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The following are reviews write by TV.com's writer Lily Sparks

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The PlagueEdit

Reign Season 2 Premiere Review: First Days Are Hard

TV.comReview - The Plague

Reign took no prisoners with its Season 2 premiere. After a rollercoaster freshman season, the series reshuffled the deck with "The Plague," a densely plotted episode that worked almost as a standalone outing but also went far in establishing new threads for Reign's sophomore year amid a premise straight out of a horror movie. (How October-y!)

With Francis risking his life to ride out into the 16th-century equivalent of The Walking Dead to find Lola and their secret baby, Mary (the new Queen of France) and Catherine (recently widowed, therefore not quite Queen but certainly ready to give Mary all the advice she could need on Queenliness) were left to navigate the court through this crisis on what was essentially Mary's first day of work.

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Also, Nostradamus shaved his beard!!

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In the crowd, Leith Bayard was clinging to a certain flame-haired beauty he’d shared a few words with in the Season 1 finale. Greer recognized her at once as Peppercorn’s Castleroy’s daughter, and she was more than a little insulted that her 16th-century Gatsby had rebounded so fast.

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Now I know Bash never trained to be King or wanted that life, but he certainly seemed to have a better grasp on priorities in Plague Time than Francis did: He was directing the guard and stockpiling food for the inevitable famine that would follow once all the field workers died of the disease. Grim, I know, but someone has to think about this stuff. Bash warned Mrs. Bash a.k.a. Kenna to go get their ward Pascal and hide in a 16th-century panic room with as many groceries as she could hoard. Just good husbanding there, really.

Meanwhile, a silver-haired man was making sweet love to a woman with a boil on her neck the size of a Kinder Egg. The prize inside? Death. And maybe a small figurine of Asterix or Obelix.

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He preceded to quench his post-coital thirst by grabbing someone’s tankard out of their hand and sipping from it and with that we understood the plague had infiltrated court and was now going to spread like wildfire amongst the nobility like mono amongst a football team.

Mary and Catherine took to the throne room and within moments were alerted to the plague breeching the castle walls by an elegant fugue played on classic strings. It sort of made me laugh that their “PLAGUE’S HERE Y’ALL” alarm was frankly exquisite, but on another level it mirrored their removal from the grisly reality of what was happening. Catherine and Mary were isolated from the rest of the castle and breathing only air that had passed over several platters of burning potpurri, so they were supposedly safe from infection, if not from each other’s scrutiny.

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Meanwhile, the guy who had gotten everyone into this hot mess had commandeered Pascal like a common serving boy to help him bring up grain sacks from the larder. When Kenna tried to intercede, he reminded Kenna that she was but the dead King’s mistress. We’d just seen this man in the throes of passion with a woman who was certainly not his wife and carrying a society-shattering disease, so his slut-shaming was doubly if not triply offensive and hypocritical. Shame on YOU, sir, and your plague-spreading ass.

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By this time Francis had made his way to the pile of rags on which Lola had given birth. Francis had barely learned their child was a boy when cough cough, the plague made its way into the hovel, and he had to help Lola hobble out to a waiting carriage and get the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of there.

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And then, as if Mary didn’t already have enough to worry about with her mother-in-law giving her little “What’s up?” looks, her husband off in the wilds of basically a zombie apocalypse, and her court beset by virulent plague, some noble bro turned up and asked if he could kill someone right quick. Like, people were dying left and right anyway, what would one more matter? Mary was like, “Uh... no?” and Catherine was like, “Wait wait wait, let him make his case,” which was hysterical.

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So this guy controls the food that comes to the palace. If they don’t let him play Gacy, everyone might starve. Still, Mary is backpedaling a little on the ruthlessness she showed last season: She doesn’t want to kill innocent people for political reasons. Try though Catherine did to convince Mary that one life was not a bad price for appeasing the nobility, it didn’t sit right with our fair Queen.

Meanwhile, Greer and Leith had crossed paths. Greer was like, “Hey, nice try hooking up with the flame-haired beauty who is also my fiancée’s daughter.” and Leith was like, “I didn’t even know,” and Greer was like, “If you love me, break up with her. Don’t test me this way, if you test me, I will fail.”

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It might take a crack team of psychologists to unpack this, but I found that line crazy romantic. Like, The French Lieutenant's Woman levels of romantic. And not exactly all that discouraging to old Leith, really.

Elsewhere, poor Pascal had gotten blood barfed all over him by the Sick Slut-Shamer. Kenna's solution was to throw a blanket around him and pretend he was okay—which, obviously, kind idea but also TERRIBLE idea—but luckily a chambermaid walked in before she could do so. However, the guards then herded Pascal, Kenna, and the body of the idiot into the room together without so much as a single Cold-Eeze lozenge to protect Kenna's immune system.

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No joke, this is literally my worst nightmare: quarantine situations have terrified me since watching The Hot Zone in a middle school math class and shame on Ms. Benson for trying to pass it off like that shit was appropriate/relevant to fractions.

Even poor Catherine thought she had the plague, though in actuality Mary had enlisted Nostradamus to give her a potion that would make her think she had the plague long enough to not assassinate several nobles. Is Nostradamus switching allegiances? However Mary’s efforts on this front were in vain: The guy whose murder-plotting Mary had thwarted then poisoned the water of an entire quarantined family to kill the one rival he’d wanted to axe in the first place, a group of people that included Yvette Castleroy.

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Truly a terrible fate, but perhaps marginally better than getting stabbed in the stomach?

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Okay so, Bash, as is his wont, reacted very passionately to learning that Kenna was locked up in a chamber with plague cooties. He straight-up ripped a wooden door open but then a zombie plague lady popped out and he handled that crisis by stabbing her in the stomach.

No lie, that was harsh, but weirdly a relief? Like, I half-expected him to try to help her get to her family or something, so when he did this instead, it was as though I was watching a horror movie and a prom queen had been about to go down to the basement to see what all the heavy breathing was, but thought the better of it, hightailed it to a well-lit McDonald’s, and called the police instead. Conveniently foolish decisions are so prevalent as plot devices on TV that pragmatism can be a relief.

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Thankfully, Bash was not infected during this mercy kill, though in a state of panic-induced delirium, he was visited by a creepy girl ghost.

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After this he at last found Kenna, and they embraced, and guys can I just say that Kenna and Bash are my Reign OTP? I love the progression of their relationship from forced marriage to partnership to real affection. I love that Kenna can count on him. I'm sorry that Pascal is no longer a part of the Benna family, but maybe it was a little early for them to have kids anyway. I’m heartless, I know.

Lola’s no good very bad terrible awful postpartum experience came to an end when she and Francis ran into some nobles who were similarly fleeing the plague and they recognized their King. Help at last! Suddenly everybody was #glamping in a spacious tent with Francis’s cousin Louis. The news just kept getting better: Louis had a special ship and he was going to put everyone’s girlfriend on it and send it to safety, and there was room for one more! Lola getting passage on the Girlfriend Ship would solve a lot of problems: Lola would have her autonomy, Francis would know she and the baby were safe, and he could return to Mary like none of this had ever happened.

But before he could pack Lola off, whoops, he fell in love with his baby.

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This was another one of those moments that Reign does so well: a conflict where no one is really the bad guy. Of course Francis doesn’t want to just abandon his firstborn. Of course bringing his firstborn baby back to the castle is a terrible, terrible idea. But it looks like that’s what’s happening.

Mary, for her part, delivered harsh justice by putting the bro who'd poisoned an entire family in a hellhole.

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Again, it was a situation ripped from the headlines of all our worst nightmares, but this act reinforced the ruthless edge that Mary acquired last season while reaffirming that her moral compass is still in hand. She'll need it with the impending famine, the fact that she just brutally murdered a VIP nobleman's son, and Lola's lovechild on its way back to court. Mary is starting Season 2 in maybe a worst-case scenario. Where will she go from here?

QUESTIONS:
... Did Francis make the right choice?
... How long until Greer and Leith are back on?
... What do you think a Ghostly Reckoning will look like, and will Clarissa be involved?
... Bash and Kenna: the cutest?
... What was your favorite part of "The Plague"?

By Lily Sparks


Drawn and QuarteredEdit

Reign "Coronation" Review: Let Them Eat Bread - TV.com

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Yo, “Drawn and Quartered” was like Game of Thrones. It went deep and got really complex, with tense political intrigue at its center, personal relationship dynamics ramping up on all sides, and a startling tinge of the supernatural at the end. The pace slowed to make room for incredible scenes that established the newcomers and gave weight to some new directions for our mains (like Queen Catherine’s bloody cuticles!!), plus we got to see a stone sarcophagus with Alan Van Sprang’s likeness on it, which I would bid the hell out of on eBay.

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The episode also reunited Mary and Francis at long last, but of course Francis came back to court with an entourage of the purest drama.

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Not only was Francis packing Lola and her baby, he was also accompanied by Lord Narcisse and Louis Condé, straight off their glamping sesh in the woods.

Mary’s feelings on this score seemed very reasonable: "She’s my friend, the baby’s yours, be a dad to him, but please please please don’t make things weird by publicly proclaiming him Officially My Side Chick’s Kid." This was very understandable, stance-wise! Mary is facing international pressure to have a baby, and Francis recognizing an illegitimate son would not only call her fertility into question, it would also provide an alternate claim to her kid’s throne someday. And, frankly, Francis wasn’t exactly being the most sensitive husband, monologuing expansively about his recently unlocked fatherhood feels.

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Also, remember that awful dude Mary locked in a cellar to die of the plague last week? Well, his dad Lord Narcisse is basically the General Mills of France, and he went full Angela Lansbury on his son’s mysterious death in the cellars of the castle until he found a witness to Mary’s harsh, hasty justice from last week.

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Narcisse rounded up the nobles to corner King Francis and demand that he put Nostradamus to death for misdiagnosing his son, sinisterly emphasizing that this was a “no buts” type of situation.

Meanwhile, Catherine, who’d discovered that Nostradamus had given her Fake Plague last week, wasn’t ready to intercede on behalf of her favorite vizier; instead, she chose to stand by and make this a “learning moment” for the royal couple.

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But while Francis was ready to play nice with Narcisse to keep the cereal and muffins flowing, Mary was having none of it. She grasped what Francis apparently could not: that if you give these bitches an inch, they’ll take a mile. “Then let them watch you, and you be above reproach," she snarled. "This was my mistake, and I'll fix it.” Shivers. SHIVERS!!! Mary has no regrets and no fear in her heart. She is fixing all of Fronch politics behind the scenes like Olivia Pope in a prom gown, and that’s exactly what I love to see.

So Mary privately confronted Lord Narcisse, laying it all out on the table and basically saying, “Okay, yes: I killed your son, but let’s be real, he was a real P.O.S.”

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Though he was well abreast of his son’s shittiness, Narcisse was still thirsting for vengeance. Since he couldn’t demand Mary’s death, he’d do the next best thing: remove a certain loyal vizier from court, which would effectively discourage anyone from being loyal to her in the future because obviously she’d appear to be as effective in shielding her friends as a piece of cardboard against a chainsaw. This scene was a great introduction to Narcisse as a savvy, ruthless politico who radiates Lannister vibes in the best way.

Meanwhile, poor Peppercorn/Castleroy was grieving his daughter Yvette via lashing out against Leith, who he blamed for her death. Like a parent hacking into your Facebook account and posting on your wall that you’re grounded because of what you did at Carl’s party, Castleroy completely shamed Greer by letting Leith know that she’d told him everything about their last conversation, and she had spun Leith as a crazy stalker who was dating Yvette just to get close to her. Greer had thrown Leith under the bus, and now Leith knew it; she looked like a jealous, two-faced crazy person with an angry dad for a fiancé.

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BTW, this is exactly what happens in high school if you try to keep a cutie on reserve and play it off to your boyfriend like the cutie is just crazy: It will blow up in your face as soon as they get in the same room together. Luckily, Greer was wearing a really nice cape with a flawless blowout when she emerged, whereas the rest of us mere mortals would probably have on leggings, no makeup, and a messy bun when shit went down, trust.

Speaking of awkward, painful love triangles: In the midst of scurrying to protect Sexy Nostradamus from being turned into Sexy Nostranuggets and defend Francis’s sovereignty, Mary was faced with gushing new mom Lola.

