This episode on Reign, Francis and Conde have a quarterstaff fight over Mary’s affections, Catherine takes a one-way ticket to crazytown but stops at murder station along the way, and Bash finds out some uncomfortable truths about the women in his life.
The title of this episode is “Banished,” which works on multiple levels. Greer is banished from her old life, Conde is banished from Mary’s friendship, Kenna is banished from Bash’s affections and Catherine finally banishes the ghosts of her past.
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I’ve been critical of Catherine’s storyline since ghosts started popping up at random, ordering her to murder people. It just hasn’t seemed like the show using this dynamic character or actress to the best of her abilities. But I have to admit, there was some great character stuff in this episode that almost justified all the ghost sex and wandering around the castle, mumbling to herself. Almost.
When Catherine was running around in the snow giggling like the heroine of a crazy Lifetime movie, I was rolling my eyes. But as soon as the true story of the twins’ death came out, the episode took a very dark turn.
The final moments of the episode were shocking in their brutality, and not just because I tend to have affection for the real historical Diane de Poitiers. We know Catherine can be brutal, but her method of assassination is usually a much more impersonal poison. This time she got up close and personal to take her revenge on Diane, choking her to death with her own necklace. Catherine is seriously not one to be messed with.
Reign and Feminism
What I really liked about this episode was the way “Banished” dealt directly with the limited roles available to women and what they needed to do to survive.
All of the female characters grapple directly with their lack of agency in their own lives and it’s highlighted in a variety of interesting ways. Even the nanny who had a role in the death of the twins was only to blame because she wasn’t the master of her own destiny. After all, as a servant can you really say no to a king?
Women of this time period were laughably far from being the masters of their own universes — even queens. Mary can’t even be friendly with Conde without risk to her reputation. And if there was some question of her future royal child’s paternity, it would be Mary’s head on the block. Just ask Anne Boleyn.
The episode highlights the many ways in which women’s lives were not their own and the many ways in which their choices were constrained. Greer can’t own her own counting house and she’s complicit in her husband’s guilt, even though as a woman she would have had no say in how Castleroy’s money was spent in the first place.
Lola is continually shoved at whatever man is politically convenient. And Kenna, my sweet little sex ninja, points out some real things about her lack of agency to Bash, who decides being angry at her is still more important.
Kenna has always been an interesting case, because although she often comes off as kind of dumb, she might be the most pragmatic of the bunch. To have any degree of power, she knew she’d need to marry well, and love never seemed to matter much to her. Being the mistress of the king gave her an important position and a modicum of control, even if it wasn’t exactly a secure position. When she was threatened last season, she did what she had to in order to hold on to that position.
She might have loved Henry, but it was cold-blooded realism that got her into that situation with him in the first place. It’s why I’ve always loved Kenna. While Greer was off falling in love with kitchen boys, Kenna was planning to climb the ye olde corporate ladder the only way available to her, which was to use her sexuality. It might not be pleasant for Bash to hear, but Kenna has always been pretty transparent about who she is and about her knowledge of how the world really works for women like her.
I really love the way Reign highlights these power differentials without victimizing the women or undercutting their strength. This is just the world they live in, and they navigate in their constrained circumstances as best they can. It makes them tough and strong, and it makes the women of Reign pragmatic and resilient in ways the male characters on this show never really need to be.
Conde and Francis can fight over Mary like giant man babies, but it’ll always be Mary’s reputation at risk, and it’ll always be her and her ladies who have to clean up the mess.
Catherine’s Private Kingdom
Catherine is going full-on bonkers this episode, and it is really something to see. I never realized how much scarier Catherine is when she’s actually happy. Watching Catherine smile, talk about the value of family, and frolic through the snow made me feel weird. I’m much more comfortable with Catherine poisoning people or trying to knife Mary in the bath. This happy, carefree, ghost-frolicking Catherine is starting to really creep me out.
It’s pretty obvious even Catherine’s mental ghost Henry is a murderous psychopath, but Catherine doesn’t seem to be putting the pieces together. When he takes her out into the snow for some sexy times, it’s pretty obvious he’s trying to freeze her to death.
I was a little sad ghost Henry didn’t try to convince her an open window was the best place to have sex. I’ll never forget that time he banged a girl out a window. It was one of Reign‘s all-time best moments. This is a classy show, y’all.
Detective Bash to the Rescue
While Catherine is having ghost sex and playing ghost tag with her ghost children, just wandering around the castle talking to walls while no one seems at all bothered, Detective Bash is on a new case. Bash is basically a one-man detective unit within the castle, and he’s immediately on the case when Claude asks him to investigate her siblicide.
“I’ve got this!” Sherlock Bash yells, getting out his giant looking glass and deerstalker hat. He tracks down one of her old nannies, who has since married very well. The woman breaks under pressure and admits she left the windows open one night after King Henry seduced her and got her to smoke some ye olde drugs. In a panic, she set up Claude for the murder with the roses on her dress in order to save her own life. Both Catherine and Henry, individually and separately, helped cover it up, with Catherine thinking poor Claude was at fault.
“See! It’s elementary, my dear Claude,” Detective Bash declares, happy that he broke the case wide open.
That is, until a conversation with Catherine about Henry’s cheating ways leads him to remember how angry his mother was about the twin’s birth. See Henry had promised Diane that he would be faithful after producing enough heirs with Catherine, but the twins proved he was still having relations with his wife. After she was gifted a chapel, Bash remembered his mother’s anger and quickly puts together that she’s the one who killed the babies out of spite.
