Queening ain’t easy — nobody knows that more than Mary, Queen of Scots. And unfortunately, it’s not going to get any easier.
With the gruesome death of David Rizzio, her trusted adviser and BFF, still fresh in her mind (have the interwebs created a tribute to Rizzio set to “I’ll Be Missing You” yet? WE’RE ALL WAITING), Mary puts on her “I’m Not Messing Around” tweed and heads out to take back her castle. She and Bothwell waste no time in arresting the only traitor left, the Lord Treasurer, stringing him up outside the castle and letting him hang for his crimes. Once made queasy by the thought of killing someone, Mary will suffer no fools — especially fools who murdered her dear Rizzio.
Mary has her power back, but what good does that do her if she can’t dish out some justice for the treasonous actions of her privy council? They’ve all fled, and she wants them promptly found, not only so she can punish them, but also so she can force them to testify that John Knox was the brains behind the coup. Even two months after the fact, Knox knows he’s untouchable. He also reminds Mary that maybe she should be concerned about the whereabouts of her husband. Darnley is still in hiding and could easily be plotting another coup. He’s still a huge threat to her.
Bothwell knows it, too (Darnley is also a threat to his undying love for Mary… Bothwell’s the dreamiest!), so imagine his surprise when the first privy council member they round up is thanks to Darnley. Apparently, the D-man has done some soul-searching. He’s not looking for power anymore — all he wants is a chance to be in his child’s life. He’ll help gather the rest of the privy council members to prove it.
Almost impossibly, it seems like Darnley really does want to show Mary that he can be trusted. He spins a tale about Queen Elizabeth wanting to reward the men who attempted to overthrow her cousin. Darnley convinces one privy council member to send word to the others to meet that evening, where Darnley will offer them refuge in England. However, when Bothwell shows up to apprehend all of the men Darnley’s promised to get together, he finds only Darnley and a burned-down house. All of the council members were inside. Darnley blames John Knox — he could’ve easily found out about the meeting and used it as an easy way to get rid of anyone who might testify against him. Without witnesses, Knox walks.
Bothwell’s not so sure. Darnley has the same motive: He can’t be tossed in prison if there’s no one to point the finger at his role in the coup. And as Bothwell is quick to point out, Darnley has a history with setting fires in order to get what he wants. Just to be safe, Mary throws her husband in prison. Oh, the benefits of being queen.
Mary has a bigger problem on her hands anyway: Narcisse has popped over to Scotland from France after hearing about the attempted coup on Mary’s crown. He thinks it would be the perfect time to convince Mary to let him enact the revenge he’s patiently waited to get on John Knox for using Lola in his plot for power. Unfortunately for Narcisse, Mary wants to keep everything above board when it comes to Knox. She, too, wants justice for Lola, but she wants to do it in court.
When Mary’s plan to do away with Knox literally burns to the ground, Narcisse isn’t cool with just walking away. He goes through with his plan to make Knox suffer the same pain he did, the pain of losing the thing you love most in the world. What does Knox love most? Being a man. So, Narcisse castrates the guy. Narcisse is nothing if not clever. And tan. HE IS SO TAN.
In between screaming fits of pain, Knox tries to remind Narcisse that Elizabeth also had something to do with Lola’s death. She ordered the execution. Oh, Narcisse doesn’t need to be reminded. Narcisse has plans for everyone involved in the death of his wife.
Well, that can’t be good.
Elizabeth has no idea what tragedy is coming her way. She’s over in England, busy trying to appease her fiancé while also figuring out a way to keep her love affair with Gideon strong. Thus far, she’s been sending Gideon off on diplomatic missions, like attending a 3-year-old’s birthday party, to keep him out of court. Only, now Gideon’s back, feeling unwell from all the travel, and realizing that the Archduke knows about the affair. He doesn’t want to put Elizabeth’s life or reign in danger… but he also doesn’t want to share his queen with anyone. The Archduke rubbing it in about his hot and heavy sexcapades with Elizabeth doesn’t help, either. In a very painful scene, Gideon calls the whole thing with Elizabeth off.
