A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Reign returns from its winter hiatus with a meandering mid-season premiere that just sorts of meanders about everywhere as if it is fundamentally unsure of where it needs to be by this critical juncture. There’s moments of unbridled maturity and clarity that give me hope, right before the following scene suddenly takes it away. When the show focuses on the power grabs, of which there were plenty in the French court, it thrives. When it focuses on the aftermath of Mary’s rape, it largely works because at the very least it is apparent that the show is committed to exploring Mary’s trauma (even though it looks largely solved this week). Then there’s everything else. There’s less of a complete show at display here and more of a roughly put together smorgasbord. Daniel Sinclair’s script only succeeds in making this the most scattered episode of the season and I hope now that the idiotic ghost subplot has apparently wrapped, we can move back to the politics and poisoning that made the first half of this season largely so successful.
Narratives thrive on the ability to take characters and story lines to places audiences don’t expect while keeping intact character integrity. By that I mean the twists and turns within a narrative only work if it logically builds upon the foundations from earlier while growing the characters in a manner that is consistent with who they are. Catherine, for example, has gone from being one of the season’s highlights to one of its most unfortunate casualties. I’ve kept fastidious in my belief that while historically there were rumors of Queen Catherine de Medici being involved with supernatural occurrences doesn’t mean that’s a smart choice for the narrative Reign is following. It’s written poorly, takes away Catherine’s agency, and brings back the dead King Henry as a ghost to make love to her. Catherine this hour breaks down and admits to Claude of what had truly happened and why she was poisoning her own daughter. This raises a question that the show probably will never address: isn’t it entirely plausible that someone took note of Claude’s jealousy and suffocated Catherine’s two infant girls as a means of revenge or something? For the monarchs of one of the great European powers, that makes sense. As it is, Catherine finally decides to let it go, hugging Claude tearfully and watching as the trio of ghosts slowly walks away. Hopefully this storyline is dead with them.
The show’s work on addressing the traumatic repercussions of rape in regards to Mary are largely successful, culminating in her tearful heart to heart with Greer where she quietly but steely notes that she is strong. Adelaide Kane and NAME are fantastic as per usual, yet the writing elsewhere seems determined to juxtapose the thoughtfulness about addressing the trauma of sexual assault with open sexual acts. The King of Navarre, who like a lot of people on this show appears to be far younger than what he ought to be, is a big fan of parties where people are randomly paired and then they have sex. It’s a bizarre sort of thing in and of itself (and I don’t say that in the interests of being a prude or anything), but it’s a bit ridiculous to take within the context of the episode itself. Cutting back and forth (not literally) between a bunch of people having intercourse at the king’s discretion and Mary struggling to bring hersle for touch someone else again just seemed to be in poor taste – like Conde’s sex partner unknowingly suggesting that he just imagine Mary going down on him. Sigh.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+The mark subplot was neat
+Kenna and Bash
+“I kill when it’s expedient. I lie when expedient. That’s who I am.”
Neutral: The first gay couple in Reign are both clergymen. How original.
-Leith, shut the **** up
-Henry, stay dead
Written By: Daniel Sinclair
Directed By: Lynne Stopkewich
Image Courtesy: Google+