I had to watch this episode twice through to make sure I got everything, first of all. Second of all, everything goes down. There’s murder and military tribunals! Mary gets a sword while Narcisse gets a conscience! The layer upon layer of lies which surrounds Catherine (and keeps her looking thirty-five forever) unravels all over everyone she loves! Charles has something to say, Bash has somebody to stab, Lola and Gideon both play for both teams, and an entire season’s worth of serial killing intrigue blows up in everyone’s faces in under an hour. Buckle your seatbelts, my lords and ladies, the Reign Crazy Train is about to leave the station.
WTF #5: HMS Lolabeth, the Unsinkable
Lola has such a good arc this episode, and she begins it so well: with gorgeous crimson crochet and a big ol’ swishy fairytale skirt I couldn’t find a decent shot of, grrr.
And what is our lady-in-waiting so busy scribbling about, you may ask? This guy, who’s benching the entire English fleet for repairs, giving Mary the chance to cross the North Sea unimpeded.
This scene really highlights the difference between Mary and Elizabeth, a difference true to real life accounts of them: Elizabeth sits behind her desk in her puffy pierrot blouse, asking questions about the navy and piracy, keeping it classy with a pair of sunburst studs. Mary, on the other hand, rushes into action at the drop of the hat and, thanks to her door-knocker fetish, only still has earlobes by the grace of God.
Rachel Skarsten is unreal this week. Her accessories are so on point – those little pearl bunches of grapes are a particular favourite – and she finally has her weave under control, and I would pay good money to know what contour kit she uses. Those cheekbones! (!!!)
Enough fangirling, back to the plot. Gideon’s been given a place at court to as a thank you for breaking and entering (breaking up Mary and Don Carlos, and entering…the space Don Carlos left, shall we say).
Bless you, Gids. That place at court is going to be tres convenient when you spirit Lola away to Scotland. On that subject, the wardrobe department have heard my prayers: Lola gets her paws on this gloriously muted, Dolce-y floral, which has all the gathering but just the one texture, one colour scheme, and one divine effect.
I don’t know why she’d ever want to leave England, it’s doing wonders for her sartorially.
Another look at our gals’ gowns, and a great bit of relationship development when Elizabeth asks Lola for her advice on John Knox, who may be a Protestant, but who is also a misogynist a̶n̶d̶ ̶p̶r̶o̶b̶a̶b̶l̶y̶ ̶l̶i̶v̶e̶s̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶m̶o̶t̶h̶e̶r̶’̶s̶ ̶b̶a̶s̶e̶m̶e̶n̶t̶. Lola tells her not to support #meminism, and Liz agrees to pretend to be praying too hard to support his overthrow of Mary.
Lola gushes to new BFF Gideon about how tight she is with Elizabeth, and the letter she sent Mary. Gideon helpfully reminds her that when Mary does arrive in Scotland with an army, she becomes Hostage², and decides to accelerate his #FreeLola campaign.
Basically, don’t have sex. It’s all fun and games until she starts asking you to rescue her friends from your place of work.
WTF #4: Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead.
In England, we have a phrase to describe everything going wrong at once. I feel qualified to use it this week, because everything does indeed go ‘tits up’ for Catherine.
Exhibit A: she seductively undoes her Elizabeth-esque collar to let Murder Slice strangle her so he’ll shut up about Claude.
Exhibit B: despite strong braid action and a lovely bit of marabou, Mary leaves Catherine and France to face the Red Knights alone.
They’re like red wine stains on a white carpet, those Red Knights, and no amount of seltzer will help when it’s revealed they’ve dug up the bodies of the generals buried in Narcisse’s Patented Murder Patch, and decorated the castle walls with their heads.
Narcisse is very angry hot this week, if you’re into that. Morally reprehensible, but very angry hot.
I don’t know what the costume designers are taking these days, but these outfits be flawless. Catherine’s high neck and separate sleeves are not only accurate, but also armour-like and fierce, and sort of echo Mary’s black and gold look from last episode? I like to think so. I like to think Catherine’s checking out these recaps to see what the kids are wearing these days.
And Charles is like a Mini Me, fashion-wise. I don’t know if it’s a deliberate choice to keep him in navy blue rather than black, like a Francis Light, but I approve. He’s precious.
So the dead generals’ lieutenants, AKA more stock from the endless supply of white guys who populate this show, turn up and demand Catherine submit herself to a military tribunal. Both Cathy and Charles explain why that’s a really bad idea, but surprise surprise, no one trusts the Valois.
Props to the actors for mirroring each other’s body language. I cannot overemphasise how good the acting is this week, so if you haven’t watched this episode yet, WATCH THE GOSH DARN EPISODE.
The soldiers then try to take Catherine by force, and Charles addresses them like any good boy king, and they ignore him like any good grownups, and Catherine readies herself to go out to face them.
And then a thing happens which we’ll get to in just a moment, and Catherine is spared, which is great news because I’m crushing on the topaz-y tweed of her cape, and the military trim, and the in-your-face ‘got Jesus on my necklace’ brooch reminding everyone who the flip anointed her queen, and that fabric would be really difficult to get bloodstains out of.
A little blip on the Crappy Things Happening Radar is Narcisse announcing he’s off to England to fight for Lola, right when Catherine was about to get busy with her mouth and his mouth. It ends cordially, though, and vaguely cutely, and how about those sleeves, readers?
