Elizabeth sends English troops to take Darnley, but Mary has other plans.
Love & Death
Credit: Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW
S4 E6
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One of the reasons Reign is so great is because the actual KING OF FRANCE can be missing, and yet still that is a minor plot point shoved aside to make room for more kissing. What “Love & Death” really focuses on is the romantic drama our royals are facing. Thus, the aforementioned kissing. There’s kissing against walls, kissing in bed, sad kissing, passionate kissing, really just all the kinds of kissing you could want. King Charles can stay missing for all I care, bring me the romance!

Mary and Darnley are getting along swimmingly over in Scotland. It’s been two weeks since they’ve made their engagement official, and their flirt game is strong. There’s horse racing in the woods, splashing each other with water, and lots and lots of heavy petting while leaning against a wall. It seems like, against all odds, Mary and Darnley may actually have some real feelings for one another. There is one huge obstacle for the new couple: England. Elizabeth sends her ambassador over to Scotland to demand Darnley’s return to his homeland. He’s an English subject, and if he doesn’t obey her, there will be consequences. Mary reminds Ambassador Richards and his men that Darnley is a Scottish guest and England and Scotland are at peace with one another — why change things? Darnley tells them that no one “gives a toss” and goes on his merry way.

Elizabeth is, no doubt, enraged by this insolence, so she gives Ambassador Richards permission to bring back Darnley by any means necessary. Mary cannot marry this guy or all is lost. And by all, I mainly mean the ambassador’s head.

Mary and the Scots soon learn about phase two of England’s plan to stop her marriage. They receive a letter from the ambassador informing them that he and some English troops will be swinging by to collect Darnley. They don’t let on as to how many, but James and Mary can see that if the English march on Edinburgh and the Scots attempt to hold their ground, this whole thing could quickly escalate into war. Scotland isn’t ready for war. So even though it’s the night of Mary and Darnley’s big engagement soirée and all of their allies are coming to show support for this marriage, Mary and James think it would be best to get Darnley to a safe house. That way, when the English show up, they can simply say Darnley’s not around. No harm, no foul.

Darnley is incensed. The guy loves to party, apparently. Okay, so he’s more angry that he’ll look like a coward, but still, this is his party! James furiously reminds Darnley that this isn’t about how he looks; it’s about what’s good for the future of Scotland. Darnley spits back that he and Mary are the future of Scotland and James has no place here. He’s a redundancy. Ouch. Things get heated, and I have never been more attracted to either of these characters.

Mary tries to reason with Darnley, who finds it very convenient that Mary’s able to send him away. Any time things between them have gotten a little too hot and heavy, she’s pulled away. Darnley thought they were feeling a mutual passion — maybe he’s wrong. Mary’s done with reasoning, and she commands Darnley to go to the safe house. Which is like the greatest version of “I don’t want to talk about it” a person could ever use.

The night of the party arrives, and with it, the English troops. Only, there’s just 15 men who show up with Ambassador Richards. If Elizabeth wanted to use force to take Darnley, this wouldn’t be the way to do it. There must be another plan. James takes some time out of his major flirt session with Greer (he tells her Castleroy was a fool for letting her go! My ‘shipper heart is bursting!) to help his sister. Mary receives another note from that Royal Watchman person alerting her and James that the English have secretly sent an assassin over to Scotland along with their troops. Since Elizabeth wouldn’t have an assassin murder Mary in such a public place, they must be after Darnley. To the safe house!

Unfortunately, the assassin is already there, and he attacks Darnley. But, you guys, this assassin is terrible at his job! Darnley fights back and, after some tumbling, jams a broken bottle in the guy’s neck. The threat has been eliminated. Mary arrives shortly after, in tears. She thought Darnley might be dead because of her. He reassures her that he’s not going anywhere, that he’s marrying Mary. Don’t worry, he cleaned all the blood off of his face before going in for a kiss.

Mary wants everyone to know how far Elizabeth is willing to go to stop the Scots, so they bring the dead assassin back to the party and toss his body in the middle of the dance floor. Is this the true inspiration for Weekend at Bernie’s or just a traditional Scottish engagement party? Discuss in the comments.

