A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
I forgive Reign for a lot in terms of historical accuracy, but as much as I tried to get over it, the reluctant Francis got on my massive nerves this week. I believe I wanted to smack him across the face about ten times over the course of forty-two minutes. By the end of the episode, if it wasn’t clear before, Francis is hardly king material. If left on his own devices, he would become an even larger pawn in the hands of the nobility than his father was. I get it, Narcisse has a hand over him, but it was the most vapidly obvious of ploys and Francis fell for it quicker than a child in front of a cookie jar with the words “EAT ME” written on them in bold caps. You cannot rely upon all those around you at every moment of your existence to save the day. You rule a bloody country of over twenty million people, for heaven’s sake. One has to be a shrewd political navigator in these circumstances. Whining and using all of your power plays well after they have expired doesn’t get you anywhere. Francis hasn’t managed to learn that in over a season and a half.
The historical Francis, as frail as he was, would have had no trouble signing the edict against the Protestants in the first place. He was heavily Catholic and wanted to ensure that his kingdom remained united so. If the show inaccurately wanted to turn Mary into a noble heroine who protects the French Protestants, fine. But this entire twist that somehow is supposed to make us feel for a tragic hero in Francis is completely and utterly undeserving. He chose his own family’s safety over that of millions. As a king, as a political leader, those types of choices don’t get you very far and they certainly don’t make you tragically heroic. As the hour comes to a close, Francis is nothing but a pathetic royal who has inherited none of his parents’ cleverness and political shrewdness. He’s an absolute idiot. And the whole “leave me so you’ll be safe but I won’t tell you for your safety” bit had my eyes rolling faster than Matthew McConaughey’s shuttle in Interstellar.
This week sees the entry of Princess Claude, who apparently is the daughter of Queen Catherine de Medici of France and has never been mentioned before for some reason (If I’m wrong Internet, correct me). Anyhow, the acting for Claude is fine but my goodness she looks like someone who belongs in the twenty-first century. Reign has always been extraordinarily out there in terms of costuming but this was just gregarious. Perhaps I shouldn’t pay too much attention to these issues, but with the afro hairdo and the gown that is a cross between history and Forever 21, it just became far too distracting. Claude herself is becoming a relatively problematic character. As mentioned above, her appearance strikes one as being far too sudden. There is absolutely no reasoning other than education that is provided for why she was kept so far away from court and the whole incestuous affair with Bash was phenomenally ridiculous. On one hand, her open sexuality is quite intriguing in this day and age, but on the other hand there is little acknowledgement that the Princess of France wouldn’t be allowed to be so brazen about her behavior (the flashing is the primary scene I’m referring to). And Reign, don’t go too far with the incest angle. Just, no. Be a little more clever.
What tremendously works in this hour is the budding relationship between Narcisse and Lola, which is so utterly fascinating that I cannot help but be more invested in that duo over basically everything else. As I noted last week, this storyline gives Narcisse the opportunity to become infinitely more interesting. As for Lola, this is easily the most dramatically significant material she’s ever gotten. This week, she becomes a pawn between Francis and Narcisse, an infinitely precarious position which only slightly works in her favor because Francis is such a dolt. Narcisse makes it clear that her wit is to him an equivalent draw to her beauty. As an agent for Francis, she indeed takes a bath for Narcisse, paying detailed attention to everything that came out of his mouth. The most brilliant trick of the episode is keeping the audience in the dark about whether or not Lola did place Francis’s insurance against Narcisse in the latter’s home. “One of you used me and it wasn’t him,” she said scathingly and rightfully so.
But even with the insurance, Francis is played like the fool he is, Narcisse threatening to expose Mary and Catherine’s plot to kill Henry at the altar. He signs the edict, rendering the bravery of Louis and the Protestant nobility who came forward against the edict at the potential expense of their lives (an excellent use of Louis this week, finally) to be all in vain. Mary is undeniably furious. “Oh, spare me the lies and excuses!” Mary thunders. “You are a coward… But that man is dead and I am done waiting for him.” Francis the coward strikes back with a question of why she doesn’t return to Scotland. Mary, in tears but nevertheless resolute, walks away in righteous fury. I can’t wait for next week.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Megan Follows is a gift
+“It’s simply an excuse to root out Protestants.”
+“It’s not my choice to overtly threaten my monarch…”
+“Or should I not mention those two in the same sentence?”
+Greer and Lord Castleroy becoming integrated into the Catholics vs. Protestant plot
+“Mary must be able to deny everything truthfully before God.”
+“Then we kill Narcisse.”
+“In a way, it pleases me… we were on the same side.”
+“If you treat your people like enemies, they will become so.”
+Hilarious sexual juxtaposition with Mary telling Louis “My husband isn’t giving me what I want, so I’ve come to ask you instead” after he’s finished coitus with another man’s wife
+“Did you make copies?” “Of course.”; Francis, don’t you know your mother by now?
Catherine sees her ghosts
+“Making demands…you’re learning.”
+“Vulnerability… there’s a sense of comfort when one is quite exposed…”
+“I can change that.”
+“You will see me without my defenses.”
+Some historical callback with Catherine admitting that when Francis was sickly as a child, the Bourbons (to whom Louis Condon belongs to) were rivals to the throne. Are they still?
+“Which one of us told you the truth?”
+“It could lead to his death.”
+“Do not seek to take before I give.”
-Why was Bash so chill with Francis’s admission that he killed their father?
-Catherine and the ghosts
Title: The Prince of the Blood
Written By: Drew Lindo & Wendy Riss Gatsiounis
Directed By: Deborah Chow
Image Courtesy: TV Fanatic, Fanpop