Exhibit C: in arguably the best gown of the entire season – stick a fork in me, I’m done, done because brocade, because dark grey is so in, because big splashy florals, because medieval shape – Catherine gets the ultimate awfulness as Charles and Claude discover exactly what she did to get the regency, i.e. had her daughter beaten to discredit Narcisse.
So I have full sympathy for Catherine, yet none sympathy for Catherine, and I imagine you do too.
WTF #3: Mary, Queen of Sass
Mary takes charge in this episode, and it is an absolute delight. First, she keeps cool in the face of all these dead generals, while all around her are distinctly…not cool.
Then, honouring her ‘oh honey NO’ look from last week, she comes up with eighty different on- and off-screen reasons why Bash should stay in France. I doubt he’d comply, only she’s dressed so sensibly – I’m rather fond of the pattern on her sleeves, it’s very modern and Fair Isle knit-like. Is this the Mary equivalent of a snuggly sweater?
She dresses equally prettily on receipt of Lola’s letter, which was hilariously sent to Narcisse and got his nasty little hopes up, LOL @ you, Stéphane. Her hair is an admitted and committed mess, sure, but I love the flirty lace trim rising like sea foam from, deep breath, a period-appropriate bodice! Holy moly.
So Mary’s got to hie herself to Scotland, and she tells Catherine, and Catherine’s like, ‘it’s all good’ instead of, ‘why are you wearing a dead animal inside, that’s what fire is for’.
Her sub-cloak gown is straight off a Chloé runway and, more importantly, will go down in history as What Mary Was Wearing When She Sassed Narcisse Within an Inch of His Life. He accuses her of not caring about Lola’s safety, and she reminds him that he’s the type of guy who puts rats in baths, sexes the dowager queen and cares more about pretty much everything else than Lola. It’s the most exquisite verbal bitch slap, I’m surprised his head doesn’t spin.
Mary then trots off to the harbour, reads the most beautiful letter from dead Francis, and opens a case to reveal the gosh darn sword he forged for her so she could be a warrior queen.
It even makes spangly Edward Cullen noises when she draws it.
Cut back to the castle, where the army is demanding Catherine, and she’s going to go out and face them because she’s a Head Bitch in Charge like that.
Whereupon Mary rides them down like gosh darn Boudicca with her gosh darn sword and orders them to back the truck up. Adelaide Kane’s performance was spectacular, but she must’ve given this same speech a fair few times, because she was very hoarse and I wanted to be a set runner for about five minutes so I could fix her a hot honey and lemon.
‘France,’ murmurs our sweet heroine. ‘I think I shall never see you again.’
And then she sets sail into a storm and gets hits directly in the face by a giant wave. Bonkers.
WTF #2: Life is like a box of underused characters.
Guess who’s back, as if Safe Passage wasn’t crazy enough? Delphine, who’s been hired by Charles to psychically sniff out the Red Knights!
And she’s all like, ‘Bash, didn’t you say you were going to wait for me?’
‘Bash, I feel like the Heart Killer was erotically strangling a woman last night?’
Because of course he was. Murder Slice slithered out of the shadows once again, and apparently he is into some kinky isht.
They don’t call him Murder Slice for nothing, you know (and by they, I mean me, and occasionally fellow Reign-o-phile/YKYLF reapper Ann), as he proceeds to bang into Delphine in the hall and immediately murder the heck out of her because she senses who he is.
It’s a weirdly theatrical death, in my opinion.
They play it like Romeo and Juliet for some reason?
Anyhoo, Bash sees bruises on Catherine’s neck, realizes who the Heart Killer is – jeez, that’s almost as bad as ‘The Darkness’ as villainous nicknames go – confronts Murder Slice, puts two arrows in him, extorts from him where he put a letter detailing his and Catherine’s crimes – who does that?! – and then murders the heck out of him.
And that, by the way, isn’t even the darkest thing Bash does this episode.
WTF #1: Mental Bashdown
Torrance Coombs is going out with a bang, y’all. In the space of forty minutes, he goes from this:
The most important part he plays in the main drama of the dead generals is creating the best cover you could dream up for a Renaissance boy band. The soldiers rock up…
…and Bash just rocks.
Bash-street Boys? Seriously, even Narcisse is more involved, and all he does is bring the crazy eyes and whine about how he went all out Wolverine in that fighting pit for nothing.
But boy, does our Sebastian bring it emotionally. Mary leaves for Scotland with the show’s theme song guitar-ing away in the background, and he gives her a gift which’ll be revealed to be a sword from dead Francis, and she calls him her family, and he doesn’t even flinch, which might be because he’s sexed his half-sister in the past and has no qualms, but whatever.
I’m not crying, you’re crying.
And on top of everything we’ve already been over, dead Delphine, dead Murder Slice, Catherine’s love of domestic violence, Bash realizes his mother is dead, and that Catherine killed her! I’ve been waiting forever for someone to notice she isn’t around, and then this happens!
ONLY WHEN IT’S CONSENSUAL, BASH.
Flinging his sword at Catherine’s feet, Bash quits as Wild West Deputy and hotfoots it to the harbour to join Mary, Narcisse and the merry band of mercenaries on their voyage to Scotland. His face says it all.
Real talk, gentle readers: the wheels have come right off of this show, and it’s bloody fantastic. There wasn’t a second of this episode I didn’t enjoy, and all the plot threads I was getting crabby about because they were being ignored came together in the most crazy-ass manner, and everyone is morally grey, and no one is safe from being murdered or from being a murderer! It is delicious.