Reign recap: 'Pulling Strings'
Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, and Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, cordially invite you, dear Royals, to attend an extremely depressing wedding. It’s black tie optional and they’ll be serving whatever remaining part of Mary’s soul exists after marrying someone for reasons other than true love. Seriously, the music Mary walks down the aisle to is appropriate for a whole slew of non-wedding events, like, for instance, a beheading.
So if Mary really doesn’t want to marry Darnley, why doesn’t she call the whole thing off? Well, she considers it for awhile. She has Catherine plot as to how they can placate all the nobles and world leaders who just rolled into Scotland for the big day. Catherine’s big plan, of course, is to shower them with money and jewels. Makes sense. Mary is cool with this option but still wants Catherine to hold off until she’s really ready to pull the trigger.
It’s a good thing she pumps the breaks on stopping the wedding. Not too long after, Mary finds out she’s pregnant with Darnley’s child. This is the heir spoken about in the prophecy, the heir that will reign over a peaceful and united Scotland and England. If she doesn’t marry Darnley and make it look like this child was conceived in wedlock, the child will be deemed illegitimate and all hope is lost. Mary knows there is no way around it — she has to marry Darnley. It’s a shame, too, because just moments after learning she’s knocked up, Bothwell arrives to profess his love. He knows it’s crazy, but there are only a few episodes in the show left and he has to make his move! He thinks he could be her great love and that together they could figure out a way around all that prophecy stuff. They make out, it’s hot, but Mary has other things to deal with.
The main one being: Just where the heck is Darnley? As all the wedding guests gather for some pre-wedding festivities, the groom is nowhere to be found. Oh, hey, remember that creepy, long-haired man who found Mary in the woods and delivered that prophecy from Bash? Well, his name is David Rizzio, and it turns out that when his hair is washed and he hasn’t been wandering in the woods for days at a time, he is the best. He is loving court life, will protect Mary at all costs, knows the importance of eating cake, and completely fangirls over meeting Catherine de Medici. Rizzio is all of us. He also says wonderful things like, “No one gives a damn about the groom.” And with that, Mary opens the festivities herself.
Eventually, James arrives with news that Darnley is in some sort of top-secret meeting. How did he glean such information? Through Operation Sex Up Emily Knox, of course! While out on his latest rendezvous with the protestant leader’s wife — Emily, by the way, is in way too deep with James — James discovers that Knox was helping Keira’s husband, Lord White, figure out a way to murder Darnley to avenge his deceased wife while Darnley was going to be alone at a meeting. James stops the murdering, but can’t figure out just who or where Darnley is meeting. Mary is sure Darnley’s mother would know, so she sends her best interrogator — Catherine, obviously — to pull the intel from Lady Lennox.
The two tiger moms meeting is just as delicious as you’d expect, consisting mostly of them throwing shade at each other’s sons. Eventually, Catherine susses out that Darnley is meeting with the Vatican’s representative at the wedding in order to chat about how Darnley can build up his power. And thanks to Rizzio’s secret love affair with the Cardinal’s secretary, Father Julian, Rizzio can lead Mary to exactly where Darnley is plotting behind her back. See? Rizzio is a queen’s best friend.
Mary stomps into that secret meeting as fabulous and as fearsome as ever, has her husband-to-be escorted out, and gives the Cardinal a very stern talking to about just who is boss in Scotland. Although this is incredible to watch, it doesn’t come without consequences for the queen. Almost immediately, Mary hears from the Vatican that they will not be helping her sway English border towns to switch over to the Scottish team — a very important piece of the Taking the English Throne Puzzle. It’s not great news.
Here’s another bit of not great news: John Knox has figured out that Emily’s been cheating on him with James. The scene in which he reveals this knowledge to Emily as he has her watch a random woman in a village be humiliated and mocked in public for her adultery is pretty frightening. He won’t force Emily in front of crowds, but he does tell her that James was only using her to get intel on him and never really loved her. Then he makes her remove her shoes and dress and leaves her to figure out her own way. It’s uncomfortable. Apparently “her own way” leads a crazed-looking Emily right back to the Scottish castle, where she creeps on James who, at that very moment, is finally making a move on Lady Greer.
