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Reign Wiki
Season Four Episode
A Better Man
Season 4, Episode 10
A Better Man
Air date April 28, 2017
Written by John J. Sakmar
Kerry Lenhart
Directed by Dawn Wilkinson
<font-family:Trajan Pro;font color="white">Episode Guide
Pulling Strings


Dead of Night
"Be patient with me. Please."
James Stuart


Mary Plots to Take Over Elizabeth's Throne
As Mary strategizes ways to take over the English throne, Elizabeth struggles to find an appropriate suitor to marry. Meanwhile, James gets caught up in a scheme orchestrated by John Knox and has to deal with the tragic aftermath.


In Scotland, Lord Darnley is directing the orchestra that is set to play on his coronation with the help of David Rizzio. Mary comes in and pulls her new private secretary, David, aside for a chat.

She tells him that she has invited Lord Hamilton to court in the hopes that he will stay for Darnley's coronation. The problem? In addition to having sent a marriage request prior to her choosing Darnley, the Hamiltons and the Lennoxes have a long-standing blood feud. Mary hopes to keep Lord Hamilton out of Darnley's way for the time that he stays here, so she asks David to keep Darnley preoccupied.

James has good news for Mary - Lord Hamilton has accepted her invitation to court. James is concerned that Darnley's unhappiness over Mary meeting with the Hamiltons behind his back, as it may interfere with Mary's legacy, but Mary tells James that she is already pregnant.

Just then, Greer comes in, and James promptly leaves. Greer is afraid she may have scared James away, as he seems more interested in Emily Knox than in her, but Mary just cryptically remarks that things aren't always as they seem.

In England, Elizabeth dives into the bath just as Gideon surfaces from under it. Elizabeth and Gideon briefly talk about Elizabeth's upcoming birthday party and how it is the perfect opportunity for Elizabeth to peruse a number of suitors, before they switch to making out.

In France, Narcisse thanks Nicole for what she has done for King Charles, before Catherine pulls him aside. Despite Charles' progress as king, it is still not enough for Queen Leeza, who demands Henri on the throne. They decide that the only scenario in which both brothers survive is one in which Charles willingly abdicates and disappears from the world's stage.

Narcisse pays a visit to Nicole and butters her up by promising her a luxurious chateau, complete with everything she could ever dream of - if she persuades Charles to abdicate and leaves court with her. However, Nicole argues that she wants to stay at court with Narcisse - the man she'd fallen in love with. But seeing as she realised that Narcisse doesn't reciprocate her feelings, Nicole declares that she is done helping him, Charles, and France.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth makes her debut at her grand party. She is introduced to suitors and shares a dance with a few of them, but none show promise. That is, until she meets the Archduke of Austria, who intrigues her enough for her to take him on a private stroll outside. Gideon appears to be jealous at the sight of them from the balcony.

Mary welcomes Lord Hamilton to court and does her best to be civil in response to Hamilton's bitter comments. Mary is well aware that she will need Lord Hamilton's support if she wishes to take England, so she makes him an offer: if Hamilton supports her and Darnley's rule, she will restore the Hamilton family's seat on the privy council.

Greer asks to speak with James. She brings up what she said at Mary's wedding and tells him that she has since realised that love doesn't need to be a thing of the past for her, not if she is clear about who she wants. James kisses her and asks her to be patient him while he sorts his life out.

In Vendôme, France, a baptism is interrupted when a rogue group of Protestants burst into a church. They charge the father of the baptised baby with delivering a message to King Charles while they hold everyone at the church hostage.

The message reaches Narcisse and Catherine, who then decide they must bring it to Charles' attention. Since Charles needs convincing, Narcisse has to get back into Nicole's good graces, as she is the only one who is capable of doing that.

An hour later later and no action has been taken. The Protestants resolve to up the stakes, and slit the priest's throat.

Mary and Darnley argue over the Hamiltons. Darnley cannot believe Mary would invite the very people who murdered his grandfather to court, but Mary retorts that she isn't interested in continuing their feud. It will never end unless someone is willing to be the better man. Mary asks Darnley is to be that man.

When in private, Gideon brings up the Archduke of Austria. A nice fellow, he says, but too fancy for his taste. Elizabeth picks up on his jealousy and teases him. As they're getting it on, Gideon realizes he forgot the contraception. Since she will be blamed if she is barren, she doesn't think getting pregnant with another man's child is the worst idea, as she could be married within the week and no one will know. Gideon is insulted at the idea, as what they share has become personal to him.

Narcisse goes to Nicole and lies that she has come to mean something to him. He claims being with her feels like a betrayal to his deceased wife, Lola. Nicole falls for it and their former arrangement is on again.

After Nicole props him up, Charles makes the decision to send the military to quash the Protestant insurgents in Vendôme.

