Between the panicked pagan prayers, extremely gushy blood sound effects and the epic kiss between Mary and Bash (OVER A GRAVE!), I hereby dub "Sacrifice" the most Bashionate episode of Reign in World history. The show’s central love triangle is positioning itself to tear my heart in two like a spent roller coaster ticket by setting up Bash as a sensitive, loyal, and figuratively AND literally noble-ass dreamboat with progressive ideas about religious tolerance. Yes, Bash's character was crystallized after weeks and weeks of Reign painting Francis as the Most Eligible Prince Ever, and now I don't know who I'm rooting for. Are you conflicted? Are you staring at two T-shirts right now, one emblazoned with “Team Bash” the other ”Team Francis” and dissolving into sobs? Me too. It’s partly the Puffy Paint fumes. Let’s process this.
The “All ‘Bout Bash” episode started with an extremely Games of Thrones-y swordplay lesson, and Torrance Coombs was clearly loving life (I mean, who doesn’t love having swordplay as part of their day job) until Mary showed up and reminded him he should be sitting on a throne looking bored. Bash got sort of annoyed because, you know, all these EXPECTATIONS just because he's going to be King and stuff... No, 'tis bewildering that Bash is still ANNOYED at being promoted to future King status because hello, ALL people did back in the day was try to become King. But then we quickly became sympathetic to Bash’s distaste for the whole noblesse oblige thing when we learned that a huge part of playing substitute to King Henry is presiding over 4H club debates.
All the fun was interrupted by the appearance of a tween with a beach ball shoved under her dress who gave the “What’s up” nod to Bash. Lola was like “SIDE BITCH.”
Then my fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Meznick showed up, called Bash a “handsome bastard,” and barreled toward, him with a Taxi Driver concealed blade up her sleeve. Thank goodness, because this meant Mary got to have a scene across from Catherine and let’s be real those are the best.
Catherine had transformed her house arrest into an excuse to redecorate. Mary demanded that all of Catherine's comfort foods, floral arrangements, etc. be removed from her cell at once, and Catherine was like “WAIT NOT MY EYE CREAM” which made me laugh out loud, because as I’ve said before Megan Follows has basically managed to not age since Green Gables, I don’t know if it's science or witchcraft or what, but all I could think was “What kind of eye cream, boo? Let’s get specific.” In terms of product placement, if they’d tucked some antiquated brand name in (“Not my Huiles d’Olay Code de Youth!”), that shizz would have gotten boughten.
Anyway. Despite Lola trying to stir the pot and create drama and drag everyone into her personal vortex of tragic nightmare relationships (I still see you Lola! I do NOT forgive you for defending your RAPIST BOYFRIEND, Lola!) Isobel turned out to actually not be Bash's lover, but his half-cousin. Isobel had been falsely accused and dragged into court to reveal his connection to her father—a former TRAITOR! Obviously the half-nephew of a dead traitor could never be King! Their connection must be suppressed, and Isobel must flee the castle to have her baby in total seclusion! Mary was like, this sounds like a great excuse for a makeover.
Mary is secretly a budding stylist, yeah? Aside from her own mind-meltingly beautiful clothes, remember how she picked out that hot blue number for Olivia? Anyway, she went needlessly nuts on Isobel (wigs!) in preparation for their daring escape from the castle, popped on the most beautiful golden cape these eyes have ever seen, and left her ladies in charge of finding the evidence that would tie Catherine to the attempt on Bash’s life (and honor!) Yes, it's an assignment that seems incredibly difficult to accomplish in the age before DNA identification, fingerprinting, microscopes, policework etc. but really what else do they have to do? Make yourselves useful, ladies.
The Waiting Braidies attempted to interrogate Catherine, which led to Catherine lining THEM up against a wall and giving them free readings like Miss Cleo has only ever dreamed of. She took down Kenna and Greer like mice under a lawnmower and she came for Lola, but, you know, it’s Lola: can’t shame the shameless. (LOLA I still see you for supporting your fiancee SEXUALLY ASSAULTING YOUR BEST FRIEND & QUEEN!! #NotForgivenNotForgotten!!) Anyway I really enjoyed Catherine's snaps.
Meanwhile Bash and Mary were enjoying the most delicious golden woods a brocade cape ever matched, with Bash ready to unbosom the fact that he’s been in love with Mary since the pilot, obviously, but then Bash heard the snap of a twig under a squirrel’s foot as it ran away from a guard’s horse three miles away... and they had to flee to the Blood Wood!
There is nothing I love more than the Blood Wood. It is where we go for the very scariest and craziest parts of Reign, so OF COURSE the second they stopped in the Blood Wood, Isobel had to go into labor. It’s like the baby smelled all that conflict and was like “This will be a great plot point. Time to be born.”
Since Isobel couldn’t travel during delivery, Alec, Bash and Mary set up a rather elaborate and impressive roundhouse tent in approximately ten minutes and Isobel went very messily into labor. Mary stepped out for a breath of fresh air in the midst of the delivery and noticed a giant Blair Witch Mannikin hanging from a tree. And then she heard the frantic yammering of Witchy Pagan Rambling. They were all surrounded by chanting pagans! And then, the greatest horror of all: Bash, Alec, and Ysobel started CHANTING ALONG with the Witchy Pagan Prayer!! The call was coming from inside the house/the pagan prayer was coming from inside the roundhouse!
It never stops delighting me that Bash is so neck deep in crazy. And when Mary basically swooned at the extremely spooky heresy, Bash was like “#Tolerance & #respect” and Mary was like “THE PAGANS JUST CHOPPED A HEAD OFF A HORSE!!!!” Because while Mary’s New Age beliefs have expanded to embrace prophesy, she knows firsthand what it feels like to be menaced by pagans, and I think we can all agree horses are seriously special creatures and this animal in particular seemed like an innocent bystander.
