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Reign - The End of Mourning - Review

Reign, “The End of Mourning,” was written by the team of Laurie McCarthy and Nancy Won and was directed by Nathaniel Goodman, whose other credits include Falling Skies and Heroes. This was a packed episode with court intrigue ramping up. Sean Teale (Conde) and Adelaide Kane (Mary) deliver particularly good performances. I have to admit that I am getting a bit tired of the love triangle, however. The title refers to both the end of Catherine’s (Megan Follows) mourning for Henry, but even more, the beginning for Mary to get past the rape and the mourning associated with that loss for her.

I liked the structure of the episode very much. We see the court in the fresh air, playing games and it’s a reflection of the games and mechanizations going on in the court. Conde tries to dissuade Antoine (Ben Aldridge) from pursuing Kenna (Caitlin Stasey), but once Antoine sees how much it bothers Bash (Torrance Coombs) there’s no way he’s going to give up torturing Bash in this way. Kenna does try to put Antoine off, but he clearly understands what makes her tick. Kenna can’t stand not having attention lavished on her, and she has a weakness for the finer things. She is clearly not happy about not being invited to the dinner that is just for the royals, for instance. Antoine’s resolve to hurt Bash in this way is further hardened after Conde makes sure that Bash won’t be punished for his part in their brother’s death. Kenna returns to her apartments at the end of the episode to find them full of strawberries and snow. Kenna is not strong enough to resist such advances if Bash continues to neglect her.

The episode features two family dinners. At the first Catherine reveals that Narcisse (Craig Parker) has helped her discover that Henry’s bible was poisoned and that was the cause of his and her hallucinations. Follows as always is simply a delight. I loved her diving into the dessert, claiming all she could eat were sweets as everything else tasted metallic – a not uncommon side effect of some poisons. Catherine vows that no one hurts her family and gets away with it. It’s fantastic to see her back on top – or mostly on top – of her game. Narcisse meanwhile suggests the culprit is Frederic Mazur.

Duke de Guise (Gil Darnell) shows back up at court at exactly the wrong time. Catherine is glad to see him and he is eager to try to woo her. Clearly, this may be the start of a very amusing parade of suitors for Catherine. Narcisse doesn’t want to lose any of his influence over Catherine and this seals de Guise’s fate as scapegoat. Catherine, however, is clear with Narcisse that his discovery of the poison is only a small part in the atonement he will be making to both her and Francis (Toby Regbo). Narcisse will underestimate Catherine at his own peril. She is not pleased that he can’t even entertain the idea that a “woman of her age” would still be interested in a physical relationship for instance. While the Duke offered Catherine her own household again and a father for her children, it’s possible that it still suited her purposes better to let Narcisse frame him.

In the end, Narcisse has gotten rid of his rival de Guise and done Antoine a great favor in the bargain because of course it was Antoine who had Henry murdered to avenge his brother’s death. Antoine pays Narcisse handsomely but worries Narcisse could turn on him – after all, he’s “clever and grasping.” Narcisse points out that they are mutually damning. Narcisse also plans to continue to the play the part of the “penniless and disgraced lord,” while he plots against Francis. It seems that Narcisse is far from being humbled by his fall. Antoine and Narcisse will be formidable enemies for Francis.

Mary continues to push Francis away while drawing closer to Conde. Mary doesn’t want to believe that Conde could have been a part of poisoning Henry. Francis still tries to spare her by saying it would all have happened before Conde came to court and met Mary, so it would have had nothing to do with her. It would simply have been a continuation of the bad blood between the Valois and Bourbons. Mary insists on being present when Conde is accused to see his face and judge him for herself. I felt bad for Conde and Lola (Anna Popplewell) as they are thrust together and then told to break it off. They are simple chess pieces to the larger game. Francis attempts to pay Mary a simple compliment and Mary rebuffs him. Francis is plagued by what could have happened had they uncovered the plot before Henry went mad or at least before his death. Mary, however, is ruthlessly cold to him.

Francis suggests that they salvage the match between Conde and Lola, but Mary says no, they should step back and stop forcing things. After all, they can’t force their own hearts. Francis points out that it’s the first time he’s heard her talk about her heart or the future and wonders what’s changed. Mary says time. But she’s made it very clear that she’s not interested in pursuing a future with Francis. For his own part, Francis finally reveals some of his own feelings: “You say that I can be free… open to another, but without you, my heart is closed as tight as a fist.” Kane is terrific in this scene as we see on her face that she is finally moved by something Francis says.

Both Francis and Mary move toward others. They both call off the liaison between Conde and Lola, and both do it because they are interested in one of them. Conde also tells Mary how he feels. He’s tired of being a pawn. He forces Mary to admit that she doesn’t want him to court Lola. When Conde is accused of using Mazur to kill Henry, he looks both hurt and offended.
        It’s clear that he’s most upset because Mary could think that of him and lie to him to get him there. Teale is particularly good in this scene. Yet, he doesn’t lose his head as thoroughly as it looks. He accuses Bash of killing his and Antoine’s brother during the war in order to prevent Antoine from going after Bash. He forces Antoine to publicly forgive Bash – who looks pretty upset by the whole incident too!
When Mary goes to apologize, Conde swears his undying love her her. In the end, Mary goes to Conde again to tell him that they can never be. She will never give up her responsibilities as Queen. Being a woman, she does not enjoy “the same freedom to stray as a man.” Conde again swears how much he loves her. Mary leaves Conde – and both are clearly very upset. She tells him “You will be the death of me and I of you.” Both Kane and Teale are terrific in this scene as well.

Meanwhile, Mary pushes Francis back to Lola. Francis asks Lola to call it off with Conde, telling her that he may be a traitor. And that’s the second time she’s been potentially hooked up with a traitor at the whim of her King and Queen! She confesses that she’s missed Francis’ friendship and considers him more of a friend because of the baby. Francis confesses that he’s been staying away because Mary saw them together and he didn’t want to cause her any more pain – even if it meant pain for himself. In the end, Francis confesses that he’s also missed Lola’s friendship and he seeks solace in the nursery.

Lola performs several good deed in the episode. She and Kenna visit Greer in her new situation. Lola brings her a little money as Greer is destitute. Of course, Kenna doesn’t understand whey Greer has no money. Greer is clearly completely out of her element – hilariously so. Greer has only had enough money to “eat” stout, so Lola and Kenna find her drunk. Greer is accosted by a pervert (Mike McPhaden) in the bar who wants to stroke her hair. After scolding him that it’s cheating if he’s married – he isn’t – she does what she thinks is a good turn for everyone by sending him up to her neighbor – the “whore next door” – Sharlene (Linzee Barclay).

        The pervert cuts off Sharlene's hair while she’s sleeping and Sharlene interrupts Greer’s interview for a female companion to a Countess (Ferelith Young). I couldn’t help but notice that she comes from Hungary – Is she related to Lola’s husband? In the end, Sharlene pays Greer her “cut” and Greer is finally able to have a real meal. The Innkeeper (Billy Otis) marvels that she’s now “working hens.” What will Castelroy say? Leith?
Once again, the show highlights how trapped women were by their roles and society’s view of them. Lots of action on multiple story fronts in this episode. It’s always rather fun to watch the production have to deal with the winter in Toronto. The initial winter sport scene looked like it was very cold to shoot! However, the fur-lined capes and headgear were extremely well done.

I have to admit that I would simply like to see Mary and Francis come to an accommodation or some way to move forward. This plot seems to be simply spinning its wheels and I’m as tired of the push/pull as Conde! Narcisse is the character we all love to hate. With Catherine finally back in play, I’m looking forward to some great scheming! What did you think of the episode? 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.