In the history of this magnificent show, there have been a number of timelessly epic moments that became instant classics — Henry sexing a woman out the window, Penelope the Bean Queen, Clarissa (just in general), that time Mary woke up with antlers over her bed. This week’s episode is like a remix of the greatest, most bonkers parts of every episode to date, mixed up masterfully into maybe the best Reign episode of all time? Though, real talk: sexing a woman out the window may still hold that record. Mid-episode, we weren’t even sure how many WTFs this was going to take to recap so let’s just see where it all takes us, right? Note: as per usual when the WTF moments are this out of control, these are not in order of bonkers-ness, but rather just in the order they occurred.
WTF #12: Topless Wine Tasting
So, everyone’s new favorite scheming courtier, Miss Nicole, has taken being Narcisse’s protegee/lover to the weirdest possible place, and that is: topless wine tasting in the wine cellar.
This season has definitely tipped its hat to Dangerous Liaisons before, but this is so close to that story’s “using a courtesan as a writing desk” that at this point, why not just fully go there? Anyway, Nicole is still all Narcisse ILU and Narcisse is just cringing and pretending he has a soul, and we’d spend more time talking about this any other week but there are WEIRDER THINGS TO DISCUSS.
That being said: Nicole has the cutest hair.
WTF #11: Prince Henri’s Bellydancetravaganza
So, Prince Henri appeared in his new Rapidly Aged form, and this week we learn more about him. Things like: he knows how to find bellydancers in 16th century France, and how to get them agree to a private party.
He also rounded up theme furniture, including a magic carpet type rug and some overstuffed ottomans, and we find him chillaxing with his sister Claude, his brother-in-law Woke Bae, and basically doing his best impression of Jason Statham in “Spy” with the nonstop tales of his amazing exploits.
His older brother, the literal King of France, shows up with Nicole (hair back into her totally not sleeping with Narcisse pompadour/fauxhawk style), to be like, “Did I miss my invitation, LITTLE brother (who is also not King and also not banging Nicole like I am)?”
Nicole is practically purring when she sees Henri lounging on one of his theme ottomans, and he plays it cool too in the leather pants that are sort of like the Valois family version of a tartan I guess?
Anyway, then Henri pulls out a bunch of gifts for the others: a belt that Claude puts on her head, a giant sword that Woke Bae is like I respect this sword for its artistry although I generally eschew violence and………. A BOOK OF EVIL BLACK MAGIC WITCH SPELLS!!!
Cathy shows up to be like, “Boys, play nice, and also? I’m just going to take that book of EVIL BLACK MAGIC WITCH SPELLS in a confiscating sort of way, not in a I am totally going to cast some spells sort of way.”
WTF #10: Liz x Gideon are #StillGoingStrongGuys
Meanwhile back in England, Liz is busy wining and dining her latest prospective husband, a man who looks like the scientific result of combining the DNA of Prince Henri, Leith Bayard, James Hawkins The Pirate, and Toby Regbo. He’s the Archduke of Blah Blah and a Catholic and Liz is like, This is fine. I can marry him and EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE.
But we all know that, as of two episodes ago, her heart belongs to Gideon, who is — say it with me — #StillOnTheShowGuys. And they? Are in LOVE. FOR REAL.
WTF #9: Come at me bruh x 3
So remember how last time James had to leave but before he left he was like Mary you have to get in touch with Bothwell because a) he’s got your back and b) dem dimples. So Lord Ponytail arrives at court, but Davey Rizzio is like GIRL NO, BAD IDEA, DARNLEY IS NOT GOING TO WANT TO SEE YOU.
But Lord Ponytail (henceforth known as LP because I have a lot to type right now guys) is like, “Mary! Hey girl hey! I came here because you asked me to! Look, I grew a new dimple!”
Mary is wearing THE MOST GLORIOUS CAPE OF ALL TIME, all 1940s Joan Crawford meets 1980s Joan Collins from the shoulderpads to the sequins, and when Darnley is like “GIRL WHAT???” she scoots over to calm the fires of TESTOSTERONE-DRIVEN MAN JEALOUSY.
But LP is bringing it this week with his Errol Flynn adventuring swagger, and no vainglorious King Consort is going to get in the way of him flashing dem dimples at his boo.
Mary’s still INTO THIS because girlfriend has a functioning sex drive, but she and her cloak hold firm, asking him to leave. Love Davey in the background here like, You guys, calm down.
Because of course Darnley is like COME AT ME BRUH and LP’s like COME AT ME, BRUH and they’re just circling and circling until Mary and her cape get between them like GROW UP OMG.
