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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

With one episode of Reign left, Mary levels up on suffering

Illustration for article titled With one episode of Reign left, Mary levels up on suffering
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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.

  • Watching “Blood In The Water” is an exercise in guessing the imaginary future of the show. Partly, that’s because Mary’s labor was narratively inert enough that your mind wandered. (I can’t decide of it’s remarkable, or if it’s just that this show’s forgotten how to draw stakes out of anything that’s historical record.) Partly it’s because, though I’ll be the first to brace myself for the worst, there’s enough promise in the show’s best moments to make you wonder what the endgame was. How much, in an ideal world, was left to tell? Was it all Mary’s desperate slide into the executioner’s arms? How much would the show have broken with history in an attempt to give Mary a semblance of control over her life, knowing what was coming? Would they have had the courage to tell this tragedy for much longer?
  • This is partly why Mary writing Elizabeth a heartfelt letter still carries more weight than it might, even after a subplot that’s largely running out the clock; it’s odd to watch this show straining at the seams in places like the playground back-and-forth of France, when its core tensions are usually good enough to course-correct the show.
  • “Don’t be frightened, Jane, I’ve already ruled you out. You had no reason to harm Gideon and you knew what I’d do to your family if you betrayed me.” Elizabeth’s casual brutality is the most entertaining thing about her. I feel like this show missed a real opportunity here to go all-out with Dirtbag Elizabeth, though given how much it would have required balancing her against Mary at a time when Mary’s essentially in freefall, I guess it’s understandable why they didn’t.
  • And it’s still not as casually cold as Leith getting married offscreen, which is skirting Poochie levels of expediency.
  • Hey, the show remembered Jane’s working for someone! As you probably assumed after the last episode, it’s Narcisse, and the association backfires just about how you imagine it would now that Narcisse has remembered things from last season he should do something about. It was honestly worth it for the world’s least subtle scene with her family, though. (“Why does it all come from France?” “No reason, Dad! God’s wounds, stop dragging me to the prie-dieu about it!”)
  • When this show is gone, what show can possibly take up its dedication to pedestals in interior design? The White Princess is over, and with it goes the court of Burgundy, festooned with elbow-high Grecian columns and the various accessories that needed them; who, now, is left?
  • I can’t help but feel Darnley exists in this show as a reminder never to give angry men any power whatsoever. (That might feel like a harsher conclusion except for everything happening in the French court that just reinforces that idea; if this show has any thoughts about the men, it’s that the only good man is one who exists purely to defend your crown at the cost of his own feelings, and half of them still get poisoned.)
  • Imagine Catherine’s disappointment every time she needs someone murdered long-distance through black magic and Nostradamus isn’t there; she has to go find a new subcontractor, go through all the exposition…
  • Megan Follows also managed to sneak a Surprised White Guy.gif into this season; I appreciate her so much.
  • Dress of the week: It’s impossible not to notice the sheer volume of embellishment Catherine wore to the dungeons to archly shit on her daughter, but I feel we’re also obligated to acknowledge Elizabeth’s double-decker chapel-train day cape.
  • The next episode of this show is the last one ever, and I’ll be here with a full recap to say goodbye.