James has come to Emily. She tells him that after her husband found out about them, he started treating her "worse than a common whore." She blames James for ruining her life and asks him to find her a new one. In exchange, she gives him key information: Knox and Hamilton have plotted to kill Mary before the coronation.

Darnley knocks on Lord Hamilton's door. He has come to offer him a bottle of wine as a peace offering, but is soon verbally assaulted by Hamilton. They talk about their grandfathers and Hamilton strikes a nerve there, but Darnley keeps his cool like Mary asked him to.

Elizabeth has written off all viable marriage candidates in favour of being with Gideon. She confesses that what they have is personal to her, too.

While getting ready for bed, Mary is warned by James that the Hamiltons plot to kill her and that they must flee the castle. Mary, Greer, and James run into the Hamiltons and their guards in the hallway, and the Hamiltons, visibly confused, say that they have just returned from a brothel. James commands them to stand where they are and surrender their weapons.

When they don't, James and his guards attack the Hamiltons, gravely injuring or killing all of them. While bleeding out, Hamilton reveals Knox warned him that Mary meant to kill them all along. Mary yells at Greer to fetch the physician, as Hamilton is the only one who can prove that Knox fed them all lies, but he doesn't make it.

Mary and James piece together that Emily lied to him about the plot against Mary's life. And now, because they were unable to save Lord Hamilton, Knox is free to say that Mary lured the powerful, Protestant Hamiltons to the castle to slaughter them. He will preach of Mary's treachery and make her lose all Protestant support. Unless James takes the fall for it. He advises Mary to call Lord Bothwell to court while he is absent and cannot protect her.

Mary summons Emily Knox to court. She may require Emily to connect her husband to the slaughter, but for the time being, she sends her home to "the powerful man who knows that you betrayed him," and "enjoy the living hell that is your marriage."


King Darnley: Mary! I'm glad you've come! What do you think?
Queen Mary: Well, you commissioned it for your coronation. It only needs to please your ear.

James Stuart: Be patient with me. Please.

Queen Mary: I had hoped that our marriage would be a partnership in every way. But with your drinking, your cheating, your blind ambition-
Lord Darnley: I am trying to be better!
Queen Mary: Then try harder.

Queen Catherine: I was starting to think you didn't have it in you.
Lord Narcisse: Oh, I played her masterfully. And all it cost me was the desecration of Lola's memory.

Greer Castleroy: How many more people will you sacrifice? Was there no other way?

King Charles: I understand that sometimes a king must wield a sword to protect his people.


Death Toll [2][3]
- Lord Hamilton
- Approx. 4 of Lord Hamilton's guards


Historical Notes[]

  • Mary, Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley were married on 29 July 1565. Making Mary Stuart 23 and Lord Darnley 20 years old.
  • Not long after their marriage, King Darnley grew arrogant. Not content with his position as King Consort, he demanded The Crown Matrimonial, which would have made him a co-sovereign of Scotland with the right to keep the Scottish throne for himself if he outlived his wife. Mary, Queen of Scots refused his request, and their marriage grew strained even though they conceived a child by October 1565.
  • Queen Elizabeth was born on 7 September 1533, so she would be celebrating her 32nd birthday.
  • Mary, Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley's son was born 19 June 1566, a full year after their marriage.
  • Elizabeth wants a husband "who will not have her head removed.' This is a reference to her father, King Henry VIII having her mother, Anne Boleyn beheaded.
  • Archduke of Austria was Charles II, Archduke of Austria, would have been 25 years old, to Queen Elizabeth's 32 years. However, he did not marry until August 1571 when he was 31.
  • Lord Darnley's grandfather was murdered by Lord Hamilton's grandfather on 4 September 1526 when he was 36 years old. His son Lord Lennox would have been 10 years old.
  • Prince Henry of France never fought in, or with Turkey.
  • King Charles IX never had a mistress named 'Nicole' however he did have a mistress named Marie Touchet, who would be 16 at the time and was born a farm girl before coming to French Court.
  • There is no Count Alfred of Vienna.



  • Credit Order
Actor Character
Adelaide Kane Queen Mary
Megan Follows Queen Catherine
Rachel Skarsten Queen Elizabeth
Celina Sinden Greer Castleroy
Craig Parker Lord Narcisse
Ben Geurens Gideon Blackburn
Dan Jeannotte James Stuart
Spencer MacPherson King Charles
Will Kemp King Darnley
Guest Staring
Andrew Shaver David Rizzio
Ann Pirvu Nicole Touchet
Nick Slater Prince Henri
Megan Hutchings Jane
Claire Hunter Emily Knox
Tyrone Savage Lord Hamilton
Steve Byers Archduke of Austria
Character debut
Speaking debut
Episode debut