Catherine's feeling like her old self again, thanks to a little scheming
As enjoyable as it’s been to watch Mary and Catherine’s relationship grow from one of contempt to deep friendship (serious question: Are Mary and Catherine the first squad?), the best Catherine is a scheming Catherine, and you guys, Scheming Catherine was back in full force tonight.
We have one man to thank for this triumphant return: Narcisse. Narcisse is living his best life as regent of France – and by best, I mean most evil. He’s called young King Charles to court to discuss marrying Claude off to the very rich Duke Boinel. He explains that France is in debt thanks to the war in Scotland, and they need Duke Boinel’s gold. Charles feels guilty since he promised Claude she could choose her husband, but Narcisse insists Boinel is a stand-up guy.
Claude is understandably livid when she finds out Charles has agreed to this arrangement. Charles reminds his sister that they’re royals and none of them get to marry for love, but it’s all very obvious this is thanks to Narcisse’s influence. Narcisse, though, isn’t as pleased as you would imagine. All of the gold Boinel handed over for Claude has gone missing. He confronts Catherine and Mary about it because, well, Catherine seems like the most likely suspect, and Mary is her BFF. Catherine denies the accusations, but she can’t deny Narcisse’s power over Charles is strong. She’s losing her son to her nemesis.
Out of all parties involved, Claude has the most reason to be upset. She has a quick, tearful goodbye with Leith, and then she’s off to an extremely upsetting wedding ceremony. Boinel leans a little on the creepy side, and Claude has to choke out her “I do.” As Claude rides off with the Duke to his estate, the girl looks broken. That final moment she shares with Leith as her carriage leaves is enough to make a robot feel.
Leith, like any heartbroken young man, heads to the local pub. He’s pretty pathetic, whining about his ridiculous, idealized version of love in between giant gulps of Greer’s finest ale. After two swings and misses, Leith has realized that people are no more than the station into which they’re born. Greer doesn’t want to hear any of that; she doesn’t want Leith to stop being a romantic, and she doesn’t want him to give up on himself. She reminds her friend that he started from the bottom, and he’s done pretty well for a kitchen servant.
It seems our ex-lovers have had a bit of a role-reversal. What’s the cause of Greer’s sudden belief in living outside of the box your birth has placed you in? A visit from her baby daddy, Pirate Handsome Face, that’s what.
Martín strolls into Greer’s Tavern and with one drunken attempt to cop a feel, he realizes Greer is pregnant with his child. Greer explains that she has a plan to give the baby to a nice family, but this isn’t enough for Pirate Handsome Face, who’s been thinking about the welfare of his child for a good 90 seconds now. If Greer keeps the baby, he could provide more than enough gold and visit a few times a year. He believes they could be great parents and wants Greer to make her decision based on what she wants, not what other people might think.
Suddenly, Greer’s plan – to have her sister Ellen and brother-in-law pretend the baby is theirs – doesn’t sound so hot. Ellen wants to take the baby to Scotland, but Greer wants her child close to ensure the baby has a better upbringing than she did – that her child knows there’s more to life than titles and bountiful dowries. Pirate Handsome Face has her rethinking everything.
Back in the land of newly-wedded bliss, Claude is learning that her husband is more than just creepy – he’s abusive. When Claude won’t apologize for her behavior, he hits her in the face. Unfortunately, Duke Boinel doesn’t know that Claude’s been practicing her “Latin,” and she knocks him down with a few strategic punches and a whole lot of sass.
Claude makes it back to the castle, and when Charles sees what’s befallen his sister thanks to his deference to Narcisse, he’s furious. Catherine warned him that Narcisse was only looking out for No. 1, and he has no reason to protect the royal family. The little king is about to make some big changes.
Charles, with Catherine at his side, interrupts a privy council meeting and demands they replace Narcisse with a regent who will put the Valois line first: his mother. For the first time since we’ve met him, the young boy actually acts like the king he is. You guys, Charles is in charge. He makes it clear it’s in each council member’s best interest to oust Narcisse and make Catherine regent. It works.
When Catherine busts into Mary’s chambers and triumphantly announces “I am regent!” it’s hard not to stand up and applaud. Catherine’s beside herself with joy because now she can finally keep her family (including Mary) safe, but also because she beat Narcisse, and let’s be honest, that was the real goal here. The best part of the entire thing is that Catherine just had to sit back and let it happen.
What is this, amateur hour? Like Catherine de Medici would ever leave her fate to chance.
Catherine heads out into the Royal Forest of Secrets to meet with… Duke Boinel. Catherine hands him his gold, which was payment for HITTING CLAUDE. Catherine knew hurting Claude was the only way to get Charles to turn on Narcisse, so she orchestrated the entire thing in order to claim the regency. Scheming Catherine has not lost her edge.
