Friends, it has been such a treat to recap this series, WTF by WTF, for the past four years. We’ve watched Mary and Cathy dodge murder attempts between each other, the rotating door of scruffy-faced white dudes, and various bonkers organizations such as The Darkness, The Red Knights, the sexy pagans, and of course the biological warfare of the plague. For Mary, finally history catches up with her as she is basically done in by the biggest enemy of all on this show: The Patriarchy. Meanwhile, Liz is moving from the Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth phase to the Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age phase, and Cathy dips her toes into her La Reine Margot future. Also: the biggest WTF that ever WTF’d on this, or any show. So let’s dig in, because we can get through this, together.
WTF #1: Whatever happened to Baby James
Starting right where we left off with last week’s Jane the Virgin-esque kidnapping of Baby James, Mary is numb with terror, wrapped in a plaid blanket and both panicking and — one assumes — dealing with the physical after-effects of giving birth like ten minutes ago.
Her full Man Harem is on the case, starting with Bothwell, deploying his dimples for both reassurance and baby-finding reasons.
He’s also holding his tongue to be like, girl this is why you should have let me murder Darnley like six episodes ago.
The situation is so dire that even James has returned from self-imposed exile to help out-slash-gaze lustily at his half-sister in a Lannister-adjacent manner. Now, showrunner Laurie McCarthy said in a recent interview that she wished she’d been able to include a storyline about James’s unrequited love for his half-sister, but there wasn’t time. To which we say: nobody told Dan Jeannotte because boyfriends been selling this HARD since his first scene. It’s all in the eyes, and how theyre always focused on Mary’s bosom.
Somewhere on the astral plane, surely Davey Rizzio is helping out too with maybe also the ghost of Bash (who Laurie also said in an interview IS DEADSVILLE TOO???) (Seriously, between Laurie and the @reignwriters Twitter we’re getting like JK Rowling levels of “stuff we weren’t able to put in the show” info, it is truly a golden age)
WTF #2: Notorious Witch goes Black Phillip
In the same place that last week, Henri and Nicole decided to skip town, Cathy meets with her on-again/off-again piece to basically discuss how amazing they both are. Cathy is looking DTF in red and gold, a bit more ruffly than her usual style but just wait…
Narcy’s in ruffles too! It shows they’re on the same wavelength. So Cathy’s like, “Girl WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? I can’t even begin to tell you what you’ve missed,” and Narcy is like, “I was definitely not avenging Lola vis-a-vis cutting of GJK’s nuts-slash-creeping on TNESJ-slash-dooming myself to be gruesomely murdered by Liz in season 5.”
And then he’s like, “So what’s new here? Any Notorious Witches recently let out of prison after you gave them the Necronomicon?” And Cathy’s like, “FUNNY YOU SHOULD ASK HAHAHA.”
Emmanuelle is just chilling in the castle these days, her hair looking AMAZING and providing inspo to me personally to keep growing mine out. She is all, “I am but a waif-like Notorious Witch, sitting here by the fire with my ginger hair, any similarities to THE LITERAL DEVIL entirely coincidental. So what’s that about making a deal with me?”
And Cathy’s like, “There’s this girl I hate who is allergic to peanuts. Do me a solid?”
And Emmanuelle is like, “Sure, sure, no prob. But YOU TWO WILL BOTH OWE ME, MMKAY?” And a chill wind blows through that sounds weirdly like oh my god you guys this is going to be amazzzzzziiingnng
WTF #3: Deez nuts en machina
Meanwhile on a boat somewhere (?? Spain??) Henri and Nicole are sexing up the high seas. Nicole’s hair ALSO looks pretty cool, with that sort of 90s-throwback frizzy curl that, oddly enough, is also giving me inspo for days. These two. I mean, god bless, they’re happy together and what could go wrong?
Oh, right, DEATH NUTS.
Put into a DEATH SOUP.
TO BE CONTINUED.
WTF #4: Whatever happened to Baby James, part two
Meanwhile in a Scottish forest, Darnley is wandering out all sweaty with The Siph, accompanied by his ghost girlfriend/conscience Keira, and Baby James, still in his furry papoose from before.
In this scenario, given that James can’t speak yet and Darnley is Full King Henry Level Cray, Ghost Keira becomes the voice of reason. And honestly, in this situation, the most reasonable thing to do seems to be to abandon Baby J in the woods all on his own. Like, that’s not ADVISABLE UNDER NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES, but BJ seems pretty with-it and that blanket is p warm, and honestly I think that if Goblin King David Bowie turned up, that could be best for all involved.
