Ugh you guyzzzz Reign‘s been off for like two weeks and I’m still going through withdrawal for the nonstop WTF plot twists, gorgeously anachronistic fashion and historically-adjacent storylines. While in an internet black hole of watching fan vids and reading interviews with the creative team, I noticed one film kept coming up over and over: 1994’s Queen Margot. So I checked it out and it’s EVERYTHING. Like, you can just tell someone watched this one day and was like, “I’m going to make this into a teen drama on The CW.” The movie is based both on real history as well as on a 19th century novel about Queen Margot, which was itself based upon Margot’s actual memoirs. So much like Reign, the major historical events are accurate (births, marriages, deaths) while the rest is sort of inspired by history and stretched out to be as romantic and dramatic as possible. Basically, it’s like Reign: The Movie and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Things kick off in 1572, about 12 years after where we currently are on Reign. How do I know? Because that’s when Margot, Cathy de’ Medici’s youngest daughter, married King Henry of Navarre. Henry, btw, is the son of Reign‘s Antoine the Sex King, nephew of Reign‘s Prince Condé, and also a Protestant while Margot and her family are Catholic, which is why Marg is … less than enthused about this match. Her wedding outfit is the fanciest we ever see her get and I love everything about it. The face-framing collar echoes those the rest of her family wears, while the crown/hat/headband? is stunning and unusual and I want one. As we never see her done up like this again, it becomes clear she’s not only here against her will, but she’s dressed in an outfit she’d never have worn willingly.
Her whole royal family is in the house, including King Charles, clearly still suffering emotionally from watching his friend Harry Styles get murdered in the woods in the season three finale, aka 12 years prior.
Her only other surviving siblings are also in the house (#RIPClaude) and they are: Mick Jagger and Baby Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Aaaaaaand of course Cathy’s here. She’s costumed in collars that act as giant picture frames forcing everyone to LOOK AT HER TERRIFYING FACE. There is also some sort of plucked hairline going on because her forehead is not where one expects a forehead to be, resulting in about 3/4 of her skull being exposed at all times.
Remember how in early seasons Reign Mary and the ladies always wore necklaces on their heads? This movie basically invented that look, along with the layering of Renaissance tees inside of gorgeous gowns. Here’s Cathy, lording it over this movie’s Kenna, whose name is Charlotte and who we shall heretofore refer to as Kennette. Isn’t Kennette’s outfit exactly like something one of Mary’s ladies would have worn in season one, before they all had the optimism of youth beaten out of them by life’s cruel hand? Not sure what Kennette’s necklace situation is, but it’s gold and it’s a statement and it matches her a bit with Cathy so you know they’re on the same team for now.
Post wedding, Marg and her whole fam slowly process down the church aisle, everyone throwing shade every which way to help us sort out who is who. Here’s Cathy low key threatening Marg’s main piece, de Guise (who you can tell is also in good with the de’ Medici clan by his Cathy-style head frame):
Margot is a young lady with a healthy sex drive and not-so-healthy relationships with her brothers Mick Jagger and Baby Lin-Manuel Miranda, who spend the wedding procession bragging about how they spent last night in her bed. Billy Magnussun as Kato Kaelin on the right is Mick’s other lover because in Renaissance France one can never have too may lovers. Note: this is the only time we ever see Mick Jagger’s shirt tied up at the collar. Dude is big on exposed chest hair.
Marg herself is making the entire situation clear to her husband and his wiggy wiggy wig. Legally they may be married, but physically she effectively gives him a restraining order of “as far away from me as possible, forever.” It’s an open marriage.
Then it’s time for the post-wedding RAGER! Wherein we meet the best character in this or any movie, Margot’s lady in waiting, Henriette, who brought a literal list of dudes to the reception and happily gives Marg the Bachelorette-opening-credits rundown of each of them so as to best decide who to bone. Margot is looking AMAZING in this dress that is unlaced almost entire down the front, sort of like a backwards corset she couldn’t be bothered to tighten. The drop-sleeves are also this film’s signature look because, and I can’t believe I forgot to mention this, the costume designer, the late Moidele Bickel, is on record as saying she hated 16th century clothing so just chose to dress everyone without worrying about historical accuracy. Considering she was nominated for an Academy Award and won the won the César and two other awards for these costumes, this was clearly the right call.
I did a double-take when Henriette name checked Prince Condé. But it’s not season two Reign‘s Condé, it’s a dude I presume is his son (…?). Anyway, you know he’s a Protestant because he’s dressed all in black, which is how they all always dress in this movie.
