These reviews are from, and all from Season Two.

The PlagueEdit

Reign 2.01 “The Plague” Recap -
As Francis charges through the forest on the hunt for Lola, he comes upon a family giving a funeral for their dead. The only thing is, though, that each member of the family is infected by the rampant plague, with the bodies still to be buried almost black with illness. At the castle, Mary announces the return of the plague while assuring the Nobles at court that the situation is under control, that Francis is safely hid, and that no one at court has shown any signs of being ill. With Greer and Leith recoiling upon learning that Yvette Castleroy is Leith's new love and Lord Castleroy's daughter, respectively, Nostradamus runs down the list of symptoms to look for in those who are infected, including sores, a blackening of the skin, and muscle aches.

Unfortunately, Mary isn't as in control of the situation as she would like to be, as she has no idea where Francis or if he's even alive at this point. She informs Kenna and Greer that she'll have to be isolated, thereby forcing the threesome to be separated for the duration of the plague; they assure her that her main priority needs to be surviving and that she did the right thing in trying to save Francis from what lie beyond the castle walls. Meanwhile, Leith tries to convince Yvette that he had no idea Lord Castleroy was her father, though her main concern is his lingering feelings for Greer. Yvette questions whether Leith can be around his former flame and when he tells her that he would never choose to go back to that situation, she offers to meet him at an old friends' house, a family close to her own who would take them in for the duration of the plague.

Across the castle, Bash confesses to Kenna that there simply isn't enough food at court to feed everyone and that famine will be an issue sooner rather than later. While he tends to the guards and keeps them in line in Francis's absence, she is to grab Pascal, hunker down somewhere private, and wait for the plague to end in what could be a matter of weeks. However, it turns out that a woman at court has been infected and passed on the disease to the married man she's having an affair with. Francis eventually makes it to the house that Lola was staying at and learns that both she and her baby boy are safe. What relief from that revelation quickly dissipates when the brother of Estelle, the maiden who got Lola out of the woods during the birth, shows signs of being infected. Even with the carriage driver having abandoned her, Lola decides to leave with Francis and tries in vain to get Estelle to come with them to safety, given that the girl hadn't been exposed to the plague yet. However, she won't abandon her family, so Francis and Lola set off into the night on their own.

Mary and Catherine meet in The Throne Room to discuss Francis's absence and the fact that the guards Mary sent after him have yet to show face. Not helping matters is the music lingering in the castle, which signals that someone has been infected; Mary gets a touch of hope, though, when Nostradamus volunteers to look for Francis and Lola. Having been in two outbreak regions without getting sick, he believes himself immune to the plague, so Mary lashes out at Catherine's attempts at poking her over the Lola incident and charges Nostradamus with finding her husband at once. Elsewhere in the castle, Kenna finds Pascal with the infected stable hand that she doesn't know is carrying the plague with him. He wants the boy to come with him to get something and threatens Kenna when she tries to take Pascal away, taunting her about her reputation as the king's whore and Bash's made-up title that was designed to provoke laughs. As much as she wants to grab Pascal and run, Kenna ends up listening to the boy when he says that he'll do what the stable hand needs and then come find her.

Lord Edward visits Mary and Catherine and asks about the death toll (14 and counting for the first day of the contagion) before getting to the heart of the matter. As a noble, he wants to call in a special favor with the Royals; specifically, he wants to throw the man his wife is cheating with into a room full of the infected and lock the door, thereby infecting him and killing him within days. Of course, Mary refuses to even consider the offer, as she knows what it is to take a life and knows that it must not be in vein, but Catherine is more curious about the arrangement, given that Edward's family control the food and grain that get brought into the castle. Things are already rough enough with the plague going on, so she doesn't want to add malnourishment to the list of ailments plaguing her people, not when it could cost her the crown should they have enough strength to rebel. Catherine informs Mary that the royals and the Nobles have an arrangement wherein the former grants special favors for the power bestowed upon them by the latter, a delicate ecosystem that she just can't dismantle on a whim. However, Mary doesn't want to rule like Catherine did and sends word to Edward that his request has been denied.

Greer confronts Leith about getting together with Lord Castleroy's daughter and he gets defensive, saying that his relationship has nothing to do with her. Greer doesn't believe him, though, and tells him not to test her in the way before begging him not to meet her like he was set to that night. While Bash goes looking for Kenna and interacts with a little girl, picking up her doll as she leaves the castle with her family, Francis and Lola arrive near a water source that could provide her with the nourishment necessary to produce milk. And it turns out that Francis's oft-removed cousin Louis (Lord Conde) has been staying in the area and he offers to take them in until the reignplague can completely pass. Back at the castle, Mary and Catherine learn from Edward that Lord Vallance has fallen ill and opted to isolate himself with the rest of the family, thereby infecting an entire household of nobles. Villagers are burning the homes of those who are infected and the fires have been getting out of control, which threatens the countryside and could cause problems for the castle should they be allowed to get that far. Before Edward exits, he leaves Mary with the thought of being behind a famine that could wipe out quite a few of her own people, something that she might not be able to live with.

At the encampment, Francis chastises Lola again for not being honest with him about the pregnancy, saying that he would have been more upset with himself than he would have been at her had she told him in advance. However, he goes on to say that the child will be whoever he says it is. Kenna finds Pascal bloodied from the stable hand's illness, with the stable hand having succumbed to the plague. Pascal is also ill, though, and complains about not being able to swallow and his bones hurting. Just before Kenna can dress him up and get him out of the room to safety, one of the servants overhears them and gets the two locked in the room, as Kenna is presumed to be infected having interacted with Pascal and stayed in a room with a decomposing body. Over in The Throne Room, Nostradamus brings word to Mary and Catherine about the house Francis made it to being set on fire and having a red X painted on the doorway, though Mary refuses to believe that her husband could be dead. She thinks that the two could be alive still, having moved on before things got too bad; this is completely opposite to Catherine's philosophy in matters like this, which seems to be centered on self-protection. She berates Mary for being naïve and claims that if word about Francis being absent were to get out, she would get power of regent and have the pull in France that she gave up once Henry passed.

Francis comes into contact with Lord Stefan Narcisse, a supposed friend of Henry's who is heading north to get out of the way of the plague. He also happens to have Estelle in a cage behind his horse, as he claims that he doesn't know if the girl is infected and wants to isolate her before running medical tests on her to see if she has the plague. When Lord Condé thinks that Narcisse is gone, he mentions that the man is someone who's built his fortune through shortcuts, his inherent creepiness casting a shadow over the death of Estelle's family; however, Lord Narcisse overheard that and comes over to inform Francis that Condé has a ship ready to leave France. Not having been given the option of escape, Francis begins to wonder just how much he can trust his cousin to begin with. Having physically separated herself from Pascal in order to keep herself from falling ill, Kenna hears the boy talking about seeing his mother in a dream, only the woman was younger than he remembered and looked a lot like Kenna. She tries to comfort him, saying that he's a wonderful boy and a good soul, and Pascal quietly succumbs to his illness without anyone to physically see him off into the afterlife. While looking for Kenna, Bash stumbles upon an infected woman locked away by herself. When she tries to get to another part of the castle, Bash stabs and kills her, telling the guards that he's likely infected now as a result. Elsewhere, Catherine has fallen ill and tells Mary how grateful she is for stepping in and preventing her from killing Lord Vallans' household. Though she lets herself be vulnerable when she laments how difficult it is to be a queen not loved by her king, Catherine strikes once again when she warns Mary to stick by Francis despite everything with Lola. Her reasoning? Mary is nothing more than a guest in the castle without Francis's support, so she needs to protect herself through her relationship with him. That night, Francis and Condé sit by the fire and the latter offers to send Lola and baby Julien on the boat ride to Amsterdam, the home of the married mistresses he's taken and who will be accompanying them. He then cautions Francis against making his own child suffer the indignities that Bash dealt with - the harsh whispers, the bumpy life path, the resentment.

It turns out that the family whose home Yvette wanted to stay with Leith in were the Vallans, whose little girl was the same who Bash interacted with when her doll dropped. As the family drinks water and Yvette waits for the man she thinks she's to be with, Edward reveals to Mary and Catherine that he took matters into his own hands when they wouldn't do anything about his situation. He poisoned the family's water supply and killed every member of the household, including the little girl, Yvette, and every single servant. The little girl shows up in a brief hallucination that Bash has while stressing over the situation, telling him that there are many like her who are angry and not going anywhere just yet, that there will be a reckoning to come. Mary and her five guards catch Edward signaling for the grain and since she knows that he committed the murders whose aftermath she witnessed, she brings him down to the catacombs where he can suffer the same fate as the entire Vallans household.

Bash finally locates Kenna and comforts her over the loss of Pascal, while Francis interacts with Julien for the first time when the baby cries without Lola around to help. That moment causes him to backtrack on the initial plan to send Lola to Amsterdam, as he tells her that she cannot leave on the boat after all. While Lola feels more trapped than ever before, Mary has assumed her place on the throne, having made a difficult decision that shows just how gray her morality has become since arriving in France.

Additional thoughts and observations:
-"The airs near us will be burned clean. It worked for the Pope."
-"Welcome to your rule, my queen. And welcome to the real France."
-"Take that to your grave when the hungry rise up and kill you."
-"I simply didn't have time before falling ill to murder that household."
-Okay, let's address the most important issue of the episode and perhaps the season as a whole - Sexy Nostradamus's sexy face. I was genuinely shocked when I first saw this episode's promo photos because I barely recognized Nostradamus without the scruff (he vaguely reminded me of Raul Castillo from Looking, for some reason) and it was kind of bizarre to have him look so different without addressing it within the episode. Of course, he still looked good and per an interview with Laurie McCarthy, the change was because Rossif Sutherland had a job during hiatus that forced him to shave. RIP, Sexy Nostradamus's Sexy Beard. I'll miss you most of all.

-Favorite dress of the episode: the lace-y black thing Mary was wearing while addressing The Black Plague's return at the castle. The little pop of red underneath was super pretty.

-Can I tell you how happy I am that we're apparently doing [Castle Ghosts

The Ruling Queen - Reign Season 2 Episode 1 -
Mary has a pretty wretched introduction to power in Reign Season 2 Episode 1.

With Francis out to rescue his child (and Lola) and the Plague infiltrating the castle walls far earlier than imagined, things are fairly dire as we begin Reign Season 2.

While the tone was somber, we were still treated to sparking dialog delivered with the appropriate intensity to match every scene.

In short, Reign is back and better than ever.

Mary has learned so much in such a short time. The most important lesson has been that she doesn't want to wind up like Catherine. She wants to reign with a fairness and respect. She doesn't want to grease the palms of nobility just because they give her power, but she wants to earn their respect so nobody is making fear-based decisions.

That may not always work for her, and we know Mary's not against taking matters into her own hands and nudging things in her direction, as she did with Catherine. She took away some of Catherine's power, temporarily, so that she was able to handle things as she saw fit.

I never knew that the Plague would come into an area and ravage it for a few weeks and then move out after killing those would were susceptible. Maybe that's not historically accurate, but if it is, the swift moving nature of the disease is a lot better than it lingering around for months and years.

Who didn't love when Catherine declared they burn clean the air around them? Mary gave her a look like, "Are you kidding me?" and Catherine said "It worked for the Pope." Things were so horrific but that was pretty funny. Even today many people don't know how or why some diseases are transmitted, so it's not that odd of a belief.

When Lord Edward (Narcisse -- related to the one in the woods who will come to the castle and want even more vengeance??) wanted to kill another lord because he was screwing around with his wife, Catherine was willing to do it. Mary refused, finally drugging Catherine to believe she had the Plague to get around it.

I'm a little confused exactly who Edward killed. Somehow Lord Castleroy's daughter was in the room he poisoned. As soon as that water was delivered and I heard "finally" I knew death was imminent. But that wasn't Castleroy's room. Yvette dying opens the door back up for Leith and Greer to dally, because did we really believe it would be over so easily?

We had the ghost story in Reign Season 1 (which wasn't a ghost at all, of course) and it seems we might have another. There is really no logical explanation about what Bash saw in the hallway other than the girl infiltrated his dreams with the announcement of The Reckoning the dead would have. Mary may have stopped the dead taking more vengeance since she duly punished Edward, but ghost stories are fun and this is The CW.

When I spoke recently with Torrance Coombs, I asked about Bash's relationship with Kenna and their new ward. He answered, carefully avoiding mention of Pascal. Now we know why. How heartbreaking for Kenna to be so far from the boy in her charge as he died, but yet her words about God and souls were quite tender. I wonder if children might be in her future.

Catherine told Mary not to let Lola come between her and Francis. It seems it will be a lot more difficult than that. Lola almost had a free getaway, but once Francis held his son, that was it. He couldn't let him go. With his son comes Lola, so the three will have to find a way to live together, odd as it will be.

It's hard to believe the notion of true love even comes into their minds considering how rare it was in the times. But as humans, even faced with the worst possible notion we like to believe that we can have it all, that our love will be different than that which came before.

Personally, I've never really liked Lola and her decision to sleep with Mary's guy even though they were estranged (to put it mildly) never settled well. I expect her to be a pain in the butt and for it to be difficult for her and Mary to mend fences.

Was the final scene -- Mary alone on the throne -- a sign of what's to come? I hope she's not left with the lion's share of running France while Francis attends to other issues inside the castle.

Overall, it was a solid, action-packed hour. We suffered through the Plague, discovered to what lengths Mary would go to rule over Court, met two new players for the season and learned Francis is coming home with a baby.

Bash and Kenna have lost their ward, which will leave Kenna with free time on her hands to get into fun situations and it appears Leith is free once again, as well, opening the door for a little Greer action. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

This was another premiere so full of quotable moments it's impossible to include them all, so please hit the Reign Quotes to get the best.

Did you think this was a good start to the season? Did anything surprise you and what are your hopes as we move forward? If By: Carissa Pavlica

Drawn and QuarteredEdit

Reign 2.02 “Drawn and Quartered” Recap -

The castle is still recovering from the plague, as Bash has taken to overseeing the burial of the mountains of bodies and Greer an and Lord Castleroy mourn the loss of Yvette. Things get a bit more normal around court when Francis returns home, though Lola and the baby being there bring a certain tension for Francis and Mary gets rebuffed when he asks Bash if he wants to be part of the privy council. After meeting and thanking Lord Condé for helping her husband and her good friend, Mary takes Francis inside and the two have their first sexual encounter since he left to be with Lola. However, afterwards, she admits to feeling pressure from Lola's presence at court, seeing as how it only magnifies the fact that she's yet to get pregnant, and urges Francis not to claim Lola's child in order to give them more time to conceive.

Outside, Lord Narcisse meets with Catherine and wonders aloud why the castle wasn't safe during the plague and about the final days in the life of his son. Narcisse regrets not sending for Eduard when the plague broke, so he decides to retrieve the body from the catacombs and return home to grieve. Once in there, though, he ponders a noble dying in the catacombs when they tend to die in their rooms in situations like this and discovers the lone survivor of the room full of death. As the Royals gather to celebrate Francis' homecoming, Narcisse and his band of men interrupt the party asking for justice for Eduard, as Nostradamus had earlier assured Narcisse that his son had been infected when he was taken to the catacombs. After talking to the survivor, though, he knows that to be false and that Eduard was deliberately infected, so he wants the murderer to be punished without impunity.

Meeting in the chambers, Francis and Catherine gang up against Mary, with the former upset at his wife making a rash decision and the latter mentioning that the Nobles could lead an uprising if they're not happy with the royals. While Mary vows to fix her mistake and spare the lives of the guards who brought Eduard to the catacombs under her command, as well as Nostradamus, Lord Castleroy goes to Leith's and confronts him about Yvette's death; he believes that Leith knowingly got into a relationship with his daughter because of who she was, because of her proximity to Greer, and as such, he smacks Leith in the face and warns him against getting around the rest of his family. Back at the castle, Mary approaches Lord Narcisse in his chambers and though he acknowledges that she's untouchable regarding being punished for his son's death, he knows that he can do damage to those around her and punish her that way. Narcisse manages to get Mary to admit that she acted out of anger in her punishment for Eduard, though she strikes back when she accuses Eduard of lying about his reasoning behind the attack on the Voland family, something that got under his skin enough to where he decides to draw and quarter Nostradamus and the guards as punishment for Eduard's death. There's the added bonus of being able to teach Mary a lesson and show the royals that the nobles are not to be underestimated.

Afterwards, Mary meets with Francis, who chides her on being reckless with Eduard. However, she hasn't taken kindly to Francis abandoning her in this situation, nor has she forgotten the fact that he abandoned the kingdom and left her to fend for himself. While she's got the opportunity, Mary gets in a shot about Francis choosing Lola, of all people, to have sex with, but since the two don't have the time to fight right now, they decide on looking for blackmail evidence that will get Narcisse to back down. Mary then rushes into Lord Voland's chambers trying to turn up anything that she can, only for Lola to come into the room and tell her about the funny feeling she has about Lord Narcisse. Following some awkward small talk about Lola's baby, who she's calling Robert, Mary finds a note from the privy council mentioning that Voland sought out the king really close to the date he died. Elsewhere, Greer seeks out Leith at his place and admits that she feels like she betrayed him by telling Castleroy about his idle threats. Greer believes that she's poisoned everything, apologizing to him and urging him not to blame himself for Yvette's death; however, she admits that she regrets loving him and that she needs time in order to move on from him.

Bash learns that Narcisse used the plague as a way to murder families and seize land deeds in order to make himself a more powerful figure. While out near the community grave designed for plague victims and important documents, he encounters a citizen who confirms what the little girl in his hallucination told him - the door between the living and the dead is cracked and due to mistreatment and the way they died, some of the dead aren't reignwanting to go through. They don't have a guide to see them through to the other side, so they're lingering, just waiting for the opportunity to strike. Back at the castle, Mary hears from Lola that Lord Vallance wanted to take confession with Father Lucien in the days before his death, so that, along with the recent death of Cardinal Morosini had been killed, inspires Mary to seek out the local church. With some time along, Bash tells Francis that he thinks they need Nostradamus, whose supernatural gifts could come in handy should The Reckoning that he's heard about come to fruition. He elaborates on what the death are seeking (the truth about the way they died), but Francis has other things to think about, as he heads to his father's tomb in order to seek guidance. While there, Catherine inquires about whether he's to claim Lola's child and he still hasn't made a decision; she then pushes him toward claiming the boy, saying that this might be his one chance to have a child and that he doesn't want the boy to live the same life that Bash did.

When Greer returns from Leith's, she admits to Castleroy that she went to see her former lover, though she assures him that Leith is wracked with guilt over what happened to Yvette. Castleroy, for his part, is more worried about Greer's loyalty, believing that she chose his finances rather than him and that her heart still resides with Leith. As such, he's planning to go on a business trip that will involve seeing his children and informing them of Yvette's death. Meanwhile, Mary sees Father Lucien at the church and pulls the truth out of him - Lord Voland and Lord Narcisse were collecting money for the church together and ended up letting greed come between them, as they started skimming more and fought over the size of the bounties they brought home. They killed Cardinal Morosini after he got too close to the truth and before Lord Voland could confess, as he grew quite guilty over everything he did, Lord Narcisse killed him. However, Mary can't do anything with this information because it occurred in confession, so she's going to have to find another way to destroy Narcisse. Speaking of, Narcisse confronts Francis at the castle about the relationship they have and implies that the lands that feel the king's people could become closed off to the majority of France if he doesn't get the vengeance that he desires. While he accuses Lord Condé of being an undercover protestant, Condé tries to appeal to Francis, urging his cousin that they could shift the power now that they're in charge and that they don't have to rule in the same way their parents did.

Around dawn, Catherine meets with Nostradamus in The Tower and informs him that she doesn't have a plan to get him out of this mess, claiming that he messed up when he decided to be loyal to Mary. Instead, she promises to keep his memory alive through publishing his works and erecting a statue in Paris, but Nostradamus plays a trump card when he implies that Clarissa is alive without giving Catherine much in the way of details. The entire reason Catherine signed off on the Mary/Francis marriage was because of Clarissa's death fulfilling the prophecy, so if she's not dead, then Francis still has a chance of meeting an untimely end; unfortunately for her, Nostradamus gets led away before he can give any more details. Outside, Nostradamus gets each limb bound and finds himself tied to four horses ready to gallop in four opposite directions. Just as he was to meet his untimely end, Mary interrupts the execution claiming to have a hand-written confession from Lord Voland, a confession that had been sent to Rome earlier.

Francis comes around, though, with two letters in his hand and succeeds in shoving her out of the scene; he uses his title to get some time alone with Narcisse and makes a bargain that Nostradamus and the two guards live if Narcisse can get some additional land. It turns out, though, that the entire thing was staged, as Mary didn't have anything in the way of legitimate written confessions.

But in order to save Nostradamus, Francis had to betray Leith, whose land he gave up to Narcisse and who he requested to see at court. While Bash gets Francis to grant him the title of King's Deputy, a way for him to have a legitimate title for the first time and a way for him to work at court without being on the council, Mary sends Nostradamus away on a horse before meeting with Francis in the nursery. She then tells him that he should give the baby his name, making it safer than it would have been otherwise, but when she leaves, a nurse maiden comes in to help Francis hold the baby. The maiden turns out to be possessed by the spirit of Henry for a brief moment, only to not remember anything immediately afterward.

Additional thoughts and observations:
-"We are the outside world and we surround you."
-Okay, did that ending remind anyone of the episode of Friends where Joey becomes Jessica Lockhart on Days Of Our Lives?
-But seriously, while I like the show ex ploring the supernatural and getting that extra little dimension that typical costume dramas don't explore, the strength of everything with Nostradamus was that it felt grounded while still being otherworldly. It felt like it could be within the same realm as the rest of the show and it was a major motivator in other storylines, so it wasn't cordoned off in its own little area of the stuff. This, though, feels like a clunky way to make the subtext Francis and Bash are dealing with regarding their father into text, a move that could be a bit too hand hold-y; I get the idea of giving their innermost fears and concerns a personification and making that personification rotating, so that they never know when it's going to pop up, but this just didn't work for me.
-However, I did like them interrupting an earnest moment from Francis with something just ridiculous like that. Easily the Reign-iest Reign Moment of the Week (TM) and a juxtaposition that made me laugh, admittedly.
-Props to Reign for being unafraid at showing Francis pleasing Mary. Not for the reasons you're thinking, pervs, as it's refreshing to see a show that doesn't shy away from female sexual pleasure or having Francis do something that we don't see much of on television, be it cable or broadcast.
-How long do you think Nostradamus will be gone? I was a bit surprised to see him being sent off so soon into the season, but with things not great with Catherine and Lord Narcisse still lurking around court, it makes sense for Mary to get him out of town until things can die down. Also, the whole thing was worth it for Catherine's reaction to Clarissa being alive and the realization that she might've gone down the path she's on, the path that led to her losing her power, under false pretences.
-Mary and Francis teaming up to fool Narcisse was interesting, as I didn't think they were at that place with one another. It was a fun slight of hand by the writers, playing on a previously established dynamic in order to mask the motives of Francis' actions, and one that I think goes along with the rest of the show, as a theme of Reign seems to be "trust only yourself." And to have the actions of the characters being questionable could lead to some interesting turns in the narrative later in the season.
-I liked seeing Mary step up against Lord Narcisse. The Mary of early Season One wouldn't have been able to do that, nor would she have went to Father Lucien, and it was a nice reminder of just how much of an impact her experiences in France have had on her. I appreciate that Reign isn't shy about showing Mary embracing her power and doesn't back away from having her make mistakes (e.g. killing Edward, as good as it might have felt for her at the time); she might not be a traditional antihero, given that she always feels guilty for doing something bad and she does what she can to make things right, but she's an interesting character and one without a lot of female contemporaries on television today.

-Similar to Nostradamus, I'm surprised that Lord Castleroy is gone for the time being. I found his dynamic with Greer to be more interesting than Leith's and while this show is flexible enough with time that he could be back sooner rather than later, it's a bit disappointing that they seemed to have abandoned the Castleroy/Greer relationship in favor of a more CW-friendly relationship. It's understandable, given Reign's soft ratings and fearlessness when it comes to sexuality, but it's still disappointing.

-Both Castleroy and Nostradamus leaving makes me especially glad they added Craig Parker as Narcisse. Coupled with the loss of Henry, the show would have felt like it was lacking in strong adults had they allowed Castleroy and Nostradamus to leave and not inserted Narcisse into life as court, the latter of which giving Catherine someone to spar with and injecting a decidedly different energy into such a familiar setting.. Reign might ultimately be a show about Mary and Francis, but it's a show whose best parts tend to revolve around older characters, so to go from a fairly balanced show as far as age to something much younger within two episodes would've been too much, too soon. Parker's presence adds a lot of heft to Reign and he was especially great during this episode, which makes me excited to see how the rest of his tenure will go.
-Could Lord Condé's "radical" views come into play later this season? Maybe not those views specifically, but the radicalism that inspired them and the aversion to the status quo that he's shown. It almost seems like they're setting him up to go up against Francis, who has tended toward a more conservative leadership style; is there a chance that Lord Condé tries to make a move for the throne and implement his own ideas?
-This was one of the more subtle Catherine episodes in recent memory, yet I think it could have far-reaching effects, both because of her growing paranoia about Clarissa and the string-pulling she was doing with getting Francis to claim the baby due to Mary not being able to get pregnant. That feeling that she didn't have to deal with Mary and that she was forced into this marriage by the actions of her friend should add a lot to their interactions in the coming weeks and I think that we might be heading for a pretty big blowup when everything comes to a head. -Next week on Reign: Mary and Narcisse clash over French famine, while Francis fears that his father's haunting him and Catherine puts on an opulent Coronation ceremony.
By: Shilo Adams

The Ruling Queen - Reign Season 2 Episode 1 -

Political intrigue!

We got a lot of it in Reign Season 2 Episode 2 and it worked really well. There were so many twists and turns mid-story that you really had to pay attention.

This isn't just a little show about a young Queen choosing between two brothers anymore. Look beyond the historical inaccuracies and at the brilliant tales they're telling, because they're top notch.

We knew things wouldn't be easy for Mary when Francis returned with Lola and their son in tow, but she surprised me. A lot of people saw the way Mary dealt with Edward Narcisse in Reign Season 2 Episode 1 as an indication she is following in Catherine's footsteps. While she may have been cunning with her machinations of the situation, she chose not to follow the path set by a nobleman because she wants things to be different under her reign with Francis.

At first, Mary felt that Francis' acceptance of Lola's son would put their marriage in jeopardy. The world was watching for her to bear Francis an heir, and claiming Lola's bastard would only increase the pressure she's already feeling. But after another very grueling day and witnessing the way Catherine treated her once dear friend Nostradamus, Mary softened.

The only way Mary can be sure she's not like Catherine is to act in ways Catherine would not. That includes allowing Francis to claim his first born son as a royal and to provide him a life much different than what Bash endured. Catherine also gave that same advice to Francis, but it's hard not to assume she did it so Francis would hurt Mary.

Catherine wasn't pleased in the slightest with the discovery she was poisoned so Mary could carry out her plan with Edward Narcisse. Nostradamus got the brunt of it, to be sure, but Francis and Mary came through for him, too. He left the castle, but not before almost being drawn and quartered and implanting Catherine with another harrowing image -- Clarissa is alive. Does that mean his vision of Francis' death will still come to pass?

Were you guys as proud of Francis and Mary as I was after they pulled off the argument in front of Lord Narcisse to stop the death of Nostradamus?! I really didn't think they were acting until Francis spun on his heel so quickly to walk away. It was almost as if he needed to run to keep from giggling at what they had gotten away with.

I was wondering how they would allow Lord Narcisse to get away with murder, considering he's sticking around the show for a while (check out an [[Social Media Interviews|intervi with Craig Parker]] for more info), and that was really the only way it could be done.

The King and Queen of France really do make a lovely team. Despite what Mary said about his son, it will continue to eat away at her. It has to. She's human and she loves her husband. Seeing him with another's child while she remains without will be one of her biggest tests.

Greer really mucked thing up with Lord Castleroy. First, I must call foul to the tombstone for Yvette. It was already weathered. She just died! He stone would have been new. Tsk tsk. Otherwise, Greer's attempt to make things right by apologizing to Leith and then coming clean with Castleroy lead to the latter taking off, perhaps never to return.

Making matters worse, Francis had to promise Lord Narcisse lands of his choosing to appease his blood lust. He chose Leith's lands. Whether another parcel will be granted to him remains to be seen, but the guy must be gutted. He was so proud and working so hard. With Castleroy perhaps never returning, if she had thoughts of taking up with Leith again, it seems he's again without land. She cares most for her security, and he cannot provide it.

Bash received his official appointment as the King's Deputy (a title provided by Kenna) in a really touching scene with Francis after going out to dig up some dirt on Lord Narcisse. Finding actual proof would have required actually digging up dead bodies and releasing the Plague, so he wisely chose against it.

However, Bash continued to be spooked pretty much everywhere he went by the possibility of spirits lingering in the castle. He's going to be very concerned when he learns Nostradamus took his leave, because he felt the man could help.

It seems his brother will soon join him in that worry. What about that final scene?! At first I thought the nursemaid was trying to tell Francis she was his mother but, noooooo, she was possessed by the spirit of King Henry!

Hey -- if they can't have rotating romantic pairings to spice things up, they're going to stick with the dead haunting the living. It's The CW and it works. Even if it's only in their minds, the mind is a powerful tool.

By: Carissa Pavlica


Reign 2.02 “Drawn and Quartered” Recap -
In preparation for the upcoming Coronation of Francis and Mary, Catherine has planned and executed quite the celebration - a banquet for 1200; new military uniforms; a golden-horned unicorn; a seemingly never-ending Tent City. However, Mary doesn't appreciate the display of grandiosity, which occurs at a time when the country is swimming in debts and facing a famine that could wipe out quite a bit of their population. Catherine argues that the coronation is about survival, that they're hosting leaders from 50 countries so they can strut their stuff and show their enemies that they're not weakening under a new regime. If they economize, they run the risk of looking wounded, thereby leaving themselves open to attack from all sides. She then strikes out at Mary's contentiousness, telling Francis that his wife needs to know her place until after the coronation, as she's already caused quite the ruckus with French nobles.

Once Catherine leaves, Francis assures his wife that he has another plan for grain; he doesn't need to bow down to Lord Narcisse and his control of 90% of the country's grain when he has another Lord who can get him what he needs. Elsewhere in the tent city, Lola and Kenna have gathered with other noble ladies, with the topic turning to homes and material possessions. The ladies laud Lola for landing a new chateau for the new baron, a chateau filled with everything she could ever want, while expressing sympathy for the loss of Kenna's chateau with Bash, which was swallowed in the recent fires. While Kenna understands that she can't look down upon Lola for getting so much, since it'll make the baby's life easier than Bash's was, it still stings to know just how far behind her peers she really is. Meanwhile, Mary and Greer run upon Lord Condé and a blonde courtesan with one blue eye and one green eye; Mary shames him for moving on from his love Lady Dutson and confides in Greer that she was thinking of setting Condé up with Lola. However, that possibility gets extinguished by the callousness in which he treated his relationship with Lady Dutson.

Francis and Mary run into Lord Narcisse in the Tent City, with the nobleman chalking up the French famine to laziness. Those who can't work are dead; those who can work are too hungry or too sad to work. He refuses to give a concrete date for the grain shipment, just as a thief steals a basket from a nearby tent and tries to evade the guards. He ends up getting a sword to the torso, with the contents of his basket spilling out - a chicken and a load of bread. Incensed that a man was killed for trying to help his family, Mary tells Francis that they have to find a way to get grain to their people. Later, a pre-coronation party is thrown and Mary meets Lord Duchess, a grain provider who worked at the French southern border under King Henry. He confesses to Mary that even though he wants to help with the grain, he and the rest of those of his ilk are too worried about the retribution from Lord Narcisse, that they don't want to face his wrath after undermining his position as royal grain provider. She then comes into contact with Charles Schuler, a German Duke who offers to provide the French with grain, a crop that his people are rich with. The only catch? She has to free the Protestant prisoners that Henry had been keeping in the garrison for years, all for the way they believed.

Across the room, a woman approaches Bash after finding her husband dead and accuses Lord Barnard of being the one to end his life. Outside, Narcisse joins Catherine on the balcony and hears about how Francis and Mary are different rulers than Henry was, how they care more about the people than they do their pocketbooks. However, he believes that in time, their morality will fade. Inside the party, Kenna gets approached by one of the women she met earlier in the day at the Tent City; after expressing her regret at how their friends talked to Kenna, she mentions how her husband was responsible for deposing estates of those who passed in the plague. Since Kenna lost her home, the woman suggests that they work out a deal so that the King's Deputy and his beloved can have somewhere to stay. As Francis warns Mary against acting with the German, since working with Protestants would annoy the Catholics in their country, Narcisse brings Lord Duchess to his chambers. Inside is the Lord's son Guy - balancing on the balcony ledge with only one of Narcisse's guards to save him if he stumbled. Narcisse delivers a warning that sends Duchess running away from working with Francis and Mary, while the royal twosome have their hands bound by the fact that they don't know what crimes these men Charles Schuler wants freed committed, so the deal with the German will have to wait. For now.

