Kenna has been struggling with her marriage to Bash, as he’s forced to give her a small family heirloom as a wedding ring while Lola is in the middle of planning her quickie wedding to Lord Julien. After watching her friend receive a sapphire necklace from the wealthy Hungarian, Kenna declares herself bitter, though Greer does remind her that Bash is young and handsome; Bash’s appearance won’t keep away Henry, who comes over to tell Kenna that she’s doing a good job distracting him and that she needn’t hide from him, since he’ll have to come find her.
At the reception, Lola gets tears in her eyes from how grateful she is for Julien rescuing her from a life of being owned by French court, while Catherine pulls Mary and Francis away from their dance to break the news that Cardinal Morrisini, the new Papal Envoy, has arrived at the castle a week early. He planned on meeting with Henry concerning rents and tenancies, money that the French desperately need, but since Henry is off in his own world recently, Mary takes things into her own hands. She walks over to the Cardinal and instantly charms him, getting him to agree to meet with her and Francis over the rents and dance with her so the two could discuss their terms. While Mary tries to keep the Cardinal smiling, Catherine finds Henry tied up and collared in his bedroom, his sexcapades with Penelope on pause while she fetched more supplies. After chastising Henry for promising Penelope an entire estate, Catherine warns him that the talk about his relationship with Penelope and what they do behind closed doors could soon reach the Vatican.
Mary receives a visit from her brother James, the Earl of Moray, and hears of unrest in her country. Particularly, the Scots are bristling at a French-born queen installing several French citizens in her government; they feel as if their country is being swallowed whole by their ally and they want Mary to return and at least show them that she’s still supporting them. While she wants to make the trip, Francis isn’t so sure about it, suggesting that they send diplomats in her place. He believes that France is truly unstable right now and that if things don’t go well with the Cardinal, Rome will withdraw their support, thus leaving his country to look weak before the world. This would invite challengers to come and overtake France and as we all know, Henry is in no position to lead a military mission, so Francis argues that they need to lock down Cardinal Morrisini’s support before even thinking about leaving for Scotland. However, Mary notes just how much of her life at court has been geared toward bending for France and addressing French problems, so she still wants to go to her country, Francis support or no Francis support.
Julien and Lola wake up on their first morning as husband and wife, though things aren’t as happy as Lola would’ve wanted. She tries to bring up their impending marital tour and how she wants to get to it before she shows anymore, but all Julien seems to be concerned about is acquiring her dowry. Meanwhile, Nostradamus and Olivia are continuing their tryst and as much as the two are enjoying each other’s company, Nostradamus has a vision of himself finding Olivia’s dead body that completely unnerves him. In the throne room, Henry approaches Kenna and when she shows off her ring from Bash, Penelope requests it for herself before insulting its size and clarity. Kenna gives it up, upsetting Bash, but Catherine is forced to part with her own ring to make up for the loss. After Henry and Penelope depart, Catherine approaches Kenna about bringing down the new queen for the good of the country, promising her son’s wife an estate of her own and a chance to live away from the horrors and pressure of French court.
While Bash inadvertently gives Francis advice on putting Mary first and how it’s okay to be a bad king sometimes, Lola steps on her necklace and breaks one of the sapphires. Greer suggests that maybe he had to have one of the stones replaced with a fake and brushes aside Lola’s concerns about Julien’s inability to talk about his past and the two wives dying in childbirth. Nostradamus tells Catherine of his plans to leave court and join Olivia in Trinidad, a place where they could have a fresh start and truly begin their lives together. However, she doesn’t want him to leave, not when his sight has proven invaluable, and he warns her that if he’s forced to stay, he won’t use his sight to help her. Though Catherine wishes him luck, she tells him that the New World is filled with vipers, implying that he might be going from a dangerous situation to an even more dangerous situation. Elsewhere, Francis goes to Mary and assures her that he’s willing to go to Scotland with her, as long as she’ll wait until things with the Cardinal are squared away. She agrees and the two begin planning for France.
James isn’t a fan of the idea, as it’s just another wave of Frenchmen invading his country, though he does ultimately relent and allow Francis to come. Not so lucky is Olivia, who nearly gets bitten by a snake planted in her luggage by Catherine; Nostradamus ultimately kills the animal. Kenna approaches Penelope in her chambers with the intent of giving the new queen advice on how to keep Henry happy. She doesn’t want Henry in her life now that she has Bash, but since she knows what happens when he gets bored of a love interest, she claims to want to help Penelope keep her head above water, so to speak. After suggesting blindfolds and hot wax, she mentions a sexual position she only refers to as The Standing Cross. Meanwhile, Bash and Francis spot James’ footman paying one of the higher-end castle prostitutes and bring him down to the dungeon where they question him about how he could afford this, why he was using English coin to pay, and where he was headed after he paid the prostitute. When the footman won’t talk, Francis calls in the torturer.
But Mary isn’t so quick to distrust her brother, even though he’s a Protestant who is second-in-line to the throne behind her. Francis suggests that maybe they were going to kill her on the way to Scotland and he gets time from Mary to produce proof that this is all a set up against her. Penelope gets Henry to agree to a Standing Cross – his wrists are cuffed and attached to boards, his arms fixed in a crucifixion pattern, and his legs are tied at the ankle and resting on a platform. For as voracious as he is, the scene makes Henry uncomfortable due to the giant cross in his chambers and once Penelope gags him, Catherine bursts in with one of the bishops that accompanied the Cardinal on his journey to France. The bishop asks where God is in this situation and what would happen if Henry were to lose favor with him, seeing as how God was the one who put him on the throne in the first place. Henry quickly kicks Penelope out and back down to the kitchen, just as Nostradamus informs Olivia that he won’t be accompanying her to Trinidad. He lies about his vision, saying that it was of her happy with someone else, and warns her that if he went with her, Catherine has to reach to take them out. If she stayed in France? She would be shackled to him for the rest of her life and under the watchful eye of a wicked queen, which is no way to live. Once he informs her that his cousins will look after her, the two part with a final kiss.
