Reign "Hearts and Minds" Review: You Don't Know What You Got 'Til It's Gone

By Lily Sparks

Nov 08, 2013

Reign S01E04: "Hearts and Minds"

One of the most heartbreaking lessons of adulthood is that the world is not a meritocracy. TV will tell you otherwise, but offscreen, “fair” is just simply not written into the physical laws of our world. Awesome talents go ignored until it’s far too late. The bad guys are sometimes the ones who get to put up the battle monuments. And fantastic shows go unseen and get canceled. Reign is trying to do something rare and right-hearted and weird and ambitious. It's not talking down to its audience and it's painting a forthright and original heroine. Although fewer and fewer viewers appear to be attending court, the show and its actors have incredible merit, and the show is on the right side—if not the accurate side—of history. 

Oh and BTW, my bad for not mentioning this before, but did you recognize Queen Catherine as ANNE OF F-CKING GREEN GABLES?!?! It didn't sink in for me until this episode. Megan Follows just straight up doesn’t look old enough to have starred as our beloved Anne of Avonlea all those years ago in far-off Canada. She is lookin’ GOOD, is what I’m trying to say, though truly that’s none of my business. Weirdly, though, the costume department has not yet featured her in a gown with puffed sleeves.

Our angsty royal teen soap opera opened this week with a tournament betwixt JUST Tomas, the Portuguese semi-Prince, and Frances, taking shots at a target that looked inexplicably like the “castle ghost.” Tomas handily won and handed off his favor, a decidedly phallic pink rose, to Mary.

Mary was stressed enough about Peaseblossom’s sidebraids slowly enveloping her entire head, poised to weave themselves into her nose and mouth, but then the tournament got super serious when Simon the Bitchy English Envoy was arrested for ambushing the French troops last week and sending Bash to Nostradamus’s studio for doctoring!

Nostradamus, in addition to being a vizier and paint-huffer, apparently also did a little medieval first aid, also known as grave-digging. Haha but seriously, what a terrible time to be sick and/or a human being. People died for want of Neosporin, basically. Bash was on death’s door, and Lola checked in on him, bewailing that he was going to leave this mortal coil “so soon.” So soon indeed! We're only on Episode 4! When Bash asked if she had the heart to stay with him and nurse him, she answered that she had nursed two brothers into the grave. So, fair warning: Lola is apparently a TERRIBLE TERRIBLE NURSE. Bash, perhaps deciding she shouldn’t handle any bandages, asked her to read him a coloring book.

Meanwhile things were NOT looking great for Simon: A hussy (or as Frances delicately whispered to Mary, “She’s a prostitute”) testified she had seen Simon apparently bragging about ambushing France in a French pub? Geez, this guy has cojones. Mary agreed to sign the prostitute’s evidence, magically making it true, and King Henry decreed the man would be beheaded as part of their Michaelmas celebrations. I am glad we no longer celebrate Michaelmas, is all I can say about that.

Mary and her four willowy maids would be hauling ass to Portugal directly after Michaelmas: They intended to leave in two days' time! Mary generously told her maids they didn’t have to go with her, they could stay in the French Court if they wanted to, and presumably become hussies to earn their keep. All the ladies were like, “Boo, we don’t want to be homeless, we can learn Portugese, 'hola' or something” but Kenna got that twinkle in her eye. Being a hussy suddenly seemed like a savvy lateral career move.

Mary and Frances were, perhaps now that they were no longer officially engaged, seriously feelin’ it with each other and up on all over each other if you get my drift. You don't know what you got 'til it's gone when it comes to smokin' hot royal fiancees. They were stealing little kisses between every sentence, and Mary even suggested they meet out of sight of the castle to make out on a blanket. This was a very cute scene where we learned that because of a fumbled childhood portrait, all of Europe believed Frances was a sickly dwarf! Haha, all of Europe believed his half-brother the better man, hoho! Once Mary started needling him on his insecurities and really negging him out, Frances was putty in her hands. Sexual putty.

