The Black Death strikes the castle, Mary strikes back, and Francis meets his son

By Samantha Highfill
Updated October 03, 2014 at 02:02 AM EDT
Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW

You know the old saying: First comes plague, then comes famine, then comes a baby in a baby carriage. If you don’t know it, it’s okay. It’s a really old saying. But it certainly applies to this season of Reign, where Henry’s craziness has been swapped for a plague. So needless to say, post-Henry, France is a lot less sexy. Quite literally, if people aren’t dressed in some variation of black and gold, their limbs are blackening from the plague. And if they do strip down and make any sort of physical contact, there’s about a 70 percent chance they’re passing the disease around. Yeah, a lot less sexy.

However, sexiness aside, the plague served as a great stand-in for the king’s madness, bringing a dramatic weight with it that kept viewers on their toes. After all, it’s hard to be boring when any sort of physical contact can mean certain death. Confession: My first thought when they showed a plague victim was, “Couldn’t it have been a prettier plague?” Look, I’m not asking that they all turn into gold and then die, but are the open sores really necessary? Henry would not have stood for this!

I’m kidding… sort of. Regardless, the “old and faceless” foe has returned and with Francis out to find Lola, new queen Mary is left to rule alongside Catherine. Two queens and no king? It’s edgy and feels very modern, and I’m not afraid to admit that I like it. And clearly, Nostradamus agrees, because he has shaved his beard in honor of the plague (but really in honor of all the hot women running the show). First up, clean-shaven Nostradamus informs the castle that a fever = death, aches and pains = death, sores = death, and finally, blackening of extremities = definite death. However, being Nostradamus = immunity from all of the above.

In the crowd, Kenna and Bash seem happily intertwined while Greer seems to think Castleroy has the plague judging by the distance between them. But really, she’s just too busy watching Leith hold Castleroy’s ginger daughter, who turns out to be a stage-five clinger, because after knowing Leith for roughly 48 hours, she invites him to spend their last days together. A) Who said you were going to die? And B) Slow down, crazy. Slow down.

Don’t worry, after Leith runs into Greer in the hallway and she begs him not to go to Yvette—because she still loves him, basically—Leith ends up staying away from Yvette, who isolates herself with some family friends. So it’s a victory for one of Mary’s ladies. Actually, make that two of Mary’s ladies. When Francis arrives to Lola’s cabin, she and the baby are both alive. And it’s a boy. For now, we shall call him Sebastian Jr. (Just for clarification: I made that up.)

When the plague enters Lola’s cabin, Francis takes his baby and baby mama on the road, where they eventually find a camp run by Lord Condé, Francis’ very, very far removed cousin. Long story short, Condé seems nice enough. Also, he’s definitely hot enough to be Lola’s rebound (until Lord Julien returns, obvs). You know who isn’t hot? This Lord Narcisse character who tries to act as though Condé is the bad guy. Sorry, but when your voice is that gruff, it’s obvious you’re the villain, Narcisse.

Narcisse informs Francis of a boat that Condé has arranged for his lover. Condé then offers Lola and the baby a spot on the voyage, which Francis nearly accepts before realizing that his baby is sort of the cutest. Once Francis picks up his crying son and takes in all of the adorableness that baby Bash has to offer, he simply cannot let him go.

Can you imagine what would’ve happened if it had been an ugly baby? Kidding. All babies are cute and whatever.

NEXT: Meet Mary 2.0

Back at the castle, there’s some more baby-making happening. Well, hopefully not, but there is sex. Before you get too excited, it’s not the typical Reign sex scene. Instead, this one occurs between some random, not-so-sexy folk who instantly become 1,000 times less sexy when we realize that what’s-her-face has the plague. Yep, as with everything in this castle, the spreading of the plague starts with the spreading of legs. And by the end of day one, 14 people have fallen (not all from sex).

Isolated on their thrones, Mary and Catherine get word of the death toll by way of Lord Edward, some gold-wearing noble who decides the plague is the perfect opportunity to kill his “foe.” He’d like the queen’s help in arranging for his enemy to get infected, and in return, he’ll make sure that his family’s grain will be delivered to the castle. And without his family’s grain, famine will surely strike. Catherine tries to explain to Mary that nobles are where their power comes from, but Mary’s having none of this murder business. Clearly, Mary’s on a gluten-free diet, because she does not care about Edward’s grain. Request: Denied.

Elsewhere in the castle, Pascal has gotten himself infected after Kenna let him run off with with a pale, sweaty, and clearly infected older gentleman. From there, she continues on her winning streak by getting herself locked into a room with Pascal, from which Bash has to save her. However, Bash is giving Kenna a run for “Worst person at surviving a plague,” when he nearly gets infected at least twice. If someone made an announcement that the plague were being spread by human contact, wouldn’t you think to put on some gloves? Or, I don’t know, not touch some little girl’s doll? Come on, Bash. Live up to your title! Okay, so maybe he kind of was being the Master of Horse and Hunt, but live up to a better title!

After briefly thinking he has the plague—but not getting locked up because this castle clearly has some serious issues with sexism—Bash meets a ghost. That’s right: A ghost. The little girl ghost claims that there are a number of angry ghosts in the castle who aren’t leaving until they’re done. Done with what? You know, just your classic “reckoning” threat. (Here’s to hoping ghost Henry is leading the charge.) But after the ghost tells Bash he’s okay, he instantly feels better and runs along to save Kenna.

Back on their thrones, Mary and Catherine catch up with Nostradamus, who wins the award for Most Useful Ally in a Plague. He informs them that the house where Lola gave birth was infected with the plague and burned to the ground. But when Catherine jumps straight to thinking of seizing power instead of worrying about Francis—and comments on Mary’s inability to have kids—Mary decides she’s ready to rule alone.

Mary and Nostradamus, who likes Mary more than Catherine when he shaves his beard, drug Catherine to make her believe she has the plague. Then, Mary handles Lord Edward herself. Only, after she learns that Lord Edward poisoned the entire household of his foe, which included poor Yvette, Mary’s done playing nice. Just like that, Lord Edward, who happens to be the son of obvious villain Narcisse, is locked in a mass holding cell with those infected by the plague, and Mary is headed back to her throne.

All in all, Mary 2.0 is a bit of a badass, and the plague gave her so much to work with. In fact, the entire show thrives under the constant threat of horrible death. Plus, there’s a cute baby to even it out. We’ve come a long way from the days of Clarissa—who undoubtedly started the plague—and despite the absence of the wonderful Henry, Reign‘s evolution feels a lot like Mary’s: What started as an innocent show that always had potential has now grown into its own as a sexy, powerful woman. In other words, Henry would now want to have sex with Reign. Have I gone too far?

Plague death toll (of recognizable characters): 2. R.I.P. Yvette and Pascal

And considering that Henry’s shenanigans were the highlight of Reign‘s first season, I’m ranking every episode on a scale of 1 to humping-a-woman-out-of-a-window.

King Henry’s ranking: A solid “plotting a war without pants”