A Wintry Walk
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Well, the Henry ghost thing didn’t end last week as I had so ardently hoped. Instead, I’m hoping that this week does the trick. Catherine de Medici was a powerful political force, a shrewd woman whose massively powerful family commanded strings throughout all of Europe. She certainly was rumored to have been involved with the supernatural, but nothing of the sort was ever documented in any significant form to give it more heft than mere rumors. Reign is not a show I look towards for historical accuracy and it’s tendency to take historical whispers and make them story threads has largely been decent. Considering how poorly the whole Darkness storyline was last season, it’s irritating beyond belief that the writers would take Catherine and devolve her into a mad hat who speaks openly to her dead husband’s ghost in an open hallway with people at the end of it who amazingly aren’t wondering who the hell she’s speaking to. It’s a great disservice to Catherine and Megan Follows, even though she tries her very best to be as reasonable as possible. The episode nevertheless at moments corrects itself, especially at the end of the hour. It’s a superbly ridiculous sequence that throws even more history out of the proverbial window, but if it’s the price to pay for the sake of a sane and savvy Catherine coming back, then I’m okay with it.
The moment Diane de Poitiers walked through the doors and onto the scene of her daughter-in-law almost taking her son’s pantaloons off (wouldn’t guards announce her first?), there was a sort of doomed aura about her that only appears around characters that you know are coming back for last appearances (Lysa Arryn in the fourth season of Game of Thrones fits this bill). This is a bit too melodramatic for even Reign, but considering some of the other nonsense going around this hour, thank goodness for the old-fashioned face-off between the wife and the mistress. Between his mother interrupting marital sex, Bash gets roped in by Claude to investigate the murder of the twins. Bash the Baron (and not Duke as Kenna finds out disappointingly) thus largely serves the function of Sherlock Holmes this week, although without the witty dialogue and PBS publicity. As it happens, Henry was having sex with a nurse who was supposed to be taking care of the children and when she came back, she found the babies frozen to death on account of open windows that were letting the frigid draft in. She quickly put the blame of Claude, assuming that considering she’s a child that no one would take the gravity of the situation that seriously. As it is, it’s a McGuffin as the true villain behind the murders was Diane. It’s an exasperating reveal, considering that the real Diane de Poitiers lived out her life quietly in some chateau. As it is, why would she be threatened by the birth of two girls in a governmental structure that is primarily based on primogeniture? But, there you have it.
Greer got the worst of it this hour, with Lord Castleroy’s deception of sorts coming to light. It was going to be quite difficult to keep something like this secret and this story had “DOOM” written all over it from the very beginning (I mean, seriously, who believed that those men were simply there for a school for longer than an episode?). Mary openly (in secret, of course) asks Greer for the full truth. Greer naturally lies about the entire affair and says that she has no idea of anything that had happened, sealing her fate with one sentence. Perhaps if she had uttered the truth, then there would have been something significant resulting from that exchange and Mary at the very least could have planned to provide protection for Greer (Castleroy was a doomed cause right at that moment, anyhow). That lie forced Mary into an extremely tight corner, especially when Castleroy’s foolishness was brought to the public as an egregious form of treason and corruption. There was no other way out and the best outcome from Greer is what she garners: banishment. Simply put, there was little else Mary could do to avoid Greer’s head being outright chopped off without completely risking the Catholic legitimacy of the crown. I’m sure this isn’t the end of Greer, but I am quite intrigued by where this storyline will go.
Arguably the worst aspect of this episode was the stupid pissing contest between Francis and Louis. It’s utterly without narrative thrust, as devoid of tension as a dull conversation about the weather outside and how remarkable it is for the sun to be shining this brightly in January. There’s a random stick match between the two, as if the King of France would ever foolishly lend credence to the idea that indeed, a Protestant noble holds some semblance of personal power against his Catholic ruler. Francis gets his best moment when he tells Mary that he cannot possibly allow any perception of marital discord between them to succeed, especially in the event of Mary becoming pregnant. Mere rumors of illegitimacy have started countless wars and toppled numerous regimes and considering how tenuous Francis’s rule is in general, his fear makes sense. Yet his own behavior with Conde serves to completely undermine the very point he’s trying to make. Nothing says ‘this man may potentially be having an affair with my wife’ than openly dueling him in a court with martial arts that simply don’t make any sense. The best thing to do while trying to quell a rumor is to avoid openly engaging in any behavior that would lend credence to it. An open duel is as far away from that as you can go. Frankly at this point Francis is becoming a drag, despite Toby Regbo’s performance, bringing a hopeless sense of despair no matter where he goes. He tries to justify his actions, but Mary’s snarl of “It sounds to me like a man tightening his grip on a woman” was far more resounding. Certainly this season is ending with the death of Francis, yes?
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“But it still hurt.”
+Parceling out Narcisse’s lands
+“There cannot be the slightest doubt.”
+“You’re a lie, Henry.”
+Lola standing up for Mary
+“You have no idea of what it’s like to be a girl in this world.”
+“He’s all yours.” Bless you, Megan Follows. You’re a gift.
+Henry’s permiscuity being the death knoll for his children
+Catherine’s guilt over the effect that her marriage had on their children
-Why is Leith around as a series regular?
-How on earth can no one here Catherine in that corridor?
Written By: Chelsey Lora
Directed By: Larysa Kondracki
Image Courtesy: Rickey