Spoiler: Darnley and LP’s animosity is not going anywhere anytime soon.
WTF #8: Marcia Marcia Marcia
Henri is not only hauling ottomans into the main hall but also got them to lay out some Astroturf in the main courtyard so he can play tennis with his “big” bro.
In the makeshift bleachers are Claude and Woke Bae, there to cheer on Henri, along with Nicole, there to cheer on Charles while secretly ogling Henri. They all look Wimbledon-level fab, naturally. I would have zero problem with 21st century spectator sports including more baby pink fur and elegant fauxhawks.
Remember back in season one when their Dad was haunted by the ghost of his dead brother, also carrying a tennis racket? (And then it turns out it wasn’t a ghost, it was a POISONED BIBLE) Basically: tennis and brothers always lead to tragedy on this show. Because?
Yes, Henri “accidentally” hit the ball directly into Charles’s nose in what can only be the historical precedent for the time Jan did that to Marcia on The Brady Bunch. Nicole hurries off with her boo to get leeches in his sinuses or whatever, while Narcisse’s schemey senses tell him something is not right. But what is so right? Is his fur-lined tennis ensemble. And also that fab parasol with tassels. Henri may not be King (yet) but he’s a great set decorator.
So anyway, Narcisse discovers in a twist any Canadian high school student will recognize from Robertson Davies’s Fifth Business, that there were rocks inside of that tennis ball!! Henri broke his brother’s nose on purpose!! After first decorating the hell out of the courtyard area!!!
You can see the seeds planted already of Narcisse being like, “Not sure if annoyed… or proud?”
WTF # 7: Yet Another Ungrateful Valois Kid
So, Cathy brings Henri in for some real talk vis-a-vis breaking the King’s nose. I mean, if Cathy gave me this look? This I’m not mad I’m disappointed AND ALSO MAD look? I would basically devote the rest of my life to making it up to her-slash-watching my back because of how she’s clearly going to murder me.
But Henri’s too busy talking about how amazing he is to notice and/or care.
But of note: she basically blackmails him with the EVIL BOOK OF BLACK MAGIC SPELLS by saying that if he doesn’t make nice to his brother, she’ll throw Henri in jail for heresy.
Which brings us to…
WTF #6: Most Awkward Family Dinner This Side Of Bates Motel
So the whole Valois fam joins hands to enjoy a meal together. Charles and Nicole, Henri, Claude and Woke Bae, Cathy, and Honorary Step-dad Narcisse. The web of scheming and/or secret affairs within this single list is enough to send the table crashing down. Also, Charles is wearing a nose bandage that looks like a Biore nose strip, which is hilarious.
So Nicole doesn’t know where to look: at her actual boyfriend, Charles? At her secret lover, Narcisse? At her new crush, Henri? At the woman who we all assume will eventually destroy her, Cathy? Like anyone would, she splits the difference and just sort of looks gorgeous while gazing into the vague distance. Cute necklace. Amazing how she’s been off the farm for like one month and already has her courtier style down pat: simple elegance combined with raw ambition.
But then like all siblings in every time period in every country since time immemorial, Henri can’t stop himself from being an ass to Charles. And Charles can’t stop himself from being provoked by Henri.
Which turns swiftly from a war of words to an actual fistfight. Ugh, the amount of testosterone this week, right?
WTF #5: You know this is your biggest mistake/ What a waste, what a waste, what a waste
So. Mary and Darnley. The episode begins with them in a not totally hating each other mood, as they’re busy planning to invade England and capture Liz. Nothing bonds a struggling relationship like working together to destroy ones enemy.
But Darnley can’t stop being The Worst for more than five minutes, because next thing you know’s he’s in on the blackmail game too. He’s like, “Give me the Crown Matrimonial or I’ll intentionally sabotage the Liz Kidnapping Plan and she’ll know it’s you and she’ll kill you and also our unborn child.”
The thing is, the troops heading out to capture Liz have Mary’s royal seal, which if Liz sees it, will get Mary in a boatload of trouble. So Mary convenes her Amazing Hair Squad of LP and Davey Rizzio to help her out of this predicament.
And what she asks them to do is… I can’t even believe it myself. But the thing is… she needs LP and Davey to track down…
WTF #4: GIDEON GETS SOMETHING TO DO THAT IS IMPORTANT TO THE PLOT
I mean. By this point, I’d basically assumed Gideon had hung out on set for so long that everybody was too embarrassed to tell him he wasn’t needed anymore but OF COURSE these genius Reign writers had a reason for keeping him around all season AND HERE IT IS. I’m honestly a little proud of our guy. No longer just #StillOnTheShowGuys, he’s the LYNCHPIN OF THE ENTIRE EPISODE.