WTF #5: Girl’s plotline interrupted
Perhaps the biggest casualty to this season finale being turned into a series finale is poor Princess Claude, seem here with a… wicker… choker? And a much less pink or cheery gown than her usz, stressing about how Leith is off marrying someone else (ALLEGEDLY) and now Luc has left her, and she’s all alone-y on her own-y, boo hoo, etc.
And… scene. Literally, that’s all that happens with Claude. If you’re interested in what happened to IRL Claude, and what may have transpired in season 5, Wikipedia’s got your back. Basically, she was married to a good guy (not named Luc but, presumably for this show, Luc) and had nine kids, and lived to a ripe-old-considering-the-era age of 27. Like, given what happens to other people who lived longer, as a Valois kid, she made out actually pretty great.
WTF #6: Mother knows best
So, post-peanut-murder, Henri brings Nicole’s dead body back to court (???) because, IDK. Does he think Cathy’s got an on-call necromancer who can bring her back to life? Wait, does she? Where is Nostro these days?
Basically, he dumps her body on the ground and gets into a pissing match with Charles about who this death is more about, Charles of Henri (both are too useless to realize that Nicole’s death is about her, and maybe they should tell her family back on the farm, like think about someone other than yourselves for ten seconds? Then again, who are we talking about. Oh right)
Pissing match turns to SWORDPLAY until Cathy intervenes, as ever. Did these kids get 0% of her DNA? Or is this just like a normal teen boy situation writ large because one of them happens to be the King?
Basically, Cathy is a BAWSE who has been lying about murders for longer than either of these two have been alive, so she swiftly convinces them that it wasn’t Charles’s fault or Henri’s fault or her fault (EVEN THOUGH IT WAS) but rather explains it was the fault of… Spain.
Ugh, her crown here is just so great, and I love her hair half-down, too. Always adored her in gold crowns to match her golden locks, and her face of faux-sincerity is so convincing that of course both boys stand down instantly. Such is the power of Cathy.
WTF #7: This guy? Still?
Didn’t we get rid of Duke Whoshisthing like a hundred years ago? Why is he still lurking around, all, Oh, marry me Lizzie, like did he not get the memo?? That Liz?? IS NOT INTERESTED??
Oh no but you guys, he’s in green with gold trim, and she’s in green with gold trim, and both have ruffles so like… they’re back on the same page. Liz is still thinking she needs a political marriage and this guy, for whatever reason, is it.
Rachel Skarsten yet again outdoes herself expressing how gross Liz finds this whole transaction.
If ONLY there was a way for her to stay Queen without having to choose some loser husband. IF ONLY.
To be continued.
WTF #8: Whatever happened to Baby James, part three
The babynapping sitch sorts itself out in the usual Reign record time, as Man James easily tracks down Baby James and brings him home, unharmed, and still wrapped in fur. Greer, another casualty of the series ending early, barely has time to make dewy eyes at James before the plotline intervenes.
Grateful for his help, and also apparently noticing that she never actually got a chance to name her baby, Mary announces that the child’s name shall be James.
For real. How long did this baby go without a name?
WTF #9: In her weakened state and in the face of championship dimples, Mary makes the worst decision ever
So, BJ now back home, with a name, everything’s cool again, right? EXCEPT NOT. Darnley’s still gotta Darnley, and he and his mother have some new gross way to try and get Mary out of the way. Bothwell defaults to his usual plan:
You, me, everyone at home, Wikipedia, the course of European history… even BJ know this is not any sort of a good idea. Sadly, BJ is our representative and, as a three-month-old newborn, still can’t speak. But if he could, he’d be like:
Bothwell uses everything at his disposal to get her to finally agree to his plan:
And Mary, still having recently lost a lot of blood, almost lost her baby, almost DIED, and everything else that’s happened to her this season, finally gives in.
WTF #10: Darnleys gotta Darnley
So, having abandoned his baby in the woods, Darnley is now hanging out in this abandoned house (??) full of furniture with fabric draped on it (???) just like, sweating and having all of the symptoms of his illness. Keira’s there for moral support but, again, she’s a ghost and not really there, so he’s not doing great.
Ugh, to make things worse, Ma Darnley is there too, being all, “Go destroy Mary! You’ll be such a good King!” like she’s basically a 16th-century dance mom feeding him go go juice like, these are not his dreams, lady! Stop living vicariously through him!!!
