'Reign' Season 1 Finale Recap: Long Live the Queen
'Reign' Season 1 Finale Recap: Long Live the Queen
Morgan Glennon
Morgan Glennon
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
This week on the season finale of Reign, Mary puts on her big girl crown while Francis takes part in a full metal joust. Outside of royal maneuvering, Bash fights the darkness, Lola is maybe dying, and Greer has boy troubles.

This finale has crazy Batman-esque villains with vampire teeth, black plagues, exploding ships, ghost tennis players, and Mary making a power move with only the might of her wardrobe. So basically, it's a fairly normal episode of Reign

I think once you've had "sexed to death" as an actual method of murder, the bar has been raised pretty high on what constitutes a crazy episode of this show. 


A Queen Rises

This puts an ellipsis on the end of what started out as my favorite show of the season, went through a bit of a stumbling period, and righted itself to remain one of the most ambitious and insane shows airing on prime time. The only other show I can think of as crazy as Reign this season was Sleepy Hollow, a show about a sexy Ichabod Crane tracking down the Headless Horseman. That's some fine, crazy awesome company to be in. 

Reign had some trouble earlier in the season trying to find the right balance between political power plays and all-out, balls-to-the-wall craziness. It also had a tough time fleshing out secondary characters. 

While Catherine and Mary were always the columns holding this series aloft, it took some time to turn everyone else into three-dimensional people we cared about. Shaking off some of the first season growing pains, the back half of the season found a way to balance madcap drama with genuine character growth. 

The biggest character growth, pointed out several times throughout the finale, has been for Mary. She came to the French court as a naive and happy-go-lucky girl, albeit one constantly in danger of being murdered. 

Throughout the course of the season Mary has had to take on more and more responsibility. She's had to do dark things, questionable things, in service of her country and her people. She's become more like Catherine and, as she points out to the reigning badass queen in town, she's become "harder to kill." Mary has transformed, slowly and with plenty of fits and spurts, into someone who seems to be a real force to be reckoned with. 

The finale also wrapped up plenty of the major, overarching season storylines, while setting up new obstacles for the gang to stab and scheme their way out of next season. The darkness was dispatched, but the black death is right around the corner. Greer has more complications to her love life in store, while Lola's life hangs in the balance. Francis is king, but holding onto the secret of his father's murder. Perhaps most concerning for the royal couple, while Mary has taken on the mantle of royal responsibility, Francis is still leading with his heart. 

Oh and also Mary is definitely pissing off a very important redhead. You might have heard of her; her name is Elizabeth Tudor. Historically, this is not going to end well for Mary. 


Plague is Coming

Bash and Hunky Nostradamus are trying to track down the darkness, while Kenna and Pascal are hiding out surrounded by guards. The guys find an abandoned building full of creepy portends of doom, most of which have already come to pass: fires, floods, an eclipse. Off in the corner is a rough drawing of Justin Bieber wearing a trucker hat and cursing at Bill Clinton. The darkness knows some seriously gnarly stuff is in store. 

The final items which haven't come to pass yet are a shower of shooting stars and the black death. Hunky Nostradamus say something ominous in his Batman voice rasp, but who knows what it is because he's too deep and troubled and hunky to bother enunciating. Reign should come ready made with closed-captioning just for Nostradamus' dialogue. Every time he talks it sounds like the beginning of one of those Truth.com tobacco ads. 

Bash and Nostradamus head off to save Kenna and Pascal, and they're just in time. It turns out the darkness is just some guy with a lot of time on his hands, a weird tooth fetish, and a whole bunch of burlap. I wonder if he and Clarissa, the friendly neighborhood burlap monster, ever compared notes on their outfits? (Hey Clarissa, miss you boo. Come visit us next season!)

Together the guys kill the darkness, but not before he tells Bash that the old gods need blood in order to hold back the plague that's coming. He wants to pass down his teeth filer and fetch little burlap mask (also murderous tendencies) to Pascal, but Bash puts a stop to it. 

Later, Bash and Kenna share their first "I love yous" under a shower of stars. "What a miracle," Bash says, adorably, about their romance. 

Bash and Kenna might have seemed like the most random of pairings when the two were foisted together, but they've since proved to be a rather delightful pair. It's nice that the show was brave enough to explore strange pairings instead of feeling married to the love triangle, and the Bash and Kenna relationship certainly shows it's a good thing the show moved on. 


"Wait, shooting stars. I think that might be bad," Bash thinks, and the next day there's an announcement that the plague is back. I guess Bash should have just let the crazy, razor-toothed maniac steal that little kid and teach him how to make human sacrifices to the lord of light or whatever. Great job Bash. You had one job. 

Mary, Queen of Work-it-Girl! 

Meanwhile, Henry's level of crazy is now just off-the-chain. It's gotten to the point where even Francis is like, "My bad about that assassination guys." Mary and Catherine look at each other and just sort of roll their eyes, because they are both murder professionals now and Francis is still an amateur. 

