They said it couldn’t be done. They said nothing would ever beat that handsome rake, King Henry II, humping a woman so fiercely that she falls out of a window to her death — and then Prince Don Carlos brings his sex horse to France. And trips over it and is impaled in the head. AND MARY AND CATHERINE ARE THERE THE ENTIRE TIME. Guys, this actually happens. You are not dreaming.
Don Carlos and his beard that won’t quit have arrived in France, and much to everyone’s surprise, he and Mary are getting along smashingly. They’re hating on Elizabeth, mocking French nobles, and just generally enjoying the natural splendor of the great outdoors.
To keep the merriment going, the Prince of Spain asks Mary to join him in his favorite court game: The Hound and the Hare. In it, the “hares” race off into the woods, and the “hounds” chase after them and steal a kiss, while the “hares” try to evade capture. It makes no sense to me, since no one in his right mind is turning down a forest make-out session, but I am a mere peasant, so what do I know? Since Mary’s had her fair share of being hunted down by men, she politely declines. She’s more of a tea type of girl, anyway.
Catherine advises Mary to rethink her decision. An alliance with Spain would be a great boon to Scotland. Although Elizabeth has removed English troops, they still sit at the Scottish border as a constant, looming threat. Mary wastes no time in bringing this up to the new English Ambassador, Gideon Blackburn. She makes sure he knows that England’s bullying will have made them two enemies.
Immediately, Gideon realizes this means Mary has every intention of marrying Don Carlos and forming a Spanish alliance. Since Gideon’s mission is to make sure this alliance never happens, he has to act fast. He knows from his spies that Don Carlos was in Austria before France, wooing a duchess, and was promptly asked to leave after revealing some of his sexual proclivities to his potential wife. Gideon writes an anonymous letter to the prince, threatening to let dear old dad in on what went down unless he leaves French Court for good.
The letter works. Don Carlos informs Mary that as soon as the rest of his luggage arrives from Austria, he’s out of there; this alliance isn’t going to work out. Mary is very confused by the abrupt change of heart, and in an effort to keep her advantageous alliance alive and figure out what’s really going on, she has the prince’s luggage hidden away in the wine cellar.
To distract the prince (and attempt to win him over), Mary suggests they play his little castle game. That’s right, Mary’s totally into the Hare and the Hound now. Don Carlos is pumped. He explains that he plays a little differently: In his version, the men are the hares and the women chase after them. Mary is relieved. WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SO IN THE FIRST PLACE, BEARD?
A slew of very good-looking lords and ladies (including Catherine, Lola, and Narcisse) gather in the woods to get their love hunt on. The game begins and Mary is horrible at it. While in pursuit of The Beard, she ends up rolling her ankle. During her slow hobble back to the castle, she runs into her newly sworn enemy: Gideon Blackburn. You guys, he carries her all the way back — like, IN HIS ARMS. Sure, they both complain the entire time, but it’s obvious this is just laying the groundwork for the inevitable romantic comedy plot in which she’ll hate him at first and he’ll swear he’s only pretending to be in love with her, but eventually they will both actually fall in love with each other. It’s going to be so great.
For now, Gideon’s playing up the whole grumpy-but-begrudgingly-helpful act by warning her about Don Carlos and what may have gotten him booted from Austria. Hint: It may or may not be sex-related, and it may or may not be currently residing in his luggage. Mary must investigate.
Down in the wine cellar/luggage holding cell, Mary begins to open a very large crate, but is stopped by Don Carlos. He’s not thrilled Mary’s been lying to him, but he’s also very willing to let her in on his little secret. And then Don Carlos unveils his S&M sex apparatus. The Beard loves pain and is looking to settle down with a nice girl who’s willing to give it to him. Could that nice girl be Mary? Well, he sure wants her to try — for Scotland.
Mary confesses to Catherine that she just can’t bring herself to do it, but Catherine knows how important an alliance with Spain would be, so the two hatch a plan to give Don Carlos a “trial run” together. Mary enters The Beard’s room, straps him to his machine, asks if she can blindfold him, and then sneaks Catherine in for the assist.
Catherine takes the reins — I mean that literally, she grabs the whip from Mary — and begins to give Don Carlos the pain he wants, while Mary attempts to talk dirty. When Don Carlos asks Mary to tell him why he must be punished, her tepid response of “um, because I’m disappointed in you?” is just so perfect and so Mary, that my heart might burst.
NEXT: The impalement heard ‘round the world