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Reign - Love & Death - Review

Reign “Love & Death” was written by the team of Drew Lindo and Wendy Riss Gatsiounis and was directed by the ever wonderful Megan Follows. I always find it difficult to enjoy Follows terrific direction because it generally means we see less of her on screen in the episode – and of course, in this episode Catherine (Follows) must undertake a “trip” to deceive Leesa (Anastasia Phillips). Once again this week, we split the storyline three ways between Scotland, France, and England.

I think the show has done a good job in seguing to Mary’s (Adelaide Kane) new love. We’ve had our rebound in Gideon (Ben Geurens) and are now ready to enjoy Darnley (Will Kemp) – or maybe that’s just me? There’s no denying the two have some good chemistry and I like what Darnley is bringing out in Mary – her natural fierceness. I loved the two racing on horseback and then confronting Richards (Philip Riccio) together. I particularly loved Mary’s saucy “I’ve misplaced my fiancĂ©!” after Darnley basically flips the bird at him and rides off.

I also liked the scene of the two flirting at the fountain on their return to the castle. However, when Darnley makes a move to take their relationship further, it freaks Mary out and she pushes him away. Mary confides in Greer (Celina Sinden) that she wanted to let go. She’s attracted to the wild and daring of Darnley, but she’s also filled with a sense of panic when they get closer. Deep down, she knows that marrying Darnley may solidify her power but there will also be no going back on hostilities with Elizabeth (Rachel Skarsten).

I have to say that I’m sad to see Sinden basically shunted to trusted confidante for this final season. I was really hoping she’d have a juicy storyline of her own, but it seems there is no room for that – too bad they didn’t wait and cast her as Elizabeth. It truly feels like a real waste of talent. Her only other scene is a mild flirtation with James (Dan Jeannotte). And with her separation from Castleroy, there’s no hope for any real relationship between the two of them.

James tells Mary that he’s received word the English are coming for Darnley. He tells her to consider whether the marriage is worth it. Mary has sent word to Spain for help, but the engagement party is scheduled for that night, and there’s no hope of help by then. For his part, Darnley refuses to be intimidated.

I like that they are starting to escalate the real rivalry and hatred that actually existed between these two men. James wants to try to keep the peace and wants to put Scotland’s welfare first. Darnley insists that he and Mary are the future of Scotland – and that James became redundant the minute Darnley arrived. Mary sends James out of the room, but in the end, insists that Darnley go to a safe house to avoid a conflict they aren’t yet ready for.

When Richards shows up with only a few men, Mary immediately suspects that there is a secondary plot – which, of course, there is! Mary receives another note from the Lone Watchman, warning that an assassin is coming. It’s clearly after Darnley, as she has isolated him and made him an easy target. Darnley, even though drunk, is able to protect himself and kill his would be assassin (Simon Northwood).

There’s a nice scene with a very tearful Mary arriving to find Darnley very much alive. The two return in triumph to the engagement party and present Richards with an English body to take back with him – the body of the dead assassin! This is also a great scene – I’m totally on board with liking fierce Mary. Richards denies any knowledge of the assassination attempt. Mary seems to consider that maybe he didn’t know.

Mary pulls back again from Darnley, but he follows her. She tells him that she can’t allow herself to fall in love with him because of Francis. Everyone whom she loves ends up in danger. Darnley assures her that he’s not worried about the danger – “Doesn’t it make you feel alive?” He tells her that they will always be in peril because of who they are – and he’s not wrong. Yet, he not only accepts the danger, he actively invites it – and that’s a crucial difference. But he wins Mary over and the two take their relationship to the next level.

In France, Leesa returns and is more determined than ever to see Charles – who is still missing. Catherine goes off to forge his signature on a document to allow France to contribute to the Spanish efforts to help Scotland. Leesa takes great joy in not letting Catherine weigh in on the decision, but accepts Narcisse’s (Craig Parker) opinion as Lord Chancellor.

