Reign: Terror of the Faithful (2×08)
Synopsis: France continues to collapse under the weight of the brewing religious war between Catholics and Protestants, while the relationship between Mary and Francis become increasingly strained. Claude fends off a suitor, and we discover she killed her younger siblings as a child.
Well, everything’s gone to shit on Reign.
Catherine’s seeing the ghosts of her dead younger daughters, Catholic Inquisitors are killing Protestants in the streets, Protestants are engineering a counterattack to ignite the religious powder keg that is France, Narcisse is being super creepy, and the Royal Marriage is falling apart at the seams.
Again, we follow two parallel storylines this week: one political and one personal.
Politically, France is a shambles after Francis signed the edict forcing all citizens to declare their religion publicly. The Pope sent over a team of Inquisitors, who are publicly slicing up Protestants in the streets. Cardinal Vasari is the name and face of the new militant Catholics – he cites scripture about cutting off one’s hands if they cause sin rather than compromising the entire body/soul… right before he slices the lips off of a villager.
The plot thickens as Lord Conde is captured by Protestants. Jacob Bravel, their leader, claims he wants an audience with the King and Queen to get them to show mercy on the Protestant population. Conde assents reluctantly, and brings a pastor from their congregation to French Court.
Conde’s advocacy leads Francis to agree to rebuild the pastor’s church, which the Catholics burnt down last week, but when the pastor speaks on his own behalf, he threatens to start a war killing Catholics by setting off explosives planted somewhere in the kingdom if the Inquisition doesn’t stop within two days.
Francis promptly hauls the pastor off to be tortured, while Bash and the soldiers rush off to find the explosives. Meanwhile, there continues to be Protestant uprisings in the streets. Mary and Conde rush off to scheme – Conde thinks that the Protestants want the pastor to be killed as a martyr for their movement against the Catholics.
Bash and his men only find decoy powder kegs filled with sawdust, confirming Conde’s suspicions. Mary and Conde rush off to free the pastor, just as Francis’s torturer snaps his spine on the rack. Bash hauls the paralyzed pastor off into the woods, but he is attacked by Protestants who kill the minister just after revealing their plot to use him as a sacrifice for their cause.
The Protestants hang the pastor upside down, crucified on a cross in the main square, inciting a riot amongst France’s people.
Francis still won’t tell Mary about how Narcisse is blackmailing him under threat of regicide charges. Francis still wants to send Mary to Scotland, and Mary is so over that lifestyle – their marriage is past the breaking point, and I think it’ll send Mary into Conde’s arms in two episodes’ time.
As for the personal development this episode – we have Princess Claude’s impending nuptials, Catherine’s hallucinations, and the dark, twisty attraction between Lola and Narcisse.
Catherine is trying to marry Claude off to the son of a Bavarian Count – he’ll provide advantageous trade routes to France, and she’ll provide royal blood. All in all, it’s an ideal way to get a frisky princess out of the castle.
Well, it would be if Claude weren’t so difficult. Bavaria won’t allow the match unless Claude gets tested to see if her virtue is intact. So, Catherine bribes a cleric to perform the test (as one does) and assure Bavaria of her daughter’s chastity. With the issue of her honor aside, Claude then proceeds to scuttle the match by flirting shamelessly with Lord Narcisse in front of her fiancé-to-be. Narcisse sees through her transparent act and then tells her that he’s more than she can handle, but he’d love for her to try. Claude runs away like she was physically stung by Narcisse’s advances (probably best for all parties involved), leaving her obstinacy and shenanigans for another episode.
In the meantime, Catherine keeps seeing visions of two dead girls – her twin daughters. She flashes back to their infancy, when the girls were babies and Claude was a jealous older sister. Claude complained that the twins always ruined her dresses by tearing the rosettes off of her hem. Later, Catherine remembers waking up to silence in the middle of the night – both of the twins were dead in their cribs. Upon further examination, we find that they were suffocated. Rosettes were shoved down their throats.
Finally, in Lola/Narcisse land, we find that Narcisse has this continued fetish with baths. Like, really. What is your deal with baths? Are you going to drown Lola? Is it some sort of weird, veiled sexual threat? The 16th century version of ‘sleeping with the fishes?’
In other thinly veiled male sexual displays of dominance, all the male characters this week started prominently placing their hands on their sword hilts. Every. Single. Scene.
I feel like it was intentional, because I’ve never noticed it before.
Creepiness aside, the Lola/Narcisse flirtation ends this week when Francis tells Lola that Narcisse threatened her baby’s life in addition to his and Mary’s. After last week, when Francis tried (and failed) to use Lola to plant treasonous material on Narcisse’s premises, Lola reveals that she hid the cipher in a painting at Narcisse’s house. Francis sends his men to retrieve the cipher and charge Narcisse with espionage, only to find that the cipher is gone. Narcisse knows Lola betrayed him, but I doubt that will be the end to this relationship.