Oh, great.  Another episode about heresy.

But also ghosts, curses, incest, making out, Francis kicking Mary back to Scotland, and slapping so….on the whole, not a total loss?

We begin with the return of Princess Claude. She’s another bizarrely clothed woman, and the actress is kind of playing the role like she’s Helena Bonham Carter, not entirely in a bad way:

Did we meet her last season? As always, Fug Nation, I depend on you to fill me in.

This person did exist in real life, but she had a hunchback and a club foot. So not quite the same here, where she’s kind of a trouble-making floozy who sleeps with priests and talked Bash into hooking up when they briefly thought they were NOT actually half-siblings. In fairness, despite her hunchback, the real Claude DID have NINE children, so maybe she TOO was a sassy sexpot. I shouldn’t judge. (Her husband, Wikipedia tells me, had a dashing mustache, and one of her children had a wedding at which there was a “mock sea battle in the flooded courtyard of Palazzo Pitti,” and which would cost fourteen million pounds if it were held today. Her husband wanted to colonize Brazil [it didn’t work]. I want to watch that show, too.) Anyway, in short: She’s bratty and worries that her mother doesn’t love her, and Catherine feels really bad about that but then also sends Claude away again because the dead ghosts of her own daughters who died as infants (??) (or whom she miscarried?) (regardless, they’ve undergone Soap Opera Rapid Aging to be about seven years old) have CURSED Claude and Catherine thinks kicking her out of Castle WTF will save her life. In case you’re keeping score: The ghosts are real, but no one has ACTUALLY been possessed yet.

In the grand tradition of Using Dining Room Blocking To Tell a Story About A Relationship, here’s Francis and Mary:

The State of Their Love continues in about that vein for the entire episode, the end of which concerns itself with a huge fight between the two of them about The Persecution of Protestants WRT Nobility v. The Power of the King, and Francis telling Mary to take her nosy face back to Scotland if she can’t handle the way he’s ruling his country (AKA poorly). This is all, may I remind you, because Francis doesn’t want to tell Mary that Narcisse outwitted him using a nursemaid pretending to be possessed by his dead father, and is now blackmailing him.

The Good:

1) At one point, Francis pretends he has “advisors.” (They’re invisible, I guess, but I appreciated the name-check!)

2) At another point, Francis and Bash agree that the best way to deal with Narcisse is to murder him, which, like, DUH. (As I’ve said here before, I would have been perhaps a bloodthirsty, merciless Queen.)

HOWEVER:

Poor Greer is simply reduced to crying about how she married a Protestant (which she knew she was doing) and how being persecuted it’s way shittier than she thought it would be, while Mary and Lord Hot Conde do a lot of talking about religious tolerance. Now, please do not misunderstand: I am very into religious tolerance. But when your show’s rating are tanking, is it REALLY the plot point on which you wish to hang your hat as a nighttime soap? Can’t someone be kidnapped by a coven and shoved down a well, where they slowly go blind (for Reasons) before being rescued by a terrifically handsome highwayman who just robs from the rich and gives to the poor? In other words, why isn’t this show just All My Children meets Robin Hood?

There is no resolution for Greer, who may look pretty in that dress that I didn’t really get to see very well, but there IS shirtlessness:

The CW hasn’t WHOLLY abandoned its core values, and thank god. Mary interrupts this assignation and says — very loudly — that Francis won’t give her what she needs, so she’s come to Conde for satisfaction, and it’s not even a double entendre (although she IS actually talking about boring blackmail paperwork). I hope this moment culminates in some eavesdropping crackpot spreading a rumor that Mary is having an affair, at which point she gets thrown in…wait, that’s Anne Boleyn. Never mind. Anyway, I’m most enjoying wherever this is going (I hope it’s heading to Affair-ville) because:

DING DONG.

Anyway, I assume none of us really care THAT MUCH about Narcisse’s plan to Blackmail Francis into signing something that would basically give the thumbs up to religious prosecution of Protestants. Conde is hot and bothered (and hot) about it, and he and Mary basically come up with a scheme to prevent it from happening BUT despite a bunch of running about for 45 minutes, it happens anyway, so….there’s that.

