A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Perhaps the writers of Reign became enamored with a certain mirror in their office and wrote the entire script in front of it as if their characters’ reflections were staring eerily at them. It was extraordinary almost, how each character made sure to give Mary advice and commit actions themselves that would otherwise completely contradict something they had said a mere episode earlier (the script for this and last week are credited to the same writers, so I stand even further behind my crazy theory). The episode largely works on the backs of the ends of this episode that seem to convey a consistent sense of dread and doom to follow. Despite some of the usual silliness that is scattered throughout this episode, Forbidden manages to sell an increasing loneliness and isolation that’s quietly spreading throughout the castle (that might have been accentuated by the Gregorian chants I started listening to while writing this review in all honesty). But even within this episode, there’s a consistent framing of the characters as if someone and or something was about to devour them and there was little they could do to prevent it.
The episode itself begins with the funeral of the treacherous Duke of Guise that is only made somewhat tolerable due to Mary’s designer veil and Catherine’s snarky comments about how despicable of a man he was as Marie was reciting an appropriately stately elegy (side note: can’t anyone hear all of these whispers? They’re not exactly quiet). Following the fairly uncomfortable gathering around a dead Scottish nobleman, the episode splits into various threads to varying degrees of success. Marie, whose accent fluctuates wildly between a genuine attempt to sound English instead of Scottish and Jodie Foster in the movie Elysium, is primarily concerned with Mary having an heir. Poor Mary. If I had to hear ten speeches about how vital it was that I have children to save an entire country, some heads would be rolling off of their respective necks within minutes. Damn, does she have a sense of patience. Marie’s lowest moment certainly is when Mary confesses to her that she was indeed raped by Protestant extremists and her mother’s first thought is to ask her if she had become pregnant by that attack. The expression of sheer hurt on Mary’s face essentially sums up the entirety of the audience’s feelings in that moment. Terrible parenting aside, Marie’s: “Do you know what happens to disposable queens? They are disposed of!” remains one of the most sharp pieces of dialogue the show has ever displayed on screen.
As the episode moves forward, that sharp line of poignancy does unravel in the way Marie had warned her. But before we get to that scene, let’s get to Mary’s push to Francis that they indeed try to have children, which has several implications in and of itself. The threat of Elizabeth has been pushed more and more to the forefront and Mary is astute enough to realize that the news of her having an heir will immediately make her the most viable candidate. As it is, Francis either took the same opium Lola did but suffered the opposite effect or he’s just daft. I’m going to go with the latter option. He’s absolutely indignant that Mary, instead of fawning over him and declaring her love, is declaring that they need to have a child for the sake of securing their political future. Francis dislikes that they are copulating in the name of international policy and I have to assume that in that moment he forgot that he is the King of France and Mary is the Queen of both France and Scotland. Mary is tragically matter-of-fact about the entire affair and to Kane and Regbo’s credit, the attempted sex scene was brilliantly acted. As expected, there’s no consummation and instead the whole Conde romance things comes back around as the biting snafu. As far as Mary is concerned, their marriage will never be repaired and if they can’t have an heir, her duty is primarily concerned with Scotland.
The final scenes (albeit one) are what solidify this episode into any sort of cohesive whole that allow for this extremely well-paced episode to propel towards a place where at last it feels like monumental narrative changes. Catherine and Francis find themselves alone within a room, the vestiges of what was once a powerful dynasty about to unite Paris and Edinburgh into a world power. He flatly tells her of Mary’s decision to allow him to take other lovers if he so wished. Catherine acknowledges the deep sympathy she feels for Mary, but that ultimately she’s more worried about Francis as he is her child. There’s a tacit, quiet understanding between the two of them as something significantly more important follows afterwards. Mary has been placed at a significant crossroads with the heir making her a potentially more viable candidate than Elizabeth. As she learns, her mother is suffering from a terminal illness which not only gives the audience more sympathy for Marie de Guise but also places an additional burden upon Mary. She has to make a choice and she does – asking Conde to come with her to Scotland so she can rule in person. I don’t buy for a single second that Conde and Mary love each other because of how poorly developed that entire plot is and the whole wrench of Elizabeth wanting Conde’s hand is a ridiculously hilarious cliffhanger. But this is inarguably a massive change to the narrative of this show and I cannot wait to see where this goes.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“I had a feeling.”
+Mary’s expression upon hearing her mother say the words “Expansive mood…”
+“You have heirs, I have none.”
+“This is her choice… follow her lead.”
+“She must be a force of nature… anything less is dangerous.”
+Lola on the opiate wine was absolute gold, Anna Popplewell had a sure blast
+“You mean the man they buried alive?”
+The vision all but ensures that Francis is dying; season finale?
+“Is Elizabeth really so frightening?”
+“Conde remains untarnished?”
+“I am my own person.”
+“I have realized that I am utterly and completely alone.”
+“I hope things get better between you and Mary.”
+“I want a good life… I am sick of being judged for it!” Yeah, you tell him, Kenna.
+“I would want the real you.” Wow, Narcisse, that might be the most decent thing you’ve ever said
+“And he always offers you a bath…”
+“You are a fighter.”
+“I know how to keep my life, my crown, and I know how.”
+Antoine’s super romantic proposal…
+“I am mortified.”
+“I am done being a vessel for other’s peoples wishes and fears.”
+/-Greer and Cathleen; I’m not sure how to feel about it just yet
-What happened to Diane’s body? Did I miss something?
-Bash as the detective is getting really rudimentary
-Bash’s line about Kenna pouting herself in a position to be manipulated. What an ass.
Written By: Laurie McCarthy & Nancy Won
Directed By: Charles Binamé
Image Courtesy: Rickey