Reign "Monsters" Review: The Musical Fruit

By Lily Sparks

Mar 28, 2014

Reign S01E16: "Monsters"

First off, let’s give Alan Van Sprang a big round of applause. From introducing himself to a young lady via unbuckling his pants to pouring hot candle wax in the ear of a snippy noble, Van Sprang turned “Monsters” into his Scarface. He seemed to genuinely relish every villainous flourish, which made even the most disturbing parts of the episode wildly entertaining. But while Van Sprang stole the spotlight, in terms of plot, “Monsters” was a pivotal episode for the braidies-in-waiting and Bash. Greer lost her Leith and her reputation! Kenna is now Mary’s sister-in-law! Lola only fits into the 16th-century equivalent of yoga pants! And let’s not forget black-swan braidy Olivia, who got a filed-down human tooth pulled out of a festering wound in her back. So that’s what that smell was.

"Monsters" also gifted us with the conceit of the “Bean Queen,” which sounds like it should be a euphemism for something but actually isn’t. Reign’s “Bean Queen” could be rooted in the Mardi Gras tradition of the King’s Cake, which traditionally contains a figurine or a bean and whoever finds the tiny inedible trinket gets customary privileges, though nothing as dramatic as being the literal queen of a country for a day. It also seems extraordinarily generous that the Fronch court would make a cake the size of a bodybuilder out of refined sugar (known around the 16th century as “white gold”) to be eaten exclusively by servants, but as both a visual element and a plot device it was tasty as hell. It was also a golden opportunity for Catherine to sneak some knockout drops past Henry’s seven food tasters before he could go full-on Body of Evidence, wilding out and combining hot wax/sex/death/Madonna with another unfortunate noble.

Penelope seemed totally game to enter into cahoots with Catherine at first, but by the end of the episode it was clear that Bean Queen Penelope had her own agenda. With a wisp of Cockney swagger, a Natalie Dormer-esque smirk, and a dominatrix flair, Penelope quickly won Nutty Henry’s fevered loyalty. Considering Henry himself said that what triggered his insanity was a domineering woman, you’d think, logically, that submission would be the LAST sex game that would appeal to him, but hey, I don’t know that life, that 16th Century Syphilitic Mad King life. 

I also loved that later—when Penelope double-crossed Catherine by putting the Knockout Windex in Catherine’s own goblet of “my husband is craaazy and that B just sat in my throne” wine—Mary was there to catch her bestie mom-in-law when she conked out. Within moments, Mary had Nostradamus at Catherine’s side and was handling it. Just queens helping queens as only queens can. 

“Monsters” also went for the throat with Greer and Leith’s relationship and expanded a B-story plot into a A+ payoff. Greer’s ill-timed kiss with Leith cost her a handsome Hungarian husband-to-be and got Leith clapped into manacles. Later, Greer pointed out to Kenna and Lola how following their hearts had led them terribly astray. Kenna was but a scorned royal mistress! Greer herself was but a kitchen servant’s squeeze! And then hilariously, Greer was like, “Except for you, Lola,” and Mary shot Lola the most white-hot side-eye a camera has ever captured.

Greer’s Hungarian fiance is apparently going to trade in a lady who kissed another guy a few times for a wife who's secretly carrying the king’s baby. Upgrade? It’s sort of an upgrade? Politically, it could be handy. It was fascinating to consider a courtship playing out according to 16th century standards: The Hungarian guy (named Lord Julian? Reign has such a steady influx of hunks week to week it’s hard to keep up) didn’t particularly care about Greer making out with a peasant since he had just met her, but he wouldn’t stand for a breath of scandal around his wife, even if that scandal was only a confirmed kiss. That’s exactly how that would play out, give or take a few refunded dowries. Lord Julian does get points for being nice enough to leave behind the carefully wrapped box of Isotoner Slippers he had purchased for Greer despite the compulsory shunning. 

Ultimately, Greer’s kiss meant more than fumbling a proposal straight into Lola’s graspy little hands, it meant Leith losing his important Spice Internship (seasonings were like the Apple Computers of their day guys) and Greer having no choice but to accept Castlerod a.k.a. Pepperpot a.k.a. Peppercorn’s proposal. Peppers is legitimately the nicest guy on the show, and let me tell you young whippersnappers something when considering your own longterm partners: Kindness lasts. Floppy blonde wedge cuts fall out and fortunes can fail overnight, but a kind heart only improves with time. TRUST. So yeah, obviously it was excruciating to see Leith go off to the army (and look back one final time!), but props to Reign for making me care exponentially about this pair with this one tragic turn. How heartbreaking that they defended each other! How soon ’til Leith is back, guys? Are you going to make a Leith/Greer playlist in their honor? Will it include Blouse’s "Videotapes"? Just me?

Perhaps most importantly, BASH came back this week, bringing all those ambiguous feelings of protection and affection that Mary can ill but conceal. Francis told her not to get close to Bash, and in the next scene, she was striding into his cell. Mary claims she feels nothing but concern for Bash, but she was immediately offended that Bash had had a girlfriend (albeit a slightly chewed one). If you're rooting for Bash, this scene was huge, and let’s be real—Francis can be forgiven for taking Bash's manhunt as a thin pretext to see Mary again. Bash, you could've been on the shores of Spain with a Yardgarita instead of chasing a demonic 16th century Leatherface through the snow. Is your arm sore from that giant torch you’re carrying, Bash?

Bash did also bring news that Francis’s ex was in the castle as well, and Mary hilariously did not leave Francis’s side when they went down to interrogate Olivia, whose hair was STILL looking a way. No I actually love the way Reign's writers have developed Olivia. She went from being the archetypal Threatening Other Woman to being this struggling survivor with greater empathy for those around her. Thank you, Reign, for your track record of depicting women (even ones who sleep with guys who aren't their boyfriends) as whole people. Mary can still be wary, though.

Confident that the Darkness was neither demon nor rock band but mere man (albeit a super creepy one with a cult of followers and the inclination to both file down a tooth and leave it in a girl’s back), Bash and Francis decided to go catch the varmint. Of course, each guy not trusting that the other WASN’T trying to kill him made things awkward until Francis pulled an “Amy” (Little Women reference for everyone who's not 87) and fell through the ice. The trail to the disembodied hand was great enough, but holy cow that shot of Francis hilariously floating past Bash, like “Whooop gotta go!”

I couldn't've loved the amazing underwater shots with Bash rescuing Francis more. Just an amazing image, and it must've been SO hard to film. Well done, Reign, pulling off another ambitious visual. Story-wise, it was the fastest way to cement a peace between Bash and Francis. See, you guys shouldn’t be so quick to assume that your own brother is plotting to kill you. Maybe the real problem here is the sex fiend who's banging every woman with or without a pulse and running around a stone castle barefoot. Yes, Henry ordered the hit on Bash! And he had even more nefarious plans for his once-favorite son.

Kenna was somehow furious about this arrangement, as Henry had promised her a titled suitor, but hey: At least you don’t have to go through anymore 50 Shades of Syphilitic Sadism, Kenna. You’re free of your Faustian deal to please Henry until he finds you a hubby, AND it's Bash, he's a sweetie. The wedding was a shockingly abrupt turn for such a major character as Bash that caught me completely off guard, and as Kenna tearfully pointed out, a marriage can’t be undone. Benna wasn't betrothed, they were full-on wed, and now Mary and Bash and Francis are gong to be having hella awkward moments sitting at the same feast table in the castle cafeteria. 


... Mary seemed tres jalouse about Katniss, non?

... Olivia and Nostradamus: adorable, or technically a case of psychological transference?

... What are the chances Lola will get married without Francis finding out about the baby first: zero percent or 0.1 percent?

... Darkness: creepier that it's a psycho, yeah?

... If King Henry comes out of his Crazy Fugue, will he regret this forced marriage? Tangentially, WILL he come out of his Crazy Fugue before Catherine gets ahold of his porridge?

... Kenna and Bash?! Will theirs be A) a loveless marriage, B) a friendly power coupling that leaves them both free to do their thang, C) an unlikely but unstoppable romance?

What'd you think of "Monsters"?

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  • dcher10349 May 18, 2014

    I must have missed something. Why would Greer be Le ith's mother in law? Is Lord Castleroy his father. Where do they say this? The heck with Francis and Bash.

  • jeannenoir90 Apr 04, 2014

    omg - these are the funniest memes everrrr! more pls!!

