No time for a cute intro because there’s so much show to get into here. We knew that the final episodes of Reign were going to be bonkers, and this week did not disappoint. Between the set-up for a season five that will exist only in our hearts and dreams, the wrap-up of this season’s big plotlines, and the inclusion of all sorts of IRL historical things — PLUS THE RETURN OF OUR FAV EVIL BOOK OF DARK MAGIC SPELLS — we wound up with a record 18 WTF moments. So fasten your seatbelts, grab a cup of tea, and dig in:
WTF #18: Keeping Up With The Valois-es
The curtain rises on the Valois Bunch, an especially attractive and incredibly duplicitous squad who, against all odds, continue to rule France. We’ve got new family member Nicole in ruffles on ruffles on ruffles, next to Charles, whose fur mirrors that of his mother, the lioness of the world. Henri’s giving heart eyes to Nicole, while Woke Bae is zoned out and Claude, sparkley as ever, couldn’t even be bothered to do her hair today.
What brought about this family reunion? The return of another Valois kid, Miss Leeza, all the way from Spain! She’s here in fur, showing that she’s on the Cathy/Charles level, not the Claude/Henri level. As per usz, she’s got about three times as many accessories as strictly necessary.
She pretends like she’s OK with Charles marrying a Protestant peasant, and then unveils a special gift for everyone: a cart full of heretics! She literally is like, “I thought watching their suffering could bring us closer as a family.” And real talk? With this crowd, it likely would.
The camera makes a point to linger on this Dreama-Walker-if-she-was-a-redhead type sitting apart from the others. As per Leeza, this is a notorious witch. I’m sure we won’t hear from her again later.
Once inside, Leeza shows that her gown matches her jewels, all red and gold and over the top in the most gorgeous way. Say what you will, but this woman has a way with a cloak. Next to her, Cathy looks regal in green, but less flashy. Keep this color story in mind, it’ll come up again in a bit.
Henri and Nicole are matching with their ruffled collars, though Nicole’s is both sparklier and wider, as befitting the future Queen of France (!!). Part of her new role seems to be the ability to conjur glasses of champagne out of literally nowhere, as seen below.
Nicole is like, “Basically, I’m breaking up with you, because I’m marrying Charles and he’s the King and you never will be, so boy, bye.” But with a sadness in her eyes so you know she doesn’t really mean it.
Henri also pretends like it was only a kiss, it was only a kiss, how did it end up like this.
I’m sure that’s it for the two of them. Moving on.
WTF #17: A big belly and an even bigger doge
HORSE DOG IS BACK! HORSE DOG!!! You know things can’t be that bad when Horse Dog is here. And who else is here but Lady “Former Teen Madame/Mother Of A Pirate Baby” Greer! And tea! Literally, it doesn’t get any better than this. (Unless if the Ghost of Davey Rizzio managed to turn up)
Mary is like twenty-five months pregnant at this point, so obviously we can all cut her some slack for this muumuu of a couture gown, but real talk: those are curtain hangings left over from The Mamas and the Papas California Dreamin’ Hotel or something, and also orange is really not your color, girl.
Greer looks fabulous, btw, from her combed and shiny hair to her goldy-greeny gown. See how they’re both wearing pendant necklaces, hair half-pulled back? Visual cues to show they’re on the same team — even the gold trim on both gowns shows they’re BFFs. Or maybe Mary chose the outfits on purpose so they’d match. When one is 75 weeks pregnant and a fashion star like her, of course she’d enjoy dressing her gal pals like dolls.
But Greer’s not just there for tea, good company, and some snuggles with Horse Dog. For not the last time this week, she comes bearing news about Mary’s dirtbag husband, The Darnster. Really, her face says it all:
Mary’s like, “But he’s been off for the past forty-seven days whoring and drinking, what does any of that have to do with me?”
WTF #16: That it took this long for a character on the show to get The Siph
Darnley’s pacing around his room, drenched in sweat, pants rolled up, no shoes, and working on some really cute stuffed animal projects. Note the #HorseOfForeshadowing below, he’s stealthily the episode’s MVP.