NEXT: Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby
Though Catherine comes out on top here, the bride doesn’t go home empty-handed. Claude gets to run back into the arms of Leith, who, inspired by this turn of fortune, promises to rise in station until he’s in a position worthy of marrying a princess. Claude most definitely won’t be thrilled when she discovers the lengths her mother went to for power, but for now she’s concentrating on how completely wonderful her boyfriend is.
Claude and Leith, reigning cuties of the realm, are given a run for their adorableness this week when Mary and Gideon team up to outsmart Elizabeth. Mary, thanks to Greer, has been able to decipher correspondence between Gideon and his queen. She already knew Gideon’s daughter was being held hostage, and now she knows the ambassador’s orders are to seduce Mary. Mary confronts Gideon, and has an idea that could help them both.
Mary suggests they let Elizabeth believe Gideon has succeeded in his mission, that he has fully seduced Mary and has power over her. Gideon understands how it benefits him – he’ll get to see his daughter – but he’s confused as to how it would help Mary. Mary claims she can use it to get Lola back, but we all know the gal probably just really wants to get seduced. Queens have needs too, okay?
Since Gideon’s every move is being watched by his guard Jeffrey, they’ll have to be convincing. The two set up a little dinner date where Jeffrey can see them. But just as they are getting into their roles (and Mary makes a perfectly timed comment about her terrible fortune), it begins to pour, and they rush inside (“Bring the wine!”) to get out of the rain.
They’re drenched as they search for a window in Jeffrey’s line of sight, and Mary decides it’s time to pull out the big guns: a kiss. It is quick, but oh, is it mighty. In unison, Mary and Gideon decide they’ll need to do it again, you know, to make it convincing. Mary, very clinically describes how they should go about this, but when they mash faces again, there is nothing clinical about it. It’s enough to persuade Jeffery into thinking Mary’s in love with Gideon. It’s enough to persuade all of us.
Thanks to a change of heart Elizabeth’s experiencing in England (we’ll discuss below), she’s softened to the idea of letting Gideon see his daughter. Mary surprises the ambassador with the good news: Agatha is coming to France. To celebrate, Gideon plants another one on the Queen of Scots, but she pulls away. Mary says their relationship is too complicated for it to go any further. That’s all Gideon needs to hear to know Mary feels what he’s feeling. Guys, did their fake love just turn into real love?
Meanwhile, in England: Good Queen Bess could certainly use a win, couldn’t she? Poor kid’s spending her days feigning her period by pouring pig’s blood on her sheets, she has to avoid her One True Love Dudley because he’s suspected of murdering his wife, and she’s still carrying around that ticking time bomb, otherwise known as a baby. Yikes, right? On top of all of that, Liz’s attempt at turning Lady Lola into her BFF is backfiring. It’s probably that whole “I’m holding you and your family hostage until you tell Mary I’m not a monster” thing. Or, as Wet Blanket William calls it, “personal diplomacy.”
Fortunately, Elizabeth has plenty of time to win Lola’s trust. Concealing her pregnancy, however, is a different matter. Her only real play at the moment, pig’s blood aside, is to marry and convince everyone that she and her husband conceived quickly. She, a true Brit, wants to angst over this plan with a nice cup of tea. But, wait! Unbeknownst to the maid with the really bad hearing, an unidentified arm dumps a vial of poison into the Queen’s teapot. Before Elizabeth can take a sip of her poisoned drink, Wet Blanket William arrives with the only type of news this man delivers — bad news.
William has received responses to Elizabeth’s hasty proposals, and they aren’t good. Years of turning eligible men down, plus rumors of her fiery personality, has all of Elizabeth’s would-be suitors swiping left. During this exchange, it looks as if William will be the one to sip from the tea first, but Liz dismisses him and takes a big ol’ gulp of poison. Mission accomplished, unidentified arm!
As you can guess, this poison forces Elizabeth to miscarry. Liz is distraught. Dudley tries to cheer Elizabeth up with the news that he’s been exonerated in Amy’s murder. While that’s cool and all, everyone still whispers about Elizabeth and Dudley’s affair, and they both know they must move on. Even though their two biggest problems – the pregnancy and Amy – are problems no more, they are still lost to each other.
So who poisoned the Queen? Since the poison only terminated the pregnancy and didn’t actually kill Elizabeth, my top suspects are William, who is way too smart not to realize Liz is pregnant, and Dudley, who maybe just wants to end this madness. But what say you, Royals?
Outfit of the Week: In honor of Winter Storm Jonas, OOTW yet again goes to Mary’s phenomenal outerwear. Mary’s purple, black, and gold coat she wears when confronting Gideon is basically the 16th-century version of a sexy power suit. When it’s on, Mary means business.
The Queens’ Corner of Harsh Lady Truths: