In exciting Reign news, this episode involved ZERO GRAIN SHENANIGANS and Mary was kind of awesome in it, for once. She also wore a very good dress. Stay tuned for demonic possession (???), a rather bad performance from a guest star, and railings about how Mary’s ladies-in-waiting are basically REALLY REALLY bad at their jobs.
To start: some poor peasant fool gets menaced by three men on horseback who give him the mark of the devil and force him to give up his soul. He later murders his entire family. There is discussion as to whether this is ACTUAL devilish witchcraft or just some dudes stirring up shit for a variety of reasons + craziness. I’d argue that it would turn out to be the work of Hot, Leather-Wearing Conde (who seems to think it is the work of men, in fact) as a way to Something Something Religion, except of course we’ve seen (WE THINK) a nursemaid being possessed by a dead man. Although she could be in on it. Bash, of course, is pretty sure that we’re all about to get sucked into a fiery pit of hell, thanks to all the ghosts he saw when he was recovering from not having the plague by smashing his forehead against a pillar.
Back at the Castle From Which There Is Never a Progression, Francis and Lola’s son is being christened, and Catherine is throwing the party, because she knows she’s the only human in that castle that they NEVER LEAVE who knows how to get a giant butter sculpture made properly. She also looks fairly awesome in this:
There’s a HUGE amount of yammering about who shall be the child’s godparents, all of which bleeds into a variety of high-spirited conversations between Mary (wearing, as you can see, a variety of curtain valances strung together) and Lola (who is wearing a GORGEOUS dress that makes her look like she was spirited in from a party at Downton) regarding (a) Lola’s guilt over nailing Francis and having his baby (b) whether or not Mary is sufficiently angry about matter (a), (c) if Lola ought to move out for reasons of awkwardness and (d) if she does, doesn’t that make her a rather crappy L in W?
The thing is, ALL of these women are TERRIBLE ladies-in-waiting, from what I can see. Mary is ALWAYS traipsing about alone, tossing people into holes full of plague-ridden peasants and making people mad at her, with nary a woman skittering about at the edges of her petticoats, waiting to see if she needs a hanky or something. Eventually, this comes to a head with Lola and Mary, and they really do have it out in a scene that’s well done by both of them, but of course they make up before the end of the hour because there’s a stabbing that needs dealt with.
I included this shot because (a) Catherine looks awesome (also smug; I adore her) and (b) look at all those vaguely-correct old broads! I assume these are Catherine’s Clutch of Lady Spies.
Anyway, this smug jackass (right?) and his neckbeard are back and Francis is SUPER nice to him (I guess Francis DID give all of Leith’s lands to that old sexy bastard, Lord Narcisse) and gives him a job working with Bash, which we never see Leith even begin to pretend to do:
Mostly what he does is dance with Greer and sniff all around her and gaze at her in a way meant to seem lustful and passionate, and which actually prompts her to go find Lord Castleroy, who tells her he wants to break it off with her, and to which she wisely reacts by inducing him to remove her corset to see if she can be hot for HIM, too. I like Greer. She seems to have a practical head on her shoulders when no one else does. It’s 1559ish: Marry the kind rich man who adores you, you foolish girl.
Additionally: what are any of you wearing?
Greer’s dress is SO SO beautiful and I ADORE it (for, you know, another time period — we need a shorthand to note that particular complaint) and Kenna, sweet Kenna, is wearing a hippie tablecloth and I’ll happily send $50 to charity if she loses the Coachella beaded hairpieces she has always got swinging around in her hair. Seriously. Anyway, these three are out basically lolling on the palace driveway, when up comes Lord Narcisse with his new wife:
Whom you may remember from the time she delivered Lola’s baby and then her whole family died of the plague and Narcisse hauled her off in a cage (allegedly to keep her isolated so she didn’t infect anyone else). Well, he married her — he says, to protect her virtue, given that she’s been rattling around with him for months. It is here where I must note that Plague Midwife’s costume does NOT look good on her, but also her performance is shaky at best and perhaps everything about her in this episode is just meant to be inching ever closer to being a hot mess.