Catherine approaches Narcisse outside the castle and offers to buy the grain from him, thereby cutting out any dealings with Francis. However, Narcisse won't just sell the grain and let that be that; he wants an advisor on the privy council, which Catherine won't agree to. While Mary gets rejected by Charles Schuler when she lays out the fact that Francis needs more time, the king arrives in the Tent City after having Caroline, the nanny who Henry spoke to him through, brought to a local medium. Once inside the tent, the medium puts a liquid on various spots of Caroline's body that is said to bring out any spirits that might have attached themselves to her. Henry returns through Caroline and tells Francis that though he doesn't know why he's still here, he does know that it wasn't Lord Montgomery who killed him - it was Francis. As Henry goes on about how Francis changed, the king leaves the tent and heads back to the castle, unable to face his guilt. Meanwhile, Bash gets the undertaker's ledgers from the man's assistant and has the boy tell him about Lord Duono, the man who was allegedly murdered, and Lord Barnard. Though Duono isn't in the death records, which exploded after the plague, he remembers that Duono's wife said that they were recently titled, so it turns out that Lord Duono is indeed in the death records - under Bouchard, his family name. The cause of death? Cut to the throat.

When Francis returns home, he learns that Mary agreed to free the German prisoners to Charles Schuler, which undermines him as a king and prevents him from earning the respect of both his peers and the people he's been tasked with leading. Bash doesn't have it any easier when he hears about Kenna's idea for a new chateau, as it turns out the woman who offered them the deal is Lady Barnard. The chateau now counts as a bribe and Lady Barnard's insistence on helping them shows Bash that he's on the right path. However, when Kenna confronts Lady Barnard in public about the chateau, she learns that the Nobles hate Bash for trying to usurp the throne and that the only reason she and her husband are safe at court is Francis and Mary. Lose that connection in any way and they might be in danger, the type of danger that Lady Barnard threatens if her husband is charged with the murder. Elsewhere, at a celebration for Francis and Mary's impending coronation, Charles Schuler brings his men and confronts the leaders of France. The reason? The prisoners, which Mary authorized him to pick up, were not in the garrison, which Shuler believes was a plot meant to humiliate him. Swords are drawn on both sides and it looks to be a potential bloodbath until Francis calms the situation. Inside, though, Francis is annoyed at the place Mary's action has put him. They have no grain, no prisoners, and no alliance, but Mary convinces him that she can help them without talking to anyone of import. Her contact turns out to be two prison guards tasked with guarding the garrison; they claim to have went to a tavern like they did every night without problem, only to be pulled away by a prostitute with one blue eye and one green eye. Knowing that Condé was responsible, she finds Francis' cousin and confronts him, saying that he was going to ransom the prisoners for his friends, whose ship was commandeered by the Germans on its way to Amsterdam. Condé believes Francis to be no better a king than Henry, while Mary argues that her husband is a better leader than that and that Condé is a better man than to let an entire country suffer over his own heart. Real leaders place their country over love and she suggests that Condé deliver the prisoners to the castle as such. Condé listens to Mary and brings the prisoners to the castle, thereby completing the trade with the German. They waste no time in rubbing it in Narcisse's face, though, lecturing him on knowing one's friends and the value of making friends to supplant those one loses. As such, Narcisse cowers and says that his grain would be coming later that day.

Mary finds Condé by the water in order to thank him, but she learns that his reasoning for saving the ship wasn't to be with Lady Dutson. It was to get her home to her husband and children, with whom she shares a bond that she couldn't with him. At the coronation, Francis assures Mary that he wants the same world that she does, telling her that they have to trust one another if they are to be the best rulers they can be. He receives a ring, scepter, and crown before taking the throne, while Mary herself is crowned before assuming her place beside Francis. Outside, though, Narcisse meets with Catherine and brings to her attention that he knows what she wanted to do with the grain. She didn't give it to Francis; she gave it to a village up north, another in her long line of "altruistic" acts meant to secure power for when Francis and Mary produce an heir. Catherine rebuts that finding an heir will take quite a long time, but Narcisse reminds her that Francis and Mary are young and just getting started in trying to conceive an heir.

At the same time, Francis and Mary make love, overcome with passion from working together and from the pomp of their coronation.

Additional thoughts and observations:

-"Didn't you promise the nobles you'd muzzle her?"

-"But how can I possibly help you? I'm irrelevant."

-No golden-horned unicorn? How disappointing.

-What I love about Catherine is that she's always thinking. So many in her position would rest on their laurels and enjoy the spoils of being the mother of the king, but she was very right about the theatricality of the Coronation masking any weakness France might have and the touch at the end of her feeding villages throughout the country was a nice touch. It shows that there's a heart underneath the sarcasm; it's just that Catherine has to be motivated by other factors in order to listen to it. It also highlighted how insecure she is about her position at the castle, despite her claims that Francis and Mary wouldn't be having a child for a while.

-This is the second episode in a row with a good Francis/Mary sex scene. The first season contained several that were too fan service-y, but last episode embraced Mary's sexuality and this episode used sex as both a mile marker for how far their relationship had come and the true celebration of their being officially named King and Queen of France.

-I thought the ghost angle was handled a lot better here than it was in the second episode, which is promising. The idea behind it was always fine, but here, it was less cheesy twist and more living personification of Francis's guilt. He got to have all the emotions he was repressing reflected back to him, the fear that his father knew what happened and the guilt over playing a part in Henry's death, and that should have an interesting impact on the way he rules and how he interacts with both Mary and Catherine. It's an interesting device that will make Francis less of an internal character and even though I have no idea where they're going with this, I'm more interested in finding out now than I was a week ago.

-I didn't include the conclusion in my recap, but I liked how everything with Bash and Kenna turned out. She burned the page in the ledger in order to protect him; he told her how much this position means to him. Smaller problems than what Mary and Francis are dealing with, but watching how close they've become after inauspicious beginnings is lovely. Bash has a sense of purpose with his new position and marriage; Kenna has matured a lot since getting married and can use her ease at navigating court to help her husband and maintain the power she fought so hard to acquire.

-I kind of wish that Condé's courtesan was a better hidden character. It was kind of obvious in the way their introduction was filmed that she would be important later down the line and there wasn't much in the way of suspense as far as who took the prisoners. However, I did like seeing Condé getting more mixed up in the action and the reveal that he was determined to get the ship back so that his former mistress could return safely to her husband was a humanizing moment that keeps his allegiance and attitudes more gray. Three episodes in and he's the wildcard of the season thus far, someone who could be against Francis (e.g. his belief that his cousin is no better than corrupt Henry) or someone who could prove to be a powerful ally.

-Favorite dress of the episode: This episode was pretty strong from a fashion perspective. Greer's black thing at Tent City was pretty, as was the dress Mary wore with the green bodice and brown-ish skirt. Honorable mention to the flowered thing Kenna wore that reminded me of Halle Berry's Oscar dress from 2002.

-Random, but I miss scenes with Mary and her ladies. While I know that they might not be feasible right now given the tension between Mary and Lola, one of the first things I latched onto with this show was the bond between the girls. Plus, having scenes with all of them would be a good way to show how much things have changed between their arrival in France and present day.

-Literally every scene with Catherine and Narcisse is great. They're very much two sides of the same coin and I think the humor that Megan Follows brings to Catherine meshes well with the Craig Parker's brooding.

-Quite a few new characters introduced here. I'm not opposed to expanding the show's universe, especially with Mary and Francis assuming power and Bash moving up the ranks, but it made the episode feel a little crowded. As long as at least some of these people hang around the show's universe for more than an episode, I'll be okay with the busy-ness, though.

-Given this show's history with people falling to their death, did you think Reign would kill off Guy? I understand the reasons not to (i.e. they're not the type of show that kills children, they didn't want death-by-window to be a thing, they didn't want to be known only by their shock twists, they didn't want Narcisse to be irredeemably evil, etc.), but part of me was kind of disappointed not to see it.

-I'm wondering if there's a long con to turn Francis from a skeptic into a believer. Between this episode and the first season of Nostradamus' visions, it kind of feels like we're creeping toward a Francis who doesn't immediately disregard with anything he doesn't understand or anything without a logical explanation. And I'm ready for it.

-One of these episodes, it would be nice to have a mistake made by Mary or Francis to not have a quick resolution. I don't mind episodes like this, since they strengthen the two's relationship and they reinforce that they're both competent rulers even if they're inexperienced, but I think there are other aspects of being a ruler that could stand to be explored. What happens when a young ruler makes a faux pas that negatively impacts not only their position in the country, but the opinions of their people and their standing within the pantheon of world leaders? -That being said, the musical cue when Mary and Francis confronted Narcisse after striking a deal with Charles Schuler was delightful.

-Next week on Reign: Bash and Lord Condé investigate a shepherd's attack, while Mary reexamines her friendship with Lola, Greer focuses on her future, and Lord Narcisse presents his new bride.

By: Shilo Adams

Reign Season 2 Episode 3 Review: Coronation -

As I was watching Reign Season 2 Episode 3 I kept thinking how amazing Francis and Mary are together and that their greatest challenges come when the act separately.

Trust isn't easy to attain in any marriage, let alone one between a very young couple who were pledged to wed as small children, who are navigating their first year of wedded bliss, a bastard child and who also happen to be the King and Queen of France.

The writing on Reign continues to be one of its strongest assets. They have essentially taken a story that originally titillated with sex and forbidden romances and turned it into a passionate tale about young love, marriage vows, equality of the sexes and the politics required to rule a country (or three).

In short, Reign is a very smart series that should be taken seriously.

There have been so many barriers thrown in front of Mary Stuart and Francis. There was the whole Bash scenario in Reign Season 1 that lead to an unhappy Francis bedding Mary's best friend, Lola, who bore their child. Catherine tried to prevent their union using whatever means she had at her disposal and then Henry died, thrusting them into the spotlight well before their due.

The Plague came, destroying their food supply and making both the people and the Nobles wonder if Francis has it in him to rule France or if he will rule by fear, as did his father. Through it all, Mary and Francis have maintained a brutal honesty with each other as they put their country first.

You have a delicate peace to maintain. That is a King's work. And I have a mess to clean up and that is, if you ask your nobles, a woman's work. But, this time, since I got you into this, I don't mind doing it. - Mary

It was quite interesting to learn that word had gotten around about their bargain with Lord Narcisse leading the people to think Francis was a clone of Henry's. If they only knew the truth of the matter, they might understand. Narcisse is a bastard. He made every attempt to keep precious grain from France to fill his need for vengeance, even threatening another man's son. He even turned down an offer of friendship from Catherine in his quest to get what he wanted.

Narcisse: An advisor of my choice or regrettably there is no deal.
Catherine: I shall get my grain elsewhere.
Narcisse: You didn't come here because your heart bleeds for your starving countrymen. What are you hiding?
Catherine: Perhaps I'm hiding a bleeding heart.

Catherine's heart may not have been bleeding, but it isn't cast in stone either. She does good deeds for her people with the hope that word will get around should things go poorly at the castle. I can live with that. She's proven more than once that her hard words shelter a softer side as she proudly wants Francis to reign as he wishes and not in his father's shadow, even if outwardly she urges him to protect himself.

The German Duke came out of nowhere, and we learned he was at court to free his protestant friends that Henry imprisoned for believing in God the wrong way. It seemed Narcisse was behind the removal of said prisoners, whose release would have lead to peace on the religious front and afforded a deal for grain.

It's sometimes easy for Francis to place the blame on Mary for going against his wishes, mostly in public, but it was Condé's desire to live up to the man she saw in him that caused him to fess up and release the prisoners he was hoping to use as a bargaining chip.

The webs that are woven on Reign are tangled indeed, but the young King and Queen deftly handle that worst of them together.

We knew Bash and Kenna would face challenges in their marriage because they wanted different things, but wasn't it refreshing to see her stand up for her husband and turn down an estate once she understood what was at stake? They still have their own barriers to overcome, but they, too, seem to be a smart match.

There was some foreboding to come, I think, when Condé shared with Mary how different life will be when she has children of her own and how that will strengthen the bond she shares with Francis. At the same time that conversation was taking place, Francis was visiting Lola and the baby.

Yet when it was all said and done, the rulers of France walked to their Coronation knowing, as we all do, that they work better together than apart.

I was wrong. What I asked of you, the backward step. You must know. I want the s ame world as you do, the better one, and the only way to field it is together. We do greater things when we act as one, when we trust each other as equals. This is not a Coronation for a King. It is for a King and Queen. - Francis

We can hope that the bond between Francis and Lola doesn't grow at the expense of Francis and Mary. At least we know that Mary isn't without child for lack of trying. We have had two installments in a row where we were treated to seeing just how in love the King and Queen of France are through the layers of their bed linens.

It might sound corny, but Reign gives hope to young people about the compromises made for love and duty. It encourages couples to speak freely and honestly and to understand and forgive each other, even when mistakes are made. Against incredible odds, armies and political intrigue, love is born and endures.

If you haven't seen all of this incredible series, there is no time like the present to watch Reign online so that you can catch up. Discover how they got here and anticipate their next moves. Be sure to check out the Reign quotes section, as well, as there were a lot of good ones this week (as always!).

By: Carissa Pavlica

The Lamb and the SlaughterEdit

Reign 2.04 “The Lamb and the Slaughter” Recap -

Plans are underway for the royal child's christening and as expected, Catherine is looking to make the ceremony as lavish as possible. Though Francis objects to the idea of yet another garish display of their money, Catherine reminds him that it was he who decided to claim Lola's child and that this is how it works when royal children are christened. Lola leaves once Catherine calls her child a bastard and when Mary tracks her down, she tells the queen that she doesn't want to live in the castle anymore. Instead, she's got her eyes on a cottage a stone's throw away, something that will give them distance from each other and keep things from getting too awkward, seeing as how Mary's yet to get angry about what happened with Francis. However, before Mary can respond, she gets sick to her stomach and leaves the hallway.

Condé informs King Francis of an incident involving three hooded riders, said to have ice cold hands, menacing a local shepherd. While the shepherd is still alive, they don't know what happened to him; with the recent string of empty graves and the increasing paranoia among the French, Francis tasks his cousin with teaming with Bash and looking into the incident. He then takes Leith, who he's apologetic toward for swiping his land, out for a drink, just as Greer and Kenna throw Lola a small baby shower outside, complete with a rattle decorated with Scotland's colors. Their time together gets interrupted when Lord Narcisse arrives at the castle with Estelle, the girl who took care of Lola while she was giving birth. It turns out, though, that she's Lord Narcisse's new bride, something that's especially shocking to Lola considering the last time she saw Estelle, she was in a cage behind a horse. But all is not what it seems, as Estelle gives Lola a secret "help me" note that she hid in a gifted handkerchief.

Outside by the water, Mary confesses to Francis that she's six weeks pregnant. As expected, he's beside himself with joy and the two go into their chambers to make love in celebration. However, they don't get much time alone due to Catherine bursting into the room, having used her spies to confirm her suspicions that her daughter-in-law was with child. Since this gives Mary a better shot at claiming the English throne from childless Elizabeth, Catherine is willing to do everything she can to help the queen, including bringing food and tonics to help with the baby's growth. When Mary tells her ladies about the baby, they're all excited for her, yet Lola's mind is on the fact that she's alone. Greer reassures her, though, that marriage is a woman's central means of controlling her life and that she'll find someone who isn't terrified of the king and who can give her and the baby the life they deserve. Meanwhile, Condé and Bash meet with the shepherd, who is obviously still shaken up from the events of the previous night. He tells them that the three riders offered him protection for his family and a prosperous future if he would allow them to put a Mark on him - a mark that they would only put if he renounced his faith. He said that he wouldn't and ran as fast as he could, thinking that the men wanted to take his soul.

Lola meets with Estelle and learns about the girl's fears of her new husband. Estelle claims that she heard that Narcisse was responsible for killing his first two wives, so she's yet to consummate their marriage, which was born from wanting to protect her property. The reason she contacted Lola? She wanted her to use her connection to Francis in order to annul the marriage and assure her personal safety thereafter. However, when Lola goes to Francis and Mary about the accusations and the safety of her friend, they claim they can't do anything until they see proof of Estelle being abused by her husband. Once Francis leaves, Lola tears into Mary, saying that her happiness has superseded her compassion and implying that her position as queen has changed who she is as a person. Mary fires back that the cage Lola feels like she's in is her own doing; that she should feel guilty for sleeping with the man she was obviously still into; and that she protected her when she didn't have to. Lola retorts that not everybody has the same choices as a royal and when she tries to leave, Mary orders her, as her queen, to turn around and face her. Lola does as she is told, but it's apparent that there's no love lost between the two.

Outside, Greer and Kenna come upon Leith with two of his friends. Kenna tries to convince her friend of the value of passion in a marriage and ultimately pushes Greer to listen to her heart. That evening at the pre-christening ball, Bash fills Francis in on the shepherd situation, including that Condé smells fraud. Francis assures his brother that the riders can be caught, as they are fallible men and not the devil's servants. With Lola having planned to meet with Estelle that night, Mary talks to Condé about Narcisse's marital life and the ending of his first two marriages. Though Condé doesn't know the specifics about the deaths, he believes that the only way Estelle is going to reignget out of this is if Narcisse has a viable alternative. Before he can elaborate or help Mary formulate more of a plan, he's all but shoved onto the dance floor by Catherine, who forces him to ask Greer to dance. Out on the dance floor, though, Greer ends up dancing some with Leith and leaves as it all gets to be too much for her. Estelle's plan with Lola goes bust fairly quickly, as she's caught trying to escape by one of Narcisse's guards and ends up stabbing him in her desperation to flee. Word gets to Narcisse and Mary as she attempts to persuade him to go after a wealthy widow at court, so his focus goes from that to finding Estelle. The girl makes it back to Lola's quarters and despite Mary's urging, Lola refuses to give her friend up. Mary decides to spare Estelle and gets her to a carriage outside, where she escapes into the countryside and heads toward Lola's awaiting friends.

Once Estelle is safely out of the castle, Mary and Lola share some wine and make up, with the latter agreeing to live in the castle so that her child can grow up with Mary's child. Mary then accepts her offer to be the baby's godmother, which includes being involved in the christening the following day. But close to the time of the christening, Mary has Condé take her to her chambers due to stomach pains that turn out to be from a miscarriage. Rather than having him contact Francis or skipping out on the ceremony, Mary cleans herself up and does what she can for Lola's child John. Greer turns up at Lord Castleroy's having ridden all night in hopes of speaking with him. She tries to convince him that she wants to marry him, but he claims that she only wanted him for stability and security, going on to tell her that he won't let his happiness suffer due to her past mistakes. While Lola learns that Estelle leapt from a cliff and killed herself, thinking that she saw her deceased parents, Condé points Francis toward Mary before leaving with Bash to look into the shepherd. Once he arrives at the shepherd's home, Condé sees that the man has killed every member of his family with a pair of shears. Though the shepherd insists that he didn't allow the men to put their Mark on him, a guard slides his shirt down to show that the mark was indeed there; the shepherd then confesses that even though he did run, they chased him down and forced the mark upon him, thereby taking his soul.

Lola finds Lord Narcisse with Estelle's body and brings up the fact that she was troubled and afraid of him. He denies the implications, bringing up Estelle's father's debt to him and the fact that she tried to kill herself previously, and tells Lola the truth about his first two marriages. Having been married for the first time at 15, he and his first wife had difficulty in conceiving and she succumbed to a particularly difficult pregnancy. A year later, he was wed to a hemophiliac who simply bled out on him. This means that Narcisse has never been in love, something that makes Lola sympathize with a man she hated not even 24 hours ago. While Mary tells Francis about losing the baby, saying that she kept it from him because she knew how happy he was, Greer tries to get through to Lord Castleroy again. She goes on about the reasons she can't be with Leith - she worries that his ambition is more for her than it is for him; she doesn't like the uncertainty that a life with someone still looking to move up in the world will bring; she doesn't know who he is or who he'll turn out to be. Whereas with Castleroy, she knows exactly who he is - a gracious, brave, kind man who she knows she can make happy. She then successfully convinces him to give passion a chance and the two make love.

Bash and Condé return to the castle and put the shepherd in the dungeon. Normally a skeptic, Francis is beginning to doubt his belief that spirits don't exist after this incident and "reuniting" with his father. In the hallway, Catherine bumps into two ghostly little girls who ask for her help before fleeing, while Francis takes Mary outside to look at "fireflies," a memory he cherishes from when they were eight. He then vows to fight any and all darkness with her due to her being his light.

Additional thoughts and observations:
-"Good morning. How's the happy trinity? Father, mother, unborn son - oh, I'm hoping for a son."

-"If I have to hear one more tale of the two of you knocking your bed through the floor..." -"This ball's enjoyable as a clergyman's eulogy."

-Just some logistical questions: What's Ghost Henry up to when he's not possessing random ladies in hopes of talking to his son? Is he going to body hop into somebody else or is the one nanny the only person he'll be able to speak through? And why haven't we see Little Henry and Charles at these family events? I understand not including them much due to their age and the fact that this show doesn't have a place for children, but they should at least pop up at christenings, coronations, and the like.

-The final conversation between Mary and Francis felt like a retread. Is every episode going to end with him declaring his love for her? I mean, the gesture was nice, but didn't we just have him going on about how they're in this together literally one episode ago?

-I'm still so in the dark about where this ghost thing is going. If I knew what the end goal was or had any idea what we were building toward, I'd be able to read these scenes where the topic pops up a lot better. Now, though, it just seems a hair too silly for this show and this show can be pretty silly, so that's saying something. Francis being confronted by his guilt and having to listen to his inner fears being told to him through his father? Okay, I get it. Catherine seeing two pale little girls in the hallway and having to brush sage aside for them? I don't know. And I find it ironic/interesting that they're delving into ghosts after sending their supernatural conduit Nostradamus to a safe haven to be named later with no return date in sight.

-I will say, though, that I like the idea of the riders. Personifying all these threats is a way for them to be real and valid, a way to raise the stakes while keeping the mystery surrounding their existence. Show me tiny [Castle Ghosts

Reign Season 2 Episode 4 Review: The Lamb and the Slaughter -
My goodness this season is progressing nicely. Each week builds upon the last and the stories get deeper and have more meaning. More people should be watching this excellent series.

It's difficult to imagine the mixed thoughts Francis must be having as he wears the guilt over killing his father and wonders whether his own losses are a reckoning for what he has done.

In Reign Season 2 Episode 4, while the castle is alive with activity surrounding the impending christening of Francis' first child, Mary announces she, too, is with child.

King Francis: I don't think I've ever been this happy in my entire life.

What was truly amazing was watching Catherine's happiness at the announcement. She already had her suspicions and was just waiting for Mary to tell Francis herself. Has Catherine ever smiled so joyfully? It's sometimes hard to imagine her in real life as Catherine is so stern, but Megan Follows is a remarkably beautiful woman.

I suppose it really was too good to be true. At least that has to be what Francis is thinking. Is he allowed to be so incredibly happy when the cost was his father's life and that of so many of his people during the plague?

It's incredibly silly to think about it, letting spirits guide how you go about your business, but we all have those thoughts. In the times they lived it was far more common to have such beliefs and the more tumultuous the events of the world around them the more easy it was to believe there really was something out to get them.

It's surprising that Bash hasn't asked after Nostradamus. He was so certain they would need him and if what's happening with horsemen marking villagers and stealing their souls has any weight, they could use any relief the could get right about now. Even if the Mark means nothing, it does in the mind of the person marked. That's enough to drive someone crazy and to kill.

The power of persuasion is very strong indeed.

Even though Mary and Lola finally had it out over Francis and the baby, now that Mary has lost her child, it's hard not to think they may find themselves at odds again. Losing a baby while watching your friend happily raise your husband's child would be trying to even the most gracious.

And Mary has been incredibly gracious given the circumstances. A lesser woman wouldn't give a hoot about their friendship and the East Cottage would be still be too close for the mother of their husband's child.

I was hoping that Narcisse and Catherine might give love a go, but now I believe we are in for a romance between Narcisse and Lola. He has been wrongly accused of terrible acts against his past wives and admits love is gem he has not yet encountered. Love can elude you when you don't choose your own spouse.

Lord Narcisse seemed to find it incredibly easy to talk to Lola, and good matches are made on less. He knows she can bear children and his position is very important to the King and Queen so they might be inclined to bless such a union. Did you feel his cold exterior melting as he rubbed Estelle's hair and spoke with Lola about his losses?

The chat between Kenna and Greer certainly didn't end up the way Kenna expected.

Greer: I can't be ruled by desire. It's nothing to build a life on.
Kenna: Isn't it?
Greer: You and Bash? If I have to hear one more tale of the two of you knocking your bed though the floor...
Kenna: Well, the floor is made of stone, mercifully, although we have nearly cracked the bed in two. You can't overlook passion! It's what brought us together.

First, I absolutely love that Kenna and Bash are truly in love. How lucky of them to have explored their forced union to see if it would fit and how wonderful that it did. Greer realized that what she's missing with Castleroy is an examination of what they could mean to each other. Once she explained how she felt about Leith, worried that she doesn't know what kind of man he will become while she knows exactly who Castleroy is already, it made a lot of sense.

I was quite surprised when she decided seducing him would be the best way to discover their passion, but if it works, good for her! She was growing on Catherine with the idea of the match, so it seems logical that will work out. Also, with the arrival of Francis' sister, perhaps she'll be tangling with Leith? While royal children are usually fit for other royalty, this is make believe. It could happen.

It really was upsetting when Mary lost her baby and kind of Condé to first keep her secret as she wished and to then appeal to Francis that he thought Mary looked unwell. That way he was able to maintain Mary's confidence through the christening but still do right by her as a friend.

When Mary was sobbing into Francis' chest, his look was worrisome. What was he thinking about? You'd think after declaring we all know Mary and Francis are best when together in Reign Season 2 Episode 3 that I would have not been concerned. Yes still it was there.

King Francis: The word can be dark, Mary, and uncertain and cruel. The only thing that matters is that we face it together. No matter what happens, you are my light.

Francis was, instead, thinking of what he could do for his wife to aid her spirits. He recalled chasing fireflies as children and how much of the enjoyment was in waiting because they spent time together. He created his own magic for Mary in the courtyard with sky lanterns.

If you've never seen them, they truly are beautiful to behold and to deliver his thoughts about their union in such splendor was magnificent.

So what did you think? Will the spirits of the castle continue to play with the minds of those living there? Who, next, will feel their wrath? Who are the horsemen? Will Narcisse and Lola form a union? Will Greer find passionate safety with Castleroy?

By: Carissa Pavlica

Blood for BloodEdit

Reign 2.04 “The Lamb and the Slaughter” Recap -
Out in the countryside, a group of Protestants huddle in a barn that's acting as a make-shift church, seeing as how they'd be prosecuted if they openly practiced. During the service, a group of Catholic men burst into the barn, nab one of the boys in the front row, and set the barn on fire. Meanwhile, in the castle, Francis claims to be visiting his son more frequently when Mary catches him in a lie about playing dice with Dash. Rather than being angry, though, she simply tells him that they can get pregnant again and that he doesn't have to be so secretive with her. But Mary isn't as understanding when confronted with the fact that Greer is about to become a stepmother four times over; while out in the ball room where the wedding is to be held, she and her ladies run into Castleroy's daughter Gemma and her insecurity about not being with child flares up. This time, she doesn't lash out, instead telling Greer that she's looking forward to the wedding, as it's a welcome distraction.

After being sent to check out the burned barn by Francis, Leith and Bash learn that the building was burned all the way to the ground and that the horses escaped due to being scared. The object is to now bring the riders to justice while finding and protecting the Protestants who were inside the church, yet Leith is faced with a whole other dilemma when he happens upon Lord Castleroy, who was present at the church. Instead of turning him in, though, Leith shoos him off and leads the riders he came with in another direction. Back at the castle, Kenna walks into one of the tents assembled for Greer's wedding and finds two female servants in a less than flattering position, all over a smutty The Sex Journal that was found by a castle chambermaid. Interested in its contents, Kenna confiscates the book, just as Francis finds a shard from the lance he used to kill his father on his bed. Once he goes out into the hallway after being summoned to The Throne Room, he spots Caroline and confronts her about why she's in the castle. Unfortunately, she doesn't know about why she's there, nor does she know about the evidence in Francis's room, so he sends her to the infirmary to have her blackouts checked out.

In the throne room, Mary is forced to deal with the fallout from the church attack, which claimed the life of Lord Condé's young nephew Emile. The Protestants want those responsible for the death to be executed, with Condé pleading to his cousin to do the right thing. He claims that the murder was a message specifically for him, taunting him that all Protestants were fair game, and wants to know whether Francis would be willing to rule like his father on this issue or not; for his part, Francis doesn't like violence of any kind and vows to make the guilty pay for their sins. However, Lord Narcisse brings the Catholic nobles to Francis, along with a paralyzed, mute stable boy named Mark, who he claims was injured by a rock thrown by Emile. He then tries to persuade Francis to release the imprisoned Catholics by getting the Nobles to bow before their king, yet it doesn't end up working. Elsewhere, Lola finds out about The Sex Journal when she happens upon Kenna reading it. The book goes back two years and features ratings of both male and female lovers in the castle, with Kenna having recognized all but one person: a hunter with a butterfly birthmark on their forearm. With Lola intrigued, Kenna gets her friend to tag along on the search for this mystery lothario, claiming that Lola needs to have some fun and if this fun were to turn into love, all the better.

While Kenna and Lola get caught by Catherine, who points them toward Lord Aris, one of the lovers she took following Henry's death, Condé shows Mary the three dark rider brand on his chest. He doesn't think that the men are these soulless devil riders from another realm that others seem to; he knows that they're paid brutes and possibly Catholic extremists hell-bent on giving people a reason to disprove Protestants. If people know that Condé reignwas branded, they wouldn't believe anything he said and Condé thinks this is so they can eventually detonate France and watch the carnage from their ivory towers. He is correct, though, in that France is a powder keg due to the rising tensions between the Catholics and Protestants. With the Protestants believing that Francis is looking into the victim rather than trying to catch the culprit, they damage a shop in a nearby village, causing Francis to call for justice for the shopkeeper. However, Catherine warns him that if he does this, he could upset both sides of this war and end up being the common enemy for both the Catholics and the Protestants, so Mary ends up taking Condé to interrogate the Catholics themselves. She leans on the weakest link in Jerome and manages to get him to confess that the entire fraudulent affair was Luke's idea, as Mark was a boy from another village who had been kicked in the head by a horse.

Outside, Kenna, Greer, and Lola dance around in a water fountain as Greer's wedding date approaches, her final days of freedom and singlehood ticking away before her. On her way to change clothes, she runs into Leith, who pointedly nudges her to ask Castleroy about the events of that morning. Over in Tent City, Caroline leers at Kenna before sitting on Henry's old throne. This causes Francis to send his guards to drag her away and confront the nanny in a private room in the castle. Caroline-as-Henry gets Francis to confess to the murder, only for Narcisse to overhear the entire thing. With Caroline sent to the dungeon for the time being, Francis falls under Narcisse's thumb; Narcisse threatens to tell people about Francis's role in killing Henry, which would send him and Mary to their deaths, if Francis doesn't prioritize the French Catholics. Francis ultimately agrees to the arrangement, yet Narcisse later twists the knife when he sets Caroline free, as she was hired by him to play act the role of Henry and provoke a confession. Narcisse also has Lord Montgomery, who was accused of murdering Henry, at his beck and call, thereby stacking the deck against Francis; he claims that all he wanted to do was weaken Francis so that he would have a ruler who would listen to him like Henry did. Should Francis not release the Catholics who killed Emile and convince Mary of the merits of the decision, though, Narcisse threatens death for both Royals, something that would come once the rumor reaches a fever pitch.

Francis ends up bulldozing Mary and signing a document that frees the Catholics responsible for Emile's death, which drives the wedge between them even further. Elsewhere, Castleroy confesses that he began going to Protestant church services following the death of his daughter and that he would not be able to marry Greer if she couldn't accept his faith. He would take care of her sisters, though, and he tries to convince Greer to stay with him by telling her that they'll be partners in their marriage and that she'll have a hand in every aspect of his life. Greer does end up walking down the aisle with Lord Castleroy, sending Leith out of the wedding in a fit, and during the reception, she tells him that she loves how he challenges her and how he stands by his convictions.

