Reign 1.12 Review: “Royal Blood”

Reign 1.12 Review: “Royal Blood”


The premise of Reign is following Mary Queen of Scot as she lives her privileged life at the French court.  We get an insider’s peek into life in the Castle, and since Lorde pointed out that we’ll never be Royals, it’s a view we’re dying to get.  But outside of the seats of power there are people whose lives are cast aside for the sanctity of the court.  Clarissa is the prime example.  She was born out of wedlock to a powerful Medici.  In this society, the community is much more accepting of a man’s bastard child than a woman’s.  And beyond being unwelcome amongst the upper crust, she is also born with a disfigurement that only gets worse after surgical correction.  That is to say she is literally the embodiment of the unsavory and unwanted.  She must live her life in the passageways of the castle without familial love.

We find Clarissa in the opening of this episode, donning the mask that Cillian Murphy wore as the Scarecrow in Batman.    She’s snuck into Queen Catherine’s chambers and is sniffing her pillow and stealing her stuff.  A maid and a gentleman come in to get to know each other intimately and Clarissa watches from the shadows.  Clarissa leaps out from behind the curtains to kill the maid, a choice that seems to come out of nowhere.  Has Clarissa gone homicidal due to pent up rage or is she a shy flower who prefers not to watch such flagrant displays of flesh?

Elsewhere in the castle, Mary and Bash remember that there are other royal children to consider.  Bash’s half-brothers, Henry and Charles are at risk now that they’re not part of the line of succession.  Mary decides to take them the Frost Fair in her carriage, because a little ice cream will calm down anyone who is afraid of getting killed.  The villagers spot the carriage and start shouting “spawn of a Medici whore” at her, showing that they’ve just stepped out of a scene from Westeros where they interrupted Joffrey’s litter.

When Mary gets back to the castle, she makes the obvious choice of meeting up with the woman who tried to murder her in the previous episode (Catherine).  Mary promises to take care of the children despite the threats to their livelihood.  Catherine remains unconvinced.  For good measure, Mary brings up the fact that she’s ordered a mask off of Etsy for Clarissa so that she can roam the castle freely.  Catherine is not pleased because “that girl is broken, she is more animal than human.” With a mother like Catherine, it’s a wonder that Clarissa has turned violent.

Mary and Bash run into Lord Hugo who politely suggests that they kill the boys.  Hugo points out that “for a royal, there is no safety.”  Bash and Mary argue about the appropriate way to save Charles and Henry: either keep them at court where they can be monitored or send them out of France to hide.  Mary quips that she was just as vulnerable when she lived at the nunnery and forbids Bash from sending them away.  Bash then creates a Frost Fair at the castle so that the boys can experience some fun.  Mary, upon seeing the Fair declares “that is the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen” and kisses Bash.  Bash, keep on keeping on because Mary is picking up everything that you’re throwing down.  I can’t remember her ever given a compliment of equal value to Francis. Kenna notices a shady character at the fair and she rips the masks off the children.  Woops, Charles and Henry are gone.  Bash dispatches his guards at once. It’s all for show because in reality he’s the one that ordered their kidnapping.

Then the screen flashes with giant words PARIS, and we know that our cast is not in Kansas anymore.  We jump to the inside of what appears to be a pleasure house.  Lola arrives, under the auspices of saving her degenerate brother from his gambling habit.  The owner of the establishment asks for a night with her in return for getting her brother back.  Lola offers double but he won’t take it.  The owner, who has never experienced the comforts of court life, proclaims that “I’d like to know what it’s like to touch what only they can touch.”  Then Francis makes a surprise appearance under the pseudonym of Viscount and offers to gamble for the right to a night with her.  Francis wins after doubling down on the worst card game ever invented and Lola and he end up sitting on his bed.  Francis is getting a little tipsy after drinking straight from a decanter of wine.  He reveals to Lola that he’s feeling adrift.  Lola says that she envies him because he’s free from court and reminds him that “you have a true heart.  It will mend.”  And after hearing such a resounding compliment they both sit in a pregnant pause letting the romantic tension linger in their drunkenness.  They next morning Lola wakes up with Francis’ arm around her.  They both look embarrassed and blame it on the wine.  Sure kids, sure.  Lola tells Francis that he’s “brave and incredibly gallant” which unlocks the key to Francis’ heart (and his loins). They make a brief attempt at not giving into their desires and ultimately end up in bed together because they’ll never see each other again (right?).

Meanwhile, Nostradamus passes Catherine a Bible in her jail cell and the next thing we know she’s in a noose.  But wait, do any of us really believe that the CW is going to kill off one of their favorite characters?  It turns out that Nostradamus handed her a harness to keep herself safe during the hanging and he’s arranged for a wagon to take her out of the castle and straight to Italy.  Catherine learns that her younger boys have been kidnapped and she stops her plan to escape.  She won’t leave until she knows that they’re safe.

Catherine breaks into Mary’s room again, proving that Mary has no real guards.  She wants to know what is to be done about her sons.  They deduce that Clarissa has taken them because they find her skin amongst Catherine’s stuff.  How does one know which skin is Clarissa’s?   A question for another time.

Catherine, Bash and Mary go searching the forest for the children, giving us the mandatory fleeing the castle exercise that happens on every episode of Reign.  Clarissa has lured the children into the woods and tells them “she’s no mother, she deserves this.”  She instructs them to gather all of the rocks in the forest into their pockets because they’re going for a swim.  Considering that Henry and Charles are her half siblings, Clarissa motives are pure revenge.  The Royal trios catch Clarissa in the woods and Catherine tries to bargain with her.  She tells her while it’s admiral to stick up for her convictions she should learn from her mother’s mistakes.  Clarissa sobs but won’t back down.  Mary, a little blood thirsty from such a long day, grabs a rock and smashes it into Clarissa’s skull.  Bash looks on approvingly.  And because Mary is virtuous, she grabs Clarissa’s hand after she murders her.

Mary, moved by the display of insanity and blood, decides that she can’t wait any longer and proposes to Bash.  She argues that if they marry now, they will force the Pope to legitimize him.  Bash gets down on one knee and pulls a reverse proposal.  Then they kiss to sweeping romantic music.  The couple that slays together stays together.

Back in Paris, Lola bids au revoir to Francis.  The owner of the house of ill repute pops out to give Lola a rock for her to throw at the Queen.  Francis looks puzzled.  The owner explains that the queen will be executed because she’s been convicted of adultery.  And with that, we know Francis is doomed to come back to court.

The episode closes with two men discovering Clarissa’s body in the woods and pushing her downhill.  One of the men creates a grave for her and the camera pans out on her face.  It’s unclear if Clarissa will come back to life or if she’ll assume some other supernatural form.  I’m sure by then she’ll be completely over Mary killing her and Catherine’s betrayal.

Bulleted observations:

-Did Lola really leave the castle before finding out about Catherine’s execution or was she just sparing Francis’ feelings?

-Clarissa should really get in touch with the person who created Richard Harrow’s mask on Boardwalk Empire.  She deserves a better fit.

-Don’t worry Francis; Lola has ALREADY lost her virtue.

-Bash: perpetually on a horse on a mission to save someone.

-I knew that one of Mary’s ladies would go for Francis but Lola?  I guess Kenna couldn’t go for him because how weird would that be with her already bedding his father Henry.

-Up next: Amy Brenneman is joining the cast as Mary’s mother.

[Photo via Christos Kalohoridis/The CW — © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved]

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