Reign 2.18: “Reversal of Fortune” Review

It’s a Miracle!

A Television Review by Akash Singh


Reign is back with a thematically unified hour that lacks unity in basically all other areas. Supernatural deities are written uncomfortably next to a dying monarch and another noble that arrives unceremoniously through a door to deliver some shocking geopolitical news that has little precedent but is supposed to be super-important based on how everyone is reacting. At the end of last week, it seemed that the show was near the historical marker of Francis’s death that would bring his younger brother into the foray and make Mary’s situation that much more precarious. That is undone this week, much to my chagrin, not because it was only a mild fever or something that Francis had fallen into, but because magic. Magic has a place within stories, most notably stories like Game of Thrones. In the era of period television, however, there’s a tricky balance of treating magic like it’s real (as was largely assumed in those times) while simultaneously understanding that it is not. It becomes necessary in portraying any of your characters realistically that they not be made fun of through the lens of magic and their views on it. Here the show succeeds in abjectly making fun of itself. The superstitions on Reign are so mind-numbingly stupid that it defies logic that anyone would look at the first season and say “Yeah, more Darkness shit!”

Catherine being furious with Mary over Francis’s health makes sense. Humans often need conduits to channel our emotional heft. Mary feeling guilty over Francis’s health makes sense. Condé acting like an idiot makes sense (he’s easy on the eyes according to Kenna’s first impression of him but his head is remarkably dense and or hollow). Bash not dying from that stab wound makes sense because the moron who stabbed him did so in a forest close to the village and then apparently ran off before finishing the job. Him getting caught because the villagers saw his dispute and figured that they’d rather have him die than risk the crown’s anger makes sense. Bash encountering Clarissa is jarring, but whatever, I’ll give that a pass as well. Bash killing Clarissa because he watched the ending to season one of Game of Thrones and believes in this life-for-a-life code that he has shuttered in the past does not make sense. Sure, he’s desperate to find a way to save Francis, I understand that. But the show goes ahead and validates his decision to kill her and boom, Francis’s eyes open. For the love of…

There are plenty of irritating moment this episode that entirely seem to exist to grate on the audience’s nerves. The show continues to invest heavily in the Mary-Condé and no matter how many times you show them together in bed, the romantic chemistry can be condensed onto the head of a pin. Kenna’s driver gets a heart attack and then she is stranded in the forest because she was sent to go find Bash without any sort of armed escort. Because…? Leith is supposed to safeguard Claude, but she steps out of the carriage and then goes into a whorehouse. And then the driver just sits there because it is totally fine to let the Princess of France wander through the streets and into a whorehouse. “Where’s Claude?” asks Leith stupidly, who might be in the running for most idiotic bodyguard of all time. I appreciate Leith and Greer now more than ever before, but being in love should only get you so far. His constant consternations that she should marry him and settle down come from a kind place, but after it is repeated 1,987,654 times, it gets annoying. “I have what I want; a man I love, not a man I have to depend on.” Greer for the win.

The political maneuverings this episode are overall sharply done, however, providing further evidence that when the show focuses on the politics, is truly clicks. That doesn’t necessitate the removal of the fun aspects of this show that separate it from its more serious political counterparts, it just necessitates focus on the aspects of the show that work. Mary receives news that Scottish Protestants have been attacking strongholds loyal to her brother James and her most immediate option is to have French soldiers march to Scotland. Normally Francis would have to authorize that movement, but with him being unconscious and everything, the reigns are in Mary’s hands (pun intended). Catherine quickly vows to squash any of those plans, so Mary turns towards Narcisse’s illegally kept private army to get the job done. Narcisse is knowingly hesitant, but Mary shuts him down with this piece of fiery brilliance: Today I am king and I will punish those who defy me. Remember your son. Do not test my power and do not tempt my fury.” BAMF. As it is, Narcisse stalls his army at Catherine’s behest, but Kenna unveils that lie within a second – she had run into the captain of Narcisse’s army in the forest. Mary is furious, but a now wake Francis goes ahead and orders two thousand French troops to Scotland. Promises must be kept, he argues quietly. This is the good stuff, Reign.

Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:

+“You turned down Elizabeth.” That was dumb, Robb Stark.

+“You don’t know the answer.”, “Do you?”

+“Business is booming.”

+“The king is you…”

+Lola once again proves that she is the only logical person in the show

+“Let’s not waste time by pretending you don’t know what’s happening.”

+“Lofty gaze of judgment.”

+“When a crown changes heads, power shifts.”

+“Never discard a women’s skills. Our daily lives consist of making hardships seem effortless.” Preach it, Kenna. Preach it.

+“I will tear you in half for this.”

+“Let our enemies observe this display of French power.”

+“I have been given a second chance at life and I intend to live it more wisely so the next time I’m staring at death I have no regrets.”

+“So much for breaking a pattern.”

+“Our love to die.”

-“Is this the villain who tried to murder you?”

-“Francis is gone hunting.”

-“You saved her from so much suffering in her future.” Did he now?



Title: Reversal of Fortune

Written By: Drew Lindo & Wendy Riss Gatsiounis

Directed By: Anne Wheeler

Image Courtesy: EW


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