It is that very special time of year at Valois Court where everyone is wearing fur. Fur on capes, in Kenna’s case fur under capes—this literally hot look made me do a double take:
Despite what looked like freezing cold weather, the Court opened this second-to-last episode of Reign's first season with a round of huzzahs for Frances, returning triumphant after taking back Calais from the English usurpers! Frances made a beeline for bedtime with Mary, but since nothing makes a mad king crave war more than a victory, Henry decided there was no time like the present to announce his intentions of invading England and claiming the throne—which had just cooled off after the death of Mary Tudor—for Mary Stuart. Obvs Mary was like “Wh-wh-what?!”
Mary basically just wants a couple days to sleep in. Just a few late mornings snuggling with Frances after his grueling campaign and several months apart, instead setting out on crusade that will make her the target of the world's most formidable navy. Is that so much to ask?! Yes, apparently. Uncle de Guise confronted Mary with her “Congratulations on your promotion!” letter to Elizabeth, and I was like, “Bitch, are you serious? The only reason they keep you around here is to threaten England.” Which, you know, I could have told Mary as much. No need to go running up to high-five England on its cool new queen when the country spent the last decade trying to force an engagement on you via burning down Edinburgh. Be a little coy! Be a little above it all. You reach out to high-five them, they will leave you hanging.
Meanwhile Bash had found an adorable boy and an earsplitting whistle in the Blood Wood, where he continued to search for the beast or man called the Darkness. He and Nostradamus tried to get some information out of the boy by yelling things at him louder and louder, and Kenna was like, “Are you kidding me?!” and totally channeled Jessica Chastain in Tree of Life, gently cuddling the youngster and offering her sympathy. Love you, Kenna.
Bash will keep up his efforts to plumb the Dark Woods’ secrets with Nostradamus at his side next week, while Kenna and adorable pagan urchin Pascal wait for Bash to return home. Yes, Kenna is like sort of adopting Pascal, but wait until Pascal tells her he witnessed Bash killing a man in the Blood Wood! Possibly in the form of a highly lyrical poem!
Meanwhile Lola learned that her beloved hubs Lord Julien was not Lord Julien at all! Like a protean Mr. Ripley, her husband—real name Remy—had been a personal secretary to Lord Julien, who died in a fire while abroad from his native Hungary. Remy was mistaken for Lord Julien by magistrates and just kind of rolled with it, enjoying the care packages from Lord Julien’s folks and using his name at court to get to Lola’s dowry. What a good old-fashioned rogue! But with the actual Lord Julien’s uncle paying them a call, Remy had to convince Lola to play along with his con in front of the guest, Fronch farce style.
They almost got away with it, too, until the uncle noticed that Remy was wearing Lord Julien’s signet ring, which was like the 16th-century equivalent of casually signing into someone else’s smartphone. Uncle wanted some answers and he wanted them now! Luckily after a brief scuffle he managed to impale the top of his spine on the handy spike over the fireplace.
To cover up the murder, they decided to burn the whole house down before the servants got back, pretend it was an accident where everyone died, and then Lola could live out her days as a respectable widow. With a baby who looks like the most famous guy in the land. LOL.
Once Catherine found out that King Henry was arranging a full-scale attack on England by the end of the week, she was like, “I’m done. Let’s kill him.” She didn’t want to involve Frances in the plot, but told Mary that “as queens” they could save thousands of lives by making the executive decision to take a rambling maniac out of play. It was actually a good call; King Henry needed to be as gracefully toppled as possible, despite Frances’s efforts to chat him back to sanity.
Mary and Catherine decided to poison King Henry’s communion wafers, but then Frances was like, “He had a lucid moment doooon’t kiiiiill hiiiim!” and so they backpedaled on their plan. And yet a hired mercenary tried to kill him anyway! Wh-wh-what?! That’s right, blame that guy de Guise, who had warned Henry that a plot to take his life was afoot and wanted to seem all Miss Cleo about it by hiring a mercenary to try and kill him. Henry handily dispatched the mercenary with a few crushing skull-thwacks, and Catherine was like, “Well, shit. We missed our window.” And Frances was FURIOUS at Mary for colluding with Catherine, despite it being easily the best part of the episode.
See the thing is, as much as Frances claims that even royals must take risks for those they love, he’s confusing the people he loves with the people Mary loves. Nobody BUT him loves King Henry right now, and on top of that, I don’t remember seeing him raise a finger to help save Mary’s mother when murder was a certainty. In fact, he actively prevented Mary from taking the risk of racing to her mother’s side during her time of need. I know his dad told him that hilarious story about the time he went to hug his dad when his dad was being released from being a Spanish hostage but his dad ran right past him and the Spanish dudes kidnapped him and beat him for three years; you can feel close to someone after sharing a hearty chuckle at such an image. But he really should've just let Mary and Catherine wreak the trouble they were born to wreak, because now King Henry’s madness is focusing on Frances, and he’s decided to kill Frances and wed Mary. And honestly with the fantastic dress Mary was wearing this episode, who can blame him?
Next week's season finale promises a few threads: Nostradamus and Bash being all buddy-buddy against the darkness, Lola pregnant as heck and probably giving birth, Greer and Leith hopefully crossing paths, and Frances learning just how warped his dad is. And obviously, beautiful gowns, many of them.
... Should Lola have found a way to stay with Remy, or was there no way to trust him?
... Pascal’s poetry recital: cute or super creepy?
... Mary and Catherine as international assassins for hire: Would you watch that spin-off?
... Lay down your predictions for the finale!
... A whistle?!