Mary finally makes a move to take the English throne. It does not go well.
Dead of Night
Credit: Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW
S4 E11
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Marriage is hard. Marriage is especially hard when one person rules an entire country and the other person would very much like to rule that first person’s country. So, yeah, Mary and Darnley are tip-toeing around one another these days.

Mary tells Greer that Darnley’s been on his best behavior since his coronation, but she still feels very little for him. It’s no wonder Greer is the last lady-in-waiting standing; she is the smartest of the bunch. She thinks the real reason Mary can’t get next to Darnley is thanks to something “tall, handsome, and Scottish.” She’s talking about Bothwell, you guys! Praise be — that ponytailed babe is on his way back to court.

But first, Darnley arrives to ruin the girl chat with news. He’s heard that Queen Elizabeth has decided to marry Archduke Ferdinand, a Catholic, in an attempt to rid Mary of her Catholic advantage in the war for the English throne. If there is already a Catholic king in England, the Vatican might be compelled to drop its support for Mary’s claim. If Mary wants England, this may be her last chance to do something about it with the power she needs behind her. She needs to move in on Elizabeth now.

Darnley offers the use of his English buddies, especially his BFF Lord Barrett, to help take Elizabeth hostage in her own castle. In return, Mary pledges the full force of the Scottish army, lots of gold, and her royal seal. That seal is important, people. If the soldiers leading the attack are found with Mary’s seal, there’s no denying that Mary sanctioned the plan. If the attack fails, Mary will be facing the wrath of Elizabeth. And we all know how much the chick loves beheading people who’ve wronged her. R.I.P. Lola!

Mary and Darnley watch as their men roll out toward England with her seal — and her fate — in their hands. The two have never been more of a team. So, of course, someone’s going to ruin it. Spoiler alert: It’s Darnley. It’s always Darnley.

When the big D finds out Bothwell has returned to court, at the request of Mary no less (she was sad about James!), he is not happy. This is the Loyal Watchman who ratted him out to Mary, remember? He’s also the guy who refuses to bow to Darnley because Darnley’s English, and Bothwell would very much like to see the hills of Scotland “covered in English blood.” These two will most likely never be exchanging friendship bracelets. Although wouldn’t that be so cute? Darnley banishes Lord Ponytail from court, and Mary, trying to make the best of her marriage situation, has to go along with it.

Darnley is on a rampage. Since Mary is using his allies to take on Elizabeth, he is coming for what’s his. Or what he thinks is his. Mainly, he wants the crown matrimonial, and this time, he’s not taking no for an answer. If Mary doesn’t agree to give him such power, he’ll turn this entire plot against Elizabeth around on her. If the plan “fails.” When Elizabeth finds Mary’s seal, he’ll make sure the English queen knows this was Mary’s plan all along — since he has no real power, he’s sure Liz will let him off the hook. And you think it’s bad when your spouse forgets the milk!

Mary does the only thing she can: She calls on Lord Ponytail for help. She needs Bothwell to go to England and stop Lord Barrett before Elizabeth ever catches wind of the plan. She needs him to bring her seal back. It’s a top secret mission that she’ll have to deny if Bothwell is caught, but he already knows that he’s risking his life. He’d gladly do so for Mary — with or without her crown. Lord Ponytail is the swoony-est!

To England Bothwell and Rizzio go! To find Barrett, Mary suggests they go to the one man in England who cares for both Mary and Elizabeth so much that he’d never let anything happen to either of them: Gideon. When the well-coiffed men get an audience with Gideon, they don’t have to work too hard to get him to give up Barrett’s location. Once they tell him that Mary’s life is in danger (they skip the whole part about Mary going after Liz), he offers to help. But Gideon’s no dummy. While Bothwell and Rizzio go and stop Barrett and his men, Gideon follows them. So, although the plot against Elizabeth has been thwarted, Gideon could easily go back and tell his queen what Mary’s been up to. This will just not do for Lord Ponytail. Thankfully, Rizzio stops his friend before he can gut Gideon like a fish and reminds him that Gideon’s fate is Mary’s call. Guess who’s getting a free ride back to Scotland?!

