Reign "Snakes in the Garden" Review: Age of Consent

By Lily Sparks

Oct 25, 2013

Reign S01E02: "Snakes in the Garden"

I know it's a little early, but I kind of want to give this show a friendship bracelet. Friendship crownlet? It's like someone I want to know made this show just for me. How did y'all like the arty new opening credits? How did you like the establishing shot of the for-real, mortar-and-stone, no-CGI-thanks castle? How did you like the anachronistic music like in Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette? Reign's second episode was slightly more restrained, but it raised the stakes and proved our girl is no fool. Just very lonely. So lonely she is sweating a ghost. But let's start at the beginning, with a crazy torture scene and a scuttling hunchback. 

Colin was not, after all, beheaded last week: Someone painted a red X (the international sign for “execute tomorrow”; apparently 16th century French justice had no time for paperwork or asking people their names) on the wrong prisoner's door, and our spooky ghost/disfigured creature of shadows loosed Colin to try and make his rapey way out of the keep. Thank you?

Of course, this was good news for Mary, as she wanted to interrogate Colin about where he got his roofie wine. Mary demanded the King and Queen find him and restrain themselves from beheading him for at least 15 minutes so she could figure out who orchestrated the attempted assault on her last week. Of course obviously this was Queen Catherine de'Medici, so she was like, “Who knows what our guards will do? We certainly can't give them orders” and the King was like, “I'll see what I can do.” Score one for Mary! Mary also skillfully inserted herself into a totally cool road trip out to meet Francis's brother's 7-year-old fiancee Madeleine, part of Mary's continuing efforts to seduce Francis against his will. Catherine de Medizzy was not pleased by the idea of Mary and Francis sharing the 16th century version of Combos and listening to hot jams on an unchaperoned trip, but she needn't have worried as Mary apparently fell immediately asleep. Yes, Mary is that girl on a road trip.

But see what gentlemen guys were before Vine videos? Charles and Francis politely let her slumber and complimented her body spray (Calgon Vanilla Cupcake), whereas guys today if you fall asleep on a road trip will draw all manner of crude runes on your cheeks then put shaving cream on your hand and make that shit viral.

Mary's big wakeup call came when instead of a pink, sparkly bridal ship at the harbor there was an approaching English warship! Francis was about to send Mary flying on a horse into the wilds (THE BLOOD FOREST!!) for her safety, but luckily Bastian arrived and, like he does, made everything okay: He explained that the English had just given the 7-year-old bride-to-be a ride when her ship broke down. All was well. Not a hair on her head or pearl on Madeleine's hat had been touched. Look at the hats! Gosh those hats.

The engagement party for the children (HRRRK involuntary gag excuse me) was a chance for Mary to meet the English envoy, Simon. Simon lost no time in body-shaming Mary (“You are clearly of age”—new creepiest comment ever) and asking why Francis hadn't set a date to marry her. 

Francis, sensitively enough, whisked Mary away to fake make out against a pillar. This was a big moment for Francis as a protector, potential love interest, and all-around savvy dude, he managed to look out for Mary and frustrate an English envoy and whisper nose to nose with Mary. He would later prove to be not so awesome, when she alluded to her suspicions that his mother had forced Colin to try to assault her, and Francis freaked out. It left her with no choice but to ask old Crazy Eyes to do her a solid and get Colin first—even though it meant GOING INTO THE BLOOD WOOD!!!

Also... am I alone in kind of giggling at “the English” being constantly named as the big bad when everyone is speaking with an English accent? It's sort of hard to remember all the characters are basically French (or Scottish) and all these breathy English accents whispering about how the English want to just take everything... it's sort of folding my brain in on itself like a taco. But that's nothing new.

Speaking of folding in on yourself like a taco, Kenner and the King's super sexy little storyline got both heated up and cooled down this episode, suggesting a long-term arc: The King (his regular mistress is on vacation) approached Kenner and asked if she'd like to bed down for realz, she answered later that she had to focus on marrying rich dudes who would want a virtuous wife, an explanation followed by the greatest segue ever: “Do you see that man who can't take his eyes off me?” BWAAHHH!!! Genius line. How quickly can I incorporate this into literally everything I say? “Do you see that man who can't take his eyes off me? No? He must have scuttled off. Anyway nice to meet you, I'm Lily.” “Do you see that man who can't take his eyes off me? He just made my Subway sandwich and is waiting for me to give him five dollars for this footlong.”

The King pulled perhaps the greatest pimp move in French history by showing up at Kenner's door with the rich guy in question and proving he could get them engaged in a moment's notice regardless of whether she had been a freak in his bed. Kenner was appropriately dressed for such a conversation in a push-up bustier?!