“That is way harsh, mom,” Bash says, before taking back her lands and telling her to get out of the castle.
Unfortunately, Bash’s actions help Catherine to realize two plus two equals murder. She hits Diane, and when she remains unrepentant, chokes her to death with her own necklace. Goodbye, Diane, you were a much more compelling person in history than you turned out to be on this show.
Before Diane goes to the big ghost orgy in the sky, she drops a bombshell for Bash. She lets him know Kenna had informed Catherine about Diane’s own actions in Rome to get him legitimized.
Bash confronts Kenna in a way that is both direct and also weirdly passive aggressive. “I’m tired of waiting for people to tell me the truth!” Bash declares. “Good evening to you too?” Kenna is completely out of her depth in this suddenly accusatory conversation.
Kenna explains why she did what she did, but Bash is more concerned about how he could have been killed as the result of her actions. “While that’s true,” Kenna concedes, “I didn’t really care about you last season so… let’s just call it a wash?”
Bash says he can’t forgive people willing to sacrifice others to their own petty interests, which seems a bit much from a guy who has racked up a pretty impressive body count so far. I mean he was a-okay with actual murder when it was to protect Francis. Bash really needs to go back to his strengths, which are crime fighting, nudity and piercing blue eyes. This high horse nonsense isn’t usually his style.
Conde vs. Francis
Francis is still trying to get Mary to confide in and share her life with him. It’s not going great. Mary tells him that she can barely stand to look at anyone of the dudely persuasion, and she cannot stand to touch a man. Francis is supportive and understanding, until he sees Mary grab Conde’s arm during a conversation.
Since it’s a day that ends in Y, of course there’s a formal party in the castle. This time the theme is “ice” so everyone is wearing their freshest whites. Everyone looks so amazing during this party, I cannot even handle all the glamour. Mary’s look in particular is totally on point. I pretty much love everything about her dress and hair.
At the party, Conde and Francis are both just seething balls of wounded pride and dudebro feelings. “I love Mary more!” “No, I love Mary more!” They practically yell as they jab each other with long sticks in the most innuendo-filled fight in history.
Mary patches up Francis, who very kindly and very gently lets her know that Conde is totally feeling her vibe and that is not great for their rule as a whole. Francis is both mature and immature this episode when it comes to their relationship. He very kindly tells Mary that there are huge repercussions with some random dude crushing on her, even if she’s done basically nothing to encourage it.
Mary gets fed up with Francis, because feminism! But also because it’s Francis’ dumb fault anyone would question her relationship with Conde in the first place. If these two stupid boys hadn’t fought, this would be a serious non-issue. (I like that Lola points this out to Conde as well. You can’t complain about a thing that you made a thing in the first place!) Yet of course it’s Mary’s job to fix.
Since Mary is a realist, she quickly realizes Francis wasn’t being a jerk but just reminding her the way the world works. She sends Lola to Conde as a peace-offering-slash-bride and Conde is immediately intrigued by Lola’s no-nonsense attitude. “I like your sass,” Conde tells Lola. “If only you were married, then you’d be perfect.”
Finally, after a long and hard day, Francis asks Mary if he can stay with her in her room. She finally agrees that the whole separate lives idea is pretty much unsustainable for a wide variety of reasons. She agrees to let him stay with her and watch her sleep, which is pretty cute. It seems like things might finally be getting back to some semblance of normalcy between our two favorite royals.
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Castleroy’s role in the assassination attempt is hinted at by prisoners, and Greer and Leith do their best to get rid of all the evidence. Mary asks Greer about it, but Greer lies to save her skin. Leith and Greer then head to her counting house to secure Castleroy’s financial ledgers and it seems for a moment that all is well.
But apparently not, because at the Ice Ball guards bring Greer before Francis and Mary and brandish the ledger as proof of her guilt. Fortunately for Greer, the proof wasn’t overwhelming and allowed Francis and Mary to pardon her. Unfortunately for Greer, it was enough that they also had to strip her of all her lands, titles, money and position. She’s now banished from the castle, and Mary manages to give her one last hug before she’s shuffled out.
“Wait! Does this mean I’m off the show?” Greer yells over her shoulder as she’s dragged out. “But I never got to do sexy things to Leith! I have so much storyline left!”
Somehow I doubt this will be the last we see of Greer, but this show can be brutal at times. Remember poor Hipster Braids, Mary’s fourth lady-in-waiting? (Yeah, me neither.) Bad luck seems to follow Mary’s pals.
Mary is like the best/worst friend you could possibly have. You’ll live in luxury, until you’re banished or a burlap monster pushes you to your death. And the lucky ones get knocked up or married off against their will. Being Mary’s lady-in-waiting really deserves some sizable hazard pay at this point.
Elsewhere Around the French Court…
— Narcisse and his punchable-yet-attractive face are back this week, as Francis parcels out his land to anyone who wants a piece. That’s hilariously satisfying.
— Bash gets a Barony from Francis in order to stay close, even though he could have taken a more lucrative Duchy. Poor Kenna will never be a Duchess now.
— Leith is in this episode, because apparently he’s still a character on this show. Poor Leith has seriously had nothing to do this season. And remember when Francis took back his lands? Why isn’t he getting a piece of the Narcisse booty? Francis is a pretty terrible friend.
What did you think of the episode? Are you sad to see ghost Henry go? Were you shocked Catherine killed Diane? Do you think anyone will ever know? What’s going to happen with Greer? Sound off in the comments!
Catch Reign on Thursdays at 9pm on the CW.
(Image courtesy of the CW)
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV