So, we haven’t had a Reign Report here for two episodes! Technically the first one is because I was heading to California for the DC Talent Summit, but let’s be honest, if the episode had been amazing I would have made the time. Instead, it was just a pile of awkwardness with a plot point on top. Unfortunately, “The End of Mourning” wasn’t much better. We’re currently in a vortex of Mary’s feelings for Conde, so if you’re not interested in that (and I am not) then you will probably also not be interested in Conde’s older brother’s scheming for the French throne. I tried to explain the sheer parade of turning-around-and-cackling that was “The End of Mourning” over at the AV Club, but in the end, only Catherine is really holding my interest much these days.
I should be interested in all this other stuff – cycles of power and court espionage, what’s not to love? – but I’m not! First of all, the prince of Navarre is essentially in a moustache-twirling cotest with Narcisse, and nobody wins a moustache-twirling contest against Craig Parker, ever, so that’s a done deal. Plus, even if it was just Conde to deal with, Mary’s recovery through loving Conde instead of Francis is awkward, and there’s not as much to Conde as the poor replaced Bash, whose entire subplot is now showing up for infodumps and to look mildly surprised he’s still married to Kenna. For this the producers trumpeted how they had dispensed with the love triangle? Ugh. It’s all just awkward.
Oh, you know. Syphilis bath awkward. (This was after Catherine had her feet pecked by birds, which was impossible to screencap but delightful, and after she had begged Francis not to let people think she lived her last days riddled with a sex disease. She orders him to tell everyone she died helping sick orphans, and I am sure this is intentional, but it was a glimpse of what Anne Shirley would have become without a lot of love from really honest poor people.)
Luckily, Narcisse is passing and comes in to help, because of course he is, and he helps her realize she’s actually been poisoned, which is WORSE than dying of syphilis! If anyone’s going to poison people around here, it’s going to be Catherine!
Narcisse has never been more attracted to her than when she’s fresh from the bath, holding poison detectors and getting mad as hell.
Sadly, he nearly seduces Claude earlier in the episode, which is just there so Lola can see it and get the thousand-yard stare of someone who desperately wants something else to do with her subplot.
She’s supposed to be mildly jealous here, but Anna Popplewell is just flat refusing. She’s not jealous. She’s nothing. She feels nothing. She is going to hold in all her feelings so she can live 500 years until women can own property and run detective agencies, and she’s just gonna do that.
“The End of Mourning” ends up being tied so closely to “Sins of the Past” that it’s just as well we’re doing them together. The good news is, now that Catherine isn’t ill or poisoned, she’s feeling so good she’s literally chewing the scenery, and it’s just the beginning of a wonderful adventure of sexually ruining the older gentlemen of the castle.
She’s up for it.
Remember the Duke of Guise? He’s back, and if he was ever trying not to be Australian he’s dropped all that now. But he’s heard about Catherine being good at sexually ruining guys, and he’s here to benefit! Also to maybe get more influence at court, but definitely to benefit from the sex stuff.
Narcisse isn’t happy about it, even as Catherine gently chastises the hell out of him for chasing girls instead of sleeping with women close to his age.
Him: literally stroking his knob beside the bed trying to sort out his feelings about this. Her: used to it. She’s seen it before. She’s seen it aaaallll.
Narcisse ends up murdering the Duke, partially because he’s in league with Navarre (or IS he???), but partially to make sure his new intimacy with Catherine isn’t broken, because of political convenience and all that sexual ruination she keeps promising him.
And for different definitions of sexual ruination, there’s poor Greer, who’s been hanging out at a tavern getting wasted on stout and panicking about what she’s going to do with her life. Spoken answer: not much. Unspoken answer: Prostitution, probably.
I love this shot so much. Kenna’s that person who is too embarrassed to even look at the friend-mess, and needs Competent Friend to sort some shit out immediately. DO SOMETHING, LOLA, GREER IS DRUNK AND MAKING HASTY CAREER CHOICES. Lola is not as certain this career move is hasty; Lola has been on the brink of ruin and is maybe looking at Greer like, “You look good, though; prime earning years for a courtesan.” Lola is Young Catherine.
And so it is; by the end of the episode, Greer’s turned into a madam, and even accidentally hooking her prostitute friend up with a john who cut off her hair as a souvenir has done nothing to curb Greer’s desire to earn money without actually sleeping with people.
In the Reign of my dreams, Greer rises through the ranks and Catherine uses her girls to be part of the Flying Squadron someday, with Lola paying Greer on the side to use them for her own personal intel needs. Bash gets looped in and given a subplot, and the ruling of France can just go to the love triangle no one will care about once all this stuff starts up. In actual Reign, this week is probably 80% love triangle, and the entire episode will look like this:
Make like Catherine/Greer and drink up; we’ll need it.