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Lola crossed a line here, but I have to say that Mary has handled everything with the baby hyper-well. I’ve been saying this since Olivia, but one of the things I love most about the character of Mary is that she never gets jealous or competitive about “other women” in Francis’s life. She doesn’t try to control other women to moderate Francis’s behavior; he’s responsible for his reactions, turn off the Jolene and don’t allow yourself to be railroaded into competing with every likable lady who crosses your path, and amen to that. Mary is honest and vulnerable about being hurt by the situation, but she won’t let it come between her and Lola. I mean, I let it come between me and Lola because LOLA I SEE YOU!! You know what you did. But I love that Mary doesn't share my poor attitude in that respect, at all.

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Meanwhile the clock was ticking for poor Nostradamus, who had the scene of a lifetime with Catherine. Because his allegiance had shifted to Mary, Catherine was making zero moves to stay his execution. She was basically like, “Enjoy heaven.”

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So Nostradamus let it drop that, well, mmmmmaybe Clarissa is alive and mmmmaybe the prophecy of her firstborn dying has therefore not been fulfilled, and oops, whoops what maybe Francis will die! We watched in real time as Catherine became completely unmoored, like a kite with its string cut. Without Nostradamus her sense of certainty would vanish, and something would need to fill that vacuum... hopefully Wicca.

Meanwhile, after a little trench-grave sleuthing from Bash and some inside information from Lola, plus staying sharp when grilling Narcisse, Mary had pieced together some possible leverage: Narcisse’s asshole son had poisoned the Verlands not because of some paltry affair, but because Narcisse and Verland were embezzling funds meant for The Vatican and had killed a cardinal to cover their tracks. Getting rid of Lord Verland was Narcisse’s way of gaining absolute security over that information. Unfortunately, Mary had no way to prove it, as the priest did not feel secure about coming forward, can’t imagine why.

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Greer also made a quick run to Leith’s estate to explain the awkwardness that'd transpired earlier. She admitted that she’d thrown him under the bus, but only because it was obvious to Castleroy that she was weirdly jealous of him, in a kind of subtextual, “So maybe I still liiiike you maybe” sort of way, and Leith was like, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

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THESE TWO!!! Remember when they used to make pancakes in the kitchen and go on picnics? Oh Lord, they’ve grown so jaded and world-weary! They’ve gone from, like, Pretty in Pink to The English Patient and I am loving it.

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Seconds before Nostradamus was executed, and I mean SECONDS—the horses were snorting and stomping and ready to turn Nostradamus into Nostra-niblets—Mary came running up and halted the execution. She told Lord Narcisse that she’d found Verland’s confession and sent it straight to The Vatican... but then Francis popped up, confession in hand, and informed her that he’d intercepted her letters and he’d had just about had enough of her interfering, instructing her to go back to their chamber, all of which Lord Narcisse was clearly loving.

T
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Lord Narcisse agreed that if Francis burned the letter he’d spare Nostradamus’s life, Francis burned the letter, ducked behind a wall, and he and Mary basically did a little celebratory cupid shuffle. Yes, their argument had all been an elaborate Good King/Bad Queen routine that allowed them to successfully leverage a handful of forged letters to get what they wanted. It was kind of completely delightful, and between this moment and Mary saying Francis should recognize Lola’s son and she will try and open her heart to him too, well, it made me feel like maybe the kids are gonna be alright. Maybe the kid world leaders are going to be just fine.

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It was looking like a happy ending for everybody, except Leith: Lord Narcisse wanted SOMETHING in exchange for his son’s life, and that turned out to be Leith’s beloved patch of land. Leith was called back to court, just as Castleroy was headed out of town, leaving Greer with the relationship status of “It’s Complicated.” So that is going to be quite awesome, Greer and Leith thrown together at court constantly while secretly hating each other but secretly loving each other even more. Countdown to stolen kisses? Oh I think we can set our countdown clocks to “stolen kisses.” So now we had Mary and Francis holding it down flawlessly, a Greith reunion on the horizon, everything was coming up Milhouse, and then holy shit suddenly this came out of nowhere:

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Imagine you’re a young king and suddenly a buxom woman starts speaking in the voice of your angry, departed father like Sexy Hamlet. Literally nothing is scarier. The door to death is standing open and King Henry is back!!! And busty!!! Can it be next Thursday already?!

QUESTIONS:
... Mary being so cool about Lola’s baby is amazing, but can it last forever? What happens when international baby pressure starts getting real?
... Is this the end of Sexy Nostradamus, or will he return to court in a blaze of glory/via Clarissa’s hidey hole tunnels?
... Does Condé’s stark black leather jacket possibly signal secret Protestant leanings, or just a fondness for severe fashion?
... Have you ever "pulled a Greer" and gotten caught trying to be all things to two men at the same time?
... Would you feel comfortable letting the ghost of a murdered king babysit your child? What if he was very busty?
... How many people have you commanded to watch Reign Season 1 on Netflix so that you'll be caught up and you can watch Season 2 together?


By Lily Sparks


CoronationEdit

Reign "Coronation" Review: Let Them Eat Bread - TV.com

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Plagues! As if making people sick isn't bad enough, they kill off all the farmers, and then there's no one to tend the crops, and then the harvest molds in the fields, and then suddenly people are fighting in the streets for rancid potatoes on King Francis’s big day, and that is SO EMBARRASSING for the royals. Just imagine, all those foreign dignitaries, eating free food and staying in the super nice tent that you'd set up for them, side-eying your luxurious appetizers and sneering. “Check it out” the dignitaries might whisper to each other, “Some guy just got stabbed for trying to make off with an uncooked KFC family meal deal. Très embarrassment!”

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Considering that a coronation was the ultimate display of power and prestige in the 16th century (similar to a Sweet 16 party ca. 2008), it was super, super tacky for the entire country to be starving during King Francis’s time to shine. You see, [[|Narcisse|Lord Narcisse]] wouldn’t let Francis borrow any grain because he was STILL MAD about his son slowly dying of plague—which, okay, yeah, that makes sense. I’d be pretty P.O.’d myself. Still, he was messing with Queen Catherine's plan to appear, you know, financially stable and self-sufficient as a country.

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Plus, was it the good peasants of France who killed Narcisse's son? No, just Mary. And she was still hilariously NOT AT ALL sorry about it. “It was justice,” she said a couple times. “Get over it, bro.” Which I kind of loved. Meanwhile Kenna was getting bullied by

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Poor Kenna also couldn’t even get through a whole dance with her husband without some bitch running up and interrupting the couple in the middle of a spin. Like, rude. Let them finish the minuet, lady!

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This is a cool indicator of Bash’s new status as King’s Deputy—he can basically go off on little adventures and solve cases like a cross between Chris Marlowe and Columbo. It's great for the story, but it apparently doesn’t pay very well, because he and Kenna are destitute; their house burned in a plague fire they're living in a court apartment, with no overtime, health, or dental.

Meanwhile Lola, Official Royal Baby-Haver, is marching around wearing pearl earrings the size of Kinder Eggs and collecting titles, houses, lands, and Escalades, all courtesy of Francis.

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Lola is spending all day every day looking hot and being rich while MULTIPLE NURSES tend to her baby, whereas Francis’s actual wife—the QUEEN—is having to take one for the team by appearing docile and subservient at all times so that Francis looks like the kind of powerful dude who's in total control of his slavishly adoring wife. (It's a trend that's still in fashion; just look at all the politicians who are outed in sex scandals and then their wives are like, “I’m staying by his side, we'll repair our family, he's a good man, etc. etc.”) Even though they agreed that Mary's little wifey routine was all for show, it's clearly the kind of bullshit that quickly gets out of hand, and "Coronation" dealt with Francis initially just pretending that he wanted obedience from Mary but ultimately demanding it from her.

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Regardless, Mary found an alternative way to get her hands on some of that delicious grain for her constituency when a Protestant German duke offered All You Can Eat grain in exchange for several protestant prisoners who'd been locked up for their religious beliefs.

In our day and time, most people think about the difference between Catholics and Protestants as sorta like the difference between blue and periwinkle: kinda different, but same general idea. NOT SO IN THE 16TH CENTURY, my friends! If you were Protestant in a Catholic country, you were seen as quite literally in league with the devil. Protestants were tortured and straight-up burned at the stake. Protestants had to be extremely sneaky about being Protestants, sneaky like junkies except their addiction was reading bibles written in their own language and not in Latin... so, not like junkies at all really, but, you know, there was that kind of stigma. HISTORY LESSON OVER.

Basically, releasing Protestant prisoners to a Protestant duke in a castle filled to the poppin’ point with Catholics was tantamount to throwing a match on Kenna and Bash’s chateau. But with Narcisse white-knucklin’ that grain, Mary didn’t have much choice. She made an executive decision and told the duke he had a deal. Francis was busy anyway, interrogating the nurse from last week. Interestingly, he didn’t believe she was possessed, he believed she was involved in some kind of intrigue—but then a second serving of creepy rattled his rationality a little.

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Then we learned that some seemingly random woman had sidled up to Kenna, gone full Oprah, and given her a free house.

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Unfortunately Bash revealed that the lady didn’t just have a spare house lying around, she was the wife of the guy who killed the party-crasher’s husband—the guy Bash had been investigating—who was probably a murderer. So the house was probably a really, really nice bribe.

Kenna confronted the lady later on, and the lady was like, “Well if you think it’s problematic to accept a free house from me then I guess I could just kill your honest-ass husband to achieve the same end.” So Kenna did what probably any of us would do: She burned the evidence incriminating this bitch’s husband because she doesn’t want to lose Bash and whoof, guys, when I see this couple on-screen literal cartoon hearts pop out of my head.


Meanwhile Mary’s Secret German Duke Deal to exchange some prisoners came crashing down like so many professional tumblers in Macklemore haircuts, right in the middle of Francis’s Coronation Tumbling Show.

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That's when the duke revealed that the prisoners were gone! Everybody got out their swords and started getting CRAZY right in the MIDDLE of FRANCIS’S CORONATION TUMBLING!!! Mary’s unilateral move had gone as bad as it could possibly have gone, and Francis was livid.

Mary was beautifully unfazed by all of this. She merely let out a deep sigh, rolled up her pearlescent brocaded sleeves, and started proactively sleuthing straight to the bottom of the “prisoners disappearing” situation. Apparently they’d been distracted by a certain mesmerizing mademoiselle with Ke$ha hair and mismatched eyes she’d met earlier, and that led her straight to Louis Condé.

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Condé was all, “Okay, fine: I’m as guilty as I am handsome. But I really need these prisoners,” and Mary explained she was very, very disappointed in him, which as we all know is way worse than someone getting mad at you, and Condé sheepishly returned all the prisoners because he does NOT want to let her down and mmmaybe he has a little crush on her? Mmmmmmmmaybe?

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But back to Mary's, um, marriage: All was healed between Mary and Francis when Mary miraculously returned the missing prisoners and completed her international grain deal to save Francis’s people. It’s the little things, in a marriage. Francis showed some major appreciation by telling Narcisse that he was no longer Bros Before Hos, and that Mary was the QUEEN, damn it, and Narcisse would have to LEARN TO DEAL WITH THAT REALITY! (Royality?)

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The firm touch worked like a charm on Narcisse, who immediately was like, “Yes sir, and your grain will be express-mailed to you immediately sir,” and then it was time for the double Coronation of the new Queen and King by Sinterklaas himself.

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This scene was gorgeous, and it genuinely felt like a victory lap after three episodes that severely tested this hot young couple’s political acumen and romantic compatibility. And just to further cement them as a pair, "Coronation" ended with a LOT of sultry, steamy lace silhouettes and Francis and Mary um, working on that baby. Cue the sound of 16-year-olds yelling at their mom to “please just like leave the room or don’t look right now” and their moms being like, “What?! Believe it or not, missy, your mom has a sex life and—” and then screams of “MOOOOM SERIOUSLY STAAAAHP!!”and then a lot of happy giggling.

QUESTIONS:
... What is Catherine up to with Narcisse?
... How is Mary staying so patient about Lola? Would you have the strength?
... Condé: kind of into Mary? Mmmmmmmmmmabye?
... Could you/should you make a meal out of just KFC biscuits, mashed potatoes, and gravy?
... Best dress of the episode?
By Lily Sparks


The Lamb and the SlaughterEdit

Reign "The Lamb and the Slaughter" Review: Frary Godmother - TV.com

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The Lamb and the Slaughter” dealt with the series-long question, “Can anything make Lola happy?” Because really—there she was, all three heads of state fawning over her Super Fancy Baby Christening, yet she was giving EVERYONE the side-eye and sucking her teeth as if she was being confronted by mean sorority sisters who were about to circle her "problem areas" with red Sharpie.