Also during the reception, though, Lola's chat with dolphin lover Lord Aris, who invites her to go sailing, gets interrupted by Narcisse. When Aris ditches Lola, Narcisse tries to tell the girl that Aris was not the type of man for her, as all men at court are terrified of the king - all men except him, that is. Since both are feared at court, something that can be quite lonely, Narcisse wants Lola to be his and invites her out to tea so they can get to know one another more. Though she rejects the idea, she sees the butterfly birth mark on his forearm, signifying that he is the great lover in the sex journal. After the reception, Mary presses Francis about what he's hiding from her and why he made the decision to free the Catholics. Rather than tell her the truth and risk her life, Francis agrees with his wife when she brings up her insecurity about not being able to bear a child. He claims that the visits to his son and the issue that she can't fix, that he can't change, are all about his worry about not having a legitimate heir to the throne. The hope he claimed he had for her, for them, is gone. Additional thoughts and observations:

-"If you release them, you'll be smiling on murder."
-"You may go, Marie. And please...your hair."
-"Henry died. I live."
-"Honestly, is Greer drawing out the suspense to make a grander entrance?"
-"I understand more than you think and it thrills me to see you."
-Favorite dress: The wedding was a bounty of pretty dresses, you guys. Greer's wedding dress was quite lovely once the bouquet was set aside and we got a good look at it. I also loved Mary's sparkly gold dress that she wore to the wedding - beautiful texture, color, construction, etc.
-The new opening credits are okay. I don't know if my mind is just used to seeing season one's credits, but these were a bit cut-paste and the quality of the new footage didn't seem to match the Season One clips. I'm sure I'll get used to them after another episode or two, though.
-Although I like the idea of sex journals and scandalous behavior within the castle walls, the Kenna/Lola storyline felt a little thin here. Bar Kenna and Lola's interaction with Catherine, it wasn't funny enough to be comic relief like some similar storylines on this show have been; setting this against a Protestant/Catholic conflict and Greer's wedding made the episode too cluttered; and it didn't have enough screen time to make any kind of impact. The reveal of Narcisse's bedroom prowess was okay, since I think it'll make Lola seriously consider getting in bed with the devil in order to protect herself and her son, but otherwise, this could have been transferred to another episode and fleshed out more.
-While I'm glad that Kenna at least got some screen time here, let's talk about how Bash is being pushed to the sidelines. I understand that this show gets very crowded very easily, so some characters are going to be emphasized at different times and for different lengths, but with Henry gone, I thought that Bash would become a greater part of the ensemble, with the tragedy drawing him closer to the castle. Instead, he's been given a title (a development that I do like) and sent out into the world for stretches at a time; a lot of his job takes place off screen and doesn't give him any opportunity to interact with the core cast, so that's not great. Torrance Coombs gives one of my favorite performances on the show and Bash is a complex, interesting enough character to really mix it up, but they're doing absolutely nothing with him through five episodes. So that's disappointing.
-Francis was obviously lying in the final scene where he played into Mary's insecurity in order to shut her up. You could tell in his voice and body language that he went for the first thing he thought of that could get him out of a conversation he didn't want to be having. Plus, the distance this will create should protect Mary from Narcisse, which is the whole point of the argument in the first place.
-I don't know how I feel about Caroline having acted. On one hand, I'm glad that they're steering away from this particular fantasy element and that they got to the point of the season/this half of the season (Narcisse making a power play on Francis to regain the control of the throne he had with Henry) in episode five. On the other, it feels stupid? Narcisse is power hungry, but would he really pull the "let's make the skeptic believe that his dead father has possessed a nanny" card? And Caroline must be the best actress in medieval France because after the clunky first reveal, she had Henry down pretty cold. Plus, what was the deal with doing stuff in public (e.g. sitting on the throne at Tent City)? Was Narcisse that committed to getting into Francis's head?
-Minorly disappointed that we didn't have Greer's family pop in during her wedding episode. Aside from the annoyance that the wedding was given little attention, Greer's entire purpose on the show for the first 26 episodes was to find a husband so that her sisters would be well taken care of and able to marry who they want. Why not pay that off with a scene featuring her loved ones, kind of as a way to tie off this part of her series-long storyline and send her into the next phase of her life? It'd be a moment for her father to not be a jackass and it'd make such a pivotal moment in her life about her and not about Castleroy, Mary, or anyone else in her life.

-Another strike against Leith: he passive aggressively tried to take Greer away from a good man, someone who would treat her right. Telling her to ask Castleroy about the meeting negated his pardon of the man and Leith leaving the wedding when Greer showed up highlighted what his exact motivations were here. If you truly do love someone, you want the best for them, even if that doesn't involve you, so Leith is not looking great to me right now. I think he does love Greer, but I think that he's more possessive than was initially thought.
-I'm curious where these meetings between Condé and Mary are going. He's taken Bash's place as her confidante, but is he trying to be something more to her? Or is the show trying to steer far away from the former love triangle that they're terrified of having Mary and Bash alone in a scene together?
-I would watch a show about Catherine hooking up with dudes in the castle. That should be the B-story every single week - Catherine getting it on with one listing in her little black book.
-You just know that every Catholic that was being interrogated was like "ugh, shut up, Jerome" when Jerome squealed about the attack on Emile. The entire episode was comical like that (e.g. Narcisse's throat clear when Francis tells "Henry" that he was responsible for the murder), which I liked because the season has been a bit dour thus far.
-Next week on Reign: Mary and Catherine ride into the woods, masking their identities during a peasant revolt, while Lola entertains Narcisse's offer as she ponders the path to financial independence. By: Shilo Adams

Reign Season 2 Episode 5 Review: Blood for Blood -
Well, a happy royal couple is a rarity, and doesn't necessarily make sense, right? RIGHT?!

Yes, it was a very difficult installment for Francis and Mary. All of the progress they made was sent straight into the garbage heap because of Francis' misguided sense of protection for the woman he loves. Instead of having faith in her, he turned on her and wounded her with words far worse than the pike on which her head could be hanging as threatened by Lord Narcisse.

Women care greatly about the truth and that's true of Mary in particular. Now she believes the truth is that her husband is blaming her for not yet bearing her a child and has, essentially, entirely given up on the prospect.

Thus it is that Reign Season 2 Episode 5 struck down one of our favorite loving couples, while bringing together another in matrimony and hinting at a future union based on more lies and lust. Oh goodie.

Looking back, everything that has gone down with Lord Narcisse seemed exceedingly simple. There's a reason for that. He learned very well how to manipulate the tragedy of the plague. Not only did he use it to gain control of the lands of people he murdered and whose death he blamed on the disease, he tidied things up by tricking a King all too eager to believe in spirits of the dead.

King Francis: You're not going anywhere. You're thinking that if you were my father, you'd be dead by now.
Lord Narcisse: But apparently you're not your father. You went one better by killing him.
King Francis: Against my word, all you have are the rantings of a deranged woman.
Lord Narcisse: Who you are locking up so no one may hear what she has to say. As well you should, because in truth, no rumor could be as dangerous as fratricide. It's a crime against France, against God; anyone who commits it or even knows of it could be summarily put to death -- man, woman, King or Queen. Which is why I imagine your Queen knows nothing of this.

A shout out to how well it was thought out -- even to the point that Caroline, as Henry, grunted sexually at Kenna as she passed him on the lawn on her way to sit on the throne. She was well informed about all things King Henry!

Considering Narcisse is so Pro-Catholic, it should seem surprising he thought of using haunting as a way to get Francis to confess to fratricide. Then again, even then there was likely confession -- the beautiful absolution of all sins -- that Narcisse could fall back on if he started to feel dirty.

But would Narcisse ever feel dirty about anything? I'd venture to guess he knew about the sex journal, as well. When he got Lola to think well of him and his past wives, surely it crossed his mind that taking the mother of the King's child as his lover (or more) would be most beneficial.

As good of a sleuth as he is, it would be very easy for him to manipulate the situation so that Kenna found the journal and sent Lola on a journey to find the butterflied man. He is a masterful liar and nothing he does will be taken for granted by this viewer again. He no longer gets the benefit of any doubt regarding a noble gesture.

What a shame that the fun of the journal was marred by the butterfly appearing on the wrist of Narcisse. Truthfully, it wasn't really in doubt, but until his wrist was revealed, there was still hope.

That said, it's difficult to feel a lot of love for Francis any longer. The simplest of things and he turned on his bride, thrusting aside all of the groundwork they had created for a fair and just marriage and rule.

Francis: Mary, I have already made my decision. I am informing the courts now, in writing, before Greer's wedding. My people will know of my decision before the day's> Mary: Your people? I thought we were to rule together! At your coronation, you said we would rule as a> Francis: Mary, I can't always be your husband first. Sometimes I have to be King.

Mary and Condé bonded over the loss of her child, and again over the loss of his nephew. She wanted so badly to make both sides of the religious fervor pay for their actions. Francis promised that he would never punish anyone for what they believed in their heart, but going against those words will likely exact a terrible cost. Will it push Mary into Condé's arms? Would you blame her if it did?

Queen Mary: Do you worry that I can't bear you a child?
King Francis: Yes! I worry because as a King and as a man I want heirs. Is that what you want to hear? Does it bring us closer for you to know that your failure disappoints me beyond words? Have I answered you fully? Are we done with this relentless interrogation?
Queen Mary: When you told me you hadn't lost hope...
King Francis: I lied. Mary, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have. I wish...
Queen Mary: For something I can't give you. Well, I asked you for the truth and you certainly gave it to me. I don't need to hear anymore.

Choosing to lie about his actions regarding his father and instead placing blame for everything on Mary's inability to produce an heir is the lowest thing he could have done. It would not be surprising if Mary ran to Condé. He is grappling with his religious beliefs, sure, but at least he is pure in his intent and honest about it.

If Francis was worried about the Catholic and Protestant uprisings and the possibility of losing his throne before, he should be even more worried now. The person who has kept him on an even keel was Mary. She was the yin to his yang. If he lost her confidence, they're doomed (and we already know they're doomed, to make matters worse!).

The backdrop of the installment was Greer's wedding and Castleroy's decision to seek out answers in the Protestant faith after Yvette's death. He made it sound as though he had his feelers out, but his mind was made up. He left Greer on the night before their vows to ponder her decision to marry him, and she did make him sweat it out a bit at the alter. Thank goodness, because we got this wickedly delightful morsel from Catherine as a result:

Queen Catherine: Honestly, is Greer dragging out the suspense to make a grander entrance? Will she be arriving on flying swans?

Instead of balking at his decision, Greer felt Castleroy's determination to do what he believed in was surprising and it will challenge her instead of keep her stationary in the world. They promise to always protect each other and they dance merrily.

While Kenna had a decent role in the hour, we were not treated to much of Bash. The two are far too important to be absent so often from the drama. Yes, they were front and center during much of Reign Season 1, but that doesn't mean they should take a back seat while Lola and Greer are examined, instead.

Things may not have gone as I would have hoped, but the hour didn't fail to entertain. With happiness lurking for all three of Mary's ladies, her pain in necessary to keep the show interesting from a romantic point of view for younger fans. It will be interesting to see what Catherine makes of the drama between her son and his wife, as it seems she has taken a liking to Mary whether she intended to or not.

By: Carissa Pavlica

Three QueensEdit

Reign 2.06 “Three Queens” Recap -

Things are still tense between Francis and Mary after he told her that he's disappointed in her inability to bear a child. He's trying to keep things light and pleasant between them, but Mary is still hurting over being faced with her insecurities; she appreciated the honesty, of course, but it's going to take some time for things to go back to normal between her and Francis. Eager to get away from the castle for a while, Mary jumps at the chance to accompany Catherine to Bavay, where she is scheduled to attend a party thrown by the nobles. Though Catherine tries to dissuade Mary from joining her, claiming that the ride is boring and that the party won't be much better, Mary insists that two queens coming to the party instead of one will send a better message about the state of the French throne.

Kenna finds Lola crying in the hallway and learns that her friend's family has disowned her due to Francis claiming the child. Now that Lola is notorious, they want nothing to do with her and refuse to accept her into their home again. As Lola is trapped in a home full of strangers, she's understandably upset at this sudden rash of loneliness, but Kenna springs into action, telling her that she needs to hold on to anything she can get. Lola needs to gather a nest egg just in case things turn sour for Francis and she has to flee with her child; it helps that since she's unmarried, anything she is given belongs to her and her alone, so she does have a shot at getting some financial independence if she plays this the right way.

During the carriage ride to Bavay, Mary figures out that Catherine lied to her about going to the noble party - instead, Catherine is heading to Nyon, a small village where she is to give a speech thanking them for naming a monument after her. As Catherine explains that Royals have to balance the Nobles and the peasants in order to keep their rule safe, their carriage gets surrounded by a group of disgruntled citizens, with their guards being killed in the ensuing scuffle. Mary and Catherine manage to escape through a door built into the carriage and run off into the woods, where they turn their cloaks inside out and hide their jewelry in order to stay hidden in the shadows. While Lola confronts the banker who transferred her dowry to Julian, only to learn that it's intended for Julian's father in Hungary now that he died, Mary and an injured Catherine, who hurt her ankle in either a foxhole or a badger hole, come across a village where they look to stay until being rescued. At a nearby inn, Catherine tries to order food, only to be confronted with their lack of coin and the reputation as obstacles to said goods. She and Mary eventually stumble upon the lie that they're maids who lost the lady they worked for in the plague, a mother and daughter whose lives have been forever changed by events outside their control. The innkeeper agrees to let them work for a meal and a bed at night, but Catherine opts out of the arrangement, which would've had her milking a goat, citing her sprained ankle.

Back at the castle, Francis hears about Mary and Catherine going missing, so he names Bash as temporary regent and rides out into the woods with the likes of Condé by his side. As Lord Narcisse offers to help Lola retrieve her dowry in exchange for a cup of tea or two, his status as a worthy lover and influence among the bankers causing her to reconsider his invitation, Catherine suggests she and Mary buy a horse before realizing that it's too expensive and that they can't exactly pawn their jewels in exchange for a way out. She then gets Mary to confess that the reason she was so amped to go to Bavay is because there was a physician there who specializes in fertility. reignRather than instructing her daughter-in-law on how to win back Francis and bring him back from the distant brink he's on, Catherine advises Mary to let go of the romantic ideals she has for her marriage, to accept the distance from her husband and to seek solace elsewhere. But before the two can get further into the complicated issues that have come to define Mary's marriage, a royal carriage arrives outside the inn. Is it Francis coming to save the day? No, it's Mary, Queen of Scotland and France, and King Francis - two impostors claiming to be French royalty, that is.

While the two fake royals collect money from those in the inn, as nobody in that area of the country had ever laid eyes on the real Francis and Mary, Kenna advises Lola to stay as far away from Narcisse as she can. When Lola intimates that she believes Narcisse when he says he didn't kill either of his previous wives, Kenna presses her on the issue of the butterfly birthmark and how Lola must be interested to see if his lovemaking loves up to his reputation. Lola does end up taking Narcisse up on his offer for tea and the two sit outside in the garden by the water. Narcisse also shows her how to shoot a bow and arrow and uses the opportunity to get more physically intimate with her - steadying her arm, fitting her with a glove, softly speaking into her ear. Meanwhile, Catherine and Mary listen as the crowd inquires to the fake Mary about rumors of Catherine torturing a family of hat makers. Catherine quietly refutes it to Mary, saying that she only tortured the one man, but the things quickly turn when the crowd realizes that Fake Mary lied about the pond of asses milk by the castle. Mary steps in to defend her, though, telling Catherine that she has a plan.

On the way to save Mary and Catherine, Francis, Condé, and a couple of men run into an old woman whose farm was burned down by a man she claims was King Francis. Francis then realizes that someone out there is trying to discredit him and undermine the throne, just as Mary and Catherine decide to hitch a ride with Fake Mary and Fake Francis. The two are headed to a town about halfway between their current village and the castle, so this is about as good a chance as they'll get if they want to make it home on their own accord. When they come in contact with Fake Mary, Mary gives her the sob story about losing the lady she and Catherine worked for, something that got Fake Mary to inadvertently reveal that she always wanted to be a maid. Catching Fake Mary in a lie, Catherine decides to run with it, telling the girl that she and Mary are professional deceivers on their own, with her daughter portraying Mary, Queen of Scots and herself as Catherine de Medici. Just as Catherine gives Fake Mary her crown in exchange for a ride, Fake Francis arrives back at the inn after setting fire to another family home in the countryside.

At the same time, Richard Gifford, one of Francis's men, makes it to the castle and learns of the impostors from Catherine. Mary wants Fake Mary to come to the castle and work as a maid, but it turns out that Gifford is in on the conspiracy to slander the royals and that it wasn't Fake Francis who got Fake Mary into the world of royal playacting - it was Gifford. After killing the other men in Fake Mary's inner circle, including Fake Francis, Gifford grabs his beloved, Mary, and Catherine and heads toward White Horse Hill, the site of a possible royal execution. On the way there, Mary and Catherine get Fake Mary to confirm that Gifford is behind this, though Fake Mary only reluctantly agrees to be the one to take Gifford out with Mary's blade. Catherine believes that Fake Mary's cowardice will serve her well, as it means she wants to live and that she can get closer to Gifford, but when Fake Mary fails at stabbing Gifford and gets her neck snapped by the turncoat armsman. Mary and Catherine then learn that Queen Elizabeth is behind the slander due to Mary donning the English coat of arms, resulting in Mary stabbing Gifford's horse and getting the animal to trample him to death, just as Francis arrives to save them.

When they return home, Catherine tells Francis to trust Mary and to be honest with his wife, lest he want a marriage of distance and lacking true love. Elsewhere, Narcisse watches a girl he believes to be Lola getting into a bathtub, thereby fulfilling his offer to help her with her dowry if she would let him watch her bathe. However, it turns out that Lola got her laundry girl to get in the tub and with Narcisse already having secured her dowry, she didn't need to bathe for his enjoyment anyway. However, Narcisse is still pursuing Lola due to them having the same wants (to find love) and her being an intriguing game player. This time, Lola returns the interest by putting her hand on his before going back inside from the balcony. In the royal chambers, Mary again presses Francis for the reason why he's being so distant and he chalks it up to the pressure that goes along with being king. He vows to fix things and to keep their relationship from becoming like his parents'. Mary agrees, though the look in her eyes suggests that she's listening to Catherine's advice of not rocking the boat too much.

Additional thoughts and observations: -"I may not care about peasants individually, but in general, I care a great deal."
-"My feet are too dainty to get caught in a foxhole!"
-"Purses are for servants."
-"Alas, m'poor ankle. My daughter shall have to work for the both of us." -"We must think practically. We need to buy a horse." -"Where do these stories come from? It was one man and I only stretched him a little. Nails, indeed. First you should know he was a terrible, terrible hat maker."
-"Well, aren't you a little short to play queens?"
-"Poison?" "Oh, you say that so hopefully now."
-"I don't carry poison everywhere. I might accidentally kill myself."
-"My dear, never give up a crown. To anybody."
-One interesting thing I noticed was that the Italian envoy's visit was a non-factor in the narrative. When Francis mentioned a visit from the envoy, I expected the episode to be a little more political and play up the tension between him and Mary, as well as Mary and her sense of duty to the throne, so for it to go a whole different direction was quite fun. And it was a nice change of pace from the show's focus on the micro aspects of Francis being king, a self-contained detour with the best character work of the season.
-The episode was also great because it allowed the show to have some fun amidst the political machinations of 16th century France. What I most liked about the first season was that Reign never took itself too seriously and took what chances it could to distance itself from the expectations of a costume drama. Season Two has been decidedly dour, so much so that this type of episode was not only welcome - it was necessary.
-It's no coincidence that an episode this full of life prominently featured Megan Follows, who had been sidelined a little during the first five episodes of the season. Catherine is the most complex character on the show and injects an unbelievable amount of energy into whatever scenes she gets, so giving her this prominent a storyline could only lead to great things, especially when paired with Mary. The dynamic she has with Mary is so rich that simply putting them in the same room by themselves and letting them bounce off of one another would've been enough, but this episode went above and beyond the call of duty. It made both characters proactive; it added dimension to their relationship, in that Catherine might actually respect the girl that Francis chose to marry; it seems like it'll inform a lot of choices that Mary makes going forward regarding her marriage and the way she rules; and it highlighted the ways that Mary and Catherine are similar while showing just how lost Mary is as a wife and a ruler.
-It also gave us the sequence of Catherine demonstrating how you kill someone with a blade on Mary, which would've made the entire storyline worthwhile even if it wasn't already great.
-The most intriguing aspect of the episode was the final look that Mary gave the camera. Didn't that seem to signify that she's on her road to becoming a mini-Catherine as far as choosing to focus on herself vs. her marriage? I don't think Mary could ever give up on Francis the way that Catherine gave up on reaching Henry, but it looks like Francis's lie is going to make things much more difficult for himself than he might've anticipated.
-In case you were wondering where you knew Roger (aka Fake Francis) from, that was Ari Millen from Orphan Black.
-The only real criticism I have for this episode is that it continues the weird TV trend of making neck snapping look really easy. I know about plot expediency and all that, but there's no supernatural element here and therefore the show should be a bit more realistic as far as human anatomy and whatnot.
-I love that Elizabeth was the one responsible for the slanderous impostors that popped up around France. Not only was the plan itself quite creative, it keeps the show's universe feeling large without being bloated and there's a sense that stuff like this is adding tension to a dynamic that will come to a head in the near future. I only wonder how close we are to an appearance from Elizabeth.
-I do wonder, though, why Francis doesn't figure out a way to carry something that confirms to people that he is indeed the king of France. Now that he knows that people are attempting to cause unrest around France, maybe that will become a priority?
-I thought Fake Mary was quite a good guest character. She became sympathetic fast enough that her death was sad and her fate coming at the hands of a man, the same man who set her down the path that ended her life, was a nice reminder to Mary that she has to have some sort of identity and autonomy away from Francis. Arguably, seeing Fake Mary die confirmed to Mary that what Catherine told her at the inn had some validity.
-Another cool thing about the episode was that the B-story actually thematically tied into the A-story. Some of the episodes this season have been a little disparate, so watching Lola and Mary deal with the same issues in decidedly different ways was a nice parallel and an interesting commentary on the socio-political climate at the time. Lola has been deemed damaged goods, more or less, for bearing a royal heir, so she doesn't have a lot of romantic or financial options and it makes sense that she would gravitate toward someone like Narcisse. She tends to see the best in people, so I believe that she would be able to look past his sullied reputation, and he's a good-looking, financially well-off leader who understands her, seems to value her, and could help her and her child live a life that they wouldn't be able to without him. But Narcisse has been painted as such thus far that I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop - I wanted to believe him when he told Lola about what happened to his wives and when he tells her how intriguing he finds her, but I can't shake the feeling that this is a long con meant to inflict damage upon Francis and Mary. We've already seen that Narcisse is no stranger to setting traps and methodically exacting revenge, so I wouldn't put it past him for his feelings for Lola to be a charade.
-Also, I'm kind of feelin' Narcisse's chemistry with Lola, and how they're two outsiders who've found one another, so it'd be nice to keep that going for a bit. -Next week on Reign: Princess Claude makes an unexpected visit home, while Narcisse tries to make Francis betray his ethics, Mary aligns herself with Condé, and Greer returns from her wedding tour early.

By: Shilo Adams

Reign Season 2 Episode 6 Review: Three Queens -
What a refreshing change of pace for Reign Season 2!

The season started with the plague and the threat of Royals uprising against the new King and Queen of France, and carried on dramatically with Lola's baby with Francis and Mary's terminated pregnancy.

While Reign Season 2 Episode 6 had some dramatic moments, thankfully most of it was lighthearted and showcased the brilliance of Mary and Catherine sharing screen time. In doing so, we were treated to a buddy movie, Reign style. They make a heck of a team.

It's impossible not to chat about the specifics of this installment. While there were moments to ponder, the freshest were those that we want to relive and laugh about together. I hope you don't mind.

Catherine's plan to go out and commune with the people to ensure their love was interrupted when Mary decided she would tag along for the ride. It's not as if they're the best of friends, so it didn't take much for Catherine to realize that Mary had a purpose.

The very people that Catherine had been hoping to engage interrupted their voyage, stopping the carriage and shouting death to the royals. That wouldn't do and thus they women were left to fend for themselves, no money and without an identity the could share.

Despite their predicament, the trip was filled with merriment and terrific banter between the two women. Megan Follows was clearly enjoying the hell out of herself and was at the top of her game. Catherine scarfed down a capon leaving only the bones, not a hint of gristle on them; her face covered in grease. What a laugh! She was comfortable enough with Mary to set aside their differences and to talk with honestly.

Mary was hoping to go to Beauvais to see a doctor specializing in women's problems. Considering she has no fertility problems this early in her marriage, it was heartbreaking that she would go to such great lengths, especially since Francis wasn't honest with her to begin with.

Catherine: I suppose you mean infertility because no man has any inkling about women's problems. Oh, I spent 10 years suffering the same uncertainty.
Mary: And yet you torment me.
Catherine: All in good fun. But is Francis pressing you about it?
Mary: He submitted that it bothers him and he's become distant. He doesn't share his problems with me like he used to. If this goes on, what will our marriage become?
Catherine: Normal, especially for a royal. A crown changes everything.

Catherine's decision to talk with Mary with frank and earnest admissions about her own life concerned Mary. She never wants to think that her life with Francis could in any way end up like Catherine's with Henry. That's a most terrible prospect.

"Mary, I know that you think I belittle your marriage by comparing it to mine, but that is not why I talk to you the way I do. I walked this road first, that's all, and I learned if you hold on to foolish romantic expectations, it will make it that much harder."

When the fake royals came into the picture, things became ever more entertaining. Catherine admitting to Mary there was some truth to the story of the tortured family of hat makers brought a chuckle. Mary wisely decided to use the woman masquerading as her to get to the Duke in the area safely.

Catherine continued to use every chance she could to act her part. When they admitted they, too, were impostors trying to make a living out of being Catherine and Mary, the Queen Mother was chomping on grapes and winking her agreement with Mary during the conversation -- such good fun from Megan Follows.

The unexpected turn of events that Queen Elizabeth had infiltrated Francis' army with Gifford and the imposters was well done. They had no intention of being taken without a fight.

Mary: If I learned one thing at French court it's worth keeping a dagger on you. (whips out a dagger) (Catherine whips out a two pronged hair pin) Poison?
Catherine: You say that so hopefully now, but sadly it's not. I don't carry poison everywhere! I might accidentally kill myself.

Didn't you wish the Mary imposter made her way back to the castle? She would have been so fun to have around. What we received instead was a new relationship between Catherine and Mary, which included Catherine having words with Francis.

Catherine: I was reminded today that she's a good fighter to have when your back's against the wall. Whatever is going on, trust her, be honest. If you don't, she'll end up a thousand miles away from you, playing her role out of duty.
Francis: And you would care?
Catherine: She has a childlike belief that a woman should trust her husband. I find I wish it were true.

Francis' apology to Mary didn't quite do the trick. He may have tricked her once with lies, but it won't happen again. She knows that it wasn't the pressures of being a King that caused him to lash out. Catherine suggested Mary have her own life and a place to find solace. I took that to mean another man's arms. Even though Mary and Francis appeared committed once again, the look on her face as she clung to him was of an unhappy woman.

Time will tell if they manage to truly find their way back to each other. At least, in the meantime, Catherine is on Mary's side and not accepting of her son's pressure on Mary. Hopefully her continued involvement in their lives will have a positive impact going forward.

The side story of Narcisse and Lola was palatable, but not engaging enough. While applauding Lola for wanting her dowry back (that whole situation kills), it is unwise for her to get involved with Narcisse, even if she thinks she somehow has the wits to match his.

Lord Narcisse is still holding Francis' reign hostage with the knowledge he has about Henry's death. If Francis shared what he did with Mary, she could counsel Lola to steer clear of Narcisse and wouldn't have to tell her why. If Francis discovers their fraternization, he may want to confide in Lola what he did instead of Mary to keep the man away from his son.

That doesn't sound like a good development at all. If he shares what is happening with anyone else but Mary, most especially Lola, it could ruin any progress with Mary even more than the first lie he told.

There is a part of Narcisse that looks like a good package from the outside. He is also charming and kind of sexy in a rakish way. Like the impostors, however, he was taking advantage of a broken populace by stealing and murdering to gain assets. That makes him a problem and an unsuitable match for the mother of the King's child whether he stops threatening him or not.

The lion's share of the hour belonged to Catherine and Mary and was better for it. This is, after all, a show about Mary Queen of Scots more than any other. It highlights the empowerment of women in a time when there was little to the idea. It makes perfect sense the best scenes would come from the two most powerful women in the Kingdom. Let's see a lot more of them together!

Hit the comments. You loved it! I captured all of the greatest moments in Reign quotes, so take a peek. Are you hoping for more between Mary and Catherine? How do you feel about Lola entertaining Narcisse? Are you still worried about Mary and Francis? Let me know.

By: Carissa Pavlica

The Prince of the BloodEdit

Reign 2.07 “The Prince of the Blood” Recap -
As Princess Claude arrives at the castle from her time in Prague, leaving a weak of slack-jawed guards in her wake, Kenna, ,ary, and Lola have their breakfast gathering interrupted by King Francis and his men, who sit at the other end of the table. Mary doesn't want to interact with her husband considering the tension between them and gets a much welcomed respite from her marital discord when Narcisse comes into the room with an edict for Francis to ratify. However, this is no ordinary edict; its intention is to force every French citizen to publicly declare their faiths, a trap meant to rid the country of Protestants. If they're honest about their faith, they subject themselves to torture and inquisitions; if they lie about their faith, they can be tried for perjury and send away for quite a long time. But Narcisse makes sure to remind Francis that if the edict is not ratified, the country will know just who was responsible for Henry's death.

Not yet privy to her son's latest political dealings, Catherine is more concerned about Claude's sudden reappearance. Her youngest child is busy flitting around the castle trying to reacquaint herself with both her surroundings and those she left behind, as she reminisces with Mary before promising to go for a walk and inspects the beadwork on Kenna's dress. Elsewhere, Mary finds Greer back from her wedding tour much sooner than she had anticipated. However, there's nothing wrong with her relationship with Castleroy; quite the contrary, as her appearance at the castle has to do with an injury she sustained in an attack at Orleans. When Castleroy didn't take mass, the two ended up leaving town and being caught by the church officials who stripped their carriage of everything. When Mary learns that Castleroy was attacked for being protestant, she tells Greer about the edict that came across Francis' desk this morning and assures her friend that she'll do anything and everything in her power to keep it from passing.

Francis gets an information update from Bash regarding the Narcisse stakeout he's been on recently. The only visitor to Narcisse's place has been Lola, so Bash confronts his brother about the reason he's even been assigned to watch over Narcisse in the first place; Bash thinks it has to do with Lord Montgomery, but when he presses Francis on who could have hired Montgomery to kill Henry, Francis confesses to being the one being the death of their father. Bash, of course, understands about the hell that Henry was able to bring to their lives and vows to find Caroline so that she can lead them to Lord Montgomery. But when Francis talks to Mary beside the castle waters, he's much less sure of himself, telling her that he wants to go at this alone and that she simply has to believe in him right now. Mary wanted her husband to take a stand and to focus on doing the right thing, in addition to dividing up the Nobles so that the edict doesn't have a chance to pass, yet when he won't give in to her, she finds Condé and lays out the case behind her thinking. Her plan? To find a Protestant noble and have them speak out against the edict, which she believes will cause the other Protestant nobles to join the cause. Condé isn't comfortable with the idea of naming names and forcing people to risk everything, but he agrees to help Mary, nonetheless.

While Kenna complains to Bash about Claude's unfriendliness before seeing him off on yet another journey, Catherine digs around Richard Gifford's belongings and finds an English cypher, which he used to feed Elizabeth information through secret coding. Anyone who gets caught with this would be instantly discredited, their lives and freedom put in danger as a result, so naturally, she made copies and Francis takes the original. After he leaves, Catherine again hallucinates the two ghostly girls she first saw earlier this season, with one of them coughing up a rose and pinning it on her sister; however, Catherine gets called away by one of her ladies and walks in on Claude having sex with Father Benoit, the priest who helped bring her to the castle in the first place. Catherine is understandably upset that her daughter gave up a life of culture and excitement to come back home, but she can't send her back just yet, not when she's not done anything egregious enough to warrant a banishment back to Prague. Meanwhile, Francis propositions Lola to help him put the screws to Narcisse by hiding an envelope in his residence, asking her to trust who she believes to be the better man.

Once Lola gets to Narcisse's, she agrees to a bath in order to have the alone time necessary to hide the envelope behind a painting. Yet when she gets in the tub, he comes into the room and seems to point toward the fact that he knows there's something up with her, that she wouldn't just show up at his home with a flimsy excuse like she did. After telling her what he likes about baths (the simultaneous comfort and vulnerability) and promising her that they'll soon get to a place where he'll lower his defenses, he asks her whether she wants to 1) finish her bath and go home, never to mention this night again or
2) head to the drawing room to begin the proceedings that will make reigna deeper, more meaningful relationship between them possible.
Lola decides to go to the drawing room and learns that Francis was the one who killed Henry; she defends him, saying that Henry was mad anyway, but Narcisse frames this confession as something that will show Lola which of him and Francis is the most honest about who they are. Elsewhere, the royals throw a boat party for Claude and Condé points out a nearby Protestant nobleman, all the while Francis spreads rumors to the other Nobles of an English spy being in their midst. Though Mary learns from Catherine that Condé was next in line to the throne when Francis was ill in childhood, she still goes through with her alliance with him, encouraging the Protestant noble to stand up against the edict. However, he has a family to think about and he doesn't want to commit too quickly to such a dangerous idea.

That same night, Lola returns to the castle and tells Francis that she couldn't hide the envelope due to Narcisse being too suspicious. But she ends up letting it slip that she might not be telling the truth when she blurts out that of Francis and Narcisse, only one of them used her and it wasn't Narcisse. The following day, Narcisse brings the edict and just as it looks as if no one would stand up, Condé falsely confesses to being a Protestant, a move that stirs the actual Protestant nobles to step forth and object to the nature of the edict. Francis uses this power to delay a decision on the edict, afterwards thanking Mary for her manipulation of the situation, but things aren't completely well for the French king, not when he hears from Bash that Caroline had been dead for weeks. He then decides to call Narcisse's bluff and get Mary out of the country just in case things go too south, so he finds Mary outside and informs her that he won't be signing the edict after all before giving her what he thinks could be their last kiss for a while.

