WARNING: This review contains spoilers
Welcome back to French Court, people. Welcome back to this pretty big mess of storylines and character development that, I’m sad to say, has really left with a big ‘WTF‘ printed on my face despite my promise of not being too harsh on a show that’s purely made of trash. Still, this 3×02, «Betrothed», has put me to the test, and I’m afraid kind of lost it.
The problem with Reign has always been its tentative of looking at historical dynamics and characters with very modern eyes and mindset. I’m not saying that historical figures can’t be ‘modern‘, but I am saying that their way of thinking can’t be taken out of their time and transformed into something straight out of the 21st century. It’s simply not done, and Reign still tries and tries. Sometimes it manages to create something actually nice ― or at least enjoyable ― but most of the times it spectacularly fails. Like it’s doing in this third season.
I mean, the only character who is thinking with the head of a very prominent political ruler of Renaissance Europe is Catherine, who is this season’s villain apparently, and is judged harshly because of her behavior ― admittedly, I don’t think the real Caterina de’ Medici would have ever sold her country and her son’s wife to England ― but you know, the mentality is there. Politics is a cruel game, and even more so when we’re talking about absolute monarchs. Everyone else seems to forget that, and is happily going on acting like love-stricken and responsibility-burdened millennials.
Take Francis and Mary. While Francis does deserve a gold star for at least attempting at being a decent monarch, with his worrying about the fate of France and all, his only focus is still on Mary. And I’m happy, I mean, I will go down with the Frary ship, but it’s just ― I don’t know, I’m left wanting more. More politics, more kinging. I want more kinging, and the idea of proposing a marriage between Mary and Charles would have been just that, if he hadn’t suggested that there might be something between them someday. No. Francis, no. It’s not even tragic anymore, it’s just ridiculous. Let your wife and heir grieve quietly and with dignity, don’t play matchmaker from your deathbed.
And again, I want more kinging from Mary too. How can she be the «experienced ruler» Francis says she is if she hasn’t done anything but disasters in the last season, and basically nothing in this one? All I want from this show is season 1 Mary back, this strong and gentle queen that’s missing right now. Sure, she was hardened by what she went through, but I feel she lost something that made her «Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots» along the way. Is someone else feeling the same?
As for Lola and Narcisse, well ― to me, it’s open hunting season for Reign’s writers. Not only have they completely destroyed Frary, now they’re doing the same to Lorcisse, the only couple that can still have some potential. It all looked so good, Lola finally deciding to give in to the love she feels for Stephane, and then Narcisse goes and ruins it all. We find out that he manipulated Lola into letting herself go, plotting to keep her close and taking her freedom away. Sure, he did it all because he didn’t want to wait and risk losing her, but no no no. I can’t support something like that, and I’m sure neither will Lola. When she finds out, it’ll be really hard for her to forgive Narcisse, I think.
What else is going on at the French Court? Well, Charles really sounds interesting. Sure, he was a little bit the spoiled child in this episode, but I imagine it’s hard knowing that your brother is dying, that you’re going to take a throne you never expected to take and that you’re going to marry your sister-in-law as well. I can see his point. And I can also understand why he ran to Catherine ― she’s still his mother, after all. A plotting and scheming mother, who used him to unleash a plot that would have brought the end of the Bourbon dynasty of Navarre and who ended up just revealing herself for who she was in the eyes of her younger son. I really didn’t expect Catherine to fall so low, to use her own son, but I suppose she really needs to be the supreme villain of this season. As such, she can’t be forgiven under any circumstance, I guess.
Because who else is going to take that place, the place of the villain? Elizabeth? Please. Elizabeth is nothing like the great antagonist to Mary we were all expecting. She’s a ghost of what she could be, spending her time going all 50 Shades with Dudley in the dungeons of the castle and seemingly knowing nothing about how her own court works, since she thought she could actually get away with keeping Dudley close without revealing her affair. I don’t like Elizabeth, and it pains me to say so, since she’s one of my favorite historical figures. But they’re really destroying her character, and if they go on down this road I don’t know how much of her can be saved.
And we finish on Bash, poor soul, whose storyline is so disconnected to the rest it seems like it’s not even part of the same show. Our viceroy seems convinced Delphine is not the crazy killer she looks like she is, and so he spends the whole episode hunting down the other crazy killer who’s trying to blame it all on Delphine. I’m really terribly bored by it all, it seems so fake if compared to all the rest. My face was exactly like Leith’s. It was a «you have problems, dude» face.
In the end, this season could be great, it has a great basis, potentially amazing storylines, the great ghost of Francis’ death ― but I’m not sure how well this writers’ room can handle it. As of right now, they’re kind of failing at it all. I’m still hopeful, but I’m not sure my hope will last much longer.
What about you? Opinions, thoughts, ideas? Let us know in the comments, and see you next week!
- If Mary is the only one to have ever loved Francis, like he said to Catherine when he visited her in her cell, well, I think even my teddy bear is more loved than our King of France, considering the fact that his wife was about to marry Bash and then eloping with Condé and whatnot. I don’t mean to say that they don’t love each other, but after all that the authors have put them through a line like this is a really mean blow. Do you hear this sound? It’s the authors hopping aboard the Frary ship again when it’s more convenient to them. Please don’t.
- Does Lola do anything else other than taking baths?
- I like Leith and Claude. I think they could be good for each other, and it’s pretty clear that there’s where the story is heading. Unless Charles has other plans for when he becomes King, and then we’ll have to deal with tons of angst. But again, it could be an interesting storyline ― if written in the right way.
- I still don’t understand why Dudley’s wife is so angry about her husband cheating on her with Elizabeth while she’s doing the exact same thing ― not with Elizabeth, but, you know, you get my point.
- When I saw Mary entering Catherine’s cell to gloat about her holding Catherine’s life in her hands, I wanted to throw my computer out of the window. This is ‘What Not To Do With Your Enemies 101‘: don’t gloat before you’ve actually killed them! Now I’m 10000% sure Catherine will find someway to really hurt Mary. Again, were we talking about great and mature queens? That’s not something an ‘experienced ruler’ does, Mary. It really isn’t.