Mid-tirade, he pulls off his shirt to find these shingles-adjacent sores on his back. Mary, who grew up in a convent and used to visit the ill (like: not a great idea, Nuns Tasked With Raising The Scottish Queen), instantly recognizes this as The Siph: dude’s got syphilis.
She breaks it to him gently, all, “Did you happen to bed anybody with a bad case of The Siph?” and Darnley is like, “It’s the 16th century, I don’t think there was an expectation to self-disclose. But this would explain my constant hallucinations and increasingly erratic behaviour.”
Mary, still riding out that Knox in a Box thing where she’s all about benevolence and kindness, decides to send him to a hospital for some medical help, which is probably leeches.
WTF #15: Conscious uncoupling
So, King Charles holds a meeting with his sister Claude and bro-in-law Woke Bae, to break them the news he hasn’t been able to procure them an annulment. For a dude who continually claims to not want to be King, he’s sitting very comfy in this throne, boyspreading all over the place.
Claude, wearing what I bet is a hella cute black and gold gown that we see like 3% of, is like, “But you promised!”
And Woke Bae is like, “I will accept whatever decision you make, as long as it’s done in a mindful and considerate manner.”
But basically, Charles is going to marry a Protestant so he’s in no position to be asking for favours from the Pope, so these two are stuck in marital non-bliss for a bit longer. You two: look at your life, then at the lives of those around you. Your problems aren’t real problems. Like, at all.
WTF #14: Totally Not Evil Servant Jane keeping her family in French cheese
So, Totally Not Evil Servant Jane takes a break from her busy scheduling of looking shifty-eyed at the Queen to visit her peasant family. She comes bearing gifts of necessities of life for any English peasant, such as huge rounds of French cheese. Her family is like, “Thanks so much, but also, do all servants get paid this much? And why are all these goods French, rather than English?”
She responds with her trademark shifty eyes, and gives some blah blah about being late for work, and sets off because I guess she gets mornings off sometimes, and so does her farmer family?
Meanwhile back at her day job, Liz is still obsessing about who killed Gideon, who I guess is a person who used to be on this show? I have no memory of this “Gideon” person. Anyway, Liz holds up this ship’s manifest that she just happened to find in a room that Jane happened to be cleaning and which helpfully suggests that Archduke Whoever was the one who killed “Gideon.” Liz, looking lovely in a really great housecoat that also looks like something Cathy would wear as a dress, accessorizes with murderous obsession.
TNESJ is like, “What??? The Archduke??? Left a manifest behind and was responsible for everything? I! AM! SO! SHOCKED!”
But seriously Liz’s housecoat is so pretty, if I was her I’d wear it every day while moping around coming up with elaborate revenge schemes against those who have done me wrong. **hugs** for Liz.
WTF #13: That anybody would trust Leeza at all, let alone Henri, but here we are, yet again
Late at night, Leeza strolls in wearing yet another fab red and gold gown to chat with her little brother, Henri. He is obviously skeptical about what she’s selling, because she was the one who a hundred years ago was like, “Charles is going to step down and Spain wants you to be the King so you should go to court!” and we all know how that turned out.
Their coordinating red and gold costumes show that these two have more in common than just blond hair and a love of ostentatious costume jewellery. Leeza weaves her spell, and Henri is slowly convinced that what she’s telling him is the real deal.
What she is telling him is categorically untrue, of course. She’s like, “Spain totally wants you to be King and Charles is going to step down and there are ships in the harbour who are going to help you to take over, all you need to do is run off with Nicole ASAP. Deal?”
Henri, thirsty for any reason to run off with Nicole, agrees. In a second secret nighttime meeting where everyone’s still fully dressed, he meets up with his boo to explain what’s up.
Even Nicole, who tumbled off the turnip cart very recently, and who does not have a great record at all re: not falling for obvious lies, is like, this sounds categorically untrue.
But Henri sways her with their shared love and affection, and she agrees to run off with him. Her dress is super-Claude-adjacent with the pink and the puffed sleeves and all the bling. But you see how she and Henri don’t match visually? Even the lighting has him in the shadows and her in the light, which should be a clue that this is a bad idea but Nicole can’t see this shot, so she can’t know that.
