Reign recap: 'The Prince of the Blood'
Princess Claude returns to the castle just in time for Francis' secret to blow up his marriage.
I’m not one to hate on monarchy because hey, royals get to wear pretty crowns, but this episode put the main flaws of the system on full display: Namely, hormonal teens should not be trusted to do absolutely anything, from cleaning themselves in the real world to running a country in Reign‘s world. And although I will admit that Francis and Mary are both very mature, didn’t anyone teach Francis that secrets don’t make friends? Okay, so there’s a difference between a typical teenage secret—somebody has a crush on somebody—and a royal teenage secret—you killed your father and a grown-ass noble is about to out you for it and have you executed—but honestly, why can’t Francis just tell his wife the truth?!
It’s incredibly frustrating and I’m almost sick of it, but I will admit that it makes for good drama. But seriously kids, nobody get married before you’re an adult. And if you can help it, don’t run a country either.
This week, we start with the arrival of what appears to be a human-sized doll in a carriage. Just kidding! This doll has boobs, and she’s not afraid to use them to get her hands on some booze. Ah yes, I’d recognize that do-it-yourself attitude anywhere. Everyone, meet Princess Claude. Catherine’s daughter if we’ve ever seen one.
But before word of Claude’s arrival spreads, Francis and Mary are left to deal with the both emotional and quite literal space between them. Over a working breakfast, Narcisse approaches Francis and Mary with an edict he’d like for Francis to sign. And what does it say? Oh you know, just that every citizen of France has to publicly declare their faith to the king under penalty of death. In other words, Narcisse is ready to weed out the Protestants, and if Francis denies his request for mass murder of sorts, he will tell the world about Henry. So if Narcisse is Scar, the nobles are the hyenas, yes?
Back to Claude! According to Catherine, the priest was not supposed to bring Claude home, but let’s just say the father fell under her spell. (Read: She got under him.) Because she can no longer avoid her, Catherine greets Claude, calls her out on already smelling of whiskey—so she’s the Marissa Cooper of the castle?—and then lets her go say hello to Francis, Mary, and Bash before admiring Kenna’s headpiece? Yeah, something’s not right there.
During Claude’s welcome, Mary spots Greer trying to sneak by, and when she goes into her room, she learns the truth: Greer and Castleroy were attacked during their wedding tour after Castleroy didn’t take mass. So basically, Greer admits to marrying a Protestant, and suddenly, Narcisse’s edict is more dangerous than ever.
Idea! What if they kill Castleroy and then Greer gets his money and can be with Leith? Don’t get me wrong—Castleroy is so sweet and I’d be sad to see him go, but the man is getting himself involved in some dangerous stuff, and shit happens. Even to lords. Okay, especially to lords.
With Claude getting settled in, Bash and Francis head off for some brotherly bonding. And by bonding I mean that Bash gives Francis an update on Narcisse. Apparently Francis has Bash watching Scar’s estate for signs of Montgomery and/or the nanny. Neither have been spotted yet. But when Bash asks questions, Francis finally decides to tell someone his predicament. And because he’s great, Bash understands. Not only that, but Bash vows to find the nanny, find Montgomery, and then kill Narcisse.
Does this make Bash like a combination of Timon and Pumbaa? Francis is obviously Simba trying to gain back his kingdom from Scar. Mary is Nala. Catherine is Sarabi. But who’s Rafiki?
So now that Francis is freaking out about Narcisse and Mary is freaking out about Greer, it’s the perfect time for them to have a chat, right? Eh, not so much. Mary more or less promises Francis that she will stay out of his way when it comes to the edict, because she claims she will trust him to make the right choice. After all, “The man I love knows it’s wrong.” Oh, snap. She’s playing the love card. It’s like the more mature version of Claude flashing someone.
However, shockingly, Mary does not stay out of it. Instead, she goes to Condé—who really loves sleeping with married women—and asks him to help her with her plan: She wants to divide the nobles by finding a Protestant noble who’s willing to come forward and oppose the edict publicly. And considering Condé is a sympathizer, she figures he can give her a name of someone worth convincing.
But Mary isn’t the only one plotting. Back at the castle, Catherine informs Francis that Gifford—the sexy guard with great hair from last week—had a cipher and, as a spy for the English, was coding messages to Elizabeth. She suspects there are more English spies among the nobles, and that gives Francis an idea. After finding out about Lola and Narcisse’s connection, he asks her to plan an envelope—a.k.a. a cipher—in Narcisse’s quarters. He doesn’t give her details, but asks her to help the “better man.”
NEXT: Lola takes a bath
And with that, we enter the Lola-Narcisse chapter of the episode. Welcome. Please remove all your clothes. I’m kidding (but Narcisse most definitely is not).
