Reign "For King and Country" Review: And Wilt Thou Leave Me Thus?
I think many of you may agree with me when I say that this brilliant, fast-paced, and extremely dramatic episode of Reign, “For King and Country,” brought strongly to mind Thomas Wyatt’s poem, “And Wilt Thou Leave Me Thus?":
And wilt thou leave me thus?
Say nay, say nay, for shame,
To save thee from the blame
Of all my grief and grame;
And wilt thou leave me thus?
Say nay, say nay!
Because, come on: Mary, are you really going to leave Frances like thus? Stripping away his title, crown, birthright, MOM, and long lusty life by your side... to protect him/make sweet, sweet love with his brother? Because a prophecy?! Good grief, that would fill any man with grame.
"For King and Country" opened precisely where the mid-season finale closed, Bash and Mary flying on horseback from the castle pursued by the castle guards, until they had no choice but to fling themselves off a cliff and drift downriver hand-in-hand for roughly a week—an INCREDIBLY bounding experience. Oh yes, it’s no coincidence that every other date on The Bachelor involves helmets, GoPros and bungee cords: adrenaline bonds couples, that’s a scientific fact.
Whereas some shows might have dragged out Bash and Mary being on the run for several episodes, bedding down in hay lofts, sharing stolen loaves of bread, giving each other baths (...doesn’t sound half bad, really), within the next quarter hour they’d be caught, dragged back to Fronce and Mary would be demanding that this entire prophecy foolishness be revealed to Frances, who wanted some closure after their years-long betrothal.
Queen Catherine was adamant that they not tell Frances about Sexy Nostradamus’s very unsexy prophecy that Frances will die shortly after marrying Mary, because Catherine knows her son would try to undermine mystical prophesy with rationality, logic, and facts, three things that have gotten us absolutely nowhere as a society. While it is actually very accurate to the period for royals to be so obsessed with prophesy, Mary kind of struck me as a character on the side of logic/applied science herself, and I was a little sad to see her so easily swayed by a bearded pessimist with a thick accent. I mean, considering how many bodies drop in each episode, the odds of someone in her train of ladies dying had to be at least 50-50. Mary hadn’t even questioned Aylee’s conveniently prophecy-fulfilling death, a point brought up by Mary’s own ladies (who in her absence had really let their dress code slip and were parading around this week like a passel of strumpets—and looking good doing it!).
Despite the sartorial heat, it was a dark day for our waiting ladies: Not only was Mary having to ferret out the truth of their dear friend’s double murder, but now Scotland was officially going to join with Fronce to make a play for the English throne, all of their families were facing war, possibly death, and also Kenna had boy troubles.
Kenna revealed she had known all along that Aylee had been poisoned and hadn’t mentioned it because she was busy. What!?! She’s busy!! I did think it was very telling that none of the Ladies seemed surprised that Kenna had failed to mention such a critical piece of information (like Aylee being poisoned) when she regularly interrupts discussions to update everybody on her sex life like it's Nightly News. Bitch’s mind is made of sex and mirrors! Mine too.
Unfortunately, despite learning that Aylee had been “gifted with some poison,” Mary was still 98.9 percent sure that Nostradamus could see the future and therefore she could not in good conscience marry Frances without feeling like she was murdering him. But King Henry had promised he would kill Bash if she didn’t marry Frances!! Hilariously, she still refused. This must have been an ultimate mindf-ck moment for Frances: In less than two weeks his girlfriend had gone from wanting to spend the rest of her life with him to preferring that their mutual bestie Bash be brutally slain by his own father. Although to be fair, that is kind of just how fast things move in teenaged relationships.
Fortunately now there was simply too much crazy going on for her to conceal her deep New Age beliefs from Frances a moment longer.
Much as Queen Catherine had warned, Frances tried to counter the unalterable truth of Nostradamus’s daydreams with all that “logic” bullshit, and argued that his mother was using fear to manipulate Mary. At this Mary totally stood up for Catherine in a sort of beautiful moment and told him that all his mother’s wicked workings against her had been for his benefit and he had a really great mom who loved him very much. But just when it seemed like these two Queens were headed for the greatest spectacle of onscreen female solidarity since Thelma & Louise tried to olly a mustang over the Grand Canyon, Mary revealed her new plan: to de-throne Catherine for her son’s sake.