As this is the last we see of her, I thought I’d shout out what happened to her IRL which is: she tried to make a deal with Liz to take down Mary, Liz threw her in jail, and eventually Ma Darnley got herself poisoned to death. I like to think that, although Wikipedia credits this with Liz’s ex-boo Robert Dudley with her murder, Reign would have found a way for Cathy to do the deed.
WTF #11: TNESJ is #StillOnTheShowGuys
Girl, how are you still alive? Last week, Liz sent her off to the TOWER OF LONDON to be TORTURED, and yet here she stands, hair still neatly braided, no visible wounds, being sassy af to the Queen. Liz is like, “WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR???”
And TNESJ is like, “Well actually, my father was a servant of your father and your father was mean to my father so actually like, I’m the victim here? So…”
And then Liz straight-up murders her with a royal sceptre. I’m p sure she’s thinking, If only the oar had done its job back on the beach.
#RIP Totally Not Evil Servant Jane. You were in over your head, but also? Kind of the worst.
WTF #12: The devil’s threesome OR and the devil makes four
So. OK. Before this episode aired, we were warned by some looky-loos who managed to watch the finale a day ahead, that we were in store for something that would absolutely unseat the Top WTF on our countdown of Reign‘s top WTF moments. And we were like, okay, but is it more WTF than Clarissa? Than The Darkness leaving a sharpened human tooth in Olivia’s body? Than Knox in a Box?
And then… this.
Cathy and Narcisse come to visit Notorious Witch Emmanuelle in her… very fancy room where she is staying now, as maybe like the royal family’s special honoured guest? Narcy is lounging because that’s how he always sits, while Cathy looks sort of nervous about what Emmanuelle is going to ask of them, because remember, they owe her now.
Emmanuelle, again in front of the fire like IS SHE THE DEVIL I THINK MAYBE SHE IS? is like, “I’m sure you’re wondering why I’ve brought you here tonight.” And that reason is… SEXYTIMES.
Cathy and Narcy both down a mysterious drink like, you guys, make sure there’s no peanuts in there before you indulge.
They immediately get very loopy. Gang, these two have been WITCH ROOFIED.
And so then, they begin wildly making out on the bed in their many, many layers of clothes. Like, Cathy didn’t even take her shoes off. I guess that’s her kink?
Cathy and Narcy are into this, both because they’re both championship lovers who have fun together, but also because of the WITCH ROOFIES. While they’re distracted, Emmanuelle pulls out a KNIFE…
AND CUTS HER HAND WITH IT??
AND THEN CUTS CATHY’S HAND??? AND THEN LICKS IT????????
By this point, Cathy — even in her roofied state — is like, something is not right, and it’s not just that we’re all still fully clothed.
Yeah, so then Emmanuelle starts reciting like, Satanic scripture or something? Like summoning The Devil, and Cathy screams out her safe word, but Emmanuelle won’t stop, and Cathy’s like, “Narcy, stop, she’s trying to use your sperm to get pregnant with the Antichrist and I’m not sure why I’m here too? But it can’t be good!!”
Narcisse flees the room, sort of staggering because of the roofies, but it seems as though his work here is done, and Emmanuelle has gotten herself knocked up? Because Cathy grabs the knife and starts going full Davey Rizzio on her, just STABBING and STABBING and STABBING…
And Emmanuelle sort of giggles like this is all fun, and is not wounded at all, because she has Narcy’s baby/The Antichrist inside of her now, and she’s immortal???? Or ????? Guys I can’t even
To be continued.
WTF #13: You can’t always get what you want
Mary is not doing great. Bothwell’s off doing his extremely poorly-thought-out plan of blowing up Darnley’s house with Darnley inside, leaving her to wear these stunning earrings and host an alibi-themed party, where she pretends like she doesn’t know anything about the assassination. Girl needs a nap and a hug and like three years of holiday from her own life.
But! When the time comes for her to pull it out, she plasters on a happy face to entertain the Privy Council comprised 100% of people who hate her, and hopes for the best.
She’s doing her part, but guess who messes up his part? That’s right, Bothwell. He got some dudes he thinks he can trust to help him (spoiler: he fully cannot trust these guys) and they spill gunpowder all around the house, and light a fuse and… nothing.
So Bothwell runs up to the house to make it explode which like: not a good idea. He does succeed in blowing up the house and not dying, but guess who else didn’t die? That’s right, Darnley.
Rather than running off to try and murder him another time, Bothwell gives into the catfight these two have been circling since day one, attacking him in the burning rubble of his own home. Bear in mind that Darnley is a) syphilitic b) hasn’t eaten or slept in days and c) just got blown up, and you see that Bothwell has the advantage here.