Kennette is also here to hook up, though she has no choice in the matter because Cathy has instructed her to seduce Henry to learn all of his Protestant secrets. I assume this means Kennette in Cathy’s legendary Flying Slut Squadron? Girl knows how to pick up, as she somehow takes out her head necklace and updo in 0.5 seconds, pausing only to apply a coat of Renaissance lipstick which you wouldn’t think is foreshadowing anything BUT IT TOTALLY IS.
And in more uncomfortable plot developments, Mick Jagger and Baby Lin-Manuel Miranda get into fisticuffs about who gets to sleep with Margot tonight. Lin is like, “But you have to go to Poland to be King there!” and Mick is like, “Not so long as I’m Cathy’s #1 most fav son and also I will never do up my shirt for the entire rest of the movie so feast your eyes on this hamburger meat!”
Mick then wages a shirtless wrestling match with de Guise, yet again because everybody wants to bone Margot all day erry day, and also they may want to hook up with each other? It’s France! Everybody’s sleeping with everybody! Joie de vivre! C’est la vie!
Having seen the other offerings available, Margot defaults back to de Guise, ordering him to her chamber in a way that suddenly makes me think of a young Victoria Grayson.
Oh and as if I couldn’t love Henriette more, check out her rabid bloodlust watching this shirtless fight go down. Girl is HERE FOR THIS.
Sidenote: as fellow YKYLF Reign recapper Bella noted, there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him cameo by a man I can only presume is Bash, ageless twelve years after Reign, newly back from magic druid training in Scotland. I mean, right?
So anyway, if we know anything about Cathy it’s that she’s never running just one scheme. She married Margot to Henry to make peace between the Catholics and the Protestants but ALSO because it’s a great opportunity to lure lots of Protestants to France to murder them. It’s uncanny how much her character is written exactly like Cathy on Reign. Even this maroon and gold housecoat-inspired gown is like something Megan Follows would wear. Though I may caution Megan to invest in Rogaine because all this scheming seems to do damage to ones hairline.
But who cares about impending Protestant massacres when Margot’s being carried in a chair down an orgy hallway! This is basically the least-NSFW screencap I could share of this sequence but rest assured, all up and down this corridor are all manner of half-naked French extras having a very nice time.
The first time watching this movie, I expended a lot of effort figuring out who everyone was. And the way Mick Jagger kept going on about wanting to bone Margot I was like, “I must be mistaken. Surely this character is not her brother.”
But oh no, these two are most definitely her brothers. Remember on Reign when we learned Claude and Bash had hooked up in the past and we were all giving them the side-eye for the half-incest? That’s nothing compared to the Borgia-esque familial relationships unfolding here.
So much no. SO MUCH NO.
Anyway, Margot, still in her extremely bosomy shoulder-bearing gown, meets up with de Guise so as to spend her wedding night in the arms of definitely not her husband…
Until Henry arrives, in the company of two boys with candle boxes (?)
He’s like, “Clearly your family is going to murder me quite soon,” and she’s like, “OK, I’ll help protect you if you GTFO so I can bone zone with de Guise” and he’s like, “OK, I’m off for some quality time with Kennette,” but de Guise, secreted away in a hallway listenig to this whole thing, is like, “Girl, you need to sort out your shit. Peace.” And Margot is left all alone. THIS CANNOT BE!
Like any newlywed Queen in search of some late night action, Margot and Henriette throw on carnival basks, haul the trains of their dresses up like capes, and stalk the streets for fresh meat.
While you’d think these two might attract a certain amount of attention, all the people sitting on the ground are too busy staring aimlessly to care. The one person who notices them is this dude, whose name is technically La Mole but really is Renaissance French Taylor Kitsch or RFTK for short.
Like all other men in this movie and, I presume, actual history, RFTK’s shirt is both undone AND comlpetely sheer. The costumer gives all the men little pantaloons but they’re so slight it’s like they’re hardly there, paving the way for Reign‘s male uniform of pleather jeggings. Anyone who’s seen the boner killer that is Joseph Fiennes jogging around in full bloomers in Shakespeare in Love knows minimizing the pantaloons is always the correct option.
Marg is like, “You dropped this book about falconry that has your name written in it,” which is a weird plot point I wouldn’t bring up except it gets v important later on.
And then these two GET IT ON in the alleyway (Henriette lurks nearby, enjoying every vicarious thrust). Just like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, which came out four years prior, Margot is like, “You may make love to me but NEVER KISS ME ON THE MOUTH” because it is a night of passion but the morning means goodbye beware of what is flashing in her eyes.