Kenna, meanwhile, was pleading her case to the King: “Why remain loyal to your wife and/or the mother of your son, who’ve stood by you for for decades, when I’m horny NOW? Make me your mistress instead.” Almost zero guys ever have been able to resist this line of logical reasoning, but Henry actually told her that he had to be loyal and true to both of the women he was committed to. Wife, Mistress, and Honor: the code of chivalry. 

Tomas, meanwhile, had found out about Mary and Frances’ blanket diddle session, though we did not see how—every time two Portuguese people got together and started talking the scene cut away, making me think no one on the set knew a word of Portuguese. So Tomas mercilessly whipped one of his servants to intimidate Mary and get her to submit to her “betters,” a group of which he considered himself a part. It was around this time that Mary started thinking maaaaybe Tomas was not nearly as romantic as the pink roses and chests of costume jewelry might have led her to believe, a suspicion rapidly confirmed as Tomas continued shouting at her that he would rule Scotland like she didn’t even exist. But obviously if she didn’t marry him there’d be no Scotland anyway, moot point. Mary was really between a rock and an angry sociopath on this one, but luckily Frances and Bash had a plan.

Or at least, Frances and Bash had a gossip session that was immediately interrupted by Tomas, who was like, “Why can’t you talk shit to my face?!” He snapped on Frances pretty hard about how many ships he had access to (harsh), and was basically like, “Yeah Mary is mine, if I want to hold her upside-down and mop the floor with her pretty pretty hair, that’s my beeze.” Bash, showing that passion (or shall we call it "Bashion") for which he is apparently known all across Europe, was like, “Yeah, we gotta kill him.”

The ghost, proving even more useful than two royal brothers, put a chest full of Portuguese secrets in Mary’s room. Mary was like “I love you, ghost. And I miss hanging out.”

The girls, meanwhile, were determined to enjoy their last masque at Court by finding really sexy costumes for Michaelmas, which was going to involve a masquerade in addition to the big beheading! Again, super glad we no longer celebrate this jacked-up psycho holiday. Masques, in general, were like the Halloween of the 16th century: social permission to dress as sexy as humanly possible. And dress sexy they did... all except Lola, who apparently went to the 16th century version of a Rite Aid for her costume. 

Mary’s dress, however, was one of the best things that could ever happen to eyeballs.

So at the ball (THREE BALLS IN FOUR EPISODES THIS IS WHY THIS SHOW IS EVERYTHING), Simon was chained to a chair, like you do on Michaelmas, and Mary stopped by and started making smalltalk about what color the rose on his seal was. For a man minutes from the grim spectre of death, Simon was surprisingly witty and composed. After Mary was done chatting up the Condemned, her fiancée came across the room and squeezed her publicly. A public squeezing!

Despite that loathsome contact, Mary knew she now had the perfect intel with which to confront and interrogate that tramp whose evidence she'd co-signed. Mary gathered from the trollop's hot new shawl, cool new hoopty (okay, a vegetable cart), and the bitchin' mass of bruises on her neck that her testimony had been both bought AND coerced by Tomas. The hussy was hiding something about the true party that ambushed the French!! Guys I need a Cliff Notes for this teen drama!

Tomas was in the middle of dispatching the only other witness to his treachery with an arrow (Whipping Boy Miguel, or FML Miguel, as he's also known) when he was interrupted by rapscallion royal Hardy Boys Bash and Frances. Even though there were three guys fighting one angry dude, this fight was a pretty close call, and for the third time in two episodes, Bash was almost killed! But eventually Frances skewered Tomas like a corn dog, totally bumming himself out. In a moment of transcendent, basshionate bromance, Bash told Frances it was GOOD he was freaked out by killing someone. We are not supposed to be okay with killing people. How is it that I have almost NEVER HEARD this sentiment on TV before? Especially on The CW, where necks are snapped as casually as a Doritos bag might be opened. I appreciate u Bash. I APPRECIATE U REIGN!