So Darnley’s dead. Which like… yay? But also, sadness. But mostly, overwhelming sense of dread.
WTF #14: Liz chooses me
That letter Mary wrote a bit ago finally makes its way to Liz, who reads it by candlelight. Remember how Mary was like, “Girl, listen, let’s stop fighting because it’s a man’s world and we need to help each other out. With that in mind, please consider my son BJ as your heir, and also you don’t have to get married, and also I really don’t recommend getting married, it does not tend to work well for people in our family xoxo Mary”
Liz, strengthened by Mary’s words (which, true story, Mary and Liz really did write to each other lots), decides to pull a Kelly Taylor and choose no man as her husband, not now, not ever.
WTF #15: Cathy also chooses herself, finally
Cathy wanders out of the truncated threesome-slash-failed-murder, hair askew, eyes still glazed over from the Witch Roofies, to find her #2 and #3 sons finally bonding over something: their shared complete uselessness.
They’re planning to like invade Spain or something idiotic, and Cathy tries to tell them it will never work, but they don’t listen, because they never listen. And just like that, Cathy realizes that what’s the point? Of all the hard work to keep these two in power, when they will never be as smart or amazing as herself, or even Francis or their father.
So she strolls on out of there, facing her own life-changing moment. Emmanuelle is hanging out in the hallway now — still near fire, of course BECAUSE THE GIRL IS THE DEVIL — in a totally new cute dress, hair still perf, one hand on her belly like this baby is gestating at Reneesme Cullen speed.
And Cathy’s like, “What should I do, Notorious Witch? Should I help my useless sons attack Spain? Or some other thing?” And Emmanuelle is like, “Even I can see those two are useless. Give up on them, and go get your daughter Margot. She’s the one you want by your side when isht goes down.”
Again, because we won’t see them again, just letting you know that Charles would rule for another 7 or so years, would have no children, and was basically a mess and a terrible King. Henri became King after him, was somehow an even worse King who only ruled for two years, was assassinated, and also died without having any children. So who became King next? WELL…
WTF #16: La Reign Margot
Cathy leaves Emmanuelle to go to wherever previously unseen youngest daughter Margot is living what looks like a really fun life, just sitting around with her ladies, reading books and sewing and drinking tea.
Cathy’s like, “My child, I have come to bring you back to French court with me, for totally not-Devil-threesome-related-Antichrist-reasons.” Again, Cathy looks GOR.GEOUS. in gold, yet another amazing crown, and what looks like a fabulous statement necklace.
So the thing with Margot is that, she is an amazing character and the fifth season of Reign would have been LIT in the France plotline. To get her full deal, you can read our recap of the movie Queen Margot which is hilarious and wonderful and a lot like Reign in a lot of ways. But basically, she marries a dude also named Henry, who becomes King after her brother Henri, making Margot Queen of France, but also she has like a zillion lovers and a highly scandalous life but managed not to get herself killed and is total #goals. More on her here.
And since this is the last we see of Cathy, rest assured that she would go on to basically lead France as the puppet-master of her two useless sons, oversee a ruthlessly savage slaughter of so many people in the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, was a great patron of the arts, and lived to be pretty old considering the era. (You can read more about IRL Cathy here)
There’s a movement online now to start a Reign spinoff that’s just Cathy’s continuing adventures and rest assured, there is more than enough to fill numerous seasons of that show. And you know we’d be tuning in!! #catherinedemedicispinoff
WTF #17: Liz, Queen in Pants
So, now that Liz has gotten over that whole husband thing, she’s fully owning her badassness and is ready to head into battle against Spain, while wearing armour and, I think, metal leggings. YAS. QUEEN. YAS.
She gives a v stirring speech to her troops, sort of like how Mary was so good at speeches (these two were really so similar), whilst looking amazing, and who wouldn’t follow her into battle?
This is a great ending point for her, because the rest of Liz’s IRL story is known pretty well. She’d be Queen of England for 45 years, during which time England went from being an underdog to the most powerful country in Western Europe.
You can watch the next bit of her life in the Cate Blanchett movie Elizabeth The Golden Age, or just peruse the very, very lengthy Wikipedia article for some highlights.
WTF #18: Whatever happened to Baby James, part four
So, things back at Scottish court are not great. Bothwell didn’t get back in time, and Mary is low kew freaking out. But then he returns!! And it’s a good news/bad news thing.
