Verily I say unto thee, DANG! “Inquisition” unmasked Clarissa at long last and turned Reign’s wistful, romantic, vaguely haunted teen drama into a full-on gothic soap opera. Are there even other days in the week anymore?! They are gray, bloodless, mirthless mirrors compared to the sumptuous twists and turns in the rich tapestry of insanity and visceral intoxication that we call Reign.
“Inquisition” picked up almost exactly where we left off last week: Bash and Mary fretting over a temporary tattoo on a baby’s foot.
Catherine de Medici’s wealthy family barged in on her carb binge...
...to let her know that thanks to their money and connections in Rome, Henry would not be able to annul their marriage. He had no choice but to kill Catherine: You’re welcome, baby. Also they’d kindly brought a chopping block so she could practice stretching her neck out. Her family seems kind of cold to me, huh? Although their taste in statement jewelry is revelatory!
P.S. Kathryn Howard, fifth wife of King Henry VIII, did practice setting her 17-year-old head on the chopping block the day before her own beheading, ordered by her furious 51-year-old husband. AND guess who played Kathryn Howard’s lover, Thomas Culpepper, on The Tudors? None other than BASH!!!
Ah yes, Torrance Coombs be no stranger to period costumes. Anyhoo, pushed to this extremity, Henry has been driven to accuse Catherine of adultery with Sexy Nostradamus, probably because of his ill-chosen and quite provocative official title, “Sexy Nostradamus: The Sexiest Seer of Fronce Who Sees Himself in Your Pants Wink Wink and Also Court Surgeon.” To this end Henry has brought in a prosecutor, a longtime enemy of Catherine’s, Viscount Richard de la Croix, who insists on tugging her pigtails and calling her “an Italian mule” and has also turned to Kenna to help him fabricate a sex scene betwixt Catherine and Sexy Nostradamus. He needs Kenna’s sexpertise because obviously she is the randiest girl in the land and while the other ladies at court keep referring to “virtue” and “marital acts” Kenna does with locker room talk what Taco Bell does with meat and cheese: makes it real spicy then throws it all over the place.
Which is right around when Catherine saw the pagan baby Mary was hustling off toward a convent and noticed the rune on its heel. Suddenly she saw an option that didn’t involve a grim executioner in a leather balaclava: She’d bring down Bash and then Francis would have to be reinstated, and then Henry couldn’t annul their marriage, or something. Basically it boiled down to Catherine and Mary openly hate-whispering that they were fully at war and it was a race to see who could bring who down first! A total Evil Queen-Off!!
Catherine took a detour to woo the art world and was accosted by Clarissa in a sculpture studio run by someone extremely into sculpting butts.
The castle ghost was no ghost, but a girl! Catherine had no choice but to hasten to Nostradamus’s cell to hear all about how the castle’s favorite phantasm was actually a corporeal mole person. Apparently a certain baby with a distinctive birth mark had arrived “In the Year of the Great Storms” (I love that. Oh I love that!) and Nostradamaus’s dad had practiced primitive plastic surgery on its face and welp, it didn’t go to well.
HA! Too amazing for words.
So while the Medicis quite literally racked the Court Babysitter to figure out where the pagan baby was being held, Catherine and Henry got REAL with each other. Like TMI real. Like married-couple-keeping-the-bathroom-door-open, we-been-married-long-enough-I-want-to-chop-your-head-off real. Like he talked about that time she infertility-shamed him by bringing in “quack doctors” to help her get pregnant: Guys this is actually true, it took Catherine de Medici 10 years to start having kids and according to no less an authority than Wikipedia, “Catherine tried every known trick for getting pregnant, such as placing cow dung and ground stags' antlers on her ‘source of life’ and drinking mule's urine.” Which sounds like some pagan mess to me. Also she treated Henry “like a stud horse” but ultimately I don’t hear him complaining because the upshot was that he asked her to let her hair down and ride him like a surfboardt... surfboardt. You know, there are few things that make me more happy than marital romance rekindlings, and this was genuinely sweet. Nevermind they’re both sociopathic monster people who kill indiscriminately to further their petty aims: They’re also keeping the embers burning after all these years. Good for them.
Meanwhile Bash and Mary had gone to check in on the family of the broken Court Babysitter, and the family lived in what I can confidently call a hovel. Bitch had one door and one window and that was that. No fire exits, no floor, no second room. When Bash’s super-powered hearing picked up the sound of horse hooves on damp ground several miles away, there was no way for them to escape, he and Mary could only hide, quivering, in the grain pantry.
OMG, this grain pantry scene! Catherine’s Baby Snatcher Guard came in and started poking swords through this grain pantry and skewered Bash’s arm and he didn’t make a peep, he just knocked some grain over! It was so intense! The wound foley, especially, was so intense! But luckily the Baby Snatcher Guard was like “Eh, lemme just snatch that baby” and went on his way despite probably having a LOT of blood on his sword.