And they’re off!
WTF #12: Ma Darnley, a surprise victor in The Worst Person On This Show
Upon learning that The Darnster’s been sent off for leech treatment, Ma Darnley storms into the bedroom of the Queen/56-weeks-pregnant woman Mary, being all, “How dare you send my son off for medical treatment?” Which is sort of a fair question, given that medical knowledge at this point comprised entirely of leeches, but have some respect, lady.
Also, she blends so seamlessly into the wallpaper it’s no surprise that Mary gets a little agitated.
So agitated, in fact, that Mary is cut off mid-speech with sudden contractions. The baby’s on its way, y’all!!
Ma Darnley only calls for a midwife because the baby is 50% Darnley, like you just know she’s hoping Mary’s about to die in childbirth (which is very likely because, again, medical knowledges = leeches).
Mary’s birthing suite is both wildly unhygienic and also, on a laundry-level, not the greatest choice of fabric color? Oh well, at least, Greer’s there as her doula/Lamaze partner.
Ma Darnley is also there, watching it all like on The Handmaid’s Tale that time, until she sees Mary isn’t doing well, and slowly backs out of the room because she has suddenly thought of The Meanest, Most Cruel Thing She Can Possible Do In This Situation.
Step 1 in her plan is to go visit The Darnster at the leech hotel where he’s been convalescing. It is one part dungeon and one part Celine Dion music video, and he is the only patient.
She has very little sympathy for her son, basically going all anti-vax on him, like, “You can think your way out of this with the power of positive thinking! Have you read The Secret?”
The Darnster is like, “I see dead people, Mummy,” and she’s like, “I don’t care if you are boning dead people (tm Cathy and Henry), you’re the damn King and we’re going to get you some more power.”
So, she heads with her syphilitic dirtbag of a son back to the castle, where she calls an emergency meeting of the Privy Council, now filled with 100% all dudes who think girls have cooties.
Straight up, she saw that Mary’s labour was going poorly, and her first thought was: how can I use this to my advantage? I didn’t think I could hate any villain more than GJK, but here we are. Slow clap for Ma Darnley, officially now The Worst. Yes, even worse than her son! LEGIT THE WORST.
WTF #11: Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?
Narcisse is just all dark, no stars here, sitting like the legitimate Devil, sitting amid cheese rinds and other evidence that TNESJ’s fam used to live here. She comes in, and he’s basically Hannibal Lector, like, “HELLO CLARICE.”
Yes, in a plot twist that I thought we’d all figured out last week but, judging by Twitter, we didn’t? The mystery person TNESGJ’s been shifty-eyed for is Narcisse himself, the man who last week explained he’s the one who killed “Gideon.” And he paid her in cheese, and now wants her to repay him with silence, e.g. not telling anyone that he was involved.
She’s like, “I won’t! Liz is going to like attach Austria or whatever because I planted that map like you said! Also, where’s my family?”
And he’s like, “Let’s both pretend that I just kidnapped them, and didn’t kill them already, because then I can threaten that if you tell on me, I’ll kill them, even though real talk: I think we all know they’re dead, bellies full of cheese.”
So plot twist: Totally Not Evil Servant Jane is… totally not evil. She just chose the worst possible criminal mastermind to be a minion for.
WTF #10: Charles in charge
In a refreshing change of pace, Leeza and Cathy have an evening conversation while wearing actual bedclothes. Good to know someone in this castle actually sleeps. Leeza looks like a cute little kid with her braid and nightie, while Cathy is Joan Crawford-level glam in her velvet robe and gold nightdress.
Cathy’s basically like, “What are you up to?” and Leeza’s like, “I dunno. Nothing,” and Cathy’s like, “Tell meeeee,” and Leeza’s like, “Nuh-uh,” until Charles storms in — not in his pajamas, note — with an army to arrest Leeza for her involvement in Henri trying to take over the throne and also kidnapping Nicole. Yes, Charles thinks Nicole was taken against her will, which: #bless
Cathy and Leeza are both like, “Aw, how cute, he’s play acting being the real King.”