Kenna once again complains to Bash about how Claude seems to want nothing to do with her and he argues that it's because his half-sister is jealous of her beauty and that Claude's insecurity prevents her from being friendly with women she views as competition. It turns out, though, that Claude's coldness toward Kenna comes from an attraction to Bash that she manipulated him into acting upon when they were younger. When Narcisse confronts Francis about the status of the edict, Francis pushes back for the first time, telling him that he doesn't care if the country knows about what happened to Henry. But Narcisse has another card to play that Francis hadn't considered - the first attempt on Henry's life, which was orchestrated by Catherine and Mary. Francis might not care about what happens to himself, but Catherine and Mary would be put to death for conspiring to kill the king, as well; without Francis around, Bash would certainly be a goner, as would his child with Lola, meaning that the entire royal bloodline would die off if Francis chooses to not ratify the edict. Elsewhere, Catherine sees the two ghostly girls again, who she realizes as the spirits of the two daughters she lost when they were infants. The two threaten to kill Claude before disappearing, causing Catherine to order her daughter away from the castle as soon as possible.

While Narcisse and Lola have their first kiss after he tells her that the reason he "picked" her was because he never had someone who could play the game as well as he could, Mary learns that Francis signed the edict after all. Frustrated with her husband, she says that he's not the man she fell in love with, nor is he the king that she wants to lead the country with. Unwilling to let Mary in on the new terms Narcisse brought to him, Francis suggests that maybe she should return to Scotland.

Additional thoughts and observations:
-"I remember you, too. Now close your mouth." -"On behalf of France, I'd like to apologize for the plague, famine, and religious violence."
-I think I've figured out the reason I've not warmed up to this season of Reign, minus last week's superlative episode. The central plot of the moment, where Narcisse has Francis under his thumb, actually does work for me, in that I buy an older, experienced political player taking Henry's death as an opportunity to exert influence on his son. Narcisse is a pretty solid villain that Craig Parker is playing the heck out of and I like that this season is primarily focusing on the impact that the crown has on who Francis and Mary are as individuals as well as a couple; however, everything with him lying to Mary is the most flimsy plotting the show has put forth to date. It reminds me of sitcom episodes where the entire storyline is based on one person not having a two minute conversation with another person - that kind of dancing around one another feels so much like writer-based plot manipulation vs. organic, natural drama that there's no way to invest in it, which leaves moments like the end of this episode feeling more hollow than they should.
-The part of me that absolutely loves the campy side of Reign was beyond disappointed when the show took Claude from being a walking id, a bundle of snark and sensuality wrapped up in fabulous dresses, to being a sexual predator. It was a weird turn for the show to take in general, but in pushing Claude off the show without exploring this major part of who Bash is and how it's impacted his relationships with women feels like such a lost opportunity. If Reign wanted to explore sexual abuse through a male lens, it would be extremely bold and something that I think the show has the capability of pulling off; however, it's sending a not great message by bumping Claude from the show and not delving into an event like this in Bash's life, especially after this season has been too light on Bash anyway.
-If Claude does manage to hang on for a couple of episodes, be it through her mother's desire to protect her from the ghost girls or what have you, I hope that what they do with Bash and her is respectful and doesn't play up the situation for laughs. Male sex victims have it rough on television and Reign has a chance to do something great if they so choose; at this point, though, and with the way this season has been developing, I'm just not sure they're willing to do the work necessary to make a difficult storyline like this shine.
-Shout out to Reign, though, for having Francis confess his role in the murder to Bash this early in the season. I genuinely thought it would take until at least early 2015 before we'd have any movement in that area, so to have him lay everything out there in the interest of self-preservation was refreshingly direct. And for it to come during one of the best Francis/Bash scenes of the season made it that much more satisfying.
-At the end of the episode when Mary learns from Greer that Francis signed the edict, was I the only one who thought she would tell Mary that Castleroy died in the attack? Her whole demeanor was so broken and so sad that it felt like something major was about to come down, especially since she arrived to the castle without Castleroy and failed to mention anything about where he was or what injuries he sustained.
-So, Lord Condé has a thing for married ladies, as we saw with his latest fling this episode. We're all in agreement that he's going to make a move on Mary, right? He likes married women; he does anything she asks him to; he's still looming around the line of succession; he's acted as her confidante pretty much the entire season; she's as distant from Francis as she's arguably ever been. If there's not a kiss before the December 11th fall finale, I would be surprised.
-So, Lord Narcisse has a thing for baths. 1) I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't have gotten in the tub if I were Narcisse and Lola was basically purring at me; 2) When are we going to see Narcisse actually in the tub?; 3) Anna Popplewell's delivery of "A bath. Again." is the funniest non-Catherine line of the series.
-I might be on Lola's side as far as her decision to side with Narcisse. I mean, from the viewer vantage point, we see that Narcisse was willing to kill her baby (or at least use that as a bargaining chip), so he's kind of a monster, but she still doesn't trust Francis after everything she dealt with regarding the baby and him not being honest with her about what was in the envelope confirmed (to her) that he doesn't value her as much as Narcisse seems to. She believes that Narcisse is who he says he is, and that he's different from the reputation that he's garnered for his brutality, so until he gives her a reason not to trust him or does something detrimental against specifically her, she's going to hang on to him. I just hope that she's not fully investing in him and that she'd be willing to get out of dodge if/when it turns out that he's manipulating her.
-I...don't know how I feel about the twist with the ghost girls. On one hand, I like that we have something of an explanation for their presence and that it's connected to Catherine's psyche and overwhelming-albeit-compartmentalized sense of guilt that she felt over the loss of her infant daughters. It points to the humanity that Catherine has had to give up to get to the throne and it's a sign that she might not be as put together as she wants others to think, with the latter hopefully leading to some great stuff for Megan Follows. On the other hand, I'm still not sure what this show is doing. Are these two girls just a manifestation of Catherine's psychological damage, something that only she can see/sense and something that makes her confront the thoughts, feelings, and emotion that she's fought so hard to suppress? Or are they going to be able to cause damage around the castle (e.g. just how much danger is Claude actually in?) and be more ghost-like than hallucination-like? Either way, it's a little dumb, but the former I can maybe work with, especially if they can find a way to tie it to something medical so that Catherine didn't just wake up and start seeing dead infants roaming the halls of the castle.
-Kenna making Claude a peace offering was the cutest, though. If you're not going to give Kenna much to do, at least make it lovely stuff like that.
-Next week on Reign: The rift between Mary and Francis deepens after an incident between Protestants and Vatican inquisitors, while Condé gets captured after making a bold declaration, Catherine attempts to find a suitor for Claude, and Narcisse gives Lola a ride home. By: Shilo Adams

Reign Season 2 Episode 7 Review: The Prince of the Blood -
Considering Princess Claude returned to the castle, the title of the episode was very confusing -- until Catherine told Mary, Conde is a prince of the blood. By blood he is in line to take over the throne. So, Conde isn't just any prince. If something were to happen to Francis, he could very well be king.

That makes Mary's reliance on Condé as a friend and Francis' belief that Condé and Mary work well together much different.

Francis finally made sense about his reasoning for keeping the secret. Well, he's always been understood, but it was the passion about which he spoke of the matters that made him more sympathetic for not sharing with Mary.

Sebastian: And Mary?
King Francis: She can never know. She must be able to deny on oath before God that she knew anything. It's the only way to keep her safe.

Francis took a chance enlisting Lola to help him protect himself against Narcisse and it backfired. The truth always wins out, even when a rather cold-blooded person is doing the telling. Narcisse was very clever in the way he trapped Lola before propositioning her to take the next step with him, one from which she would be changed forever.

"You asked me what I liked about baths. I suppose it's the vulnerability, the sense of comfort one feels covered, embraced, when in fact one is quite exposed. Why are you here?"

Yet even with Lola at her most vulnerable, Narcisse still gave her a choice. She could have walked away, but curiosity got the better of her and now she knows Francis' secret. I cannot for the life of me remember if the ladies were in on the action when Mary and Catherine hoped to poison King Henry. If so, that might give Francis some leverage if he learns about Narcisse's feelings for Lola.

Narcisse never experienced love, but it seems he's starting to with Lola. Would he consider it a draw if Francis threatened to take Lola from him as Narcisse if threatening everyone else? Then again, Lola is on Narcisse's kill list, if not from a physical standpoint, she would be mentally demolished if Narcisse killed the King's son.

Bash finally got to do more than accept orders and leap after them gratefully. He hated his father as much as Francis and vowed to do what he could to help Francis so they could put it all behind them and kill Narcisse. Now that's the kind of sibling relationship we could all use!

But ugh -- Kenna wanted to know why slutty Princess Claude wasn't friendly with her and the last thing I expected was that her and Bash used to diddle! They softened the blow a bit when he said he thought at the time he wasn't really Henry's son, but how old was Claude then? She seems barely a child now. Icky icky icky.

Does someone understand what's going on with Catherine's visions? Don't yell at me for not having paid attention last season. Were they daughters of hers that Henry had killed? They're freaky as hell and pulling Claude's hair and yanking her head while sleeping was terrifying. Enlighten me, if you will. I don't need Catherine's mind playing tricks on her. She needs to be on her toes for whatever is going to go down with Francis and Mary.

I daresay Francis pushed Mary's very last button, but almost on purpose. She kept professing her love for him and desire to stand by him, but when he learned Narcisse has evidence that could implicate Mary and his mother in regicide, he just wanted her gone.

Queen Mary: Oh spare me your lies and excuses! You're not the man that I fell in love with and you're not the King I want to rule beside. You are a coward!
King Francis: Mary, everything that I have done...
Queen Mary: Enough, enough! I gave you a chance, I waited for the man I fell in love with to return, but that man is dead and I am finished waiting for him!
King Francis: If that is what you truly believe then perhaps you should return to Scotland. Leave me. Leave France.

The look on his face as she walked away was one of relief. She's a distraction he really doesn't need by his side while he fights an enemy that is even more brilliant than his father the King was. Narcisse has a huge arsenal at his disposal and he's not afraid to use any of it against the royals.

If Francis isn't worried about Mary, perhaps he can think clearly and then with Bash's help they can rid themselves of Narcisse. Where Lola will wind up in the fallout is anybody's guess. She's kind of wavering between loyalties.

It was a pretty big episode. Do you think Mary will lean heavily on Conde going forward, looking to him for even more of what Francis can't give her? Which way will Lola topple? Can Bash help his brother if Claude continues to make waves?
By: Carissa Pavlica

Terror of the FaithfulEdit

Reign 2.07 “Terror of the Faithful” Recap -
Due to the edict that Francis ratified, inquisitors from The Vatican have invaded France, terrorizing its citizens into declaring their faith. Those who are found guilty of Protestantism, or are suspected of lying about being Catholic, are punished by having one part of themselves cut off. With Cardinal Vasari and his men savaging their people, Mary is still unbelievably upset at Francis for ratifying the edict and he compounds that by refusing to take care of the men himself; he wrote a letter to The Pope requesting that the inquisitors be removed and, he argues, taking matters into his own hands would defy the Pontiff and turn the Vatican against France. After again suggesting that Mary go to Scotland instead of lingering around the castle, Francis explains to Bash that he's merely trying to help his wife, though he receives a reminder that pushing Mary too far and too hard could prevent her from coming back to him after this is all over.

Catherine wakes Claude up with the intention of taking her to meet her future husband - the son of a Bavarian count. However, Claude is in no condition to see other people, given that her hair is a bird's nest, and it's not as if she wants to be married to someone from the country anyway. Catherine argues that the alliance with Bavaria could help France's trade routes and that each of her children has to do their duty in continuing the family line, so whether Claude wants to be married or not, she's getting married. Out in the village, Condé gets kidnapped and taken to the woods by a group of Protestants who know about his pledge of affiliation with them. Along with Jacob Rivel, the self-proclaimed leader of the cause, Condé looks on at the growing number of Protestants and hears of the group's hope for their minister to get an audience with the crown. Elsewhere in the woods, Lola's horse gets scared away by Narcisse in an attempt to get her to ride back to court with him. Though she doesn't want to be near him right now, it's an awful long way back to the castle and she ends up riding in front of him, all the while hearing his talk about his former wife's riding habits.

When the Protestant minister comes to court, Condé says it's because he wants to have the church that was burned down rebuilt, yet the man uses the opportunity to threaten the crown by saying the Protestants have amassed a considerable amount of gunpowder. In three days' time, they'll be staging an attack on the Catholics, so Francis orders the minister arrested before turning his attention to finding the accomplices. He sends Condé and Bash out into the village to do some digging before shutting down Mary's attempt at getting involved in the action. While Narcisse again tries to tempt Lola into starting something with him, saying that she should have something in her life that's purely about pleasure and doesn't involve the tedium of court life, Catherine meets with Claude's proposed husband William and his father to discuss the possibility of marriage. However, William's father is unsure about the union for two reasons: 1) Claude has a bit of a reputation, so he's concerned about whether her virtue is still in tact and 2) He doesn't understand why Catherine is allowing her daughter to marry down in class. In order for him to sign off on the union, he's going to have to get assurance that Claude's virtue is still in tact.

As Bash and Condé interview members of the minister's congregation, they're interrupted by the arrival of The Vatican inquisitors, who perform a violent search of the house before taking the patriarch away. Back at the castle, Lola tells Francis that she knows about him killing Henry and that she did end up planting the evidence despite her previous statement about tossing it out of her carriage. Yet Lola is the one who receives the biggest shock when Francis informs her that Narcisse threatened her baby, one of many acts that has Francis bound and determined to take Narcisse's head. Francis and Mary, both feeling the weirdness of assuming their normal duties under reignunusual circumstances, run into Condé after he arrives back to the castle and learn that the Protestant leader Jacob believes that these threats are merely coming from fringe radicals and don't represent the opinion or intent of the majority of French Protestants. However, Condé and Mary deduce that the reason they've yet to use the gunpowder and sent the minister to the castle, where he would have surely been captured and torture, is that they want to use the man's death as fuel to their religious fire. The minister dying would cast him as a martyr and excuse any bad act they want to commit against the Catholics, so at all costs, they have to keep him alive and make sure Francis doesn't go overboard in the dungeon.

While in the dungeon, Francis tries to reason with the minister, promising him that no harm would come to him or his people if information is given about the attack. The minister claims that the gunpowder is being kept at a monastery, yet when Francis sends Condé and a group of men to apprehend it, it turns out that there's no gunpowder. It's only saw dust and a bloody threat written on the wall. After hearing that she'll have to do a virginity test in order to get the marriage she didn't want, Claude complains to Bash about the possibility of going to Bavaria. Since Claude has ruined a few opportunities to stay around France without having to marry, Bash suggests that she's only doing acting out because she wants Catherine's attention, the type of rebelliousness that initially drew him to her. However, in Bash's mind, a marriage can be a new start for his half-sister and she seems to hear what he's trying to say. Bash then goes to Catherine about the Count's region being sparse, thereby not as good for trade routes as she had intimated to Claude. He doesn't want Claude to be a casualty of Catherine's manipulative nature and Catherine explains that she prays for all of her children, even those that she lost when they were young. While talking to Bash, though, she sees the two girls (her twin daughters that died as infants) on the bed in her chambers and Bash watches as she tucks them into bed, even though he only sees Catherine.

When Bash hears about Narcisse being back at his home, he organizes a team of men, produces a warrant, and searches the man's home, only to find that the cypher was not there. Back in the dungeon, the minister is being stretched in hopes of giving up the names of his conspirators and Francis ends up going too far, separating the man's shoulder and causing him to pass out. He does end up stopping, though, when Mary informs him that the man would be a martyr and further inflame the tensions between the Protestants and Catholics with his death. The minister's arm gets set back into place, but it turns out that he has a blood clot forming in his chest, something that needs immediate medical attention if he is to live. With the nearest physician at least half a day away, Francis orders Bash to take the man to the doctor vs. waiting for him to come to the castle. Meanwhile, Narcisse slithers his way into Lola's room and confronts her about the cypher, which he found quickly after she left that. Mostly, he's just saddened that she chose Francis over him and when she comes for him about threatening her friends and family, he says that it was all a way to push Francis to be a better leader. Even though Narcisse might be a dangerous man, he was dangerous in a dangerous world, the type of dangerous that could protect Lola and her baby at a particularly precarious time.

As Claude gets the virginity test performed on her by a clergyman, Catherine comfortingly puts her hand on her daughter's hand, an act of kindness inspired by Bash's urging. Afterwards, Catherine apologizes for making her daughter go through the test and flashes back to Claude's jealousy over the twin girls, whom she pinched and looked at with scorn. Catherine continues that she's done the most she could to protect and mother Claude, yet when Claude says that she doesn't want to get married, Catherine informs her that the deed has been decided. Later, as an act of rebellion, Claude sits on Narcisse's lap just as she's about to meet William, causing the Count to walk away in disgust and Narcisse to rev his engine, so to speak. Out in the woods, Bash and his men are attacked by Protestants, but the surprise comes when the minister is stabbed in the stomach and killed by one of his own. Bash ends up being alive and informs Mary and Francis about the strange scene that occurred once he was stabbed. It turns out that the Protestants killed the minister and hanged him like a heretic in the middle of the village, saying that this was the fault of the Royals. A brawl breaks out in the middle of the village and though Francis and Mary make it to safety, she spits out that he was the one responsible for this and that she has no faith in him anymore.

Additional thoughts and observations:

-"I couldn't convince the Count of your chastity, but surely God can."
-Visually, I think this was one of the best episodes of the season - the creepy "executioner" mask; the vibrancy of the red on the Protestant doors; the angle of Bash watching the minister being gutted; the body of the minister being hanged upside down in the town square; the shot of Narcisse behind Lola's bed post. Reign's a good-looking show anyway, but the art direction and Charles Biname's direction were both especially strong here.
-I'm very curious if Francis will be pulling back on the way he's approached Mary. Now that she's claimed she has no faith in him, does he have any incentive to pull her back to him? Or is he going to let her drift further away while he deals with Narcisse and hope that their love is strong enough to overcome the forced deception he's had to implement?
-What I don't like, though, is that the show seems to hit the same beats with Francis and Mary pretty often, which is surprising considering that the show has a pretty fast pace. The closing scene with Lola might've been too brief and felt tacked on, but at least it kept this episode from ending in the same way that last week's did, with Mary declaring that she doesn't know who Francis is anymore. There was another incident earlier this season where 2-3 episodes in a row had almost verbatim conversations about how they need to trust each other if they're going to make it through this, so it would be nice if the show could find a way to differentiate some of these plot points and interactions more. We're eight episodes into the season and they're already starting to run together, so if they can't take advantage of the Francis/Mary dynamic, it might be interesting to sequester them away from each other and bring them back together later in the season, at least for a change of pace. I did, however, like them having to welcome nobles back to court, just because it pointed toward the royal façade they have to put on in order to keep themselves looking stronger as rulers and as a unit.
-For some reason, I always like costume dramas in this time period that invoke The Vatican. I'm not religious, but I enjoy the world expansion of relating a show to one of the most powerful institutions in the world. Reign hasn't been shy about showcasing religion this season and bringing the Vatican in not only amps up the stakes, it felt like a natural course of progression that will lead somewhere in the near future.
-The flashback casting of Claude was eerily spot on, so good job, Reign casting department. I'm guessing that the reason the girls are back in Catherine's life is to get her to remember the reason for their death, as that's likely a memory that she had to repress due to the sheer trauma of one child killing two of her siblings. But now that Catherine knows, is she going to do something about Claude still being at court? (In other words, are Claude's days numbered?) And why did the girls follow Claude when she left the room after her conversation with Catherine?
-As vaguely relieved as I was that they added some more context to Claude's thing with Bash (he was into her because of how rebellious she was to Catherine), they had to go and make the girl a murderer. I want to like her because I think she has an interesting role (a princess resenting being shipped away, a woman defiant against the sexual mores of the time, someone trying to make their own life while being entrapped by the responsibility of her lineage) and Rose Williams has been playing her well, but how are we supposed to attach to a character who was painted as a sexual predator in episode one and a murderer in episode two? And the juxtaposition of these acts with someone who carries herself like Claude is still so bizarrely jarring to me; the swerve against making her Paris-Hilton-in-a-corset is appreciated, but c'mon.
-I loved the final conversation that Catherine had with Claude, though. It was edited well (the flashes to the twins' deaths), Megan Follows absolutely sold the tightrope she had to walk as Claude's mother (she tried her best and loves her daughter, yet she can't let emotion cloud what's best for the family), and I'm intrigued enough about what Catherine remembering the deaths will mean for her relationship with her daughter.
-Kenna had absolutely nothing to do again. And Greer was absent - again. I'm totally fine with Lola getting this much screen time, but Kenna has been invisible all season and Greer's been the same since she wed Castleroy a couple of episodes ago. While I know the show is already bursting at the seams and not all characters will be used to their fullest capacity at all times, it feels like Reign could do a better job at folding more ancillary characters into the main storylines.
-So, I kind of think that Lola should have aligned herself with Narcisse. With Francis slowly losing his grip on the throne, she's going to have to have somebody to protect her; if he gets ran off by the French citizens, she'll be in danger due to her association with him and without Narcisse, she won't have anyone to look out for her. Narcisse might be a monster, but he's a monster she could've trained and I think his resentment of her decision to choose Francis could come back to bite her.
-Condé once again hits on Mary, telling her that Francis is a fool for shutting her out. Seems like the countdown to their hookup (her emotional distance from Francis, his infatuation) is still on.
-I wonder what happened to Lola's horse. Someone put out a medieval APB on Rosie, please.
-Could the cypher come into play at a later date? Narcisse has possession of it, as far as we know, and it's such a powerful weapon that I can't imagine him not using it on someone at court, not when he has extra motivation to take Francis down after what happened with Lola. But how high up will he aim as far as knocking out one of Francis's most valued men?
-I hope this show isn't taking Catherine down a similar line to what it did with Henry. Granted, Henry's madness ended up working quite well, but Catherine is the show's most valuable character and someone that I can't see it creatively thriving without. Now that she's seeing the girls more frequently, it seems like the show is saying that her condition is getting worse and that her mental state might come into question (e.g. Bash seeing her tucking in a couple of ghosts). Is it too early to start the #SaveCatherine hashtag because I might have to at this rate? -If Catherine was going to bribe the church officials into saying that Claude was a virgin, why did the girl have to go through the test to begin with?
-I like whenever the show gets into image, propaganda, and the exchange of information. It was touched on during "Three Queens" and it pops back up here in the form of the Protestants using the minister's death as means to further their cause. Stuff like this is interestingly paralleled to today's world (e.g. public perception of politicians/leaders vs. the truths behind their actions/policies), while perception and propaganda make for more complex foes for Mary and Francis than they've had to date. Having to control their image is a good wrinkle on top of the tangible threat from Narcisse and getting into how the rest of the country views the royals makes the show feel less claustrophobic.
-Reign is on hiatus next week, but on December 4th, Bash thinks he's figured out how Francis can defeat Narcisse, while Mary proposes the idea of marrying a Protestant (Lord Condé) to a Catholic (Princess Claude) and Greer discovers that her connection to Protestantism runs deeper than she thought.
By: Shilo Adams

Reign Season 2 Episode 8 Review: Terror of the Faithful -

Holy moly.

Yes, the pun is intended. Even today disagreements over religious beliefs cause wars, so it's no surprise seeing it referenced historically. It's also as unpleasant as you imagine it to be. Protestants killing their own to suit their cause and The Vatican sawing the lips off of those who lie about being Catholic.

Can anyone really win in these situations? Certainly not Francis. His decision to sign that edict not only brought increased terror to those under his reign, but further distanced him from his wife and Queen, Mary, as well.

Ironically, that's not the only depressing news that Reign Season 2 Episode 8 has to offer. Even what, in another hour, might pass as comic relief, was instead creepy beyond belief.

With the passing of the edict, Francis unwittingly set into motion a series of events that threatens his rule and his marriage. Sending Bash and Condé out to chat with Protestants about their wishes does pretty much nothing to help the case, as Conde arrives back at the castle with a minister intent on retribution.

Louis Condé: A minister much beloved by his flock. The people know nothing of the dire threat he has made. If the minister is killed, the people can use his death as justification for almost any bad act. They would create... Queen Mary: A martyr.

At one point, Mary and Conde think they understand the goal of the of the Protestants, but they are not up to thinking as deviously as the plan is unfolding. Intent on returning the minister to his people unharmed sounds like a fabulous idea; except he's not welcomed back with open arms.

The plan to create a martyr runs too deep to imagine and they receive quite a shock when he's found hanging upside down in the town square after being killed by his own flock.

"You did this to us, to France. For all that you claim you're trying to protect us, I have lost all faith in you and the man I thought you were."

Mary isn't any closer to Conde as a result of her dwindling respect for Francis, but it's hard not to imagine there may come a time when she considers Conde more than a friend.

After all, Francis has the ear of Lola, the mother of John Philip

Acts of WarEdit

Reign 2.09 “Acts of War” Recap -
With The Feast of St. Nicolas approaching, Francis is looking to make peace with the Protestants and show that The Minister's death was not the result of the castle. He pledges more supplies for those who are too afraid to come out of their homes, just as Claude arrives in the hall that Greer, Lola, and Kenna are dancing the tarantella in. After brushing off Kenna's frustration at the lack of communication between the two of them, she inquires about Narcisse and doesn't wince when talk turns to him keeping a former wife in a cage. Claude is so determined to antagonize her mother and control her own destiny that she's thinking about having an affair with someone notorious and older like Narcisse in order to scare off any potential suitors. Meanwhile, Francis returns home and runs into Mary, who tells him of an idea she has - getting Condé and Claude to wed. She surmises that a high-profile inter-faith marriage, especially one with ties to the royals, could help promote the peace that France is in desperate need of while keeping the Protestants from accruing any significant power of their own. However, Francis is too worried about the response of the nobles and backs away from the idea, further driving Mary away.

But Francis can't wallow in his disappointment for long, as he meets with Bash and goes to see Father Michael, the priest who Catherine tried to get to poison Henry. The man was abducted from his home and taken to the castle by Bash with the intention of interrogating him as to the whereabouts of Lord Montgomery. While Father Michael knows nothing about Montgomery, he does know about Balfont, Narcisse's man who had been feeding him for the past several months. With Balfont set to visit Michael at the farmhouse he was living at, Francis comes up with a plan that could help get him out from under the thumb of Narcisse, though it's not quite as easy as leaning on Balfont and getting him to talk. Phase one of the plan involves agreeing to the marriage between Condé and Claude, an engagement that he wishes to be announced the night of the feast. Though Mary is surprised at the sudden change of heart, she goes along with this new Francis that stands before her, if only because this is the only chance she might have to bring about peace to her country. Lord Condé takes some convincing, especially since he was possibly going to marry a duchess, but hearing about the marriage saving lives, helping France, and granting him a beautiful princess, all told through Mary's voice, proves to be enough to get him to change his mind. Less sure is Claude, who doesn't want a husband that she didn't select herself. Catherine then comes into the chambers and agrees with her daughter, pointing out that Condé could snatch the throne thanks to his royal blood; however, Claude rejects this bonding moment, storming out after telling her mother that she's not a brood mare.

Greer meets with some of Castleroy's closest confidantes, men with whom he's collaborating on a school and whose cause he hopes convinces her to convert, while Condé and Claude's first meeting goes fairly awkwardly. Mostly, it's her fault as she's overly aggressive, trying to scare him away with her sex talk and vivaciousness, but it's not the best first step that any marriage has ever had. Elsewhere, Narcisse confronts Francis about the Condé/Claude engagement that he heard about and Francis begins acting as if he hasn't slept in a long time, bringing up possibly reversing the edict and writing off Narcisse's threats to his family line. Narcisse simply encourages him to give the decision some time before leaving and it turns out that this is the response that Francis and Bash wanted him to have. But Narcisse's first act after leaving Francis behind? Going to Claude to warn her that she's merely a test subject and that her marriage would be nothing short of a science experiment. He offers to marry her in order to protect her, since she would have a huge target on her if she wed Condé, and tries seducing her to get her to agree. However, Claude merely says that she'll think about it after listing the reasons that she might not want to give up someone of Condé's worth.

Yet Narcisse's words do make an impact on Claude, as she goes to Francis worried about her safety if she agrees to marry Condé. He tells her that everyone in their family is in danger and that this is her opportunity to step up, to feel like one of them after being isolated for such a long time; that's enough for Claude to tell Narcisse that she's marrying Condé after all and that she doesn't care about the danger that she just put herself in. As a result, Narcisse goes to Balfont, frothing with anger at the rejection and claiming that now is the time to retrieve Lord Montgomery and bring up the regicide charges. But Francis isn't crumbling like Narcisse thinks he is; he and Bash are planning to beat Balfont to the farmhouse that Montgomery is staying in, with the king exchanging a stilted goodbye with his queen that includes an awkward touch and one final look at the woman he married. Even with reignFrancis gone into the woods on his horse, the Feast of St. Nicholas continues as planned and while Catherine warns Narcisse to stay away from her daughter, Mary hears that Francis is meeting with The Vatican to smooth over any kerfuffles that might erupt as a result of the engagement. With Castleroy and Greer opting to head home after the latter confesses that she's thinking about converting, Mary announces Condé and Claude's engagement to the confusion of the guests, who don't know whether to applaud and whose murmuring sends a negative sign about the engagement's future.

Elsewhere, one of the castle guards makes a run into the village to deliver some supplies, only to be ambushed, killed, and stripped of his armor by a group of rogue Protestants. The men take the guard's carriage back to the castle and convince the man standing guard outside to let them in, all the while Francis and Bash make it to the farmhouse at the same time that Balfont does. Francis kills him with a blade and the two head into the home to find Montgomery dirty and tied up after spending months in seclusion. Francis gets him to sign a confession, saying that it was for an official royal pardon now that he's the king; though Montgomery insists that he has no idea why he was kidnapped, Bash kills him when he lashes out about Henry. With Francis now out of the woods for his father's death, thereby removing the greatest leverage that Narcisse had on him, Bash tells his brother to go back to the castle - he'll clean the mess up, while the most important things to do are be honest with Mary and kill Narcisse. Shortly after Condé leaves for the night, the Protestants scour the castle looking for Francis, killing all those who cross their path along the way. They find the royal chambers and quickly take hold of Mary, threatening her if she were to scream, yet they soon realize that Francis isn't in the castle after all.

Some of the men try to get the group to leave, but one in particular volunteers to kill Mary and smacks her to the ground. It turns out that he's the father of The Minister who was displayed in the middle of town and he blames the royals for letting something like that happen to his boy, so after ranting while Mary recovered on the ground, he gets on top of her and rapes her while another of his people holds her arms down. Mary does manage to get the upper hand, though, when she finds a weapon to knock one of them in the head with before fleeing her chambers. Luckily, Catherine was just coming in that direction and when she sees that Mary is obviously in distress, she dismisses her guards and takes Mary to her personal chambers. Mary is expectedly distant and sensitive to the touch before breaking down in front of Catherine. Having learned the reason for her daughter-in-law's demeanor, Catherine assures her that she will get through this and that she knows what this experience is like all too well. However, Mary being a royal, her duty is to her country, so Catherine suggests changing clothes, washing her hair, and doing anything that will get the stench of the night off of her. Not only would it be for her own benefit, it would benefit Francis, France, and Scotland, all things that couldn't deal with the young queen being publicly diminished, so she has to pretend like it didn't happen. But Catherine pledges to get Mary through this, if for no other reason than to keep those who harmed her from triumphing.

Castleroy and Greer return home and hear about the suspected assassins in the castle. Though Mary and Francis are deemed safe, one of the men Castleroy has been teaming with is awfully shifty, asking for resources that will help him get out of town. It turns out, though, that he wasn't responsible for the men who invaded the castle - it was a third partner, who had been threatened into complying, though he refuses to name the person who strong-armed him. As a result, the school that Castleroy thought he had been helping to build doesn't exist - the money he was giving his partners went straight to funding the men who attacked Mary. While one of Narcisse's men rationalizes that the Protestants felt as if they had nothing to lose, Mary makes his first public appearance since the rape and reassures her subjects that the royals are untouched and that those who invaded the castle will be caught and executed. Narcisse then goes to Lola while she tends to the baby and tells her that he still thinks about her, that he was worried for her when he learned what happened, that he feels personally responsible for the unrest that is threatening to tear the country apart.

Francis finds Mary and Catherine as soon as he gets home and when the latter leaves, the former confesses that she was raped during the altercating. However, she won't let Francis blame himself; all she wants is for the men who did this to her to die.