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Poor Mary had to actually chase a pouty Lola down the hall, begging her forgiveness for... for... for what exactly? Encouraging Francis to acknowledge his child with Lola? Thereby providing her child with status and untold riches? I honestly had no idea.

Luckily, Lola had no problem openly complaining: She was mad that Mary hadn’t gotten mad at her yet. Also she wanted to live in a cottage by herself. Also she didn’t want to be a Ladies-in-Waiting anymore, though I'll be damned if I’ve seen her lift a finger to fill that role in any way, shape, or form.

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Elsewhere in the kingdom, people were having ACTUAL problems: A trio of mysterious horsemen was terrorizing a peasantry already ravaged by plague. This poor shepherd was so badly traumatized by them threatening to steal his soul that not even a fuzzy throw-blanket could fully comfort him.

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But back to Lola’s hardscrabble existence: Her best friends had organized a picnic-blanket baby shower for her and were lavishing her with thoughtful presents, when Lord Narcisse showed up with Estelle, one of the MacGyver midwives who'd helped Lola deliver her baby. Estelle was now married to Narcisse and acting very weird about it.

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Uh-oh!

Then we all enjoyed the sight of a REAL FREAKING CASTLE when Mary led Francis up to a turret to reminisce about their childhood together and relayed some good news: She was pregnant! She’d kept it a secret, but now she was sure she wanted him to be the first to know! Too bad, because he totally wasn’t, Queen Catherine was.

No one has baby fever like Queen Catherine has baby fever. She looks way too young to be a grandma, but who wouldn’t want that kind of future grandma in their corner? She burst into Mary and Francis's bedchamber (okay, inappropriate, but still) all ready to go with a chest of potions and a bowl of snacks. It was so super endearing and adorable. I sort of want to put Catherine's gleeful quotes on a greeting card for the next baby shower I attend.

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Also Leith was now at court, which meant Greer felt VERY flustered. Luckily court expert Kenna made it clear to Greer that her "money first" attitude was ridiculous. Look at Kenna: Though she and Bash had little more than a very fragile bedframe, they were happier than a pair of frisky bunnies, and that was all that mattered. Kenna told Greer in no uncertain terms that Greer was even more “driven by passion” than she, which I’m pretty sure counts as Kenna calling Greer out as a lady on the streets and a freak between the sheets, but in a super awesome “Go get it” kind of way.

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Meanwhile, Estelle revealed that Narcisse had a reputation of going through brides at the rate I go through napkins at Chipotle. She begged Lola to use her influence at court to annul the marriage, so Lola sat Francis and Mary down and projected all her issues onto Estelle in a really, really obvious way that was totally clear even to people living before therapy.

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Mary was like, “Francis, if you could please remove yourself from what is about to be a crime scene, Lola and I need to take out our earrings, tie up our hair, and settle this woman to woman,” and Francis was GONE. Like, he moved so fast that he left behind a cartoon dust cloud in the shape of his body. Wise man, because Mary and Lola were about to get into it, with Mary making the following excellent points:

1. You slept with a guy I’d had dibs on since childhood and you KNEW I loved him. Even if we were on a break, that is AWFUL.

2. You WANT me to get angry about it so you can feel like the victim, but actually you are the only one who should feel guilty here.

3. Don’t expect me to sink to your peasant-ass level.

It was good they cleared the air, because clearly Mary had been bottling up her emotions like the Charles Shaw of hurt feelings—and yet Lola was somehow the one who walked off all miffed and butt-hurt.

And then lo and behold, the most beautiful dress I’ve ever seen in my life appeared on-screen:

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You know how it is when a bomb goes off in a movie and no one can hear for 30 seconds, it’s only a high-pitched ringing noise? Such was the impact of this gown. Also Greer and Leith met on the dance floor and it was a scene right out of your favorite movie. Their passion blazed so intensely that they may've melted the entire Butter Cherub into a pool of delicious salty dairy product.

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Even though Mary and Lola had just had the biggest blowout since Pippa Middleton stepped on Kate’s hem right as she exited the Royal Carriage, Mary started working on Narcisse in a subtle, diplomatic fashion to release Estelle from the marriage. She was like, “You know, a lot of rich hotties are single right now,” and Naricsse was like, “Tell me more.”

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But before they could discuss further, his guards sounded the alert that Estelle was missing. Missing and a MURDERER.

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Yes, Lola had clumsily schemed to meet Estelle in her chambers and sneak her out of the palace, and Estelle had butchered a guard in order to keep the appointment. When Mary found out, she was furious—especially because she’d been seconds away from fixing everything with zero blood spilt—but she got everything under control and 100 percent came through, whisking Estelle into a carriage and pulling rank to get her past the nosy guards. Estelle was off to a dubious freedom of obscurity and poverty, and Lola and Mary were ready to get down with some wine and celebrate a job well done.

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Moments like this one are why Mary is so necessary as a character. She feels hurt and betrayal deeply, but she feels love and empathy even more, and that’s a kind of strength we don’t see represented very often on television. Most of our pop culture heroines encourage girls to be like Katniss from The Hunger Games or Whatsherface from Divergent, full of groupthink and stoicism and cold, emotionless determination, bent on hardening themselves into defensive weapons. But in real life, having the courage to feel your feelings and forgive your friends and emerge from harsh circumstances with a core part of yourself still tender and caring is everything. It takes the greatest strength. It is the bravest way to live.

Anyway, Lola asked Mary to be her baby’s godmother, and that was amazing, and Mary was headed off to the christening when all of a sudden the expression on her face matched the one that I associate with Taco Bell and everything went very, very wrong. Blood-down-the-dress wrong.

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Mary had miscarried, which, oh my God, and then she still got dressed and ready and smiled through the christening of her BFF and her husband’s baby, which, you know, WTF. Superhuman strength.

Now okay, I got some bad news for you, after all that hard work to make Estelle a single woman again, she went and jumped off a cliff in hot pursuit of some ghosts. Oh, Estelle. At least she came back to the castle beautifully wrapped.

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But yes, The Reckoning had begun. Also that shepherd from the top of the episode? Since being marked by the Mysterious Riders, he’d straight-up slaughtered his entire family in a fugue state, which, well, geez. Reign has really walked a tightrope between supernatural elements and people being influenced by grim circumstances, and these murder-compelling mystery horsemen are a genuinely terrifying new thread.

So now for the shock of the episode. No, the multiple murder was not the big shock, a sex scene was: After Kenna’s “Go get it” sex advice and that super sensuous dance with Leith, Greer went and made her body ready to... Castleroy?! She stone-cold seduced him. It was a record-scratch moment I was not expecting, but since I’ve been #TeamPepperpot all along, I was secretly delighted. JUDGE ME. A corset was untied in slow motion, and I pretty much passed away. Judge me.

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Okay. So then we came to the part where Francis ruined us for all other men.

Learning that Mary had miscarried, he gave her a talk about when they were kids and used to go out at sunset and wait for fireflies, and sometimes the fireflies came out and sometimes they didn’t, and Mary would cry if they didn’t, but he never cared because “the thrill for me was in the waiting.” DO YOU GET WHAT HE IS SAYING HE IS SAYING WHETHER THEY HAVE KIDS OR NOT HE JUST WANTS TO SPEND HIS LIFE WITH HER YOU GUYS I AM SOBBING. And then he pulled her onto the balcony and there were like one million beautiful lanterns and the PAGODA BOATS ARE BACK I LOVE THE PAGODA BOATS. Dammit Francis you are giving even Mr. Darcy a run for his money with this next-level thoughtfulness shit. Dear Lord.

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So basically this scene was so beautiful that it almost ruined my life. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go hassle my guy into staging a flying, glowing lantern show for me in a way that is still delightfully surprising.

QUESTIONS:
... Um, was an episode about miscarriage somehow your favorite episode of Reign to date?!
... Pepperpot: were you shocked? Do you approve?! Will their romance fizzle or sizzle?
... The trio of riders who make people commit murder: any theories?
...THOSE LANTERNS THOUGH.

By Lily Sparks


Blood for BloodEdit

Reign "Blood for Blood" Review: Undercover Lover - TV.com

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In "Blood for Blood," Reign plunged into the historical conflict between Protestants and Catholics when a clandestine service held by the former was interrupted by a furious group of the latter. It is VERY hard to pretend a church service is anything but a church service, apparently.

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Elsewhere, Kenna heard and instantly identified the unmistakable sounds of love-making, so she followed the noises much like Toucan Sam has been known to follow his nose to a bowl of delicious Froot Loops, and stumbled upon two frisky servants making out behind a curtain of gossamer. Kenna gave the maidservants two thumbs up for their enthusiasm, then hilariously ganked the smutty porn novel that'd apparently inspired their steamy interlude... for further inspection, of course.

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Speaking of sexy, Busty Nurse was back and still communing with the spirit of King Henry’s ghost, leaving things in Francis’s room and then acting like she didn’t know what'd happened.

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Francis clearly had a lot on his hands even before he learned of the latest skirmish betwixt the Protestants and Catholics... and the fact that it had claimed the life of Louis Condé’s nephew! His 20-year-old nephew! How old is your sister, Louis Condé? Were you like, a “happy surprise”-type baby? Because you and your nephew appear to be about the same age, Louis Condé!

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Condé was insistent on a full investigation and the prosecution of the Catholics who’d murdered his kin. Francis was like, “Shhhhh... respect for your loss but shhhh please don’t make me get involved in this shit.” Which, you know, understandable.

Much more fun news: The smutty book that Kenna had found was a sex journal kept by an anonymous lady who’d sampled the sexual prowess of all the gentlemen and some of the ladies at court and then paper-blogged about it. Kenna was having the time for her life reading it and trying to guess the identity of one Sexual Godzilla in particular; he was a nobleman whom the sex diary praised to the skies, a man with a butterfly birthmark on his wrist and an unrelenting ability to make the ladies say YEAH between his hips.

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Hilariously, Catherine read the protean Yelp of one-night stands in the space of an hour, and she had PLENTY to say about it because she’d been getting busy on her own time. Kenna and Lola were giving her looks like, “Are you trying to say that you’ve been like uh you know um doing that thing which uh...” and she was just like, “Henry died. I live.” It was perfect. Also perfect: when she sent a servant fleeing simply by looking the girl up and down and saying, “Please, your hair!” I cackled. Catherine may've been demoted to Queen Mother, but she will always be the First Lady of Shade in Fronce.

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Catherine revealed that her best guess regarding the Butterfly Birthmark Stud was some dude named Lord Aris‏‎. Kenna was like, “Go get it, Lola.”


Meanwhile Mary was missing out on all the sexy fun because she was trying to navigate the deepening conflict between Catholics and Protestants: The Catholics had wheeled in some dude who'd had his head crushed in and claimed that Condé’s nephew had killed him, and that’s why Catholics had acted against Condé's nephew. Condé in turn bared his man-breast to Mary, revealing the mark of The Dark Riders! The same mark that made the shepherd go full-Manson last week! Condé said he’d been set upon and forcefully branded with “burning acid” by a bunch of Catholic extremists, which, that is like some Joker-level villainy. Branding someone with burning acid?! Like that’s terrible and all, but points for creativity and thinking outside the box on that one.

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Mary was so busy keeping a delicate peace betwixt two major religious factions that she missed Greer’s bachelorette party. And that’s a shame, because NO ONE does a better bachelorette party than a Scottish clique. They call them Hen Parties over in Scotland, and if you go to Edinburgh on the weekend there are THRONGS of girls, usually in costume, making the bride carry around a giant inflatable, raising hell, drinking hard, and having the most fun you’ve ever seen. This proud tradition was portrayed by a drunken Kenna, Lola, and Greer hopping into a fountain together on a hot day, goblets in hand.

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Meanwhile, Busty Bessy took a seat on the throne and Francis stepped in, pulling her aside for a long chat while she was in Ghost Dad Mode. Just as things had escalated to the point where he was like shouting, “Yes father, I killed you!” Lord Narcisse walked in and I actually said "Oh shit!" out loud.

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Having Narcisse overhear this was a complete worst-case scenario. Francis chose not to kill Narcisse at that moment and almost immediately came to regret it when he pieced together the fact that Narcisse had planned the whole Ghost Dad thing. Narcisse had convinced the nursemaid to pretend to be haunted and run a long con on Francis on the off chance that the situation would escalate to a confession, as it had.

This was a great story decision for Reign. It maintained the show's habit of presenting supernatural threats that turn out to have rational explanations, and it completely amplified Narcisse’s power as a villain while isolating Francis in his conflict with Narcisse. We saw that immediately, as Francis bowed to Narcisse’s will regarding the Catholics vs. Protestants situation but couldn’t tell Mary why, choosing instead to let her believe that he was acting weird because he didn’t think she could have a baby.

