Reviews

‘Reign’ Review: Birthmarks, Beheadings and Battling Queens

Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW

Last night, Reign delivered a fantastic episode that was filled with so many twists and turns that it was next to impossible to take a breath between scenes. It’s hard to believe that “Inquisition” was only one hour of television because a lot of riveting stuff went down. This show continues to get better and better each week and the best part is how it keeps finding new ways to surprise viewers.

King Henry returned from the Vatican after his request for an annulment was denied thanks to Catherine’s relatives intervening. But it definitely wasn’t a cause for celebration because Henry had a Plan B: he’d have Kenna testify that she’d witnessed the queen having an affair with Nostradamus so he could have her beheaded for adultery. Her relatives were kind enough to suggest that she start practicing putting her head on the block (and you thought your family was weird).

Of course Catherine had a plan of her own, two of them, actually. The first was to prove that Bash was connected to the baby, which would expose his pagan heritage and that would not be good for the kingdom or for Mary. And if that didn’t work, she had a second plan: she went to Henry and reminded him that they loved each other and she was still the woman he’d fallen in love with and after the two ended up back in bed, Henry wasn’t as quick to prosecute his wife anymore.

I thought it was sweet (in a twisted way) that Henry and Catherine actually do love each other. Given his parade of mistresses and the way Catherine has little use for him, it always felt like their marriage was mostly about power and circumstance and they just had a begrudging respect for each other. But it was more than that and I loved that Catherine was able to remind him of that and slow down his desire to cut off her head (progress!).

Except there were two more major twists coming: first, we learned that the king’s friend, who he’d brought to France to lead the inquisition against Catherine, was actually her long-time lover! She claimed he was the only man she’d ever been honest with and the two shared a tender reunion as they plotted to bring down Bash and Mary (we’ll get back to them soon). But it was the second secret that sent the OMFG factor off the charts: Clarissa, the castle ‘ghost’ is actually their daughter!

Just take a moment to let that sink in. Nostradamus explained that Clarissa had been sent to his father when she was born because she had an ugly birthmark on her cheek. His father attempted some kind of Dr. Frankenstein procedure, but that only ended up scarring her more. The poor girl was mocked ruthlessly by other children and then she was sent to the castle. Catherine looked stricken as Nostradamus told the story (and Mary and Bash heard it from the wet nurse who was helping them with the baby).

Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW
Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW

The king was the next one to learn the secret and as soon as he heard about the birthmark, he turned to his old friend and had a portion of his beard shaved off to reveal that he had one too! And since King Henry had just been reminded of his love for Catherine, he was pretty devastated that she’d been having an affair with his best friend all these years. It wasn’t just his pride that was hurt, but his heart. It definitely seemed like Catherine was going to be headless before the episode was over, especially since the baby had been returned to the castle and no longer had the pagan mark so she was almost out of cards to play.

However, Catherine had one last ace up her sleeve. She had proof that Diane was a pagan. She showed it to Henry and Bash immediately tried to defend his mother, but Henry warned him that he would have to wait his turn. He asked the guard if he could confirm Catherine’s story and he did. Catherine had about two seconds to gloat before the king took his sword and chopped off the guard’s head (how cool was that? And the blood landed on Catherine’s cheek, which was super gross, but also kind of cool).

Henry explained that he knew all about Diane’s pagan past because she’d confessed the truth to him years ago! He asked the other guard if he’d seen anything and he assured him that he had not. Henry then turned to Bash and told his son that was his next lesson: don’t hesitate to strike down those who come after you. Bash and Mary looked a little shell shocked, but Bash assured his father that he understood. Everything about all of these scenes was the best. Henry and Catherine are just so twisted and fun to watch and I loved watching all of this unfold.

There’s one last Catherine moment to get to, but let’s talk about Mary and Bash for a moment. These two work so well together and I mean that in the most basic sense. When they have a task to take care of (like hiding a baby or coming up with a new plan), they don’t hesitate and they get the job done. They make a really good team and having someone like Bash, who did not grow up under constant protection, in her corner helps Mary get a better perspective on the way the world works.

Sven Frenzel/The CW
Sven Frenzel/The CW

Bash and Mary’s romantic bond is growing stronger as well. Bash made it clear last week that Mary was his family now and he’d always put her first. He reiterated that after Henry’s speech and assured her that he’d protect her at all costs, even if it meant he had to take his father out (if he pushes too hard over England). Mary seemed a little frightened by that, but she was also touched that Bash would do absolutely anything for her. She let Bash know that her heart was open to him and the two kissed and it was pretty awesome. I’m really enjoying them together.

Now back to Catherine (this really was her episode). Her family had given her some poison so she could avoid a beheading. Catherine dressed in her finest royal garments, crown included, and then she took the poison and headed straight for Mary. She wasn’t going down without a fight and she figured if Mary was gone, Francis would be safe taking the throne. She tossed the poison in the bathtub and tried to leave Mary to die, but she ended up succumbing to it as well.

Thankfully, Clarissa was there. She made some noise to get the guards’ attention, pulled Mary’s head above water and begged her mother to leave with her so the guards wouldn’t find her. But Catherine took one look at her daughter’s disfigured face and started screaming. The guards and Bash burst in and Bash helped Mary out of the tub and held her as Catherine was dragged away, still threatening both of them, even as Mary pointed out that they had killed her.

I loved this episode. It kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish and it left me anxious for more and not the least bit happy about the three week hiatus for the Olympics. I think the writers made a really bold decision to have two episodes in a row without Francis, but it’s paying off. If Bash is to be king one day, he needs to be the one who is front and center for all of the royal business and backstabbing. Plus, Catherine would not be able to get away with plotting against Bash and Mary if Francis was around to keep an eye on her (remember his threat?).

That being said, I’m looking forward to Francis’ return to see how he fits in with the new dynamics. I’m also wondering what’s going to become of Clarissa. Will Henry learn that she’s in the castle? Will Catherine be able to protect her? Better question: will she want to protect her? And how do Mary and Catherine coexist now that Catherine literally tried to kill her? It was bad enough when it was just Bash or Kenna that she was poisoning.

What did you guys think? Did you love all the twists and turns? Were you surprised by Clarissa’s royal connection? How awesome was it when Henry beheaded the guard? Do you love how close Mary and Bash have become or do you miss Mary and Francis? Are you Team Mary or Team Catherine or Team Both? Hit the comments and share your thoughts and theories with us!

About the author

Mandy Treccia

Mandy Treccia has served as TVSource Magazine’s Executive Editor since 2016, formerly as Editorial Director from 2012-2016. She is an avid TV watcher and card carrying fan girl prone to sudden bursts of emotion, ranging from extreme excitement to blind rage during her favorite shows and has on more than once occasion considered having a paper bag on hand to get her through some tough TV moments. Her taste in TV tends to rival that of a thirteen-year-old girl, but she’s okay with that. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceMandy.

  • Maxine Sempre

    I’m in love with this show. It’s so good. And Mary and Bash are PERFECT together!

  • Altagracia Hedrington

    I agree it is the best series, I especially love Mary & Bash they so belong together I hope they stay together and get married and consummate their marriage!

  • KLJTN

    I absolutely think this is the best new drama on TV. I agree that this episode was simply stunning, although I loved Mary & Bash’s adventure with the pregnancy in the woods last week too. I can’t wait for more of this story to unfold. I am full on team Mash right now.