But then a baby was born, and there was so much placenta. I don’t know if this was a subtle way to ensure that every teenage viewer will go out this weekend to buy a jumbo box of condoms, but this was by far the most graphic placentary I have seen on The CW. And it like snapped and gushed and blooshed and spurted! How much is birth like the movie Alien? You know what, don’t answer that.
Meanwhile Kenna was trying to get some reading done while Catherine basically played the dozens on her. Guys what do you think she was reading? Sex and the Single Girl or The Rules?
However, Catherine’s nonstop taunting apparently reminded Kenna of something: They were living in an age without DNA identification, fingerprinting, microscopes, or police work. They didn’t need to find any evidence implicating Catherine, they could just make some shit up! They could straight-up forge some letters, borrow Catherine’s seal, and it would be an airtight case because that was the level of forensic science during the 16th century. Never stop being grateful for the present day, kids, never stop being grateful.
So Lola presented Catherine with the forged letters, a.k.a. a morally gray but utterly unimpeachable piece of planted evidence. Catherine was like “What is your deal?!” and Lola was like “I just don’t want someone corrupt in power I am basically a revolutionary this will rehabilitate my image a very little bit with some TV recappers maybe?” and I was like “NICE TRY LOLA BUT WE ALL KNOW WHAT YOU DID!!!”
Meanwhile, ACTUAL evidence was mounting that Mary might actually not know that much about delivering babies. I mean, when she lifted the blanket off a very white Isobel’s nether regions, it looked like she’d gotten that baby out using a cheese grater. And the blood wound foley sound effects that accompanied the sight... I mean, the sound of Mary lifting the blanket off Isobel sounded like someone trying to pull a Whoopie Cushion out of a mud flat. It was sort of unsettling. Bash was like “Isobel no worries you’ll be okay” and Mary was like “on opposite day” and Bash watched his half-cousin die right in front of his eyes—after she made him promise to look out for the Lil’est Pagan Baby.
First of all Torrance Coombs did some subtle reaction work here, kudos, it was heartfelt without being gratuitous. Second, the writing for this Bash-centric episode repeatedly enforced Bash as being protective of family and too passionate to lie smoothly. This is consistent with what we know of his character, very endearing, and it obviously makes him a great foil for Francis, who basically hates his parents and is a smooth operator. It's also interesting that some of Mary's largest insights into both suitors were communicated to Mary via close females—exes (Olivia), or in Bash's case, his sort-of sister.
When Bash had to lay the body of his beloved sister-esque half-cousin before the Weaselly Dude in Cahoots With Queen Catherine, his struggle between personal integrity was shown, not told: Bash was clearly having a hard time concealing his feelings and “confessing” to Isobel’s murder. But it must be said that WOW that is a crazy thing to admit to. Basically Bash’s story was “This extremely small young lady resisted arrest so I killed her. Apparently by yanking out her uterus. J/K she had just given birth. Before I killed her. Whoops!” I mean damn, that's less damaging to your reputation as a King than being slightly related to a pagan traitor? And then Cahoots was like “Well done, hopefully the baby will be eaten by wolves!” and it was just so ridiculously evil that I had no choice but to cackle out loud. I am sorry if any of you readers have lost loved ones to ravenous Fronch wolves, it just made me smile. Luckily the baby was alive, though branded by Isobel with a sacred pagan rune on her foot, I’m guessing either this symbol:
So Bash is still techncially in danger of being revealed as the half-cousin of a notorious traitor? Still, neither looming danger nor a fresh grave could stop these two lovebirds from closing in on a big old wet n' juicy kiss. Mary brought an incredible flower arrangement to Isobel’s grave but Bash was like “Pagans prefer to cut themselves and bleed rather than do something grisly like let flowers wilt, 'kay?” Sure Bash. I just hope the cut on his palm from when he took Francis to the Blood Wood had healed. Or maybe he sliced the other hand? I’m betting Bash does not play a lot of piano. But then Mary also cut her hand and joined him in a pagan rite!
And then they kissed over a grave and it was like AHHH it’s no longer just an arranged marriage!! And also NOOOO poor Francis but also Yo Ho Ho Bash this is all you’ve ever wanted/needed!! I can get behind these two. And now that I’m sort of thinking about how genuine Bash is, how supportive of Mary he is, how he's all about “I would do this just for you we’d be family”— whereas Francis to start with was all “We must think about our countries first and foremost”—I am equally convinced that Bash would be worse for Frahnnce and better for Mary. Whatever our emotional leanings, history/Wikapedia tells us that Mary will end up with Francis. While I don’t see a History Channel logo in the corner of the screen, this ain’t a documentary and so far the show has not let historical accuracy hamstring its efforts to entertain us silly. Still, I am fairly confident she will end up married to Francis; whether or not he’s the one she loves is currently open for debate.
– Did Mary maybe not do the best job birthing that baby?
– Is Bash curiously ungrateful about his new promotion, or would being King be a nightmare via absolute power corrupting everyone?
– Eye creams: any good recommends?
– What book was Kenna reading?
– Would you go pagan for your man? Would you put up with his Pagan rituals? What if they involved him cutting his hands a LOT and that meant no help opening jars?
– Are you conflicted about Bash vs. Francis, or are you allllll the way Bash or #Frary4Life? (Explain your answer, show your work.)
AIRED ON 6/20/2016
Season 3 : Episode 18