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This scene was so well done that it was kind of hard to watch. Toby Regbo and Adelaide Kane accomplish so much in their shared scenes each week, but this one stood out as portraying the isolation you can feel, even within a marriage, even across from someone you love, when there’s something obstructing real communication. Mary’s shift from inquisitor to heartbroken newlywed was devastating.

But let’s end things on a happy note: the most elaborate wedding we’ve seen since Mary and Francis's nuptials. There was Greer, Greer and her giant, giant quilted skirt and sheath of flowers and her sky mural, marrying Castleroy. The fact that he sort of came out to her as a Protestant and gave her the option to not marry him and still have dowries provided for her sisters, that was a bold stroke in making this wedding feel like it was really Greer’s choice.

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Obviously I’ve been #TeamPepperpot since Day 1, so this was nothing short of a happy ending to me. However, we’re still seeing reaction shots from Leith almost every time Greer appears on-screen. Is Greer denying feelings that will come back to haunt her later? Or has her sensible engagement blossomed into a true romance?

QUESTIONS:
... Did Greer make the right choice, or do she and Leith have unfinished business ?
... Narcisse asking Lola to tea: Is he trying to gain control over Francis’s only child as another kind of power play ?
.... Narcisse as the Sexual Godzilla: Did you always kind of suspect this?
... How long until Francis tells Mary the truth about his father?



Three QueensEdit

Reign "Three Queens" Review: Road Trip! - TV.com

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Three Queens” was one for the Mary and Catherine fans. I didn’t realize how much I missed their buddy dynamic, but this episode was a pure joy, from Mary inviting herself along on Catherine’s cross-country jaunt to Catherine’s impromptu Cockney accent.

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In a cruel twist of fate, just as Catherine was explaining to Mary how vulnerable royals are to a peasant uprising, a peasant uprising happened right in front of them on the damn road, and Catherine was off like a shot through a secret escape hatch in the floor of her carriage. Mary followed her off into the woods while the peasants and guards fought it out, and advised Catherine to turn her cloak inside out so they’d be mistaken for peasants.

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Good luck with that your majesties, you both look incredibly regal, but sure.

Meanwhile Lola had learned that her family wanted nothing to do with her ever again. “Have a nice life,” they had written to her. “P.S. don’t write back this is absolutely your last letter. Last sentence right here, goodbye.” Which is heartbreaking, but thank God she has Kenna to give her some #realtalk about going full-on Jackie O and stockpiling her jewelry and wardrobe into an emergency escape fund.

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Lola was like, "Speaking of which, what happened to my big-ass dowry?" and she hastened to the 16th-century equivalent of Chase.

Meanwhile, the besieged Queens of Fronce were hobbling through the woods getting hungrier by the moment. Luckily they spotted a town, but the provincial inkeeper refused to give them free food. Mary and Catherine introduced themselves as a mother and daughter team and Mary offered to do any kind of work to pay for some supper—milk a goat, wash goblets, do a puppet show in the corner of the tavern, anything. The guy was like, “Or you could serve drinks,” and Mary double-fisted two tankards like she’d been doing it all her life, all, “Done and done. Who has the heffeweizen and the IPA?! Hot soup hot soup, comin’ through!”

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Catherine, hilariously, was like, “The poor girl will just have to do the work for both of us,” and Mary threw her some side-eye like you wouldn’t believe.

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After Mary had slung enough beer in her ballgown, the two ladies sat down to eat through a roasted chicken and had a real heart-to-heart. Mary confessed that she had an ulterior motive to travel with Catherine: She wanted to see a gynecologist in Beauvais. Catherine was like, “Girl, that was the story of my life for my first 10 years of marriage. Welcome to hell.” I actually liked this moment a lot. Catherine was lecturing Mary on how to be a queen, as usual, but it was coming from a place of real empathy: "Been there, done that, got the Empty Royal Womb With the Whole World Watching T-shirt." And it was sort of lovely.


Then who strolls, in but a pair of freakin’ impostors?!

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Okay, so this was fascinating. Because we’re operating in a time with no photography and, let’s face it, kind of dubious portraiture (everyone in the 16th century not painted by Hans Holbein looks kind of like a toddler), no one has the slightest clue what Mary and Francis look like. A false Mary and Francis had been making the rounds in flashy outfits and a flashy carriage, collecting money from villages for the Fronch army and setting fire to farms just to enrage the populace (ergo, the attack on the road).

There’s actually a lot of historical precedent for this, and I loved the conceit of Mary and Catherine pretending to be commoners while listening to ridiculous stories about royal life (though apparently they NAILED it about the hatmaker). All the ladies at court bathing in a lake of pure “Ass’s Milk” is a concept that will make me laugh for a very long time. And if you don’t picture a butt with milk flowing out of it in a graceful arc when you hear those words, then you are just a very cool mature person and not me.

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Meanwhile, when Lola got to Wells Fargo or whatnot, the mean old banker was like, “Lola, the money is going to the father-in-law of the man your husband was pretending to be,” and Lola was like, “Damn.” But then while she was sitting on a day bed just chilling, Lord Narcisse strolled up and offered to help her with her dowry situation if she’d have tea with him. I don’t know what it is I like about these two so much. Individually they are both devious characters, but as a couple I find them endlessly intriguing.

Tea involved two guys staring off into the middle distance while Narcisse and Lola acted like they weren’t there, which, awkward.

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And also a GAUNTLET! With about 15 fastenings?! Dude has a lot of patience with buckles. I will wear house shoes far outside the house simply to not have to deal with such fastenings, so this was a small wonder in and of itself. Then he gave her a very sexy (and effective!) archery lesson.

Meanwhile, Mary planned to play a player: She and Catherine snuck over to Fake Mary’s room and Catherine broke into this Cockney accent and pretended she and Mary were con women lookin’ to hitch a ride with some fellow grifters and I was dying. Is there no end to how wonderful Megan Follows is?! Fake Mary was pretty buzzed, so she was just into all of it until Fake Joaquin Phoneix Francis burst into the chamber, all furious about Fake Mary talking to strangers.

P.S. I really loved Fake Mary. She was hilarious. All of her reaction shots, her kind of loopy reminiscing, magnificent. A+++, Fake Mary.

Anyway, Mary and Catherine decided to give the impostors their privacy while bickering, when the King's Guard showed up in that very inn! They were there to save the queens! Or WERE they?

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We learned pretty quickly that this King's Guard was a bad dude (albeit with great eyebrows), and now Mary and Catherine were completely in his power!

Luckily the now-drunk Fake Mary blurted her whole sad story to them: The guard was her lover, he was going to kill them. Not even fazed, Real Mary unsheathed her trusty dagger. And Catherine unsheathed her... hat pin.

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Luckily Fake Mary was ready to turn on her treacherous lover, so when he stopped the carriage on a long dark road, she did as Catherine advised and tried to stab him between his fifth and sixth ribs. Unfortunately he was wearing both a solid metal vest and a shirt of chain mail, so it did literally nothing. Worse than nothing, actually, because her ineffectual metal-on-metal stabbing made him super angry, and he straight-up snapped her neck. Still, valiant effort nonetheless, Fake Mary!

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With literally no way out, their dagger gone, not a bath bomb of poison in sight, Mary grabbed Catherine’s hat pin and stabbed it right into the flank of a horse, who consequently trampled their captor to death. Thinking outside the box: It saves lives!

So obviously that moment was great, but the revelation that Queen Elizabeth had sponsored the impostors also made me re-think the title of the episode: the three queens of "Three Queens" weren't Catherine, Mary, and Fake Mary, they were Catherine, Mary, and Elizabeth, as Elizabeth had infiltrated Mary’s guards and wanted to kill Mary for having worn the crest of England on her dress that one time. This was both a Season 1 tie-in and a thrilling moment for those of us who are obsessed with all things Tudor. Ugh, I can’t believe I not only unironically typed "all things Tudor," but that I'm still successfully resisting the urge to delete them because let’s be real, I am, I’m a Tudor dork, verily, that's just me, folks.

Back at Court, Narcisse stopped beating around the bush with all this tea business and got real with his freaky self about what he wanted from Lola: He wanted to watch her take a bath in one of those giant wooden tubs. It was simultaneously freaky as hell and sort of romantic? It reminded me of the iconic Biblical story of Bathsheba little bit, famed throughout art history:

I know, I know: Your panties dropped just looking at this. PRETTY HOT STUFF. The Lola body stand-in was a little more of a 2014 body-type style, and Narcisse was all about it, but then the actual Lola popped up right behind him, like, “BOO!”


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Like Mary, Lola had played a player and benefitted from the help of a doppelganger, and Narcisse respected the ruse, promising he would get her dowry money back to her after all and conceding that she was pretty good at all this courtly flirting stuff. Lola was like, “You think? (Gentle, lingering hand grab.)

After a VERY disheveled Catherine and Mary were retrieved by Francis and taken back to the castle, Catherine gave Francis a pretty touching speech about how Mary was a ride-or-die kind of woman, tell him that he should be honest with her rather than let her feel as if they were to always have a distance between them.

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Francis raced right up to Mary’s side and was like, “Remember all those awful things I said about you not being able to have babies? I was covering up about something else.” And Mary was like, “WHAT?! WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE EVEN WORSE THAN WHAT YOU SAID?!” And Francis was like, “Could you just trust me to fix it on my own?” And Mary was like, “Okay. "(It better not be the herp, bro.)” And Francis was like, “Thank you (it’s not the herp babe, no worries.)” So now there’s a tacit truce between them, a tentative trust restored. Until next week, that is!

By Lily Sparks



The Prince of the BloodEdit


Reign "The Prince of the Blood" Review: Bed, Bath, and Beyond - TV.com

A LOT happened in “The Prince of the Blood,” including the possible formation of a new love triangle and the arrival of insouciant new royal Princess Claude—and her pink fur cape—on the scene.

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Yeah, she’s great.

Mary and Francis were already in an awkward phase when the episode began, so cut off from each other that they could barely stand having breakfast at the same super long table, and then Narcisse showed up with an intolerant-ass edict that he wanted everybody to sign to out the Protestants. And obviously Narcisse was being all, “I OWN you bro. Do what I say” about it, which, honestly, Francis, just kill this guy off already. You're the king. Hire an assassin or send him a poison jacket or make it a felony to take baths. Whatever it takes. Bash was FIENDING to do some murdering, I mean it’s been half a season since he let his blood lust freak flag fly.

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Seriously, it warmed my heart that Francis was able to come clean about murdering their father to Bash and Bash was so supportive about it. He all but gave Francis a high five. I really miss seeing these two interact, and this scene reminded me why. Bash do not be afraid to harness your Wiccan powers and throw Narcisse off a cliff. If y’all were able to kill the prince of Portugal in Season 1 with no consequences, then Narcisse should be a cakewalk. PLUS Narcisse had killed off the nanny, who was the only other witness to the confession? Like, please. What does Narcisse even have on you, Francis? Put a viper in his saddlebag. Okay I am weirding myself out with all these 16th century murder ideas.

Still, by pushing Mary, Francis was also pushing her straight into the arms of Louis Condé, who it turns out is a Prince of the Blood, a member of the Bourbons, and much like the sweet liquor that bears his name, he seemed to be making Mary the tiniest bit thirsty. The show seemed to firmly establish a winky little extramarital crush betwixt he and the young queen when she showed up to his door and asked him to give her what Francis could not.

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Instead of Francis and Mary teaming up to take on the world, it was Louis and Mary, and Louis seemed damned appreciative of Mary’s pure-heartedness and political prowess.

Meanwhile, Francis decided to team up with Lola, which, shittiest idea ever dude. Catherine had retrieved an English Cypher from the room of the English traitor who tried to kill her and Mary last week and subtly dropped that it was a “Kill Whoever Free Card,” and Francis was like, “Oh huh cool can I borrow that forever please? Thanks."

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Francis sort of leveled with Lola, all like, “Look, Narcisse is a terrible guy. I can’t get into details (state secrecy) but could you do me a solid and put this envelope in his house? It will make me, you, Mary, and our son safe. Pretty please?” and Lola was like, “UGGGHHHH fine,” and hastened off to Narcisse’s manor, where they immediately got on the subject of baths and why bathtime is the best and hey, you know who happens to have a giant bathtub draped with a parachute of linen? This guy.