Additional thoughts and observations:
-"What is he, a whore chaser?"
-"I don't need a husband. I already have a mother to make me miserable."
-"Oh, hallelujah, we're in agreement. This may be a bonafide miracle."
-"I'm not sure I want you to be king anymore."
-"If you want someone to die for, I can give it to you."
-"One can barely hear the sound of people choking on the news."
-"At least my family will cry at my funeral."
-Here are post-mortems that Reign showrunner Laurie McCarthy did for Entertainment Weekly and TVLine, if you want her perspective on the episode and where we all go from here.
-Okay, I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I thought the rape scene was well-handled. (Full disclosure: I was a victim of rape in my early 20s, so that incident kind of colors how I view something like this.) Trust me, I know it could have been an offensive, tone deaf mess and that the idea of something like this on a show like this doesn't exactly gel; however, the show did the right thing in focusing on the build-up and the aftermath rather than the actual rape itself. The incident was extremely short (it's not like this is an Irreversible situation), didn't linger on her face as she was being violated, and allowed her to take immediate action afterwards by hitting one of the men over the head and running for safety, so you got the point without being subjected to the brutality that Mary faced. A line does exist between showing the reality of rape and glamorizing the act, and there are shows that could deftly handle a grittier take on the subject, but Reign did the right thing by staying within itself and ultimately focusing on the character and not the act.
-All this being said, the build-up to the rape was the scariest thing the show has done thus far. Reign obviously isn't afraid to use violence, but they very rarely utilize atmosphere along with it; the show is content to move as quickly as it can and take whatever shortcuts it can to the action, so establishing and cultivating that sense of dread, that feeling of knowing something bad was about to happen, isn't something that it naturally gravitates toward. Which is why I found the minutes before the wrap so dramatically effective - it's a new place for the show to go structurally and stylistically and I think the act would've read much cheaper/shock value-y if they didn't spend that time in Mary's chambers.
-The aftermath was, of course, astoundingly good, good enough to make me cry. Though this season has had its bumps and bruises, Mary's dynamic with Catherine has been one of my favorite things to watch develop, both in small moments sprinkled throughout the episodes and big moments like "Three Queens," which heavily focused on their relationship. Catherine being the one to help Mary through the early days of her healing is a dramatically rich decision that feels primed to produce some series best material, with Catherine reliving her own trauma while helping her daughter-in-law, Mary struggling with having to keep up appearances with the attack weighing on her psyche, and Mary's relationship with Francis likely damaged by his own guilt and her aversion to intimacy. This is a case of going against convention, as it seems more logical for Mary to be confiding in one of her ladies at a time like this, in the best way possible, of confronting the similarities between Mary and Catherine by allowing them to bond through their shared pain. It might not always be pretty, but it feels like the type of material the show should be attacking at this stage.
-I appreciated that the show had Mary confess to the rape very quickly rather than string it along over a chunk of episodes. It felt true to her character, that desire for total honesty with the one she loves, and it saved us quite a bit of narrative dead air. We know he's going to find out eventually, so moving to the more interesting parts of this type of storyline, from how the rape impacts their relationship to how Mary views herself as a woman/queen/lover following the assault and whether the bonds of trauma bring Mary and Catherine closer together, is the type of thing that can get this season back on track and give the incident from this episode a purpose, for lack of a better. It's not going to be a rape for rape's sake - it's going to have meaning for these characters and it's going to alter the dynamic in the castle, both of which I'm curious to explore.
-But please. Please. No rape baby. That's all I ask.
-Best Dressed: Mary's jewelry at the feast was really pretty. I also loved Lola's maroon-y dress.
-Random, but I wonder what the show would look like with a longer cold open. Ever since the credits were brought back, the cold opens are never over a minute or two and it feels like a strange choice to me. Sometimes they do some interesting visual stuff, but it'd be nice to see how the show would flow if it didn't rush past its opening minutes, if it gave more than a brief glimpse of the episode to come. Part of my frustration with this season, as has been noted here, is that it feels repetitious, as if it's hitting the same beats in the same manner, so something as small as this would help break things up and offer a bit more variety in how the show plays.
-I loved the fact that the significant change in rhythm that was Francis getting one over on Narcisse came as a result of a team-up with Bash. I would already be singing the praises of the storyline if it was just Francis, even if his crazy eyes were some ridiculous overacting that made Narcisse look stupid for not picking up on, but to have it come through teamwork with Bash made everything all the better. They have one of the most interesting relationships in the entire show and they've been separated for much of the season, as Bash tends to be out of the castle and Francis has been wrapped up in this conflict with Narcisse, a decision that came at the detriment of the characters and the show itself. After this episode, though, Francis has a firmer connection to someone outside of Mary, an important development considering her recent news, and Bash feels like he's a part of the main narrative again and not shunted off to parts unknown.
-So, apparently Claude is into being caged up, which is an interesting factoid. I'm guessing, though, that she's the type of person who will say anything in order to shock the people around her.
-I'm interested to see how the news of the assassins impacts Greer's thoughts on conversion. Before, becoming a Protestant seemed like a no-brainer - she would be united with her husband and Francis was working on smoothing over religious tensions in France, so she wouldn't have to worry about her safety. Now, her husband was indirectly responsible for the rape of her friend and the near-assassination of the king, a result of his kind heart leading the way and drowning out the sense of cynicism that he needs in order to survive. With Castleroy likely being unwilling to convert to Catholicism, even with the rising tensions in France and the persecution that he faces, Greer might decide that she can't stay with him, not when the sword of Protestantism hanging over their heads and not when her friend suffered as a result of this religion.
-I thought that a twist that the men who attacked the castle were Catholics trying to pin the incident on Protestants was coming, but alas, it never did. -Bash jumping out at Balfont like a spider monkey was just the best. Him flying into frame and landing a blow is a gif-worthy moment.
-No ghost girls and Catherine was showing no ill effects from, y'know, seeing her dead daughters or remembering that her eldest daughter was responsible for their deaths. If we're going to embrace the crazy, show, can we do it completely? Because this selective craziness is not my jam.
-What do you think Condé's letter to Mary said? And will she end up telling him about the rape, knowing how dedicated he is to her and how much power she has over him?
-Narcisse crawling back to Lola - desperate move by someone in need of an ally or genuine gesture from a man who really never stopped thinking about this girl? I think that there's a hint of humanity within Narcisse, but his reverting back to Lola just reeks of frustration at Francis for blocking the marriage to Claude.
-Next week on Reign: It's the winter finale and while Francis tracks Narcisse looking for revenge, Mary tackles a dangerous mission with Condé, Leith begs Greer to flee, and Catherine receives a visit to her chambers.

By: Shilo Adams

Reign Season 2 Episode 9 Review: Acts of War -
t's not historical accuracy they're going for; perhaps it's shock value.

If looked at only for what can be gained by having the Queen of France, childless and at odds with the King, raped by attempted assassins, then it would come down to the scenes shared between Adelaide Kane and Megan Follows as Mary and Catherine.

Despite the dire, distressing and objectionable subject matter, their portrayals and chemistry as actors saves an otherwise unnecessary development. Yes, in Reign Season 2 Episode 9 when Francis and Bash are off making their move to put into motion their plan to get Narcisse off of their backs, the Protestants rise up and attempt to assassinate the King.

The only person they find of interest is Mary, in her bedclothes in her chamber. One angry Protestant decides to degrade the Queen and another holds her down. They rush off as another who was looking on gets bashed in the head from Mary. Ironically, he seemed to be the only sane one of the three, if that stands for anything.

Ultimately two people seem to be at fault. Narcisse, who in a stunning admission reveals to Lola not only how he feels about her but how he feels at fault for robbing the French subjects of hope.

Lord Narcisse: I take no pleasure in being right, especially as I may have been wrong about other issues. What happened tonight was reckless. It was the act of a people who feel that they have nothing to lose. To rob people of hope is a dangerous mistake and I suspect it may be my doing.
Lola: Through your pressure on Francis.
Lord Narcisse: I feel this nation is burning and I am the man who lit the match.

And Condé. Unless I am taking Conde's hasty retreat in the wrong way, Reign's way of showing the Prince of Blood's attempt on the crown was done through Conde ruling the Protestants, getting close to Mary and then staging an attack. His departure and desire to be far from Mary was because he's behind the uprising, right?

Lord Castleroy and Greer thought they were funding hope for the Protestants, and so did their guileless leader. His, I don't know, wingman of some sort, skimmed all of the money to give to the Protestant who was calling the shots. Since it's not the guy we thought it was and he doesn't know who is behind it, then Conde is the only person who makes sense.

During Mary's (very different in real life) marriage to Francis, she was never raped. That appears to be a fact. She was later in life and perhaps the powers that be wanted to toss it into the fray before they lost the material. Who knows?

Remember Reign Season 1? There were parties and dancing and sexy moments. There were girls laughing and being scandalous and lots of pretty dresses, but there wasn't the terrible pall of darkness brought about by Francis killing Henry (another utterly fictional part of the series). Watching Reign is a lesson in the suspension of disbelief and, essentially, alternative history.

Make no mistake, what you are watching did not occur. That's why it's upsetting Mary was raped. There are plenty of other avenues to take to create rich story for Mary and Francis, but this? It's unclear how things can be rectified going forward.

Mary was never in on the secret. She still doesn't know Francis killed Henry or was being blackmailed by Narcisse. She thought he was tussling with The Vatican on behalf of France, not killing a guy named Montgomery for knowing his secret. That would have been forgivable. If she discovers the deep darkness of his betrayal on top of the rape, how can their love be salvaged? Perhaps it shouldn't be. Maybe that's the story here.

Back to the strength not only of this installment, but of Reign Season 2 – the relationship between Catherine and Mary. One look upon Mary's face and Catherine knew the girl wasn't alright. She offered herself to Mary without hesitation.

"I know you don't want to be touched, that's alright. But, you're safe. I don't know how you managed to escape but you did. You are alive. You will survive this. I know this because I survived. You know that. They try to destroy you by taking your pride and your strength, but those things cannot be taken, not from you. Not ever."

The bond that began with Mary's pregnancy and fully formed when they were yucking it up with the impostors in their little off-the-road trip has remained. The best and the strongest scenes feature these two powerful women together.

"These next moments of your life will either define you as a victim or as a powerful Queen, untouched by failed a assassination attempt. They will define who you are perceived to be, your place in history. Do not let them win. Trust me. Trust me and let me help you. Trust that I can get you through this because I swear to you that I can."

There is nothing about a rape that makes a show enjoyable to watch. It's hard to even look back at the hour – to the scene when Narcisse was putting his hand up Claude's skirt, for example – and imagine in which direction they were heading.

Mary and Francis are still torn apart by lies. Conde, I think, is a rotten rogue wanting the crown for himself and putting Mary in danger. Narcisse may have redeemed himself, or at least has come to understand his role in matters. Greer and Castleroy are likely in grave danger. Francis and Bash killed someone else for their cause.

That's a heck of a lot of unhappiness going around. Where do you fall after this depressing installment?

Be sure to read the Reign quotes for a better feel of the tone and then watch Reign online via TV Fanatic.

By: Carissa Pavlica


Reign 2.10 “Mercy” Recap -
Mary heads to the balcony outside her chambers and watches as Bash leads in a swarm of chained Protestants. The men were caught trying to flee the country after the roads were sealed and Francis gives him the okay to question them and use any means necessary to get information about the attack on the castle. Unfortunately, though, Narcisse seems to have disappeared, so Francis's prime suspect, or at least someone he thinks can lead him to the men responsible, is currently blowing in the wind. After Condé pledges his loyalty to Francis, with the king asking him to get the Protestant leader to help find the culprits, Mary comes down to the courtyard and eyes the men chained and standing against the castle wall. She wants to believe that her rapist is there, that she can get the closure she needs by finding him, but she doesn't recognize anyone in the lineup and becomes fidgety when Francis tries to console her.

Over at Greer's, she tries to convince Castleroy to go to mass with her, thinking that he needs to separate himself from Protestantism of face being hanged for what happened at the castle. However, still clinging to the intention of his donations and the comfort that the religion brought him after his daughter died, Castleroy rejects his wife's offer, even as she claims he's dragging her down. Back at the castle, Mary blames herself for what happened; she thinks that she should have known that the guards who entered her room that night weren't castle guards, but Francis assures her that none of this was her fault and apologizes for his actions that led to the cycle of violence plaguing the country. He then goes on to confess that the choices he made were a result of the pressure from Narcisse, that he was blackmailed for the murder of Henry and that he had to keep Mary from being culpable just in case Narcisse ever made a move against him. Once he mentions killing Montgomery in order to keep his secret, Francis tells his wife that they will come back from this just as soon as the men responsible for the attack are captured and killed. Later, as the dungeons become too full to accommodate the men that Francis needs to hold, he tells Bash that he can't go back to the man he was before he was crowned. He has to instill fear in those who seek to trespass against him, so instead of moving the freezing prisoners somewhere warm, he demands they stay outside and suffer.

As a result of the incident, Mary moves her things out of her chambers, which draws the attention of her ladies. She matter-of-factly comes clean about what happened, making Lola and Kenna tear up in the process, and says that she only wants two things: 1) no talk of an heir from anyone in the castle until she can be sure that she didn't get pregnant and 2) the deaths of those responsible for what happened. Not ashamed of what happened to her, which she views as a strike against the monarchy, Mary is waiting on Francis to kill the men who attacked her before she exhales. While Lola goes to Francis with the knowledge of a countryside villa that Narcisse would seek refuge at in trying times, something that she knows he doesn't remember telling her, Leith bursts in at Greer's to tell her of the Protestant witch hunt going on. However, Greer can't turn to Mary this time, so she's forced to confront the possibility of losing the man she thought would bring her a greater sense of security. Elsewhere, Francis learns that the prisoners are panicked due to his order to stay outside, a fear that resulted in the death of two guards. Rather than sit on his hands, though, he orders every man in that part of the castle, amounting to about a dozen, hanged in the courtyard as a warning to all those who dare dream of trying something similar.

Catherine goes back in the castle and finds her two girls in the room with Claude as she practices the harpsichord. After unsuccessfully convincing Claude to leave, Catherine smacks her daughter in order to get her away from the girls who wants nothing more than to kill her and return the favor. The little girls try to convince Catherine that Claude deserves to be murdered, that they deserved to be chosen this time instead of her, but when she bucks against their ghostly plans, they warn her that if she doesn't get rid of Claude, they will. While out in the country, Condé arrives at the home of Hugo, the man who supplied the attackers with the money necessary to buy their weaponry; however, it turns out that Hugo killed himself rather than face the punishment of being involved in something so heinous. When he tells Mary what he found, she inquires about Hugo's wife and stresses the reignimportance of getting the names and information necessary to put something like this to rest. Meanwhile, Catherine interrupts Claude's conversation with her friends to again attempt to get her daughter out of the castle, this time offering her a sack of gold and urging her to go anywhere she wanted in Europe. However, Claude is through taking orders from her mother and dumps the money out before threatening her if she dares to touch her again. When Kenna approaches after overhearing what happened, Claude snaps at her, calling her "nothing" and reminding her that Catherine will do anything for her blood.

Francis finds Narcisse at the villa and during the physical altercation that follows, the latter uses his resources and loyalty as leverage to save his own life. He notes that if he were to die, his money and men would fall into the hands of the Protestants and that if Francis were to spare his life, he would use what he has to protect the crown and ensure that no one touches him. Impressed at Narcisse's survival instinct, Francis lets him life, just as Mary opts to spare Hugo's wife's life if she were to give any necessary information that will help catch the men who attacked the castle. The woman tells of Severin, the man who attacked Mary - a farmer who became radicalized after the death of his son. He and two other men came to Hugo for money after the attack and Hugo agreed to put it in a peasant house up north, a house that just so happens to be closer to Hugo's house than the castle. Mary wants to take the opportunity that just presented itself, perhaps the one chance she has at catching who hurt her, and Condé eventually relents, though he notes that they don't have any protection and that they'll be outnumbered. Back at the castle, Catherine drugs Claude's soup and uses a forced apology for everything that she's done to hurt her daughter to get her to eat it, all the while her two deceased daughters watch in wonder.

Leith arrives at the castle and tries to talk Francis into letting Castleroy, who had been taken by the guards in another sweep of the country, go, citing his knowledge of the man's character. When Francis refuses, Leith calls in the favor he was owed when Francis took his lands and gave them to Narcisse, which ends up getting Castleroy freedom. However, even though Leith encourages Lord Castleroy and Greer to get out of France at once, he shares a look with her that says that won't be happening. Condé and Mary make it to the peasant house before the man and hide in anticipation of their arrival. Not a moment later, the men come into the darkened room and note that Hugo came through for them, as what they wanted was on the table. What they didn't anticipate, though, was Mary being under the table and using her dagger to cut two of their Achilles', with Condé bursting out of the curtains to subdue to third man with his sword. Mary confronts Severin, who she injured, and he tells her that she deserved what happened to her; angrily, Mary hisses that she's going to live and be remembered while he is to die for what he did, to be forgotten because of how unsuccessful the attempt on her life was. When he insists that God will forgive him for what he did, she throws the lantern down, setting him (and the rest of the cabin) on fire, before urging Condé to kill the three men and let them burn with their lies. She and Condé then make it out of the house and watch it as it burns before them.

The following morning, Mary notes to Condé that she thought she would feel better after getting the justice that she was owed. He tells her that she can't let this defeat her, citing that France is now her home and that her people need her, while back at the castle, Claude is decidedly woozy, almost as if she were drunk. She approaches Bash and tells him of her lost suitors before nearly collapsing in front of him; unfortunately, when he catches her and hoists her into his arms, with the intention of bringing her safely back to her room, Kenna catches an eyeful of them and presumes the worst, knowing how Claude is. Meanwhile, Greer decides to not join Castleroy in leaving the country, saying that she can't leave Mary at a time like this and that they would look especially guilty if they fled this soon after he was released. Her plan is to stay behind and make up an excuse for him after he leaves with his children, though she never mentions whether his absence from her life is to be permanent. As they part, he embraces her and tells her that he prays he'll see her again.

Francis and Mary reconvene after their separate sojourns and exchange information about what's transpired. He's killed nine of the conspirators in the attack; she killed the man who raped her and two accomplices. Even though the murder should have exorcised the demons that have been haunting her since the incident, it only highlighted the fact that she blames him for what happened. However irrationally, her mind ties the act to Francis and she can't have a relationship with the personification of the worst thing that ever happened to her. Since he didn't give them a chance by being honest with her about Narcisse, she doesn't feel as if there's anything to hang onto in her relationship, so she wants them to live separate lives. They can work together as rulers, but that's all they can be - she's wife in name only. When he tells her that he loves her, she replies that their love hasn't exactly brought us to a good place and walks away. As a result, Francis goes to Narcisse and tells the Catholic that he belongs to the crown now; anything and everything Francis asks of him will be done or else Narcisse will be killed and disposed of promptly.

While in her chambers, Catherine receives a visit from King Henry, who crawls into bed with her, tells her that the twins found him, and gets her to say that she wants him back. While Condé's brother Antoine, who he was going to visit before turning back, presses him to remain loyal to the family over the royals, Mary receives the letter she was supposed to get the night of the incident. In it, Condé says that he cannot marry Claude, as he has fallen in love with a queen.

Additional thoughts and observations:

-Although I know Mary pulling away from Francis is going to cause a ruckus, I actually think that it makes sense and that it's something that shows the rape wasn't a shock tactic. If the rape was merely a stunt or something purely to raise the ire of the audience, the show would have had Francis and Mary find some type of common ground by the end of this episode; they would have pledged their love to one another, the whole trust spiel would be regurgitated, and everything that this woman just went through would have been cheapened due to plot expediency. Mary is not in the space to be physically or emotionally open with anyone - not Francis, not her ladies, not Condé. She can't stand to be touched, she's extremely jumpy, she's dealing with the possibility of being pregnant by her rapist's baby and her role in the killing of three men - it would ring false if she ignored the fears that've been raised by the rape for the sake of a happy ending, especially since she still links Francis to the incident. That's a hell of a lot of trauma that she went through and while Reign has been known to play with time, Mary has been very matter-of-fact about her rape in private, so why would she swallow her pride and throw herself back at Francis right now? Eventually, I do think they'll rekindle, but there's so much material to mine from Mary's current mindset and way of looking at life that I think the show will be better if they're apart for a while.
-And as for the thing that was in the previews, I won't spoil because I know not everybody watches those. But I do have a theory as to why Mary is doing what she does there and I think it falls into line with what I mentioned above.
-I really like the direction they're taking Francis. I don't know if he can pull out of the Evil King life path that killed his father, but I think it's quite sad (in a good way) for him to talk himself into ruling like Henry and that this gives his character the direction that had been lacking at times in the past. One of the pillars of the show is that Mary and Francis are exactly like Catherine and Henry were at the beginning of their relationship yet they're self-aware enough to not want to end up like the former rulers did after time on the throne, so the past couple of weeks have been almost eerie in that Mary has sacrificed some of her soul for the sake of the crown (like Catherine) and Francis has decided to rule with the iron fist he never wanted to use on his people - the same one he inherited from his father.
-Let's talk about how good Adelaide Kane was here. She was obviously great last week, but I think this week was a more affecting performance for me. From the haunted, distant look in her eyes when she talked to Francis about blaming herself for what happened to the tearful breakup you could tell she didn't want to happen and the anger that emanated off of her when telling Severin that he'll die a forgotten death, she was as good as she's ever been, which is one of the reasons I'm supportive of this particular storyline. If you have an actor who's shining in a story, it never hurts to lean into that and let them continue exploring that part of their character, so if we can get an interesting emotional arc out of this time in Mary's life and some juicy material for Kane to sink her teeth into, I'm all for this. More of this, please.
-I find it interesting that Reign turned Francis into Henry the same episode that Henry made his return. Was that intentional? I don't know, but if it wasn't, that was a nice coincidence.
-For everybody who's been hating on Lola this season for her allegiance to Narcisse, her tension with Mary, and the amount of screen time she's received, I point you toward her reaction to Mary talking about the rape and her immediate thought being to tell Francis where Narcisse would be.
-The one thing missing from the ghost storyline is Nostradamus. Why this show decided to send off its supernatural conduit and the one person who could possibly explain all this, or at least help Catherine out and not strand Megan Follows in a storyline by herself, is beyond me.
-Speaking of the ghost storyline, what was that? The girls can now touch flesh and blood people, possibly making them a legitimate threat to Claude, and apparently Catherine can get ghost penis from the husband her son murdered. I get the emotional reasoning behind some of this (she feels guilty over the girls dying, she doesn't want Claude to get trapped in the same life that she did, she misses Henry), but everything else isn't hitting with me, mainly because there seems to be no real rhyme or reason behind anything. Reign's past flirtations with supernatural stuff have at least made sense, but I'm not quite sure what to make of any of this. What was happening to Catherine while she was fooling around with Henry? Can the girls actually touch other human beings or did they touch Catherine just to freak her out enough to try and kill Claude? Is there a medical reason that Catherine is having all these hallucinations/daydreams or is her guilt strong enough to take over her consciousness? Though I don't mind a trip to Crazy Town in my kooky costume dramas, I'm going to need this storyline in particular to start coming together a little more or else it's going to feel like a big waste of time.
-Do you think bringing back Henry this way is a cheat? Because I don't know. Alan van Sprang is excellent and the chemistry he has with Megan Follows is pretty damn great, but this feels like a "let's make the show as convoluted as necessary in order to get back a character we regret killing" and as of right now, I don't think the show will be better for it. While I buy that Catherine is steely enough to keep everything she's going through bottled up for the good of her son's rule, and that everything she's dealing with might be a manifestation of that unwillingness to share anything with those she loves, is nobody ever going to find out what's going on with her? And when they do, what type of reaction are they going to have to "I had ghost sex with my dead husband and tried to kill my daughter because my two dead daughters made me"?
-I'm not looking forward to a plot featuring Kenna jealous about Bash and his sister. While being an incredibly worn-out trope that would feel tired on any show, it's especially frustrating here because Kenna's not had anything to do all season and to reduce what was once the most pro-active of May's ladies into something this far removed from the action is sad. The show has done well by Lola and Greer this season as far as keeping them relevant and giving them a decent amount of screen time, but Kenna's very much been left in the dust, something that became more egregious and noticeable once Bash was folded into the main narrative a couple of episodes ago. My number-one wish for the second half of the season is that Reign find something interesting for Kenna to do; even if it is based around Bash, it would be better than her either being invisible or being involved in a narrative cul-de-sac that has nothing to do with anything.
-The Greer/Leith/Castleroy triangle needs to not restart. I like Greer; I like Leith; I like Castleroy; I do not like a Greer/Leith/Castleroy triangle. It's the show retreading ground it's already covered and I think there's quite a bit of material still left in Greer's marriage with the religious differences, Castleroy being on the castle's radar, and Greer dealing with the man she married for security not being the most secure option anymore. Plus, it never fully tapped into the age issue and the power dynamic that comes from him helping her sisters, so the constant back and forth of Greer's confidence in her relationship and the desire that the writers seemingly have to send off, kill, or marginalize any adult character are just absurd at this point. Greer's had a pretty decent half-season, writers; let her keep up this momentum. Don't drag her down into a storyline seemingly meant for the Tumblr crowd (I have a Tumblr, so hold your hate mail) and let what could be a valuable character regress into a version of herself she seemingly outgrew.
-Well, Reign is now off until Thursday, January 22nd. The first half of the season has been a bit rocky, but these last two episodes have given me a bit more optimism as far as the state of this season than I had before then. Hope you guys join me when the second half of the season kicks off.

By: Shilo Adams

Reign Season 2 Episode 10 Review: Mercy -
And so all hope for Reign rushes out the window as they take a compelling storyline and go the way of The CW instead.

Yes, I was wrong. On ReignSeason 2 Episode 10, the contents of the letter Conde hoped to deliver to Mary were revealed. He couldn't marry Claude because his heart lies with the Queen.

Blah, blah, blah. This might be a wonderful storyline if there was any way in hell Mary and Conde had a chance of making a go of it. But they do not and the decision to toss in a rape as a means of tearing her away from her true love is despicable.

I know I'm alone in my desires for the show to be more realistic, but this latest turn has become so ridiculous that I cannot help but be annoyed.

Matching Mary with anyone other than Conde, who is a noted historical figure, would have worked for me. Taking the one man known to have made an attempt on the crown and turning him into her love interest is pushing it.

Considering the network and the audience, it makes sense to keep Mary and Francis at odds. They've done a brilliant job of that so far. The better scenes, however, are when they work together. Like Brennan and Booth on Bones. People can love each other and work together and yet still get on each others nerves just enough to keep them on their toes.

Queen Mary: I've had some time to think. I believe that we should lead separate lives.
King Francis: What does that mean?
Queen Mary: That we will continue to work together as King and Queen, but I will be your wife in name only.
King Francis: I can't do that. I won't.
Queen Mary: We won't be the first people in history to do so.
King Francis: If you're talking about my parents, we are nothing like them. I would do anything for you, Mary. I love you and you love me.
Queen Mary: Look where that love has brought us.

Now what? Mary will carry on with Conde and Francis will climb back into the fray with Lola while they both look back with jealousy seething just under the surface?

The beginning of the hour held much promise. Mary's behavior and Catherine's wise words to Francis about Mary's need to find her attackers were really well done.

King Francis: What is Mary doing here?
Queen Catherine: She's looking for her rapist, and if you don't find him that's what she'll be doing for the rest of her life; in every room, in every crowd.

Leith stepping up to free the man Greer loves knowing he is a good soul was also well developed, even if it only served to drive the older man we've come to enjoy out of the castle to make room for Leith and Greer to resume their attraction.

"When you took my lands you said that you'd make it up to me one day. Well this is that day. I want repayment. Let Castleroy go."

Do you have any doubt, despite Greer's love for Castleroy, that she and Leith will rekindle things in the meantime?

Narcisse falling into a stumbling wretch of a man willing to place his head on a platter to appease Francis makes no sense given his early character or his thoughts in Reign Season 2 Episode 9 when he felt much of the Protestants' ire was due to his actions. Melting into a pile of worthless goo is improbable.

Then we have Catherine. Yes, she's been seeing her daughters for a while now, but to be swayed so deeply by mental illness she chose to kill (or attempt to kill, depending upon how it ends up) her only remaining daughter doesn't fit.

Where the hell is Nostradamus when we need him? If ever he was needed, it's now.

Catherine is plagued by ghosts, even one in the form of Henry who makes love to her, begging her to accept him back into her life. Is Henry a vampiric ghost who can only pass the threshold into our world when given a formal invitation? Meh.

Reign has jumped the shark.

This is not where I wanted fierce, strong women to wind up; crazy or running away from love. I'll sit in my disappointment while everyone else revels in Mary's smile at learning of Conde's love for her.

We have to wait until the new year for additional episodes, but in the meantime you an make up for it when you watch Reign online via TV Fanatic. See you then! By: Carissa Pavlica


Reign 2.11 “Getaway” Recap -
For two weeks, French court has been littered with the corpses of the Dark Rider-branded traitors, a warning to those who dare try and inflict harm on the king. But that display hasn't done much to deter the rising religious tensions in France; in fact, it facilitates a visit from Cardinal Palazzo, who wants his men to comb France for any and every person with a brand on their chest. He believes that it might be a pledge amongst a Protestant brotherhood rather than anything supernatural and tries to press Bash into giving him the jurisdiction to conduct the necessary searches. While Bash defers to an absent Francis, saying that this is the king's area and The Vatican should respect his rule, Palazzo replies that Francis isn't in a position to challenge the Vatican at this moment.

Where is Francis, if not embroiled in his latest political and religious chess match? Bringing firewood to Mary's chamber, as the castle has been cold lately and he wants her to be comfortable. Mary, however, simply thinks that he's finding whatever excuse he can to see her and that desperation, that pressure that she feels to talk, isn't doing anything but driving her further from him. As such, Mary decides to go to Château de Chambord, although Francis negotiates with her as far as allowing guards to accompany her. As Bash tries to get Palazzo to listen to his latest theory, that the bodies were branded after death in an attempt to fan the flames of religious strife in France, Francis learns that the baby has a colic that's been especially trying for Lola and the castle's nannies. Meanwhile, Condé gets accused of being in league with The Dark Riders after Josephine, a married woman with whom he had carnal relations with, confesses to Cardinal Palazzo.

If Conde has the brand on his chest, he will hang, but Mary has other plans. She gets word to him quickly and instead of allowing him to leave on his horse, which he intends to ride to his home, she makes him hitch a ride with her to the Château. It turns out that Conde's brother Antoine has a friend about a day away that could house him until he could be smuggled out of the area, so it's decided that Mary will take the risk in dropping him off on her way to Chambord. In her chamber, Catherine gets hot and heavy with Henry while concocting a poison meant to kill Claude. Over the past two weeks, she's been gradually slipping her daughter a combination of garlic and arsenic, a tonic that has left Claude bedridden. Catherine rationalizes that this approach keeps her from getting caught, yet she's feeling guilty over Claude being so young when the murders happened and not really knowing the difference between right and wrong. Henry then assures her that killing Claude will be the most merciful thing she can do, given what the |twins have in mind for her, only for Catherine to tip her hand too much when she runs into Kenna. Not only does Kenna overhear Catherine talking to herself (Henry is a ghost, after all), she sneaks to Claude's door and watches as the former queen wipes the blood from her daughter's nose before anyone can notice.

Kenna then relays this to Bash, insisting that the soup didn't smell right and that Catherine has a history of poisoning those she wishes to do away with. Bash encourages her to gather evidence to strengthen or disprove her suspicions, while Mary, Conde, and Greer make it to Antoine, who insists they stay for a party he's throwing that evening. However, he's upset that Conde is latching himself onto the wrong royal, while back at the castle, Francis is worried about the state of his relationship with Mary. Marveling at her warrior heart, he opens up to Bash about the rape, saying that he blames himself for the decisions that led to the incident and that he only wants to work with his wife, to be the man who she thought she was marrying. His plan? To put pressure on the Vatican by framing an innocent Catholic with the brand of the Dark Riders. At the party, Antoine gives a toast to those who gave him their company that evening and reveals that, in celebration of their company, he will be pairing nobles with ladies; the intention is to provide the party with sexual entertainment, with a bed in the middle of the room and one outside. Uncomfortable, Mary and Greer decide to leave, while Conde confronts his brother on driving away his guests. But Antoine has had a change of heart since the royals descended upon the estate, telling Conde that he's going after the right royal after all. Mary is not only a Protestant sympathizer - she has the power and influence necessary to make real change, so Antoine advises his brother to seduce her and put her under the spell that so many women have found themselves bewitched by.

Back at the castle, Kenna begins visiting Claude with a basket of cheese and croissants, while it turns out that Cardinal Palazzo has been sleeping with Randall, a cleric under his tutelage. Once his lover leaves the chamber, though, he gets attacked by a masked man who pins him down and brand the Dark Rider symbol on his chest. That man? Bash, who takes a deep cut to the right forearm in the process. After having knocked over several of the meals that Catherine prepared, Kenna helps Claude get back to her old self, though Claude doesn't recognize that the state she was in was a result of her mother, who she's chosen to believe the best about for once. Yet the accusation cuts deeply for Claude, as does Kenna's sympathy for her having a mother that plots her death, and causes her to lash out; she confesses to being lovers with Bash, completely taking Kenna off-guard. Meanwhile, Cardinal Palazzo confronts Bash about the mark on Randall's chest and finds himself feeling helpless when Randall is taken into custody. Francis claims that he wants to show just how loyal France is and how extremism won't be tolerated, all in hopes of getting the Cardinal to recant his promise to root out the Protestants hiding in the country. However, Palazzo simply says that he'll pray for Randall's soul before leaving.