And then came the scene that made me gasp like a Victorian!! A grown folks love triangle!!
Yes, the very man meant to prosecute Catherine had loved her all along! When she claimed she was pining for her husband (as he sat with Diane on his lap in front of the German Ambassador! Oh HELL no!) she was actually having illicit relations with this dude and BEARING HIS CHILD!
Oh yes: As the woman who was to raise pagan baby in a lightless, floorless hovel was explaining to Mary and Bash, Catherine had borne la Croix’s baby, marked with a distinctive facial birthmark! (CLARISSA!!!) And so of course they took her on a vacation from her hovel to testify before the King and the Prosecutor.
Well, WHOOPS, because turns out the Prosecutor also had a tiny port wine stain under his beard and Henry put all the pieces together and TO HELL with his reawakened sex life with Catherine: She'd had his best friend’s baby! How was Catherine going to possibly escape this one?! Luckily, she had an ace up her dress.
Okay, so: WHERE exactly was she keeping this? Did she have a brocade cargo pocket in her underskirt? So many more questions to ask about this moment. Catherine pulled out a witchy looking doorstop from I don’t even know where and declared Bash and his mother Wiccans and smashed the witchy piggy bank on the floor.
Then she pulled up what looked like a hank of hair from a bathroom drain and called it Diane’s soul. BURN!!!
This moment was completely amazing. And just when I thought the madness had peaked, King Henry walked over to the guard, asked if Catherine had truly found that soul jar in Diane’s Special Things Drawer, and when the guard said yes Henry CHOPPED HIS HEAD.
I don’t know the last time I saw so many interesting, perplexing, and grotesque things happen on TV that fast. American Horror Story? True Blood? This scene was infinitely delightful. The entertainment escalated in a geyser of pure, visceral enjoyment. Anyway, Henry was like “PSYCH I am super cool with Diane being a Wiccan she told me about it already I’m 100 percent down.” And Catherine was like “Well, then, I am getting the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of here.”
Luckily all was not lost: Catherine’s cold, creepy family had a new gift for her in light of Henry’s decision to murder her for adultery: a mostly sucked-down Gobstopper.
Wait I’m sorry it was an old-time poison pill. Then a teenager sat down in front of a mirror.
WAIT that waas Catherine. Gosh didn’t she look insanely young in this scene? For a moment I was like “Aylee?!” and then I was like DANG. (TELL ME UR EYE CREAM SECRETZ.) But basically Catherine got her hair tight and prepared the Fizzy Bath Bomb from hell while Mary and Bash celebrated their victory over Catherine with some bloody oaths. Bash recklessly committed outright treason by swearing he would kill Henry if Mary wanted him to, and she was like scared of him but also... very much into it. Basically Francis’s “family loyalty” and “reason” and “grounded, objective reasoning” were so 2013 and she is opening her heart in 2014 to Pagan rites and sweet bashionate romance.
And finally, a chance to relax in her indoor Royal Hot Tub. I’m so jealous. One of these would make everything worth it—the Middle Ages, the lack of wifi, the incredible pressures of being a monarch—just to lean back in this ginormous aboveground indoor pool and chill, you know?
Just when we were all vicariously enjoying that tub, Catherine came in with the Fizzy Bath Bomb from hell! Would Mary die a slow, relaxing, possibly aromatic death?
Just when it looked certain she was about to faint into the tub, Clarissa came in and politely turned out the lights before saving her. (Honestly, so thoughtful!) Clarissa was like “Let me knock out the lights so I don’t scare you while I’m saving your life” and then once Mary was okay she tried to help HER MOM Catherine. Who of course rejected her completely.
Ohhhh Clarissa you are too wonderful. She’s even more delightfully Gothic than I’d dared hoped! Look at that tufty hair! Oh I am going to make this my new desktop image. Clarissa is GLORIOUS, with her cheek prosthetic and joker lip. She’s actually not even that disfigured, she’s pretty cute, maybe because Katie Boland (who plays Clarissa) is so insanely gorgeous? Check it out she’s like Emma Stone and Zooey Deschanel had a baby:
Anyway. Mary has been firmly (and literally) pushed into the arms of Bash with this direct attempt on her life by Catherine, Clarissa is explained but still at large and now officially part of the royal family, Catherine is still on the chopping block, Henry approves of pagans, and Mary is kind of “into” crazy. Everything we thought we knew is being turned inside-out upside-down and I love it. This series has gone from being highly recommendable to true appointment television.
... Is Kenna the Carrie Bradshaw of Fronch court?
... If a man swore to kill his father for you: turn on, turn off?
... Just what exactly was Diane’s soul?
... Where was Catherine stowing Diane’s soul ball exactly?
... Clarissa and Catherine: Will they ever enjoy a hug/forehead touch/mother daughter makeover day?
... How many times did you gasp during this episode?
AIRED ON 6/20/2016
Season 3 : Episode 18