At Narcisse’s home, Lola asks if he’ll be attending Claude’s welcome home party. However, Narcisse gets straight to the point: He doesn’t like boats. He likes water… as in a bath. Yes, he still wants to watch Lola take a bath. So do we think he’s a hypochondriac or just a perv? Regardless, Lola sees the bath as an opportunity. When she demands he draw it for her instead of a servant, she hides the envelope behind one of his picture frames. However, by the time she’s done with her visit to Narcisse, she’s changed her mind about helping Francis.
Let’s back up: Once Lola’s in the bath—which isn’t even transparent, so Narcisse isn’t even a good/bad perv—Narcisse reveals his true love of baths: He likes the vulnerability. And with that, he offers to take his own clothes off (no way they’d both fit in that tub) before he promises that, if they continue down this path, Lola will see him without defenses one of these days. They will “share things that strip us both bare in every way possible.” But first, they need to trust each other. So when Lola asks why Francis considers such a bath-lover an enemy, he gives her the option of going home or learning the truth. She picks the truth.
With that, Scar tells her that Simba killed Mufasa and that he is now blackmailing Simba. And suddenly, Lola has gone to the dark side. She reports back to Francis that she was unable to hide the envelope because “one of you used me and it wasn’t him.” Okay fine, but there’s a fine line between sexy and murder-y, and I feel like Narcisse lives on it.
Important interjection: Bash and Kenna are incredibly adorable.
Back at Claude’s party, Catherine—who’s being followed by two young ghosts who enjoy coughing and sharing—warns Mary not to trust Condé because, in a new development, his family was once a rival to the throne. He is a “Prince of the Blood” after all. Okay, that’s officially way cooler than than “Head of Horse and Hunt” or whatever Bash’s first title was. It might even be cooler than “King’s Deputy,” but that’s not important.
With that being said, Condé still seems perfectly amicable at this point as he helps Mary find her Protestant noble and the two of them attempt to convince him to come forward. And this is where Condé calls Mary “daring and fierce” and we start to realize that perhaps he likes her just a little too much, no?
Spoiler: Yes, he does. Because the next day, when the nobles come to Francis with the edict and Mary’s Protestant noble does not step forward, Condé does. He claims to be a Protestant, and soon after that, he has three other Protestants by his side, giving Francis enough cause to tell Narcisse he needs to reconsider before ruling. And when Mary thanks Condé for his bravery, he replies, “I did it for you.” Now, he could be lying, but if he genuinely just risked his life by lying for this woman, he needs to calm himself. She’s all kinds of married.
The good news is that Mary doesn’t even give Condé’s sentiment a second thought. Instead, she heads straight to Francis, who is oh so proud of his queen. Only, the thing is: Bash found the nanny, and she’s dead. With that, Francis decides to send Mary away, tell Narcisse no, and suffer the consequences. And Mary loves it. (Given, she doesn’t know the being sent away part or the consequences part). “No matter what happens, I love you,” Francis tells his queen before he heads off to deny Narcisse.
The twist? Narcisse informs Francis that no matter what happens, Mary and Catherine will be implicated in Henry’s death, because somehow Narcisse has someone who will attest to Catherine and Mary attempting to poison Henry just days before his death. Honestly, is Narcisse just bluffing or is he an all-knowing spirit of some sort? There’s no way to know.
Although we do know that he’s some sort of sex god, and Lola gets her first taste of that when she tries to break things off with him. Despite him assuring her that he has no ulterior motives, she says she just can’t be with an enemy of Francis. One against-the-wall kiss later, and Lola slaps Casanova. “Do not seek to take before I give,” she tells him. His creepy response: “I’m glad to hear you’re thinking of giving.” She just slapped you, man. That was not a good interaction. (But was it?)
In other relationship news, you should all know that Bash and Claude used to sleep together—half-incest alert!—and Catherine’s ghosts are actually two of her children who died as infants… I think. And when they fake snap Claude’s neck in a horrifying scene, Catherine decides to send Claude away again. (We know Kenna won’t protest.)
And finally, Mary hears about Francis signing the edict and rushes to call him a coward. She tells him that he’s no longer the man she wants to rule beside. She waited for the man she fell in love with to return, and now, “that man is dead and I am finished waiting for him.” As I watch through my tears, Francis tells her that if that’s true, then she might as well return to Scotland and leave him. (This is like Mary riding away on that horse with Bash all over again.)
But we can all agree that Francis is telling her to leave to protect her, right? After all, no matter what happens, he loves her!
Henry’s ranking: Henry is feeling very emotional about what just happened, and even he knows that now is the time for honesty.