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Reign - Blood For Blood - Review

Reign, “Blood for Blood,” was written by the team of PK Simonds and Nancy Won and directed by Norma Bailey. Won is new to the team and has also written for Being Human, Brothers & Sisters, Jericho and Everwood. This episode introduces the Protestant Catholic conflict that plagued Europe at this time, furthers the duplicitousness of Narcisse (Craig Parker), and contrasts two marriages.

I very much liked how this episode wove in the historical religious turmoil of the period. Conde (Sean Teale) was a Protestant rebel and Mary (Adelaide Kane) did lobby for tolerance. The show also does an extremely good job of demonstrating that as much as our modern sensibilities might see tolerance as the obvious answer, it was more complicated then, especially for rulers. I also liked how they upped the stakes of this storyline by involving so many of our central characters in it. For some like Conde and Castleroy (Michael Therriault), religion is a matter of principles, for others, like Narcisse, religion is simply a political tool.

Narcisse is coming after Francis (Toby Regbo) on every front. Narcisse has placed himself at the head of the Catholic nobles, ostensibly spearheading their fight against the Protestants. But most importantly, he has discovered Francis’ secret. Narcisse has used Caroline (Jane Spidell) to worm a confession out of Francis. Parker is wonderful in the episode as you really do believe him when he says he wishes he hadn’t walked in on Francis confessing – and then we learn the truth. Narcisse is both clever and cautious, however. He also has proof of Francis’ aborted coup before Henry’s death, and he has Montgomery. In addition, Narcisse knows Francis’ true weakness – Mary. Francis will protect Mary from harm at all costs, especially from harm as a result of his own making. And Narcisse wants Francis to be a weak King – a King that he can manipulate for his own ends. Finally, Narcisse’s interest in Lola (Anna Popplewell) is suspicious. I doubt that he is attracted to her except for the fact that if he was to ever marry her, he would become the guardian of France’s only current heir. Is it possible that driving a wedge between Francis and Mary to prevent further heirs is also part of his scheme?

Mary begins the episode by asking Francis to believe in them. Francis lied about seeing the baby because he thought it would hurt Mary to know. She assures him she’s not a porcelain doll, and that if they got pregnant once, they can do it again. Francis is clearly swayed by Mary’s arguments – and her evidence in regards to the Catholic’s guilt – in favor of equal justice for all parties. But of course, by the end of the episode, Narcisse forces Francis to go against the decision Mary and he had made together. She reminds him that he’d told her at the coronation that they would rule equally.

        Mary has certainly proven that she is a worthy Queen. She manages to get the truth out of the suspects that she and Conde interrogate together. But in what will surely be a misstep, Francis lies to Mary about what is truly making him uneasy. Regbo delivers a terrific performance in this episode as he is taken through his emotional paces. In the end, Francis drives Mary away by hurting her where she is most vulnerable. He lies and says he has no faith in her ability to deliver an heir. I think Mary is more than clever enough to realize that this is not really what is bothering Francis, and we’ve seen that she is very adept at getting to the truth. It won’t be long before she sees that Francis did not mean what he said. No doubt Narcisse will score more wins before he is done, but I foresee a time when Catherine (Megan Follows) will come to the aid of her son, and Lola will come to the aid of her Queen. I’m looking forward to Narcisse having his comeuppance!

As Mary and Francis’ relationship seems to falter, Greer (Celina Sinden) and Castleroy’s grows stronger, and we see them wed. While the dresses were beautiful, I was once again struck by the lack of historical detail in the gowns. White wedding gowns were not the norm until after 1840, but interestingly the historical Mary, Queen of Scots DID wear white when she wed Francis because it was her favorite color! In fact, at that time, white was actually the color of mourning for French Queens. Regardless, the most interesting thing about this plot line is the strong bond that Greer and Castelroy are basing their marriage on.

I have to admit that I was shocked to see Castleroy attending the Protestant service. Of course, it’s Leith (Jonathan Keltz) who finds Castleroy fleeing the scene and helps him. Leith also warns Greer to ask her fiancĂ© for a full accounting of his secrets before marrying him. I thought Leith’s actions were the most gentlemanly and selfless they’ve been in a while, and I found myself more positively disposed to him. Castleroy does confess to Greer and explains that he’s been looking for answers ever since Yvette’s death. Greer asks him to give up Protestantism for her safety and the safety of the children Castleroy refuses to give up his principles, however, and says he won’t be able to marry her if she forces him to choose between her and his faith. He tells her that if she does wed him, they will be full partners. They won’t always agree, but he’ll always listen.

Of course, this is exactly Mary and Francis’ position. He said he was listening and even agreed to Mary’s proposal, but in the end, he simply chose not to listen to her – or so it looks to her. I liked how they kept us guessing right up until the end whether Greer would walk down the aisle. It’s clear when she does so that she is happy about her choice. Castleroy asks her what changed her mind. She tells him that all her life she’s been looking for safety and security, afraid of the future and what people might think of her. She’s found something more interesting and challenging with in him – his conviction for his principles and that he strives to make the world a better place. Castleroy vows to keep her safe – and she vows to protect him as well. It was a very satisfying end to their journey to the altar. Now, I just hope that they can protect each other and sustain their happiness at least for a little while!

One other plot element runs through the episode. Kenna (Caitlin Stasey) finds a journal that details the sexual exploits of a lady at court. She describes in great detail all of her sexual conquests and identifies one man – with a butterfly shaped birthmark on his wrist – as the best lover at court. Kenna is determined to find this mystery man for a lover – or at least amusement of Lola. I loved the scene in which they discover Catherine knows all about the journal! Follows is terrific in this scene. Catherine is convinced that Lord Aris (Brett Donahue) is the man in question and says she’d offer to investigate herself but a few certain someones might get jealous! Just how many lovers does Catherine have – and who are they?! Catherine doesn’t think that Lola would hold his interest.

        Lola decides to pursue Aris at the wedding – with much urging from Kenna! In the end, Narcisse chases him off by identifying Lola as the mother of the King’s child. Narcisse invites Lola for tea to get to know each other better. She declines, telling him point blank that she doesn’t like him. Narcisse tells her that most men won’t have the mettle for her – quite contrary to Catherine’s assessment, but is she still bitter about Diane? Narcisse points out that most men will be afraid of encroaching on the King’s property, but he’s not afraid of the King. Narcisse tells her that being feared can isolate you – as it has both of them. I still suspect his interest in Lola is really only in the interest of gaining more control over Francis – in this case through his child.

This was a packed episode. I was sorry to see more strife between Francis and Mary, but very happy to see the marriage of Greer and Castleroy actually happen. But was anyone else thinking that if Castleroy is Protestant does his marriage by a Catholic count? We learn a lot more about Conde. Clearly the mark of the riders – also a Catholic plot – is going to come into play. I was happy to see that “supernatural” element have a clear explanation. I wonder how long it will take for Francis to become jealous of how close Conde and Mary seem to have become? What did you think of the episode? Do you think Francis and Mary will grow further apart or will Francis tell Mary the truth or will she discover it? Were you happy to see Greer marry Castleroy? Should she have gone back to Leith? Do you think Narcisse is genuinely interested in Lola or after something else? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Forever, Defiance, Bitten, Glee, and a few others! Highlights of this past year include covering San Diego Comic Con as press and a set visit to Bitten. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.


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