Meanwhile at the ball Kenna was begging the King to hold off on killing the Envoy because any minute, witnesses would refute the testimony that convicted him. Henry was like, “I do as I please,” and then I was like, “Wait, where are your boobs?” In a shocking turn of events, Kenna was wearing a baggy shirt and for once he looked at her face and listened to her words instead of merely planning their next fingerblastin’ session. 

Kenna eloquently pleaded for the English envoy and Henry could not get enough of it. He told her that her confessing her feelings was so brave that he had no choice but to abandon his mistress and mother of Bash for her. Good job, Kenna! You successfully got a much older guy to agree to have sex with you and abandon not one but two families! You are a winner... until you, like, get older and some young up-and-comer does the same thing to you.

So all was well that ended well: Simon the Bitchy English Envoy will still be snipin’ around court causing Mary trouble, yet now he'll have some respect for her Angela Lansbury steeze. Mary is no longer engaged to Tomas, whose murder has been brushed under the rug, with Frances announcing he was gutted by a stag’s horn, and Frances and Mary’s engagement is to resume—with Mary negotiating her own terms!

Of all the many graces Mary possessed, perhaps none impressed Frances more than her business acumen in this affair. As he later praised her, she was a Queen any King would kill for.  BUT DIE FOR!? DUN DUN DUN Nostradamus wink.

After Frances and Mary were done chastely holding hands and talking about how they were committed to taking it slow, Mary then crept to the secret mouldering passage and basically told her Ghost, Clarissa that she was the greatest and she loved her always. It was genuinely touching how cool and appreciative Mary is with this creature everyone else is terrified by. Then the show was like HORROR STING CLARISSA UNDER THE BED! AHHH HUMANS CAN LICK TOO! No seriously are we really scared by this? Clarissa is the best and if I were Mary I’d even invite her to curl up by my feetsies.

So technically, the fourth episode leaves us exactly where we were the first episode: Mary and Frances are engaged, but negotiating the terms with no set date, Kenna and the King are having intense physical good times, a ghost is somehow the most in the know, Bash is... Bash, and Queen Catherine is most displeased about everything. However, now we’re confident that Frances and Mary are very much in love, and we’ve seen Mary be willing to sacrifice everything for her country but also stand up for herself. She’s a postmodern hero, she’s a semi-accurate sketch of a 16th century princess (but with better clothes). The CW keeps promoting this series as a hit, and I sincerely hope it is. I hope this show reigns over my Thursday nights for many seasons to come.


... Is Kenner going to get it from Bash’s mom?

... Tomas: too sexy to be a sociopath in your opinion, or just in mine?

... Which of Mary’s insanely gorgeous gowns was your favorite this week?

... Lola and Bash: awful pairing/should be destroyed?

... Will you take any steps this week to raise Reign awareness?

... How long do you think Reign will last? 

  • Comments (81)
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  • Madelynn1984 Aug 22, 2015

    I just started watching this. I've been aware of it since the beginning, but there's only so much time for tv. The summer lull made it happen. And I'm so happy! It's exactly what I thought it was. :) (I've read a couple reviews.) Hugely historically inaccurate soap opera. Just what I wanted. I am glad it's as good as I was hoping. And as a non history buff, I'm really enjoying the music and ridiculously cute, modern costumes. It's more fast-paced than many shows, which is so much fun. Bring it on!

  • km91505n Oct 25, 2014

    Outstanding. How do you come up with this stuff. You are special.
    Best parts of the Review:
    "Mary was stressed enough about Peaseblossom’s sidebraids slowly enveloping her entire head, poised to weave themselves into her nose and mouth,"

    "When Bash asked if she had the heart to stay with him and nurse him, she answered that she had nursed two brothers into the grave. So, fair warning: Lola is apparently a TERRIBLE TERRIBLE NURSE. Bash, perhaps deciding she shouldn’t handle any bandages, asked her to read him a coloring book."

    "Wife, Mistress, and Honor: the code of chivalry."