She gives Lola this thoughtful gift:
So THAT plunges us into this entire plot where basically Lola makes ALL KINDS of value judgements about Lord Narcisse (which prove to be possibly incorrect; I’ve decided he’s the Misunderstood Hero of this piece, and all his cruelness merely masks, you know, FEELINGS) and makes all these insane plans of rescue, and even Mary is kind of like, DUDE, you need to slow your roll here because you don’t have the entire story, but then Mary helps Lola help Plague Midwife escape, anyway, AFTER PLAGUE MIDWIFE LOSES IT AND STABS A DUDE, and then Plague Midwife goes and throws herself off a cliff because she saw her dead family calling for her at the bottom. So that went well.
Meanwhile, these two make out on a parapet because Mary’s (sadly, only temporarily) pregnant.
Catherine is HILARIOUSLY thrilled by this news and basically the best and had totally already figured it out because she’d had Mary’s chamberpot tested and also she had her spies follow them and she saw them making out. She comes in and plonks down on the bed (in which Mary and Francis are just post-coital) and notes that as long as “that Protestant Elizabeth remains barren and unmarried, [Mary] is the better option” for the English throne as well, before bringing in a bunch of food and tells Mary she might as well “eat up” because her figure’s “going to go to hell anyway.” This scene was delightful, in part because Megan Follows had 95% of the lines.
Greer’s dress here is GLORIOUS for a remake of Atonement, and Kenna, as ever, looks like she wandered off from a music festival to find more coconut water. This scene also contained a sincerely hilariously expository bit that explained to the audience why it was so important for each of these women to marry (and marry well), and I hope everyone retains that info for their AP European history tests. (I joke, but also I totally aced an American history test once because of my close reading of North and South).
At the Happy Christening Party, it is my delight to note, Mary wears a completely FABULOUS dress in which Adelaide Kane looks tremendous. Look how delighted our friends, the Greek Chorus of Candelabra, are:
They aren’t doing a wonderful job of illuminating her dress, but it IS lovely. Catherine already looks grand:
Well played, everyone, and a round of applause. Both of those ease our way into a scene where Greer wears this thing:
While these ladies look TOTALLY NORMAL:
And a string quartet plays “Stubborn Love” by the Lumineers –which normally starts out very instrumentally, and, I have to say, sounds AWESOME on the violin, so it was a very smart and creative choice for the scene. (This episode was actually quite good, I thought.)
This is also lovely on Mary:
But unfortunately, she ruins her shoes when she suffers her miscarriage (a crisis in which she is assisted, kindly and ably, by Conde because NONE OF HER LADIES IN WAITING ARE EVER WAITING ON HER EVER):
She pulls it together with REMARKABLE QUICKNESS to attend the christening, at which I assumed she has also changed her shoes:
Where Lola is wearing a dress covered in SEQUINS AND FEATHERS which I DO NOT think is properly reverent of a SACRAMENTAL OCCASION.
Some time that same day, they bring Plague Midwife’s body back to the castle, and Lola and Narcisse have a very interesting convo, in which Lord Narcisse has a LOT of excuses for why so many of his wives are dead (including that one of them was a hemophiliac because he’s either a liar, or the writers just ignored the fact that female hemophiliacs are VERY VERY unusual):
And I kind of believe him? I don’t know. I have to say that I find this character extremely compelling and secretly hot and it may not only be because he’s one of the better actors on the show.
Everyone is sad that Mary has miscarried:
You can tell because she is wearing her SADDEST nightgown. Francis is very, very kind indeed about the miscarriage (he takes her outside, where he’s got courtiers setting off lanterns filled with light, as a callback to their childhood looking at fireflies together, and it’s all very metaphorical about how blah blah blah she’ll get pregnant eventually, and it will be all the sweeter for having experienced the loss. It’s actually very nice, and she’s not wrong to want to make out with him for being so sensitive).
While they’re dealing with their loss, Catherine is tootling about the castle and runs into twin ghost (??) children, because of how there’s totally going to be A Reckoning and Everyone Is Going To Pay For Her Sins, etc, and also because this is actually the Overlook Hotel:
The candelabra are scared!