  • pa-tan Mar 30, 2014

    Well of course Mary is kinda jealous I mean Bash declared his undying love and then like three seconds after their breakup he bumps uglies with the first girl he encounters? that kinda hurts.
    Olivia and Nostradamus are freaking adorable and thank you Reign for giving the bearded guy some backstory.
    Zero percent, cause let's be real waaay too many people know about Lola´s pregnancy.
    Darkness is a psycho ... cool? I mean I really don't care about that story line crazy barefooted Henry is way more entertaining.
    Henry will stay crazy until he suffers an awful death.
    Kenna and Bash? what? it is so weird and entertaining, please I need more!
    And Kenna is so much fun she cries cause she is bethoted to Bash? for reals? I mean he is a recognized bastard so he must have some money, and he is hot, super chill and has crazy eyes so the sex must be great.

  • Sw33tEscape Apr 02, 2014

    Well to be fair, so did Mary. In one episode she was completely devoted to marrying Bash and then next thing you know she's bumping uglies with Francis ... but at least Mary didn't have to watch as the ugly bumping was going on.

  • KevinG87 Mar 29, 2014

    Henry's going to die or get killed off right? I mean.. if Game of Thrones teaches us anything, the mad King always gets killed, sure the king's slayer goes and bones his own sister but that's not my point at the moment!

  • LaurenYetter Mar 29, 2014

    This show is just the best. Barefoot!Henry was almost overshadowed though, because oh my god IT'S EMILY!!!!!! I can't be the only one who watches Skins and The CW...

    I just about died when Kenna was sobbing about her abrupt marriage vows. Because, girl please, Bash isn't going to give a crap if you want to sex every boy in town, he's chill. He'll be staring though Mary's window all hours and won't have time for your drama anyhow, you're free! I love the way Bash invited Mary and Frances to the horror show wedding, with just a casual, "Good ol' Dad's being crazy again!" This is just solid television.

  • AmandaKramer Mar 30, 2014

    It kind of sounded like they were required to be there more than they were invited. I mean Catherine was even there as she was getting over her coma inducing potion that was supposed to be slipped to Henry and she really has very little connection with either the bride or groom. Henry wanted them there and some if it could have been royal duty-Bash is Francis' half brother and Kenna is one of Mary's ladies (despite that like the others she seems to do very little).
    I do know that if Henry forced Bash to marry me I probably would not be crying. I would be perfectly happy to marry him and try my best to make him forget about Mary (and Rowan).

  • AmandaKramer Mar 30, 2014

    This comment has been removed.

  • mineta Mar 29, 2014

    Love your post! Voted it up! Thanks for pointing out Kenna's over the top bawling. I don't watch skins but that actress Emily(?) was REALLY good! I think she'll be in the next one too. Love all of Reign's guest stars, each has been pretty great!

  • LilyRoRoSparks Mar 29, 2014

    It was ridiculous how upset Kenna was. Royal bastards still had a lot of cache at court if they were recognized and he's known overall as being a pretty chill dude so girl, it could have been A LOT WORSE. The barefoot reveal genuinely made me laugh.

  • SarahHansen Mar 29, 2014

    Lily, you make my Fridays... ☺

  • o0o-B-o0o Mar 29, 2014

    anyone know the song at the end when mary and bash are talking?

  • mineta Mar 29, 2014

    All I Want by Dawn Golden Whenever I want to know the song from Reign or any other show, I use this site

  • o0o-B-o0o Mar 30, 2014

    thank you!

  • mineta Mar 30, 2014

    You're welcome! Happy to help! I love music from Reign too :)

  • saizen33 Mar 30, 2014

    Thanks for the info, too. But, it doesn't list what the beautiful piano music was from episode 13 -- The Consummation -- when Mary told Bash she couldn't marry him. :(

  • reignonme Mar 29, 2014

    First of all, Lily, the recaps are the best I have ever read. They are so funny and entertaining. They are the first thing I look for on Fridays. Thank you for the most perfect captions ever!

    This episode totally belonged to Alan van Sprang. He was positively menacing as mad King Henry! The complete matter-of-fact way in asking Mary to "show Penelope the ropes" was just amazing. The best part was his comment to Greer - filled with mischief, malice and madness. And the last scene took the cake! The beheading of the guard in "Inquisition" was still his shining moment but this was brilliant nevertheless!

