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.

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  • We’re starting the back half of the season with a bang, I see! There’s so much happening in this episode that James is forced to deliver all his dialogue at about 1.5x, and it’s all so classically Reign I actually started a checklist for it. Highlights include Extras Gathering For Impending Wedding, Arguments About Illegitimate Child By Estranged Parents, Declarations Of Love After Barely Knowing Someone, Clandestine Makeout, Secret Pregnancy, Twined-Fingers Sex Scene, Imminent Assassination Plot Thwarted Offscreen to Save Money, Mandatory Party With Strummy Accompaniment, Dowager Bitch-Off, Revealed Paternity, Tortured Partings Nobody’s Earned Yet, Biggest-Jerk Signposting, Sneaky Clergy, Ambivalent Wedding Ceremony, Mentorship Between Women Across Generations, Mid-Meltdown Makeout, Too Drunk to Consummate, Foreboding Warnings, and Sudden Catholicism. (We are one ghost husband away from a royal flush. It’s so close.)
  • After a few episodes of dealing with her vampire son while casually checking everybody’s eyeline to see if this subplot’s going to pan out, Catherine was in fine fettle this episode, from “I’m not. Truly” right through to the end. It was nice to be reminded about the rhythm Megan Follows and Adelaide Kaine have found together (even though her face-off with Lady Lennox was probably the highlight). She even gets to do this week’s most historically accurate thing: Remind Mary that she is not particularly circumspect about love and it will probably end in disaster.
  • That said, I thought Mary and Darnley are nicely wretched here. They’re both smart enough to know this probably won’t work, and they’re making the choice to marry again and again for all the wrong reasons, which makes this a more interesting dynamic than, say, Claude and Luke, who are very nice but also not gunning for power. And the glimmers of Darnley’s self-awareness make it worse, somehow, that everything’s fallen apart already and that Mary knows she’s making a mistake; that wedding is exactly as grueling as it should be.
  • Rizzio is already turning into the Matthew-Broderick-in-Ladyhawke of this show for reasons that escape me.
  • A noticable leitmotif of this series, Men Are Trouble, continues, as the pirate who shows up at the wedding to low-key blackmail Greer is somehow the least troublesome guy who appears. (Originally Darnley was the easy top of the list, but then John Knox stripped his wife in public and that kind of feels like a ringer.)
  • I would be more excited for a vengeful Mrs. Knox if we hadn’t just had Kira doing the same thing, but if she was resourceful enough to find clothes and sneak into the palace at a presumably high-security time, then she’s probably capable of some half-decent revenge.
  • “Making Greer the mother of a mixed-race baby definitely won’t lead to eyebrow-raising conversations about babies with pierced ears!” said more than one person at some point during all this, so long ago,and yet already too late.
  • I had a note at the halfway mark about Gideon’s loyalties being the only emotional state still significantly up for grabs, given how much other people are discussing their feelings in real time and his romantic and statecraft inclination have both been tabled since his daughter took up most of his screen time after the failed engagement to Mary, but given events, I feel safe saying Gideon seems fairly clear on his feelings at the moment.
  • That wedding/border-town flipover is one of the most explicitly Catholic montages this show has ever had, right down to the palpable guilt between the people getting married.
  • Dress of the week: The wedding dress, obviously. Mary’s had several, and this one calls back to both her wedding with Francis and her coronation with him in a way that seems very deliberate—the same pomp and circumstance with any of the virginal optimism gone. There’s even some bead embroidery on it, which has been a big thing this season for Mary and Elizabeth; it’s a more mature embellishment on starker silhouettes, and they’re using on both queens in parallel to suggest status and connection. I really like the way it’s used here, patterned almost like smoke, but thick enough that it feels like a dress she’s hiding behind. Lately we’ve given up on the designer frocks and trended toward a costume-department-generated Tudor Lite, which in some ways is too bad; the thoughtfulness of the embroidery is really working for moments like this, though.
  • Runner-up: It’s hardly the most elaborate dress this week, but I appreciate that Lady Lennox’s dress had the same smocked sleeve caps as Mary’s. An ambitious woman knows how to dress to the room.

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