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Reign - The Prince of the Blood - Review



Reign, “The Prince of the Blood,” was written by the team of Drew Lindo and Wendy Riss Gatsiounis and was directed by Deborah Chow. Lindo and Gatsiounis last collaborated on “Drawn and Quartered,” but Chow is new to Reign and fairly new to directing, having only 2 other television credits: Copper and Beauty and the Beast. It’s a good solid episode with plenty of beautiful shots in it and some terrific performances – I suspect Chow is going to be in high demand, and I hope we see her back for another episode of Reign.


Things are starting to heat up on a number of fronts in this episode. Narcisse (Craig Parker) tightens his hold on Francis (Toby Regbo) and seems to be winning over Lola (Anna Popplewell). Francis and Mary (Adelaide Kane) continue to see their own relationship undermined. Greer (Celina Sinden) and Castleroy (Michael Therriaut) are in imminent danger due to his Protestantism. Conde (Sean Teale) is clearly having feelings for Mary. And Princess Claude (Rose Williams) returns to the castle.

Several scenes stood out as exceptional in this episode. Chow uses physical distance between the characters to emphasize their relationship, especially with Mary and Francis. We initially seeing them having a “working” breakfast seated at opposite ends of a very long table. When Narcisse arrives with his edict that all subjects must declare their faith before the King, Francis moves immediately to Mary’s end of the table. Narcisse and Francis remain standing – as combatants – with Mary between them.

Mary tells Francis that the edict pleases her because it shows that they are still on the same side. She tells him to take a stand and she will take it with him. He tells her that he is boxed in by his nobles and has to do it alone. He asks her to be patient and believe in him. Notice how the blocking has reinforced the words – taking a stand together versus being boxed in – separated and alone.

Mary then goes to Conde – she tells him they need someone to step forward. This scene is interestingly shot coming down stairs on a narrow corridor – a beautiful setting that I don’t recall having seen before. Conde doesn’t want to have to name names and cautions Mary that you can’t expect people to step forward before they are ready to. Ultimately, they approach Lord Canaan (Sergio Di Zio), and Mary urges him to be a hero. When he asks her why she cares about the Protestants when she’s a Catholic, Mary tells him that she is a Queen who is concerned for all of her subjects. Conde clearly admires Mary’s stance and tells her she is “daring and fierce.” In the end, Conde himself steps forward when no one else will be the first. As far as we know, he is a Catholic – or so he tells Mary – history says something different. He tells Mary that he did it for her. Mary doesn’t quite know how to respond to that declaration. Francis has disappointed her greatly, but she’s still in love with him, so she tells Conde that he has her gratitude – clearly less than he might want…

Francis goes tells Mary that he sees her hand in Conde’s coming forward with the other nobles. After attempting to ensure Mary’s safety, Francis goes to tell her definitively that he won’t sign the edict. There’s a beautiful shot of the two of them outside – free of any walls – when they share a kiss. This is contrasted with the final scene in the throne room – which is also a beautiful contrast to that opening scene. Mary has learned from Greer – who is now in mortal danger – that Francis has signed the edict – she doesn’t even learn it from him. She tells him that he’s not the man she fell in love with and not the King she wants to rule beside. She calls him a coward. Francis meanwhile – and both Regbo and Kane are just magnificent in this scene – is tormented by his secret but is determined to keep Mary safe, so he does the only thing he can to ensure that – he tells her: “Perhaps you should return to Scotland. Leave me. Leave France.” The scene ends with the distance between them as Mary leaves the room and Francis sits alone on his throne.

I have to admit that I’m getting a little frustrated by Francis keeping his secret from Mary. There’s no point in it now. He knows she tried to kill Henry herself, so she is clearly not going to think less of him for doing it, especially as he did it to protect both France and Scotland. Narcisses is now using Mary’s own attempt to threaten her life, so her knowing about Francis’ actions make no difference. Tell her, you idiot! Conde has recognized how fierce Mary is and even Catherine (Megan Follows) told Francis in the last episode how good Mary can be in a fight. I was very happy, however to see Francis confide in Bash (Torrance Coombs). This was another really strong scene from both Regbo and Coombs.

