This show! This show. Oh, this show. It manages to be confusing and convoluted and overly simplistic at the same time, and it’s as cheesy as a fondue challenge on The Amazing Race but it certainly is entertaining. This week, Mary’s abject stupidity comes back to bite her in the ass and people start getting possessed.
Remember last week when the Plague was in town, killing people off (although no one you REALLY cared about) and ruining people’s lives? Remember? In case you don’t remember, look at all these dead people!
The make-up department clearly had a blast with the Plague, by the way — all the bodies looked disgusting, so well done, Hair and Makeup. And the Plague has run its course (I have no way of telling what the passage of time is on this show. I assume it’s been about a week since the previous episode, but you should know that I literally started thinking, “well, Francis comes home, and it probably would have taken him…well, he’s got a baby in a carriage, so he’s not as fast as he would be on his horse, and….” as if I could apply earth logic to a show that — PLOT TWIST — is going to end an episode with a dead man briefly possessing a nursemaid), and poor hot Bash is working his hot ass off going through the palace to find the dead, and assuring they get a proper burial:
This is only, as you know, my second episode of this show, but I might love him. You’re supposed to, right? He’s the illegitimate son of the king so he has angsty issues, I presume, about his place in this world, which is always sexy, and he’s totally respectful of the dead, which is a plus. I mean, sure, he’s also maybe having visions and last week he spent like forty-five minutes with his face planted on a wall, but still. I’d also like to note that Bash, so far, can really work a pair of leather breeches.
As mentioned, Francis is back, and he’s brought enragingly anachronistically-named Lola; their illegitimate child; and his hot noble cousin Louis of Conde:
Obvs, everyone is delighted (well, Bash isn’t that excited about the fact that Francis asks him to be on his Privy Council the instant he slides off his horse, but we’ll get to that). The Ladies in Waiting coo over the baby, their modern hair flopping all over the place like a commercial for a deep conditioning mask (I swear, I will get over the hair thing. Except I have a very specific complaint about Mary’s hair later but it’s not even based in how historically WRONG her hair is, it’s just a NOTE):
I will also note that these are some excellent capes, especially Kenna’s, and that after approximately 80 minutes watching this show, I suspect that all three of these actresses are better than Adelaide Kane is. I don’t think Kane is terrible — and I think she has a much more layered part than any of these woman do, and she’s always in scene with Megan Follows, who is killing it — but I don’t know if she’s nailing the complexity of motivations that Mary ought to have.
Speaking of nailing:
These two have a passionate reunion — and good for them! I am all in favor of hot people making out on TV, although it also seems somewhat prompted by Mary giving the Sad Eyeball to the baby — and then start chatting about the fact that Francis (a) stormed out of the castle with no warning (AND NO POSSE AS IF) and then (b) brought his son back with him instead of letting Lola ship off with him to Norway or wherever the hell she thought she was going. Francis wants to acknowledge the baby as his own and Mary is kind of like, “UM HELLO WE NEED TO THINK ABOUT HOW THIS WILL AFFECT THE LINE OF SUCCESSION HERE AND IN SCOTLAND AND IN ENGLAND.” When she says, “in England as well,” I totally snorted. Good luck with that. And then I realized that I have no idea what year this is supposed to be. 1559ish? At any rate, somewhere in England, good Queen Bess is laughing in Mary’s general direction. And Francis is very sweetly sensitive about the whole thing, but he’s also basically like, “well, it’s my baby, and when you and I have one, everything will be totes fine, anyway. Gotta go check on the rest of my fur capelets. See ya!”
Speaking of fur capelets:
Let it be said that I really hate that particular crown-like headdress on Mary. It’s so POINTY and weirdly architectural and I think it makes her look harsh. Let it also be said that I giggle anytime someone says, with total sincerity, the name “Nostradamus.” I just do. I can’t help it. So remember when Mary threw that nasty piece of work Edward into the Plague Hole last week? And I noted that if she really wanted to Do Right, as she always claims, she should have had him arrested and tried for murder like a proper person, and in fact, her not having done so is TOTALLY BITING HER IN THE ASS THIS WEEK, because his Dad, The Ethically Questionable But Super Rich And Powerful Lord Narcisse (what a subtle name) is in town, looking for answers and he’s smarter than probably anyone at court other than Catherine. (This actor is also rather good, which is fun.)
