Reign‘s rule on The CW may be coming to a close, but its fourth and final season kicks off on Friday and it’s brimming with ample action.
“We’re diving in feet-first for this first episode of the season,” star Adelaide Kane tells EW.
The season premiere has Mary, Queen of Scots (Kane) determined to avenge Lola’s death (fans are still not over her shocking beheading in the season 3 finale), and later, viewers will get answers about Leith, whose fate has been otherwise left ambiguous.
But the big focus of season 4 will see Mary pit against her cousin, Elizabeth I (Rachel Skarsten), in a battle for the throne. Mary’s new strategy for grabbing power is to marry it, and she’s not messing around: she’s getting two major suitors — Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (Will Kemp) and James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell (Adam Croasdell) — and thus more than her fair share of romance (and, knowing this show, sex). In real life, those two new gents become Mary’s second and third husbands, respectively, and we also know a royal baby is on the way.
To get us ready for all the royal action and gorgeous costumes, Kane spoke with EW about Mary’s latest developments, working with a baby, and saying goodbye to the series.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When we left Mary in season 3, she was determined to take over Elizabeth’s throne. What can you tease about what Mary’s doing in the season 4 premiere?
ADELAIDE KANE: We left on such on such an ominous note on the cliff side. It was freezing that day and snowing completely unexpectedly. So we come in and Mary vows to get revenge for Lola’s death. She wants to know the truth behind Lola’s death: Who was behind it, whether it was a Protestant faction, whether it was a ruse to turn Elizabeth and Mary against each other, whether it was Elizabeth’s doing. That becomes a very important mystery for our first episode. And then of course, Mary needs to find a new suitor, she needs to find a new husband to assure her rule, secure her potential claim to the English throne, and Elizabeth will go out of her way to sabotage any attempt Mary makes to marry into a powerful noble family that can threaten her own rule in England.
And she’s going to get two husbands in this one season, Lord Darnley and Bothwell.
Yeah, it’s definitely a very action-driven season, which I think is very fitting since we’re back in Scotland. But we do get to meet both Lord Darnley and Lord Bothwell, historically Mary’s second and third husbands, played by the lovely Will Kemp for Lord Darnley and Adam Croasdell for Lord Bothwell, both wonderful actors and terribly handsome men, so no complaints about that. Will will be introduced at some point in season 4 and you get to see their journey together and see if they can find some kind of romantic connection beyond the political, because he’s a very powerful English noble so Elizabeth is quite opposed to that match. And they have to overcome those trials and tribulations during their courtship.
Can you tell me about these two men, what’s good about them, and how they’re different?
Character-wise, we have Lord Darnley: He’s powerful, he’s handsome, he’s charming, he’s a bit of a bad boy, he’s unexpectedly vulnerable and insecure. His hunger for power matches Mary’s in ways that are both complementary and create a lot of conflict between them. There’s an undeniable chemistry, but Mary’s not going to give her power up for anyone, and that becomes a real bone of contention between the two of us where he feels this need for validation, he wants to really step in. Pressure from her Scottish government to have a male leader as opposed to a female leader becomes divisive as well. Their whole relationship throughout season 4 is really fascinating and charged with both a positive and negative energy, if you catch my drift.
Lord Bothwell really is a classic rogue with a heart of gold. Very masculine, unashamedly patriotic and loyal to Mary as his queen, and their connection and chemistry slowly becomes more apparent to them as he is a friend first and foremost and then something develops out of that, especially as her relationship with Darnley becomes more and more difficult. Bothwell becomes a rock that she learns to lean on. His unwavering and unfaltering strength and faith in her is something that really bonds them as the season goes on.
With Lord Darnley, it seems like in real life they had an unhappy marriage. Is that going to be reflected in Reign or are you going to take liberties and make it happier?
Their relationship is very complicated, so there’s definitely a chemistry there, there’s an attraction there, but there’s also a lot of conflict within their relationship, struggling for power within their relationship, Lord Darnley being a powerful English lord in his own right and a man not wanting to take a back seat to a female suitor or wife, even if she is the queen of Scotland. His hunger for power and power over her in particular and her unwillingness to give it to him, to want to remain in control over Scotland and over her court and her life, does become a serious issue of contention between the two of them and creates a very difficult situation for Mary.
In the last episode of season 3, what’s going on with Leith was left ambiguous. It looked like he might have died but also he might not have died. Can you tease anything about what’s going on with him?
Claude definitely becomes very obsessed and caught up in the notion that perhaps Leith might still be alive. She still has faith that he somehow survived and that’s something that will be answered further along in the season, whether or not he survived his ordeal.
What other shockers can we expect?
There will definitely be some plot twists and turns, unexpected betrayals, all that good stuff that we do that we do every season. I will say Greer survives. She doesn’t get her head cut off. We’re not killing off my last lady, thankfully. She’s the last one standing, brave Greer, through it all. There’s gonna be some pretty horrible stuff in this fourth season, although the worst stuff happens to the villains, of course.
RELATED: Hear more of the latest TV news from this week
What’s it like being in the final season?
We weren’t sure about whether this was going to be our last season or not, this was an ongoing conversation about it on the creative side with Laurie McCarthy and our writers’ room. So they wrote us two different endings just to be safe, a season finale and a series finale. We were told [this would be the last season] right before we started shooting the last episode and we moved forward with the series finale. [The writers] put their nose to the grindstone and they really worked out exactly how to wrap it up with strength, with a sense of finality, wrapping up loose ends. I think they did a really incredible job.
Ending the show was very bittersweet. Four years of my life, it’s the most formative job of my career thus far. And we really had quite a tight-knit family by the time we wrapped up. Luckily, they notified us that we’d been cancelled a week before we finished shooting, so we were all just really grateful that we got to spend that last week and a half with our family. Half of them are coming out to L.A. I see Rachel [Skarsten] on a regular basis, I see Torrance [Coombs], I see Jonathan [Keltz], Will [Kemp], and Ben [Aldridge]. There are friendships that we formed during the shooting of that show that will last a lifetime. You couldn’t dream up such an ideal situation where everybody is just down to hang out and have fun and be there for each other and support each other both personally and at work. We were really lucky.
Do you have a personal favorite moment of season 4?
So many. My favorite moment, I feel like I can’t tell you because it’s spoilers even though it’s not really spoilers because it’s historical. I really love babies and I get to hold a baby. I get to play with a baby on set. And I’ve been waiting four years for Mary to have a baby of her own so I can just smush an adorable, sleepy, snotty, grunting, little baby. That’s definitely my favorite part of season 4 was getting to work with a baby. A lot of my friends aren’t super into kids and I totally get that, I totally understand that, but I am just one of those women that loves kids. I love them. I definitely don’t want them for another decade but I’m obsessed with children. All my cousins are having babies. I almost go home every Christmas exclusively to watch my cousins’ toddlers and all the babies that are being born every year.
Reign returns Friday, Feb. 10 at 9 p.m. ET on the CW.
This interview has been edited and condensed.