Reign Report: “Terror of the Faithful”
Things are heating up on Reign, as Francis’ utter inability to do anything right begins to backfire on him, and Protestants take to the street after making a martyr out of a man Francis refused to make a martyr of. It’s beautifully dismal. And even if there were something he could do to improve his situation, perhaps by alerting Catherine to it – but oh, what a wild dream that is! Never to be, never to be – Catherine is a little busy hallucinating and will have to get back to you.
The full recap (and a breakdown of this season’s remarkably cynical approach to the nature of power) is up at the AV Club, in my last of the regular gig, which means it’s a veritable essay on how I feel the season’s done so far.
And in case there was any remaining doubt that Lola’s new political subplot is contributing to her slow rise as the Catherine of a new generation, enjoy these equally Done faces. Catherine, in a pretty lovely gold-and-black ensemble, upon being told that Claude’s fiance’s family will require a virginity test because the grapevine told them about all that sexing she did last week and brides need to be pure:
Lola, in a fabulous top, caring absolutely zero for Narcisse’s hurt feelings that she’d side with Francis when all Narcisse ever did was threaten Mary and her friends and the baby and sow religious strife everywhere and singlehandedly try to starve all the peasants:
This new ethical-but-schemey Lola is everything I wanted for her last season before the awful pregnancy storyline. Now that the baby is represented by an empty crib with some baby sounds piped in, the way all babies should be, she’s really picking up steam.
Here she is after Narcisse followed her into the woods with a tablecloth draped over his shoulder in case she wanted a picnic, and chased her horse away so he could “offer her a ride” back. He’s telling her how much he’d love a relationship. She’s staring politely into a Narcisse-free universe.
You can try anything you want, Narcisse. She was interested in you for the five seconds during which you were divulging state secrets, and then you ceased to exist.
And her relationship with Francis is finally beginning to make sense – a person of decent sense who knows everything and has no power, channeling her frustrations and caught between loyalty to the King who controls her access to her son and to the Queen who currently thinks Francis hates her guts only slightly less than he hates Protestants. (The fact that Mary Stuart is the pro-Protestant force in all this is still one of the richest alternate-universe aspects this show has ever handed us.)
Here’s Lola, mid-lecture about how Francis should just fucking fess up to Mary already and try to scrape his marriage and his rule back together, Jesus Christ, how hard is this, being told that Narcisse wants her kid dead:
You can see tiny fighter in her eyeballs beginning to forge weapons, it’s pretty fun.
Of course, she wasn’t the only character in the episode. There was also Claude, the unhappy saloon madam:
And Francis, here realizing his marriage is truly finished, with some nice work by Toby Regbo that makes me almost feel sorry for Francis:
Then again, this is the man who refused to let Mary say he was wrong, publicly or privately: “They don’t need to hear it, and neither do I.” I have never looked forward to an ear infection so much in my life.
And in a subplot that feels unexpected until you realize how little subplot either one of them has otherwise, Bash comes to discuss Claude with Catherine, as Catherine quickly puts aside the family Bible (not joking) to think about whether she can sexually ruin this one, too.
Actually they have a very honest conversation, and if this show wants them to hang out I’m happy to sit through some of that. I definitely want Bash in her corner if her ghost situation gets any worse, since he’s seen one and might actually believe her, because right now it’s not looking super great for her:
Catherine. Honey. You gotta stop tucking in your hallucination ghost kids, you’re looking like Henry, we know what happened to him.
But honestly, if there’s one scene that sums up what the show is like right now in terms of juggling the subplots:
Catherine’s POV, looking at Narcisse using a cape to cover the boner Claude gave him (not joking), and at Claude storming off with the ghosts of her dead sisters she may or may not have murdered and who currently want Claude dead (not joking) walking out right behind her. Oh show, you’re a gift.