Lola takes a meeting about her dowry and learns that her word is what will transfer it from her father to her husband. Since she doesn’t trust Julien, she postpones the decision and that night, she turns from him when he tries to kiss her. She claims that she’s uncertain about him due to the two rushing into their marriage and he assures her that knowing a lot about somebody isn’t going to guarantee a good marriage. James goes to Mary to tell her that a rebellion has gotten underway in Scotland and that she would have to come back now if she’s to come back at all. When he questions whether she wants to be a pawn or a true queen, she agrees to go and allow Francis to catch up, though Francis is busy torturing the footman in the dungeon and bribing him to give up information regarding who he’s working for. Once Francis mentions that he’ll pay 10x what the man got from his first conspirator and allow him to leave scot-free assuming his information pans out, the footman mentions that he was paid by a group of people who wanted to assassinate Mary before she arrived in Scotland.
While Kenna tells Bash that she likes the ring he gave her due to the certainty in her heart that it symbolizes, Henry continues to be haunted by visions of his former evil-doings and Mary refuses to believe that James would have a part in the plot against her. She claims that he’s told her of countless plots that would benefit him, though when Mary tells Francis that she’s going to Scotland, he has her thrown in the tower. He says that she’ll be there until James leaves and he can assure her safety, but she calls him a liar and accuses him of doing this for his sake rather than the sake of her and her country. If Scotland were to fall while she is locked away, she’ll never forgive him.
Additional thoughts and observations:
-“I’m too high-spirited to be a widow. People will talk.”
-“The land is soft and sweet but filled with vipers.”
-“Then close your eyes, pious fool.”
-“You don’t love a queen or you would allow me to be one.”
-So, Lord Julien is a greedy murderer and not gay as I suspected. I assumed that the show, which has been a little hero worship-y of Francis at times, would give him another victory by having him be right about Lord Julien, but apparently Lord Julien is a similar character to Prince Tomas. Which I don’t mind, honestly, because it allows Lola to gain strength on her own (e.g. postponing her dowry) and puts the weakest of the Scot ladies in a bind, bringing about more tension to a storyline that would likely crumble if it were given to Greer or Kenna.
-The sight of Henry trying to stand up with being tied to the bed post is the stuff that gifs are made of and made for.
-I love that the show had Catherine team up with Kenna to bring down Penelope. For any show, I’m a big fan of different character combinations and Catherine and Kenna had the right amount of tension between them for this to work; they’re both smart, they both had a common goal, and though neither one of them trusts the other, they know that they’d both be better off with Penelope around, so it made sense for them to put aside whatever differences they had for the time being. However, I don’t think Bash and Kenna will get to their estate; if they do, there’s no way that I see Henry allowing his bastard son to be happy, particularly with a mistress he’s made clear he’s not finished with.
-Having “Royals” be Lola’s wedding song was a cute touch – it’s a way for the show to be current by using a recent hit and not entirely anachronistic by allowing it as a stringed instrumental. Plus, the song sounds pretty the way it was played, so I’m all for it and would recommend they switch up arrangements/styles for any future 21st century songs they use.
-A bit relieved that Mary and Francis’ relationship became more compelling this week. For much of the season, it’s been one of my least favorite storylines, especially once they flirted with throwing Lola into the middle of things, but what they did with the two here was distinctly Reign, in a good way. I’ve been looking forward to seeing how the show uses politics as a relationship obstacle, particularly since Mary is in the opening stages of accepting her queendom, and I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest by the return of headstrong, defiant Mary. Other plot-related obstacles are fine-ish, but this show has such a wide range of topics it can introduce that can’t be found on any of its peers and watching this two kids try to separate who they are from where they’re from, with their feelings for one another caught in the middle, makes for compelling drama with a decidedly adult age.
-Do you think Sexy Nostradamus has successfully saved Olivia from the fate he saw in his vision? Was making the changes that he did enough to bypass the events of the vision? Also, why didn’t they mention anything about writing to one another? C’mon, Sexy Nostradamus. I thought you and your luxurious chest hair had more game than that.
-Raise your hand if the snake in Olivia’s luggage scared you. Just me? Okay.
-Seriously, though, it was sad to watch Nostradamus have to give up possibly his last chance at a normal life to protect Olivia from Catherine. It was a nice reminder of what Catherine’s capable of, how desperate she is to hang on to the allies she does have, and the humanity that lies beneath Nostradamus’ visions. But Trinidad felt like such a random place for them to flee.
-A Mess of Sex is the name of my new grindcore band.
-Henry telling Kenna that, in no uncertain terms, every breath she takes, every move she makes, he’ll be watching her might’ve been the creepiest thing in the entire series. And this can be a pretty unsettling show, so that says something. Again, I reiterate a point made in an earlier recap – Henry can’t possibly make it to next season, right? With his hallucinations becoming more vivid and his mentality reverting back to something more child-like (e.g. crying in his room, how he acted upon the visit from the bishop), I don’t see how they bring him back from the edge and turn him into a king to be respected, loved, and feared by the masses without it taking some major retconning.
-Francis telling Mary something to the effect of “the Cardinal only likes you because you flirt with him and pass him innuendo” was gross, no? As much as he was ultimately trying to do the good thing by keeping her off the ship at all costs, what stuck with me here was how little he valued her contributions to France’s cause and how he’s felt the need to undermine her power on more than one occasion.
–Next week on Reign: Mary’s uncle arrives at the castle and brings dire news about Marie, while Henry devises a destructive plan and Bash and Kenna grow closer.