Conde gets selected for the next sexual demonstration, with Antoine going with Lady Apney for his brother's partner. Although Conde is initially reluctant to engage with her, given his feelings for Mary, Lady Apney blindfolds him and gets him to role play that she's the woman with whom his heart lies. Upstairs, Mary confides in Greer about how distant she feels toward everything and how she hates being touched by men after being raped. All she has as a role model is Catherine, so she's still about as lost as ever, and she feels alone despite being surrounded by so many different people. Greer tells her that if she needs to take some time to herself after what happened, she should do it and not feel guilty. The following day, Conde comes to Mary and thanks her for helping him out of court. He inquires whether she would be safer in Scotland, given that Francis inadvertently endangers her, and she snaps at him, saying that Francis is enduring suffering, as well. She then brings up the letter that he wrote her and assures him that he doesn't have to apologize for what's in his heart. Despite this, the two depart, with Mary wishing him better fortune than what he found in the castle.

Kenna confronts Bash about Claude's accusation and he's completely straight with her - he and Claude were young and drunk at the time of the incident and she had managed to convince him, even if for a moment, that they didn't share the same father after all. He assures her that what happened is long in the past, but Kenna is more concerned about the cut on her husband's arm, laying into him for his continued avoidance of the truth and how emotionally unfulfilled she is after having opened herself up to him. He then tells her the truth about what happened and leaves it with the fact that he kills and lies to get what he wants. Later, Cardinal Palazzo begs Bash to talk to Francis on behalf of Randall after learning that his lover had been given last rites. Bash pressures him to let go of the Protestant witch-hunt, only for Palazzo to touch his wound and cause it to bleed profusely. Over at the estate, Vatican inquisitors arrive looking for Conde and instead of running, he actually wants to surrender. Not willing to go down without a fight, Mary comes up with the idea of cauterizing Conde's brand, which presents enough reasonable doubt that, along with her influence, would get him send back to court, where Francis could provide further help. Leith then cauterizes the wound with Conde's sword while Conde himself latches onto Mary's hand; despite (and arguably because of) the pain, the brand is successfully covered and Conde is allowed to go to French court.

On the carriage ride over, Mary confides in Greer that touching Conde forced her to connect with him and that she felt better having seen that she could be of help to someone. She was so deep in pain that she couldn't see beyond herself, so she was ignorant to the fact that Francis suffered as a result of her rape, as well. Despite this, though, she's still unsure about whether she wants to be with him, even with how much she misses the ease that used to exist in their relationship. Back at the castle, Cardinal Palazzo confronts Francis about Randall's status and threatens to bring the mighty fist of The Vatican down upon France, a threat that Francis sees as empty. He doesn't care that the Vatican would have propped his rule up, which they did for his father - he just wants Palazzo to call off the witch-hunt and for the religious tension in France to finally subside. Francis then recounts the way he found out about Randall's relationship with the cardinal, as Palazzo's servants told him about the cardinal giving up his sole warming tray to Randall. Given that the castle is bitterly cold, Francis takes this gesture of sacrifice to mean that the two love one another, a feeling which helped fuel this entire plan in the first place. Cardinal Palazzo calls off the dogs and saves the life of his love, but he tells Francis that he's manipulated the most noble feeling known to man and turned it into a tool of destruction.

While Francis pays the baby another visit, this time getting him to stop crying simply by holding him, Conde arrives at court just as the Vatican officials are on the cusp of leaving and Greer and Leith come to an understanding about jealousy. Given that he participated at Antoine's party and she's still married to Lord Castleroy, she has no room to be jealous of him, he argues, as that feeling gives him the hope that something could blossom between them in the future. Catherine walks into her chambers and finds Claude digging around in her stuff, hell-bent on finding the poison that she'd been ingesting. She then hears from her mother about the horrible thing she did to her sisters, though she doesn't exactly remember doing it; despite that innocence, Catherine tries to convince herself that the only thing left to do is kill Claude. But right as Claude is about to poison herself, Catherine has second thoughts and saves her daughter, too sympathetic as to the girl's age at the time of the incident. As she comforts Claude on the floor of her chambers, Henry takes the |twins back into the darkness and Mary peeks in on Francis and Lola taking a nap with the baby.

Additional thoughts and observations:

-"My God, I've missed the way you mix garlic with arsenic."
-"Not everything is about your ass, Kenna."
-"If your heart wants to sleep, let it."
-So, hey, we got a third season, you guys. Honestly, I wasn't sure if this show would get renewed in general, so for it to be picked up in January was a pleasant surprise. As far as when/where it airs next season, I have no idea - I could see it staying on Thursdays if The CW wants to focus on other nights/doesn't want to throw a new show at Scandal and The Blacklist, but a move to Friday or summer (the latter of which The CW is going to be particularly aggressive toward come 2016) wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility, either.
-Favorite Dress of the Episode: It was a night of pretty red dresses, as Mary and Lady Apney (90% sure that's not how you spell her name, but I had no closed captioning and there's no information about the character online) both looked lovely at Antoine's party. Different approaches (Mary was covered up with a turtle neck and sleeves; the Lady was sparkly), but they worked for me.
-Our first gay storyline! I had been wondering whether Reign was going to touch on sexuality, especially given that The CW has a fair amount of peripheral gay characters now, and I wasn't disappointed by the trials and tribulations of Cardinal Palazzo and Randall. It delved into an aspect of religion that this religion-heavy season had yet to touch upon and it was a nice way of giving a potentially one-dimensional character some heartrending texture, not to mention the storyline being grounds for Francis to find his inner power and Bash to get some much needed screen time.
-My hope is that Mary catching Francis in bed with Lola and the baby isn't going to reignite her jealousy toward her friend. If it picks at her insecurity for not bearing Francis a child or for not being ready for intimate contact yet, I think it could be an interesting avenue for the character and an aspect of the aftermath of sexual assault that rarely gets touched on in television; however, if it's an excuse for manufactured drama around the castle and the further dissolution of the female friendships that helped to define this show in its early days, no thank you.
-If Claude didn't kill the twins, which I'm thinking this episode points toward (she might be incredibly damaged, but I don't think she's enough of a sociopath to lie about something like this), who did? Would it be too ridiculous if they made it Catherine, with whatever's causing these hallucinations forcing her to remember such a traumatic repressed memory? Because the show wouldn't go with somebody random or with one of the boys, so it's either Catherine or Henry, but I think that Henry's reappearance has to do with Catherine's guilt over his death. And her subconscious is using this manifestation of Henry to help unlock another box of guilt buried deep in her psyche, something that's influenced her love of her boys over Claude.
-Also, I'd like an edit of this season without the twins or Henry but with Catherine. Kind of a Garfield Minus Garfield of sexy costume dramas. Just imagine Catherine, all by her lonesome, writhing around over her table mixing poison. Perfection.
-It feels like Catherine is influencing the Henry that she's seeing, almost as if she's trying to get the husband that she didn't have while he was alive. He's very sexual with her, he compliments her poison, and he questions why he ever messed around with Kenna, in addition to concerning himself with his children.
-I do love it, though, when Reign lets Catherine be human. Trust me, her quips are a series highlight and something I never want to lose, but stuff like the final scene with Claude, where her maternal instinct showed itself and where she demonstrates that her love for her children goes beyond politics, is what makes her such a dynamic, interesting character. It shows that she's been having to play within the confines of the system for decades, that she had to turn off parts of herself in order to keep from being swallowed by power, that being on the throne did not break her of her humanity. I mean, she's still ruthless and decidedly poison happy, yet the Catherine that was crowned still exists somewhere within her and it's nice to see her now and then.
-No Narcisse this episode, which I'm fine with. He was such a dominating presence during the first half of the season that we probably needed a week away, especially given that he's now a prisoner of Francis and couldn't be an active participant in the goings-on at the castle.
-Kenna's face when Bash confirmed that he had sex with Claude was just the best. Actually, this was the best use of Kenna the entire season - it made the whole "castle eyes and ears" thing they were trying to do with her in the fall feel less ornamental and more like an active character choice that will benefit the show's narrative. Kenna finally had a little purpose here and I think the fracture developing between her and Bash over his unwillingness to be honest with her could make the second half of the season pretty strong. It's a couple we haven't seen fall apart like Francis and Mary and frankly, I'd be okay with Kenna and Bash's relationship coming under the microscope while Francis and Mary faded into the background for a bit.
-It would be nice if the show kept the emotional distance from Francis and Mary, mostly because I think putting them back together so soon after the rape would feel false. Mary made a nice step in connecting with Conde and recognizing that the rape had a sizeable impact on Francis, as well, but there's so much more ground to cover before I would say a reunion would feel natural. Narratively fast forwarding through some of the more rich, complicated material at Mary's fingertips right now would be a shame and reduce the rape to a shock value plot point, while too much could be milked from the journey that Mary and Francis take back to one another for a reunion to be feasible right now.
-Greer's thing with Leith felt a tiny bit superfluous, almost like an assurance to fans that their issues would be tackled the following week, but the conversation with Mary about letting her heart sleep made the awkward run-ins with the former kitchen boy worth it. To me, that was on par with what Catherine told Mary when she learned about the rape - just the exact right thing that someone in Mary's situation needs to hear (that she doesn't need to rush to get "better," that she has a right to feel the way she does) while not feeling preachy or too generalized. And the show is much stronger in my eyes when they utilize Kenna, Greer, and Lola in situations like this - this is what helps set Reign apart from other shows on TV. This is the type of stuff that makes it special.
-The sex party at Antoine's was very Spartacus-meets-The-Borgias - a combination I never thought would describe Reign but a combination of moods/tones/content that I would gladly welcome anytime they want to bring it out.
-Next week on Reign: Greer's honesty about recent rumors send Mary into action, while the rivalry between Francis and Conde intensifies and Claude tries to uncover who was really responsible for her sisters' deaths. By: Shilo Adams

Reign Season 2 Episode 11 Review: Getaway -

Two steps forward, one step back.

A little bit of progress is better than none at all, and that's what we got in Reign Season 2 Episode 11. Mary was still trying to determine how to make sense of the tragedy that befell her when the castle was invaded and Francis was unable to make a clean break, not because he couldn't, but because he didn't want to.

Some time away for Mary and a chance to set things right on behalf of the Protestants in France by Francis and it appeared as if they two might have been headed to a least a mild reunion. What happened? Let's find out.

We really need to have a chat with the photographers who cover Reign for The CW. Their photos rarely, if ever, match anything even remotely interesting within the episode. The entire scene surrounding the insipid King Antoine and the similarity to a 70s "key party" was ridiculous. Thanks, dude, for asking some dolts to wave a few thin sheets in front of the bed on which you expect me to get it on with some total stranger. It's not as if you could turn him down, either. He's the King!

We even got to see just how much Condé really cares for Mary by how easily he was swayed by the member in his pants and a scarf over his eyes. What a cad. While it was nice of him to pretend to Antoine not to care for Mary, "she's a bit prudish for my taste," he didn't need to have sex as he lusted after her. So much for wearing his heart on his sleeve.

Sorry, Conde Fanatics, I just don't think he's worth all that much. He was brought to the castle under sorry circumstances, fell for Mary, yes, but isn't an all around stand up guy when you get right down to it. He'll always be a player.

It was useful for The Vatican to catch up to him and for Mary to help him while Leith removed the brand, because it helped her reconnect with a male again without the desire to turn away. That, in turn, made her think of Francis.

Queen Mary: What we once had was so natural. I miss how easy it was. We'd make love and fall asleep in each other's arms like branches growing together. We didn't have to think about anything and now it's so complicated. I don't know if I'm ready.
Lady Greer: Are you ready to try?

At the castle, a Cardinal was on the hunt for Conde as a result of the mark of The Dark Riders. Francis went to great lengths to get information on him and his lover (amazing that the Catholic Cardinal was worried over Protestants but not his homosexuality, which was a giant no-no, as was any relationship, as he was married to God, duh), discovering he even gave all of the warmth in the room when they slept to the man they chose to mark with the symbol. Francis does know love when he sees it.

Francis figured they could make a trade and get The Vatican out of France based on how deeply the Cardinal loved, and he was right. In the meantime, Bash and Kenna finally came out into the forefront.

It wasn't all love and sex (although there was a bit of that, thank you). We're finally seeing the toll being King's Deputy is taking on Bash and his marriage. Kenna was surprised to learn about his past with Claude and then wanted to know what was going on with the blade slice on his arm. What stood out about the moment was how she didn't overreact to what she learned about Claude, despite earlier admitting she was finding herself jealous of his half sister.

"Well. Now I understand your insistence on the word half."
Lady Kenna:

She handled the situation really well, all things considered. It was rather jarring to hear Bash describe his new world as one in which lives and lies come second to expedience. He now does whatever it takes to get the job done in the quickest fashion, that's the man she married. He doesn't share that side of himself with her because he's not proud of who he has become. Perhaps if he does share it with her, together they can make sense of it.

The whole thing with Catherine and Claude is incredibly confusing. Catherine is half out of her mind, and I no longer believe Claude killed her sisters. When she finally got around to asking her mother if she ever thought maybe, just maybe she was crying when they died because she was sad at the loss, it made sense. Someone, even back then, was making Catherine think Claude did it. Was it Henry? Is Catherine hiding something deep down in her subconscious and that's why these spirits are coming out in her mind?

King Henry: Ahh Kenna. With death comes wisdom. What did I ever see in her?
Queen Catherine: Well it was her ass. You mentioned it many times.
Lady Kenna: Are you talking to me?
Queen Catherine: Why would I talk to you?
Lady Kenna: You just said something about my ass.
Queen Catherine: Not everything is about your ass KENNA. Move it out of the way.

Kenna's involvement in outing Catherine's poisoning of Claude was a nice touch. Perhaps she'll be instrumental in discovering who really killed |the twins. She needs a hobby and she's learning the value of evidence from Bash. Why not? Now that she knows what happened with Claude is not a threat, she could reach out and help the girl some more.

Francis and Mary were this close to reconnecting, but Mary walked in on Francis crashed on the bed with his son and Lola. It was completely innocent, but with as fractured as Mary is right now, it may be enough to send her in the opposite direction. Hopefully, she'll recall the many trips he made to her room to check on her hearth and how attentive he's been and realize it was just a moment with his son and nothing more. It's time for the two of them to grow together like branches once more.

What did you think of the return of Reign? Were you as pleased to see the increased presence of Bash and Kenna as I was? Do you think Catherine is hiding a memory she's unable to deal with? How long before Mary and Francis are in each others arms again?

by Carissa Pavlica


Reign 2.12 “Banished” Recap -
Out on the balcony, Francis finds Mary, the latter having spent the past two days in her chamber. She explains that she saw him sleeping with Lola and the baby, but she doesn't think there's anything untoward about the situation - the visual of Francis with the perfect family and a happier life just brought her mood down, is all. And it's not like she's ready to be touched by him yet, so he grants her more time to become comfortable with the thought. Inside the castle, Kenna makes a joke about Bash having a threesome with Francis and Claude when he returns from being summoned by his brother. However, the reason for the summoning was that Francis is dividing Narcisse's holdings and wanted to give Bash a title (Baron, which allows him to stay close to Francis) and lands, an offer he accepted. However, he's decided to give some of the land to Diane, with his mother coming to the castle to work out the terms of their new agreement.

In her chamber, Catherine pours her guilt out over Claude to Henry, who tries to talk her down from this pity party by citing that the girls are happy. He's provided them with the love and respect they need and he says that Catherine could easily join their world, though she still doesn't know whether he or any of this, for that matter, is real. Claude finds Bash in the hall and, after apologizing for the trouble she caused with Kenna, asks him to look into who actually poisoned the twins, as she was too young at the time to prove her own innocence. Meanwhile, Mary interrupts Narcisse and Francis dividing up the former's holdings - the result of him copping an embezzlement plea in order to spare his life. Once Narcisse is sent outside, Mary and Francis discuss the holdings that will be distributed to the loyal Protestants as a gesture of faith that will hopefully quash the religious tension in the country. However, when Mary suggests Conde, Francis bristles.

After receiving word from one of the castle guards, Mary pulls Greer aside and tells her that a prisoner has claimed that Castleroy is tied to the radical Protestants that attacked the castle. She gives Greer an opportunity to come clean about any possible link between Castleroy and the radicals, but Greer denies the connection before tearing her chamber up in search of any physical evidence that might exist. While there are no incriminating diaries, she tells Leith that the counting house could have the ledger of Castleroy's finances, which would be enough to tie him to the radicals. Elsewhere, Catherine and Diane come face to face for the first time since the latter's banishment and after getting in their respective personal shots, they part ways, with Henry appearing beside Catherine. He calls Diane too old and too thin, wondering aloud what drove him to be with her in the first place, but Catherine is more worried about Claude making a point to show kindness toward every person in the castle but herself. Henry assures her that their little family would accept her without blame or judgment and that she deserves the type of love that she's missing - love that he and the girls can give her.

While the foursome go off to parts unknown, Claude gets Bash to investigate the whereabouts of the remaining nanny that was on duty the day the twins died and Conde returns to the castle, unwilling to accept the holdings offered by Francis. He doesn't want to accept something from a leader who gave in to Catholic thugs, nor will he listen when Mary tries to defend her husband. As she touches his arm, desperate to get him to see her point, Francis lurks from a distance and watches the entire conversation unfold. Greer and Leith make it to the count house and attempt to strong-arm the proprietor into giving up the ledger. However, he heard the rumors about Castleroy being in league with the Protestants and uses that leverage, as well as his knowledge of where the now-hidden ledger is, to get Greer to sign over her 49% holding on the house. She does, though, warn him that if the book is found without her knowledge, she'll ensure that the crown knows about their partnership. Meanwhile, the former royal nanny Lady Yvonne arrives at the castle and is immediately questioned about the day the twins died. She claims that she merely went out for a moment before returning to find the girls dead, causing Claude to lash out in frustration. Claude accuses Lady Yvonne of killing the girls and that pressure, as well as the guilt from nearly two decades of holding in a secret, gets Yvonne to tell the truth - Henry continually propositioned her to no avail until one day, he got her high on opium and raped her in his chambers. Hours passed during the incident and when Yvonne returned to the nursery, she found the windows wide open and the twins frozen to death. In order to protect herself and minimize the overall damage, she tore the roses off of Claude's dress and framed the girl, thinking that the royals would go easy on her for being so young and not really knowing the difference between right and wrong.

Not only did Claude being guilty quiet the questions around the incident, it got Yvonne a noble husband, as Henry married her off to keep her from spilling the beans about what actually happened. As Yvonne is dragged away, Catherine and the girls play tag in the dungeon, though she's still worried about Claude - if the girl did kill the twins, she raised a monster. If she didn't, Catherine raised her like one. But Henry again tells her not to second guess herself, that the girls need her more than her grown children ever did, before Catherine and the girls run outside into the snow, with Henry close behind. At the Ice Festival, Francis confronts Conde about his rejection of Narcisse's holdings, yet when Conde makes a remark about Francis being unable to protect Mary from being raped, the two decide to duel in quarterstaff. Francis gets in the first blow, but Conde is the first to give a face shot reignand it quickly becomes obvious that Mary is the source of the tension between the cousins. When Francis breaks Conde's staff, Conde tries to attack him, only for Mary to get in between them and stop any violence from happening. Meanwhile, Henry sends the girls back to the castle before telling Catherine that everything was so dark without her; he tries to get intimate in the snow, saying that he wants to provide her with warmth, but he soon disappears and leaves her asleep on a snow-covered bench. Bash manages to find her and get her home before anything bad happened, filling her in on what happened with Lady Yvonne once she was comfortable in her chambers. She then tells him about Henry's plan to go legitimate with Diane once enough heirs were birthed, except Henry could never be faithful and often showered Diane with gifts to keep her in his life. One in particular, a chapel built when the twins were born, turns on a light in Bash's mind and thus, he leaves Catherine promptly.

After the fight, Mary tends to Francis, who thinks they need to do something about Conde. When Mary denies that she's done anything to encourage the feelings Conde has, Francis lays out why separate lives don't work for him - there can be no doubt about the paternity of the child he has faith she will bear and he wants to protect her safety and the safety of their unborn child, as paternity and the royal line have caused many a war. However, Mary takes this as Francis trying to tighten his grip on her and she pushes him away more than she ever has. Back in her chambers, Catherine gets out of a bath, only for Henry to put her clothes on. She then brings up the nanny and lays into Henry for lying to her at every turn during their marriage before turning her attention to the girls. Although part of her wants them to stay, she bids them goodbye and assures them that they will see each other again; the girls then calmly walk into the darkness and disappear from Catherine's life, as easy as that. Catherine then resumes her rant at Henry, bashing him for never sacrificing for his family and only loving them when it was convenient for him. She taught him that it was alright to treat her a certain way and while she will have to bear the guilt for destroying Claude's life and her relationship with her daughter, she will not bear him, as well. She casts him out of her life, calling him nothing but dust and bile, and sends him back into the darkness where the girls are waiting.

Bash goes to Diane and asks her whether she was ever threatened by Henry's other life. The reason for his inquiry? He walked in on her destroying one of the chapel windows two days before the twins were found dead, which he thinks is proof that she couldn't handle being a mistress anymore and that she was jealous of his "legitimate" life. She confesses to wanting Catherine and Henry to feel the type of pain that she did and when Bash strips her of her holdings, she informs him that Kenna was the one who told Catherine about the plan for legitimization, a move that could have gotten him executed. Meanwhile, Mary sets Lola up with Conde, thinking that getting the two together would solve a number of problems. Conde in a relationship would get Francis off his back, while Lola getting help with the baby would get her more time with Francis. Conde laments feeling like a chess piece in Mary's game of life, but Lola warns him not to mess things up for Mary and intrigued by her fire, Conde decides to agree to this new arrangement. Just then, the guard comes in to tell Mary that the ledger was found in the counting house, forcing Greer into a room in the tower. Mary and Francis manage to convince the nobles to spare her life, but she must give up everything in return - her land, her holdings, her title. She also cannot continue working as Mary's lady, so Mary gives her friend a parting hug and empty words of encouragement. Bash confronts Kenna about Rome and she claims that she was scared and that she didn't want to give up Henry or the lifestyle he was providing her, the latter hurting Bash's feelings as it's the first time her feelings for Henry had been mentioned. She tries to get through to him about the position she's in as a woman in court and how, when Henry paid her attention, it was the first time she felt like she mattered, yet Bash doesn't know if he can forgive her for this. When Francis checks in on Mary, he learns that she regrets bringing her ladies to court, given all that has befallen them since their arrive in France. But as lonely as she may be, she agrees that appearances do matter for people in their position and that she can only have a political friendship with Conde now, nothing more. And surprisingly for Francis, she agrees to let him stay the night and guard her while she sleeps.

Catherine sneaks into Diane's room and attacks her from behind, striking her in the head with one of the fireplace tools. She finally pieced together that it couldn't have been the nanny - the windows in the nursery needed to be opened by human hands and were too heavy for the wind to blow open. Diane tries to call Catherine on her hypocrisy, given that she's killed many people in her time, but Catherine isn't having any of that; after hitting her in the head again, she uses the necklace Diane has on, one that Henry gave her during their time together, to choke the life out of the former royal mistress, saying it was for the babies, Henry, and Claude. Before killing her, Catherine delivers the final words that Diane will ever hear:

He's all yours.

Additional thoughts and observations:
-"Who will be bowing to me, by the way?"
-"And try not to scare anyone to death."
-"Ah, embezzlement. Excellent choice."
-"If Claude's looks could kill, I do believe you'd be bathing in your own blood."
-Favorite Dress of the Episode: Catherine was stunning in the white gown she wore while playing with the girls and going out into the snow. The whole Ice Festival motif worked very well for Reign, as Mary's outfit while watching Conde and Francis duel was also gorgeous.
-Originally, I thought the gesture of Francis staying with Mary was a bit of a cop-out - a way to keep a central couple from slipping too far away from each other and avoid mining some difficult material that could pay dividends down the road. However, I do think it makes sense in that Mary has already physically connected with another man and she's at one of her lowest points following Greer's banishment from the castle. Mary needs someone who cares and although she still has her issues with Francis, he's that person for her in that moment.
-I do love, though, that they didn't go there with Mary/Lola. That would've been incredibly easy to fall into, but the show managed to keep the emotional truth in Mary's caustic approach to her friends while being unafraid of the insecurity that she grapples with on a daily basis.
-Interesting lack of Narcisse these past two weeks. It might be a bit of an overcorrection, given that Craig Parker is so good, but I have a feeling that he's got one more big moment to come and that he's not going to be content in serving under Francis from here on out.
-No opening sequence this time around. Could it be undergoing another revamp? -I thought Kenna's menage-a-trois joke was funny. I don't know what that says about me.
-It feels like this was the death blow to any chance of Castleroy coming back. I think Greer isn't quite done yet on this show, but I just can't see Castleroy coming back to France now that his role in the attack on the castle, however indirect it might have been, is widely known. Which is a shame because I think that Castleroy is such a good character, the wholly innocent man who only wants to do good trapped in a world built on lies and deception; it'd also be disappointing to have yet another adult character be taken out of rotation, so hopefully Reign can find a way to keep him in its orbit.
-I can suspend my disbelief regarding just about anything this show tries to pull, but I'm to believe that Catherine was talking to herself in the middle of an echo-y, mostly empty hall and nobody A) heard her or B) saw her? C'mon.
-Francis and Conde's staff measuring content was a fun bit of physicality that the show doesn't always get to show. It was a way of filtering violence through royal society while allowing the tension that had been simmering since Conde's first appearance to finally boil over in a believable, compelling way. As many problems as I had with Reign's fall run, the seeds they planted for Conde vs. Francis paid off handsomely.
-I didn't even mind Mary's self-serving bit of political gamesmanship that was the arrangement between Condé and Lola. I like how fast of a thinker she is and how she's become someone willing to do anything necessary to get what she wants, but let's not act like she was remotely altruistic here. Putting Conde in a relationship will allow the two of them to be around one another more often, while Lola with a well-off husband won't need Francis to come and help with the baby as much, thereby lessening her own insecurity about being unable to have a child.
-I was also a bit surprised at how cold her reaction to Greer's banishment was. I mean, I guess you could argue that Mary doesn't know the whole story and that she's grown numb to the losses that she's been suffering recently, but I assumed that she would have a more emotional reaction to the loss of one of her best friends. Maybe she was disappointed that someone she allowed herself to confide in about the rape would have done something behind her back like this, which would've increased the amount of betrayal she felt from the recovery of the ledger.
-Will we hear about Lady Yvonne next week? Or is she stuck in the dungeon for leaving her post and allowing Diane the opportunity to take care of the twins?
-The only thing I didn't like about the reappearance of Diane was that it felt like a bit of cheat. Trust me, I loved Diane during her time on the show in the first season and I always felt like the show did wrong by sending her character away when she had such an electric dynamic with Catherine and provided an interesting sparring partner for Bash; part of me just thinks that this was the easy way out, pinning the murder of the twins on her and doing so one episode after basically saying Claude wasn't responsible. While it does make sense as far as motivation, Diane is so far outside of the show's universe anymore that the reveal itself didn't have as much impact as it would have had if the culprit was someone with a stronger presence at court.
-If the show felt like Diane was the killer, which I'm not opposed to, the reveal would have hit much harder for me if they brought her back into the fold and made her an important part of the show again before going down this particular path. Doing it now and making this her only episode after she's been gone for a year (our time) felt a bit rushed, which is a shame considering how much time the show spent on the murder of the twins.
-I did like that Bash was the one who pieced everything together, though. The show always shines for me when they make him an active participant and something other than a servant to Francis's needs.
-Normally, I would complain about the ghost sex (ghost fingering? do ghosts even have fingers?) here, be it due to the weird perspective (was Catherine fingering herself before falling asleep?) and whatnot, but Alan van Sprang and Megan Follows had such a powerful episode together that one bit of silliness is easy to look over. I genuinely would not have minded if the episode wholly focused on them and allowed the other storylines to take over come next week.
-But holy hell, that ending. Megan Follows already had such a tremendous episode before that final showdown with Diane - watching her wrestle with the guilt she felt at her lost relationship with Claude, come alive at spending time with the children she thought she'd never see again, own her power by forcing Henry out of her life for good. It was the Emmy-iest episode a CW performer has arguably ever had and Follows hit every beat the show needed her to, expertly flitting between heartbreak and humor, pathos and punchiness. She managed to bring life to a storyline that I wasn't completely behind before this episode and seeing her slowly realize what Henry was (a product of her guilt, depression, and loneliness manifested from her subconscious) and dissociate herself from the lies he was trying to tell her to get her to kill herself was quite powerful. But that showdown, you guys - that was some amazing television. It was campy, cathartic, absolutely brutal to watch, and completely unexpected; I had absolutely no idea they would off Diane now and while I'll miss the character, it was a bold choice in a season that needed something like this to gain some momentum. This is the type of storytelling that I want from this show and if Reign can pick its spots to shock wisely while remaining coherent and compelling in its narrative, the remaining 10 episodes of this season have the potential to be tremendous.
-Next week on Reign: Francis and Mary learn of England's revenge plan for France, while Bash searches for an "undead" man in the village and Catherine uncovers the reason for her hallucinations.
By: Shilo Adams

Reign Season 2 Episode 12 Review: Banished -

Things certainly are rushing right along, aren't they?

When learning the title of Reign Season 2 Episode 12 was "Banished," I imagined maybe Condé would be threatened with it as a result of his feelings for Mary, putting more strain on the royal marriage or perhaps Narcisse would further condemn himself in some way. It never even occurred to me one of Mary's ladies would ride off.

Earlier in Reign Season 2 the ladies were all a flutter when they found a sex book and giggled, wondering who the man with the tattoo and sexual expertise may be. That man turned out to be a dud, but at least they were having some fun. Those days are, clearly, gone.

While I'll give Mary props for pairing up Lola and Conde, thereby killing two birds with one stone (no actual birds were killed in this process) and later allowed Francis to sleep in her chambers so he could keep watch over her if only to help alleviate her loneliness, earlier it was disappointing when she chose to use the same line on him again about not wanting a man to touch her.

If she had any doubts people would talk, perhaps it was thinking back to laying a hand on Conde in the courtyard that finally forced her to take action in putting distance between her and the man. She willfully lied to Francis when she said she could bear the touch of no man. It was simply untrue and something she had already freely admitted to Greer in Reign Season 2 Episode 11.

Conde was hardly the gentlemen everyone fell in love with after his emotions were laid bare in front of Mary. Lola, however, will make a good match for him. There's a reason the two women are great friends and why Francis turned to her while Mary had taken up with Bash. They're very much alike.

Getting back to Greer, the quickness with which the journal was found, proving her complicity with Castleroy and she was thrust out was amazing. It seems as if she has no reason to worry, doesn't it? Can't she just ride off and find, you know, her husband? They are still married, after all. It's terrible what's happened, but she knowingly made the decision to take up with Protestants even when the Queen she served was Catholic. She hid a lot from Mary and yet the reprimand was just.

As Francis was dividing up Narcisse's assets (he sure has become the upstanding man now, hasn't he?), he gave to Bash a choice of titles and lands. He chose a lesser title to remain near Francis and gave some of his lands away to his mother. He took them back when he realized she murdered |the twins.

That was shocking. It's not shocking at all that Catherine figured it out and had her vengeance on Diane. It's hard to imagine which would have been more satisfying, striking her with the fire pokers or strangling her.

Queen Catherine: This is for killing my babies! This is for taking my husband, tearing my family apart and this is for turning my daughter against me!
Queen Catherine: I did it for Henry.
Queen Catherine: How perfect! He did it all for Henry, too! You loved him so much, he's... all... yours!

Diane made sure Bash learned an ugly detail about Kenna, however, before she unwisely didn't run away fast enough from the castle. Knowing what a fearless proponent Caitlin Stasey is of women's rights, it's always a lot of fun listening to Kenna champion them on Reign.

Lady Kenna: Is that what you want to hear? Is that what I should have said when we married? That, yes, I loved him; before he went mad.
Sebastian: You never told me that.
Lady Kenna: Why would I? You asked me to give us a chance, so I did. Bash, you have no idea what it's like to be a girl in this world. Owning nothing, having no power, except the effect that you have on men. The King noticed me and for the first time I mattered. What was I supposed to do? Throw it away? Did you throw away Mary's love when you had it?... Besides, why are we even fighting about this?... Everybody makes mistakes. It's in the past!
Sebastian: Some things can't stay in the past. Some things are too unforgivable. When a person is willing to sacrifice lives for their own petty interests, that is one of those things.

Bash and Kenna have fallen in love. What she did by telling Catherine, Diane was trying to legitimize Bash with the Pope is not in the same league as Diane killing |two baby girls and he knows it. Does it hurt to learn your wife actually loved your father at one time? Sure. But wouldn't it be better knowing that than thinking your wife was a whore who was only sleeping with him out of personal gain? He wasn't executed, so that point is moot.

The bottom line here is they are absolutely forbidden by me to finally lavish air time upon Bash and Kenna, tease us with their happiness at receiving lands and titles only to have them ripped apart. It is not allowed and hereby decreed by me, Queen Carissa of TV Fanatic.