Bash has very little to do, again, beyond running into rooms and telling Francis about the French Fuck-Up of the Week (imposters, plague, Protestants, curses, whatever may bedevil our characters for the next 45 minutes) and explaining to Kenna — pretty here in this thing that she can also wear to Austenland — that (a) his half-sister is being weird with her because she doesn’t get on with other women NOT BECAUSE HE KINDA BANGED HER ONCE and (b) apologizing to her for the fact that the plague and famine and shit have made court sooooo boring:

In fact, once again, the most interesting bits of Reign are the parts involving Lola and Lord Narcisse, who:

a) IS kind of a bastard, but

b) is also pretty hot and

c) the best actor on the show, with

d) excellent chemistry with Lola, even if

f) the writers are going in some kind of quasi-50 Shades direction with them, in which

g) Narcisse has a raging fetish for baths. (I did not make that up).

Also, Lola is SO pretty and also has been wearing the most period-appropriate stuff lately, which I have to think is because otherwise she’d looked completely bonkers in all her scenes with Narcisse, and I kind of want to hang out with her all the time:

Sigh.  Francis tries to get Lola to help him frame Narcisse for being a spy for Elizabeth I (which, as far as I know, he is not), so Francis can have him executed for treason, because Francis is terrible. JUST HAVE SOMEONE POISON HIM. Or loosen his saddle and then scare his horse. Have him “accidentally” shot at the next hunt. Oh, wait, I don’t know if they had guns yet at this point for hunting. Have him “accidentally” attacked by falcons at the next…falcon event! Push him off a balcony! (Hard, though, don’t want to just break his leg.) Tell Mary what’s happening, have her accuse him of assaulting her virtue, duel with him — no, Narcisse will beat Francis in a duel, that will never work. ANYWAY, point being is there’s LOADS of ways to have Narcisse killed that don’t involve planting evidence behind a painting! Crikey:

Especially because Francis is squirrelly as shit about the entire thing, and NARCISSE at least seems to be pretty open and honest with his fellow bath lover Lola, who also seems to really want to bang him. “JUST DO IT,” whispers the soft-focus candle.

Meanwhile, Catherine takes a break from worrying about the dead people following her around to tell Mary — who should know this, but whatever; this IS the best way to tell the audience — that Conde has an ulterior motive in teaming up with her against Francis: He’s got a claim to the throne, and if Francis gets the axe, he gets the crown. Mary doesn’t seem THAT fussed by this bit of intel, and her dress here is very pretty, if quite serious. Which I guess is appropriate now that all her A stories involve religious fervor:

I’d actually like to give the costume department a round of applause, in fact:

Mary wore not one but TWO ruff-adjacent outfits this week, and they were — I thought — clever nods to actual period-appropriate looks (or at least, to  a look we’d recognize as period-appropriate, thanks to QEI), and the above certainly explains to those of us who might have flipped through our InStyles while everyone was yapping about Protestants that she is In the Right. Okay, technically, it’s sort of one outfit. The above (in which scene Conde announces HE IS A PROTESTANT!!! Which I think is a lie, told in order to try to blah blah Narcisse yada yada heresy blah blah someone on the writing staff got really into Wolf Hall over the summer), as is, and then as below, as worn with a very kicky little cape:

I kind of just want these two to break up. Just do it before his testicles descend, girl.

Elsewhere, before her mother’s fear of Ghost Curses kicks her out of the castle, Claude (here, flirting OUTRAGEOUSLY with her HALF-BROTHER [to clarify, however, creepy incest is exactly what this kind of show NEEDS, so I’m not complaining about what a scamp Claude is; I shall rather miss her, even though I didn’t really like her] is accidentally dressed for tea with Marie Antoinette:

And don’t worry, I wasn’t going to deprive you of this:

Post Whatever with Francis, Narcisse is telling Lola that she’s the first “worthy opponent” he’s ever had, she is telling him that his opposition to Francis makes things MAD awkward for her, he kisses her, she kisses him back, they make out a bit, then she SLAPS him and says, “do not seek to take before I give,” and then HE says, to her back as she walks off calmly, “I’m glad to hear you’re thinking of giving.” And I know he’s kind of a terrible person — murder-y, not very tolerant of diversity in religion, a blackmailer – but I am REALLY into these two. Can I just watch their show?