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Yes, Lord Narcisse went and filled up a bathtub the size of a dorm room and then, once Lola had settled in, he told her that if she wanted to know the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth about why he and Francis were at odds, she could meet him down in the drawing room. Like, what?! Dude must have emptied out half a pond to fill that bath, which is apparently on an upper floor, via bucket, and it hadn’t even cooled off! Another hint that Narcisse is delicately prodding Lola into a sub/dom situation in which he is very much the sub? I wonder.

Once she’d dried off and hastened out of a piping warm bath before she'd even had a chance to get pruny, Narcisse surprisingly laid all his cards on the table: Francis had killed Henry. Regicide, baby! It happens. “Now when he asks you to betray my trust you'll remember who trusted you,” Narcisse smirked.

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Now, we’d seen Lola hide the envelope Francis had given her previously, but when she got back from Narcisse’s house/tub time she told Francis she hadn’t had the chance to hide it. Either it’s still hidden and she’s just lying to Francis because she idiotically can’t figure out that his interests and her child’s are one and the same, or she left it there as an ace up her sleeve while she figures out Narcisse. Let’s all hope it’s the latter.

Meanwhile Louis founotestant noble and gave Mary a chance to convince him to thrust his neck out on behalf of Fronch Protestants nationwide.

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The next day, sure enough, when the edict was presented to Francis in the Room of Making Laws, the Protestant noble was nowhere to be found. But Louis, Prince of the Blood and Manliest Dude in the Room, came forward to be the hero that Mary wanted, needed, and deserved.

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Meanwhile, Claude’s first two days back at Court were pretty busy. She effed a bishop, snubbed Kenna, got her hair pulled by |ghosts, and GOOSED Bash out of nowhere. Oh NO.

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Claude you started out pretty cool but if you do ANYTHING to get in between Bash and Kenna, it’s over. You can join Lola, Satan, and McDonald’s breakfast stopping at 10:30am instead of 11am on my List of Things That Are Not Okay.

After successfully stalling for time on signing the edict, Francis then decided he was going to pull a Condé and bravely tell Naricsse he could just go ahead and call the motherf-cking police, but he was not going to sign any such edict. He even went through with it, and then Narcisse dropped a Season 1 bomb I thought would never go off: Catherine and Mary had attempted to take Henry’s life before Francis even had the chance, and if Francis didn’t sign the edict he wouldn't just be sacrificing himself, he'd be sacrificing them.

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When Mary found out, she was justifiably furious that Francis would sacrifice the lives and peace of his people and she called him out as a coward and a total D and Francis retaliated by telling her she could just pack up and go to Scotland. Now, this really did shock and disappoint me, because at this point Mary’s innocence is moot: Narcisse has the goods on her, he can pin murder on her and Catherine as well as Francis. Why not just come clean about the whole debacle? But no, to paraphrase Xaime Hernandez, if Francis was on fire he’d go buy a can of gasoline. Instead of coming clean, Francis told Mary to get the hell out of Fronce, and what do you bet he thinks it’s for her own good?

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Let’s hope she takes Lola with her, because Lola clearly cannot look out for herself. Not five minutes after he got done ghoulishly describing the death of her baby to Francis, Narcisse and Lola‏‎ were making out and then she slapped him all Christiana Grey like “You do not take before I give!” No. No Lola. I’m sorry. We all want a man who has a spa in his house and fetish for watching us simply relax in the bath, but yours also happens to be shit crazy and you’re essentially committing treason and ruining the lives of millions of people. SHAME. By Lily Sparks


Terror of the FaithfulEdit

Reign "Terror of the Faithful" Review: Whistles of the Lipless - TV.com

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Everything is spinning out of control in Fronce, and suddenly out of nowhere I am so into Narcisse and Lola‏ that it's not even funny. What is it about those two? As individuals, they're detestable; when they're together, I'm ready to declare them my OTP. Narcisse cheekily stalking Lola on her Dry-Leaf Gathering Trip, and then chasing off her horse so they had to ride home together—like, that is the ploy of a rogue! So why was I smiling the whole time it was happening?! Is this just onscreen chemistry? Because it is powerful.

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Unfortunately Lola and Narcisse’s budding romance was cut short by the searing hatred between 16th century Catholics and Protestants, which is one hell of a cock block. Francis’s edict that all Protestants must declare themselves was being harshly capitalized upon by a smug Cardinal who believed in dealing with liars by cutting off their lips!

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Gross. The Protestants reached out to Condé by briefly kidnapping him and begging him to give their minister an audience with the king. They were like, “We just want a barn. We just want a barn for us to hide in” and Condé was like, “Cool, okay, I can manage that,” and brought The Minister before the king. But then wouldn’t you know it, the minister went OFF on some terrorist-level threats that had nothing to do with barn raising.

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Yikes. It was off to the torture room for the mouthy Protestant minister, and Francis was apparently keen to be directly involved in torturing the dude himself? Doesn't he have guys in hoods who do that professionally? Not cool, Your Majesty.

Also not cool: Francis STILL hasn't told Mary about Narcisse blackmailing him, although considering that Narcisse has said he has enough evidence to indict her separately for conspiring against King Henry, Francis has literally zero reasons for not being honest with her at this point, and in fact he should be alerting her to their mutual threat. Instead he’s trying to bear the whole burden, which is making her hate him, and now the two of them are caught in this masquerade where they have to pretend like they're Will and Kate while privately feeling a lot more like Tom and Katie Cruise (when that was still happening): strained, pained, and teetering on the brink of insanity.

Lola confronted Francis to this effect, telling him that she knew what was up from Narcisse and that he should just tell Mary already, and Francis unleashed upon her a series of ocular fireworks the likes of which I’ve never seen. In his rage, he even unloosed the painful truth: Hottie Narcisse had threatened his and Lola’s baby. Straight-up threatened their baby.

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It was honestly a relief that Lola finally knows the truth, and her response was perfectly appropriate: "Well, time to kill the motherf*cker." She revealed to Francis that she had hidden the Cypher in Narcisse’s house, and if he could get a warrant together, they'd have Narcisse’s head on a platter. (Thank you, Lola. Thank you for just this once not being the worst.) So Francis dispatched the royal guards to arrest Narcisse for being a traitor.

Meanwhile, Catherine had her hands full proving to some Bavarians that her daughter Claude was a virgin, all so Claude could marry this one Bavarian dude with EXTREMELY '90s hair. I should know, I came of age amidst the mad carnivale of cargo pants and ball-bearing chokers and Polartec fleeces known as the late '90s, and this was THE look you wanted your date to the Dave Matthews Band concert to have:

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Despite his throwback hearthrob steeze, the Bavarian guy’s dad was insisting on a weird-ass virginity test for Claude, which involved a religious dude putting some fingers up into her and making sure that her hymen was still in place. This nightmare scenario totally happened back in the day, even to royals, and continues to happen in some parts of the world (looking at you, Indonesia!!! ) whenever idiots want to reduce a human being to the equivalent of an unboxed iPhone. Claude was not having fun, even though the religious dudes had helpfully installed a Modesty Mini Canopy over her lady regions. Claude was NOT having fun.

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While this was happening, Catherine walked over and vaguely rested her hand on Claude’s (albeit without making eye contact), and Claude seemed kind of happy about that? Those two have issues.

By the way, Bash called Catherine out in this episode for being so cold to her daughter, like the conscience of Fronce that he has most certainly become. “Be like, nice?” was Bash’s message. “She’s like, your kid!”

In response, Catherine launched into a heartfelt monologue about treasuring all her children, living and dead, and then she had a flashback about her twin baby girls and Claude, who as a child was Kira from Orphan Black.

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Claude/Kira had not liked how her baby sisters “ruined everything” by tearing rosettes off her gown—so she'd suffocated both of them with those same little rosettes, and all of a sudden Catherine’s brusque treatment of Claude was not just okay, it was 100 percent justified! How else do you deal with a killer child? You show no weakness, that’s what you do! I hope you all learned a lesson about not judging Catherine too quickly, because in one way or another she is always right. Poor Catherine.

Meanwhile, Narcisse decided to confront Lola by sneaking into her bedroom and asking why she'd tried to kill him.

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He’d found the Cypher and hidden it before the royal guards arrived, but now the truth was all out there: She'd turned against him, and he knew it, and Lola was pretty straightforward about it. “You threatened my kid, dude. What do you expect me to do?”

I think on some level Narcisse respected this, because even though there was a wall between them in this scene, his remark about how this was a dangerous world and one day she'd want a dangerous man like him on her side... well, I think he was leaving the door open. Can we all admit that we WANT that door left open!? Such is the tyranny of onscreen comedy. Fronce may burn from stem to stern, but I want to see these two flirting again.

Also, their honesty keeps their relationship healthy—even when she’s planting evidence of a capital crime in his house and he’s making threats against her infant child. It’s effed-up, but it’s sincere, which is more than can be said for what's going on with Francis and Mary. They're living a soulless charade that's pushing the young queen ever more into the arms of Condé, who likes brainstorming with her and, yes, okay, occasionally holding hands.

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Merely by the power of eye contact and sleuthing, these two had deduced that the Protestants wanted to make a martyr out of the crazy terrorist minister, and that he must not come to harm at the hands of the royal guards. Mary hurried off to tell Francis before he could kill the Minister via torture and arrived JUST in the nick of time... like, in the moment AFTER the minister’s bones all popped apart but before the Minister actually died?

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Bash, because he is basically the Fronch Court’s Jiminy Cricket, was all, “Let me handle this, I'll get him to a doctor, don't even worry about it!" But then while he was in transit with the racked minister, Bash and his crew got shot down in a hail of arrows!

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Yes, a group of Protestants attacked them, so they could kill the minister and then publicly display him on an upside-down cross. They wanted a martyr and a martyr they would have! They wanted to rouse the lipless, Protestant hordes of Fronce and rouse them they did! Civil unrest, ahoy!

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Sigh. Francis really needs some help, guys. He’s trying, but so far he's been a really terrible king. Clearly no one has ever told him that part of being a good leader is DELEGATING: delegating torture to professional torturers, statecraft to your genius wife, and the destruction of Narcisse to Lola/Catherine via poisoned bath bombs. But no—instead, Francis keeps trying to spin a bunch of plates and be everything to everybody. He's stressing himself out, and he's ruining his marriage in the process. Let this be a lesson to all of us, should we ever come into power, whether by assuming an ancient throne or just taking a managerial position at Hot Topic. By Lily Sparks


Acts of WarEdit

Reign "Acts of War" Review: Come Give Me an E-Hug, Please - TV.com

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SOOOOO. "Act of War" was intense. Let’s all just take a minute, because this episode was very heavy.

FYI, we're about to talk about rape, and if you don't need that in your day then skip down to the picture of Frances handing out baskets of salad!

There's already been a lot of protest amongst Reign fans over Mary’s rape, though I was a little lost on the reasoning. The general tone of their objections (or at least of the petition I saw circulating online) was like—and I'm paraphrasing here—“Mary is a strong, independent, amazing character, and it’s damaging to punish her for those traits in this way.” I found this a little baffling, because the fact is, millions of strong, independent, amazing women have experienced sexual assault. It just doesn't happen very often on TV.

Usually when we see sexual assault on television (especially on a broadcast network), it happens to a peripheral character, maybe even a one-off featured extra; the victim is typically used as a plot device and then quickly hustled offscreen. This perpetuates a dangerous cultural attitude that rape only happens to people on the periphery—when in fact, no one, male or female, is immune—and that afterward, survivors can't ever be anything but survivors.

For Reign to victimize Mary, a main character, and to make the point that her strength, her heroism, her self could not be diminished by sexual assault, was a very deliberately empowering choice. To me it read as a strong message that rape does not define a person; an assertion that abuse is a horrific but ultimately senseless part of a much bigger, more important, very meaningful life. To have a beloved, three-dimensional lead survive assault is a kind of much-needed representation. That was my gut reaction. I'd love to hear yours in comments.

Okay. Let's release some of the weight. I'll send up a flare when we circle back to the actual event in the plot with a trigger warning because for me, when in doubt, trigger warning. But for now let’s return to a place of joy and laughter. Life is short, you need to go get the giggles, and I still found a few this episode, like when Francis popped up out of nowhere in his Burger King Crown to hand out baskets of salad.

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With The Feast of St. Nicolas approaching, Francis was really trying to send some good vibes to all the Protestants and Catholics stabbing each other to pieces in the street, and he was trying to do it with salad—which, you know, good luck.