The other major plot line in the episode centers on Lola and Narcisse. Francis asks Lola to plant evidence in Narcisse’s quarters, but won’t tell her what it is or why. He asks her to do it as a friend because she’s not a French subject whom he can command. He asks her to choose him based on what she knows of him. Unfortunately for Francis, this changes by the end of the episode.

Parker and Popplewell are terrific together. Parker is doing a fantastic job keeping me guessing about his character. Is he truly evil? Is he really just concerned about keeping France strong? Is he really such a devote Catholic? Doesn’t seem to be! Is he really falling for Lola? He does seem to be! I loved the look on his face when Lola gets him out of the room to plant the evidence by demanding that he draw her bath himself. He clearly likes a strong partner! He tells her as much in their final scene together when he tells her that he’s never had a worthy partner before.

The scene in the bath also makes use of the spatial relationship between characters. Of course, we use our clothing as a shield to hide ourselves. Lola’s vulnerability is emphasized by the bath as she is literally stripped bare. I loved their banter here, and Lola really proves herself to be brave. Narcisse would appear to be a master manipulator. He tells her, “I promise you that if we go on, you’ll see me without defenses. The games I like go beyond games. We’ll share things that strip us both bare in every way possible. But none of this can happen without trust.” Lola says that she’d like to trust him, and it’s clear that she is drawn to him – but is that like a moth to a flame (self-destructive) or because there really is more to him? It’s interesting that he insists their relationship be built on trust as we see Mary and Francis’ relationship crumbling without it – and Narcisse having a hand in that betrayal. I liked Lola insisting that the danger is always greatest for the woman – so true, especially in that time period! Narcisse makes Lola make the decision to trust him.

I have to admit that I was floored that Narcisse actually told her that Francis had killed Henry. Of course, as she points out, it was perfectly safe to tell her as she can tell no one what she knows – except maybe Mary?? Please, let her tell Mary!! He also tells her about the blackmail which is more surprising. However, he’s read Lola completely right. She’s much more offended by Francis not trusting her and lying to her. It’s unclear whether she told Narcisse about the planted cypher, however. Perhaps (hopefully), she left it there in case she should ever need leverage against Narcisse herself.

The final meeting between Narcisse and Lola brings them intimately together in a kiss – one that takes place in an alcove of the castle hallway – an interesting contrast to Mary and Francis’ kiss earlier in the episode. Lola is suspicious of why Narcisse has taken an interest in her at all, clearly she suspects him of using her proximity to Francis. She insists that Francis is her friend and her King and that they cannot continue. She kisses him for too long not to have wanted the kiss at all before she finally pushes him away and slaps him. She tell him not to seek before she gives, and then she increases the distance by walking away.

Narcisse is encouraged by Lola’s indication that she may give at some point. But it’s also clear that Narcisse is happy to use whatever threats he has to to get what he wants from Francis, and that includes threatening the life of Lola's child. Narcisse insists to Francis that he simply wants what’s best for France, which in his opinion is a Catholic majority. When Francis insists that a compromised King is no King at all, Narcisse pulls out all the stops. He threatens not only Mary and Catherine – who potentially could defend themselves – but also his younger brothers and the baby which is really quite reprehensible. Adding up all the plays Narcisse makes in this episode, I think he’s still landing decidedly on the evil side.

In general, I’m not a big fan of the Claude storyline so far. However, in a similar way to how the bath scene emphasized Lola’s vulnerability, Claude’s scanty clothing seems more likely to be hiding a hurt, young girl – she dresses completely oppositely to what she really is. Of course, we also learn that she slept with Bash – EW! But her reaction to being sent away by Catherine and her obvious hurt over missing Francis’ wedding, coronation, and the baby would seem to indicate there is more to her than an over-sexed spoiled brat – at least we can hope! I’m also not a big fan of Catherine’s little ghost girls. The show has failed to interest me in its supernatural plots so far and I’ve been happy when they all turned out to have plausible explanations.

One final little quibble. Catherine tells Mary that as a Bourbon, Conde would have been in line for the throne. Mary acts surprised, but there is no way she would not have known this. Royals are schooled in ancestry the way the rest of us learn our abc’s. But that’s a small quibble! What did you think of the episode? Is Lola falling for Narcisse and playing a dangerous game? Is Conde falling for Mary? Should Francis tell Mary the truth? 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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