They said it couldn’t be done. They said nothing would ever beat that handsome rake, King Henry II, humping a woman so fiercely that she falls out of a window to her death — and then Prince Don Carlos brings his sex horse to France. And trips over it and is impaled in the head. AND MARY AND CATHERINE ARE THERE THE ENTIRE TIME. Guys, this actually happens. You are not dreaming.
Don Carlos and his beard that won’t quit have arrived in France, and much to everyone’s surprise, he and Mary are getting along smashingly. They’re hating on Elizabeth, mocking French nobles, and just generally enjoying the natural splendor of the great outdoors.
To keep the merriment going, the Prince of Spain asks Mary to join him in his favorite court game: The Hound and the Hare. In it, the “hares” race off into the woods, and the “hounds” chase after them and steal a kiss, while the “hares” try to evade capture. It makes no sense to me, since no one in his right mind is turning down a forest make-out session, but I am a mere peasant, so what do I know? Since Mary’s had her fair share of being hunted down by men, she politely declines. She’s more of a tea type of girl, anyway.
Catherine advises Mary to rethink her decision. An alliance with Spain would be a great boon to Scotland. Although Elizabeth has removed English troops, they still sit at the Scottish border as a constant, looming threat. Mary wastes no time in bringing this up to the new English Ambassador, Gideon Blackburn. She makes sure he knows that England’s bullying will have made them two enemies.
Immediately, Gideon realizes this means Mary has every intention of marrying Don Carlos and forming a Spanish alliance. Since Gideon’s mission is to make sure this alliance never happens, he has to act fast. He knows from his spies that Don Carlos was in Austria before France, wooing a duchess, and was promptly asked to leave after revealing some of his sexual proclivities to his potential wife. Gideon writes an anonymous letter to the prince, threatening to let dear old dad in on what went down unless he leaves French Court for good.
The letter works. Don Carlos informs Mary that as soon as the rest of his luggage arrives from Austria, he’s out of there; this alliance isn’t going to work out. Mary is very confused by the abrupt change of heart, and in an effort to keep her advantageous alliance alive and figure out what’s really going on, she has the prince’s luggage hidden away in the wine cellar.
To distract the prince (and attempt to win him over), Mary suggests they play his little castle game. That’s right, Mary’s totally into the Hare and the Hound now. Don Carlos is pumped. He explains that he plays a little differently: In his version, the men are the hares and the women chase after them. Mary is relieved. WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SO IN THE FIRST PLACE, BEARD?
A slew of very good-looking lords and ladies (including Catherine, Lola, and Narcisse) gather in the woods to get their love hunt on. The game begins and Mary is horrible at it. While in pursuit of The Beard, she ends up rolling her ankle. During her slow hobble back to the castle, she runs into her newly sworn enemy: Gideon Blackburn. You guys, he carries her all the way back — like, IN HIS ARMS. Sure, they both complain the entire time, but it’s obvious this is just laying the groundwork for the inevitable romantic comedy plot in which she’ll hate him at first and he’ll swear he’s only pretending to be in love with her, but eventually they will both actually fall in love with each other. It’s going to be so great.
For now, Gideon’s playing up the whole grumpy-but-begrudgingly-helpful act by warning her about Don Carlos and what may have gotten him booted from Austria. Hint: It may or may not be sex-related, and it may or may not be currently residing in his luggage. Mary must investigate.
Down in the wine cellar/luggage holding cell, Mary begins to open a very large crate, but is stopped by Don Carlos. He’s not thrilled Mary’s been lying to him, but he’s also very willing to let her in on his little secret. And then Don Carlos unveils his S&M sex apparatus. The Beard loves pain and is looking to settle down with a nice girl who’s willing to give it to him. Could that nice girl be Mary? Well, he sure wants her to try — for Scotland.
Mary confesses to Catherine that she just can’t bring herself to do it, but Catherine knows how important an alliance with Spain would be, so the two hatch a plan to give Don Carlos a “trial run” together. Mary enters The Beard’s room, straps him to his machine, asks if she can blindfold him, and then sneaks Catherine in for the assist.
Catherine takes the reins — I mean that literally, she grabs the whip from Mary — and begins to give Don Carlos the pain he wants, while Mary attempts to talk dirty. When Don Carlos asks Mary to tell him why he must be punished, her tepid response of “um, because I’m disappointed in you?” is just so perfect and so Mary, that my heart might burst.