Guys these clothes!! They are so technically inaccurate, but I would argue that they are technically accurate in the sense of beauty and fashion they convey, transporting us to a greater sense of empathy for the time? I don't care how I have to rationalize it. It's like a moving Elle photo spread and I want to look at it, thanks.

Mary's dress when she tried to chase down a ghost was particularly beautiful. Also we can stop calling her the ghost, Mary learned that her helpful guardian angel's name is Clarissa and Mary REALLY wants them to hang out more. Not only did she basically beg her to hang out in the middle of a fa-la-la garden party, she went into the secret passage and started up a game of marbles.

Seriously though I love how Mary is not afraid of Clarissa at all. She knows a friend when she sees one (not often, apparently) and is completely okay with hanging out with a ghost, no shame, no reticence. I've honestly never seen a character so comfortable with a mysterious, possibly malevolent presence and it's sort of refreshing and intoxicating. Also Clarissa helped Mary figure out who'd poisoned her dress. Or rather not poisoned her dress? Basically the English envoy Simon had STAGED a poisoned dress attack rather than actually paying for the poisoned dress (pricy, and lots of cleanup when the flesh bubbles all over the floor), and he started really digging at Mary about how France was no safe haven for her, they were in cahoots with the Queen to oust her and she should get on back to Scotland. The show then took possibly its biggest historical liberty yet by making Mary assert that she had no desire to assume the English throne. English historians all over the country started throwing things at their TVs because the real deal Mary Queen of Scots was like a full-time all-day English throne coveter, she wanted that English throne like a fat kid wants cake. She spent the majority of her reign jumping through hoops so Elizabeth I would consider naming her as successor. Whatever, maybe Mary was just trying to throw him off. Pretty sure this isn't meant to be a documentary y'all!

Meanwhile, in the heart of the Blood Wood (shiver of joy) Bastian was doing what he does best: GETTING RESULTS. Unfortunately the results were blood-soaked and upside-down. Nostradamus's pilot prophesy had already come true! Blood on petals! It took Bastian a long time to get the body down, apparently, by the time we saw him again dark had fallen and Francis had shown up. They lost one point for referring to each other as “Dear brothah!” but I'm still so impressed they kept that out of the pilot I'll let that one slide. You get ONE, Reign, you get ONE.

And immediately the show got even more awesome as we noticed mysterious figures flitting around the Blood Wood, shifting through the trees. Bastian, thinking fast, cut his palm open and started talking witchcraft. WHAT WAS HAPPENING?! 

Apparently Bastian knows things about the Blood Wood and its heretics (pagans?!) and their crazy blood vows and how to deal with them. God knows what crazy poems he had to recite and what body parts he had to let blood from to get Mary's dog back last week. He translated the witch language to Francis later as “Deep the roots dark the night red the blood I will pay.” YUP. Somewhere, right now, Loreena McKennitt is setting these words to a melody for an autoharp. TRUST.

However the terrifying PTSD-triggering episode in the woods did make Francis take the threat to Mary more seriously. Realizing her life was at risk, he went toe-to-toe with Catherine de' Medici, proving he was no mama's boy by telling her that if Mary died, he would be really, really, really mad. Take that, mom. No seriously though, Francis stood up to both his parents in defense of Mary and clearly he's making her a priority—a pivotal moment for him as a man coming into his own and a suggestion that he completely wants to consent to a marriage with her like uh YESTERDAY.

Of course Catherine had arranged for Colin to be bled to death in a tree, in addition to all her child wedding preparations (sooo many Jordan almonds tied up in little bags) AND being chastised by her son about her international scheming? No wonder she was just bushed, but before she could lay down, Catherine realized someone had painted the executioner's X on her sheets and let out a whoop. Clarissa you cheeky little devil you.

So, slow progress this week: Francis and Mary trust each other, Francis seems quite protective of Mary (even after she pulled the risky “your mom or me” card), and instead of ending the episode staring out into the middle distance over the lake, Mary ended the episode staring out into the middle distance over the lake with Francis.

The preview for next week's episode looks incredible. A rival proposes a new alliance? Another ball? Mary wears a neck ruff? I think I'm sort of completely hooked on this show and I intend to spend my weekend convincing people who haven't watched it yet to do so. They will learn a little too much about my affinity for side braids, but the real friends will be cool with it (and maybe even look up crownlets on Etsy with me later.)


... Did you wish there were more Bastian scenes this week?

... Clarissa's deal: What is it?

... Opening credits: win-win-win or just okay?

... Did you notice Peaseblossom had somehow fit like eight more pigtails onto her scalp?

