MARY QUEEN OF CRAP ON A CRACKER, THIS EPISODE WAS CRAY. I mean, this episode was straight out of Craytown, heading for Cray City where it hoped to stop at an all you can eat Crayfish buffet (it was that bonkers, you guys). Like, everyone died? Or left? Or was betrayed? Or will be replaced by a slightly older actor next season? There was a good two minutes when I thought Narcisse was going to have an aneurysm and we’d lose Craig Parker. There was a good eight minutes when I had to question who’d said what about the writers behind their backs.
Believe you me, the following pictures are worth a thousand words – each.
WTF #5: France, Namely Where Our Heroes are Not
Cast your minds way back to when the Red Knights nicked Charles and Leith had something to do and Cathy ruled French Court with a commedia dell’arte-style collar of iron?
Yeah, well, shelve that for the time being. Guess who’s back…and is emo now?!
The young king is parting his hair differently, neglecting his concealer and announcing to his mother in the classically dead Selected TV Trope: Traumatised tone we all know so well that he doesn’t want to be king anymore.
To which she replies, “you were born a king, you’ll die a king, and only your fleas will mourn you!’ or something to that effect. She works a couple of these ‘business in the back, party at the front’ necklines this episode, which is all to the good, because even when you don’t have the love of your children, there is always wine and your own cleavage.
It’s a sign of how badly things are for Catherine that she whips out an almost identical gown/gems combo to the last time she wore this outfit. Last time, though, her son hadn’t de-regent-ed her on the grounds that he’d been made into a man by a pack of vengeance-hungry knights.
He’s even got the crazy eyes to prove it.
In classic Catherine fashion, however, she one-ups her own son by whipping out another son, as well as this gorgeous crimson and burgundy brocade.
Nothing makes you glow like reminding your ungrateful offspring that true power springs not from their divine right, but from your lady business.
Charles, who is clearly aware his brother will age up dramatically next season and actually get some lines, is justifiably nervous.
Either that, or he’s been in Mommy’s *cough* medicine chest again.
WTF #4: To Absent Friends and Total Idiots
Oh heyyyyy, Liz. I’m digging the Frozen-adjacent outfit, as I’m sure is Lord Robert. That half-do would look better as an updo, in my humble opinion, but otherwise I’m a sucker for a redhead in a pastel.
Such a shame Lola has been convinced by a very un-Mary-like letter that Mary wants Elizabeth dead, which is a) not bloody likely, and b) not very bloody likely. Still, it’s a thin enough plot point to give her reunion with Narcisse juice.
I think we’ve all experienced that moment when bae hands over her son, says goodbye ominously and yet claims to have nothing on her mind.
Except this guy, the world’s greatest assassin, who confirms Lola’s identity by being all, ‘repeat after me: Queen Mary is hella fly, all other queens should hella die’.
He gives Lola a pistol (notoriously unreliable) to hide inside a clock (notoriously weird) and orders her to stall Elizabeth when the time is right (notoriously vague). Lola, having let her sense drain away with the last bath she took, agrees. I don’t see this ending well.
IT DIDN’T END WELL.
But before it didn’t end well, Liz was wearing her trademark shade of gorgeous goldenrod, and I enjoy her vine-y, antler-y necklace, though she does need to leave those spangly tiaras behind at junior prom where they belong. Stick with crowns, girl, they keep your head warm and make Robert redundant when it comes to nutters trying to shoot you in the head.
In the wake of Lola/Random Guy’s assassination attempt, Elizabeth realizes she doesn’t want to be alone and pours out her heart to Robert, who turns out to have gotten married in the five minutes since his wife threw herself down the stairs.
His queen is justifiably pissed. You’ll be justifiably pissed too when I inform you that Lettice Knollys, Mrs Lord Robert II, was Elizabeth’s cousin and, according to contemporary accounts, a dead ringer for the Her Maj…only younger.
And everyone wonders why I was rooting so hard for Lolabeth.
WTF #3: They Can Take Our Lives, But They Cannae Take Our Peplums
Meanwhile in Scotland, Mary’s taken to wearing red and gold, and Mary’s brother James has taken to staring down her bodice.
I’m not kidding, he does it more than once. When he’s not bosom-gazing, James tries to stop Mary picking fights with John Knox by roping in this hapless priest, throwing on her best black to remind them all that she’s a widow, and a sexy one at that, and a sexy Catholic one at that.
Knox, AKA Evil Robin Williams, is having none.
The Scots, unfortunately, seem to be playing right into his hands. James tells Mary – while staring down her bodice, before a roaring fire, possibly with Barry White in the background – that not only has Catholic-on-Protestant violence broken out, but that there are English dudes riding through her land, testing the waters for the good ship Elizabeth Regina.
So Mary, having decided she’s as Scottish as Jamie Fraser’s eight pack, dons her best tartan overcoat and rides off with Bash and some extras in skirts to confront the English.
Hello, the English.
Hello, the English.
Mary begs Gideon, now more dwarfed than ever by hulking Scots, to slow his posse down so she can get back to Edinburgh, right wrongs, restore order and shave her legs before they meet again. Gideon naturally agrees, so Mary changes into a gorgeous golden lacy number and meets with the Catholic priest supposedly responsible for the Protestant deaths.
“Och, what lovely trim…and I didnae kill anyone, by the way.”
For an innocent man, he sure is quick to hang himself. Luckily, Mary sure is quick to monopolize on it.