Leesa seems to be falling under Narcisse’s spell somewhat. There’s a terrific scene in which Narcisse seems to find common ground with Leesa – who has been stealing great works of art from the people she is persecuting for religious reasons. I do hope that the avariciousness we see in Narcisse in this scene is him just playing a part and not a return to his truly evil ways. He is clearly trying to seduce her, however. The two are interrupted by a report that the King has been spotted – but not at the monastery where he’s supposed to be. Narcisse makes up a story about a problem with inposters.

Meanwhile, Leith (Jonathan Keltz) is still struggling with the arrangement that he and Claude (Rose Williams) made with Luc (Steve Lund). It is further complicated by the fact that Luc is a truly honorable and nice guy. When Claude struggles to fulfill her wifely duties, Luc is completely understanding and lets her beg off. He’s also finding some fun for himself among the ladies at court. It’s clear that Claude could actually fall for him.

When Catherine discovers the arrangement, she cautions Claude. She says “how progressive of you” but means it quite ironically. After all that was the exact kind of arrangement she had with Henry and Diane. She warns Claude that watching someone you love with another poisons the heart. Both Follows and Williams are great in this short scene. I miss Follows and Kane having antics together, but this pair generally delivers too.

Narcisse sends Luc to get to Charles before Leesa’s men can, and Claude asks Leith to go as well. He’s reluctant and petulant after torturing himself outside of Claude’s room and hearing her with Luc. He manages to get there just as Luc elicits the same giggle that Leith had early that morning. He doesn’t stay to find out that nothing happened – though Claude tells him as she begs him to help Charles.

Leith gives in and discovers Luc injured by bandits and left to die. It’s clear that Leith seriously considers letting Luc die – it would solve all of his problems. Lund and Keltz are both terrific in the scene, and I loved Follows choice to go to black and pause for a commercial to make us wait for Leith’s decision.

On returning to the castle, Luc sings Leith’s praises as his savior to Narcisse who is forced to thank Leith. When Narcisse asks how he can repay Leith, Leith demands 10,000 livre and he wants the land back that Francis gave him and that Narcisse took. He assures Narcisse that if he pays him, Claude and Luc’s future is secure – he will leave court and never come back. Narcisse wistfully comments, look how far you’ve come, trading your heart to improve your station – something Leith has repeatedly avoided up until now.

We get a tearful farewell between Claude and Leith. She begs him to stay, but he’s adamant. He tells her that he hates what he’s becoming – and so do we!!! He echoes Catherine’s very words – nice writing show! – and tells her “I feel a poison in my heart. How long before I give in to it?” Clause begs him to meet her in Tuscany in one year. By then she will have given Luc his heir, and she promises not to fall in love with him. Leith tells her that he’ll try – to have faith in her and to meet her, but he won’t promise because he doesn’t think she can keep her promise. He rides out, and there’s a beautiful shot of the gate coming down between them – Claude trapped like the rest of the royals in the show by her duty, forced to let her heart ride away.

Leesa confronts Narcisse – and then the returned Catherine. She knows the truth about Charles. She tells them that it’s time for the Valois to step down in France and for Spain to take control!

In England, Elizabeth tries to be a friend to Gideon by providing the best that medicine can offer to save his daughter, Agatha (Macy Drouin). We get a couple of nice scenes with Gideon and his daughter. Elizabeth brings in the renowned Viktor Koslov (Jason Cadieux) who turns out to be a charlatan. He is only able to relieve the symptoms – Agatha can’t be saved.

The final scene in Scotland confirms that Mary has given in to Darnley. However, she puts him off for that night and retires to her own bed. Darnley is accosted in the courtyard by none other than his lost love Keira (Sara Garcia). She’s run away to be with the love of her life. Darnley is perhaps not that happy to see her. He tells her that he’s going to marry the Queen of Scotland… but she tells him that he can’t because she’ll never have his heart because she, Keira, has it. Darnley looks both worried and a bit thoughtful. Even Follows couldn’t pull a particularly good performance from Garcia, so let’s hope that she meets a quick and untimely death…

What did you think of the episode? We have so much more history to get through! I’m really beginning to wonder how much of the rest of Mary’s story we will be able to get. I’d gladly sacrifice most of the English storyline, but I’ll never cease to want to watch more of the Catherine/Narcisse storyline! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!