Blood Wood, blood month, bloodLUST. If you correctly guessed last week that the next word to be modified by 'blood' would be 'lust,' then WELL DONE! Reign’s “Chosen” threw around the term bloodlust like so much confetti or at least its 16th-century equivalent (the eyelashes of servants?) and put Bash in a situation that stretched his bashionate nature to its utmost: The pagans threatened Mary’s life first with itchy accessories...
And then a STAG’S HEAD! Quite a wake-up call, I think we can all agree. Like I can’t even deal with taxidermy and taxidermy doesn’t drip.
Yes, the pagans were intent on Bash replacing the human sacrifices he had so casually cut down last week—by FORCING him to kill an innocent and spilling that innocent’s blood!! And if he didn’t, they would kill Mary, because frankly the security in the Court of France is right up there with the security around the bathrooms at a wooded campsite with no doors on the showers, located downhill from an insane asylum. And also it’s not camping season. What I’m trying to say is the security at Court is terrible.
I’m not going to lie to you, I was a little disappointed that they tipped Bash into such a terrible do-or-die, Mary’s-life-is-at-stake, countdown-clock situation the episode after the kiss. I was hoping for a little soul-searching, a few whispers in the corridors betwixt him and Mary, a little more “Dare we even dare to fall in love?” but before Bash could so much as gently offer to fingerblast Mary in the privacy of a palace staircase he was AXE-FIGHTING with Wiccans (okay, I know they weren’t Wiccans, they were pagans) in the woods and catchin’ a case of Bloodlust so fierce he had no choice but to tip poor Jean Valjean off an extremely picturesque cliff.
Bash! Bash. I suppose it's sort of dramatic and romantic to think he was doing all of this for Mary’s sake, although it could also be argued he was doing it to shield his mother and hide her terrible secret from the court: that she was DEFINITELY a Wiccan back in middle school.
Diane, a.k.a. the Official Royal Hussy, definitely got a little spotlight this week and she was pretty great. She’s not particularly shook about Kenna taking over as new Official Royal Dick Warmer, in a few lines between Diane and Henry, we learned this has happened before and that Henry is held in thrall by her ability to arrange her own interior decorators and not complain. Meanwhile, Kenna had a full-on tantrum this episode over iconography in the floor tiles.
Kenna’s first mistake was slapping away Mary’s kind gesture when all the waiting besties went to greet the King on his return from Paris. Kenna was wearing every cape and shawl and hair crown and generally looking like she’d rolled around in the lost & found the last day of Coachella and all the girls were like, “What’s up ho?” and Mary was like, “Kenna can look nice if she wants to!” and Kenna was basically like, “Good job defending me P.S. I hate you.” Oh Kenna.
Kenna invited all her friends to the King’s bedchamber (awkward) to make the big announcement that she was the new royal mistress. Peaseblossom and Greer and Lola seemed tentatively cool with it, but foolishly asked for details, sending Kenna off onto a tangent/flashback about that time the King fingerblasted her at the top of a staircase. (Was this perhaps the footage that got cut from the original controversial masturbation scene in the pilot?!) Did you notice how instantly awkward everyone got, the resigned expressions of “TMI but what can we do” that filled their faces? I mean every conversation with Kenna comes back to this:
Any of the waiting besties could sit across from a police sketch artist and produce a photographic representation of Kenna’s genitals at this point.
However then one of them pointed out Henry and Diane’s initials intertwined in the tiles of the floor and Kenna kind of lost it a little bit. Immediately she was haranguing the King about knocking out all the tiles and being the kind of honorable man who would ditch the mother of his child for a teen he met two weeks ago. As a show of good faith, he arranged for CGI artists to depict her name in glowing lights.
Sweet, right? Impermanent but sweet. It was more than enough for Kenna, who lost her mind and sucked face with the King in gratitude. I will say that while their relationship is shady on every level, the two actors have so much chemistry that I am constantly delighted when they’re onscreen together. Their banter! Their flare-ups! Their sultry eye contact! I don’t agree with anything y’all are doing but also please don’t stop.
Much like her purported waiting ladies, we actually didn’t see a lot of Mary this episode. Poor Mary, her life in danger, had to resort to asking Sara Too Many Headbands to come and sit with her and she had her life threatened by a freaking pagan charwoman who had an ankle knife! I mean really, security?! Come on. Peaseblossom, where were you? Greer, for shame.