Okay, I fear for both James and Greer’s lives with Emily lurking around, but mostly I AM SO EXCITED. Greer’s baby daddy Pirate Marteen shows up (James refers to him as the “bejeweled man” and has he ever been more endearing?) for the wedding and to meet his daughter, and within one interaction he can totally tell there is heat between Greer and James. And he’s a pirate! Pirates know things! They both half-heartedly deny it, but by they flirt up a storm, James makes a very heartfelt plea for Greer to let Marteen into Rose’s life (James knows a thing or two about being illegitimate) and that Greer shouldn’t let any past mistakes ruin her future. Plus, good things come from mistakes. Greer tearfully admits to not having the best track record when it comes to her love life and how she wishes she had met someone like James at the right time. They don’t kiss, but James wipes away her tears. It is just as good. Please don’t hurt these two, Crazy Emily!
Such romantic drama and we haven’t even gotten to the wedding yet! While Mary’s getting ready, Rizzio arrives with some bad news. Well, first he takes in the beauty of Mary’s dress, then he delivers the news. Darnley is out of his mind drunk. Mary and Rizzio tend to him by shoving his head in a bucket of water and feeding him coffee, but drunk is drunk.
Darnley, meanwhile, wonders why Mary isn’t drinking in order to get through this. At least he gets a crown, what does she get? Mary can’t tell him the truth about her pregnancy until after they’ve tied the knot, but it’s just as well. Darnley attributes it to her bottomless well of ambition. He’s very mean when he’s drunk and about to marry a person he hates. Go figure.
And so, with the bride sad and pregnant, and the groom sad and drunk, Mary and Darnley make it official. It’s a shame that such a lovely dress has to be wasted on such a depressing occasion. There’s one silver lining on such a terrible day: Catherine tells Mary that she had all the gold and jewels she was going to bribe the nobles with sent to the villagers in all of the English border towns — and they’ve changed allegiances to Scotland. They want to be part of Mary’s kingdom. She’s gaining momentum.
Unfortunately, she’s headed nowhere fast with Darnley. When she goes to their bedroom on their wedding night, she finds him passed out, drunk. She was going to attempt to avoid sleeping with him anyway, but still. It’s not a great sign for things to come. Instead of dealing with Darnley all night, Mary finds herself on her balcony, looking down at Lord Bothwell. He hasn’t given up on her — she kissed him like she meant it. But Mary just wants him to go away. If she makes one mistake — like, say, having an affair — she could lose everything. Bothwell could be her undoing. What a super fun and not at all stressful wedding night!
Meanwhile, in England: There’s always somebody who just can’t find it in themselves to be happy for the bride. As Mary is off dealing with wedding drama, all Elizabeth can do is wait, accompanied by her current BFF Gideon, and see how this Catholic union will affect her grasp on the English throne.
When she receives word that several border towns have switched allegiance to Scotland, Liz doesn’t take it well. In this case, not taking it well means ripping down a portrait of her father, Henry VIII, and cursing his name. He is, after all, the reason for all of her current legitimacy problems. It’s actually a very revealing moment for the character. This betrayal by her father is at the core of all her insecurities. The girl really loses it. She fears a Scottish invasion and has never felt so alone in her life. So, what’s a pal to do when his best mate is having a meltdown? Remind her how strong she is, of course, by way of his tongue. That’s right, you guys. Liz and Gideon take their relationship to the next level. The naked level. I’m not totally on board with this development, but those two kids have had a rough go of it lately. Let them numb the pain with a hookup session. It’s only fair.
Outfit of the Week: Typically a wedding dress would be a shoo-in, but you know what? A Mary, Queen of Scots wedding dress has already its day in the sun. Plus, that rusty-orange and brown gown she wears during the wedding festivities really spoke to me. Have we ever seen Mary in this color palette before? Apparently, we’re ushering in a new era for the queen in all aspects of her life. Go on with your orange self, girl.