I couldn’t be more excited to have this glorious mess of a show back in my life on the regular. That said, the last episode aired a lifetime ago and real talk: I basically remember nothing that happened. But as ever on this show, that doesn’t really matter. Every episode is like its own little self-contained bottle of delightful bonkers mayhem and all you need to know is we’re in Olde Timey France and if you aren’t having illicit sex then you’re probably murdering someone. Still, for an episode that includes rats gnawing on a dude’s skull in the COLD OPEN, this hour largely consists of reminding us of who’s doing what and getting things in place for the rest of the season. Also: mannequin arson. And: flying lemurs. Plus: #MURDERSALT. Let’s do this.
Fresh off the news that he’s jumping ship for his third role in a row that’ll see him wearing pantaloons and some sort of olde timey haircut, Torrance Coombs is actually permitted to take part in this week’s A-plot whilst wearing this puffy-sleeved vest made from scraps scavenged from Build A Bear Workshop. His hair’s even combed (Coombsed?). Still, too little too late, wardrobe dept: these baby blues have sailed.
WTF #5: Methinks She Doth Protestant Too Much
Things kick off in a lovely Toronto-posing-as-Olde-Timey-France autumnal scene as Mary takes a stroll in her furry slanket alongside Who’s His Thing, that handsome Scottish guy who wears the floppy hat.
Ohhh right so Mary needs to find a husband to strengthen Scotland’s alliances, instead of just moping around French court like the unwanted powerless royal she is. At least she’s got badass STUDDED LEATHER GLOVES to keep her warm. Anywhoodle, Hot Scot is like, “You should marry the Swedish king!” And she’s like, “Alexander Skarsgård. Pippi Longstocking. ABBA. I’m in.”
Sidenote: Mary may be down but you know she’s not out when she’s still bringing these doorknockers to the plate. Adelaide Kane clearly spent her hiatus doing earlobe strengthening exercises to prep for just this sort of thing.
But don’t start arranging a string quartet version of Dancing Queen because the Swedish King happens to be Protestant, which is no más with Mary’s devout Catholicism. Additionally, Real Life Historical D-bag John Locke is running around mouthing off about Catholics and female monarchs which leads to the people of Scotland burning this not-entirely-inaccurate effigy of Mary. Brown hair: check. Alabaster complexion: check. Statement jewellery: check.
So long story short, she can’t return to Scotland anytime soon and also the IKEA meatballs wedding kinda can’t happen. Hot Scot is like, “Have you ever tried… not being a Catholic?” And has he tried not being hot af because I’m shocked Mary hasn’t tried to get on this yet. Dude has a chiselled face right out of 1950s Hollywood combined with the dirty woollen look of an Outlander recurring character and this lands right in the Venn diagram of what I’m into.
Ahem. I may need a moment.
WTF #4: Set fire to the rain, or in the absence of rain, some gowns
Remember how Lola’s quasi-kidnapped now in England, possibly to spy on Liz but also being sort of used by Liz for intel on Mary? Yeah, that’s still a thing. But on the positive side, Lola’s quickly gotten over that Narcisse-induced brainless state she lived in for so long and is back to her Renaissance Nancy Drew ways. She’s also ride or die for Mary, as Liz learns to her detriment when she’s like, “Won’t spill the tea on Mary, eh? Well you really shouldn’t keep your dresses on headless mannequins when there are Queens and LIT CANDLESTICKS AROUND!!!”
I think I speak for all of us when I say ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ????
We then cut to commercial and never get to see how Lola apparently put out the fire before it could spread anywhere around her WOODEN ROOM COVERED WITH WALL HANGINGS. When next we see her, the room’s all tidied up and she hasn’t even changed (to be fair, maybe she doesn’t have any other dresses left other than this floor-length version of a 1996 junior prom dress). She’s minding her own biz, rummaging around in this bag when she finds…
A red hair wig that looks I’m sure just like what wigs looked like in the 1500s and not at all like Kylie Jenner extensions!!! This is clearly a clue to… something?
With this obviously damning evidence in front of her, Lola’s maid friend immediately is like “My friend is a maid-slash-courtesan who told me that Liz’s advisor gets ladies to put on a red wig and pull amazing facial expressions so he can pretend he’s bone zoning the Queen because he’s both a creep AND secretly in love with her!!”
Lola, who’s seen way stranger things every day for the last however many monthyears she was in French court, is like, “Yeah, I can use this to my advantage.”