Mary had an even better idea: Marry Princess Claude to Louis Condé, the most famous Protestant in all the land! She even played matchmaker, as if trying to talk Condé into marrying another woman wasn’t the equivalent of stomping on his heart like a bunch of grapes during wine-harvest time.

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Claude, meanwhile, had found herself a straightening iron and was getting ready to take her new hair out for a sexy affair that would guarantee her a long, lusty spinsterhood. Mary got a Claude and Conde in a room together and instantly Claude was like, “Oh wait, he’s hot” and started making a LOT of dick jokes.

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Claude actually tried to negotiate an open marriage, while Conde was charmingly hoping they’d like each other so much they’d opt for monogamy. They had a sort of adorable chemistry, but let’s be real: Conde could have chemistry with a sock puppet.

Meanwhile we found out that Greer hasn’t gone 100 percent invisible, she was just living out in the country with PepperPot and all his Protestant friends. He’d gone from dabbling in Protestantism to straight-up buying a school for teaching baby Protestants, and Greer seemed a little nervous about it. I’m a little nervous about where Leith is right now. Where has our wonderful Cinderfeller gone?! What happened to him being the Holmes to Bash’s Sherlock?

Bash and Francis were more of the main duo in this episode. Francis and Narcisse replayed their “I am the KING!” “But I CONTROL YOU!” conversation, but this time Francis kind of threw in the towel. “Kill me already. I haven’t slept in days, it’s better this way,” is what he basically said. And when Narcisse swept out of the room in a fury, Bash hopped out from behind a tapestry: It had all been an act! They’d pushed Narcisse to contact his witness Lord Montgomery, and now they were gong to get control of that witness and Francis would be free! But first Narcisse made a quick detour to woo a princess with a piping-hot straightened updo.

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So Narcisse and Claude have no chemistry, although maybe that’s just compared to Narcisse and Lola, because Narcisse and Lola are the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade of chemistry. Regardless, I found his below-the-waist handshake sort of unsettling? Sort of very unsettling. My actual words at the time, torn from my lips unbidden, were “WHOA NARCISSE INAPPROPRIATE.” Claude wasn’t that into it either, I guess, since the interlude seemed to clinch Conde as her husband-to-be with just a few supportive "Go get ‘em, Tiger"s from Francis.


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Francis was going through some shit himself, having gambled his crown/life/wife on the long shot that he could push Narcisse into contacting Lord Montgomery and thus intercept Narcisse's only remaining witness to how Francis killed his dad that time. With this secret mission on his mind, he approached Mary, told her he loved her, and asked if he could just LOOK at her. It was a tender moment that cut through the vinegary atmosphere that has surrounded them lately, and it definitely weirded Mary out.

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The momentary softness and Francis not shilly-shallying on the Conde/Claude engagement was enough to make Mary reassert her love and faith for Francis. Weirdly, she decided to talk about how deeply in love she was with Francis NO MATTER WHAT, right to Conde’s face. The lady doth protest too much, methinks! Kinda weird that you have to throw all that at Conde at this point in time, when he's sacrificing his future happiness basically because he has a crush on you. Let's be real, Conde had clearly agreed to marry Princess Claude so he and Mary could hang out on the regs. But before he could so much as say, “Nevermind I am not marrying Claude because it would literally break my heart in two to be so close to you and yet so far away,” Mary had silenced the room and was shouting the news of their engagement to the crowd.

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Sigh.

Meanwhile, Francis and Bash had gotten their paws on Lord Montgomery! Francis, like a freaking nerd, had convinced him to write a confession and promised him a pardon in exchange, and I was like, “Just kill him. Seriously Francis. You need to just kill him. That confession won’t mean shit in another two episodes. Lola will fold it up and put it in a bathtub or something. Just kill the dude. Man, I woulda made a great king.” But before I could start fully shouting orders at my TV, Bash up and killed the guy, because Bash knows what’s up.

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Can I just say I love Bash so much for this? Even more than the time he knocked a bro off a cliff. Bash may be a bit impromptu but he’s clearly not afraid to get up to his elbows in fake blood and take out the trash. And immediately afterward, he was getting REAL excited about running Narcisse through with a sword. Oh you bloodthirsty little minx.

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Back at the castle, things were starting to get very grim. A contingent of armoured Protestants had snuck into the castle to kill King Francis—but when they barged into the royal bedroom, they found only Mary.

Guys if you don’t want to talk about the next scene, scroll past this trigger warning to the "All clear."

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The Minister who was hung upside-down, his dad was one of the armored Protestant militants, and he got increasingly angry at Mary and first decided to kill her, then changed his mind and opted instead to assault her. It was wildly upsetting. Yes, the moment was brief and discreetly filmed, but it was wildly upsetting nevertheless, and I can only commend Adelaide Kane for handling what must have been a tough day of shooting with an absolutely amazing mastery of emotion.

Another would-be assaulter closed in, but Mary brained him with what looked like a wooden traffic cone and escaped to Catherine’s room.

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Reign has always been extremely focused on the escalating consequences of a woman being seen as more of a body than a person. Objectification is a recurring theme—think back to how virginity was prized to the point where Claude had to be physically inspected and Consummations duly witnessed, how Catherine was reduced to essentially a womb after she married King Henry, how Queen Mary was put in the same position after marrying Francis. Essentially, this act was one of not just personal but political destruction, and one that was all too common in the 16th century. When a queen was assaulted, it called into question the royal lineage of her children.

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Afterward, Mary stumbled out into the hall into Catherine, who immediately became an Olivia Pope-level fixer with okay, just like, all the empathy in the world. She whisked Mary away from the guards and entered her Protective Lioness Mother mode and their scene together, with Catherine keeping her distance but remaining emotionally present, was a sort of a culmination of their entire complex emotional relationship.

Although she knew how agonized Mary was, Catherine still tasked her with an almost impossible assignment: Mary had to get all dressed up, go out to the throne room, and let the court know all was well. Otherwise Mary’s marriage, her future children, and her reign would be on very shaky ground and that was exactly what her victimizer had wanted.

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So it was time to hold a 16th century press conference, and Mary was visibly trying to keep it together. The tension of this scene relied completely on a vivid internal war, and Adelaide Kane really gave Mary's emotions a depth that few actresses could've pulled off.

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While for ye olde political reasons Mary had to deceive the court and appear unharmed, Reign honored her trauma by depicting her vulnerability with Catherine as she went into shock, and by having her immediately tell Francis what had happened. I was really worried she’d try to hide the incident from Francis, but she told him straight away and demanded he find the motherf-ckers and kill them. It was a perfect choice by Toby Regbo to potray zero anger in his response, only concern and love. Perfect, dude. Thank you for that.

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So yeah. Obviously this was an extremely heavy episode, but I found it surprisingly thoughtful and considered in approaching a difficult subject that affects so many. Did you appreciate it? Did you hate it? Or will you not know until you see how Reign handles it going forward? Tell me in the comments below. Let’s get out all the thoughts and feels.
By Lily Sparks


MercyEdit

Reign Season 2 Fall Finale Review: Taking No Prisoners - TV.com


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Reign can't let up, won't let up, simply doesn't know how to let up. The show's fall finale continued Season 2’s plunge into the darker side of royal life with Francis leaving innocent men to freeze to death, Mary setting a dude on fire, and their royal romance ending YET AGAIN. Though to be fair, it also ended in the last fall finale, and I kind of expect they'll be back together by Episode 12, tops (this was Episode 10); breaking up is basically just a new holiday tradition.

Still, "Mercy" started out grim, with Francis rounding up any Protestant he could lay hands on for “questioning” on the old “questioning wheel” with the help of various steel “questioning devices.” A devastated Mary (Adelaide Kane and the show were thoughtful about depicting her PTSD) wanted her attacker found and publicly hung, while simultaneously she and Francis had to deal with tons of people congratulating them on a near miss, which gave the whole first act of the episode a desperately sad dramatic irony.

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Finally Francis sat Mary down and told her the truth about why he'd been acting a bit of a dick all this time: He committed regicide. All their problems really came down to that, as well as the fact that he'd lied to her about it to protect her from Narcisse. Mary was like, “This would have been really awesome information to have had two episodes ago, but thanks.”

Mary also switched rooms and told her ladies about her ordeal the night before, and frankly it was just a blessed relief to have a moment with all of them in the same room again, for the first time in what felt like forever. I missed Peaseblossom.

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Man, remember when these girls just danced and giggled and talked and witnessed strangers consummating each other up down and all around? I have really missed watching these women just rapping and relating and introducing each other to cool new beverages like coffee. Maybe next season they’ll all take a road trip to a chateau with a winery and just chillll the eff out, because after all The Plague and ghosts and religious revolution these ladies have earned themselves a vacay.

Anyway, Mary’s attack and all the Narcisse bullshit that'd lead up to it prompted a guilty Lola to betray Narcisse yet again, letting Francis know Narcisse was probably hiding in this little villa of his in the country. Narcisse had mentioned it to her once in passing and she had... drawn a map to it? Low-key cartography skills are pretty classy, Lola, well done. Lola in the Knowla strikes again.

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Then Leith walked through a door and nothing else mattered. LEITH IS STILL ON THE SHOW, GUYS! Everything is going to be okay. Adorably, he’d hurried to Greer’s side to warn her that the king’s guards would be coming for Castleroy and she should take her husband and flee forever! Even though he obviously still cares for her deeply! Ugh Leith is the best. He’s absolutely my favorite Cinderfella on all of television.

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Meanwhile Catherine was being bullied by her two undead daughters. They wanted Claude dead, like, yesterday. This plotline is actually the creepiest, because Reign has never fully committed to its supernatural elements as being supernatural, it usually adheres to “real-world rules” in which the supernatural is always explained rationally... which means that Catherine could just very well be going insane and slippity-sliding into a bout of homicidal mania.

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Catherine gave Claude a damn bag of gold to leave the castle, but Claude wasn’t having it. She made a fairly good case about how she was the Kate Middleton to Catherine’s Queen Elizabeth and threw the money on the floor. Even Kenna and both of her amazing outfit couldn't teach her some manners.

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I hope as soon as Claude left the room Kenna scooped up every last one of those gold pieces.

Meanwhile, the castle was so choked with prisoners that Protestants were sitting outside in the courtyard freezing to death because the dungeons were already full. Francis was like, “Sorry they mistook kindness for weakness but now it’s time to put down Christian and pick up crazy,” and to be frank, after an assassination attempt? That’s 100 percent the right attitude.

As any 16th-century king would tell you, being a king is a lot like being a substitute teacher. There's always that one guy who comes in and tries to be everybody’s friend, and by the end of the day he’s got three signs taped to his back, he’s red in the face and in tears, everyone’s calling him “Mister DickBreff,” and the entire class is out of their seats/on their phones. Meanwhile the terrifying ex-Marine who strides in and tells everyone to sit down and shut up—that guy gets through the lesson plan early, lets you finish your homework before the bell rings, and everybody’s happy. Thus it is with kings!

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As part of his take no prisoners/take all the prisoners campaign of terror, Francis assigned Condé the job of gathering Protestant intelligence on the assassination attempt. Conde’s original lead hung himself before Conde could question him, but Mary was like, “Take me to his widow.” Of course, Conde first had to privately check in with his valet about the 16th-century equivalent of an email getting bounced back.

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Anyway, they arranged it so that while Conde was confronting the widow about her husband’s involvement, Mary stepped out of the shadows like some kind of formalwear Batman, and much like Batman she inspired enough terror and awe in the widow that the lady just spilled everything: The conspirators had a house further north that they would be riding to to collect supplies for their escape abroad. Conde was like, “Great, let’s go tell Francis,” and Mary was like, “No we're going to straight-up get these jerks ourselves.”

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When they arrived at the house, Severin, Mary’s attacker, was there. Mary confronted him, laying everything on the table, like, “Enjoy the next 24 hours before you're publicly hanged while I watch, laughing and eating popcorn. Then enjoy your eternity in hell.” And the guy was like, “Well, I don’t believe I’ll burn in hell, so there.”

So Mary BURNED HIM ALIVE DICK FIRST.

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Meanwhile, Catherine was feeding her daughter some poison broth with a little spoon. I think we can all agree that, once a child surpasses the age of three, spoon-feeding is completely sinister. There are maybe no contexts where someone trying to spoon-feed you is not a giant red flag, if you are over the age of three. Unfortunately, Claude’s little neglected party-girl facade just split open, revealing her hurt little core, and she was like, “MMMM MAMA MORE PLEASE” and that was sort of genuinely sad?!