Yes, the only way to protect Frances from “mmmmaybe kinda dying?” [—Nostradamus] was to have him and his beloved brothers illegitimized and removed from Fronce’s line of succession.... in addition to annulling Catherine’s marriage of several decades and making Diane the new Queen of Fronce! Bash would then be the legitimized Prince of Fronce and make tons of beautiful babies with Mary. (Sorry, but am I the only one who finds it maddeningly delightful that while the entire court speaks with an English accent, they always correctly pronounce "France" as French-speakers should? For the glory of FRONCE!)
Basically, under Mary’s new plan, Frances will now live an upside-down nightmare life... for his own protection. This is like if you joined Witness Protection and they decided that to protect you from being stabbed by gangsters, they’d get you a new identity where you worked in a knife factory catching knife blades with incredibly greased-up hands as they came at your face out of a pitching machine. It’s like, "You love me that much, huh?"
But perhaps Mary is more attracted to Bash than she realizes. Perhaps this is not an obvious and upsetting case of self-sabotage, but a woman who cannot deny the crystalline eyes and rough ingratitude of an underdog. Things got awfully steamy in their little one-cell inn, with Bash looking and looking at her bare shoulders EVEN AFTER SHE ASKED HIM NOT TO, before those clog-wearing guards pulled the old “Innkeeper!” gag to get Bash to open the door.
Of course, Catherine was not one to take quietly the de-throning and bastardization of her children. So she had Nostradamus take a break from shouting himself hoarse at our dear, poor Clarissa to help her hatch one of her trademark nefarious plans.
Speaking of Clarissa, over the holidays I almost forgot about that whole layer of crazy with Clarissa and the secret tunnels. It’s like another show I love inside of the show I also love! King Henry apparently is as familiar with damp crawlspaces as Clarissa, he handily thwarted Catherine’s dual assassination attempt by rounding up Mary and Bash into a secret oubliette to draw up the terms for their impending nuptials and try his Pinot Noir ’95.
Still, doesn’t it seem even WORSE for Frances that he knows Mary is doing all of this because of a prophecy? And yet he still managed to turn on his one friend in this world, his mama, when she was at her most vulnerable. Kids. But thank God they didn’t let Catherine leave the castle. I really got worried for a moment, but no, our stash of Vitamin Follows will not be cut off. Instead we got a grand, dramatic goodbye FAKE OUT, with Catherine sweeping tragically through a galley in a fur cape to deliver one of her cutting speeches, and then King Henry came along and was like “PSYCH you are everybody’s favorite character, where do you think you’re going? We need to lock you in a room in some picturesque shift so you can speechify furiously to rats and mmmaybe Hecate and then cook up your grandest scheme ever!! To regain your true place as Queen of Fronce!! It’s going to be great!!!!"
Unfortunately, we lost perhaps everyone’s second favorite character, Sexy Nostradamus. Shivved by a ragamuffin!
Funny he didn’t see that coming! (It had to be said.) Perhaps his untimely and unpredicted end will rattle Mary’s resolve to run her life according to auguries? But for now our lady has inverted not just the show’s premise but that of History Herself: Instead of Mary being engaged to Frances as a way to protect her country from England, Mary is about to wage war on England at the side of the passionate royal (and fictitious) bastard Bash! (...doesn’t sound half bad.)
... Could—nay should—Frances forgive Mary for unseating him as King and forcing his brother to marry her, basically?
... Should Frances actually not be that mad at Bash considering he is really only guilty of cliff-diving in this episode, and extreme sports should be celebrated?
... Would you be more or less angry if your significant other broke up with you because a fortune teller said they should?
... What is your favorite Thomas Wyatt poem?
... Did any of your history major friends pull out a pistol and shoot the TV screen when King Henry said he would apply to the Pope to legitimize Bash?
... What is the deal with Clarissa and IS IT AT ALL POSSIBLE Adelaide Kane is playing a dual role as Clarissa via use of prosthetic teeth?
... Is Sexy Nostradamus dead or will he grind up a poultice just in time to heal himself?
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