And then he’s like, “We should maybe go on the run,” and Mary is like, “Then we’d look even more guilty, you absolute failure of a murderer,” and there isn’t time for debate because guess who comes in with the full police force?
G MOTHERLOVING JK!!!
NO! YOU AREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE ON THE SHOW ANYMORE! WE HAD A VERY SATISFYING END TO YOUR STORY VIS-A-VIS KNOX IN A BOX! GO AWAY! NO!
But in fact, he’s here to make what comes next extra-horrible which is basically, arresting first Bothwell AND THEN ALSO MARY! Whose earrings I wanted to talk about because they’re my favourite pieces of jewellery ever on this show, but there’s not time, because she’s being arrested for murdering Darnley now too!!!!!
I mean, so many people have killed so many people on this show, it’s legit weird to see anyone get actually arrested for it?? Which really speaks to how much Bothwell F’d this one up.
WTF #19: Time warp!!
And then we skip over the events of non-existant season five and land in the future (their future, not ours, though that would have been an amazing thing if Reign ended with Mary escaping via the space/time continuum to live safe and happy in like, 1962 or something). But unfortch, it’s 1587.
Mary is older and sadder now.
If you’re wondering what happened to Mary between that arrest and now, it’s basically: a trial, Bothwell was found not guilty but everyone thought he was guilty, also it turns out he was already married, she marries him, she miscarries twins, everybody in Scotland hates her even more, she is forced to abdicate being Queen, and then is kept in a variety of prisons for like 20 years, as Liz slowly steals all her outfits and jewels (yes, really). Season five would have been amazing in so many ways, but also we don’t have to watch Mary’s downfall in excruciating detail, so that’s sort of a mercy. You can peep more of her post-France pre-death story in a few movies mostly all called Mary Queen of Scots (the 2013 one is a personal fav), or read up on her later years here.
Liz is also older and sadder, and her hair is looking extra wiggy, and she’s dressed more like the typical Queen Liz lewk.
But a lot can happen in 21 years, such as, BJ is now a grown ass man! Who looks like an acceptable mixture of Mary and Darnley, with the eyebrows and the hair and the designer stubble.
You also know he’s Mary’s son because of the badass styling here, like he’s just visiting his Auntie Liz for a chat, yet happens to throw on this furry coat/vest/collared ensemble? And a casual daytime sword accessory? Snaps for Grown up BJ.
So anyway, Liz is like, “Girl, I have to either kill your mother so you can be the King who joins England and Scotland, or you’ll never be the King so like, make your choice.”
And what does BJ choose? Like everyone else this episode given the option, he chooses himself. And know what? I bet Mary would have wanted him to, anyway. Remember when she was giving birth, she was like, let me die as long as my child survives!! His life’s been more important than hers since before he was born, so she’s cool laying down her life so he can fulfill Ghost Bash’s prophecy that he’ll bring peace between the nations. Which he did.
BJ doesn’t show up to say bye to her at her own execution which is harsh, but also makes sense, since as per history, he didn’t see her at all from when he was a baby onwards. Anyway, it’s mega sad OF COURSE to see Mary all alone, spirit fully broken by life, just gracefully walk into her own death like this.
So it looks like the most downer of a series ending ever, until……
WTF #20: A happy ending?????
Plot twist! No sooner do we hear the axe-cutting-off-sound and then Mary is all blinky-blink waking up in a bed…
Next to… FRANCIS!!! FRARY IS ENDGAME!!!!
He’s like, “I’ve been waiting for you,” and she’s like, “It’s been so hard,” like understatement, and he’s like, “That’s all over now,” and then they go and FROLIC IN THE AFTERLIFE!!!!!
And Mary gets some flashbacks to her journey thus far, starting with her iconic falling feathers dance from the first episode, when she and Francis gazed at each other across the ballroom and they fell in love with each other, and we fell in love with the show, and I’m not crying, you’re crying. OK, we’re all crying.
All the key moments and major players in Mary’s life pop up in the flashbacks including…
The one thing we’d have included would have been a shoutout to poor Clarissa, who we still firmly believe is somehow alive out there somewhere (and could show up in the Cathy spinoff?????) but otherwise, it was perfect.
And after the montage, Mary looks at Francis, who she gets to spend her whole afterlife with, all the years they didn’t get to spend together in life, and they’re just so happy and so pure and it’s just perfect.
And I guess now the biggest WTF of all is, what will we do now, without this show??? But I guess that’s where we all have to channel our inner Mary/Cathy/Liz and just keep moving forward, remembering all the bonkers good times we’ve had together.