Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Everyone gets a little “Love & Death” on a too-busy Reign

Illustration for article titled Everyone gets a little “Love & Death” on a too-busy Reign
TV ReviewsAll of our TV reviews in one convenient place.

Because The A.V. Club knows that TV shows keep going even if we’re not writing at length about them, we’re experimenting with discussion posts. For certain shows, one of our TV writers will publish some brief thoughts about the latest episode, and open the comments for readers to share theirs.

  • This is one of those episodes that reminds you just how much Reign is juggling right now, and how hard it is to make an episode that has a thematic through-line and still gets to everyone. (It is hard; this episode has to handle so much none of the plots really get their due.)
  • That said, Elizabeth and Gideon are developing a very interesting relationship. To some degree, the show has sold Gideon and Mary’s more romantic connection, but right now, Elizabeth and Gideon’s intrigue-heavy friendship has a stronger base. Pinning them so closely together in the corner of the frame only enhances the sense of the two of them as a united front. She’s at her most generous right now when it comes to him, and though I appreciate that she’s not getting any more maternal, she does genuinely seem to want to help Gideon get through increasingly terrible news. (It’s why, though Mary and Darnley have their own brush with love and death and the Leith/Claude/Luke triangle feints at it briefly, Elizabeth as a background player in Gideon’s arc works better.)
  • We also get a telling moment of Elizabeth delegating in Gideon’s absence; “The Queen is asking you to bring her Darnley” is too vague to be effective (and honestly, seems out of character for as micromanagey a ruler as Elizabeth has been so far), but it definitely suggests how much she’s come to rely on Gideon’s discretion when it comes to arranging long-distance strikes. I’m curious to see how this falls out for both of them.
  • “However, once we’re married and I am King of Scotland, I shall have my way.” I am intensely curious how they plan to handle this marriage, but if they’re going for the Absolutely Wretched and Brutally Short historical reading, they’re laying plenty of groundwork.
  • I’d say that Mary feels all over the place as regards Darnley (by the time she showed up at the safe house on the verge of tears the emotional through-line was feeling unsteady), but honestly, that might end up being a fairly accurate historical reading, too.
  • That said, this was another episode that brought home the tension of trying to guess an outcome three steps out; Mary hoping to outmaneuver a martial volley was a good idea on which she was clearly outguessed. (The fact that it seemingly wasn’t Elizabeth who outguessed her makes me wonder who did, because despite this substitute-teacher diplomat, only Gideon seems up to that sort of statecraft at the moment.)
  • It was really nice of them to build a Makeout Hut in the Scottish courtyard!
  • Ah, the ins and outs of an open relationship that isn’t working. Jealousy about time spent with the other, anxiety about long-term commitment, poor communication and second-guessing, rash promises about not developing other feelings in the future, almost leaving one of the parties to bleed to death in the woods, taking a payoff to bail on the entire endeavor and flee to the French countryside…
  • List of people Narcisse hit on this week who he hasn’t previously hit on: Leeza, ticking off the last Valois woman on his bingo card; Leith in a drive-by just to make sure his skills aren’t atrophying. (His best moment was, as usual, with Catherine; the casual rhythm of two bullshitters having to call off the bullshit.)
  • Greer, possibly the only character Narcisse hasn’t hit on, seems like she’s in line to get the heart eyes from James. I’m not excited about it, but I’m making a note because the show has been asking us to take note for long enough that I should probably say something.
  • In more exciting Greer news, whoever is entertaining Rose on Greer’s pickup shots is doing a yeoman’s work; that is one deeply amused baby.
  • “Something about baby-eating and so forth?” Anastasia Phillips is relishing every second of Leeza being terrible; she’s never been happier than when walking Narcisse through her gallery of stolen art.
  • Charles as absentee king is getting sort of baffling. I accept, grudgingly, that he’s not a vampire, but I’m not sure why he has to be absent for the Spanish court to try influencing French affairs, or how they expect him to be particularly compelling upon his return. (I do understand it to some degree in this case, since Megan Follows directed this episode and likely needed Catherine to be minimally available, but the arc as a whole is getting tiring in a hurry.)
  • Say what you will about missed opportunities elsewhere, this show has made the absolute most out of the ease of impersonating people in the sixteenth century.
  • I recognize that endless behind-the-scenes concerns prevent this ever happening, but what a shame to have semi-medical emergencies that require vague portenting and not to have Nostradamus there.
  • Another so-close-it-hurts line from Elizabeth: “I do not care for your tragedies.”
  • Hey everyone, Kira’s back! Aren’t you excited? We wanted another love triangle with weirdly Fatal Attractions overtones, right? Right?
  • Extra of the week: The guy at the engagement party who covers his date’s eyes as Mary and Darnley unroll the assassin’s corpse, like she’s five.
  • Dress of the week: No competition, Mary’s engagement dress with the sacque-back train wins the day; that sense of weight and texture is the kind of dress that reads as significant even if it suggests something two hundred years out.
  • Related: I know this show has to clothe a lot of people, but if they’re not going to kill Luke, they should consider giving him another doublet.