But Charles is not messing around, guys. Leeza is straight-up forced from the room by the guards, and sent to the same jail cells as the heretics she brought earlier as gifts.
WTF #9: Call the midwife. No seriously, we need some help here right now.
So, Mary’s still in her unending, apparently days-long childbirth (the better for Ma Darnley to ride around the country scheming). Things are not going well, basically. She’s now had Bothwell come join her, because she straight-up thinks she’s going to die and wants to say goodbye. It is mega sad.
Also, am I remembering correctly in that literally every Doctor ever on this show has been entirely useless? This guy just sort of stands around vaguely, occasionally saying things like, “Yeah, she’s a goner,” and not even doing anything helpful like… leeches, or whatever. He’s also brought along the weirdest assortment of tools, like I think maybe he’s actually a dentist, not an OB/GYN?
So Mary, languishing in the state of this terrible medical care, fully passes out, zombie-eyed, baby still inside her.
But lucky Bothwell’s there, because it turns out the particular baritone resonance of his voice, or maybe the magic powers of his dimples and perfectly symmetrical face, are just what’s needed to bring her back to life.
Because with a mighty inhale, our gal is back! The soundtrack breathily implores her to breathe, but she’s got no time for that, she’s got a baby to deliver!
Once we see the baby, it becomes clear why the labour was so tricky. This child is legitimately three months old.
But the fam is all super-stoked that a) the baby’s here, b) the baby’s alive, c) Mary’s alive.
Everything’s great! For the next five minutes.
WTF #8: Mary’s miniscule maternity leave
Mary’s a little pale, and wrapped in 75 blankets by the fire, but glowing with pride and probably relief that she’s got a kid now and hopefully life will be less terrible. Like, she has wanted to be a mother for so long, it’s really quite moving to see how naturally she falls into the role. It’s helpful that Baby James is already three months old and sleeps all the time, but still.
Bothwell is like, “So can we kill Darnley now, or just wait for The Siph to do its thing, or…”
But Mary, even more now on #TeamPeaceAndLove, is not about that vengeance life. All she wants is to be together with her two guys (i.e. Baby James and Bothwell), one beautifully-haired family all together, despite the fact she is currently married to someone else. Also, she had a baby and almost died ten seconds ago, can we let her live?
Ever the bearer of bad news, Greer pokes her head in to be like, “Er, sorry, this is awkward but….”
Guess what her news is? Oh just guess. If you said, “Ma Darnley’s got the Privy Council turned against Mary and sprung The Darnster from the leech hotel,” you would be right. And I think Mary speaks for all of us when she says GIRL WHAT?
And indeed, Ma Darnley is speaking to a roomful of men, being like, “So The Darnster is the King and you’re all going to back him up because Mary is a girl and that’s just gross, right?”
But who comes in, having successfully completed her government-mandated maternity leave? Oh, just Mary “BAMF” Queen of Scots, with an assist from Greer.
The other man leave the room so that Mary can face down her enemies in person, and Darnley’s all, “I HAVE THE SIPH!” and Ma Darnley is like, “EVERYTHING IS FINE!” and Mary, who hasn’t had a chance to sleep yet this whole episode, is at her wit’s end.
But unfortch, #TeamDarnley is not to be stopped. For now.
WTF #7: You never expect the English armada
So, TNESJ’s poker face has gone from pretty bad to downright see-through. She delivers tea to Liz with the motions of a human who has only recently re-learned how to walk and talk.
But Liz is too busy blending in perfectly with her room to notice and/or care.
Like, that is an interesting choice and not the first time we’ve seen Liz blend in like this. Does it mean that she’s so singular, so confident in ruling alone, that she matches the castle itself rather than any other human? Like, she certainly doesn’t visually match with this new character.
Meet Sir Francis Drake! Not the pirate from that other time, he’s a new-school pirate, one with short hair and a very pointy goatee.
Liz assigns him to attach Archduke Whoever’s fleet and steal all his stuff as revenge for the whole “Gideon” scenario.
