Between Protestant persecution and uprisings, marital problems, and Catherine getting a little loopy, Francis is losing his grasp on his reign.
Reign Recap
Credit: Sven Frenzel/The CW
S2 E8
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Dear fellow subjects of the realm of Reign,

Unfortunately our Queen Recapper, Lady Samantha Highfill, is otherwise obliged this evening, and I must step in as regent for tonight’s episode. Fret not, for she will return with quill and parchment in hand next Thursday eve. Now, without further ado, let us commence the discussion of tonight’s episode.

Last week King Francis signed an edict basically screwing over Protestants, and then made it worse by telling Mary that if she had any complaints he might as well return to Scotland. France: Love it or leave it. The scene this week opens with some scary soldiers led by an even scarier Cardinal Vasari. This Cardinal orders the soldiers to cut off the lips of possible Protestant peasants. Gruesome much?

Mary denounces Cardinal Vasari and blames Francis (whose tiny crown looks more like a tiara). He tells her to hop on a boat to Scotland. Badass Mary tells him that while she may have decided to give up on him, she’s not giving up on France. She exits fiercely, and Francis confides to Bash that he wants her to leave so she’ll be safe from Narcisse.

Catherine wakes up Claude with the news that her fiance, a Bavarian Count, has arrived. For a fleeting moment, Catherine affectionately fiddles with her daughter’s hair… then she snaps back into evil fairy tale mother and dumps water on her head.

Walking through a medieval alleyway, the always sultry and now openly Protestant Condé gets kidnapped by Jacob Revel, a Protestant resistance leader. As Condé points out, “There are more civil ways to extend an invitation.” Revel enlists Condé to get a Protestant minister to have an audience with the king and queen.

Lola wears a red riding hood and gets lost in the forest. Luckily/unluckily, big bad wolf Narcisse is there to “save” her. She hops on horseback with him, their long capes draping on each side of the horse. As his scruffy beard presses on the nape of her neck, he breathily reminds her that she doesn’t have to be shy, as he has seen her in her bath. She smiles a naughty smile. Narcisse tosses out Harlequin novel words like clandestine, pleasure, adultery, as he asks Lola to become his mistress. In his slow, sexy voice, he claims that “fruit is always better when it’s forbidden.”

Condé—playing the righteous man that Mary wishes Francis could be—brings the minister to request the sovereigns’ permission to rebuild the Protestant church. Francis acquiesces, but the wily minister has something else up his puffy sleeve: He orders Francis to expel the ignoble Cardinal Vasari and threatens that if these needs are not met, he has explosives set to blow up Catholics. Francis has him arrested, and swears he will find these explosives, even if he has to bleed the minister to find the whereabouts. Bash and Condé set off to discover where these explosives are. Once again, Mary and Francis are left alone, and Francis pretends he cares not for his wife’s opines.

Queen Catherine welcomes the Bavarians. Claude’s fiance, young William, is more appealing than one could have hoped for. But the groom-to-be’s father has concerns, for he has heard rumors of Claude’s dalliances. (For not having internet, phones, or even telegrams, gossip sure does travel fast in the 1500s.) This presumptuous Bavarian needs assurances of Claude’s virtue. Catherine acquiesces and tells Claude she has to have a virginity test (vomit) and admits that she’ll have to pay off the tester to get the results they want.

Lola goes to speak with Francis and tells her what Narcisse has told her about Francis killing his father. She insists that Francis tell Mary that he committed regicide. (Please take her advice already, Francis!) But he’s like, “hell no! Narcisse wants to see me, my family, and our baby dead” (summarized with poetic license). Lola’s she-bear claws come out when she hears Narcisse has threatened her cub’s life. She’s now on board to get rid of Narcisse. Francis tells her that the envelope he gave her to place in his house is key to framing him and getting him beheaded. She’s on board.

Back from his reconnaissance mission, Condé returns with the information that the minister was working with fringe radicals. Francis leaves Mary and Condé to question the minister further. In a romantic walk through the herb garden, Mary has suspicions as to why the minister would come so openly to Francis when he knew he would be locked up. Mary comes to the conclusion that there are no explosives, but that perhaps this wily minister intends to martyr himself. And those are the kind of brains you need to be queen, folks. Down in the dungeon, the tortured minister tells Francis where the explosives are. When Condé goes to the place, however, there are no explosives to be found.

Bash catches Claude in the long stony hallway and tries to help her with her strife. He recommends for her to change castles, but Claude wants to stay put. Bash tells her it’s because of her mommy issues, and that he can understand because Catherine never liked him either. He goes on to say that that was what drew them together (other than being half-siblings). Can we take a moment to talk about how there’s so much incest on TV right now? Should we blame Game of Thrones?

NEXT: Narcisse comes a-creepin

Bash visits the indomitable Catherine, who is drinking red wine from a silver grail, and asks her why she’s pushing the marriage. Catherine slimily says that he’s, “overstepping your bounds as her… brother. It wouldn’t be the first time.” She tells Bash how much she treasures her family, as she looks at a gorgeously handwritten list of all her children. She tells him of the twins who died, and as she speaks of them, she looks over to her bed where she sees the creepy twins. (Is this Reign or The Shining?) Bash leaves, advising Catherine to care for Claude who is alive, when he sees her go over to the bed and tuck in imaginary children. Is Catherine going to go down the same cray-cray path as her late husband Henry?

After leaving Catherine, Bash goes to investigate Narcisse’s home. He does not find the evidence he needs. It seems Narcisse discovered Lola’s plan to frame him and destroyed the evidence. Francis warns Lola that now that Narcisse knows of Lola’s betrayal, he will be out to get vengeance.

Back in the dungeon, Francis goes to a dark place. He has the minister tortured on the rack, as he demands to know the whereabouts of the explosives. This show might not be too correct with costumes (not complaining!), but it does have its medieval torture chamber fact checked. Francis goes too far, and just as Mary arrives, the minister’s bone is dislodged from the socket. The minister’s health quickly goes down hill, as his life comes close to an end. Bash takes the minister on a cart to return him to the forest from whence he came, and they get attacked by the band of renegade Protestants. Bash takes an arrow to the chest, but is only slightly bewildered, for he is able to follow a conversation between the renegade leader and the minister, in which the renegade leader reveals that the minister was always meant to be a martyr for the cause. This is news to the minister, who actually thought there were explosives. But he doesn’t have too much time to ponder on it, as the renegade Protestant impales him on his sword.

Narcisse creepily pops into Lola’s bedroom chamber to confront her about framing him as well as ask her for her response to becoming his mistress. He again walks the line of sexy and serial killer (he’s channeling his inner Edward Cullen). But Lola isn’t scared, because he threatened her baby and her friend, the queen. He tells her that he never actually intended to harm her child, and tells her that regardless of him, her baby is always going to be in danger. He leaves her with this thought: She could have used a dangerous man in a dangerous world to protect her from danger. Lola is all at once emboldened, scared, angry, and aroused.

And now for the virginity test, where girls who love princess stories realize it must have actually sucked to live in olden times. During the despicable test, where old men off camera grope into the poor princess’ nether regions to check for her maidenhead, Catherine’s motherly instinct comes out, and she kindly places her hand on her daughter’s. Yeah, Catherine, like that’s going to make up for subjecting Claude to this crap. After the “wretched procedure,” Catherine sits with her daughter and affectionately coils her curls around her fingers. As she does that, she sees the Shining twins again and has a flashback of Claude as a little girl being villainous toward the little twin girls as babies. Claude can’t stand the babies because they fiddled with the roses on her dress. She’s pulled out of her flashback, and as Claude cries and begs her mother not to make her leave, the little Shining girls give Catherine a creepy look. Catherine snaps from motherly to possessed, and says in a subdued voice, “It’s done.”

Don’t be so sure, Catherine, for Claude is your own daughter, and has inherited your daring ways. At the banquet hall that evening for dinner, just when the Bavarians have accepted Claude as a suitable spouse, Claude enters grandiosely in her ball gown and grinds on Narcisse’s lap. She gets up, passes Narcisse his cape to cover his happy stick, glares at her mother, and walks off. Her mother sees the ghosts of the two little girls trailing Claude. Insert flashback of Catherine mourning her two deceased twin babes. The physician says they were suffocated, and reveals that he found red rose petals (seemingly the one’s from Claude’s dress) in each of their throats. So that’s why she’s all weird around Claude!

Bash returns to the castle to tell them what has happened, when they hear that in the town center the minister has been crucified upside down. The peasants and townspeople believe it was the crown that killed the minister. The renegade Protestants have made a martyr of the minister, and the people stand up in revolt against the Cardinal’s soldier and the crown. Mary tells Francis that this is his fault, and that she is forever disappointed in him, with the cutting words, “I have lost all faith in you, and the man I thought you were.”

Back in the nursery, Francis looks upon his baby, when Lola enters. He is desperate over every aspect of his life except the child, and Lola tells him he is a good man, and that she understands everything he does he does for the good of others.

Will Mary and Francis ever find peace and live happily ever after? Well, if you don’t want any spoilers, avoid the real Mary Queen of Scots’ Wikipedia page. Avoid it like the plague (couldn’t help myself).

Want to talk Reign or TV in general? Let’s chat your theories and thoughts here or on Twitter.

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A sexy, historical fiction CW take on the lives of Mary, Queen of Scots and her royal court.
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