Reign recap: Succession
We did it, Royals! We made it through that seemingly never ending months-long drought of Reign. To thank us for our patience, we’ve all been gifted with the news of a fourth season renewal. Thanks be to Nostradamus (and the CW) for that, because if I had to suffer through a life without my badass queens, saucy 16th-century hook ups, and the opportunity to discuss the ramifications of putting a rat in your lover’s bathtub, why, I’d probably just toss myself off a balcony Amy Dudley-style.
But that’s just me. How are the rest of your faring? Were you counting down the days until the castle serial killer was finally revealed? Thankfully, “Succession” does provide a definitive answer to that mystery, but also, maybe we should have a chat about how you spend your time. Were you really so enthralled with CSI: Bash? Let’s be real, finally seeing the murderer’s face after weeks of trudging through the lackluster plot wasn’t even the most jaw-dropping revelation in this episode. That award goes to a little something that goes down in merry ol’ England… and involves a wig. Oh, we’ll get to it later, because it is awesome.
First, let’s check in on the residents at French Court.
It’s King Charles’ coronation and the event has both of our queens attempting to bury any thoughts of Francis the best way they know how: Mary by focusing on problems in Scotland, and Catherine by having lots of sex with her firestarter-turned-king’s guardsman, Christophe.
Last we saw Mary, Queen of Scots, she was kissing Gideon and liking it. Since their plan to trick Elizabeth into thinking Gideon succeeded in his mission to seduce Mary had worked a little too well, Mary’s been avoiding the English ambassador. She has bigger issues at the moment, anyway.
There’s news from Scotland that a protestant reformer by the name of John Knox has been speaking out against Mary, and has a lot of followers to back him up. He’s against all Catholics and women in power, and he wants a male leader in Scotland – so basically he’s the worst. The Scottish Ambassador Lord Cunningham advises Mary to consider marrying King Eric of Sweden. He’s not into mermaids, but he is Protestant, and an interfaith marriage may appease some of her enemies. Mary thinks appeasement shows weakness and she’s curious to hear how that other female monarch feels about Knox. Oh, interesting, the only way to communicate with Queen Elizabeth is through her ambassador. I guess Mary will have to go gaze upon Gideon for a bit. How terrible for her.
Gideon assures Mary that Elizabeth isn’t a fan of Knox either, but the Queen of England would be hard pressed to speak out against a protestant leader. Now that that’s out of the way, Gideon has more important business to discuss with Mary: Will she be dancing with him at the coronation? He goes on to say that he only wants to offer her a friendly face on what he knows will be a very emotional day, but, like, Mary was just informing you of a very serious threat to her crown and her life, dude. Priorities. Mary attempts to brush him off, emphasizing their need to keep things all business, all the time.
Unfortunately, keeping personal things out of their relationship becomes a lot harder when Gideon’s daughter, Agatha shows up. Mary can sense Gideon’s having trouble bonding with Aggie, so she suggests you know, actually spending some time with the kid. (Mary’s pitch perfect “Oh, Gideon” response upon hearing Gideon’s idea of parenting was delightful.) And thus, Gideon ropes Mary into spending a day with him and Agatha at a local carnival. There’s men on stilts, camels, and lots of sexual tension. A successful carnival if I’ve ever seen one!
Eventually, Mary puts all of her training as a diplomat to good use when she has a lovely heart-to-heart with Agatha about her father. Aggie’s worried that she’ll be separated from him again and is afraid to trust him. Mary assures the little girl that her father is a good man and all he wants to do is keep her safe. It seems to work. On the ride home, Gideon expresses his gratitude for Mary’s help. It was a good day. Perpetual mood-killer Mary ruins the nice moment by bringing up her latest suitor predicament.
Gideon, although it completely defies Elizabeth’s orders, encourages Mary to consider the Swedish King. She’s a queen, and she needs to do whatever it takes to protect her reign. With that in mind, Mary alerts Cunningham to her decision, but unfortunately she’s too late. The situation has gotten a little more complicated, and by complicated he means terrifying — Knox has stormed Edinburgh Castle and is burning effigies of Mary in the streets. So, that’s not great.
A marriage won’t fix the escalating situation, but Mary believes raising an army will. She’s headed off to the Vatican to ask for funds in fighting the Protestants. Gideon attempts to stop her — even if she claims she’s only fighting Knox, Elizabeth will see it as an act of aggression against England. He tries to appeal to Mary’s heart, and asks her what would happen if they meet on opposite sides of the battlefield. But Mary wants to keep it all business, remember? Without hesitation, she tells him she’d strike him down. So, no second date, then?