And Catherine, in this very shiny but enjoyable ensemble, totally knows it. (Narcisse also looks mostly correct-ish. I basically spent this whole episode feeling bad for the entire crew assigned to this show, because they all need about three million more dollars in the budget for it to look right to an audience who watched The Tudors and it’s just never going to happen.) Suffice it to say, blah blah blah Mary is a TERRIBLE TERRIBLE murderer and gets 100% found out, because a dude who’d been stuck in the Plague Hole into which she threw Lord Edward LIVED AND SAW THE WHOLE THING. NO ONE CHECKED TO MAKE SURE THERE WERE NO WITNESSES TO THE QUEEN TOSSING A NOT-SICK NOBLE INTO THE PLAGUE HOLE? MY GOD. You people are going to bring down the monarchy singlehandledly. And Narcisse is — um, rightly, by the way — pissed that the Queen murdered his son, and look, all her excuses are bullshit here. You should have had him arrested and dealt with properly, OR you should have had him bumped off efficiently by a hitman. Catherine is basically like, “well, don’t blame me. I was on what I thought was my deathbed when this whole thing went down.”
Apres this rather awkward convo, everyone’s back in the ballroom — where there ought to be approximately 300 more extras — to celebrate Francis’s safe return/not being dead of the Plague, and Catherine is waxing poetic about what a baller party she’s going to throw for Francis’s coronation (I’m paraphrasing) and notes that she’s also overseen the renovations of their new chambers. “One bedroom for husband and wife. Good luck with that,” she says, in a story ripped straight from the headlines of three years ago when news broke that, unlike the previous occupants of their apartments, Wills and Kate were going to share a bedroom like normal people. (But not a bathroom because, frankly, as everyone knows, forget marrying a prince. Separate bathrooms are the real dream come true.) (Although I am 100% sure Charles and Camilla share a bedroom. I just AM.) Anyway, Megan Follows’s delivery of that line was pitch-perfect; I actually laughed out loud. But renovation discussions are cut short because Lord Narcisse storms in raging about what Mary did to Bratty Dead Lord Edward (Lord Deadward? Oh, man. I wish I’d thought of that joke three paragraphs earlier) and you can see how happy he is:
Not very. Look, this guy is a jackhole — he demands that Nostradamus and all the guards who tossed Lord Deadward into the Plague Hole be drawn and quartered, hence the episode title, and he’s eventually assuaged by a neat spot of blackmail because he himself is ALSO a murderer — but Mary made a lot of really REALLY bad choices here, and he SHOULD be pissed about them, so it’s hard to be sympathetic for her, especially since her reasoning to Francis and Narcisse both when found out is was “well, Edward murdered a bunch of people. I was really mad at him!!!!” DUDE. NO ONE HAS TO THROW A PERSON IN A PLAGUE HOLE. Throw him in the PRISON for awhile! And then Catherine is also rightly pissed when she figures out that Mary POISONED HER to keep her out of the way. And Mary is totally bratty about the entire palaver, and not at all apologetic, even though she has completely screwed things up.
So, they’re in quite a mess. THIS is why Mary needs some advisors beyond a wacky soothsayer who seems to be doing a Christian-Bale-as-Batman imitation.
Also, you should just assume that, throughout this episode and presumably this entire season, there’s going to be a lot of whinging about how the Nobles Hold All The Power Blah Blah Blah, and a LOT of exposition about how Nobles Are Important To The King Because Of Flarg, and that there’s a power vacuum since Francis might be kind of a wuss (implied), etc etc.