And to be fair, he does do this. He just doesn’t quite follow Liz’s instruction to hide his British allegiance, so now Austria knows it was her, and also he’s accidentally started a war with Spain. Liz receives this news in maybe the most amazing cape this show has ever had, again in a color scheme that blends in perfectly with the decor.
SFD is all arrogant and cocksure and like, “Yeah, so we’re in a war, but what about my goatee, amirite?”
And at first Liz can’t quite comprehend the magnitude of what she’s accidentally unleashed on the world.
SFD, unfamiliar with the nuances of #RachFace, isn’t sure what she thinks either.
But of course, she is terrified and horrified, and all of the ‘fieds, because colonizing North America is one thing, but engaging in war against the most powerful country in Europe is like… a whole other thing that I guess season 5 would have gotten into, but for now let’s just imagine through Rachel Skarsten’s facial expression, how that all is about to go down.
WTF #6: Leith is still ruining everything, in absentia
So, Cathy’s got one kid on the run with another kid’s fiancee, after the aforementioned kid threw another of her kids in jail. So when she comes to find Claude (in a pretty, but non-Claude-like beige number) weeping, it could really be for any number of reasons.
What she did not expect to hear is the name “Leith,” as in, “Claude just found out that Leith is marrying someone else after making her promise to wait for him, which she has done, because he is the worst.”
Cathy is an amazing mother, of course, but even this level of C-plot inanity is a bit more than she can handle at the moment. (Sidenote: her ensemble here is so great, like the sequinned version of those housecoats she always used to wear).
But, the amazing person that she is, Cathy plays get a grip friend for her daughter, basically outlining that what Leith did was emotional blackmail, reminding Claude she’s lucky enough to be married to Woke Bae, and that yes, Cathy did try to murder her that one time but that was because of a poisoned diary and it’s nice they’re close again, right? Honestly, it’s a sweet scene and Cathy really gives great relationship advice.
But seriously, Claude: go to Woke Bae. You are in the best life situation of literally anyone on this show, and your weird addiction to trying to find problems where there aren’t any, is ironically your only problem.
WTF #5: Orange is the New Black, 16th Century Style
Remember that time Cathy was put in jail, and in like ten minutes she turned her jail cell into her personal boudoir, complete with manservants? Leeza is… not working at that level of badassery.
Also, just so we don’t forget, Notorious Witch is still hanging out in a nearby cell, looking now a bit more like Anna Kendrick than Dreama Walker.
Cathy waltzes in looking THE BOMB DOT COM. Her hair is snatched, her face is beat, her outfit is red and gold and flaw free and just so happens to be the same colour scheme that Leeza is so fond of. Basically, she’s done herself up like it’s the Oscars red carpet, mainly to make Leeza feel even worse about herself because her mother is looking so damn good. Cathy, you a cold one. #respect
Basically, she’s like, “Leeza, you’re the worst, but I will help get you out of jail if you promise me all of the favours from Spain,” and Leeza is literally snivelling, “Yes, Mummy,” and I guess in season five we’d have learned what these favours were going to be? But it’s perhaps enough for now just to see Cathy so entirely get the upper hand over this wannabe who’s been sniping at her heels all season. There is just one Valois Queen and her name is Cathy and even if you’re her kid, you better not cross her.
WTF #4: Jail witch for hire
So, Henri and Nicole are still on the run, but because of the whole Liz/SFD ship snafu, the armada Henri expected to back him up have all peaced out to fight war against England. So Henri and Nicole are gone, and Charles still thinks it’s because Henri kidnapped her, and it’s so sweet, and so sad, and also is like… girl, you need to wake up, come on now.
Charles explains his feelings to his mother, Cathy, who’s like, “Fine, OK, I’ll deal with it, as per ever,” and heads down to the jail again. But this time, it’s not to see Leeza, it’s to visit The Notorious Witch. Cathy just slumps against the jail bars, like, “Hey girl hey, do me a solid?”
And the favour she’s asking for is — surprise!!! — for Notorious Witch to use The Evil Book Of Dark Witchcraft from a few episodes ago to cast a curse/spell on Nicole! Ooooh, you in danger, girl.