“Despite what my wearing one of Catherine de Medici’s housecoats may suggest, I am not French! I am Scottish! And therefore hate English people! And love bagpipes! And Irn-Bru! And I absolutely did not sleep with that tiny man over there, and neither should you. They can take our lives, but they will never take our ridiculous storylines!”
I will admit to being moved, as will Gideon.
The last shot of the season is these two on a mountain, overlooking England like a pair of particularly well-dressed Hobbits – Mary has adopted Serena van der Woodsen’s patented cleavage rhombus, I am gratified to see. Gideon promises to get as close to Elizabeth as he has to Mary in order to spy on her, which is icky to say the least. Mary promises to steal Elizabeth’s crown in revenge for a whole lot of isht and maybe being prettier than her.
I still think it would’ve been more impactful visually if she’d shoved Gids off the mountain and gone off to seduce James. Reign has a precedent where half-brothers are concerned, after all.
WTF #2: And That Druid’s Name Was Shonda Rhimes
Real talk: I was kind of hoping they’d kill off Bash. For a while now, he’s been The Office-ing straight down the camera, and I feel like it would be something of a relief.
All he does with his last hour with us is provide exposition and get stalked by a geriatric druid.
I’m genuinely annoyed with how weak the writing was for this finale. It’s like Mary sucked in all the good stuff, leaving Bash to report the news of Lola’s death (which I managed to hold back unveiling until this section of the recap, psych) with the eyebrows of a sad man, but the inflection of a man who has already sold his soul to Shonda Rhimes.
Does nobody remember the two or three scenes where Bash and Lola were a legitimate ship? When she nursed him and told him about the deaths of her brothers, when she dressed up as a Valkyrie and he was loving it?
Not Bash, apparently.
“YER A WIZARD, SEBASTIAN.”
Yes, we get it. We get that instead of leaving Bash in France to either be heinously killed or live in the walls like Clarissa, and writing him off that way, you dragged over the sea to Scotland just to make him leave again, but in an open-ended manner which strongly suggests Torrance Coombs is hedging his bets in case his new job doesn’t pan out.
Mary is, understandably, wrecked. Twitter reminded me that of the original cast members, she and Catherine are the only ones left standing.
He’ll return when she most greatly needs him, apparently. I shall continue to hold out hope that that means sexually. #MashForever
Farewell, Sebastian. You made an exquisite third wheel, and started a tradition of basic white guys which is upheld to this day. We’ll miss you, you Sexy Pagan Druid Bastard.
WTF #1: The One Where Everyone Was Brutally Murdered
Everyone you loved dies this episode, okay? And in the case of Lola, suddenly becomes a raging bitch and tells the woman whose mother was executed, whose father deemed her illegitimate, who was in and out of prison for most of her young life, that she’ll be forever alone. Have I mentioned this is the woman who’s also been letting Lola into her heart these past months?
Lola then turns one-eighty into a snivelling mess on the scaffold, at odds to how she’s ever been in times of trouble before. Yes, I know she’s about to die. Yes, I know the man she loves is about to see her die. That doesn’t excuse the fact that pragmatic, brave, cunning, kind Lola was my favourite of Mary’s ladies for all those reasons. She’s been friend, jailer, mother, spy and all round baller since the pilot. She didn’t deserve to be written out like this.
Even Narcisse isn’t blind to all these plot inadequacies.
And neither is Elizabeth, though her cape is righteous and she’s being merciful enough by not having Lola hanged, drawn and quartered. Nevertheless, I could spit teeth, I’m so mad Lola’s personality was lopped off before her head was.
Less mad and more sad is the death of another beloved character, a rags to riches tale which very nearly had a happy ending. How you doing, Leith? You’re working that fleur-de-lis.
Nothing much, just conspiring with Cathy to torture some onion-growing peasants in case the Red Knights won’t give up Charles – no, I’m not exaggerating, there’s a whole bit about onion soup.
Leith’s beloved, Claude, looking like the prettiest princess of all in her habitual shell pink (seriously, they have to start dressing her less like a Disney heroine, her sex scenes are really beginning to freak me out), is ordered by yet another Random Dude She’s Never Bet Before ™ to go to her room so the Red Knights can’t get her.
Whereupon Claude’s beloved Leith shoots arrows first and asks questions later.
That bloke was a Red Knight too, what are the chances?! This somehow makes Catherine see the error of her ways and give Claude and Leith her blessing to marry. Martel, AKA Other Dude Whom Claude Has Slept With is not impressed.
Dear Reign, if your actress gets scenes like this, please refrain from dressing her like a six-year-old.
Martel, or ODWCHSW as I like to call him, finagles his way into Charles’ council meeting on smoking out the last Red Knights, and discovers the mission is to be led by one Leith Bayard. As you might predict, he decides to send Leith a message via this guy.
The substance of that message is, ‘princesses don’t marry kitchen boys’.
Again, this was such a stupid, easily avoidable way to die. I get it if these actors wanted out, and you know I’ll follow Anna Popplewell wherever she will go, but the show had to make them super stupid and gullible to pull their exits off at all. I’ll never object to Game of Thrones-style not holding back when it comes to main characters, but then I remember there’s a ton more white men next season, that Rachel Skarsten might be low on #RachFace with no Lola there to #RachFace at, and that we’re going to have to wade through sixteenth century religious politics to get to the sexy bits.
I vote for more Lumineers tracks and fewer spree killings. All in favour, say aye! (Remember, we’re Scottish now).