    "Bash told Frances it was GOOD he was freaked out by killing someone. We are not supposed to be okay with killing people. How is it that I have almost NEVER HEARD this sentiment on TV before? Especially on The CW, where necks are snapped as casually as a Doritos bag might be opened"

  • Aeidail Feb 11, 2014

    "If you don't kill him, I will." That line officially makes Bash the best. He's literally lying on what everyone thought would be his death bed, after being stabbed, and yet I totally believe he would kill that horrible thing that calls itself a Prince.

  • mad-pac Dec 31, 2013

    Nice show, but the first picture of the review brings one of the poorest CGI scenery scenes I've seen in a long time.

  • saizen33 Dec 08, 2013

    I'm not sure how I feel about Bash and Lola hooking up, but she was the only one (other than Francis) to stay with him for an extended time and showed that she cared how he was doing.

    I love Greer and Leith's interactions, though. So cute!

  • googlehoop Nov 15, 2013

    This is an amazing quality show! If only more viewers would give it a chance, I'm sure they'd be hooked. I almost didn't watch, thinking I'm not sure about historical dramas. But I was intrigued enough by the CW preview to give it a try. And I'm so glad I did!'s been given a full season, which is a start. It is difficult to predict what will happen on the CW, but there are lower rated shows on their roster. Fingers crossed it continues to do as well, or better!

    I love Mary and Francis together, hated Tomas from the beginning (you could just tell he was a psychopath), also love Bash (he needs a romance but I'm not sure with whom). And I almost hesitate to say this...but I kinda thought the scene with the King and Kenna was super hot...

  • SesseKitty Nov 12, 2013

    First of all, thank you Lily for getting me to watch this show, it's completely awesome.

    Bash with his laser eyes is my favourite but pretty much all the characters are interesting and the show is just incredibly beautiful and entertaining.

    Bash + Lola would be really lame, pairing the most charismatic man with the least charismatic woman - please no.

    I liked Tomas until the psycho tendencies, not high enough in the hot-crazy-scale, sorry.

    I thought the final scene was just bittersweet. Poor girl was sleeping under Mary's bed like a weirdo stalker, but in the same time she had actually made a friend and probably felt safer there.

  • carlyspade Nov 11, 2013

    Is it safe to say after this episode especially that there is an official fanbase starting? I sincerely hope so because I want this show to last! Been waiting for a show like this to watch since The Tudors wrapped up and I just can't get enough!

    Aside from all the amazing things that happened this week, Mary and Frances making out, Tomas revealing his true colors and getting what he deserved, Kenna finally accepting her hoe like tendencies...

    I REALLY loved that the show threw a nod to tell fans, "Yes, we know we are not taking this from the history books." When the King swore that Simon would make sure that England forgot the whole Portugal incident Simon responds with, "It's as if history will forget it ever happened."

    Thank you!!! :)

  • bkyle2429 Nov 10, 2013

    Hearts and Minds so far the Best episode to date, business as finally pick up hope every understands that!! Anything that Adelaide puts on is breath taking !!

  • kou_shun_u Nov 10, 2013

    Yes I was surprised at the lack of Anne Shirley love by you, but I thought maybe you don't know of such greatness. I know it was always in my first sentence when spreading the love for the show around. For me, The moment I saw her name on the screen for the first time it appeared I screamed and got so excited hoping it was THE Megan Follows. And then she was there and it was even more super hearts for the show.

    I was really disappointed by how quickly they ended the Tomas storyline. I thought he was a useful beau (very unlike Francis) and like many a love triangle they undue one side by making him/her a ne'er-do-weller/nefarious. Plus he had the most awesome clothes. I will miss his outfits.
    And I really hope Bash isn't getting his own separate love triangle before establishing himself better in Mary's.

    And My Gawd that scene with her under the bed was so unexpected and scary. Totally gave me the creeps, and its a good thing the under of my bed is so jammed pack, I know no one can fit there (Alas I have closets).

    And fine on the clothes not being exactly on par with the times but there s no reason any should be extremely wrong for the time. I was rewatching eps and I noticed a short skirt with thigh highs . That is just pushing it too much.

    And yes, her handmaidens are utterly useless.

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