OK, we need to get a little vulnerable here. When we read the title of this week’s episode — “A Grain of Deception” — a shiver went down our spines as repressed memories of that season two grain shortage plotline that made us reach for the box of TV wine overwhelmed us. Like, real talk, 0% of us watch this show to hear debates on tariffs, we want Cathy Murders and Mary Stabbings and Liz Rolling Her Eyes and OUT.FITS. But then we remembered that the OG grain plotline led to the intro of Narcisse and simultaneously Francis was haunted by Ghost Daddy so of course the writers know what they’re doing. So, while grain shipments are again involved, they’re just the precipitating event to Mary Stuart’s First Annual St. Bridget’s Day Fashion Show/Spy Identification Extravaganza which: worth it.
WTF #5: Charles In Charge (of a secret Renaissance fight club???)
It’s been a hot minute since we last saw King Charlie, and he’s still sporting his Spiders in a Jar aesthetic of rings around his eyes, pale pale skin, unkempt hair and an overall glazed-over affect.
This week, he also has 1) unexplained inner arm bleeding and 2) mysteriously covered-in-blood hands. Now, this could be a self-harming situation OR maybe he’s a blood bag for a vampire BUT this is Reign and our guess is: secret after-hours Renaissance fight club. We called it here first.
Also, while it sort of seems like talk therapy, a hug, and possibly medication could help him sort out his issues… sorry to say, he’s not going to get any better. We know, because we’ve seen his character in Queen Margot and it’s basically what Spencer MacPherson is serving here, but with longer hair.
WTF #4: Everyone forgets that women are people
This was an ongoing concern and, arguably, this week’s thesis. First of all, James Stuart — clearly still upset from last week when Mary communicated via body language that she won’t marry him, and also when she made him decapitate that guy — is like, “You can’t tell me what to do, Mary! You’re just a GIRL!”
And she’s like, “Bitch, I’m the Queen so: bow down.”
And he’s like, “But like… what?”
And she’s like “LEAVE.”
Oh but also James is like, “Our GRAIN SHIPMENTS are being STOLEN by the ENGLISH and I can’t figure out how or why? The only people who know our plans are you, me, and like four dudes I totally trust. It is a mystery we can never solve. Which man sold us out? Which human male was it”
And Mary’s like, “You realize that the men in question have wives, who are women.”
And James is like, “Right, but women aren’t people? So obviously they aren’t also spies scheming against us? As they are pretty decorations?”
Ultimately, it comes out that James isn’t upset so much about the grain as he is that he’s being bossed around by a girl. Ugh, grow up, James.
Oh also, Mary instructs him to seduce and destroy Gross John Knox’s (GJK) wife and, when he refuses, she still sends the wife a gift “from James” and James is like:
And he stomps off and she’s like, “All the sequins in the world cannot help fill the loneliness of my life, but they do help a bit.”
James, and I mean this with all love and affection: check yourself before you wreck yourself. Mary, naturally, knows not to underestimate what women will do for some D, and… well, you’ll see in a bit.
WTF #3: Liz makes the worst scheme of all time, ever
Meanwhile down South, Liz is lawn bowling with Narcisse (??) who ten seconds ago was in jail for being married to Lola who tried to kill her (??) and is sort of still her prisoner (????)
Possibly this is his new punishment: to play against Liz (who straight-up cheats), and also to have to wear this very very very puffy blouse.
The queen’s gown here is gorgeous and regal and in her trademark power color of red. Love a redhead in red!
Whatshisthing shows up like:
And he’s like, “should we go somewhere private to talk about secret political things or just like… chat here out in the open in front of Narcisse, the least trustworthy person in Europe…?”
Liz, in one of this week’s extremely pointy crowns, is like, “Narcisse is basically not even a person at this point, so just say whatever’s on your mind, boo.”
Meanwhile OF COURSE Narisse lurks in the background like a lurker who lurks…
“I am totally not eavesdropping right now, don’t you worry about me.”
The long and the short of it is that GJK shows up at English court like, “Hieeee girl! I totally didn’t set up Lola to either assassinate or get framed trying to assassinate you!”
And Liz is like, “My face is smiling, but inside, I am smashing you with a meat tenderizer.”
She then makes the Worst Decision Ever by enlisting Narcisse to help her catch GJK in the act of treason. Reminder: Narcisse haaaaates Liz, for understandable Lola-death reasons.
But vis-a-vis GJK: is Liz not the Queen? Does she not, later in this episode, mercilessly kill 50 dudes? Did she not, a hot second ago, also have Lola killed? Why the sudden need for legally-binding proof?
So, Narcisse heads over to be like, “My name is Narcisse and I am totally not tricking you into treason so you can be killed. Just here for some bro time, etc.”
And GJK is like, “Oh reeeeeallllllly.”