So: Liz is wearing the biggest goldest most amazing crown ever, when someone calls Gideon to come talk to them. Even she is like, “I’m sorry, do you have other friends besides me?”
BUT THEN!!! Who does he find in The Only Room In Liz’s Castle but #TeamAmazingHair. That’s right, it’s LP and Davey Rizzio!!!
And they’re like, “Gideon!!! Bruh!! Mary sent us here to see you for a Super Secret Special Mission. You in?”
And the thing is, they need Gideon’s help to find the guys with Mary’s seal so they can steal it back so Liz won’t find out Mary was behind the attempted kidnapping. Gideon’s like, “Sure, OK, I’ll help you but I’ll also secretly follow you and listen to your plans because I think I used to be a spy or something? Like last season?”
So, Gideon overhears their plan and ALSO he overhears when some dude dares to SPIT IN DAVEY’S FACE, which causes his main bro LP to #PonytailSmash:
And then blah blah they find Gideon and blah blah knock him out and bring him to Scotland, where the fate of Scotland now rests on Mary being able to remind Gideon of the love they shared and getting him to cover for them.
Gideon takes a moment to remember how he used to love Mary so much he literally betrayed his own country as well as how he was literally engaged to her at one time, and then he agrees to help cover for her. I think it’s mostly because of the sort of dead look she has in her eyes these days, so far from the spirited woman he knew what… like six episodes ago?
So he heads back to Liz and tells her some of what happened but not all, and if this is all Gideon gets to do for the rest of the show I think he’ll die happy. But I’m starting to think he may now be inextricably linked to the endgame.
WTF #3: Blackmail on top of blackmail on top of blackmail
So, after the whole Biore nose strip supper scenario, Henri heads out to chat with Narcisse, where he unwisely is like, “I know you’re sleeping with Nicole, so consider yourself blackmailed.”
But he has no idea who he’s messing with, because Narcisse blackmails the blackmailer, all, “Well I know you threw rocks at your brother’s face and also you brought the DARK BOOK OF EVIL MAGIC into the castle so: checkmate.”
But honestly, Narcisse sees in Henri a possible protege (in a non-sexual way) and makes a case to Cathy that maybe Henri would be a better King than Charles? He has interior design and party organizing skills, hid rocks in a tennis ball, and punched the King so like, what more do you want? Of course, Cathy can’t even.
But what she does next… I mean… I can’t…
WTF #2: CATHY PERFORMS DARK WITCH MAGIC
AND LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN.
But also… real talk? You know this isn’t going to go like she wants it to, like the hair from Charles’s brush belongs to Nicole or to a dog or something, right? But anyway. We are HERE for Cathy’s new full descent into Malificent realness. Can’t imagine a better way for this show to wrap up than with some sort of Immortal Cathy Turning into a Dragon scenario.
WTF #1: Even on this show, the patriarchy is still the real enemy
So, thanks to Gideon (??????) Mary’s plan worked to get her Royal Seal back so Darnley can’t blackmail her vis-a-vis the Liz abduction scheme. He heads back to the castle all pissy and she’s just sitting there in a TRIANGLE OF POWER, three gorgeous brunettes with amazing hair who you do NOT want to mess with.
Between their glossy waves, cut cheekbones, and overall badass aesthetic, Darnley is legitimately thrown back a bit, sort of like flying too close to the sun.
And Mary does NOT hold back. She’s like “You will NEVER be my equal, you are a TERRIBLE person, I will HATE YOU FOREVER, GOOD DAY SIR I SAID GOOD DAY!!!”
But Darnley is like, “OH GIRL I AM JUST GETTING STARTED!!!”
He throws down his grossest, most awful card here when he’s like, “What if I tell everyone that I’m not the father of your child? WHAT IF I TELL EVERYONE THAT CHILD IS A BASTARD???”
And LP and Davey are like, “Girl what? You didn’t tell us you were pregnant!”
And Mary and Darnley just like stare each other down until finally he walks away, and she’s left there on the throne — the most powerful and simultaneously least powerful she’s ever been — like:
So all I can do right now is hope that somehow the hair from that brush was Mary’s? And she gets the benefits of Cathy’s spell because this is shaping up to be one unwinnable situation for the Queen of Scots rn.