Reign 2.22: “Burn” Review

Or Not?

A Television Review by Akash Singh

NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!

The turbulent second season of Reign comes off with the most solid episode in some time that still suffers from a few loose narrative ends that hopefully are resolved before the third season begins. Opening on the gorgeous shot of the French Protestant camp, the episode otherwise begins exactly where its predecessor had left off. Mary is in Louis’s tent, having just announced her pregnancy and taking in his notably shocked expression (it’s an understandable one in all honesty). As I had hoped so fervently, it was all a ruse on Mary’s part. In the most shrewdness and agency she’s shown in a while, Reign suddenly remembered who its lead character was. Mary had made a shrewd pact with Greer so she could bring her ladies to the battlefield outside the tent to distract the men and had spread the rumor of a plague spreading to cause a panic. It’s a fantastic plan that pays off all of the time spent with Greer this season with aplomb. Louis exits the tent to see what the commotion is about and as he returns back into the tent, Mary stabs him right in the gut. I’m not going to lie, I was cheering as loudly as humanly possible at the screen when that happened. No offense to the actor Sean Teale, but when Louis fell to the ground, I breathed a sigh of relief. I couldn’t have stood another moment of “I love you and you love me, too.” A stab in your temporary lover’s gut is perfectly fine by me.

Before I get to the coup’s quick end, let’s take a quick tour around other stops of the story. Kenna and Bash makeup, have sex, and then Bash dumps her again after he discovers that she’s pregnant with Renaud’s child. At this point if Kenna just stabs Bash and then throws him over the battlements out of sheer irritation, I’d be okay with it because the show seriously has no clue what to do with Bash as an actual character anymore. Kenna at least has a potential new, young king of her own on horizon. He has, um, a burning witch who hisses or something? Speaking of which, the inclusion of Delphine into this series makes absolutely no sense and none of her scenes have amounted to anything but absolute stupidity. Please, writers, let the last we see of her be her flying into a forest or whatever she was doing and for the sake of all that is excellent about this show, leave all of the superstitious/black magic nonsense behind. I understand that superstition can be a powerful force but there’s plenty of ways to show that without literally having a woman jump out of a burning pyre hissing.

In the one, one, aspect of superstition in Reign that actually works, Nostradamus makes a welcome return to the French court (whoever thought I would be typing those words out, eh?). His quick scene is evocative, beautifully shot in what seems to be darkened, misty corridor. Francis and Mary are a team again, but the historical inevitability the show had hinted at has come back around full circle. Francis didn’t arrive in that distant isolation by accident, however. Catherine wanted Louis dead to the extent that she had Lola and John kidnapped by her own men, going so far as to fake her own grandchild’s death so Francis would fly into enough of a rage that he would conceivably chop Louis’s head off. For Catherine to make such a move is within her character and for her to take such drastic action against any potential threats against Francis’s hold on the French throne also makes sense, even though Louis never personified into a significant threat to begin with. Francis doesn’t stand for what could have turned into an absolute fiasco (he has a point) and sends Catherine into exile. Him and Mary have reconciled, and with love, but Catherine’s plot unsettles him. “I’m dying,” he says in a terrifying whisper. “Yes, you are,” Nostradamus replies in an equivalent disquiet. Oh Francis, just when you were becoming likable again!

That Louis survives and escapes on a horse is fairly annoying, because beyond this point I honestly have no idea how his character has anything left to do in the story itself. Surely Elizabeth can find someone else inside France to do her bidding, like other French Protestant nobles who have proven to be far less prone to falling in love with the Queen, for example. Speaking of the queen, the ending to Reign’s second season ends presumably somewhere in England. The camera opens upon a beautiful ivory corridor with Trevor Morris’s stirring score, with the sharp whiff of a red gown traversing through the hallway. It’s an introduction to Queen Elizabeth that works in its sharpness and the score adds an immediate sense of grandeur that works with the show’s production budget. It’s jolting then that Rachel Skarsten doesn’t carry the grace that would befit Elizabeth’s body language and she seems already too positioned on the side of being a villain. I’ll reserve my full judgment until we see more of her, but I have to admit that the idea of her and Catherine deMedici plotting to take down Mary is an enticing one, mostly because I’m assuming that Catherine will be plotting a betrayal as soon as is politically expedient. This show has been a frenetic ride this season, but I’m really happy to see it come back for a third season. The shift to Friday night is a potentially solid one considering its competition on Thursday was the now-lousy-but-still-popular Scandal and I for one am glad to see the CW keeping its faith in the French court. See you all back for season three this autumn/fall, folks.

Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:

+Catherine’s glee at Louis’s impending execution

+Francis’s logic

+“That’s the job, Mary. Get used to it.”

+“You are no better than me, either one of you.”

+The quiet little scene between Mary, Greer, Kenna, and Lola was a touching callback to how this series began.

-There were a few awkward battle shots that could have been fixed by some clever camerawork

-The hair and makeup on Queen Elizabeth looked like they were trying to finish the job in about thirty seconds or something. She’s the Queen of England, for heaven’s sake!

Great

8/10

Title: Burn

Written By: Laurie McCarthy & Nancy Won

Directed By: Fred Gerber

Image Courtesy: WGNT

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