“What will you do next?” the newly minted King Charles asks his now widowed sister-in-law, Mary. It’s the same question we’ve all been mulling over since last week’s heartbreaking loss of Francis. Mary left Scotland for France when she was 6; it is the only real home she’s known. Without Francis, she’s simply the Queen of Scotland living in a country that doesn’t belong to her. Mary is an outsider with very limited options, mainly: Hightail it back to Scotland and line up an advantageous marriage. Well, our Mary isn’t quite ready to face her new reality, so instead she distracts herself by taking up the fight for Francis’ dying wish to see Catherine installed as Charles’ regent. Ignoring your problems by burying yourself in work? Royals: They’re just like us!
Guaranteeing Catherine will be voted in as regent by the privy council might be a harder task than anticipated. Francis’ death has seemed to spark a fervor in Mary, but it’s done quite the opposite to his mother.
Catherine has barely left her chambers in three weeks, which has allowed the privy council to meet several times in secret without the Queen Mother. Mary and co. have caught wind that the council is rallying behind Lord Grenier. Grenier owns tons of vineyards, which is a huge plus, but he also tries to humiliate Catherine when she busts into one of his “informal” council meetings by calling her a — gasp — woman. So, we hate the dude (but would still totally take some bottles of his wine were he to offer).
Catherine feels defeated (very unlike Catherine, right?), but Mary refuses to break her promise to Francis. If Catherine won’t fight for the regency, Mary will fight on her behalf. Man, Mary really doesn’t want to think about going home, huh? She’s so deep into the Catherine Regency Project, that she even borrows the CSI title from Bash. But this time, instead of tracking serial killers, it’s tracking nobles’ spending habits. CSI: Accounting — not as exciting, but just as sexy.
Mary takes a peek through a notebook of Francis’, which is essentially Microsoft Quicken for 16th Century Kings and Their Nobles, and notices that Lord Grenier has been selling off some of his vineyards. To find out just what Grenier needs that money for, Mary enlists Greer and her stable of working ladies. Rumor has it Lady Grenier might be willing to talk about her husband’s spending habits after a visit from one of Greer’s girls. Mary’s right! But, Mary, if you ever use the phrase “post-coital” again, I’ll stage a coup.
CSI Mary discovers that Lord Grenier has been using his vineyard money to purchase mercenary armies for the war in Scotland—and profiting off the death of his soldiers. When Mary and Catherine confront him, he knows he’s lost, but reminds Catherine that she has a lot of enemies on the council, and she hasn’t won yet.
Catherine hates to admit it, but Grenier is right. A regent must honor the will of the people, and the people of France want the war in Scotland to end. Because Scotland (read: Mary) was so important to Francis, Catherine could never break the alliance. She’s watched how hard Mary has fought to honor Francis, and she is willing to do the same — even if it costs her the regency. Mary refuses to stand by and let that happen. She’s willing to make the hard choice in order to ensure Catherine becomes regent and to protect France. It’s her home too, remember?
And so, Mary dissolves the alliance between Scotland and France. France has no obligation to fight on behalf of the Scots; they can bring their men home. It is Mary’s final tie to France, and she willingly lets it go for the greater good. She attributes the action to Catherine’s guidance on the matter, and it does the trick — members of the privy council are starting to seriously consider Catherine’s bid for regent. Mary’s job here is done.
In my favorite scene of the episode, Mary finally has to consider Charles’ question about her plans, and she does so through the comfort of Catherine. Mary knows she has to marry again for political reasons, but she doesn’t know who she is without Francis. So Catherine tells her, “You are a queen. You’re still a queen.” For the second time tonight, Mary makes the tough, but right choice. She sends word to Don Carlos: She’s in France (thanks to a heartfelt invitation to stay from Charles) and she’s ready to talk alliance. Gird your loins, people: THE BEARD IS COMING TO FRANCE.
Catherine has more than one reason to feel like a complete badass at the moment. Not only does she begin to turn the tide on the regency vote, but she also makes some um, headway, in the other endeavor close to her heart: completely destroying Narcisse and Lola’s happiness.
NEXT: Catherine takes Narcisse by… surprise