It was quite an eventful installment. I'm ready for a little whimsy. Can some good befall our friends? Do they have to mourn the loss of Greer and Diane and the dissolution of the marriage of Bash and Kenna, or perhaps might they celebrate the joining of Condé and Lola, the reuniting of Mary and Francis (however tentative) and Claude's new found freedom from guilt?

Hmmm...Leith is free, and Greer is gone... perhaps Claude will take a liking in him. Come to think of it, did Francis give him back the land he granted to him, took away to give to Narcisse and took away from Narcisse... inquiring minds need to know.

Hit the comments. What say you of the whirlwind of activity this hour? Are you ready for something a little less dour? Any ideas of what it should be?
by Carissa Pavlica

Sins of the PastEdit

Reign 2.13 “Sins of the Past” Recap -
It's the first bloom at court and while plans are underway for The Winter’s Ease Feast, a party that celebrates the new opportunities that spring provides, Conde's brother Antoine arrives looking to extend the peace treaty between Navarre and France. His entry into the castle comes after Francis lays out his plan to build a chateau for himself and Mary in the so-called "Eden of France" and comes with the news that he's not only there for the peace treaty; he wants funding for Navarre due to the number of French Protestant refugees that have entered his country recently. He blames France for sending so many people his way and Francis begrudgingly tells him that they'll consider the proposal, seemingly biting his tongue the entire time.

Unsurprisingly, the castle is aflutter at the impending Winter's Ease, with Condé and Lola‏‎ set to go together and Kenna pitching in to help decorate. While decorating, she meets Antoine, who flirts with her over a paper flower only to scamper away when he sees Bash in the distance; Condé advises him that, if he's serious about this diplomatic mission, he should avoid hitting on the king's sister-in-law, but Antoine is more concerned with the feeling that he's met Bash before. He soon realizes that he knows where he's seen Bash before - Bash is the one who stabbed his brother in The Italian Wars. Antoine remembers riding to meet Marcus at an abandoned villa, only to pass a French soldier whose face he couldn't make out. Once he made it to the villa, he found Marcus with a knife in his best, the result of the Bourbon lineage being pushed to the front of the battlefield in order to decimate their family line. As such, Antoine wants to probe Kenna for information about her husband's past.

Catherine meets with Francis and Mary and strongly implores them to stand strong against Antoine. Though Conde has shown no interest in the crown, Antoine is a reckless spender and extremely ambitious, so there's more to this arrangement that what they're seeing. It might not seem like the wisest move, but Francis decides to keep him around the castle so that he can get a better sense of what's going on in Navarre. Later, Catherine has a vision of blood coming from Francis' eyes after he mentions that Clarissa is still alive. When she realizes that the Francis she was trying to console wasn't real, she know that the prophecy Nostradamus warned her about is coming to fruition. Catherine is then examined and the doctor pieces together that she's infected with syphilis, given her hallucinations and the sores on her mouth, tongue, and hands. While she's irritated at Henry giving her a last present before his demise, she's more annoyed about the painful cures that she'll have to endure in order to get better.

Bash receives word that there's been a disturbance in the village in the form of an "undead" man rising from the grave and terrorizing villagers. To ensure that he continues giving back enough to cover the destruction he's caused, Bash opts to leave, disappointing Kenna in the process. She doesn't like that he's leaving her for ghosts, but his sense of duty trumps the newly minted discord in their marriage. Francis meets with Narcisse and tasks him with investigating Antoine in order to determine whether the financial issues he claims to have are legitimate. Narcisse then tries to needle Francis about Conde's obvious feelings for Mary, asking whether he's trying to get rid of the prince through his brother, but Francis reminds him that he's the one in charge now and that Narcisse exists to serve him. Elsewhere, Antoine runs into Kenna in the hall and inquires about a guided tour of the castle. Although she doesn't trust him given his reputation, she decides to go through with it.

While Narcisse finds Lola and tries to get her to go with him to a nearby hot spring, Catherine is exposed to the first cure for her syphilis - birds. Her feet are encased in a bird cage filled with several birds, all of whom will peck holes in her feet. The black bile that's making her sick will go into their system and absolve her of her illness, but she's not exactly thrilled at reignthis idea, especially given that she'll have to deal with the pain from the pecks for at least one hour. Claude, though, is elated that her mother is getting a taste of the pain that she herself has been doling out for years. That night, Mary thanks Francis for being so considerate of her following the rape, how he's stayed near her in the bedroom without getting too close. This night she believes is right for the next step - sleeping in the bed together for the first time since the incident. However, Mary flashes back to the night of the rape while laying beside Francis and bolts, too scared to spend another second beside him.

Claude finds Narcisse and lays out that she wants them to become lovers. It's a matter of time before she's married off anyway, so she has to learn to play the same chess game as everyone else in the castle; Narcisse, of course, is thrilled to take on that mentor/parental role for Claude. Out in the village, Bash talks to a woman who saw the man that had risen from his own grave - she didn't know him personally, but she knew that he died in the cold and that he had been given a pauper's grace. There were rumors that other villagers were dealing with the same thing, seeing their loved ones that they thought were deceased, but Bash chalks that up to grief controlling the psyche of those who live in close quarters. Back at the castle, the Winter Ease kicks off and Mary's spirit is noticeably lighter - light enough for her to hit the dance floor. Kenna, though, finds herself alone with a flirty, persistent Antoine again and when she brings up The Italian Wars in order to defend Bash, Antoine prods her to tell him about Bash's time as a soldier.

Bash locates the undead man in the woods and it turns out he's a Greek national who was in the village trying to earn his way back to Crete. After falling asleep in a churchyard, he woke up buried, only for a woman in white to reach her hand down and help him back into the world of the living. He believes that he was actually dead, with his unclean state helping to drive away the people he tried to engage with. Back at the castle, Antoine cockily tells Conde that Kenna is easy to get information from, comparing her responsiveness to that of a horse; when Conde tries to warn his brother against pressing too hard, lest he lock himself out of a chance of gaining even more knowledge, Antoine questions whether he's been spending too much time at court before reminding him what happened to their brother. Meanwhile, Narcisse pulls Mary and Francis away to tell them the Navarre's financial demise hasn't been exaggerated. However, England has offered to help the country in exchange for them harboring troops near France's border, allowing them to invade whenever they want.

While Lola sees Narcisse and Claude hooking up at the party, which irritates her given her reluctant feelings for/attraction toward him, Mary tries to get Conde to spy on Antoine for her and see whether Navarre is working with England. This time, though, Conde declines her request, saying that she shouldn't take advantage of his feelings for her and that this is a line he would not cross for her. Claude worries about Narcisse getting her pregnant, but instead of pulling away from him, she offers to do everything else but penetration. When she tries to use her power over him to make him do what she wants, he respectfully declines her advances and warns her that some people merely believe they have power while others actually do have power. After pulling Antoine away from the party, Francis brings him back to meet with Mary and the threesome begin digging into the issue of Navarre's relationship with England and whether France should be concerned about this new development. Antoine admits to having the conversations with England, but he didn't initiate the contact, nor did he accept the offer as of yet.

He then tells them that the source of this tension is Elizabeth being unnerved about how Francis and Mary have handled the religious strife in their country. A Protestant queen in a Protestant country, Elizabeth thinks that the moves against the French Protestants are the royals' way of planning a future attack on England, wherein Mary will assume the throne. As part of her treatment, Catherine gets put in a mercury oven, the heat supposed to do wonders for her sores. When Narcisse comes into the room, he gives her some water, dabs the sweat from her head, and inquires whether she actually has syphilis in the first place. Could Catherine have been poisoned instead? Although her taste testing system rules out the possibility of food poisoning, it turns out that Catherine's condition was a result of Henry's Bible, the same infected book that caused his own madness to spread and eventually consume him. Elsewhere, Bash and the Greek run upon an angry, torch-wielding mob and instead of being calm, the Greek tries to make a run for it, only to be struck down by an arrow.

Bash returns to the castle, tends to a drunk Antoine, and visits his wife hours after he thought he would be home. He missed the Ease, but the experience in the woods taught him a lesson - he doesn't want to be the type to let himself kill something out of ignorance, so he accepts Kenna's apology. From now on, he wants the whole of her heart, for them to not have any secrets, and the two conclude their first major marital fight with a kiss. Meanwhile, Francis and Mary discuss what they can do to convince Elizabeth that they're not coming for her throne. However, there's nothing they can reasonably do, given that everything leads back to Francis killing Henry; therefore, there will be no chateau, given that it can't be defended, and Mary no longer has the illusion of safety in her own home. Every time she looks at him, she remembers what happened to her, so she sets Francis free, telling him to find someone else to love. Even if she is doomed to a life of misery, at least one of them can find happiness.

Additional thoughts and observations:
-"Enough about the prophecy. It's exhausting."
-"Oh, that is so like him. A last gift so I never forget him or his whores."
-Before the final conversation with Kenna, I actually liked this Bash storyline. It was a little spooky without being overly supernatural, it allowed us an interesting look at life away from the castle (e.g. other people dealing with the same malady as Catherine), and any storyline that prominently features Bash is bound to be solid. The Greek's death was a little anticlimactic (sad but anticlimactic), but it was a sign that things in the village are worsening and that the royals might have a real problem on their hands if a solution to these hallucinations cannot be acquired. All good, right?
-Well, the idea that his death was a plot device to bring Bash and Kenna together was a little...I don't want to say offensive, but it just doesn't feel right. Of course, tragedy does tend to bond people and shake up perspectives, and Reign is a show that's very heavily influenced by romance, but it's worrisome when the entire point of characters and storylines like this is a central coupling and not the grander scheme. It makes the world outside the main characters feel shallower than it should be; not everything should be in service of furthering romance. nor will the show be able to evolve if it doesn't allow itself to explore other themes and issues.
-Also, the fact that no couple can stay apart for very long is annoying. But being that this is Bash and Kenna's first real tiff, I don't mind that it was wrapped up this quickly.
-I can't go through another conversation about Mary and Francis leading separate lives. Either let these people explore life away from their marriage or find a way to shove them back together - these circular, repetitive scenes just feel like episode filler and I'm not getting the emotional intent because I'm just bored by it all. Which is a shame because I liked that this episode touched on an important milestone for Mary (letting Francis back in her bed) and I didn't mind that the show pushed them apart, as it made sense given Mary's vulnerability following the rape and how she couldn't have the one thing she needed - security.
-So, it seems like Antoine is the new antagonist, which I like, mostly because of him opening up the England storyline that could pay off big down the road. (If nothing else, it adds a delicious layer of paranoia that will inform quite a few scenes/storylines for the rest of the season.) I do wonder, though, what's driving him to go so hard at Bash. It feels like there's something else fueling this aside from Antoine's quest for vengeance for his brother - he didn't even see the assailant's face when he passed them by, so why has he zeroed in on Bash? That brief look in The Throne Room?
-I kind of love the explanation for Catherine's visions. It's a nice way to tie the seasons together (the connection between her madness and Henry's) and I think it could be a fun mystery to solve in the back nine episodes of this season.
-I also love that we got mentions of Clarissa and Nostradamus. My guess is that the show is seeding a reveal that Clarissa was behind the poisoned Bible as revenge for the way she was treated by the royals. We know she can get in and out of the castle at will, she has the motivation to hurt Catherine, and it's no coincidence that she's brought up for the first time in a long time in the episode devoted to Catherine's hallucinations.
-Catherine's droll "delightful" while in the mercury oven was my favorite thing from the entire episode. Megan Follows has some of the most impressive line readings on television, you guys.
-I buy that Kenna's street smarts took a backseat once she started interacting with Antoine. My hunch is that she tried to mask her attraction to him/the joy she got from a man paying attention to her in a way Bash hasn't recently by aggressively defending her husband. But in doing so, she played right into what Antoine wanted, which I think was because she hasn't been in the center of the political machinations of court for quite a while.
-I love that Catherine's first thought when faced with the possibility of not surviving the syphilis treatment was to concoct a more dignified exit story to tell the masses. That type of savvy you just can't turn off.
-Next week on Reign: Mary and Francis investigate Henry's poisoning, while Greer finds herself in an unexpected position.
By: Shilo Adams

Reign Season 2 Episode 13 Review: Sins of the Past -

Reign Season 2 Episode 13 plays with your heart and makes you think things with Mary and Francis are finally on the mend only to shred your hope even worse in the end.

The episode starts off with hope in the form of a winter bloom signaling that Spring is near and so is a new beginning. Mary enfolds Francis's hands in her own and Frary shippers everywhere sigh. Surely these two will find their way back to the wildly romantic lovers they once were. Or will they?

The way Toby Regbo played the scene where Mary invited Francis back into her bed was exquisite. Breath held in hope, but fear he'd somehow misunderstood darkening his eyes. And then when he realized it was indeed a true offer, the slow and careful way he approached his side of the bed, as if afraid he'd send his skittish wife running. Beautifully done. And when Mary does indeed run, he offers tender comfort and women everywhere swoon. We want to see Mary heal, to feel safe and loved by her King. The long absent smile on her face as they're dancing at Winter Ease is a balm. But at the very end that sweet progress isn't just stalled, it's seemingly dead. But we'll come back to that....

I'm sure the entire arc with Bash and the town zombies is going somewhere -- perhaps having to do with the woman in white -- but I found it an irritating distraction in this episode. I just didn't care. I was far more interested in whether he did kill Marcus and if he and Kenna could work things out.

The greatest amusement came from Catherine enduring "the cures" while Claude took obscene pleasure from her pain. Rose Williams made me giggle as she exhibited absolute crowing delight over the situation and Megan Follows was ingenious portraying her madcap maladies. There be dragons, or just one helluva formidable duo. The levity was needed and welcomed, especially as our hope for Francis and Mary came to a careening halt in the ending scene.

King Francis: How could you send me to another? How?
Queen Mary: Because I love you. And one of us should be happy.

How indeed could she send him to another? Will he give up on them and actually turn to someone else? To Lola? Ugh, if the writers have him do that I will not forgive as that will feel as if he too victimized her when all I want is for him to be the hero we know he is. The hero he so lovingly showed himself to be earlier in the episode.

Or will they play the cliche jealousy card as a means to get Mary to want him again? No, no, they better not. Hopefully Francis will see what we did, a scarred and scared woman who declared her love, stroked his hair and kissed him on the cheek, all of that more than she's been capable of for a long time. She is blooming again, slow and steady, under his tender patience. There may be set backs, but just like Winter Ease the thaw begins with a few petals and time. Just give her love and time.

So, what did you think of "Sins of the Past"? Is there hope still for Mary and Francis? Did you swoon? Were you intrigued by the walking dead and woman in white storyline? And how funny were Catherine and Claude?
by Carissa Pavlica

The End of MourningEdit

Reign 2.14 “The End of Mourning” Recap - While out playing in the snow with Lola and Kenna, Mary gets pulled aside by Condé, who asks her permission to take Lola with him to his estate. It's simply for the two to get to know one another better, so Mary is more than happy to let him go. Things aren't so happy for Kenna, though, as Bash reacts badly to watching Antoine flirt with her; rather than siding with her husband, she blames him for always working and never having the time for her that she needs. Conde then pulls his brother out of this latest bad situation and tries to get through to him that going after Kenna is not going to lead anywhere good. But Antoine doesn't want it to lead anywhere at all - he's simply looking for a distraction to take his mind off of his dying wife, who's at home about to succumb to a cancerous tumor. Given that she only wants those closest to her at her bedside, Antoine is understandably distraught at not receiving an invitation.

Back at the castle, Mary receives a visit from the Duke of Guise, looking to continue his position as king's magistrate. However, he doesn't get it due to running when the plague was spreading and his talk of the Bourbons circling the French throne doesn't curry him any favors with the queen, who must then attend a family luncheon. The topic? The poisoning of Catherine and Henry, with Narcisse and Catherine laying out what they know about the poisoned Bible. They don't know who did it, but the main suspect is Frederick, one of Henry's valets; he was the one who urged the former king to seek solace in scripture and when Henry succumbed to the wounds inflicted at the joust, Frederick fled the country. As such, Catherine promises this man, who has hurt her entire family by leading their patriarch to an early grave, will pay the price for what he did.

Catherine then runs into the Duke in the hallway and he attempts to resume their flirtatious relationship, saying that the main reason he's at the castle is to court her. She dismisses what they once had as ancient history, but he tells her that he wants to spend his remaining days with someone he considers to be an equal. The Duke argues that the two could build an empire that supports Francis's rule and provides a fatherly figure for her younger children, words that seem to hit with her. Bash finds out that Frederick had ties to Conde, as he served under Louis in Spain, so he proposes that Mary help keep her friend in France long enough that he may gather the proper evidence to build a case. While Mary tries to defend Conde, Francis assures her that this wouldn't be an indictment of her, should Conde be the one behind the poisoning; it's just a side effect of the rivalry between the royal family and Conde's family. Elsewhere, Lola and Kenna pay a visit to Greer, who's living in an inn after having Castleroy's assets seized. When they arrive, she's obviously intoxicated and inadvertently reveals that she doesn't have enough money for food.

Narcisse meets with Catherine and wonders what her deal is with the Duke, telling her that he thought she was done with all this dating mumbo jumbo after Henry's death. Catherine then reminds him that plenty of men find her desirable and uses the choices he forced Francis into to get Narcisse to comply with following the paper trail surrounding the poisoning. Mary gets Conde to agree to stay by dangling the idea of a royal dinner in his honor as bait, but things quickly turn when he informs her that word around the castle is that she and Francis aren't staying together anymore. He tears into her manipulation of him, saying that he's only a chess piece to her anyway, and presses her about whether she wants him to continue courting Lola. Mary admits that she doesn't want the relationship to continue, though she doesn't specify the reason as to why. Meanwhile, Francis has a similar conversation with Lola, who is more receptive to the idea of not following through on the arrangement with Conde. What she tells him, though, is that she misses when the two used to co-parent their son, as Francis hasn't exactly been willing to spend time with her, even in mixed company, since Mary caught them sleeping in the same bed. Lola understands Francis pulling back to preserve Mary's feelings, but she still mourns the loss of the closest thing to family that she has right now.

Greer gets some much needed cash from Lola and laments the fact that she can't return to Scotland. There's no way her father would welcome her back after all this, so she's decided to be a lady to a foreign noblewoman who doesn't know about her reputation. Their conversation gets interrupted, though, by what seem to be sexual noises from the room next door. However, when Greer goes to investigate, it turns that her neighbour Charlene, a prostitute, was just hammering the headboard back into place. She began using the space behind the headboard as a hiding place for her possessions, which have become all the more valuable since her reputation was slandered beyond repair. Back at the castle, Antoine again flirts with Kenna, this time over the strawberries and snow delicacy that will be served at the royal dinner. This time, though, Kenna tells him that he's making her uncomfortable, to which he apologizes and she quickly forgives.

As the Duke of Guise taunts Narcisse with the end of the latter's relationship with Catherine, Catherine comes by and tells him that they are to meet at the lavender house that evening after dinner. Narcisse then receives a message from one of his men, just as Mary laments having to manipulate one of her few true allies to Francis. Just then, Bash comes in and breaks the news that the valet (and prime suspect in the poisoning) is dead, having been murdered in Conde's region. He still believes that Frederick was behind the poison, given that the man had mountainous debt that was taken care of after an encounter with Conde. Francis then decides that the time is right to confront the Bourbons, which he does by bringing the tainted Bible to the dinner table and questioning Conde as to whether Frederick was under his orders. Conde denies any involvement in the poisoning and fires back an accusation that this was all due to what happened between him and Mary. Just when things seem ready to explode, Catherine bursts into the party to let everyone know that it wasn't Conde who was behind the poisoning. It was the Duke of Guise.

Conde is understandably furious about being thought of as a murderer. He calls the royals out on their hypocrisy, given that they were behind the death of his brother and countless other unknown souls, before leaving; Antoine, though, stays behind to formally forgive Bash for acting on a king's order. He might not like what happened, but he knows that he must forgive Bash for his soul and the sake of relations between their two countries. While the Duke's carriage is stopped in the middle reignof the night, his body littered with arrows, Greer hits the bar again, still lacking the fundage for a proper meal. To make matters worse, she gets mistaken for a prostitute by a lonely out-of-towner, though she at least gets to direct some business to Charlene.

Mary finds Conde and he goes off on her for lying to him and continuing to take advantage of him. He also confirms that what he wrote in the letter to her is very much true, still to this day. Antoine isn't exactly a fan of how Conde is handling this situation and accuses his brother of bringing up their suspicions in order to protect Bash. With Bash's life saved, as any act on it would be traced back to the Bourbons, Antoine knows just what to do in order to make the man suffer.

Elsewhere, Greer finds herself on a job interview with a Hungarian countess, only for things to fall apart when Charlene bursts in. The prostitute was apparently slipped something in her drink, as she woke up with her long hair shorn off and the john Greer set her up with nowhere in sight. Greer loses the job opportunity, just as Mary tries to write a letter to her mother explaining what happened to the Duke. Francis tells her that he hates that they didn't discover the poison earlier, as that was the catalyst for everything that happened since, but Mary's heart is still decidedly closed toward him. She doesn't want to force things between either Conde and Lola or herself and Francis, though Francis laments that his heart is closed without her.

Antoine meets with Narcisse in secret and it turns out that the two conspired to set the Duke up. Antoine is the one responsible for the poisoning, with Narcisse paying off the right people to forge the necessary documents. The two now have the noose in which to hang the other, but Narcisse, fresh with an infusion of gold, is more concerned about making a move against Francis. While Charlene gives Greer her cut of the john's money, enough to buy the latter food for the first time in a while, and Kenna receives strawberry and snow cakes from Antoine, Conde confronts his brother with his suspicion that he was responsible for the poisoning. He comes down on Antoine for making him a liar, saying that he'll never trust him again, yet Antoine is more than happy at sullying Henry's reputation and showing the world what type of monster the man truly was. Francis and Lola attempt to resume their friendship, given that he's missed her as much as she's missed him, while Mary meets with Conde and informs him that she knows she took advantage of him. She made him call off the thing with Lola because she didn't want to lose him, yet the two can't do anything about their mutual feelings for one another, with the lack of freedom Mary has, the fact that she's still recognized as a married woman, and her undying loyalty to France.

Additional thoughts and observations:
-"If you'll excuse me, I have to speak to the whore next door."
-"I had sex in that greenhouse once. It was a lovely venue."
-"You're just going to look for another prostitute, aren't you?"
-"He's probably off somewhere petting it now, the pervert."
-First off, apologies for this recap being as late as it is. I ran into some personal issues this week that got in the way and this ungodly weather isn't doing me any favors. I promise the next recap will be much more on time. Thanks to those of you who're hanging in with me.
-Even though I think the romantic angst is the worst part of this show, its status in season two being either episodic filler or fan base pandering, I kind of love that they're leaning into Mary and Conde. Mary has been shown as being someone so focused and so aware of how the public views her, so it's kind of nice to see her listening to her heart for once instead of her head, even when she knows what kind of impact this relationship could have on her rule. There's no way she could continue as she was living, not when she's not as cynical and jaded as Catherine, and I think being with someone that she feels understands her and someone that she chose to be with could do her some good.
-Favorite dress of the episode: The Grecian-y that Mary wore to the royal dinner was beautiful. The white very much stood out within the show's color palette. I also liked that fierce hat she wore while playing in the snow.
-I'm very curious what the show is going to do with Kenna. It feels like they're playing on her past here, as Kenna isn't someone used to her feminine wiles not being enough for a man; she's not used to dealing with real relationship problems, so in the face of having to be an adult, she runs back to how she operated before she married Bash. She gets the attention that she desires from Antoine, the same attention that she's used to getting from men, while she positions herself with a man of greater power than her husband, almost as an insurance policy. But would they have her full-on leave Bash for Antoine, especially since the audience knows that Antoine is only interested in her to ruin Bash's life?
-I actually liked all the reveals from this episode. Having Antoine be the one responsible for the poisoning connects the two seasons in nice ways and makes him much more of a dangerous (and compelling) figure than he would have been otherwise. The alliance with Narcisse is particularly intriguing, as teaming up the season's antagonists can only ratchet up the tension from here on out. Not only are there now more secrets lingering on the castle walls, Narcisse has the capital to make some noise, which can only put Francis on his back heels and put political pressure on the king that will truly test his mettle. Narcisse could have been a pretty strong character had he stayed chained up inside the castle longer, but he flourishes when shoved into the middle of the action and I'm more than ready for Craig Parker to mix things up over the next eight episodes.
-Greer of Kinross, Accidental Pimp is my favorite potential Reign spin-off yet. Aside from the immense comedic value this particular storyline had, I love seeing any women on this show take their future by the horns and make a life for themselves without being connected to a man. It won't be easy for her, but it's a good way to use the character without a marriage or Mary to rely on and I like that it might give us a regular glimpse at life in the village. The latter, in particular, could be a way for the show to keep tabs on public sentiment about the royals, so even after being banished, Greer might prove especially valuable to her friend.
-The shot of Catherine after Diane gets brought up makes me think that we're only a few episodes from that little skeleton dancing its way out of her closet.
-I might be into the idea of Narcisse and Catherine. He gets tamed by a woman with power and presence; she gets to have a little fun with a handsome new sparring partner. At the very least, they would make excellent allies and exquisite scene partners, given that Parker and Megan Follows are giving my two favorite performances on the show.
-On the next episode of Reign: Mary's mother warns her of a threat to the throne, while Kenna receives an intriguing offer from Antoine.

by Shilo Adams

Reign Season 2 Episode 14 Review: The End of Mourning -

It's becoming exceedingly more difficult to witness the pain Francis is in as a result of being shunned by the woman he deeply loves. On Reign Season 2 Episode 14 he makes it clear to her again and again how intertwined their lives and his ability to love have become.

Mary cannot grow closer to Francis for reasons that remain unclear, as it appears she wouldn't have the same problem if she would allow herself to take the step to sully her marriage and put her reign in jeopardy to be with Conde. It's no longer about the rape. It has become something more.

Witnessing even a moment of happiness was dashed when the ladies' sled riding party was darkened by Mary's displeasure seeing Conde assist in pushing Lola down the hill. It's good to know, however, that they are at least still engaging in such activities.

Their fourth lady has also not been forgotten! Kenna and Lola went off into the city to find their fair friend and things weren't going too well. She hasn't lost her spunk, however, and as soon as she started chatting up the fellow in the pub I saw where it was heading. What I didn't expect was the whore from next door (what a ring that has to it) would know where she was interviewing. That's odd, right?

So Greer is stepping off into a new life as a madam. Hey, at least she gets to say what she thinks and swill down some stout. Apparently food comes with the job. After being so hungry, the first bite she took was of bread. Remember when Catherine was starving and started gnawing on that capon? That's a girl who likes to eat. Either way, seeing more of Greer and life outside the castle walls is much appreciated. Who imagined living like that would be more fun than living inside the castle?

Catherine's desire to enlist |Narcisse in helping her track down those responsible for poisoning Henry's bible was an interesting decision, but certainly one that led to the most entertaining encounters.

Stéphane Narcisse: Where are you off to?
Queen Catherine: Dinner, with Lord Condé. Your favorite.
Duke of Guise: And we should meet after, correct?
Queen Catherine: The Lavender House. The north end of the grounds. The greenhouse is magical this time of year. (Duke kisses Catherine's hand)
Stéphane Narcisse: I had sex in that greenhouse once. It was a lovely venue.

The Duke of Guise happened to proposition Catherine at the most inopportune time. It's a shame, because not only does Mary's family think he was awful, but he's dead and nobody will be any the wiser now that Condé got all emotional and showed their hand about Bash.

King Antoine: We must not be stained by the crimes of the dead, not when life and peace are so fragile. I forgive you, for the sake of your soul and peace between our two nations and my brother will do the same.
King Francis: Let it be so. May our feuds die with our fathers.

For the time being, the feud is behind them, but Antoine and Narcisse will continue plotting against the Royals while believed to be absolved of their sins. Conce may not have been involved with the bible incident, but he arrived at the castle to do harm and is now aware of Antoine's hatred of the royals and that he has no intention of backing down.

So, despite all of Conde's honey-coated words, dripping with warmth and tenderness toward Mary, she ultimately gave herself to a man who was out to tear her family and her reign apart. But, when he finally confronted Antoine about the poison and the focus shifted toward the glass, was it an indication he moved beyond his family? If so, it will be difficult for Francis to counter that cunning move in Mary's eyes.

Mary's lost. Francis thinks of her first, before all others. When he thinks of what could have happened if they had discovered the poison, Mary imagines he must think he could have spared his father; but no. He wishes it was her suffering that would have been spared, but it moves her not. She wants to let her heart go where it will, and it's no longer with Francis.

Despite the fact this is a series about two young royals who were, just months ago, very much in love and reigning as one, always stronger together than apart, it seems no longer worth the effort to care for them.

As the ending song played and Francis was taken to Lola, and she expressed how she can feel her heart opening each time their son moves his hand, they were growing closer and it finally made sense. Can we begrudge him some warmth after being rebuffed yet again?

While Reign is desperately trying to be all things to all people, it's not succeeding. The political intrigue can be well written, but it often sets up those we find endearing to look foolish as a result. The love that comes and goes like the wind that reminds Conde of Mary when he's outdoors has become repetitive.

The same characters are blowing into and out of each others arms too often with too little respite in between. If they are this wishy washy in their personal lives how in the hell can they hope to successfully rule the countries under their reign?
by Carissa Pavlica


Reign 2.15 “Forbidden” Recap -
At the Duke's funeral, Catherine makes snide remarks while Marie attempts to eulogize her brother. While Marie knows that Catherine is glad to see the Duke dead, she simply thanks the Queen Mother for keeping his treachery secret. Francis informs Lola that he's set up a meeting with the Duke and Duchess Von Amsburg, nobles who want their infant daughter to be engaged to John. This sets up their son's future and gives France some powerful allies, assuming that the meeting the following day at Antoine's gala, thrown to celebrate the death of the rivalry between his family and the French royals, goes well. Meanwhile, Kenna returns an extravagant gift from Antoine - a ruby that he placed in a strawberry from one of the strawberry snow cakes he left her. She loves Bash far too much to accept the gift, but Antoine does get her attention when he suggests she help him decorate for the upcoming party, giving her a huge budget to make the event happen.

Marie grills Mary on the state of a possible heir to the Scottish throne. In her mind, Mary is in France to do the job of producing an heir and the continued lack of a child from her loins only weakens her position as queen. With James struggling to keep his head above water in Scotland, thanks to the Scottish protestants who want the country to become a protectorate for England, Mary needs to have a child in order to make herself look like the better candidate to rule Scotland and England as compared to single, childless Elizabeth. Marie then suggests Mary to take an herbal remedy that will put her at ease for a sexual encounter with Francis. Later, Mary meets with Francis and tells him that she's not opposed to the idea of conceiving a child, stating that she doesn't have anyone in her corner and that they should honor their duty to their nations. Having a child would help her help herself, but Francis is understandably apprehensive about this after everything Mary has been through. Elsewhere, Bash doesn't like the idea of going to Antoine's party, considering that he killed the man's brother and all, and comes down on Kenna for taking the offer to decorate the party seriously. She's not stupid, though, and knows how to handle a man like this; what she wants is to have something to do with herself other than wait for him to return from his latest great adventure. And just like that, he's pulled away to look into the woman in white that supposedly resurrected the Greek who was buried alive.

Francis goes to Catherine about Mary's latest change of heart and though Catherine questions why the queen picked now to make this move, she cautions Francis to follow his wife's lead and not force the issue. Plus, there's the whole matter of making sure that his visit to her chamber is seen by several servants, something that would cull any questions of royal paternity. While Bash questions a townsperson about her experience with the woman in white, who healed her son's sickness before taking the eyesight of the boy's brother, Greer gifts Charlene with a new wig to make up for her recently shorn locks. She also comes bearing news of Antoine's party, a place full of rich, drunk men for Charlene to try her wig out on, as a way of making up for the recent bumpiness in their relationship. Back at the castle, Lola walks in on Marie spiking a glass of wine and endures a blistering tongue lashing relating to how John's existence makes Mary a weaker Queen. Because people know what happened between Lola and Francis, Mary is viewed as a disposable Queen and disposable Queens are very often disposed of, so she's in danger of losing her position because of Lola. If Mary gets knocked off the throne because of this, Marie vows to not forget Lola's part in her daughter's demise.

As Lola takes a sip of the spiked wine not knowing that Marie put something in it, Bash finds the so-called woman in white - a nun who goes by Sister Delphine. Delphine claims to have only heard the Greek man's cries as he was buried alive and admits that she only treats those who are dying, as any fallout that they face from her interference would be less harsh than death. She also confides in Bash that she knows people's pain when she touches them and can sometimes tell the pain they're about to endure; she then touches him and warns him that he'll be losing someone close in the near future. Meanwhile, Antoine's party starts and Kenna is a wreck, as the place cards aren't where they should go, Bash isn't back yet, and she doesn't have anything to wear. Antoine allows her to wear the dresses and jewels from his wife, though he lies to her about sending the message telling Bash to come to the party; he merely gets his rider to act as if they're leaving for show.