Carnal hunger thus satisfied, Marg and Hen rush off down the alley totes inconspic, like, nobody even notices or cares these two masked noblewomen are basically flying by. The street people of Renaissance France are over your shit, Marg.
Meanwhile back in the palace, Cathy is still plotting to murder all the Protestants while wearing, and I may be wrong, but what looks for all the world like black leather puff sleeves.
Reign needs to get Megan Follows into exactly this number AS SOON AS POSSIBLE because OMFJesus this is the most badass thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
Cathy, with the help of #1 son Mick Jagger, gets King Charles to agree to her plan to murder half the population of Paris because Charles is not in a good place and is easily led. Oh, the events of Reign season three still affecting him hardcore.
Marg, back home after her alleyway liaison, is in a sort of Renaissance schoolgirl jumper look. You can tell by the black clothes of everyone else in this room she’s in the company of Protestants, including her husband, all of whom sense that something is not right at the moment. She’s like, “Real talk, my family’s psychotic, so you may want to all flee town ASAP because I’m pretty sure you’re all going to be murdered like, immediately” and they’re all like, “Whatever, you’re just a woman so what do you know?” and spoiler? She was obviously right and they all get killed ten seconds later.
Because: St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre is ON.
And where’s Henriette during this bloody riot? Right on the front lines in her one-shoulder warrior cloak, loving every minute. I want 12-years-younger Henriette to be on Reign next season so bad you guys. She’s this terrifying mix of early seasons’ Reign‘s pragmatic Lola and Joaquin Phoenix’s bloodthirsty Emperor in Gladiator (tm YKYLF recapper Bella). MORE PLEASE.
Oh and, as a Protestant, RFTK is also on the run. He’s one of those super hot dudes who looks even hotter the bloodier and dirtier he gets.
Because this is a movie based on a novel, of course RFTK stumbles (what a coincidence!) directly into the palace. Pretty sure these casualties are from the sex corridor #RIPOrgyGoers
And quelle surprise! He wanders right into the room where Marg is currently hiding out. What. Are. The. Chances.
But because she wore a mask and never looked at his face, she doesn’t know who he is and he doesn’t know who she is. But she still puts her life on the line, screaming at the attackers that they’ll have to kill her to get to him.
Her passionate defence mostly stops them, and Henriette’s appearance, wielding a gun and screaming she’ll eat their faces off and love it if they don’t leave (basically) seals the deal. So the vigilantes head out, leaving Marg and Hen to tend to FRTK. Henriette handles this like the delightful perv she is.
FRTK alive for the time being, Margot goes to figure out what’s happened to her husband. Turns out Henry and his wig are still alive, being all but tortured by Cathy and the boys to convert to Protestantism. Henry, astoudingly, is holding firm against Cathy’s fivehead presented on a collar like a platter AND yet more black leather puff sleeves. Or the same dress. If that was the only dress I owned I’d wear it every day, too.
But Margot, ever the voice of reason, is like, “Dude, you’re gonna have to convert.” And next thing you know, they’re all back in the church again, most of them covered in other peoples’ blood, as Henry makes it official.
Cathy’s upgraded her collar to even larger proportions, sort of like Nolan on Revenge used to pop more collars the more agitated he was. Next to her, Kennette looks worse for the wear and – most dangerously – betrays the feelings she’s developed for Henry. Nothing is more dangerous in French court than letting anyone know what you truly feel.
Post-conversion ceremony, Margot tears a strip into her psychotic family. She used to be a Marissa Cooper, all parties and self-destructive behavior, but now that she’s witnessed genocide, she’s fully woke and not taking any of anyone’s isht. She’s also way more covered up here, I presume for church-related reasons. Like before and as we see so often on Reign, she’s layering a shirt or dickie under a sumptuous gown (that spoiler, we’ll see again later).
Cathy, whose collar may even have grown since the last scene, is having none of this impertinence and sentences Margot and her husband to be confined in the Louvre. One quick google taught me that in olden days, the Louvre was not an art museum, but rather a palace. But I like to imagine Margot and Henry were sentenced to forever live in an art museum, holding tours for the public.
And then Cathy fully leans into the Maleficent of it all, slinking into an autopsy room (?) where her advisor who is Not Nostradamus, is seeing the future by examining the organs in a dead corpse. Not!Stradamus, much like his counterpart on Reign, is full of doom and gloom w/r/t Cathy’s kids, breaking the news that Charles, Mick Jagger, and Baby Lin-Manuel Miranda will all die childless and Protestant Henry will be the next King.
