Tea & Carriages
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Coming with a sweet intro, Three Queens is a strong installment of Reign that largely makes up for last week’s lackluster one. Replacing the danger of the nobility is the reality of the peasantry. “There are twenty million of them and one small royal family,” Catherine notes gravely, with an air that this is something that should be common knowledge to Mary. It’s a smart move for Reign to go down this route, which especially comes in handy when considering the plague and starvation story lines from earlier in the season. The large portion of this episode’s narrative centers around impostors who wear the crowns and go around plundering the kingdom while eating and drinking for free. No one would ever dare to charge the royal family of France, after all. This being an age before our political leaders had regular updates on Facebook and their political parties annoyingly sent about a thousand e-mails a month asking for money, most of the French had absolutely no idea what their royals looked like. This creates ample ground for impostors to ride in and create further friction for Francis and Mary at a time when the nobility itself is up in ire.
Speaking of nobility, Narcisse is seriously laying on some moves to Lola, a remarkable development considering the dramatic heft it would give to both characters. Narcisse began this season as a problematic emblem of the power of the nobility, not problematic because of his role within the narrative but because of how quickly he could have become a one-note character with little dramatic tension to offer. Quickly Reign has quashed my fears and now Narcisse had undoubtedly become one of my favorite characters to watch on screen. Lola, who has from time to time suffered with little dramatic and or romantic tension, gets the opportunity to play off a wizened politico and sharpen her own skills while she’s at it. She learns quickly. Not that she has a choice otherwise, as her family has disowned her after Francis’s legitimacy of their bastard child. Ah, consequences. Narcisse in coded words mentions how wonderful baths were at the time and Lola takes that technicality, joining him on the balcony to reveal that he was instead watching one of her servants bathe. “Well played,” Narcisse croons, clearly delighted at Lola’s sharpness. He gets her dowry back to her, with the promise of further meeting between the two of them.
This episodes MVP is the bond between Catherine and Mary. Having tried at various times to outwit and kill each other, they’re forced to work together when angry peasants attack their carriage. Before the attack, they’re sitting in the carriage and Catherine gives Mary an important lesson on the power of the peasantry. They’re far larger in number, it’s important to keep them happy, and as queen Mary should make sure that she’s built up enough goodwill that they will help her just in case she ever needs their help to begin with. Catherine already proved that she has been doing so earlier in the season and it’s a smart strategy. If you have the resources, you might as well build as many escape routes as possible, like the ones at the bottom of your carriage. They run throughout the forest for what seems like hours before hunger makes commoners out of them. It is hilarious to see Catherine asserting her aristocracy before Mary comes to the rescue and they actually manage to eat.
At the inn arrive two impostors who have been pillaging the countryside, pretending to be Francis and Mary. The two have caused plenty of devastation in their wake and Mary’s cleverness gets them both inside the room with the “queen,” who reveals herself to be actress. As it seems like their guard is down, arrives a French arms man. In a delightful twist, he turns out to be the betrayer of the crown, working on behalf of Elizabeth I of England in response to Mary wearing the English coat of arms last season. Ah, consequences! Their plan of using the actress to sabotage their betrayer crumbles splendidly quickly before Mary stabs the horse. It flies upwards in pain, trampling their betrayer to death. When they return to the castle, Catherine gets her moment when she tells her son “You’re a fool,” as her voice drips with cynicism, disappointment, and caution simultaneously. Francis begins to dismiss her, which as we all know is a vapid idea and Catherine rightfully isn’t having any of it. She thinly commands her son to stand by Mary, noting that “She’s a good fighter to have when your back’s against the wall.” Marriage is hard work as she notes, reminding her son of the turmoil that would lie ahead for the both of them and the splintering of power that would occur if he didn’t heed her advice at that precise moment. “She has a childish belief that a woman should trust her husband…” Catherine notes before deciding to leave, leaving a hopefully wiser Francis in her wake. For the moment he listens to her advice but for how long remains to be seen.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Megan Follows is a gift
+“The silk makes a better statement.”
+Kenna’s comment about killing sons of previous kings is the most insightful political commentary she’s ever had
+“We’re not hated everywhere it seems.”
+Catherine on her horse purchasing knowledge: “I once brought 30 Arabians.”
+Mary on buying horses: “I could work for an entire year and we wouldn’t be able to afford one.”
+“I assume fertility, otherwise no man has an inkling of women’s problems.”
+“Francis is not Henry.”
+“Poison? You say that so hopefully now.”
+“Good. Cowards want to live.”
+“My dear, never give up a crown to anybody.”
+“If the crown feels too heavily, line it with velvet.”
-Why is Louis Condon everywhere? Doesn’t he actually do something?
-The peasant woman curse was too dramatic and on-the-nose
Title: Three Queens
Written By: Doris Egan
Directed By: Steve DiMarco
Image Courtesy: Fanpop