At the very least, this whole fiasco clues Mary in to why she’s been pulling away from Darnley. She already had a husband she loved very much, and she watched him get murdered right in front of her. She can’t go through that again — she can’t fall for Darnley. Darnley, somewhat NOT reassuringly, tells her that they’ll both be in danger even if they aren’t together. And also, doesn’t all the danger make her feel alive? I feel like this is the opposite of what Mary needs to hear, but she goes for it. And finally, they truly connect. YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

Darnley’s feeling good about his steamy love life, until out of the castle shadows walks Keira. His long-lost love! She doesn’t care that she’s married; she loves Darnley, and she knows he loves her, and that’s all that matters, right? Smells like a very complicated love triangle to me!

Speaking of love triangles, back in France, Leith has apparently agreed to Luc’s proposition of an open marriage with Claude. It seems to be going okay — Claude and Leith are very kissy in bed — but things quickly go sour. Leith wants to run off to Tuscany that very night, but Claude reminds him that she has to fulfill her marital duties tonight because it’s when she is most fertile. WTF, Reign! This feels so wrong for so many reasons, but also, man do I love this show.

Claude and Luc continue their marriage charade in front of the family, but Claude can’t keep it a secret from Catherine. Catherine knows all about this type of arrangement. She warns Claude that she was basically Leith in this situation, and it can quickly poison a person’s heart. Whenever Catherine starts talking about poison, you really want to listen to her.

That night, Claude rebuffs Luc. She knows what she promised, but she just can’t do it tonight. Fertility be damned! Luc understands. He seems too nice to be on this show and I fear what his ulterior motives might turn out to be. Anyway, the pair ends up with a bigger problem: Narcisse discovers that Charles has been spotted in a village, and it is definitely not the same place where he and Catherine told Leesa the king was taking a respite. That’s a big problem, because if Leesa finds out they’ve been lying to her and King Charles is actually missing, she’ll probably do something crazy like decide the Valois should be removed from the throne and Spain should take control of France. (Spoiler alert: That’s exactly what she ends up doing.)

Narcisse sends Luc out to track down Charles before Leesa catches them in their lie. Claude runs off to find Leith and pleads for him to follow Luc. Her brother is in a fragile state, and he’ll need a friendly face to talk him off the ledge. Leith is a little moody since he overheard some of Claude and Luc’s foreplay before she called it off, but he can’t say no to Claude when she’s this distressed. So Leith follows Luc’s trail in pursuit of the king. Unfortunately, they never find Charles. Instead, Leith comes across an injured Luc. He was stabbed by thieves in the woods and is bleeding out. He could die! For one brief moment, it looks like Leith might stand by and let it happen, so that he can have Claude all to himself. But, honestly, did anyone think Leith would ever do that? He’s one of the good guys!

He gets Luc back to the castle, and when Narcisse thanks him for saving his son, Leith asks for something in return: money and land, so he can leave French court. Narcisse is immediately on board since it would mean no pesky soulmate around to pull Claude away from his son, thus ensuring that Narcisse’s legacy remains intact.

Claude is not so into it. She tearfully tries to stop Leith as he readies his horse to leave, but he explains that it’s too hard to share her. He can feel himself changing — he honestly considered letting a good man die in order to have Claude. It’s the poison Catherine warned against. Claude wants him to promise that they’ll meet in Tuscany in one year, after she’s produced an heir and can be done with Luc. Leith doesn’t want to make a promise neither of them can guarantee they’ll keep. And then he’s off. It’s all very sad, and I hope this isn’t the end of Leith. How depressing would his tenure on Reign be if that was the case? Give this man a happy ending!

Meanwhile, in England: Oof, this whole story line feels like filler, but very upsetting filler nonetheless. In between Elizabeth raging about her dumb ambassador not being able to bring Darnley back to England, she’s trying to help Gideon save Agatha. She brings in a renowned fever doctor (sure, okay), who ends up being a fraud. He can’t help Agatha; she is too far gone to be helped. He informs Elizabeth that Agatha is going to die, and Elizabeth is left to inform Gideon of the terrible news.

There are two good things that come out of this. First, there’s a sweet scene between Elizabeth and Gideon in which she calls him her only friend. Let’s hope that whole relationship remains squarely in the friend zone, okay? The second is that we get to watch Elizabeth really, really scream at the doctor. “YOU DEFRAUDED A QUEEN!” she screams and then sends him to the Tower. Angry Elizabeth is the best Elizabeth.

Outfit of the Week: Why, it’s the first outfit onscreen! Mary sports some very flirty leather riding pants and a great gown to go over top of them while she races with Darnley. No wonder they start making out so furiously — the girl looks hot.

Episode Recaps

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