Synopsis of (2×14):   It’s the end of mourning in more ways than one: Catherine is accepting competing suits from the Duke of Guise and Narcisse, while Mary and Francis start to look to other potential romantic interests. Antoine Navarre is found to have poisoned King Henry, and Greer tries to adjust to her new lifestyle.

Rating: ★★★★★

The last handful of episodes on Reign have been a bit lackluster, but I think this episode nicely sets up the drama and romantic entanglements for the rest of the season. Most importantly, we finally get the Mary/Louis pairing I’ve been predicting since before the mid-season finale!

This week, there are three main storylines: one of court subterfuge – the story of Henry’s poisoning, one of betrayal – Mary’s betrayal of Conde, and a few of new beginnings – hence the ‘end of mourning’ title.

The first story is the political intrigue plot du jour. After Catherine reveals that someone poisoned Henry’s Bible, the royal men (and Narcisse) hunt down the perpetrator. The trail leads them to the king’s old valet, who served under Louis Conde before he served Henry.

This valet fell into debt after his service (he had a weakness for prostitutes, a regular theme in this series), and someone mysteriously paid those debts slightly before his sudden death. Between halfheartedly courting Lola, dealing with Mary’s manipulation, and an accusation of treason, it looks like Conde is not going to have an easy week.

Mary persuades Conde to stay in the castle another day and to stop courting Lola in order to give Francis time to investigate the charges. Mary leads Louis to believe that her feelings for him are reciprocated, hence the betrayal. Meanwhile, Francis has been distancing himself from Lola so as not to cause Mary pain. He and Lola reconcile and decide to remain friends after Francis ends Lola’s courtship with Louis.

Let’s just say Francis is looking a little too friendly toward Lola these days, so that’s probably going to happen again.

Eventually, Francis and team confront the Navarres/Bourbons with their suspicions. Louis denies them all and, in turn, accuses the royal family of murdering his brother Marcus in cold blood. Later, Louis reveals that he tipped his hand to the royal family to protect Bash from his scheming brother’s revenge. Bravo, Louis. You are quickly becoming one of my favorite characters.

Anyway, Catherine finds that the Duke of Guise, Mary’s uncle, actually orchestrated the entire assassination, and the royal brothers go free while the Duke gets brutally shot in the throat with an arrow. Which is a shame, because that character was also interesting, especially as a potential partner for Catherine.

Speaking of partners for Catherine, Lord Narcisse has been Catherine’s trusted aide ever since he uncovered the poisoning plot. Whether or not his interest is romantic remains to be seen, but I’m looking forward to seeing the two play the game together more in the future.

Narcisse figures out that Antoine poisoned Henry, not the Duke of Guise. With this information, he blackmails Antoine and covers the poisoner’s tracks. Louis quickly figures out the truth and confronts his brother, only to find that Antoine is still set on his plan to exact slow and painful revenge on the royal family. Also, that revenge seems to involve wooing Kenna.

Greer has been living the past week in disgrace in a local tavern – she tries (and fails) to become a lady in waiting, just as she tries (and fails) to come to terms with her new circumstances. The story is supposed to be funny, but it reads as sad, but I can’t imagine that we’ll leave her in poverty much longer.

Finally, the episode closes with Mary and Conde confessing their feelings for each other. Mary admits there was some truth in asking Conde to stop courting Lola for her own benefit, but she remains a married woman. A married woman without the ability or privilege of straying from her husband either in reality or in public opinion. She closes the episode resolving that she will be the death of Louis, just as he will be the death of her.

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