A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
***CAUTION: Historical spoilers this week.
This was the first misstep within the so far incredibly strong season of Reign and it largely has to do with the episode’s inability to be cohesive in any way. There are strong, standout scenes but they’re not connected thematically or in some cases even structurally. It’s frustrating because the scenes that are good knock it so far out of the park that when you get to the less successful story threads, it makes the transition even more jarring. From so far in the second season it seemed that the dominant themes would be the Catholic and Protestant wars and the struggle for power between the new royals and the French nobility. Certainly the whole sex journal subplot could have been thrown out the window but it seems as if the writers were unable to find a decent thread to take up that screen time.
The eventual historical demise of the marriage between Francis and Mary is what it seems the show is building towards, albeit certainly on a much more different route. Francis’s guilt over killing his father just continues to grow and it comes into full force within his relationship to Mary. It just comes out in the ugliest fashion possible. Mary, as one could naturally assume, has no idea that her husband murdered her father. She, like everyone else, could just assume that he died from the jousting wound at the end of Season 1. Nor could Francis under normal circumstances bring up his crime to his wife. “Um, honey…” But his surly demeanor could hardly go unnoticed and Francis chooses the most hurtful, vile lie to cover it up. He blames it on his fear that she wouldn’t be able to give him an heir. Ouch. Toby Regbo certainly has never been better and the look of pure hurt on Adelaide Kane’s face was heartbreaking. Not that that lie helps much in the end.
Greer’s wedding to Castleroy is a good centerpiece for the episode and certainly something that will at least put an end to the Leith story. It’s time for everyone to move on. As Leith in what is hopefully his last vengeful ex-lover episode notes to Greer, Castleroy is a Protestant, which in his mind would spark the obvious nature of “well, this isn’t really good for anybody involved here, right?” And it does. It just doesn’t lead to the same conclusion he had been hoping for. Castleroy admits that he is a Protestant in the most honest heart-to-hear the two have ever had. The wedding proceeds and may the two of them find some legitimate happiness this episode.
What unfortunately underscores a lot of the tension that could build up from a Catholic Queen’s lady-in-waiting being married off to a Protestant or anyone from the French court for that matter is that the religious tensions that had the most feared rulers in Europe bent on their knees is nearly negligible. For Mary especially, the religious divide is something she must keep an ardent observation on considering that she’s the Catholic Queen of two nations on either side of a nation ruled by a Protestant queen. The religious framework had been building so fastidiously this entire season that to see it kind of go to waste here is more than a little frustrating. Regardless, I’m sure that this is just a slight hiccup episode in a still strong season and that the writers still remember the religious tensions brewing about the continent, threatening to knock every European ruler off of their throne.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Megan Follows is a gift.
+The clothes as always.
+One good thing to come out of the sex journal storyline: Narcisse and Lola. The new, conniving power couple? I’m kind of into that idea.
-Not nearly enough snarky, power-hungry Catherine
-How on earth could Francis let the patricide slip out of his mouth like that and not take care of the informant who would obviously go straight to Narcisse? Oh Catherine, you have much more to teach these two.
Title: Blood for Blood
Written By: P.K. Simonds & Nancy Won
Directed By: Norma Bailey
Image Courtesy: K Site TV