Condé runs into Lola at the party and it's very obvious that she's on something. Her mood is much lighter and freer than normal, while her personal filter is almost non-existent and she's not shy about scarfing down some marzipan being carried around the party. Kenna makes her entrance into the party and immediately gets swept away by Antoine, who takes her to meet some of the important people who made an appearance. While Bash waits at home for word from her and doesn't get it, causing him to drink more, Lola doesn't make the best impression with the Von Amsburgs; she very harshly talks about their daughter's looks before being pulled away by Francis, fresh from another conversation with Mary. The two had attempted to be intimate for the first time since her rape, but once they made their way to the bed, she froze up and grew terribly anxious at feeling his breath on her. He then pulled away and tried to get her to see that she should be doing this only when ready and not because she feels like it's her duty. Worried that Francis will turn on her, Mary again pulled the separate lives card and he accuses her of wanting to be with Conde, of using him to forget about her feelings for his cousin. She told him that that was part of the appeal of a night like this, as she could never be his wife again, and Francis forbade her from seeing Conde again.

Mary meets with Marie to inform her that there will be no heir and that she had been raped. Marie's first question isn't about how her daughter was doing; it was about whether she was pregnant by the assailant. Though she tries to defend that stance by saying men should never damage a woman's aspirations, Marie gets a verbal lashing of her own by Mary, who is tired of being a pawn for her mother and tired of being looked at as nothing more than a walking uterus. She feels utterly alone for the first time in her life, but that's actually okay - it'd be much worse if she was entangled with Marie, who she can barely look at. While Francis escorts Lola out to her carriage, a wait peppered by her complimenting his kissing and the man he was while in Paris, Mary meets with Conde and informs him that she does, in fact, care about him. That fact frightens her, considering that she can't pursue anything with him, and at the mention of her mother, he brings up Lola's altered state at the party. He believes it was some type of opiate that she was on, pointing toward an addiction for Marie.

Bash makes it to the party and confronts Antoine for attempting to steal his wife. Kenna isn't spared from his rage, either, as he calls her out on taking the clothes and jewelry from him. Even as he learns that she did send the message and that it was Antoine who didn't ensure it was delivered, Bash storms out, angry that Kenna put herself in a position to be misled. However, there's more to this conflict that just that, as Kenna wants more out of her life that what she is currently getting. Upon reignreturning to the castle, Lola finds |Narcisse in the hall and attempts to seduce him by roughly biting his lip. He doesn't take advantage of her, though, citing the fact that he wants their first time to be with the real her; instead, he sends one of the maids with her to her chambers and orders that a physician check in on her sometime during the night. Mary confronts her mother over the opiate usage and it turns out that the drug is for Marie's declining health state. She has cancer in her lymph nodes and her condition is past the point of treatment by physicians, which explains why she's so desperate to get her daughter into a secure position. Marie wanted the world for Mary and still couldn't protect her in the way she wanted, but Mary pledges to be strong, to fight for her country, and to not let go of the crown no matter what the cost.

Antoine meets up with Kenna and informs her that he's never wanted anyone more than her. Rather than have her on as a mistress or treat her as a pawn in his revenge scheme, he wants to marry her after his wife passes away. Her marriage to Bash could be overturned, given that it happened under the rule of a mad king, and Kenna would then have a clear path toward becoming queen. Francis laments to Catherine that the chances of producing an heir with Mary have diminished completely, but his mother's concern is only for his state of mind and not for Mary. She wants the best for Mary, particularly after everything Mary went through, but Catherine knows what it's like to languish for much of your adult life while your partner takes a head first dive into the dating pool. She doesn't want Francis to have that type of life, to know the type of loneliness of which she's too familiar, so she simply tells him that he should not turn away a chance at joy if he finds it. She would support him if he found someone at court to be with and while Francis claims to not be considering stepping out on his marriage, it's clear that Lola is still on his mind.

At the inn, Greer has dinner with Charlene after the latter produced quite the gold haul from her time at the party. It was so bountiful that the other prostitutes in her circle want Greer to hook them up with parties and rich older men, too; while Greer didn't exactly think she would become a madam, it's a way to keep food in her belly and a roof over her head, a way to give herself the chance to become what she really wants to be, so she accepts. Mary meets with Conde and informs him that she's going to Scotland to show her subjects who their queen really is. She wants him to go with her, to make a new life with her, but before he can decide on what he should do, he receives another life changing offer. This one comes from Antoine, who heard that Elizabeth wants to come to France and gain a stronghold by courting Conde and making him her king.

Additional thoughts and observations:
-"You know what he wants from you. It's not hospitality advice."
-"One night. Don't flaunt your bountiful womb to me."
-"My son might get engaged before he can walk. Isn't that wonderful?"
-"Have you ever noticed how many shimmering, soft things there are in the world?" -"She smells of ointment."
-"He didn't even offer me a bath and he always offers a bath."
-"Be unassailable."
-Favorite dress of the episode: Marie's funeral garb was gorgeous. That cape! I also loved the bodice of Kenna's party dress.
-The fact that this episode was so good with such minimal Catherine (effective placement for her character, with the funeral humor and the supportive scene with Francis, but still minimal overall) was impressive. Typically, you can chart the successive of a Reign episode by how much screen time Catherine is given, so for the rest of the storylines to make up for her absence makes me hopeful for the rest of the season now that things seem more locked in than they did in the fall. -Cool shots of the episode: The close-up of Mary's veil was artsy-fartsy in a good way, while Bash popping up at the party was a visually inventive way to do what could have been a fairly straightforward conflict.
-This episode was thematically strong, as every storyline was about characters seizing their future and not letting the societal bounds that they have to deal with dictate the people they become. It's a nice reminder that this show is centered on an age group that has enough problems figuring out who they are without the pressures of royalty to deal with. For all the political maneuvering and romantic angst that the show throws at us, this is still a show about teenagers and that's not something to shy away from in the storytelling. I'd argue that this fact could add richness to some of these storylines.
-Amy Brenneman is astoundingly good on this show. Although I'm sad that we'll be seeing goodbye to Marie soon-ish, we got an incredible verbal beatdown in her conversation with Lola and I think there's bound to be one more showcase episode for the character, especially if Mary does opt to spend some time in Scotland. I'm sure a Marie de Guise death scene, for example, would be one for the ages, both in terms of Brenneman's performance and the impact that Marie's demise would have on Mary. She's already attempting to remake her life and Marie is only sick, so there'll likely be another drastic change for Mary when she officially loses her mother.
-Also really great this week: Anna Popplewell. It was nice to see the show give her another way to play Lola, even if it was for only one episode, and Popplewell had some of her best line deliveries of the series while Lola felt the effects of the opiate she ingested. She brought a looseness to the character that was much needed after the hell Lola's been put through recently, with the energy she injected really highlighting the character's innocence and inner light.
-|Narcisse not taking Lola to bed after she came on to him - encouraging, considering the reputation he has, or suspicious, considering the reputation he has? Does his reticence at spending the night with her mean that there's genuine feelings on his end?
-So, the romantic angst kind of worked for me here. Normally, it's the weakest thing about this show, but I'm very much in favor of Reign exploring the dynamic change of Mary and Francis seeing other people while having to keep their marriage strong for the public. That has the chance to produce some interesting material, with Mary opting to take hold of her life after living within the margins for such a long time and Francis trying to see whether anything's there with Lola or if their parental bond is all that exists; them being in this weird stasis of being married but not being married was narrative quicksand, so anything to move things along is more than okay with me.
-This feels like a make or break time for Kenna as a character. If she allows her materialism to trump her marriage, I don't know if that's something she can come back from, at least in my eyes. Not only does it make the character look extremely stupid (you really entertain the idea of marrying the man whose brother] you confessed to killing) confronted with the possibility of power. And I think there's a germ of a wonderful story in there about Kenna trying to find her purpose and recognizing that life as a Baroness isn't what she thought it would be. It's just that the effectiveness of Kenna going after the crown would be diminished, at least somewhat, by the strained way the storyline came about.
-Bash getting told he's going to lose someone coupled with this Kenna storyline feels like a red herring. My guess is that he loses someone else in his life, but it's not Kenna.
-Greer of Kinross, Accidental Pimp is still pretty excellent. Not much progress in the storyline itself tonight - just thought I'd reiterate that I love everything about what they're doing with Greer. Also, Charlene's wig was quality.
-I kind of love how the show has stripped everything away from Mary in order to give her the chance to rebuild her life in the way she wants it. (It's weirdly empowering seeing someone recognize that everything in their life sucks and actually do something to change it by themselves.) Her inability to give a damn anymore, not after she's been at emotional rock bottom and felt what it was like to be utterly alone (and dehumanized by the person who's supposed to protect her the most), has brought out some interesting shades in the character and given her more urgency and agency than she previously had.
-I'm all about a move to Scotland, also. It'd be fun to see how this Mary navigates her way through a world she only knew as a child. The visuals would be a nice change of pace from what we're used to. And frankly, I'm curious about the castle dynamic without Mary and what kind of impact her absence will have on Lola, Francis, and Kenna.
-In case you missed the recap for the previous episode, you can check it out here. -Unfortunately, Reign is off until March 12th. What happens when we all jump back to 16th century France next month? I honestly don't know, since The CW still hasn't released an episode description.

by Shilo Adams

Reign Season 2 Episode 15 Review: Forbidden -
Well, isn't Conde a popular guy?

He's far more popular than marriage. Given that Royals (or women) can loose everything if they commit adultery, they sure don't have all that much interest in the sanctity of marriage, do they?

It's almost hard to remember that the setting is France and under the keen eye of The Pope. Sure, Francis took care of him and drove the Catholic soldiers out of the country, but that doesn't mean they'd be happy to learn of the goings on in the realm nonetheless. There isn't a happy marriage in the castle at the moment.

Marie de Guise was in town for her brother's funeral on Reign Season 2 Episode 15 and while there she took the time to clash with sullen Mary. She pointed out how important it is to have a child to secure her reign.

Mary was angry and felt put upon, something she does quite frequently. The only person she can stand to be around for more than a minute is Condé. Her husband loves her, cares for her and puts her first. She cares not. She pretends that he reminds her of her rape, but is that it? I loved how he pointed out Conde somehow remained untarnished by the events of that night. Again, if she only knew.

After learning her mother was dying, Mary shared with her how she'll always be able to take care of herself and will not lose her country, come what may. Her determination sent her to Conde, to whom she suggested a new life in Scotland, where she intends to return to rule. She goes on the road with Conde, according to the preview for Reign Season 2 Episode 16, airing March 12. Will they make it to Scotland? It seems highly doubtful.

All of this makes sense, really. Francis is destined to die. What Bash heard from the Lady in White most likely refers to his death, although the early signs point to his marriage ending thanks to pesky King Antoine. Mary will return to Scotland to rule, eventually. She will bear a son, who will later become King. Some of the historical elements of this show will, most likely, play out.

Still, it's difficult as hell to watch the strife caused in the meantime and to imagine what it will mean to the show as Mary's life changes. If she goes to Scotland permanently, who will go with her? Her ladies? Will Greer be reinstated and make the move? Will Lola remain in France with her son, and Francis? Will Kenna remain with Bash or will she be Queen of Navarre?

These are the things that plague me now. It's no longer about who Mary chooses to love, because the story is more wide ranging than that. She's destined for greater and far more tragic things and this is, after all, her story. Where will it lead?

Other things of note:
- Lola was a delight high on opiates. The unibrow baby mama? Oh my.
- Can you believe Narcisse turned Lola away? Just when you think he's the worst.
- Greer's life outside the castle continues to be very interesting. Sharlene's short hair is adorable. Men of the age were not of good taste.
- What will be Conde's fate and will it take place at the hands of Queen Elizabeth or Francis? Surely he'll not just off with the Queen of Scotland and suffer no damage at all.
- Are you picking up on the clues to the future of Reign or are you content with the present and the love triangles? What would you like to see?

by Carissa Pavlica

Tasting RevengeEdit

Reign 2.16 “Tasting Revenge” Recap -
Kenna has been put in charge of a vintage wine tasting by Mary, but while the event is meant to celebrate Francis, things quickly get out of hand when a series of lords bring their young daughters to the castle. Rumors about Francis and Mary living separate lives have hit a fever pitch, so the French citizens are scrambling for the opportunity to become the royal mistress. While Kenna is furious about the ulterior motive of much of her guests, Mary and Lola are more philosophical about the matter; Mary knows that she can't exactly get upset after forcing Francis to lead separate lives and Lola understands why people would want to go after a coveted position like royal mistress. Francis might still love Mary, but it's quite the opportunity to be by the king's side and very few men would be able to resist the temptation.

Mary and Conde agree to meet in the wine cellar in an hour to discuss their pending voyage to Scotland, but when they part, Conde is confronted by Antoine, who has arranged a meeting with the English envoys. Even though it's quite risky meeting with those associated with Elizabeth, Antoine maintains that since the Bourbons are 2-3 moves from the throne, it's more than worth the hassle. Meanwhile, Francis is introduced to Narcisse's niece Amelie, as Narcisse attempts to get a pony in the race for royal mistress. He purrs about how artistic his niece is, how masterful she is in embroidery, but Francis tells his enemy that he's not interested in taking on a mistress, word that must be spread throughout the castle. He then goes to apologize to Mary; though she might appreciate the courtesy, Mary still wants to be with Conde, to be given the chance to put the rape behind her and find happiness. It's unfair, she argues, that she can't move on with her life like Francis can, yet as much as Francis might regret what happened that led to the rape, he cannot sit by and let Mary put herself in danger. An affair and any doubt about her child's paternity could lead her to execution.

Kenna runs into Antoine while planning the tasting and rejects his offer to make her his queen. However, he senses that she's not completely serious in her protestation of his advances, so he simply tells her that she's given him hope and that they'll talk later. Interestingly, the next time she sees Bash, he tries to get her to talk, but she emotionally shuts down and quickly leaves their chambers. She then heads to Antoine's room and questions him as to why, of all people, he picked her to replace his wife. Antoine praises Kenna's boldness and her sense of adventure, insisting that an annulment from Bash wouldn't be much of a problem, yet when he kisses her, she pulls away. In the wine cellar, Mary and Conde talk about Scotland, with the former sending an agent to get information on the Scottish political climate and the latter opting to put together a team of men to help them reach Scotland safely. Mary is, of course, thrilled that Conde will be coming to Scotland with her after all and informs him that she feels like her heart is dethawing.

Out in the village, Greer gives her girls wardrobe fittings, insisting that they want to look refined in order to bring in more money Gigi.
by Shilo Adams

Reign Season 2 Episode 16 Review: Tasting Revenge -
Yeah, I don't care about her freakin' garden. I do care about how blindly contrary she's being when it comes to both Francis and Conde. Reign Season 2 Episode 16 is almost enough for me to yell, "Off with her head!"

I'm trying to be understanding and patient, I know she's been through a devastating trauma, a horrific violation, but I want the strong and sure Mary back. She doesn't even resemble the queen we once knew, the woman who'd royally kick ass and not think twice about it.

Not only does Mary continue to punish Francis, the man who loves her more than his own life, but she blindly trusts Conde, a man who doesn't deserve it. Conde is the kind of man who will always protect his own best interests. That means he will put himself first, not her, as witnessed by the final scene.

Francis on the other hand will, and has, given up everything for Mary. He made mistakes, no doubt. But what greater penance can he pay than sacrificing his very heart? And she didn't even look moved by his surrender!

"But if you sincerely believe that your best path to healing is at his side, I will not stand in your way."
King Francis

That scene was crushing and Toby Regbo once again made our soul's bleed. It was maddening and romantic. He basically thrust his hand into his own chest, yanked out his still beating heart and laid it at Mary's feet. And all she can say is, "I'm sorry we've come to this." On second thought, "Off with her head!"

"I'm sorry we've come to this."
Queen Mary

If she's not careful, she'll be ready to take Francis back and he'll be with her best friend. Lola and Francis are sweet together and genuinely care for one another. They don't share the same kind of fiery passion that Francis and Mary did, but they share friendship, trust and a child. That's a sound foundation. That said, I was glad they decided to respect their mutual love for Mary and not reconnect. For now.

As for Lady Amelie, you know that will bite Francis in the butt as some point if only because Narcisse is involved.

Now the only happy love story is Leith and Greer and I do enjoy them together. It was interesting to have the shoe on the other foot, where Greer was the one being looked down on for her profession (the oldest profession!) just as she did to Leith long ago. I look forward to seeing where their tale goes, as I'm sure Leith will not want her to continue working as a madam. I for one am enjoying her new life and found her confrontation with "old shrivel" hilarious.

They killed my feelings for Sebastian and Kenna as they slowly killed their marriage. Neither one of them has been likeable for quite some time. Both are selfish for their own reasons and that makes it impossible for me to mourn their separation. May they both get new storylines and happiness elsewhere.

Finally, I'm very glad to see that Mary learns of Conde's deceit in next week's preview. If the writers don't tread lightly, and start some reparations, they could potentially damage their viewership. I think fans are more than a little frustrated.

Yes, we know that true history will eventually send Mary to Scotland and that Francis will eventually die, but for all intents and purposes this is also a fairy tale and once upon a time they made us fall for a King and Queen who shared a storybook passion and love for all time and that's what fans want.

It's also true that to keep things interesting there have to be some bumps in the road, and maybe you have to kiss a few frogs, but if things go too far the magic created can be lost and it might be gone forever.

Should Reign not write an alternate history and actually kill Francis, I hope it will be an epic Romeo and Juliet send off for him. But, not yet. Not for a long time, I hope.
by Carissa Pavlica

Tempting FateEdit

Reign Season 2 Episode 17 Review: Tempting Fate -
The title of Reign Season 2 Episode 17 is aptly named as the showrunners are truly tempting fate in thinking that their viewers will continue to watch. Had you told me back in season one that I would detest Queen Mary and adore Catherine I would've checked to see if you were indulging in Marie de Guise's hinky herbs.

Numb. Dumbfounded. Betrayed. Appalled. Distraught. That's how I'm left feeing, as I'm sure many of you are. Let's break down the crumbling walls of the castle, starting with the good and working our way to the worst.

I love that Leith is willing to go to great lengths to make Greer his wife. I fear he just got himself waaay over his head being assigned to Claude and in asking that evil eminence for help. Any man of God who says the things he does is one to be seriously wary of.

As far as sayonara's go, Bash's and Kenna's was short and sweet. His offering her the protection of his name until she finds herself a powerful enough man to make her feel safe was a true indicator of the quality person he is.

"And now I am lying for you, lying even to my brother, protecting you as you take comfort in the arms of another."
King Francis

The agony in Francis' voice when he told Mary that his mother knew of her infidelity gutted me. Here he tells her that he's lied to every member of his family and continues to protect her for her happiness and she does nothing but whine a measly apology. Why the bloody hell can she not see that her selfishness is killing him? And if she does see it, why doesn't she care? I just, I can't....

When Condé finally confessed to Mary that he'd been working both sides, I thought she might finally snap back to her senses. She called him out on the fact that he didn't trust her, that he was protecting himself at every turn. The man is squirrelly as all get out, couldn't even look her in the eye, and finally she was seeing it. Yes!

"I opened my heart to a liar."
Queen Mary

A part of me even felt bad for her because she'd considered him to be her salvation after her assault and here she was finding out how false he was. Surely, she'd look at Francis with new eyes now. Ha!

I adored Lola and her pep talk to Mary. That's the kind of best friend everyone should have. She reminded Mary of the kind of strength she's always possessed. You could see it visibly have an affect on the Queen. I got teary, I cheered on the inside and then Lola blew it.

"But you have to know, that no matter your choices, you still have a husband who would do anything to make you happy."
Lady Lola

Why oh why did she tell Mary to forgive Condé and take him along? Sigh. Lola, you were my hero until that moment and now I'm peeved at you too.

We had to know that Bash would get hurt sometime and end up in the healer's hands. I'm just afraid the cost of his life, might be his brother's. At the very least, he will think it was.

One nice thing to come from Lola's chat was seeing Mary step back into her power when she threatened Burgess. One bad thing to come from Lola's chat was seeing Mary step into Condé's bed.

"I will spill blood to defend what's mine."
Queen Mary

When Mary said, "I will spill blood to defend what's mine," I never imagined it would be Francis' blood. But shed it she has. She has defended her needs, her happiness, her life with no regard for his.

I want her to be empowered, to reclaim herself after her awful assault. She needs to feel safe, to feel whole, to feel happy. But Francis was not the man who raped her and yet in some ways she's treated him as though he did.

Yes, his poor judgment left her vulnerable and that's what led to her being attacked, but does that mean she should show him no regard for the love they shared before, for the sacrifices he's made, for his unyielding loyalty, for his selflessness, for his pain? It's maddening.

One thing caught me greatly off guard and that was Catherine's defense of Mary. She actually has grown to love her daughter-in-law and she may lose her son because of her.

Seeing Francis, ears bleeding, made my stomach sink. If the show is going to veer from reality it'll have to do it now as the real Francis died from an ear infection. Considering the current trajectory of the show, I'm not holding my breath.

If you missed the tragic turn of events, watch Reign online.

Not sure how much more I can take. Hearing Catherine say, "I never imagined that you would kill him by breaking his heart," in next week's preview is almost too much to bear
by Carissa Pavlica


Reign Season 2 Episode 19 Review: Abandoned -
I think a better title for Reign Season 2 Episode 19 would be Fallen rather than "Abandoned."

You've got fallen soldiers, fallen women, fallen trust and just maybe...a fallen head. Let's take it from the start.

When it was first revealed that Condé had been absent for WEEKS and then returned I had a near conniption. What do you mean he was gone and then had the audacity to come back? You need only see everyone else's reactions to see they felt the same way.

Well, everyone except for Mary who felt like she was dying with Condé gone. 'eye roll so violent you see nothing but the white's of my eyes.'

First Lola and Kenna point out how things would be better with his continued absence and then Francis sweetly offers Mary his protection when she starts feeling anxious over the hostage situation. I mean, his eyes went all soft, his voice was low and protective. You could see the love. And then he saw HIM.

The hope that must've grown in Condé's absence was decimated when Mary said she was sorry if he thought it was over. Why not just stab Francis yourself, Mary? Guess the good news is that's when angry King Francis' reared his golden head again.

"You were planning to abandon our marriage, flee France and run off with my cousin so I no longer care what you do."
King Francis

Now to fallen women: You had to love how Kenna and Lola didn't bat an eyelash when Greer told them about her new occupation. In fact, Kenna seemed so delighted I was just waiting for her to ask Greer to share all the juicy details and inside stories from the brothel. Frankly, I want those stories too! Leash, smeash, we've all heard of that kind of proclivity.

That said, I did think it a wee bit ridiculous that they headed over there again during prime business hours to give their bestie a bolt of cloth. Sure, they might be curious and even titillated by their access to this new world, but they are still ladies who need to maintain their reputations. Funny that it was Narcisse who reminded Lola of that.

"We're all basically fallen women--an unwed mother, "
Lady Kenna

Speaking of Narcisse, I like him with Catherine, but damn if he and Lola aren't twice as steamy chemistry wise. I'd like to see that particular dalliance finally take shape, but now that Catherine knows of his attraction to Lola one of the two is going to fall prey to her jealousy. Will she target Lola or Narcisse? Yes, Narcisse is likely using her for his own gain, but she uses him too so my money is on something bad happening to Lola at Catherine's hands. Girl better watch her back.

"Is this how it's going to be from now on? Both of us constantly wondering what the other is up to?"

Sharp as he is, I thought Narcisse was way too obvious in setting up Condé. I'm not surprised that scam fell flat. Francis could've pushed his power and had him charged with treason, but it would've only made things worse with Mary.

But undoing the wedding was a stroke of genius. Who did that? If Catherine and Narcisse are to be believed it was neither of them. I think that may be true as they seemed a little too shocked and, as Narcisse said, it went above and beyond anything they'd put into motion.

Which makes me wonder who the third party could be.

Would Francis make that move? Part of me thinks there's no way he would do that, but another part of me says he's reached an enough is enough stage. It seems to me that as long as the wedding papers are never found Elizabeth can't claim his throne, but Condé could be found a traitor.

"This will ruin Condé in France forever."

Then too, maybe it was Elizabeth. Could be she didn't like being a sloppy second and got her vengeance. But doing that would seem to eliminate her in to France.
by Carissa Pavlica


Reign Season 2 Episode 20 Review: Fugitive -
All that is needed is a face, a claim, a bloodline and someone that is willing to die for the cause.

Oh, how I wish I could say I was happy to be here, but much like Francis, I'm absolutely miserable. How could I possibly forgive Reign when they took the long and winding road to this by forcing a love triangle out of "Monde"?

Frankly, I cannot, and watching Reign Season 2 Episode 20 with Mary's stupidity being the final push for Conde's attempt to claim the throne of France on the series only further cements my decision to part ways with it as must-see TV.

Before we go too far, you and I have both been thrilled with Terri covering Reign. She had to step back for this week and this week only, so don't panic! She's here in spirit. That said, I'm not going to treat this with kid gloves. I'm still mad as hell. As a matter of fact, I couldn't have picked a worse episode to get back into the game.

Who could have guessed I'd arrive just as they single handedly crushed every single successful relationship on the show? I suppose given how easily they murdered what Francis and Mary shared, I shouldn't have been surprised, but wow. This is really wiping the slate clean.

It's true that Reign Season 1 was a sexy show. It worked in a lot of ways because the core group of ladies hadn't tasted true love. They were extremely unfamiliar with court and the life they were thrust into. That's not the case now. What's going on now makes them seem like whores.

Tell me Kenna's dream wasn't almost exactly like what she did with Sexy King Henry. Mary whined about her rank destroying any love coming her way that didn't belong to a king. Guess what lady, you were married. You weren't supposed to be toying on the side anymore. That's how marriage works.

Greer's decision to remain a madam is completely unrealistic given the times, but not surprising given the chemistry between Leith and Claude. You knew they were going there. Additionally, it's fun to see life outside the castle no matter how unrealistic and with as much as the women want a voice, well, she has one. She'd just never opt for it over respectability.

Even Catherine has diminished into an embarrassing woman when it comes to Narcisse. He pegged her exactly, but not until he played her game by humiliating the only woman left in court we can really root for (although Claude has risen in the ranks) with a silly nudie drawing. Who ever thought I'd say Lola deserves better? She's come a long way.

Way back when, when I was reviewing Reign, I was taking a lot of heat for being down on "Monde" as the shippers so loved to call them. My take was historical Conde made an attempt on Francis' crown and the love stuff was rubbish. I was told what to do with my blatant disregard for true love.

Well, I told you so. It doesn't look like ol' Conde is going to make his mad dash for the throne through his love for Mary, but instead through is allegiance to Protestantism and Elizabeth's last minute save of his life. He's King Louis! The face, the claim, the bloodline and nothing to lose but his life.

You have been granted the space in the comments to do what you will, faithful readers! Enjoy yourselves. Hopefully, Terri will pop in and share her thoughts with you about all the crazy things she missed writing about.

If you didn't see it, you can watch Reign online to see what all the fuss is about! Off with her head, off with her head!!
by Carissa Pavlica

The SiegeEdit

Reign Season 2 Episode 21 Review: The Siege -
Things got ca-razy on Reign Season 2 Episode 21 and I couldn't be happier. The performances tonight were top notch and had me utterly enthralled. I'm going to break the episode down into my royal rants and raves. Let's get started.


  • I started off very concerned, especially as Mary asked Francis a lot of really stupid questions she absolutely knew the answers to. In season 1 we saw that this queen has a sharp mind for politics and strategy and yet here she is asking why Francis thinks Conde's a threat. Seriously? Yes, that could've been a ploy by the writers to clue in the viewer, but if so that was a poor choice because it's made Mary look dumb, ineffectual and weak.
  • I had this hinky feeling in my gut about Delphine and I was right! She's looking kinda bat-shit bonkers and that means poor Bash is screwed again. Come on, give the poor man a break.
  • More creepers in the passageways?


  • Narcisse and Lola! May I have some more, please?!? He knows he's taking a big chance to go see her and yet he just has to confess his feelings. And that kiss! Craig Parker and Anna Popplewell are positively combustible together.
"I'm saying that should anything happen to either of us I hope that you'll remember me not as the man who lied or betrayed you, I hope you'll remember me as the man who would have cherished you if he'd had the chance."
  • Smart Lola. She's been a bit absent of late, but tonight she was at her best. I love that she believes Narcisse is capable of being so much more than he allows himself to be and that she knew exactly why he'd humiliated her in the first place.
  • Leith and Claude. Rose Williams is amazing as the petulant, flirty and entitled Claude. She plays her with such sass and aplomb, but sometimes the theatrics are wearing. I'm enjoying the softer and more mature side that Leith brings out in her.
  • Horse meat. Sure, it's absolutely "ew!" But that Catherine would do something so cruel and diabolical to keep Narcisse was just delicious. (Okay, maybe that's a poor choice of words.)
  • Crazy Catherine. She professed her love, admitted to doing this heinous thing and then basically threatened Narcisse's life should he ever try to leave her or betray her again. She even told him it's all his fault as he's the one who made her love him. That's right, she went full on Fatal Attraction and outdid Glenn Close. Rabbit schmabbit.
  • Narcisse and Catherine. I could've watched that dinner scene between Craig and Megan Follows over and over again. They were ELECTRIC! Passionate and poisonous. They truly are equals. Watching the actors go toe-to-toe in this scene, seeing the give and take between them, they are the true royalty and this scene was one of the greatest in the series.

Rant or Rave - that is the question?
You know what this brings me to...that final scene with Mary. Now you might expect me to be crazy upset by her seeming betrayal, but I'm going to hold any judgment until next week. It's my hope that this is actually some kind of ploy she's using against Conde, to save Francis for a change.

Why do I think so? One, she seemed shocked and moved that despite everything Francis had been willing to give up his reign and his life for her. Two, she said, "And real love never fades, not truly."

"And real love never fades, not truly."
Queen Mary

I know she said those words to Conde, but I think she was speaking them about Francis. Next week should reveal the truth.
by Carissa Pavlica


Reign Season 2 Episode 22 Review: Burn -
Hark! What is that sound I hear? Could it be the cheers and tears of Frary fans in the kingdom? It twould seem that Reign Season 2 Episode 22 has reset the show for season 3. May I get an amen? Amen!

While I can't be so forgiving as to say the finale made up for the uneven, mostly crummy season, I can say it ended on a high note and put hope in my heart for the fall.

There was a lot to love here and a few things to loathe. I don't know about you, but I always want bad news first so I can end on a high note.

This part is quick and easy. It's a dumb-bunny sandwich with Delphine on one end, Kenna on the other and Bash as the meathead in the middle. Sigh.

What is going on with this chick, Delphine? She's clearly lying through her teeth. And for someone who claims she's not a witch, but a woman who's unfairly accused, she not doing a darn thing to be cautious in her endeavors. It's like she wants to be caught. And who's the man lurking in the shadows of her room, of the secret tunnels?

Kenna currently holds the number one spot on my season 3 kill list. It was bad enough that she tried to trick Bash into raising a baby that wasn't his. Reprehensible. But Mary finds a couple to care for her and then adopt her newborn and what does she do on the voyage there? She flirts with a baby king!

The whole thing made me throw up a bit in my mouth.

By all means, be pen pals with a little boy who likes boats the same way my son liked Thomas the Tank Engine and then once you've had your baby in the winter go find him because he'll be a man soon enough. 'Cause 9 months are going to mature the King of Imereti so much he's bound to have a chest hair or two by then. And, by the way, thanks so much for letting me bring my "sister's" baby.

"Cold passion mixed with your warm blood was to bind you to me. My spirit is inside you as yours is inside mine."

Then there's Bash who's getting lucky left and right, which might explain what's he's thinking with. Get a clue, buddy.

Catherine getting exiled! Stripped of her title, income and home. What will she do, where will she go? Maybe Greer's? Kidding. I love that she went balls to the wall and proposed a deal to Elizabeth. How will they collaborate? I suspect as merciful as Francis is he won't keep his mother indefinitely locked out.

"I've come to offer you something. The destruction of our mutual enemy, Mary Queen of Scots."
Queen Catherine

We only got Elizabeth for a second, but what a saucy second it was. I want more!

"Common lore is that your teeth are filed into points and your eyes are black with rage."
Queen Elizabeth

Frary is back! This one is a little mixed for me though. Much as I wanted this (and I so wanted this) their reunion seemed rushed and I would really like to have heard Mary tell Francis why she finally came to her senses.

It would've been nice to see them slowly falling back in love again. Not that I wanted it dragged out necessarily, but it just seemed like a quick about face. That said, hearing Francis say he's dying was heartwrenching so I'll take them as long as I can.

Final thoughts:

The performances across the board tonight were stellar and riveting.

Toby Regbo shredded me. He was magnificent in every scene, vacillating between triumph, rage, devastation and tenderness with masterful ease. It's impossible to take your eyes from him and he elevates the performances of his counterparts. One plus I can imagine from Francis' eventual death would be seeing Regbo's career take off as it deserves to do.

Kudos also need to go to Adelaide Kane and Sean Teale as they demonstrated great emotional depth and impact. And Megan Follows is just as flawless as ever. I can't wait to see where next season takes her.

by Carissa Pavlica

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