A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Above everything else, the greatest emotional response that I carry after this week’s episode of Reign is irritation. Irritation that what was one of the most promising opens on the show quickly derailed because of some sheerly awful stunt and fight choreography. Irritation that ****ing Louis Condé is back and not dead in some French forest at the hands of an annoyed English diplomat or something. Irritation that Bash hasn’t had anything decent to do for longer than I can remember. Irritation that somehow I’m still expected to believe that Mary and Condé on a spiritual level or whatever are actually connected. Abandoned has solid sequences and some fairly intriguing storylines, but the writers have abandoned any semblance of concrete storytelling within each episode. Ever since Catherine’s madness was first introduced, every single installment of Reign has been teetering on the edge, saving some of its sequences while allowing others to simply fall off the proverbial cliff. There’s at the very least a sense of propulsion that would lead the story forward, but it’s becoming radically apparently that the writers haven’t understood what makes this show great is the realpolitik of the French court. Keep the romance, keep the fun, but allow the politics room to breathe.
The opening sequence was simply breathtaking at its beginning. The juxtaposition of the choir boys singing at the Benedictine monastery with the Protestant revolutionaries was bursting with a cinematic feel that the show could really use more of. Then the fight choreography arrives. I understand that Reign doesn’t have the budget of Game of Thrones or Sparatcus and it has twenty-two episodes to produce instead of the premium cable’s typically twelve or thirteen. But it defies belief that they can’t hire a decent team to coordinate fight sequences (considering that they aren’t exactly numerous on the show, probably for the budgetary concerns listed above). It’s abundantly clear that most of those extras probably held a real sword for the first time in their lives and then the director yelled at them to run forward. What simply doesn’t make sense here is the number of troop allocation available. The idea that because Francis sent two thousand troops to Scotland that all of a sudden they don’t have properly trained soldiers for this type of mission is one of the dumbest things this show has ever done. Sure, maybe troops are stretched a little thin, but you honestly can’t spare a couple dozen troops to get the damn job done?
Towards the final act of the episode, Catherine options that Narcisse’s private army be used for the rescue operation. It’s a clear ploy by the writers to scuttle Narcisse back into court, which is fine because Narcisse is such a joy while he’s openly and secret plotting at the same time within the court’s walls. But just because a certain end goal is in sight doesn’t mean that the road taken to get there has to more haphazard than trying to drive down each and every single one of the world’s most hazardous highways. Outside of the ridiculousness that got Narcisse’s army back into the picture, the pairing of Catherine and Narcisse is simply perfect. While I roll my eyes fastidiously at any suggestion that Narcisse is as wily as Catherine, the two have a rapport that simply cannot be matched anywhere else. They see past the stupidity that is so ardently abundant around the castle, observing the darkest corners, reading in between all of the political lines all while plotting several maneuvers to outwit everyone around them. Years of practice certainly can do so and it is by far the most tantalizing story bit the show has thrown at the audience in recent days.
Because this has to be covered, ugh, Condé. His romance with Mary has simply never worked and frankly it’s insulting that the show thinks the audience will fall for a romance that’s faker than anything Nicholas Sparks has ever written. But he does screw himself over royally and if that leads to Condé’s head being chopped off in a public French square, that would simply be fantastic. After him and Mary discuss the boundaries of their relationship for about the fifteenth time, he decides to go off and marry Queen Elizabeth. It’s the smartest move Condé has ever displayed on this show and it makes perfect sense. Remaining in France would surely provoke Francis into chopping his head off or hanging him and anything sounds better than those two options. To be fair, his other choice is to become the King of England so once again, the sympathy is a bit hard to come by. He marries Elizabeth by proxy, the broadsword on their marital bed symbolizing that he is now promised to the English queen but he may not bed the proxy herself. The entire affair, which seemed morbidly dubious from the start, suddenly goes south and everyone involved in the wedding is slaughtered. Louis is cut off by the English diplomat, who won’t support him any further until Queen Elizabeth gives him further direction but simultaneously makes it clear that he’s basically doomed in the snowy forest around him.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“You don’t have any friends.”
+“Well, does this friend have a name? Breasts? A vagina?” Kenna will be here all week, folks.
+Catherine and Mary view Louis as taking advantage of Mary at a vulnerable moment?
+“Do you never stop calculating?”
+“I’m in charge of my life for the very first time.” I LOVE Greer’s storyline this season. Thank goodness for her ferocious independence.
+Champagne at the ready
+“We’re all basically fallen women…to hell with what people think.” **** yeah, Greer!
+“Is it possible you might be confusing gratitude with love?” Lola, once again dispensing sage advice to people who sorely need it.
+Catherine’s spy noticing Narcisse flirting with Lola
+“Queen Elizabeth’s new King consort would be a prize captive for any Frenchman.”
+“Did you do this, Catherine?”
+“Did you, in some way?”
+“Is this how it’s going to be from now on? Both of us constantly wondering what the other is up to?”
-“Did I do right by you?”
-“These past few weeks without you…” Ugh.
Written By: Nancy Won & Robert Doty
Directed By: Deborah Chow
Image Courtesy: Spoilers Guide