Going three episodes at a time turns out to be a great way to watch Reign; you get all the bursts of action and a sense of an arc – in this case, Francis’ illness and Mary’s conflict as Conde slowly becomes the bad guy – and you can just ignore all the Leiths you don’t care about! And don’t even look at me like that, because it’s not like I am alone in wanting Leith out of the picture. You know who else does?
Yup. He proposed to Greer and she literally sat him down for a discussion about how having a booming 18th-century brothel was incredibly awesome and being his wife did not sound like it would be awesome at all, thanks for coming, bye. It was personally very satisfying, but also narratively smart; she is definitely happier now than she was when she was desperate to preserve her reputation, plus now she can afford to comb her hair, so you know things are looking up!
She even fulfilled my dream and became the Queen’s sorta spymaster! Wrong queen, but I’ll take it.
The point is, even when she’s dressed like a mosaic of Art Nouveau wallpapers crammed into 1770 surroundings, being a madam is working out gangbusters for Greer. When she’s wearing 1970, things get even better.
How amazing is that dress? So amazing that Catherine got one.
Looking awesome, Catherine!
Part of why she’s looking good is because she’s finally getting that chance to sexually ruin Narcisse and it’s going really well.
(I’m not kidding on this one; it’s rare that the Parent Contingent on a CW show gets the same level of romantic attention as the kids, and I appreciate that Reign realized that Catherine deserved a relationship with someone besides her ghost husband, and Megan Follows is more than up for some innuendo followed by carefully-placed sheets and more innuendo. Is it slightly ridiculous just because their camp levels are dialed to 11? Of course. But it’s great, and I love it.)
However, I have been wary that things with Lola and Narcisse were still up in the air, and it surprised me not at all that Catherine was nervous enough to want him to shut that shit down. He doesn’t want to – he’s still carrying a torch? He just vaguely cares in general? Narcisse literally doesn’t know what drives him from one scene to the next, it is his curse – but he does.
Lola, here before the hammer falls, looks so gorgeous I’m including this instead of the amazing scene where she cuts him down to size for circulating a dirty sketch of her (a dirty sketch of her, Reign, what is this, even for you this is reaching). But her finding-out face is pretty priceless:
Once again, she’s in distinctly Catherine shapes and layers. The last thing I ever wanted in the entire universe of this show was Lola and Catherine arguing about a dude; if they had to be snippy about Francis then fine, somebody had to be talking about him while Mary was off with her triangle, but this isn’t just political machinations and sizing-up, this is the literal actual worst thing I could have imagined for the show. That said, if Lola MUST be goaded into finally getting vicious about court politics, I’m glad she’s dressing for it.
The good news (“good news”) is that Narcisse knows what this is really about, and rather than making it a competition, he tells her he knows this is all stemming from the decades of bullshit she put up with from the King, and that he’s not like that (which, sir, don’t write checks you can’t cash, but fine), but that there should be trust in this relationship.
Considering he’s behind half the plot twists in these three episodes, I’m calling No Way on the trust, but it was also interesting to see these two in a moment that didn’t involve them looking like they were dividing things up for a scenery-eating contest. Obviously I love that and it’s awesome, but it’s nice when Reign pleasantly surprises me!
The other way Reign pleasantly surprised me this arc? The dedication to a historically-accurate Mary; a Mary who is constantly making bad decisions.
Catherine is literally trying to repel Mary’s ideas, that’s how bad it’s gotten. (This cap is honestly priceless to me.) Catherine is in a bell-sleeve bridesmaid-A-line with high-neck ruffles, and Mary STILL has it worse, that’s how bad it’s gotten.
It’s gotten so bad that a recap of mine is actually including Conde, just for the face he makes as Mary tries to come up with a workable strategy for protecting both France and Scotland:
I laughed out loud. It’s perfect. (Note Lola at Mary’s shoulder, providing actual good advice.)
Honestly, though, all the circling with Mary and Conde as the show tried desperately to handle its rape-recovery subplot with any skill or care was getting old, and Francis’s vague support was clearly a lot less fun for Toby Regbo than the bitter but more interesting monarch who rises from his sickbed only to distance himself from Mary so hard he straight-up tries to tilt his way out of the frame when they’re in it together.
Wait, you say. He recovered? How is that possible? He had dead-ear-itis, just like in history!
The answer: Bash found Clarissa (CLARISSA, OH MY GOD WHAT A CALLBACK, WHO HUMMED TO SUMMON HER) about to be murdered for witchcraft! He saved her! Then he brought her back to his Outlander prop house and poisoned her to death to fulfill the prophecy he invoked and keep Francis alive, weeping just enough tears that we’d think he was heroic about it instead of just a desperately guilty stabbee trying to cover his ass by getting rid of the person nobody would miss in an attempt to save the thing, as if the prophecy still followed the oldest-sibling transitive property even after all the crap that’s gotten in the way.
Immediately after Clarissa expires, Sister Handsy leans down and says, “You saved her from so much suffering in her future.” Reign, I ask you this sincerely: What the fuck.
I guess they did whatever they had to to bring Bash into the fold. Not that it kept things from being awkward.
Everyone in this photo is on an entirely disparate quantum frequency except Catherine, who – being reminded of Bash’s existence – is trying to decide if she wants to sexually ruin him, just for old times’ sake.
Given how many times I have dinged this show for utterly forgetting entire subplots – particularly Nostradamus, Clarissa, and Bash & Mary – it’s sad that I’m even partially okay with Clarissa’s reintrodemise as a tool to get Bash back into the royal plot rather than out in Exposition Junction. But I was so gobsmacked when Bash and Mary began exchanging sentences again that clearly it did what it was meant to do. They exchanged sentences when Francis was taking a nap for a whole episode!
(You know Toby Regbo just nappd for three days. Nobody blames him.)
They talked ABOUT their relationship, like it actually happened and everybody remembered it! (Also, this is a nice shot; this show is cheeseball as all hell, but I’m not made of stone. I also liked this one; I’m a sucker for window shots.)
And even this one, where Mary lurks at the very least-welcome edge of the frame while Francis literally sits between her and her French throne:
I dig it! Conflict! Drama! A Mary and Francis who have some dramatic tension back! By all means, show, proceed, let’s wrap all this Conde nonsense up and let Lola and Catherine be friends and let Nostradamus ride up to the castle door and race to the finish!
Oh, but what about Kenna? What does she think of her new out-of-nowhere mercenary love interest and his unconvincing facial expressions?
Yeah, that’s about what I thought.