This week, on a Very Special Reign, we learn the dangers of underestimating Cathy, leaving teapots unattended, drinking in the rain, and get some good tips on kissing technique. With this much at stake, they obviously brought in Cathy herself, aka Megan Follows to direct. Is it any coincidence this was maybe the best directed episode of the series ever?
Bash made his contractually obligated appearance, but putting him with Bash 2.0 may have caused a rift in the time/space continuum.
Is this like a Mr. Robot scenario? Is Bash the real Bash and Charles is his imagined doppelganger or is Charles the real Bash and the Bash we know has never really been on the show?? If Charles winds up with a Mini-Delphine magical mystery girlfriend, it may be time for Torrance Coombs to start sending out the old resume.
WTF #5: Babymama drama
So this episode begins with two women carrying babies who they don’t really want and (spoiler) ends with only one woman in this situation. First we’ve got Liz, staining her sheets with secret pig’s blood so nobody suspects she’s totes pregz. Look at her, smirking at her menstruation-related cleverness while wearing the world’s most expensive housecoat. (Puff sleeve count: 1)
Unplanned mother-to-be #2, Greer, continues to depend on dim lighting and a series of shawls to hide her growing bump. But when her Pirate babydaddy arrives in town, he sorts it out in 0.5 seconds.
He’s ridiculously like, “Why didn’t you let me know??” and she’s, reasonably like, “Um, you’re a pirate who lives on the seven seas/ I was hoping to never see you again.”
Far from needing his pirate booty as child support payments, Greer’s arranged for her married sister to adopt the baby and pretend it’s hers. Oh, and just one small condition that we’ll call the Edith Crawley Memorial Terrible Idea: her sister and husband can raise the baby, but they have to stay in France and allow Greer to creep nearby and, real talk, eventually take the baby back.
Yeah, I’m sure that’ll work out JUST GREAT.
Apparently black gloves weren’t necessary for A action in the 1500s.
The poisoner must be either another servant or someone else Liz knows, because who else could slip in and out so quickly without this maid noticing? Sidenote: look at how well Megan Follows has framed this shot of the TEA OF DOOM in the foreground, and unsuspecting Liz behind.
Liz spends the whole scene almost-but-not-quite drinking the tea as the viewing audience yells Noooo! At one point, her advisor William almost drinks the tea and who knows what miscarriage poison does to men? Spoiler: we’ll never know, as he doesn’t drink it.
This could mean that he’s the poisoner, but also it could just mean he’s more of a coffee guy. Anything’s possible.
Liz’s look here, if you can tear your eyes away from another classic Rachel Skarsten #RachFace, harkens back to her episode 1 collared ensembles. I have to assume these sure-to-be-incredibly-itchy collars are like a form of armor for her. She has to be tough and strong right now, no room for long princessy hair and off-the-shoulder gowns.
This is one of the most historically accurate bodices we’ve ever seen her wear. Sub out the sheer blouse with something a bit thicker, and this would be similar to some of the dresses the actual Queen Liz was painted in.
Fed up with the misogynistic bullshit that is her world, she puts down the Tea Cup Of Doom and everyone leans forward in our seats. Will she? Won’t she?
In a move that’s good for drama but bad for her psychological issues, girlfriend finally shoots back the poisoned tea like it’s tequila and she’s in Cabo.
Oh, you sweet cinnamon bun. This isn’t going to end well. Solid eyeliner game, though.
After the inevitable miscarriage, Liz lies around in tragic glamor and I wish so bad she had a real friend to sit with and eat ice cream, if that was invented yet, or drink wine, which I know was.
Lola just so happens to be in town and just so happens to know a lot about unplanned pregnancies, poisoning, and how to quit terrible boyfriends. But Liz isn’t that skilled at making friends. Look at this meeting, just brimming with warm friendly feelings.
The maps on the walls only emphasize that these two are still basically continents apart. But I have hope that they become, if not BFFs, reluctant allies. If anyone knows about making your way among the patriarchy, it’s Miss Lola.
WTF #4: Cathy has no chill
Is it any coincidence that in this Megan Fellows-directed episode, Cathy gets some of her best dresses yet? After weeks and weeks of elevated housecoats, she finally gets an actual gown! With an underskirt!
And peep this bling:
Whatttttttt. That is a diamond-encrusted collar and so perfectly matches her bold personality I only want to see her in pieces this big forever more.
We’ve seen her in this pearl-collar number before, but it’s not a housecoat so I’m good with it. This sort of muted green is perfection with her complexion, too.
And OK fine, her next look is another housecoat-disguised-as-a-dress, but at least the ruffled trim on the neckline elevates it somewhat. And as noted in last week’s Downton recap, it takes a special kind of Queen to serve up this much face while sitting. Snaps for Cathy.
Also? This will go down in history as what she was wearing when Charles appointed her Regent, finally. I love how the gold print sets her apart from the room full of men. Cathy is so clearly the focus, and the gold trim in Charles’s sash hints that he’s now siding with her, against Narcisse.
Yet again, Megan Follows composes a flawless shot that says everything even without anyone saying a word. Is there anything this woman can’t do?
WTF #3: If You Wanna Know If He Loves You So, It’s In His Kiss
There were several important kisses and kiss-adjacent moments during this episode, and looking at the body language we see everything we need to know about each couple.
1) Liz and Terrible Boyfriend Robert
Here we see Liz leaning up towards him, almost desperately, while he’s mashing his nose into her cheek. Both mouths are closed, indicating a lack of passion. This is a kiss she’s trying to make happen, but he’s shutting her down.
2) Claude and Leith
Here we see Leith assuring Claude that he’ll always love her, even when she’s married to a terrible older dude. The way he’s touching her face and neck indicates a need to protect her. This move *could* be construed as creepy, but you see that she’s completely relaxed with him, indicating she’s comfortable with this kind of touch.
This playful moment, after the trauma of Claude’s brief marriage, shows again how comfortable these two are together. They’re able to laugh and talk while kissing, which shows a level of trust and intimacy uncommon on this show. Also? The way Leith was so gentle and careful to kiss the parts of her that weren’t wounded was more than leeeetle swoony.
3) Mary and Gideon
This was when Mary and Gideon staged a date and a kiss so that his spies would send word back to Liz that he’s done his work here — i.e., seducing Mary. But she’s in on the con (in fact, it was her idea), so really they’re just playing each other.
Buuut… check out this hand-on-the-face action that Gideon pulls out:
No wonder this moment took both of their breath away a little. Body language is saying that they’re more into this than they’re willing to admit.
In this moment, Gideon spontaneously kisses her for no reason other than he’s feeling it at the moment. See how he brings in the face-touching again, showing that he feels protective of and connected with her. And see how Mary’s leaning into him, not away?
No nose-cheek smooshing going on here.
WTF #2: Ten Things That Drive Me Crazy and All That
So I have a sliiight weakness for formulaic romantic comedy plotlines. And the fact that Mary and Gideon engage in the popular plotline of “pretending to be a couple and then falling in love for real” delights me to no end.
It starts off when Greer and her ladies decode Gideon’s correspondence and learn he was sent there to seduce and destroy Mary. (Sidenote: since when has Greer been running a 1500s Bletchley Circle?) Anyway, this gives Mary an idea so she heads off to find Gideon, currently going Kylo Ren on this punching bag.
I have mixed feelings about this coat. The mix of black and purple fabric, tied together with the shared gold tones, is lovely. I also appreciate her in this unusual collar. BUT the buttons are pulling sort of funny, and I think that’s because she’s wearing this on top of her dress from before.
This may work better on its own as a dress, rather than as a coat.
The next scene put me in the mind of 10 Things I Hate About You, partly because these two former enemies develop a surprising alliance.. and also because Ben Geurens sometimes looks exactly like Heath Ledger.