    I really think there needs to be a "I &3 Catherine" fan club AND a "I &3 Megan Follows" fan club. I always watch the episodes twice to re-watch her scenes. Her dialogue delivery, her pauses, her expressions were amazing, esp. when she described the king's sexual appetite. I also loved her fake smile and nod when Penelope said she knew how to handle the king, and again when Penelope asked for the throne. So much shade! Her anger and horror as the king kissed Penelope and as she lunged for her crown - so good! Megan Follows is a QUEEN! The best was her little smile and head twist before screaming "She's not a QUEEN!" So perfect! I have already re-watched that sequence so many times. And to cap it all off, she flexes her comedy muscles in her potion-induced drowsy stupor. I loved how she just put her head in her hand like she was having the world's worst hangover. I could go on forever about how she steals the show every episode. Perhaps that's why the one thing I hated was Penelope pulling one over her. I like to think of Catherine as invincible, so this was maddening. But I can't wait till Catherine gets back at her! Penelope is so going down!

    Also, special shout-out to Catherine's clothes this episode. The blue/gold outfit was bang on - perfect for a queen, and yet made her look gorgeous. My favorite though was the white dress. I know it was not very regal, but boy did she look breathtaking! And I loved her hair down. The pictures from Liege Lord have already blown me away. Megan Follows/Catherine looks so good, and just gets better every episode! So curious who Liam is and why she is caressing his cheek.

    Lord Julian is a complete dreamboat. I hope they don't turn him into some psycho! Love that Kenna stood up for Greer and actually tried to stand up to the king. I hope they can figure out a way to annul her marriage to Bash; neither of them deserve this. What I really want to know is where King Henry gets his pedicures - those are some pampered feet! Lastly, were my eyes playing tricks or did I see Sarah (the pagan maid that tried to kill Mary) among the staff at the Bean Queen cake thing?

    The 2-week wait for more Reign is totally killing. Thanks for bearing with my fangirling!

  • mineta Mar 29, 2014

    Good Catch re: King Henry's manicured feet! Someone should ask the actor about this on twitter :) I need Henry's manicurist (or is it pedicurist?) and Queen Catherine's eye cream!

  • saizen33 Mar 30, 2014

    pedicure = feet :) His fingers probably are great, too!

  • LilyRoRoSparks Mar 29, 2014

    Thank you! That makes my day. This show is a lot of fun to watch and discuss considering how much jaw-dropping footage is packed into every episode. Megan Follows is everything! If you start an I &3 Megan Follows club please let me join.

  • Lenne Mar 29, 2014

    Like the Queen Bean tradition, don’t think Catherine is happy about the servants wearing her precious jewels dough.

    My first thought when the girl got the Queen Bean: dead girl walking. But s*** innocent looking girl is manipulatively evil. But will probably not survive Queen Catherine next week. (Haven’t seen the promo so don’t know anything)

    Karma came for Kenna. Unfortunately for Bash, he got his dads leftovers. Kenna should never have broken ties to Mary, if she still listened to her command, the king wouldn’t be able to force her to marry.

    Wanted a more hateful reaction from Mary at finding out Olivia is back in the castle. She was practically Francis’ mistress and that wasn’t addressed and also no mention of Olivia leaving the girls stranded when the castle was taken over.

    Ow, how sweet was Mr Pepper, boring but a really good husband to have. And Greer, giving her ex-fiancé to Lola. Mary and her ladies are really into sharing.

    Hey, look at that, for ones no Francis hate in my comment, a record has been set.

    Episode started real slow but what a finish. Love this show so much, it’s getting higher and higher on my list.

    Loved the 50 shades of grey comment, still laughing about it.

    1. Mary jealous: Yep, can’t really blame her though, I would be too.

    2. Francis baby knowledge: He’ll know and he’ll stop that wedding from happening.

    3. Darkness: still no feelings about it

    4. King Henry: Don’t think he’ll mind, as long as he can still get her in his bed. He doesn’t really mind sleeping with a married woman so it makes no difference.

    5. Kenna and Bash: I want a loveless marriage with lots of sleeping around (preferably Bash with Mary)

  • mineta Mar 29, 2014

    IKR? That bean queen girl looked SO innocent and then SWITCH! pun intended ;-) I think it's in part a credit to the make-up artist form wholesome to sultry.

  • MathieasMcNau Mar 28, 2014

    Bash is now married to his Father's mistress. His kinky, crazy Father who asked his daughter-n-law the Queen of Scotland to get it on with a kitchen wench while he watched. I'm guessing Spain is looking good right about now.

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