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Later Bash found her kind of drugged-out and sloppy, so she might die. Or Nostradamus’s intern, Costcodamus might come to her rescue and save her, who knows. It’s not looking good. And Catherine got a very sensual surprise visit from King Henry as a reward for offing her own daughter? Catherine, vigilante justice is one hell of a slick slope, and if you're going to revenge Claude for killing Flotsam and Jetsam then Henry might start whispering in your ear that it’s time to take down Francis, and I’m starting to suspect that ALL of these ghosts are just like a metaphor for homicidal mania and I really don’t want my favorite Royal Mom to suffer homicidal mania. Kate Middleton? Sure. That would actually be pretty interesting.

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Meanwhile, touchingly, Leith had cashed in his big favor from the king to get Pepperpot out of prison so that he and Greer could escape to safety. A romantic gesture of truest love, and also Greer had decided she wasn’t going with Castleroy, because 1) Mary needs her now more than ever, 2) both of them fleeing would be seen as grounds for further investigation, and 3) Leith was looking good in that black velveteen tunic.

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Speaking of love triangles, Conde confronted Mary about WTF had happened back there after the cottage had finished burning, and Mary revealed to him what she’d been through the night before, relaying her fears that it would interfere with her future with Francis.

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When they got home Francis seemed to have a little FOMO about Conde and Mary killing a bunch of really awful guys and burning their bodies. It was definitely a major bonding experience. Mary was like, “It’s over, release the rest of the prisoners,” and Francis was like, “Guards, release the rest of the corpses!” and then he settled down next to Mary hoping everything was now kinda sorta okay. But obviously, obviously it was not okay. Not only did a grisly revenge not make Mary 100 percent better, but she confessed that she associates Francis with her attack and she’s thinking maybe they should have a façade marriage and stop seeing each other outside the throne room. Of course, this is maybe the tenth time Mary has told Francis they are never ever ever getting back together, so Francis and Frary fans might want to take her statement with a grain of salt.

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Meanwhile WTF is this guy?

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Leather pants and 10 pounds of charisma in a five-pound bag showed up in Conde’s room and we all nodded silently out of respect to Reign's casting department doing another great job. Whatever his deal is (I'm guessing it's causing conflict for Francis), Mr. Navarre could read Conde like a book, and was already teasing him about having a crush on Mary. Conde was like, “Do not, do not, lay off no way girls are gross.” BUT HE TOTALLY DID.

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Mary received his letter after all and it confessed a big old crush on her. Conde is in love with Mary and now she knows. That’s the big cliffhanger. It’s not quite the same as Mary galloping away from the castle by Bash’s side with king and country forgotten and defied, but it could signal a turn away from the depressing disasters of the first half of the season and toward something a little lighter, a little more romantic, in the second half. And I think all of us are down for anything that would make Mary crack a smile at this point.
By Lily Sparks


GetawayEdit

Reign "Reign "Getaway" Review: A Marked Man - TV.com

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Oh man, isn't it a relief to know Reign has been renewed for Season 3? I feel like before that news came out I was just mentally clinging to the second half of Season 2 like the Childlike Empress holding that single grain of sand and going, “This is allll that’s left of Fantasia,” and then BAM Bastian said my name and now all of Fantasia is unfolding in front of us like a big gorgeous, glowing horizon and it’s just like, such a relief. Hopefully even one person knows what I'm talking about right now.

So Reign opened with a one-two punch of hanging corpses and sensuous love-making, which is just a great way to return from a winter hiatus. The frozen Protestant corpses hanging around the castle all had the dark marks branded into them, and Bash was being very specific about just how related he was to Claude.

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Kenna had been saying how ridiculous it was to think he could be attracted to Claude when Claude was his sister, and Bash was like, “She’s my half-sister (so I can be half attracted to her).” There was basically an audible record scratch.

Meanwhile Francis was doing little menial chores around Mary’s wing of the castle just so he could just be around her. Mary told him to cut it out, and Francis told her she couldn’t stop him from caring and doing things for her and posing as a servant and maybe even passing himself off as a lovable washerwoman name of Brumhilda all Mrs. Doubtfire-style if that’s what it took to be near to her. To you and me this would be the sweetest thought a man ever expressed out loud, but Mary was just annoyed. Mary was like “Fine, if that’s how you want to play it I guess I’ll straight-up move to our country Château.

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Catherine, meanwhile, was brewing up poison pastes in between sexytimes with the ghost of King Henry. Considering every supernatural element on Reign thus far has turned out to have a rational explanation, it’s more than possible that Catherine is actually experiencing a form of madness right now and all these passionate love scenes with King Henry are actually just marathon masturbation sessions... which, you know, be sure to get all the arsenic off your hands first, girl.

Catherine was slowly poisoning Claude via a rich, garlicky, creamy soup, and all it took was one sniff for Kenna to figure out that something foul was afoot, that something was getting lost in the sauce.

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Kenna followed Catherine to Claude’s room, saw her spooning disgusting soup into her daughter’s mouth and blotting up a bloody nose, and put two and two together: Catherine was poisoning Claude! It was delightfully Miss Marple of Kenna. In her own way, she's doing more police work than her deputy husband.

Meanwhile, a Cardinal with a four-cornered hat had decided that since the corpses of the traitors all had |Dark Marks on them, anyone bearing the Mark was therefore a traitor and should be killed immediately without benefit of trial. Bash was like, “Eh, maybe I’ll gather some evidence?” and the Cardinal was like, “This is a matter for the Ecclesiastical Courts!” and I did a fist-pump because frankly a teen drama that involves debating theocracy versus civic justice is just something I never dreamed I would see in my lifetime. You guys, 2015 is THE year when TV programming is produced under the assumption that teen girls are smart, intelligent, thoughtful human beings.

Also, this was a great excuse for Condé to abscond with Mary to her château, because as we learned a few episodes earlier, he is scarred by the Dark Mark, burned into his flesh by some Dark Riders. Mary offered to give him a ride as far as his brother’s place, in her own carriage... his brother being the King of Navarre and a big fan of make-out parties.

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This was pretty hilarious. Once Mary and Conde (attended by Greer and Leith) arrived at Antoine’s the King of Navarre's vacation home, he invited them to a makeout party like your two eighth-grade best friends the first time their parents left them home alone. He was matchmaking randoms from the crowd who he believed had feelings for each other, and COMMANDING them to play 7 Minutes in Heaven, "Under the Sea"-style. Greer was like, “Leith let’s get out of here, some of us are married!” and Leith was like, “And some of us aren't, baby. Find another ride home.”

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I was actually pretty proud of Leith for showing some spirit and independence. He IS a single dude, and that's because of Greer's choices. If he wants to stay late at a party he is free to do so, and if Greer has a problem with that she needs to really think about why.

Mary also virtuously hightailed it out of the party and later we saw her and Greer basically sitting around in their bathrobes, listening to the throbbing bass of “We Can’t Stop” and secretly wishing they hadn't left so early. Being married at 16 can be such a bummer, guys.

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The King of Navarre, meanwhile, pulled Conde aside and asked him to seduce Mary; he wants to keep in touch with Protestant sympathizers, and sexy bed fun is certainly one way to do that. Conde pulled out a whole host of excuses for why he wouldn't attempt to seduce Mary—it was rude, he didn't feel like it, she wasn't his type. But deep down we all knew he simply wasn't going to use a woman he loved in that way, and guys, if you aren't sorta 'shipping Conde and Mary by now then you might just have a heart of steel.

Anyway, since Conde was nobly refusing to use the woman he loved, instead some enterprising minx told him to use her—Josephinea woman he didn’t love—to sort of take the edge off all that unrequited lustiness. Blindfolded love-making ensued.

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Guys, once in a while Reign will empty an entire CostCo shelf worth of spice into the mix and this was one of those times.

Meanwhile, speaking of groceries, Claude threw a giant chunk of brie at Kenna for being nice to her. It was messed up, because Kenna was bringing in food and preparing Claude some nice, non-poisoned snacks.

However the fact that Kenna's efforts were making her well had basically proved that Catherine had been poisoning Claude, and maybe this was just me, but it was as if, on some level, Claude had known all along? Like she had been letting her mother feed her poison rather than face the truth of what her mother was doing? All of a sudden, Claude was this very confused, likable poor-little-rich-girl. But the good vibes only lasted about 20 seconds until she followed up that chunk of brie with a ton of shade and battle lines had to be drawn in my heart. Gonna be #TeamKenna on his one, because it’s downright rude to repay someone saving your life by revealing you had all the incest with their husband.

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Way to make things weird at every family event from now on!

Still, it was difficult not to feel for Claude as she sought out her mom and confronted her about the whole, “You're slowly poisoning me” thing. Even more sadly, Claude did not remember killing her nasty little twin sisters, so when Catherine explained that she’d felt compelled to kill Claude as retribution, and that she’d been covering up the murder all these years, years during which she thought of her own daughter as nothing less than a monster, well, damn. This whole scene! Catherine obviously slays it at every opportunity, but Claude was keeping up with her, grabbing a goblet of arsenic and offering to end it all right there.

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And that sort of snapped Catherine out of it and she was like, "Hey, you know what, you were five. Kids don’t know not to murder at five, maybe, who knows, I love you," and they both embraced and cried on the floor. Although really, the possibility is there that baby Claude DIDN’T kill her sisters, and there’s another powerful enemy lurking in the wings, framing children and killing babies. You gotta expect the unexpected with Reign.

Like a Cardinal with a live-in lover!

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The Cardinal who was hell-bent on roundin’ up all the Protestant traitors and Lord Conde had a secret CWB (clerk with benefits.) When that clerk snuck out of his room after sexytimes, Bash pounced on him and branded the Dark Mark onto his shoulder. Yo, Bash, not okay.

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Now that his beloved boyfriend had the Dark Mark on his shoulder, the Cardinal would undoubtedly reconsider his “Kill everybody with a Dark Mark, no questions asked” policy.

Meanwhile, Vatican soldiers had come to Antoine’s place to shut down his party spot and Conde’s life was in imminent peril: If he was discovered with the Dark Mark, he’d be hung. Mary’s solution? Burn off the chunk of skin with |the Dark Mark with a SIZZLING-HOT SWORD. Mary, WTF.

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With true medieval brutality, Leith burned the skin off Conde’s shoulder while Mary clasped Conde’s hand, and their plan worked! Conde was thrilled.

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LOL Conde looked awful after that branding mess. But without an incriminating mark, Mary was able to take him back to court under her protection. And there she learned that Francis had successfully leveraged the Cardinal’s love for his clerk so that Conde’s life was no longer in any danger. So if Conde had stuck around at court, laid low in a closet for about 24 hours, he wouldn't have had to burn off a four-inch patch of skin, I guess? You live and you learn, Conde.

Francis’s speech to the Cardinal on this topic was really something. With all the insight into the human heart of Iyanla from Iyanla Fix My Life, King Francis explained how he'd determined that it was no mere lust but true love that the Cardinal felt for his clerk, and it was in that surety that he’d made his gamble to brand the clerk and use the Cardinal’s influence to push back against the Pope. Even the Cardinal was like, “Well you just manipulated me, but damn are you weirdly insightful when it comes to matters of the heart, dude.” Then Francis went straight to the Royal Nursery, where Lola had been trying to get their kid to sleep for the past 72 hours, and at one touch his son fell peacefully into a gentle slumber in his father’s arms. It was nothing but net for Francis that day, he was totally in Wise King Francis mode.

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Mary was so blown away by how Francis had pushed back against the Pope and made the court safe for Conde that she went running to congratulate him (and start rebuilding their marriage) and she ran straight into a touching family scene:

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Like a bucket of ice water to the heart! Ah well, Mary. There’s always next week. By Lily Sparks


BanishedEdit

Reign "Banished" Review: I Was Walking With the Ghost - TV.com

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A royal shovel fight. Yes, I’m starting right with the shocking ending of "Banished," sorry, but after we learned that Catherine has absolutely been talking to/making sweet love with nothin’ but ghosts for the past couple weeks, she healed herself of her crazy by braining a woman over the head with a garden tool. At first when Diane was like, formally disowned by Bash I was like, “Are they writing Diane off for good?” and then when that shovel came into play I was like, “Uh, that would be a 'yes.'”

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But let’s go back to happier times, the top of the episode, when Diane walked in on Bash and Kenna undressing each other and broke the news that she'd simply absorbed the first money and title Bash had been able to wrangle in his many months as Royal Deputy. Kenna stayed pretty polite, all things considered.