Evil had infiltrated the serving folk of the castle, and we got to see the contrasting between Mary and Catherine’s leadership styles when they took turns asking the servants which of them were in league with the Deville. Mary was like “No judgement. We just want to know who is trying to kill me because France. No judgement.” and Catherine was like “Rat out whoever put the stag in Mary’s bed or I’ll burn all your houses to the ground.” Catherine: She gets results!
I also genuinely liked how angry Catherine was about Mary’s room being broken into by someone that wasn’t her. And Mary instantly calling her on it, like, “Oh you’ve broken into my room before maybe they borrowed your jimmy.” I mean Mary just genuinely does not give a shit about putting on the nice around Catherine. Next week I half expect her to pull on Catherine’s pigtail and call her “carrots” a la Gilbert Blythe.
With both Catherine and Mary on the case however, the truth surfaced: One of Catherine’s own guards had hung the stag in Mary’s bed, and then when she deduced (aloud, Angela Lansbury style) that he would've then had to change to another uniform, she remembered how baggy her guard’s sleeves were and fingered the culprit! (Not that kind of fingered, Kenna. Take it easy.)
I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but there was more than one guard in an ill-fitting costume this week. I’m not sure if that’s good continuity or just a bad coincidence, but there was one guy in like a midriff-sized piece of armor who I noticed before it even became a story point. I guess what I’m saying is it takes balls for a period piece to make a huge story point rely on an extra wearing ill-fitted armor. I mean they are basically DARING us to monitor how well-fit the costumes are on minor characters in future scenes and episodes. Cojones for days.
Speaking of cojones for days: As much as I did not like Bash immediately morphing into Blood Bash the very next episode after the Kiss of the Century, I thought Francis’s speech to Bash and Mary was kind of incredible. He pointed out how the pagans had exploited Mary because of the feelings they knew the two had for each other, and how they all had too much responsibility to get jealous and petty about their love lives. Just a really responsible moment for him there and well said and a lot of complex emotions. Aaaaaand then he somehow twisted that into him and Mary being on a break!! Hahaha that was the best indication we've seen so far that Francis is a born politician: "We've got to be more responsible and focus on what's right for the country. P.S. we're single now so I can sex with Olivia and it doesn't count." He also explicitly forbid Bash from having a crush on Mary! Can he even do that? Bash was like, "Dude, I just killed two people for this girl. You are the worst brother ever."
Poor Olivia. This is a victory for her, but what a line from Francis: “I can’t promise you anything.” I can’t speak for all ladies everywhere, but that is the mental equivalent of hitting an “eject” button on this Batmobile (I can speak for Batmobiles everywhere when I say that we expect emotional commitment and accountability). However Olivia was like, “JUST GIVE ME THE SPERMS” because she wants to get pregnant, lest Catherine haul her in front of another green screen and use the phrase "into your bed" again. So it was very much a win for Olivia and a devastating loss for Mary. I mean, talk about a bummer of a night: Not only was Francis getting busy somewhere down a corridor, but they straight-up burned the pagan pyres DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF HER ROOM. The howling screams, the smells. She really should have closed those windows. Like, there aren't enough Glade Plugins in the world.
Of course now Bash has ammunition for wanting to oust Francis kinda sorta maybe? Look, I love that these two love each other. And I love that Bash told him once that being terrified about killing someone was a correct response. But Francis played some mind games with Bash this episode and Bash did not come clean about liplocking with Mary, and also they called each other “brother” about 75 times, which is usually how period dramas convey rising tension. Which is good! Bring it! The conflict and drama, is what I’m saying. Good things! I hope Bash isn’t permanently a pagan psychopath, though.
... How long will Blood Bash hunger for the demise of innocents?
... Will Diane strike back against Kenna, or just wait for Henry to get sick of her? Will he get sick of her?
... How much of the oncoming season will center around pagans? Are you feeling this storyline?
... Is Catherine kind of sort of the best?
... Were you anxiously waiting for the letter-writing plot to pay off in this episode? Me too.
... What are these waiting ladies even doing to help Mary? Ever since Lola disrespected her (a.k.a. the pilot) do they not just treat her like the group outcast?
... Olivia and Francis: Can you (can Mary?!) ever forgive him?