After Narcisse’s hissy, these two walk around in their capes for a while and Francis wisely points out that Mary acted like a total idiot killing that dude:
And she’s basically like, “this is your fault because you ran off to meet the baby you had with my lady-in-waiting, while we all had the Plague and I was ALONE.” And while feeling abandoned and lonely is a good excuse for a lot of things — say, making out with another dude, or, OKAY, maybe trying to poison your MIL — it’s NOT a great excuse for committing a murder. I guess it could be considered a decent excuse, however, for why said murder was so poorly executed. No pun intended. Francis is like, “are we seriously arguing about my banging Lola one time, when we have important problems to deal with, the least of which is that we might be running out of coordinated capes?”
Lola’s shirt is lovely if not at all historically accurate. These two have an awkward chat about how it would really REALLY easier for Lola if Francis claims their son as his own, and then Mary drafts Lola into helping them figure out a way to blackmail Narcisse (which she does). A shared enemy: Bringing people together since 1559-ish.
Meanwhile, Greer has gone to visit Leith, whose new house is the inside of a Restoration Hardware catalog:
Don’t get too attached, dude. Francis is going to give your land and all your stuff to Narcisse to make up for not executing Nostradamus and about eight nameless innocent guards that apparently no one really cares about all that much. These two have a good scene where Greer basically apologizes for ruining everything for both of them and they agree that they need to steer clear of one another, and she’s clearly full of regret and sadness, but also doesn’t seem inclined to change her mind about their relationship status. Celina Sinden was very nuanced in this scene, I thought.
While they’re Feeling Their Feelings, Bash is out discovering that Lord Narcisse murdered a whole bunch of people during the Plague to steal their lands — “JUSTICE SUFFERS AND DIES, LIKE THE REST OF US,” an Unusually Hot Peasant dramatically informs him — when he runs into a Villager who reiterates that they’re all going to be WELL HAUNTED now, the dead will roam the earth, there will be a reckoning, etc etc etc. She actually tells him that there is a “door between the dead and the living, and the Plague kicked it down,” and I seriously saw this on The Vampire Diaries, which can only mean one thing: CW CROSSOVER EVENT.
Bash scampers back to the palace and tells Francis this entire story and is like, “dude, now we REALLY need to keep Nostradamus alive, because if the dead are going to walk amongst us….????” and Francis is like, “well, shit. Guess I shouldn’t have jousted my dad to death, then, because I really don’t want to talk to him about that.”
So he pays Dad a visit:
We have a scene in The Royal We that takes place in front of one of these tombs — although no one in our book kills anyone in a joust. OR DO THEY? (They don’t. There’s no modern-day jousting in our book) — and although it’s very different tonally than this one, I am pleased to note that Standing In Front of A Fancy Marble Tomb is apparently a universal urge in terms of setting a scene. In this one, Catherine gives Francis an actually very effective and kind pep talk (littered with a little bit of passive-aggressive, “Mary will probably NEVER give you a child”) about how it’ll be for the best for everyone if he claims his child with Lola as his own.
In other palace rooms, Greer’s betrothed (???) tells her that he’s leaving town for Reasons, Possibly FOREVER:
She is NOT BEST PLEASED, and neither is he, actually — he seems to be leaving because it’s too hard to be engaged to a woman who is love with someone else, even if that someone else seems like he might be kind of a dick. Also, one of his kids just got poisoned, because he’s having a way worse week than a lot of other characters and no one seems to even care, so he’s taking his gold and going home.
Then Mary EASILY gets a priest to violate the sanctity of the confessional and tell her Blah Blah Blackmail Material For Narcisse:
But he also has to point out to her that she can’t actually use what he told her as any kind of admissible anything, because she has a serious lack of understanding of how the world works in any kind of way. Don’t worry: She and Francis still figure out a way to make Narcisse think they have proof of Terrible Crimes Committed By Him And His Son In Their Avaricious Desire For Land, so Nostradamus is SAVED and all it cost was all of Leith’s land holdings and a whole bunch of blackmail. (So presumably Leith’s coming back to court and he’s gonna be pissed about it and he and Greer are going to fall back into each other’s undercrackers while Lord Curlyhair up there is gone, right?)