They decide their only option is to get the generals Henry dismissed into service for Francis. Catherine is worried, because she realizes a coup will destabilize Francis' reign, even if they do win. Francis is still all about not killing his father as he heads off to go rally support. 

Henry, meanwhile, is writing in his journal and drawing hearts around Mary's name in colored pen: Henry + Mary + England = 2gether 4eva! "I want that written in flowers in the great hall," Henry announces. "For I have a very secret plan to kill my son and marry his wife, sort of a reverse Oedipal, and I want to make this very secret plan as obvious as possible to every human being around me!" 

Mary is getting increasingly grossed out by Henry's familiar behavior and Catherine is completely stoic, because Henry tries to marry a new lady just about every other day. After a display meant to impress Mary ends up with an exploding naval ship, Mary has had enough of the nonsense.

She goes to her uncle the Duke of Guise for support, but he's a wily little eel when it comes to nailing down anything like solid help. Instead he advises her to be the person that France can rally around, by draping herself in the promise of England. 

Mary does so in grand fashion...with fashion. She shows up to a not-so-celebratory joust wearing the lions of England on her dress and cape. Talk about making a fashion statement!

Catherine knows Mary is playing a dangerous game with her cousin Elizabeth of England, and all the English ambassadors leave the joust immediately because Mary is being way tacky. 

What I like about this moment, as someone who is a little bit of a history nerd and a lot in love with Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth Tudor, is that it continues the season's theme of giving Elizabeth a great reason to have mad beef with Mary. 

These actions, which seem necessary now, are going to come back to bite Mary in the future in a serious way. But right now it's understandable why Mary would put on the mantle of England in order to grab power and support from Henry. 

The King is Dead. Long Live the King!

On the way to rally support, Francis bumps into all the bodies of the men killed in the boat explosion. Then he finds out his father is planning on sending thousands of men into England, ill-prepared. Without even knowing his father is planning to kill him and steal his bride, Francis has officially hit his limit with his father's nonsense. Stop; murder time! 

When Mary's display of catty fashion gets the French court in a tizzy, Henry gets jealous and decides to join the joust himself. During the joust, he is mortally wounded by the other rider, who turns out to be Francis. I was super, super glad we didn't have to see that a piece of the lance had pierced his eye and went into his brain. Thank you Reign, in this case less really is more. 

On his deathbed, Henry has suitably weird heart-to-hearts with Catherine and Francis. After a tender moment, Henry ruins it by telling Catherine to take care of Diane after his passing. Then he tells Francis how he killed his older brother, also named Francis, by poisoning his water during a tennis match. Ghost Francis waves his ratchet and King Henry skips into the afterlife. 

Francis finds and hugs Bash, because frankly he's had a no good, very bad day. Bash hugs back, because he just accidentally unleashed a plague upon the masses by killing a fake vampire or something. These brothers live complicated lives. 

As the episode ends, Mary and Francis both worry about the toll ruling is going to take on their marriage and on their soul. Just as Francis is about to unburden himself about his role in his father's death, a letter comes from Lola. Mary, finally free to tell Francis the truth, convinces him to go and see his son being born.

This turns out to be bad advice, because the plague is everywhere and bringing back Lola would risk infecting the whole court. Mary tells Francis he is a ruler now and cannot always listen to his heart in matters of state and incredibly infectious diseases. "YOLO!" Francis cries as he rides off into the distance. 

Mary tells the guards to lower the gates, shakes her head, and watches Francis ride off into the sunset. 

Elsewhere in the French Court...

-- Poor Diane. Henry really could not have screwed her over more in his dying moments. 

-- Leith is back and he wants Greer to run away with him to his modest holdings and properties. Greer, while still seeming very much into him, gently tells him she don't want no scrub. A scrub is a guy who can't get no love from Greer. 

-- Leith decides he's now going to rise like an angry dudebro phoenix from the ashes of his heartbreak. First stop: hitting on a cute redhead. Who, it turns out, is Lord Castleroy's daughter. That's going to make for some awkward, Game of Thrones-ian family dinners. 

-- Is it just me or has Lord Castleroy gotten better looking? I'm totally Team Castleroy, especially now that he shaved off all that unfortunate facial hair he was sporting earlier in the season. Work it! 

-- Did we know he had a daughter though? And how old is Lord Castleroy supposed to be if he has a daughter who looks to be about Greer's age? Because he honestly doesn't look that much older than Greer. Everyone is so hot it's usually impossible to determine age when it comes to CW casting. 

-- Poor Lola gets the very short end of the stick in the finale, getting stuck with only a few scenes where it seems like either she or the baby might die in childbirth. There seems like more to know about Lola, so I hope she makes it to next season.

What did you think? Did you love the finale? What's going to happen next season when Mary is queen? Will Lola survive? Will anyone, now that the plague is here? Mostly importantly, are you Team Leith or Team Castleroy? Sound off in the comments! 

Reign airs Thursday at 9pm on The CW.

(Image courtesy of CW)


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