... How did Bastian know that witch talk? Is his mom (the King's mistress) a witch? Will she curse Kenner?

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  • pcsjunior002 Nov 24, 2013

    So I am loving this show!! I don't know why, but the anachronisms aren't bothering me one little bit. LOVING the real scenery (getting SOOO SICK of CGI on OUaT).

    Loved this episode in general, and I know the sort of thing happened for real, and they played it in a fairly light manner, but I think there was a darker undertone behind the meeting of those two children. At the least, the way they did it, with the cinematography and music choices, I was almost crying. Of course the little girl and boy were freaking out!! It would be weird if they weren't! They're SEVEN freaking years old. Even 50,000 years ago when the humans then looked WAY different from humans now and a guy who lived to be 18 years old had a "long life" and they procreated at like 12 and 13, SEVEN was still WAY TOO YOUNG. Just saying.

  • CindyPohle Nov 12, 2013

    LOL the symbols on Bastian's pictures XDD

  • giraffee Nov 06, 2013

    I needs me a personal seamstress, these dresses are too gorgeous
    And is it just me or is really hard to see Anne of Green Gables be all villain-ey?
    My theory on Clarissa - she's a weeping angel, I mean has anyone really actually seen her? She only moves when you aren't watching!

  • IrishPrincess23 Feb 06, 2014

    Its awesome and emotionally scaring my childhood, all hail QUEEN OF GREEN GABLES!

  • ArundhatiVela Nov 03, 2013

    Your reviews makes this super fun show beyond amazing. Thanks Lily!

  • Lucy8Bell Oct 29, 2013

    I love this show so much already! It is amazing, as are your reviews. You give me a lot to think about and weave into my brain's side braid as I wait for Thursday to be here. PS Somebody should just give Peaseblossom corn rows and be done with it. I hear there is a servant, who was definitely not poisoned by a dress, that is probably available.

  • janesmith988 Oct 29, 2013

    who's peablossom? who's sara? And any other girls that are not mary's friends lola, kenna, greer, ailey?

  • CKgirl Oct 28, 2013

    Lily, I would be more than happy to crownlet-shop with you. My god, those things keep getting better and better. Also we need to figure out how to tie pearls into our sidebraids without getting knots in our hair. We should ask for Peaseblossom's help. (Q: is her real name on the show Aylee?)

    Real castles in credits = amazings.
    Bash: I think there was just enough of him. However the witchcraft thing goes, I think it could be incredible. Maybe he is Nostradamus' apprentice? They could get into so much craziness with this, we're talking about a time when people were sometimes burned at the stake for being PROTESTANT, let alone a witch. Also, the whole mom is a witch thing could make for some very interesting insights on how a woman twenty years older than the king managed to be his lifetime mistress. They can pretty much do whatever they want since Bash isn't historically true.

    Clarissa: I still am going with the theory that she is a real girl and not a ghost. A severely F'ed up girl, but a girl nonetheless. I would say she is probably either majorly disfigured in the face region or she cannot let anyone recognize her for some other reason. Nostradamus talked with her like he knew her well and was both fond of and scared of her - she did sentence a boy to death with some paint, which makes her a kickass ally for Mary.

  • Chocolatier Oct 27, 2013

    I am freaking loving this show so much. Hilarious review, had me in stitches so many times. I care little for historical accuracy, so these costumes are just amazing. I seriously want a dress maker to make me the lace one Mary was wearing with her red flower crown. Lurveee and even Kenna's hot bustier gown, that chick is hot.
    So I'm loving the relationship between Francis and Mary (starting to ship them yo!) but still love blue-eyes and how he pretty much is constantly doing anything for Mary. I love the constant threat of death, and I like that we are reminded that Mary is still a queen and has things like her entire country to worry about. The whole magic element was rocking! I enjoy a little bit of witch craft, and this whole creepy Clarissa thing with secret passage ways!

    Also the soundtrack is the best, it's all music I listen to! Lumineers <3 I've already downloaded all the songs, so much love for this show. Next week's ep looks awesome. "How come you can't dance like that" "Shuttup". Is it bad that I just want to rewatch reign over and over again instead of the 100 other shows I have lined up to watch. So much love.

  • janesmith988 Oct 29, 2013

    I agree! I love the dresses, love the show, like the music. Woman not chick.

  • LydiaWilson1 Oct 27, 2013

    Instead of criticising the English accents, we should be praising the lack of American ones. Also boarding school?

  • LydiaWilson1 Oct 27, 2013

    Reign is one of my dead pool picks, I'm hope I stay on trend and am wrong about this one too, full season pick up please!

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