Anyway, of course GJK figures out he’s being framed, and of course he peaces out of there, so of course Narcisse takes off to see Darnley’s Mom (?) and blah blah, Darnley’s going to go marry Mary now, almost entirely because Liz trusted Narcisse which everyone on this show should know is never a good idea.
WTF #2: The Real Housewives of French Court
We just noticed this week that they pop up with names of locations now, to remind everyone that this isn’t all happening in one very busy castle where nobody runs into each other, but in three distinct countries. So in FRANCE, the Valois Gals are continuing their passive-aggressive reunion.
Cathy’s dressed for church with the high collar and the black lace and the Madonna-Like-A-Virgin-era-sized rosary-as-necklace. Claude looks lovely in her mourning ensemble, because she is physically unable to not look adorable at all times.
Leeza, with her upper-class Spanish accent, sixteen tonnes of jewelry, and pretentious piety is forcing the gals to go to mass like twelve times a day. She also wants to make some Spanish lord into Charlie’s new regent and has crazy eyes.
Cathy is like, “Queen, please. I want Narcisse to be regent, which he will be, once I can get my useless son to sign this piece of paper.”
Anyway, so Claude puts on some sheer swiss dots for a lunch date with the fam:
While Leeza wears maybe the biggest earrings even on this show — which is saying something — to throw out a lisping upper class Spanish accent and double down on her plan to have a Spanish dude take over as Regent.
Cathy, taking a note from Mary’s book, decides to throw a scheme party. She casts aside the black lace turtlenecks, lets her hair down, and brings out The Girls.
Claude, now in a feathered mourning top (or just feathers on top of her previous top? #unsure) is like, “I don’t mind going to mass, as I can pray for the soul of my BF Leith, who is totally dead*.”
(*read a hot theory on Instagram that maybe Leith is NOT DEAD because we haven’t seen his body?? Which is possible, especially on this show. Hmmm)
But then, of course, Leeza got to the nobles first, so it’s hardly the shindig Cathy was hoping for.
So she charges down to see her son, the emo King, to be like, “Child of mine, please just sign these papers to send Narcisse back if you ever do one thing for me make it this one thing OK?”
Charles, pale-faced and sweaty, just gazes off into the middle distance like, “Whatever.”
It’s only after Cathy storms out that he lifts up his hands to reveal they are covered in blood (?????) his own or someone else’s (??????) which is maybe the most legit WTF of the whole episode because what is happening to this young man.
WTF #1: Mary Stuart’s First Annual St. Bridget’s Day Fashion Show/Spy Reveal Extravaganza
This! This is why we love this show so much! Mary combines her two greatest passions — outfits made of French fabrics, and underhanded scheming — by throwing a party for all the ladies of court in order to suss out which of the wives is spilling Scottish secrets to the British.
Because not only is she a genius monarch but also, she is really tired of wearing only Scottish wool every day. Loveee her in this gold and black number, with this week’s mandatory pointy tiara and statement necklace.
She enlists Greer: former teen brothel owner, mother of a mixed-race pirate baby, Last Lady Left Standing, to be her accomplice. Greer, whose love of French fabrics and fashion is second only to her love for being a spy, is totally in.
So, the gal pals excitedly throw the First Annual St. Bridget’s Day Fashion Show/Spy Reveal Extravaganza and it is just as amazing as it sounds. First of all, Mary’s got a rad crown chain scenario along with a very regal look and tasteful jewels:
Greer’s given up on that half-bouffant thing in favor of her old standby Elsa braid, and is dressed fabulously in embellished green sheer loveliness. I love a Greer in green.
Mary, who’s spent like all her time in Scotland scheming with scowling dudes, is so clearly in her element here among the ladies of the court. And judging by the gal in plaid over on the left, this fashion intervention is long overdue.
Fashion models strut out in the finest French gowns, and the ladies stand around and admire and gossip while Greer and Mary are all shifty-eyed, waiting for their plan to coalesce. The ladies, who I don’t know if any will be important later include the gal with the sort of bellydance chain as statement necklace on the left, turtleneck in the middle, and needs deep conditioner on the right.
James pops in to be like, “HELLO LADIES I HAVE A TOP SECRET MESSAGE FOR THE QUEEN” and Mary is like, “THANKS, BROTHER I WONDER WHAT THIS SAYS” and stealthily lets slip a fake-secret to the suspects.
Oh also at the party, we meet Emily Knox, the wife of GJK which is such terrible news because he is the worst and she seems nice.
Of course the plan works, as Needs Deep Conditioner is found smuggling secrets to her lover, the blacksmith. While this proves Mary is a total badass and a worthy protegee of Cathy, the fact the party she throws was also a fashion show made us nearly weep for joy. Scottish wool, as she says, is warm — but nothing beats a killer silk gown and a bonkers statement necklace.
Also, as she proves with enough evidence to convince even Liz in case that was required: women are *gasp* people! Who have ears that hear information! Who sometimes share that information with blacksmith lovers who are also secretly English spies!