And so, pulling on the only other dress that survived the inferno, Lola laces up for a sit-down with her frenemy. Liz, who has never had a friend who’s not either hooking up with her or paying courtesans to impersonate her, isn’t sure what to make of Lola’s genuine heart-to-heart. This dress, though? I thought forest was the best green on Rachel Skarsten, but this mint is bonkers gorgeous. I love how her hair and the bustline are both super severe, showing how prickly Liz is post-poisoning and perfectly contrasting with Lola’s lusicous curls and girlie lewk. I’m now gagging for a scene where Lola gives Liz a makeover and they hit the down disguised as wanton peasants.
All that said, Liz won’t believe Lola’s story until she pulls out THE WIG after which: case closed. I mean, it’s a wig. How can you argue with that?
So Liz faces her advisor all J’accuse! and he immediately confesses-slash-plays the Friend Zone card, all “I couldn’t have you so I took the next best thing, i.e. courtesans pretending to be you! I loved you better than Robert Dudley because instead of seducing you, I creepily pretended to be your friend which I’m now blaming you for! I only gave you abortion tea FOR YOUR OWN GOOD! #NotAllMen”
The full breadth of his betrayal causes Liz to unleash about 17,000 amazing facial expressions in approx 30 seconds. Here are just a few I was able to capture:
I have missed her superhuman amount of distinct facial muscles so much, you guys. Bizarrely, despite his poisoning her and committing basically treason with the be-wigged courtesans, Liz doesn’t behead him but is just like, “I am VERY disappointed in you. I will NOT have you in for tea anymore. I SAID GOOD DAY.” Here’s hoping later on she takes Renaissance Hot Sauce to his carriage, or whatever.
WTF #3: Actuale Renaissance Actuale Faire
Remember how Mary’s been fake-dating and also sort-of actually dating Heath Ledger lookalike Gideon Who’s His Thing? Remember how he has a daughter named Agatha? Yeah, I forgot too but she’s at court now! Welcome, Baby Kenna!
Gideon tries Dad jokes and Bad Dad Magic Tricks to try and bond with her, but she’s like, “I’m ten years old, which in this time period and on this show means I’ll be married in a hot second and dead six months later so chill out mmkay?”
Then through a series of incomprehensible plot twists, Mary winds up accompanying father and daughter for a day out. Remember how a few episodes ago she was being hunted for sport in the woods? Or how earlier this episode the entire population of Scotland burned her effigy? Apparently none of that gets in the way of her heading out in peasant disguise to the Literal Renaissance Faire, minus any sort of bodyguard or soldiers for back-up.
The Faire has everything you’d look for, including contortionists doing amazing work despite stretch fabric having not been invented yet…
A man standing awkwardly with a camel…
And the piece de resistance, a lemur who jumps from head to head of the extras and recurring cast. Hope you got your rabies shot, actress who plays Agatha!
Lovingggg Mary’s incognito look here. She’s embracing her Scottishness in this tweedy number, with cleave fully covered for a faux-motherly aura. Her butterfly (?) shaped belt is fabulous in a sort of I’d wear it over a leotard for a 1980s aerobics themed dance party sort of way, and Agatha’s mini cloak is verging on IRL Prince George baby bathrobe microfashion slayage.
Out of all the WTF in this gloriously WTF WTF is afterwards, when Gideon offhandedly says, “I assume you and Francis wanted children” like that isn’t the stated point of every royal marriage since the beginning of time. And for two people who are fake-dating/sort-of-really-dating, Mary and Gideon didn’t smooch once, or even graze hands or share smoldery looks. Come on, show. We don’t tune in for thoughtful discussions of parenthood punctuated with leaping lemurs, although at least one of those two things is extremely appreciated. #MakeTheLemurARecurringCharacter
WTF #2: Take Your Kid To Work Day
Although Francis has been dead now for six episodes (#RIPFrancis) they still haven’t made Charles’s reign Facebook Official which means Cathy The Regent gets to plan a partyyyy! She kicks things off like Auntie Mame getting a little Christmas in here, strutting around and giving orders to all of the day players. She hit this mark like a step-and-repeat, pausing just long enough to gloat about all the power she’s now got while showing off her Huntsman: Winters Wae inspired gown. Cruella DeVille, you better watch your back.
Narcisse slithers up in his usual hovercraft of pure sleaze just long enough to be like, “I will destroy you, you know,” and Cathy is like, “Not only won’t you do that, but you will in fact deliver a speech at the coronation saying how I’m the greatest person you ever met. #ImWithHer” Loving how her head pops out of that lace collar like a very cute and evil houseplant. His lace-and-leather jacket, however, looks like he just rolled around the ribbon aisle of Michael’s Crafts.
Charles, who it’s becoming clear is growing into the Useless King Tommen of this show, invites Mary to take part in the coronation procession. His moony eyes say he’s inviting her because he’s crushing on her, but her Marchesa-adjacent number makes me think he just needs her like Anna Wintour needs Cara Delevingne in the front now: yes, it’s Charles’s day but the paparazzi won’t show up if the It Girl of the moment’s not on the scene in something glamorous.