Speaking of Scotland, King Darnley will not drop this crown matrimonial thing. Dude needs a hobby. He’s doubling down on his earlier threat and straight-up brings Mary a document to sign while the privy council sits downstairs awaiting the announcement. It’s time to make him Mary’s equal. YOU GUYS. Mary takes that paper from Darnley and tells him point blank: “I made you king, but you will never be my equal.” And then she rips that crown matrimonial document up right in front of his face. If Greer had been doing a celebratory Running Man in the background, I wouldn’t have been surprised. It is so badass and Adelaide Kane and Will Kemp are top-notch in this scene. Darnley sputters off some threats about warning Elizabeth and Mary losing her head, but the Queen of Scots does not waver.

Nor does she have to. The attack has been quashed, and Mary easily gets Gideon to agree not to tell Elizabeth. The guy can’t resist those big brown eyes. Of course, he does go back to Elizabeth and tells her about a Catholic coup that almost went down, but he’s vague on the details. He just uses it to reiterate the importance of Elizabeth marrying the Archduke, even if Gideon is the only person Elizabeth swears she could ever love. This marriage could be the difference between life and death for the English queen.

Anyways, now that Mary is safe from making a fatal political blunder, she’s left to deal with the fact that her husband is making threats on her and their child’s life. Her response: She makes Lord Ponytail the Kevin Costner to her Whitney, and Rizzio is appointed her most trusted advisor. There’s a lot of silky hair up there on the throne as the three amigos summon Darnley to let him know that Mary has her seal and he isn’t a threat to her anymore. Mary wants him arrested — only the guy has one last card to play. He threatens to tell everyone that Mary’s unborn child isn’t his. The accusation of adultery would ruin her and end any claim her child has to the throne. She may be queen, but he’s still a man, and this is still a man’s world. I, for one, cannot wait until Mary makes moves to topple the patriarchy. Darnley has got to go.

Meanwhile, in France: Even Nostradamus gets a shout out! How I miss that fur-loving weirdo.

As predicted, Henri isn’t going to let the fact that he almost had the French crown go easily. He’s intent on making Charles miserable and asserting his own dominance by throwing elaborate parties without the king on the guest list and smashing in Charles’ nose with a tennis ball full of rocks. You know, standard royal brother stuff.

Catherine is not having any of it.

The queen mother wants Henri to apologize for humiliating Charles. If he doesn’t, she’ll use that book of witchcraft Henri brought back from his war with the Turks to turn Spain and the Vatican against their darling little Catholic prince. No one likes a heretic. Henri makes like he’s going to take his mother’s threat seriously, but instead of apologizing, he antagonizes Charles further, reminding him of how damaged he is after the trauma he’s suffered and how much better in general Henri is than the king. He also informs his family that there are Spanish warships not too far away, ready to support his move on the throne. Charles responds by choking Henri out on the dinner table. Ain’t no party like a Valois party.

Unfortunately for Catherine, Narcisse is actually impressed by the young prince. Even after Henri tries to blackmail Narcisse by informing him that he knows Narcisse is sleeping with Nicole — how would Charles react to that? — Narcisse wants Catherine to rethink their strategy. He thinks they’re “backing the wrong horse,” and that Henri has shown more aptitude for kingly stuff in just a few days than Charles has in his entire life. Catherine is livid with her Schemer-in-Chief. She reminds him that even if Charles will abdicate peacefully — which he definitely will not, as he’s made clear — he’d be a dead man. People backing Henri would want any threat to his reign gone. Charles would never survive.

Since Narcisse is no help, Catherine turns to her next greatest ally: witchcraft. She opens up that spell book, steals a hair from Charles’ brush (is it even his? Discuss!), and whips up a little spell to make Charles stronger and more powerful than ever. His enemies will tremble in his wake. Somehow, I just don’t see this going as smoothly as Catherine hopes, especially since Narcisse is now Team Henri and has Charles’ greatest vulnerability in his back pocket: Nicole. Things are going to get messy.

Outfit of the Week: Mary’s. Black. Cape. When things start going south for our Queen of Scots, let us always remember this fabulous shoulder pad situation.

Episode Recaps

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