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Francis was just straight-up giving away Lord Narcisse’s lands to whoever asked him first. “You ever think about raising some sheep?” Francis was nonchalantly saying to crowds of nobles. “Y’all like waterfalls?” So now we know what happened to sexy Lord Narcisse: He got leveraged into confessing to embezzlement, and now his vast lands are at the Crown’s disposal and being used to buy his allies’ loyalty, and Mary was like, “Also let’s throw some of that Conde’s way, he’s been extremely thoughtful, I get strong ride-or-die vibes from him.”

Then Mary pulled Greer aside and was like, “Heads up, we’re investigating your husband, someone said he gave money to the Protestant radicals, if so you better let me know now so I can do damage control.”

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As we all know, Greer’s hubby fled the land because he basically gave a giant Publisher’s Clearinghouse-style check to the Protestant radicals, but Greer was like, “Huh that’s weird huh someone said that? That he gave money? Wow so odd that totally never happened, who told you that and by the way how can I get my hands on them?” Then she sprinted to her room to tear up her diary and otherwise freak out.

Meanwhile Claude approached Bash about figuring out who REALLY killed the twin babies, because it was not her. She had been framed! Royal children are never left alone. Why wouldn’t her nannies have stopped her? Or her sister’s nannies? And what about her current hairdresser, what was SHE plotting? All great questions.

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Elsewhere, Catherine was having a loud conversation in the middle of a public hall with her ghost family. Ghost King Henry kept lovingly suggesting that she join him on the other side by killing herself—which, given that this was all going on in Catherine’s head, was extremely, extremely dark. And then they saw that Diane was back, and I was like, “Cool! Diane’s return will snap Catherine out of her funk, they’ll be throwing shade at each other and competing for Claude’s affection and slowly becoming friends! Fantastic!” Little did I realize, as of that moment, that the COUNTDOWN TO THE SHOVEL MASSACRE HAD BEGUN.

Meanwhile Condé was acting like he was too cool for wealth and lands.

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Mary was like, “Are you serious right now? Narcisse is going down harder than Blockbuster two years ago. Take the damn DVD sets and Cookie Dough Bites and run.” And Conde made it all weird by explaining that he was refusing the holdings because they were from Francis, basically, and Mary grabbed his wrist like, “Don’t make it weird,” and Francis saw and he was FURIOUS.

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Meanwhile, Greer was making terrible professional choices. She agreed to give Castleroy’s business partner her half of the business in exchange for him not telling her where her husband’s ledger was. Good deal!

And somewhere else in the castle, Claude’s old nanny showed up for tea with Bash and Claude and told a startling tale.

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She was clearly a victim of circumstance. Turkish smoke! Frozen babies. Framing a 5-year-old. The age-old tale. Claude was like, “WELCOME TO MY WRATH,” and frankly this lady deserved everything that was coming to her. Who frames a 5-year-old for killing their own sisters?! How very dare she.

And then came the most gorgeous and haunting scene ever.

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Catherine, chasing her daughters through the snow as Henry followed, all, “Faster, faster!” They went further and further out into the dark woods. This sequence gave me chills; the shots were gorgeously, gorgeously filmed, but what made it truly haunting was Catherine’s semi-consciousness that she was slipping into madness. Part of her definitely understood that this familial happiness was not only illusory but possibly malignant, yet she was fully embracing it. Going crazy was her best option. We’ve all been there.

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Meanwhile, at the Court of Fronce’s Winter Formal, Conde and Francis finally had words. Conde told off Francis for hiding behind Mary and told him to take off his little fur cape and let his fists do the talking for once, and suddenly Francis had pulled two walking sticks out of nowhere and suddenly I was witnessing the most passionate staff fight since two Gandalf cos-players at Comic-Con went for the same jalapeno pretzel.

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Conde managed to absorb several of Francis’s blows directly with his abs, which was an interesting defense, and then broke Francis's wizard staff, but the damage had been done. Not to his abs, but to Mary’s reputation!

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Poor Mary.

Meanwhile Bash of all people stumbled across Catherine making sweet love to a ghost while half frozen. I don’t know why he was out in the woods (Wiccan Winter Solstice?) but thank goodness he found her, because Bash does not judge. He carried her back to the castle and explained that her scheming nanny and King Henry were to blame for the twins’ murder, not Claude. Since her ghost family hadn't realized any of that despite being apparently omniscient, the news sort of clinched it for Catherine that she was slowly going insane.

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Megan Follows had a speech here about what her bad marriage and self-deception had cost her children, and it was truly masterful. Of course, just knowing she was crazy didn’t make her hallucinations any less real; she had to send her little girls into the dark and scream at King Henry that she DOESN'T WANT YOU, BABY! SHE DOESN’T WANT YOU BACK! It had all the catharsis of a triumphant Taylor Swift break-up song. In fact, may I suggest to Ms. Swift Catherine’s last line, “Return to your hell and leave me to mine” for her next chart-topping toe-tapping single?

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Seriously though this scene is why Megan Follows is an international treasure and why we are all living the dream getting her award-worthy performances beamed into our homes for free. We are living in the most golden age for entertainment since the Renaissance.

Anyway, Bash was putting all this together in his head and had realized that his mom actually killed the babies. That window didn’t just unlatch itself. Diane was angry that Henry had gotten Catherine double-pregnant. So Bash gave his mom the old heave-ho because Bash may kill innocents and throw guys off cliffs and brand innocent church clerics, but he draws the line at killing babies. We all have our boundaries. And then Diane spilled the tea on Kenna.

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Who did you help here, Diane? Sigh.

Then, in a shocking twist, we learned that Winter Formal was STILL HAPPENING. Also there were fake icicles. Mary and Francis sat on their thrones projecting a unified front, and Lola sidled up to Conde and said Mary wanted them to get hitched now. If that's true, then Mary officially has self-sabotage issues: You take the one guy you trust and pair him up with the girl who stabbed you in the back the hardest? No, girl. Don’t do it.

Lola really got on my nerves with her, “I’m Mary’s oldest friend, I will protect her from any threat.” You mean like you did the first time she and Francis were broken up for five minutes and you slept with him?! And then YELLED at Mary about it?! Shady.

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It was at this exact moment that some dude held up a ledger and announced that Greer was a liar and her husband had bankrolled the Protestant Radicals. Good work making that deal earlier, Greer! It literally couldn’t have worked out worse.

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So Greer has gone from super-rich single fox to despised, penniless traitor. YOUR MOVE, LEITH.

Bash, meanwhile, confronted Kenna about his mother’s accusations regarding Kenna telling Catherine that Diane had gone to The Pope to legitimize Bash. Kenna did not even try to deny it. If Bash hates deception then he’s going to have to love Kenna, because she keeps things almost too real.

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To be fair, Bash has now killed HOW many innocents to appease the Wiccans/save Mary/help Nostradamus/help Francis/just blow off some steam? Bash was all, “Putting people’s lives at risk to further your petty aims is despicable!” and it was like "IDK, Bash, methinks this is a case of the quesadilla calling the nachos cheesy."

Meanwhile, Mary and Francis made a small repair to the giant gaping hole in their lives where their relationship used to be: Mary admitted they were trapped in the context of their time, and like every time before it wasn’t super lady-friendly, and Francis was like, “All I ask is that I can stand here and watch you sleep Edward Cullen-style,” and Mary was like, “Deal.” So there’s hope, guys. There’s hope these crazy kids will work things out after all, for at least a couple episodes.

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And that brings us back to the shovel fight of the century: Catherine confronting Diane and beating her head in with a shovel. I love that Catherine is a subtle and skilled poisoner, but that for this particular kill she reached straight for the blunt object. Whether this means old Catherine is back or crazy new Catherine is about to carve out a whole new niche for herself in court is something I cannot wait to see.

By Lily Sparks


Sins of the PastEdit

Reign "Sins of the Past" Review: I Was Walking With the Ghost - TV.com

“Sins of Our Past” was pretty stunning. There was origami, there were parrots eating people’s feet, there was syphilis. There was also something horrifying in a graveyard:

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A ginger woman! J/K, redheads are not horrifying; in fact, they are mad sexy. The actual horrifying sight was a splintered coffin that someone had clearly punched their way out of. My first hope and prayer was that Clarissa had returned, but alas. it was just some Cretan:

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Yes, as we later found out, a gorgeous man from Crete had fallen ill, been mistaken for a corpse and buried, woke up underground, and then a woman all in white restored him to life? And then the whole village was mean to him because he was sort of a zombie? I don’t know if I really buy that. Dude had the bone structure of a high-fashion model! He even made a shroud look casually elegant. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Back at the palace, Francis was talking VACAY with Mary.

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Guys, seriously where the f*ck is Navarre? Did it become Portugal? Oh good, Wikapedia says it’s near the Basque region, which should allow us all to immediately locate it mentally. Basque region! Got it, great, moving on. The King of Navarre was in town, showing off some extremely swaggy robes. I would think it was a bad idea to show up in an all-new haute couture wardrobe and ask for a loan, but what do I know about financial strategy? I vividly remember walking into a student loan office ca. 2005 in a pair of jeans with holes in the knees and my student loan officer asked me, and I quote: “Tough times, or is that back in style?” The answer, as he very well knew, was tough times. I digress.

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He was having a tough time not licking his chops while his eyes rolled around his head screaming “Hubba hubba!” when he ran into Kenna. Condé was like, “Lay off, she’s married,” and Antoine was like, “Coming from you, that statement is hilarious.” It’s one of my favorite things about Conde that he’s simultaneously a certified adulterous rogue and the man who loves Mary the most steadfastly of all.

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Then Catherine arrived to liven up a little exposition about the Bourbon brothers (Henry sent them back to the front lines during the war back in the day), and I was like, “Oh, Catherine’s back to normal? Thank goodness. You did it, girl!” and then in like the next scene:

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Yup. She was back to holding imaginary people. So she tried to explain it all away by going back to her crazy prophecy talk from Season 1. Hilariously, Mary—the only person who had ever believed in the prophecy before—shut her down faster than a public pool with a turd at the bottom. Mary was like, “Prophecy? Nope. We got real problems to deal with these days.”

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However, a quick inspection of Catherine’s body revealed sores on her hands and mouth, and immediately everyone was like, “Oh right, your freaky husband gave you syphilis, case closed.” And Catherine’s reaction was perfect.

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Meanwhile Kenna approached Bash: Had he forgiven her yet for that time she sort of almost got him killed via political machinations? They weren’t even dating, but regardless she was super sorry. Bash was still pretty miffed, and Kenna got upset and said something racist against Wiccans.

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From time to time I forget that Bash is like extremely connected to a magickal, pagan worldview, and every time I remember it’s a total delight. He is a PROUD Wiccan warrior.

As much as my heart broke for Benna’s relaish problems, for the first time in what seemed like forever Narcisse and Lola were onscreen again and I just about lost it. My notes for this moment were simply: “YAAAAASSSSSS.”

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What is it about this pair? Individually, they’re horrible people who have done nothing but betray their friends and each other, yet every time they’re onscreen together it’s just like:

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Narcisse was suggesting they ride on up to the sensual, sensual hot springs and Lola wear her thickest stockings so he could peel them off and I was like, “Is this the most sensual image Reign has ever concocted?” Then this happened:

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Catherine put her bare feet in a bird cage and screamed as little parrots pecked mercilessly at them. I defy you to show me an image more delightfully insane that has ever aired on network TV. This was like some Fellini shit right here. Oh, to be a lucky viewer who flipped channels randomly and landed on this moment completely out of context! Would your life ever be the same?

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So after all the Catherine syphilis hullabaloo, Mary let Francis sleep in the same bed with her. This was a big milestone: Until now, Mary’s been too fragile, and I think we all appreciate how much Reign has honored her PTSD. Mary may have jumped the gun on sleeping next to Bash, because just the sound of his breath triggered some horrifying images, but let's all block those out of our heads and focus on the silver lining of this scene: THE IRISH WOLFHOUND IS BACK!

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You may remember this magnificent canine from the pilot. I think we can all agree that if this noble creature had been at Mary’s side throughout these last two seasons, literally nothing bad would've ever happened to her. I take his return as a true sign that better things are coming for Mary, even moreso than the appearance of First Blossoms Blooming.

Speaking of which, a lot was happening at the First Blooms Blossom Ball. Firstly, Antoine had found yet another stunning coat and was wooing Kenna, who had fashioned herself an origami headband such as yours and mine eyes have never seen. He very subtly grilled her about Bash, who he believed had fatally wounded his brother Marcus at the behest of King Henry, because we all know King Henry was hella ruthless and Bash is practically a hired assassin at this point.

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