Love these two shots, first of Notorious Witch being like, “Whoa, I’d heard about this book but I didn’t think it really existed!”
And then Cathy being like, “YASSSSSSSSSSSS.”
It’s great watching Cathy squirm her way out of a no-win situation, but it’s even more fun to watch her plan her attacks when she’s at the top.
WTF #3: TNESJ shoulda taken off after the oar incident, honestly
Liz has finally put 2 + 2 together to realize that TNESJ was the one who poisoned her boo (she doesn’t know about the Narcisse bit yet), and has decided to take her revenge slowly, like a cat circling a very doomed, shifty-eyed mouse. And when TNESJ brings her tea, it all begins. Has tea drinking ever been as ominous as on this show?
So Liz is like, “TNESJ, I can’t help but think maybe you had something to do with poisoning my boyf about forty-seven days ago. WHAT SAY YOU?”
And TNESJ is like, “Lol, I mean, ha ha, I can’t even respond to that, what a bonkers theory, ha ha, anyhoo, gotta go, make some tea, etc…”
And Liz is like, “REALLY? So it wasn’t you? But what about… how it totally was?”
And TNESJ is like, “No! Not me! You’re paranoid! Come on! You know me! I wouldn’t play you like that!”
And Liz pulls the best badass move being like, “OK, fine. I’ll stop asking you about it,” and TNESJ is like, “Phew.”
And THEN Liz throws open the doors to be like, “MY TORTURORS WILL ASK YOU ABOUT IT NOW! HAVE FUN ROTTING IN HELL! MWAHAHAHAHA!”
See you never, TNESJ. Better luck next time vis-a-vis choosing who to partner with on evil schemes to keep your family in cheese.
WTF #2: Mary reaches out
In our Twitter poll, “Mary’s Letter” was the winner of the biggest WTF of the episode, and we sorta agree. Like, this wasn’t a WTF in the same way as Jail Witch For Hire was, but it was definitely a jaw-dropper of a moment that really changes things for this show.
Mary’s been on this new kinder, gentler kick not just after the whole Knox in a Box thing, but after being so isolated and in so much danger constantly in Scotland. For her to choose to be the bigger person, and relate to Liz as a Queen, a cousin, and as a woman, was truly beautiful to see.
But also, I mean, after everything girlfriend’s been through today, all she gets is a cup of tea? Good for what ails you, I guess.
Anyway, Baby James is so cute in this little furry Ugg boot of a blanket, and Mary looks so hopeful and so happy with him out on the balcony. I’m not crying, you’re crying. OK, we’re all crying (except for Baby James, who is far too polite).
Like always on this show, nobody can ever smile with happiness and relief and not expect something horrible to happen in the next scene. Even Baby James knows this, look at his face when Mary puts him down for a nap. He’s like, “Don’t you know what show you’re on, woman??”
WTF #1: I blame Ma Darnley for this one
So The Darnster is not only back living in the castle, but is also apparently allowed to wander around wherever he wants. And where he wants to be is with Baby James, the infant unlucky enough to have inherited 50% of his genes from this mess. Though to be fair, Darnley can sew a really cute stuffed horse (remember, from before?)
Darnley shoos the maids from the room, and gazes down at his son, doing one of those things where he’s so sincere that the audience is like, Aw, he’s not so bad, followed immediately by something bonkers, in this case, the appearance of his hallucinated dead gf, Keira. Darnley’s like, “We’re going to raise you, Baby James!” and Baby James is like, “If only I knew how to cry.”
Mary is woken up from a badly-needed nap, not by Greer with Darnley news, but by Bothwell with… well, other news.
OH NOES! It’s a Jane the Virgin twist! And leaving the horse in the crib like this is Lifetime movie of the week level tug-at-your-heartstrings.
Next week: will Mary and Bothwell rescue the baby? Will Mary ever get to go to sleep? What will Notorious Witch do to poor Nicole? Will TNESJ tattle on Narcisse? How will Liz handle war with Spain? Will Darley ever get what’s coming to him? SO MANY PLOT THREADS FOR JUST ONE MORE EPISODE LEFT Y’ALL.