’ parting words (seriously, that dude lives his life like a candle in the wind) to the Queen Mother were that working with the Queen of Scots would be the only way Catherine would become regent. But, I choose to believe in this moment, with her grieving daughter-in-law, Catherine was being sincere.

Catherine reminds Mary that she’s strong, and Mary will need to remain strong for the road ahead — especially if the English have anything to do with it. Nicholas eyes up the widowed queen during the funeral (real classy, dude), and believes that the English can use Mary’s vulnerable position to their advantage. Nicholas, remember the last time you underestimated Mary? HOW DID THAT WORK OUT FOR YOU, SON?

Before Mary can tackle that threat, she must prove to herself that she’s strong enough to go on without Francis. Though that is a journey with many steps, the first is a simple one: Mary goes sailing on Francis’ boat. The last time she was on the boat, she was having trouble with the sail and Francis had to help her. This time, she’s on her own and forced to figure out her own way, as she always does. New discussion: There’s boating, sweet love making in non-traditional places, and I’m sobbing — is this show a Nicholas Sparks movie?

Well, Royals, here we are. Francis is gone (unless he returns for some ghost sex like dear old dad?). How are we feeling? Is Catherine right: Is there no France without Francis? (Be sure to read showrunner Laurie McCarthy’s thoughts on the future of Reign without him.)

Outfit of the Week: On any normal week, Nostradamus’ fur would win this contest hands down. But this is not a normal week. The image of Mary’s gown, stained with Francis’ blood, will stay with me for a long time.

The Queens’ Corner of Harsh Lady Truths:

  • “But, as it turns out, many people quite despise me.” —Catherine just being honest with herself
  • “Maybe there is no magic but what we make for ourselves.” —Francis hitting Mary with pre-death realness
  • “I am no longer the Queen of France.” —Oh, Mary!

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