Cathy, not impressed, doubles down on her efforts to murder Henry. Because killing people to make prophecies not happen is always the best choice.
In an abrupt scene change, suddenly Not!Stradamus is in the Louvre with Margot and her gal pals, bringing new makeup for everyone to try as his side hustle is as a Renaissance Mary Kay salesperson.
Margot is so not in the mood for a makeover. Just in case we were getting complacent with the off-the-shoulder costumes, they step it up a notch by decorating Margot’s forehead (luckily she didn’t inherit her mother’s hairline) with a bindhi? I presume? This is giving me Nicole Kidman/Moulin Rouge feels.
Kennette is all about the makeover party, especially when Not!Stradamus brings her a secret special lipstick that will make Henry fall in love with her. This lipstick handover is done with substantial amounts of shifty eyes between Cathy, Mick Jagger, and Not!Stradamus which pings Margot’s “my family is cray in a murdery way” radar. I am into her red and silver dress here and after spending this much time with these costumes am really aching for some off-the-shoulder action for myself.
But Margot’s suspicions don’t help save poor Kennette, who puts on the super special red lipstick and immediately starts frothing at the mouth and dies in a very, very, very Reign sort of way.
I feel moved to point out that despite all the sex and death, this movie very rarely shows any bare breasts. It feels respectful and kind not to have Kennette all laid out nude and dead like they may have done on The Tudors or Game of Thrones. Her death nightgown is also really nice, which is a shame when Cathy’s men throw her out the window.
The plan, of course, was for her to put on the lipstick and then kiss Henry to kill them both. But Henry and his wig have nine lives and he and Margot continue their quasi-confinement in the finest art museum in all of France.
Meanwhile! RFTK is on the mend and has been traveling around Europe trying to figure out a way to save Margot, who he knows is the woman who saved his life but still doesn’t realize is the masked Sex Batman from the alley that time. RFTK barely had to investigate at all, hilariously, basically asking one person for help and landing right in Margot’s path. Because guess who’s here to help him out?
In this scene especially, Henriette’s giving me Carl Kane in Kimmy Schmidt vibes. She’s totally shipping Margot and RFTK, but that won’t stop her from leering over him at breakfast time. She is DTF 24/7 and has amazing hair and I just want to be her when I grow up is that so wrong?
Oh and meanwhile, Charles goes out for a wild boar hunt with the boys and is attacked by a wild boar to the extent I had to google “did Charles IX die of a wild boar bite?” (spoiler: no) but then Henry saves the day. Sort of like when Leith saved Francis on Reign, now Henry is Charles’s #1 bro and he’ll do anything for him.
With Henriette’s help, Margot gets to spend some quality time with FRTK and his full frontal nude body which: right, this is a French arthouse film. A new freasts here and there but dongs dangling every which way. They have this achingly romantic scene where he’s like, “If I’m ever executed, I want you to save my head and keep it forever and stroke it once in awhile promise?” And she’s like, “…I guess?” #foreshadowing
Margot’s back to the Louvre before anyone notices she’s gone, where she’s greeted by her mother in the creepiest most Crypt Keeper manner possible. Like when Cathy gestures to you like this, you don’t go to her, you run and cross oceans and change your name and your face and hope to survive. That leather skirt, though, you guys. #goals
Cathy wants Marg to marry the King of Spain and Marg’s like “But I’m already married?” and Cathy’s like, “Not for long, basically. By which I mean: I’m going to murder Henry imminently.”
Note: this is Margot’s same aubergine dress she wore during her freakout in the church, and one of the few numbers that actually covers her shoulders. The petals on the sleeves add the requisite weirdo interest and flutter very romantically when she gestures. this is also one of the only times she pulls her hair back, which feels notable.
AND Cathy is still Wile E. Coyote to Henry’s Road Runner, now conscripting Baby Lin-Manuel Miranda to exact her next attempted murder. Cathy shows him a book on falconry she’d laced with poison, and orders Lin to place it in Henry’s room. Not unlike how on Reign, there was that whole poisoned Bible scenario that drove both Henry and Cathy insane for awhile.
Baby Lin-Manuel Miranda is, shall we say, not the stealthiest character in this movie, but once he’s done with the shifty eyes, he does at least successfully leave the poisoned book in the correct room.
But then OH NOES! Henry and his wig are outside frolicking and Lin’s brother CHARLES winds up reading the poisoned book. Rather than pushing the book out of his brother’s hands to SAVE HIS LIFE, Lin stands there frozen as Charles licks his fingers between every page turn like, “Falconry is so fun to read about why are these pages so sticky oh well.”