NEXT: A new meaning to “pouring salt in the wound”
Meanwhile, much to the chagrin of the Master of Coin, Catherine de Medici is getting her event planning on. She wants Charles’ coronation to remind everyone that the Valois line is powerful and knows how to party. Those multiple bodies unearthed in the castle tunnels might send out a different message though. Catherine wants people to party hard, but probably not that hard (or maybe she does, she’s into weird things!). Bash recognizes this as the serial killer’s handiwork and promises to apprehend the murderer once and for all.
Catherine is under a lot of stress, so to relax, she welcomes a visit from Christophe. As it turns out, age may be more than just a number: Catherine is beginning to see Christophe may lack the maturity it takes to bed the queen mother. She sees a new key on his key ring — he openly admits to hooking up with the baker’s wife again — but this isn’t what bothers her. When she laments that the necklace she was going to wear to the coronation is the same she wore to Francis’, Christophe has no idea why that might upset her. The cracks in their relationship are showing.
Christophe, trying to show he takes his position seriously, comes to Bash with suspicions that the castle butcher may be up to something. The guy admittedly loves slaughtering pigs and Christophe believes he’s stealing barrels of salt. CSI Bash does some top-notch detective work and finds traces of salt on the victims bodies and then, the smoking gun, finds the body of the missing Master of Coin inside a salt barrel. It looks like we have our castle serial killer, you guys.
Just kidding! That would’ve been a let down, huh? Catherine pieces a few oddities together and realizes that Christophe’s rekindling with the baker’s wife isn’t a coincidence; with the baker’s key, he also has access to the salt barrels. In the middle of the night, she heads there for proof, and Christophe follows. Christophe is the castle killer! He admits to everything — he loves killing people! He blackmails Catherine into keeping it a secret by threatening to reveal her scheme with Duke Boinel to assault Claude as a means to steal the regency from Narcisse. If she kills Christophe, he already has a letter prepped proving everything. Catherine needs a new plan fast. Get it together, Medici!
Meanwhile, in England: When Elizabeth learns of Mary’s growing interest in their common enemy, John Knox, she knows it can only mean one thing: Mary’s planning a return to Scotland. Liz needs details, so she pays a visit to her only Scottish friend/hostage Lady Lola, hoping Lola will be a TMZ-type source for all things Mary-related. She wants intel on Mary’s military moves as well as updates on current suitors. Lola refuses to betray Mary’s trust, and so Lola does the sensible thing and burns all of Lola’s dresses right in front of her. It’s kind of the best.
Lola survived a husband who let her bathe with rodents and also murdered people, so she can handle a little wardrobe fire. She’s even cheery enough to chitchat with her maid. While trying to offer the young girl some plums, Lola finds a creepy red wig in the maid’s bag. It looks just like Elizabeth’s hair, and Lola demands to know what is going on. The maid tells Lola that the wig belongs to a courtesan friend of hers who’s asked the maid to deliver it to someone in the castle. But Lola won’t believe the rest unless she sees it for herself.
She won’t believe it because the person requesting courtesans to wear red wigs is Lord William. Yes! Our little Wet Blanket William actually has kinky sex fantasies about Elizabeth. I knew he couldn’t be as boring as he was letting on! Lola and the maid catch him mid-coitus with a woman who he will only refer to as Elizabeth. Okay, I was wrong, this is kind of the best.
Lola decides it’s only right to clue Elizabeth into the creepy dude she has been using as her closest adviser. Elizabeth confronts him and he tries to play it off as true love. He never acted on his feelings since he’s married and it could’ve ruined Elizabeth’s reputation. In his mind, this act of sacrifice is truer love than anything Dudley felt for the queen. WAIT THERE’S MORE: Elizabeth followed up with a few of William’s lady friends, and discovered that just recently he had one bring him a poison that women in their line of work use to get rid of pregnancies. William was the one who poisoned Elizabeth (I won’t say I told you so, but, like, I did?)! When he says he would do anything to protect Elizabeth and her crown, he means it. And just as Wet Blanket William is getting interesting, Elizabeth promptly tosses him out.
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You guys, English Court is so fun!
Outfit of the Week: Maybe it was the dearth of fabulous costumes we had while Reign was on hiatus, but I had so many favorite gowns this week. Mary’s plaid and leather carnival dress! Catherine’s black and gold event planner gown! The floral number Lizzie wears when she confronts William! THAT CAPE ON MARY’S CORONATION DRESS. Okay, so maybe the cape wins.
The Queens’ Corner of Harsh Lady Truths:
“Even queens are afraid sometimes.” —Mary, with the understatement of the year
“Well, we will find ourselves at an impasse. And that I cannot have.” —Queen Elizabeth is like, super good at making threats.
“I am a queen, and a fighter, and a woman who will stop at nothing to save Scotland.” —Is Mary a broken record with this “save Scotland” thing? Sure. But at least she’s a fierce one.