A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Now that the stupid ghost stuff is out of the way, I was expecting the more political elements that gave the second season such a great start to show up again and in full force. That kind of happened her. At about the midseason mark, the show has really floundered about in what became reminiscent of the worst aspects of season one. The supernatural elements stupidly came back, the politics went haywire, and random murder mysteries were thrown into the mix because apparently actual murders in French court at that time period weren’t interesting enough. I’m not sure what’s happening to the show’s writers right now, but if this solid-but-not-great trend continues, I’m significantly lowering my scores from here on out. The performances remain solid, the production design is quite aesthetically pleasing, but the plot is just simply going everywhere and when some of it lands on the page, episodes like this one seemed to be utterly determined to simply devoid it of actual tension. There’s something to be said for burning through plot and while sometimes it works (like the first five episodes of Homeland’s second season with Brody’s capture and turn), it more often than not doesn’t, like The End of Mourning.
The syphilis was driving Henry mad and the poisoning was the proverbial cherry on top. It had the potential to be the driving force for at least one episode if that was the primary focus. But by the time the forty-something mark is crossed, the entirety of the mystery is solved and the poisoner is even blackmailed. And by the time the episode is over, the returning and devious Duke of Guise is dead. I’ve certainly missed about twenty-five other things that have occurred, but we’ll get to a few of them anyhow. The best thing in all earnest that comes out of twenty-five plot lines all converging through one another is that somehow we come back to Narcisse and Catherine sharing the limelight. The two are so fastidiously foul yet delightful in one another’s company that it brings an enlightened energy to the entirety of Reign. Considering their pointed politics, the potential consequences could be equally as delightful.
While the Catherine and Antoine material this week was certainly strong, there’s a romantic angle that this show needs to end as quickly as humanly possible. Creating a love triangle between Mary, Francis, and Conde is a stupid place to go for multiple reasons. For one, the show’s commitment to Mary trying to recover her intimacy has been relatively commendable, especially in consideration of how often rape is used a plot device rather than the traumatic event that it actually is. If Mary is finding it difficult to be with Francis because of the event, considering how much Conde knows about it, that shouldn’t be the case here, either. On second note, why introduce a match with Lola only to suddenly take it away? She has so much political acumen as she displays on the show, but constantly binding her to these burdensome romances is, well, burdensome. Last but not least, a romantic triangle where one doesn’t need to exist is a fairly cheap way to induce tension. For a note, Reign writers: the French court is full of enough intrigue that love triangles that have no necessity do not need to exist, period. This show’s bread and butter is politics. It’s working for Catherine, Narcisse, and Antoine in this episode. Extend the same regard to everyone else, especially Mary.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“It was another generation who forced your hand. We must not be stained by the crimes of the dead.”
+“It is betrayal. Deception.”; “Yes it is.”
+I loved the costumes this week, those of those fur coats are now on my want-list
+“If you did anything other than work, things like this wouldn’t happen.”
+/- I don’t know how I feel about Greer becoming a prostitute
-“Even the wind in the trees reminds me of you.” That’s quite creepy, thank you very much.
-Conde’s increasing creepiness is becoming extremely stalkish
-The “aha”! moments were largely vapidly contrived
Title: The End of Mourning
Written By: Laurie McCarthy & Nancy Won
Directed By: Nathaniel Goodman
Image Courtesy: Rickey