In additional news:
Conde is alleged to be a Protestant (and therefore perhaps a traitor who cheers for Teams England and Germany), but he swears he’s actually a Catholic who believes the Pope has too much control over the politics of France, and that the Church as a whole is corrupt, and I can’t wait to see how the CW handles the complex and incredibly complicated relationship between religion and politics in sixteenth century France. Whilst Conde is yammering about the Pope, etc, Francis makes a face that makes me very doubtful that he will be able to negotiate those stormy seas with elan:
Yeah, THIS guy seems like he’s going to be making well-considered decisions for his country. It’s interesting. Toby Regbo is a very sympathetic actor — you can believe this person feels love, or concern, or confusion; he’s very likeable when he’s dealing with Mary, or his mother, or Bash — but he doesn’t come across like a great thinker or an assured person in this role, and I’m not sure if that’s intentional or not.
Nostradamus, before heading off to his soon-to-be-stayed-execution (you think he might have SEEN THIS ALL OF THIS COMING, you know) tells Catherine that Clarissa (her daughter, right? Is she Francis’s full sister?) MIGHT NOT BE DEAD AFTER ALL, and then he makes some more noise about this prophecy about Francis’s death on which he apparently has LITERALLY NO HANDLE ON AT ALL. You think he might have mentioned all of this earlier, but he’s pretty bitter about how Catherine’s all, “sorry you’re getting executed, but I’m totally going to commission a statue of you, isn’t that great?!”:
At least Catherine’s dress is really good:
I hope she wears it all season. Additionally, I have faith that, whatever any of this means, Catherine will handle it with cunning and perhaps with more murder, and that will be entirely enjoyable if potentially way too convoluted to explain in any kind of elegant way.
Speaking of convoluted, Mary manages to throw together a way to trick Narcisse into believing she and Francis have proof that HE TOO is a murderer — this plot line, now that I have to explain it to someone else, feels very complex in a way that it probably didn’t need to be — whilst wearing a tablecloth from Anthro as a cape. This involves a fake fight between Francis and Mary wherein Francis actually tells her some super bossy shit that’s secretly true.
In fairness, it’s kind of a GOOD tablecloth. This also reminds me of My Note About Her Hair, and it’s that I actually don’t even think the long hair is that flattering on Adelaide Kane. I think she would be both more regal AND actually more striking with her hair back. Two birds, one stone, the end.
Once Narcisse is dispatched, Francis makes Bash the official Dude Who’s Looking Out for The Walking Dead Around The Palace:
Or, technically, into The King’s Deputy — someone he can actually trust, with some power to get some shit done. Additionally, that’s nice tile on the floor there, and this scene was well shot. I can be nice!
While Francis is drafting Bash (at Bash’s request), Nostradamus speeds off on his horse even though he can’t sit up and he’s probably about to barf. I kind of hate him. I kind of think he’s the worst. Is that unfair?
I think Nostradamus is a drama queen.
Once he trundles off, Mary tells Francis that she’s cool with it if he wants to acknowledge Baby Robert as his son, and also that her fabulous doorknocker earrings are KILLING HER:
And then she leaves and he is cooing over the baby and he turns to the nursemaid and asks for advice on how he’s supposed to actually hold said baby and she begins to give him a lesson in supporting the head AND THEN:
THEN SHE IS BRIEFLY AND INSANELY POSSESSED BY THE SPIRIT OF HIS DEAD FATHER YOU GUYS. IT WAS AMAZING. “I remember holding you in my arms when you were this little,” she says, in a SUPER deep voice. “When I gave you life, I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever done. All the treaties I’ve made, all the wars and the whores were nothing compared to that.” And Francis is — as one would be — all WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. And then she is all, “Don’t you recognize your own father? USURPER!!!!”
S/he literally calls him USURPER. That was not me editorializing.
And then she snaps out of it and is like, “whatever just happened? I don’t remember anything” and then the baby starts crying.