Here’s hoping next week brings him serenading her across the courtyard to “Can’t take my eyes off you.”
Anyway, our little romcom takes a 40s turn when Mary pulls on this cloak with exaggerated shoulders.
Maybe it’s just because I’ve been binging on the You Must Remember This podcast, but the cut of this neckline and shoulder area, combined with the sequins, is giving me serious Joan Crawford feelings and not in a bad way.
The pattern on the cloak itself is really lovely too. I think we really are officially out of her mourning period and back into her black is the new black wardrobe style.
Gideon’s cloak isn’t anything to write home about, but he’s never been known for his style. I’m guessing the gold trim is being to echo Mary’s pattern, to show the walls are falling between these two and they may be able to work together.
She brings out the big guns for their big fake-date, playing up her role as love-struck foolish young woman in a low-cut gown with a necklace acting as basically a giant arrow like SHOW ME THAT CLEAVE:
The outdoor dinner is brought inside when a sudden burst of romance rain begins to fall. Bonus points to Mary for screaming, “Save the wine!!!” as they dash indoors. Girl knows her priorities. Anyway, as we all know from the oeuvre of Nicholas Sparks, pretty white people caught in rainstorms wind up making out 100% of the time.
For kissing photos, see the previous section.
Mary keeps up the 1940s inspired fashion to the point that I think the wardrobe dept must have been intentionally keeping us in the mind of a classic romcom. Her next bodice puts me in the mind of Hedy Lamarr:
And this shot, of her looking thoughtful next to a bed post, looks like she’s about to burst into song in an MGM musical. Or maybe… a poem?
“But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you, not even close, not even a little bit, not at all.”
WTF #1: The Benefits of Tae Bo
Soooo this week, Princess Claude’s fetus aged King brother broke the news that she’s to become the Courtney Stodden of her time by marrying some random old dude, and she’s like:
I made a similar face when i saw this outfit. I mean, we all know by now that Claude’s wardrobe is pinker and frillier than Mariah Carey’s closet, but this look is just nothing doing. The corset hits her bust at a weird spot, and the blouse inside is at least two sizes too big to the point it’s basically falling off. This is like a pricier version of what the ladies in Greer’s business wear, not a Princess.
But then her wedding dress is one of the top 10 cutest looks ever on this show. Notably, it’s BLUE which is not only a change for our Pretty Pink Princess, but also because almost always, brides are in white on this show. Historically, white for brides just became trendy in the late 1800s, but this show doesn’t usually constrain itself with actual fashion history. NOT THAT I MIND.
So easy to take this dress from day to night. Just add a cloak and you’re all set for the death march to your honeymoon carriage.
For real, I don’t recall seeing this sad a vehicle-led departure since Heidi moved out of LC’s condo on The Hills.
Can I just say WELL DONE MEGAN FOLLOWS. This sequence was beautifully directed for maximum heartbreak and drama. The way Leith looks after his lady love, thinking he’ll never see her again?
But then! Claude heads back to her new home with her new terrible husband, pausing for a moment so we can enjoy her gown one more time:
And dude full on smacks her in the face. NOBODY PUTS CLAUDE IN A CORNER:
Yes, Claude fully punches him in the NECK and dude passes out. She pulls off a masterclass in shutting it down as she screams at him that she’s a Princess and storms out.
Charles is horrified by Claude’s beat-up face and agrees to annul her marriage. Leith rushes to her side, and she looks even lovelier than usual with her hair loose and in this Kenna-approved Coachella style nightie.
And Leith, who never learns from his past, swears he’ll find a way to elevate himself so he’s a suitable husband for her. And we all know how well that didn’t go w/r/t Greer, and we all have access to the Wikipedia entry about the IRL Princess Claude’s eventual husband, but one look at these two making heart eyes and I turn to goo.
Awww, I can’t quit these two. But I mean, we all know they’re doomed, right?