Reign is about to infect a lot of pretty people with bloody open sores.
The CW series returns this fall after the death of the Darkness, who was keeping the Black Plague at bay through his sacrifices. "The plague is coming and lands at the castle with a vengeance," executive producer Laurie McCarthy said during the show's Comic-Con panel on Thursday. "Not everyone will survive it... but the plague will pass and it will be followed by famine." She added that Queen Mary and King Francis will have to learn what it's like to "inherit a nation that is in fact burning... and out of their control."
Sounds pretty grim, eh? Beyond the bigger picture, McCarthy teased more turmoil. "Season 2 is the haunted season... they're haunted by the things they've done and scarred by things very personal to them."
Here's what else viewers can expect:
Marriage woes: The royal couple isn't exactly made for each other, but ruling a country carries certain responsibilities, and Season 2 will be an exploration of what it's like to be married as two young royals. For starters, they're trying to have a baby, and therefore Mary's fertility will be the subject of "much gossip and speculation." You see, her child would not only be an heir in Scotland and France, but potentially in England as well. "Their marriage is going well so far," Kane said, but she added that Francis getting her best friend Lola pregnant is "always awkward." In fact, he goes off to be with Lola and the baby (in the teaser trailer for the new season, Comic-Con attendees got to see him depart).
Francis's future: Although the history books tell us that Francis dies after a very brief reign, don't expect to lose him from the show just yet. McCarthy acknowledged that the series sped up the historical timeline in Season 1 to get the two young kids on the throne, but will slow things down in Season 2 in order to explore how they do as rulers. "In order for me to stay alive, the [time] jumps have to get smaller," Toby Regbo said. Also, keeping the secret that he was involved in his dear old dad's death will be one of Francis's "major struggles": "I really want to get it off my chest, but I can't tell everyone," Regbo said.
Bash in the friend zone: Adelaide Kane didn't offer much hope to fans who want to see Mary and Bash together. "[Bash] will always have a special place in her heart," she said. "They will always have a special relationship. They just won't bang."
A Bash bromance: Meanwhile, expect Bash and Francis's relationship to improve. "Family counts for a lot in this world," Regbo said. Megan Follows, who plays Queen Catherine, added that there may be a more practical reason for the brothers staying friendly. "It's good to know where they're at, to have them on your team," she said. "Francis already learned how dangerous his brother can be to him."
The former queen: Catherine has now been deposed and has the title of Queen Mother, "which she's going to hate," according to McCarthy. Because she's been marginalized, expect to see her more "scrappy and dangerous." But life isn't all grim political maneuvering for the Queen Mother. "She's going to have future lovers, absolutely," McCarthy said.
The bigger picture: "Season 2 is very much about what goes on beyond the castle walls," McCarthy explained, saying that many nobles have been waiting to be heard.
Reign Season 2 premieres Thursday, October 2 at 9pm on The CW.