There’s a soiree that night, ostensible to celebrate Mick Jagger’s impending departure to be the Kind of Poland (poor Poland), but also so that Charles can throw shade over the whole family that’s always hated him. Sidenote: pretty sure martini glasses were not a thing in 1572.
When Charles falls ill, Not!Stradamus diagnoses him with an acute case of arsenic-laced falconry book which, funny coinidence, Not!Stradamus laced with poison himself. When Charles demands to know who ordered this special book, he’s devastated to learn it was his own mother, Cathy. And instead of hallucinating sex ghosts like when people get long-term poisoned on Reign, Charles is afflicted by sudden hair loss and bloody sweat. Cathy feels terrible about accidentally murdering him, but points out that the book has FRTK’s name written in it (remember? He had the book at the beginning??) and so now they have to execute FRTK for poisoning Charles. I guess?
Margot and Henriette rush to save her lover, in their most power outfits. But unlike when Henriette massacred Protestants or when Margot stood up to her family, this time they’re too late to be of any assistance. Nothing left to do but for Margot to run to beg Charles to spare FRTK from the executioner.
Trouble is Charles is… not doing great these days. Arsenic poisoning will do that, apparently.
Margot arrives in the white gown that’s maybe the most famous garment from this entire movie. I’m not sure what to think of this dress, honestly. We all know by how Margot can pull off a dropped shoulder like nobody’s business, but the additional straps and solid white color veer this into either prom or wedding dress territory. Which is not a bad thing, necessarily, especially when she steps up the accessories like she does here.
We’ve got a long strand of pearls, doorknocker earrings, some sort of forehead situation, and little stars just over her ears. Perfect for dazzling your slowly-dying-of-poison King/brother into setting your lover free.
She’s got just as much going on from the back, with I presume three hair combs. If this was 1994 and I was getting ready for my prom, I would be cosplaying this whole outfit, real talk.
Not even sure what to call this little starfish hair thingie.
As Margot pleads for FRTK’s life, Cathy lurks up in a balcony looking for all the world like Nosferatu crossed with Yzma from The Emperor’s New Groove. She even exits by walking slowly backwards, having now completed her transformation into literally the undead.
But wouldn’t you know it, Charles takes Margot somewhere quiet to talk and he starts excreting blood from everywhere, all over himself and her dress and the white sheets. Charles then admits that their mother poisoned him and also that FRTK has already been executed for the poisoned Bible sitch. Margot, devastated and beyond fed up with her murderous family, basically goes into a walking coma.
Oh, FRTK. You were too pretty for this world. But we’ll always have your two full-frontal scenes.
With Charles now officially dead, Mick Jagger whips back into town from Poland so quickly I wonder if he ever actually went to Poland? Cathy is apoplectic with happiness for her #1 most favorite son to be back. They practically make out which, at this point, wouldn’t have even shocked me.
Mick Jagger struts out onto a balcony to be proclaimed the new King, celebrates by making out with his Thor lookalike lover, and prepares to rule for 14 terrible years as one of the worst kings in French history (spoiler).
Margot is now basially wandering catatonically around Paris and winds up at wherever it is that the bodies of executed people are laid out, conveniently with heads above bodies. She’s clearly thinking about that weirdo promise she made to FRTK as she tentatively strokes the side of the severed head of her lover as if to say, “How would it feel to do this every day for the rest of my life?”
Bitch, don’t do it! He’s dead, he’ll never know if you kept his head or not! No! Put down the severed head! Oh, honey.
Margot’s plan now is to escape to Navarre, where her husband and his wig are currently hiding out. She’s like, “Henriette, wanna come with?” and Henriette, god bless her, is like, “Girl, you’re cray. There is literally nothing I want less in the world. Adieu.” She’s looking oddly period appropes in this gold and mint number that would look breathtaking on Rachel Skarsten if the Reign costumers are on the lookout for wardrobe to borrow.
So Margot heads off, alone in the world other than the severed head in her lap, to an uncertain future. But spoilers? She lives longer than any of Cathy’s other children, takes lots more amazing lovers, becomes a patron to the arts and also Queen of France and Navarre so basically turns out to be the greatest and most successful of all of the de’ Medici bunch. (You can learn moire about the RL Marg in the amazing book The Rival Queens: Catherine de’ Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal that Ignited a Kingdom.)
FRTK was a real person too, who was really Margot’s lover and got executed for being implicated in a plot to kill the King. How do we know? Because, aside from being a Queen in every possible way, Margot also wrote a series of extremely scandalous personal memoirs which you can also read if you’re into that sort of thing.