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Too bad Elizabeth is the one in power here, and if she wants Gideon, she’s getting Gideon. She has him meet her at a tiny, abandoned church. Gideon may want to call quits on this thing for various reasons, but she’ll never give up on him. She would give up her throne for him, if she could do it without getting killed. Get this girl a job at Hallmark, am I right?
Elizabeth isn’t messing around. She’s brought Gideon to a church and professed her eternal love because she wants them to get married. Well, they can’t get legally married. They do have a very touching ceremony in which they “tie the knot” around their hands, Liz talks about her mother, Gideon about his daughter, and they become bound to one another for life. I’ll admit, a tear or two fell from my eye holes during this scene.
Unfortunately, “till death do we part” happens almost immediately. Liz and Gideon go for a post-nuptial stroll in the fields and Gideon drops dead. GIDEON. DROPS. DEAD. Turns out he wasn’t sick and worn down from traveling after all — Gideon was straight-up poisoned. Elizabeth doesn’t want to just leave him in a field, but as Evil Servant Jane points out, she really can’t be found with him. So, that’s how poor Gideon Blackburn ends his tenure on Reign. Dead and alone in a field. For all the suffering this guy had to endure, this seems about right. RIP, dude! Maybe don’t fall in love with two queens next time, okay?
Speaking of that other queen Gideon loved, Mary quickly learns what has befallen her ex-lover. After Narcisse presents the Scottish queen with a special gift, a box containing John Knox’s testicles (I feel privileged for being able to write that string of words), Mary puts it all together. Narcisse doesn’t deny what he did — he had to take something precious away from Elizabeth.
Just when you think Mary and Narcisse can at least be cordial to one another, she screams at him to get out of her sight. His thirst for revenge, and the bloody trail it left behind him, forces Mary to rethink her own actions. She doesn’t want to become soulless like Narcisse. She wants to stop all the revenge-ing, the killing. She wants peace. The first step is to release Darnley and try to work out her marital problems. Bothwell and I are both rolling our eyes.
It’s a bad decision for a long list of reasons, but perhaps the most important is the one Mary knows nothing about.
Lady Lennox goes to visit her newly freed son and ask him about the accusations against him. Did he really burn all the privy council members to death? Darnley answers her quite plainly: He didn’t want to, but Keira told him to do it. Keira was dead, but now she’s back and apparently very willing and able to dole out advice to the king consort. You guys: Knox may have lost his balls, but Darnley has most definitely lost his marbles. You’re welcome.
Meanwhile, in France: The Valois brothers are keeping the women of France on their toes, huh?
As evidenced by the fashion show Nicole wakes up to find Henri putting on for himself, the young prince is supposedly into wearing women’s clothing. He says he doesn’t want to be a woman, but he also isn’t going to stop doing something that makes him feel good and powerful and more like himself. So, it’s confusing. Also, it’s a risky story line for Reign to tackle with just three episodes, since there seems to be a lot to unpack here, but sure, Reign, you adorably bonkers show. You do you.
Anyway, it turns out Nicole is very into Henri’s extracurricular activities. And Henri is very into Nicole’s enthusiasm. They profess their love for each other… which is about to be a huge problem.
Thanks to Luc Narcisse’s extended time in the village (by the end of the episode he finally, MERCIFULLY, asks the king for an annulment, after being jerked around by Claude one last time), he’s now hip to Henri and Nicole’s affair. Luc promptly fills in Catherine and Claude. No one is pleased. King Charles is enough of a wild card; finding out his mistress is sleeping with his brother will do nothing to help the tenuous situation.
I’m sorry, did I say Nicole is Charles’ mistress? I meant to say wife. That’s right y’all. After spending days swiping left on all of Spain’s approved bridal prospects for the bachelor king (my favorite of his excuses: “Too equine”), Charles surprises everyone, especially Catherine, by announcing that the heart wants what the heart wants, and his heart wants to make Nicole his wife. Bow down to Queen Nicole WhateverHerLastNameIs. The Spanish Ambassador storms off to inform his monarchs, and something tells me France is about to implode very, very soon.
Outfit of the Week: Tweed. Leather. Sword. Baby bump. A thirst for justice. The badass getup Mary dons to take back her castle is perfection.