NEXT: The impalement heard ‘round the world
Very quickly, however, Don Carlos realizes Mary is not alone. He rips off his blindfold and finds Catherine standing there. He’s betrayed, embarrassed, and furious. As he tries to flee, he trips and goes tumbling down along with his apparatus. In the melee, he CRACKS HIS SKULL. There’s blood everywhere, and as Catherine tries to shield Mary from the carnage and begin to plot a cover up, the two look back at where The Beard’s body should be, but it is gone. He’s not dead, you guys! He’s stumbling around the castle, covered in blood, with a piece of sex horse sticking out of his neck. Catherine and Mary have a lot of explaining to do.
As fun as The Sex Horse Zombie Hour has been, we should also talk about that new episode of CSI: Bash. Keep your booing to a minimum, please.
Bash and Delphine are now consensually body binding on the regular, but our dear Bash is still pretty down in the dumps over the loss of his brother. We’ve been focusing on figuring out who Mary is without Francis, but the same could be asked of Bash. Poor guy. Luckily, there’s another dead body with a missing heart to investigate!
The latest victim in the storyline no one particularly cares about is down in the village. Delphine immediately connects with the killer, and decides the next murder will take place that evening, right here in town. Well, wouldn’t ya know, they’re standing across from Greer’s Tavern, and assume she’ll be the next victim.
Greer insists they remain open and catch this guy once and for all. We’re having a royal sting operation! Bash calls down some guards, including Leith, to act as customers, and Greer’s gals steel themselves for the long night ahead.
While they all wait for the killer to reveal himself, Greer and Leith have a much needed heart-to-heart. Greer notices Claude’s pin on Leith’s cloak (she pinned him, you guys!), and loves that Leith seems truly happy in this crazy, mixed-up world. Eventually, we discover that all of this wise introspection is merely a side effect of Greer’s secret pregnancy. That’s right, little miss Madam is having a baby! I hope this means the return of Pirate Handsome Face (but also, she could totally raise that baby on her own because she is a strong, independent woman).
When it looks like the killer isn’t going to show, Bash sends everyone home, and leaves Delphine vulnerable and alone in the tavern. The killer appears and by just touching Delphine, transfers his blood lust to her. Delphine, in a rage, almost murders Bash, until he can calm her down with those baby blues. The big takeaway, however, is that the murderer escapes again and this storyline lives to see another day.
As much as I don’t care for Bash and Delphine getting it on, I do support the multitude of action Catherine’s enjoying these days. The privy council members are still dragging their feet on a vote for regent, but Catherine strolls in and convinces them to at least agree on a time to vote. It will be soon, and she reminds Narcisse how important a vote from him would be. In return for his support, she’ll make him Lord Chancellor — the second-highest post in France.
Narcisse is pretty thrilled with the potential promotion, but Lola is wary of Catherine’s true intentions. Narcisse is too into the power move to really care, though. Catherine feels pretty great about the trade-off as well. She’ll get the power of regency, she’ll be working closely with her part-time lover, Narcisse, and she still has her little firestarter Christophe, to, well, light her fire. Everything’s coming up Catherine!
Later, Narcisse pays Catherine a visit in her bedroom (“Are you here in my bedroom to tell me again how much you love your wife?”), after he catches Catherine and Christophe getting it on in the forest during the Hound and the Hare. He advises her to quit the affair, but it is obvious he’s all hot and bothered by what he saw. Catherine is loving every moment of this, and finally tells Narcisse that he should be more like Christophe and simply take what he wants. So, Narcisse does — both there in the bedroom, and later in the privy council vote.
Catherine believes she has the whole regency thing locked up, but before they can vote her in, their meeting is crashed by a cardinal who claims to have evidence that Francis was secretly poisoned. It was so secret, in fact, that it could’ve only been done by an expert — someone like Catherine. Catherine looks to Narcisse for help, and instead finds a man ready to usurp her power. Narcisse “humbly” agrees to offer himself as regent while Catherine sorts these accusations out. He is swiftly voted in, and it is obvious this has all been one big set-up, courtesy of Mr. S. Narcisse. Does the ‘S’ stand for Stéphane or Snake today? I think you know the answer to that.
Outfit of the Week: Mary makes mourning look good in the black sparkly frock she dons for The Beard’s little forest game. The gold chain sleeves, the ample décolletage, and did I mention the sparkles? It is in no way practical for hunting men in the woods, but — actually, I take that back — it is perfect for hunting men in the woods. Get ‘em, girl.
The Queens’ Corner of Harsh Lady Truths: