Despite being so visually rich and sartorially ravishing, not to mention boasting some of the best performances we’ve seen on Reign so far, “The Consummation” was at times very hard to watch. This has nothing to do with Frances vs. Bash, as the history books dictated that if there was going to be a wedding, Francis would have to be the groom. But the complete lack of sacrifice by Mary to regain Francis’s love and the absolute queasiness of Bash watching the consummation itself, dear Lord... that was too much for these old eye-bones of mine. Also I’m still not 100 percent solid on how Francis’s fate changed. The explanation that, because Clarissa was Catherine’s “real” firstborn, the prophecies surrounding Francis were no longer valid—that seems more like a loophole in a legal contract, not a tenet of mysticism. Nostradamus’s visions are just that: visual. We see footage whenever Nosty’s eyes roll back with the second sight or he puts on the ol' auto-erotic-asphyxiation noose, we don’t hear a voiceover, so how could he confuse Clarissa and Francis based on birth order? And, really, why is ANYONE trusting these visions, considering Nostradamus conjures them up by depriving his brain of oxygen? I for one will certainly think twice before rescheduling anything based on my giant, leatherbound copy of Vaticinia Nostradami.
As upsettingly as it ended, the episode started with maybe my favorite opening scene of the season: Catherine having a costume rehearsal of her own beheading and generally approaching her execution like it was a Kardashian wedding. Fresh flowers! Fine jewelry! Ships of gold and silver! One hundred musicians! What songs did she even have planned?!
And Mary de Guise came in throwing shade and wearing statement jewelry and she was everything! Amy Brenneman’s Mary de Guise was so fantastically, royally over it. She was coolly superior and brimming with acid and able to lay down an epic guilt trip, like when she told Mary, “I was there for your eleventh birthday... half the ship’s crew died along the way but I was there, gift in hand.”
Since Mary very rarely gets the chance to see her mother, she was going full steam ahead with this first and possibly last opportunity to totally rebel and piss off the woman who brought her into the world, the proud birthright of all teens everywhere. Mary came up with a scheme rebellious enough to compensate for an entire lost adolescence of jabs, shouting matches, and passive-aggressive silent treatments: She decided to elope with Bash before the Pope had even legitimized him as the heir to the throne. Bash was like, “This is the best day of my life. I will go find a preacher. Surely nothing will interfere with this great plan for the twenty minutes I’m about to be offscreen. Sex tonight: You, me, it’s happening.” Like a lamb to the slaughter guys, like a lamb to the slaughter.
Little did Bash realize, there were two more guests intent on crashing Catherine’s Super Sweet Execution. Francis and Lola up and rolled in with an extremely shady story about how they met up at Chateau What’s-It-Called by chance and had definitely never effed, nope, why would anyone think that LOL moving on what are you guys up to [awkward silence]? Kenna—who was dressed like Nostradamus made her gown while envisioning avant garde evening wear circa 1992—wasn’t having any of Lola’s bedtime stories.
Of course, everything else in the scene was overshadowed by Francis and Mary making eye contact for the first time since she knocked him from his throne to his knees and demanded his half-brother’s hand in marriage. We’ve all been there.
And yet even as they quietly prepared to say goodbye to each other for the rest of their lives, Nostradamus was telling Catherine he’d made a whoopsie and his latest vision of Francis’s future with Mary was completely different! Now he saw them softly lit like in a '70s soap opera, pillow talkin’ about their rugrats. Catherine verily burst a vein at how much angst she’d gone through in the last twelve episodes and promised Nostradamus he would burn to death for this if everything didn’t get fixed back the way it was. Hahahaha honesty is the best policy, right Nostradamus?
Catherine then told Mary the good news, and to prove she wasn’t just bluffing to save her own life SLIT HER WRIST IN FRONT OF MARY. I once commended Catherine for being the 16th century's answer to Revenge's Victoria Grayson, but Victoria Grayson has never delivered a moment this intensely, insanely dramatic and over-the-top. No, Reign’s Catherine de Medici makes Victoria Grayson look like Maude Flanders by comparison. Mary bound up Catherine’s crazy prove-a-point fatal wound but was now herself torn—if Francis was a viable option, who would she rather choose? Luckily she had allll the time in the world to decide, right, it’s not like the Queen of England had just died or... OH SNAP!
Catherine herself would settle Mary’s internal dispute later in the episode, by handing her a blank letter and telling her it was from the Pope and revealed whether Bash was legitimized or not. Presumably, when she hoped the Pope had not extended that courtesy to Bash, she realized she really wanted Francis. The most powerful thing about this scene wasn't that Mary loved Francis, but that Catherine was able to help Mary understand a fundamental truth about herself, and had faith in her agency and gave her that choice. These two arch nemesis now weirdly understand and trust each other more than any other two characters on the show.
Bash and Francis have made the reverse negative of this journey, as their fistfight in a cemetery proved. They’ve gone from being close, non-competitive bros to putting fists in each other’s faces amidst headstones. And their dad didn’t exactly help by insisting that Mary marry one of them THAT VERY NIGHT because MARY TUDOR IS DEAD DAMMIT and WE SHALL RULE SCOTLAND ENGLAND AND FRONCE! FOR THE GLORY OF FRONCE I TELL YOU!!!
Did y’all miss King Henry? Gosh I missed King Henry. I was starting to worry that King Henry had fallen into the same oubliette as Olivia and Leith, Kitchen Boy. But he was back and ready to shout important statecraft advice at teen rulers and make bold layering choices once more. Mary called him a bully for insisting that she wed one of his boys before the sun came up, but Henry was simply putting Fronce first. It was CRISIS TIME for Catholic Europe, people! Although even with England finally in his grasp, war imminent, Mary willfully defying him, and the succession of his throne hanging in the balance, he cleared a few minutes for Kenna. I mean, she was NAKED under that robe, except for T-strap Mary Janes, so what choice did he have? Kenna had something like a business proposition to offer: She’d be cool with being the King’s Vice Mistress for a few weeks if he would find her a suitable husband. Henna is back on y’all! Does anyone call them “Henna”? I suddenly feel so alone.
Anyway, because of Catherine’s fake Pope letter, Mary realized she wanted to marry Francis. For those of you rooting for this couple, the third act of the show must have been a nonstop delight. Mary ran down a candlelit hallway and threw herself into his arms, and I have to say I hope that kind of dramatic full-skirted dim-hallway dash is something we all get to experience at least once in our lives.
The wedding was a full circle moment, transforming Mary from the insecure girl dancing around dressed in black to a beautiful bride all in white, etc. But to be completely real I wish the writers had kept her feelings more ambiguous. I wish the Pope had illegitimized Bash and she’d been rushed into marrying Francis, or that Bash had disappeared or really anything that would have made her decision a leadership call rather than a personally interested decision. The tension of not knowing who Mary loved more was adding to the story, and I can’t see how they can rekindle that tension without risking Mary’s consistency as a character.
But hey, this show has established a track record of pleasantly surprising me. Maybe the writers have better developments up their skirts and wanted to kill the love triangle trope rather than see it grow tedious. I am genuinely curious to see where they take this.
After the music video montage of a wedding, we experienced a staggering set of reveals: Clarissa is alive, well, and already playing mind games with Nostradamus. Mary Tudor is still alive, Mary de Guise falsified that information to push Mary to choose Francis (yes, everyone was named Mary back then, good planning, Tudor-era moms and dads). And Nostradamus’s vision of Francis and Mary suddenly revealed a secret twist after the wedding ceremony: Francis is going to die of Melted Brain!
Aaaaannnnnnnnd King Henry made Bash come in and watch Mary and Francis Doin’ It, which made me genuinely queasy, even though they were both wearing linen nightdresses the size of circus tents. Reign has heretofore been almost unadulterated wish fulfillment (even when Mary is threatened, it’s pretty glamorous, like getting almost assassinated by a LUSH bath bomb), but then suddenly this moment popped up and it was so incredibly disturbing it caught me like a karate kick to the nose and mouth. I can’t think of a consummation ceremony at all without wincing like my nails are going across a chalkboard, but one attended by an ex-boyfriend? I shudder. I shudder forever.
And now Bash is running for his life! But no matter how far or how fast he runs, he can never escape the mental imagery of his brother getting it on because that is burned into his brain forever and it’s just not right. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s just not right. Bad move, King Henry, your parenting skills are very, very, very questionable.
Although I think we can all agree, Nostradamus made the right call not revealing the Melted Brain Ear Bleeds Twist Ending on his latest vision.
... Was Mary out of line disowning her mother the way she did, considering that Francis was her choice of a husband anyway?
... Can (or should) the writers continue with the Bash-Francis-Mary love triangle? How could that be best accomplished?
.. Was making Bash watch the consummation the most disturbing thing you’ve seen on this show, including that time a horse got its head chopped off?
... Kenna and Henry: spicy, extra spicy, or original flavor?
... Should Nostradamus maybe focus on being the best doctor he can be and just stay mum on his vision quests for a while?
... Who thinks Lola is pregnant?
... What did you think of "The Consummation"?
AIRED ON 6/20/2016
Season 3 : Episode 18