If it’s possible for a show to be everywhere and nowhere at once, that’s where Reign is right now. There has never been more on the line or more storylines happening simultaneously, but the scenes and motivations are just so blurred that they rarely make any sense anymore. So let’s try and break it down.
In the one corner we have Mary, Francis, Conde, and Catherine circling various thrones and power plays. With Francis in some sort of coma, Mary decides to put her plans to runaway with Conde to Scotland on hold so she can take over as interim king. Catherine, spooked by the prospect of Nostradamus’s prophecy coming true, turns on Mary with righteous fury. As far as she’s concerned, Mary choosing Conde and planning to run away broke Francis’s heart—literally. Every so often, Narcisse walks into a room to announce that he knows something. It’s all very dramatic, and Adelaide Kane and Megan Follows sell the hell out of their grand monologues as per usual, but this season’s been so uneven that these Big Moments don’t land as hard as they are supposed to.
As all this is happening, Bash is on another one of his supernaturalish jaunts about the countryside, this time with the healer who brought him back from the brink of death when he was stabbed. She intones darkly that there will be “a price” for saving his life. This makes Bash very nervous, because he has finally accepted that he believes in magic, and a vague “price” is exactly the kind of thing creepy magic can never resist. Much to his—and my—surprise, he then immediately runs into Clarissa. Clarissa! (At this point, I became offended on Nostradamus’s behalf that an episode that leans so heavily on his prophecy doesn’t even have the decency to put his voiceover back over the credits.)
Turns out that Clarissa was picked up somewhere for being a witch, the logic being that her proximity to a disaster combined with her face makes her an agent of Satan. I mean, sure. At this point, they could announce that Clarissa is River Song and I wouldn’t even blink. But then Bash decides that the way to break the prophecy’s power over Francis is to kill Clarissa—Catherine’s technical firstborn—and so he takes a page out of Catherine’s playbook and poisons Clarissa. She asks if he believes in magic, he confirms it, and then she dies. The scene then manages to end on an even weirder note. Delphine the healer leans over, grips Bash’s arm, and says with the cadence of a mother praising her son’s nonsense scribblings, “you saved her so much suffering in her future.” End of scene, end of Clarissa. Oh, and it works—or at least appears to work—because Francis then wakes up. Bash may have decided he believes in magic, but I can’t for the life of me figure out if the show does, too. Clarissa’s death is a very neat way to tie up a few loose ends, but it also feels weird to rationalize Bash murdering Clarissa with, “well, people would have made fun of her ugly face forever, so…”
Elsewhere, Kenna’s gone off to look for Bash so he can be there if Francis takes a turn for the worse. Unfortunately, her carriage driver has a heart attack (maybe?) and loses control of the horse, leaving Kenna stranded in the middle of the woods. (This is all true.) Kenna manages to stumble into the company of a friendly fellow with a secret cabal of wives. He turns out to be General Renaud, a friend of Narcisse’s that will assemble his small army at his say so, and Narcisse wants to back Catherine because he’s not a total idiot. In fact, it’s only been a single episode since Narcisse went from flirting with Catherine to being deep in love with her—again, he’s not a total idiot.
Meanwhile, everyone’s forgotten about Claude—including Leith, which should tell you something about how necessary Claude’s been. No one even bothers to tell her that Francis is sick. Instead, she accompanies Leith to the seedier parts of town while he runs his new papal mob errands—namely roughing up anyone who owes the Cardinal money—and ends up at Greer’s brothel housewarming when she asks the driver, “where’s the last place you would take a princess?” Greer stands by and rolls her eyes, annoyed that Princess Claude is distracting her clientele from all the sex they should be paying for. If Greer’s newfound calling as a madam were the entire show, I would be sold. She’s found a new way to thrive that doesn’t involve any royals messing with her head, and though Leith won’t believe her, she does seem to have settled in a way that suits her. It doesn’t hurt that the Madam Greeth show would include lines like this one, the most confident the show has stumbled upon in ages: “I want what I have: a man I love, and don’t have to depend on.”
- Seriously, where is Nostradamus? Chasing sex with by choking himself with a tasseled rope somewhere?
- Hey, remember the Darkness?