This week on Reign,
Mary zeroes in on her enemies at court, the Phantom of the French Court loses her marbles, and Bash adds "bi-lingual heretic whisperer" to his already impressive ye olde OkCupid profile.
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In week two, the tonal issues that made the pilot so delightfully weird even out a bit, which unfortunately robs the show of some charm. Sure, The Lumineers are still blaring in every other scene and the girls appear to be wearing lingerie from the Victoria's Secret Courtly Prostitute collection, but the follow-up episode is all about establishing danger instead of having fun.
In fact, what the hour is really trying to accomplish is to explain why Mary would stay at the French court if every other person is trying to kill her. Danger is the buzzword of the episode, and it feels like every other scene is about someone trying to kill Mary or talking about the danger Mary is in. Spoiler alert: Mary is in a lot of danger!
As in the pilot, the settings and costumes continue to be gorgeous. The show would be worth watching entirely for the scenery porn. And Adelaide Kane continues to make a steely and likable Mary. Any girl willing to wander into dark passages and play marbles with ghosts is someone boss enough to rule a country someday.
The episode works as a sequel of sorts to the pilot, but the problem is that it doesn't significantly expand the world of the show any further. We find out what happened to Colin (dead, again!), Mary cottons to the fact that Catherine hates her, the English are still a threat, and King Henri makes Kenna an offer she can't refuse.
In weeks to come, the show will need to widen and deepen the world in order to keep things interesting. Mary's in a lot of danger, of course, and there are those two hunky brothers ready and willing to protect her. But the show will need to progress beyond the "danger, danger" one-two punch of these first episodes if it wants to keep audiences interested.
Thankfully the leads continue to be likable and the performances intriguing enough that I'm still looking forward to seeing more of these characters.
Clarissa Explains It All
I just knew this whole series was going to turn out to be a way-back prequel to Clarissa Explains It All. I'm already calling the Phantom of the French Court will be played by Melissa Joan Hart. (No seriously, could we make this happen?)
It turns out Mary isn't the only one who regularly hangs out with the weird homeless person who lives in the walls of the castle. Francis' newly engaged little brother Charlie has seen her too, and knows her name is Clarissa. Of course, Charlie is already having girl trouble so he gives Mary some dire warnings and then goes off to deal with his new fiancee Madeline. "Women, am I right?" says the world-weary 8-year-old.
Mary tries to bond with Clarissa, but it's hard to find common ground with the mole person living in your walls. Since Clarissa sees and knows everything, she plays a game of marbles with her to find out who is trying to kill her. "Is it England? Is it Queen Catherine? Why didn't I ask those questions individually? It's almost like I'm on a TV show that requires misdirection!"
Clarissa does provide Mary with a key, which she uses to eventually open the door of the English ambassador. "Sup," he says, totally nonchalant in his shirtlessness. Finally! I didn't think a show could be on the CW and not involve some form of male shirtlessness. I feel like that's got to be covered in the contract when you sign with the network.
Mary downloads the audience on the current state of 16th century politics, which is that Queen Mary is probably dying in England and Queen Elisabeth is next in line for the throne. Of course there are many who don't think Elisabeth is legitimate, which would put the line of English royalty directly through Mary.
"I don't want England's throne. I just want to not be poisoned, You guys have already ruined porridge and nuns for me. Step off!" The English ambassador replies that if she wants to step to him she better come correct, because the alliance with France isn't as strong as she thinks.
The Not-So-Great Escape
Colin seriously has the worst luck in the world. Despite Clarissa staging a switcheroo with a local thief, he still gets tracked down and killed by one of Catherine's men. And all for nothing, essentially, since both Francis and Mary already surmised the attack came from Catherine anyway.
While everyone sends search parties for Colin, Mary gets Bash to go into the woods and hopefully bring him back alive. Strangely, this week Lola is barely a blip on the show's radar. This seems odd, since it turns out her beloved is alive and then- whoops!- dead again. You'd think we'd get to see some reaction. But there are extras with more screen presence than her this week.
In the woods Bash is wildly handsome and rugged, but ultimately a failure. He and Francis discover Colin hung upside down with his throat slit, a sign to Bash that the heretics living in the woods have used him as a sacrifice. There are crazy people living in the woods surrounding the castle and literally inside the walls? Shouldn't they have better security?
Bash demonstrates he knows way more than Francis about the local superstitions, including some druid chants. Francis starts to realize it's fishy that Bash would go into such dangerous woods just to help Mary.
Bash is like, "Well it's not because I like her and this is going to become a huge roadblock in our brotherly bond." And then they both laugh about how that's totally not ever going to happen and good-naturedly drag the dead body past the bloodthirsty cult in the woods.
Romance and Danger
Those are the two buzzwords of the episode, as Mary has several cute moments with both Bash and Francis in between all the murder attempts. Francis is still conflicted over his role as the future king of France, but he knows he's totally vibing on Mary. Bash, meanwhile, is a pretty solid dude when you need something found in the murder woods.
With the English ambassador underfoot threatening Mary at every corner, Francis advises her to act like their engagement is going great. Mary is not sure that's going to be as easy as Francis thinks, especially since she knows someone in the court itself is out to get her. I've never seen someone in a glorious flower crown, like a real life Tumblr fangirl at some Hannibal convention, look so miserable.
Of course, Francis does come through and tells his mother off in spectacular style. He says if anything happens to Mary he'll hold her personally responsible and she'll lose him forever. As the episode ends, Francis asks Mary not to run away, but to stay.
He can't guarantee their marriage, but he will be by her side to protect her from foes seen and unseen as her friend. She side-eyes him really hard at the word friend. "It's a good place to start," he laughs. I must admit, the two have really nice, comfortable chemistry.
Elsewhere in the French Court...
-- King Henri is obsessing over Kenna now that his mistress is on vacation, but she reasonably points out that if she ever wants to make an advantageous marriage she should probably protect her virtue. So King Henri shows her the benefits of being one of the king's "favorites" as a way to convince her to reconsider.
-- Someone has been watching the movie Elisabeth with Cate Blanchett recently. That poisoned dress bit was right out of the Oscar-winning movie. Because it certainly wasn't out of history.
-- Francis has a clunky line of dialogue in the confrontation with Catherine about ending someone's life with a red x. This weird line does at least come into play as the episode ends and Catherine and Nostradamus find red x's in inconvenient places. Also, Nostradamus seemingly knows Clarissa and doesn't seem too happy with her interference.
What did you think of the second episode of Reign? Did you like it as much as the pilot? Are you excited for next week or have you cooled on the show? Sound off in the comments!