Seriously, the embroidery on this dress is just sublime. That said, I also agree with those who may compare this to a figure skating costume because I think Adelaide Kane could be a great Nancy Kerrigan in that new Tonya Harding movie they’re making and maybe this is her backdoor audition.
The day of the big event, Charles shows his bonafides as the son of Henry and brother of Francis by wrapping himself in the ceremonial heirloom House of Valois Pimp Fur.
Mary’s hella sweet, handing over a hanky so his clammy palms won’t drop his sceptre. She claims it’s something Francis used to need and my memory for this show is vague enough I can believe that’s a plot point I missed. Anyway, here’s Charles taking charge and looking an awful lot like that time Bash was King for a hot minute in season one. That happened, right? I think?
Post-coronation, Narcisse offers up his “Cathy is the greatest Regent who ever Regented” speech, dripping with self-loathing along with regular loathing, while Cathy eats it all up without even trying to hide her gloating smirk. The way he throws back his post-speech wine, you know this public humiliation is only fuelling his vendetta against her and the only way to settle it… is in the bedroom. Amirite?
Ultimately, the combination of Mary’s heart-to-hearts with Hot Scot, Gideon and Charles helps her decide to not convert to Protestantism and marry the Swedish House Mafia. She pulls on this Renaissance Serena vdW boob window look to break the news to her not-piece, Gideon.
He’s like, “Does this mean I have a chance now, or…?” like dude: you have been having a chance literally all episode and you have not gone for a kiss, a hand-hold, or until now, a smoldering look. If you want to keep your recurring status, you need to up your game.
OK, that look’s pretty smoldery. I’ll allow it. Also: Mary is rocking some serious Khaleesi-adjacent braids here. Hopefully that bodes well for her future badassness, and frankly, possible future dragon ownership.
WTF #1: American Psycho Does France
OK. You guys. So. Remember Cathy’s boytoy, whose name I learned this week is Christophe? Remember his lack of personal boundaries, how excited he was about the #SexDeathChair, and how he showed up the same week as six other men with the same face? Cathy’s promoted him to the King’s Guard, which means he gets to strut around now with this armor/pashmina combo. Also he’s suddenly got really really shifty eyes which is IMPORTANT for later on, so put a pin in that.
He stops by Cathy’s later to tap that sweet Queen booty, finding her in one of those empire-waisted velvet maroon numbers she likes so much.
She’s trying on necklaces to plan her coronation outfit and wants to wear this one she previously wore to Francis’s coronation. It makes her sad, so Christophe is like, “Why not wear something more expensive?” which ticks off the Lacks Empathy box in the “Are You Boning A Psychopath?” quiz she’s apparently been working on.
TOTALLY UNRELATED (j/k, it’s totally related) Bash takes on Christophe as the Dean to his Sam vis-a-vis paranormal investigations. They’re tracking down the serial killer who I forgot was previously killing in the first part of this season, and Christophe’s got a hot tip it might just be the butcher. Why? #MURDERSALT
Surprise! There’s a body hidden in the salt barrel in the butcher’s private room.
Turns out all Bash needed to CSI this case was the Sherlock to his Watson, i.e. Skeevy Christophe. But when Bash goes to tell Cathy the happy news they caught the butcher, she’s like, “….hmmm” as she ticks off another box on the psychopath test.
So, while Christophe sleeps in a totally natural and non-posed shirtless manner in her bed, Cathy slips into her best Crimson Peak night skulking nightie to solve this mystery.
Guess what! Christophe’s the serial killer! A reveal that would be a lot more shocking to me if a) I hadn’t forgotten there was a serial killer and b) if it hadn’t taken me this long to remember who Christophe is. His modus operandi seems to be killing people he thinks are no good, sort of like Renaissance Dexter (especially with his new side business of helping solve his own crimes). Anyway, he’s like, “If you reveal I’m the serial killer I’ll reveal you paid Who’s His Thing to beat Claude last time to somehow get the Regency from Narcisse, which is like not even in the top 10 worst things you’ve ever done” which is enough to keep Cathy quiet for now. FOR NOW.
So, even though she knows the butcher isn’t the serial killer, she doesn’t intercede in his hanging death. These are the saddest shoulderpads ever.
You’ll excuse me if I don’t get too caught up in this suspense. Reign’s been renewed for a fourth season and Cathy is basically the star. Do we really think that Christophe – CHRISTOPHE – is going to be the one to bring down a woman who’s single-handedly murdered like 3/4 of this show’s characters? He may think he has the upper hand but he has no idea who he’s dealing with: the original and most literal YASSS QUEEN to ever wield a bottle of poison.