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Reign - Dead of Night & The Shakedown - Review

Sorry for the delay on these, but here’s a nice double review to make up for missing a week! Reign “Dead of Night” was written by the team of Wendy Riss Gatsiounis and Drew Lindo and was directed by Deborah Chow. The title nicely encapsulates all three storylines in this episode – as dead of night would suggest, dangerous and nefarious things are happening in Scotland, England, and France!

In England, it looks like Elizabeth (Rachel Skarsten) may have finally come to terms with marrying Archduke Ferdinand (Steve Byers). He tells her that he wants a real marriage – he’s not just marrying her for the crown. However, she and Gideon (Ben Geurens) are still conducting their relationship in secret. Gideon confesses it’s been more difficult than he thought it would be to see her with someone else, yet when he suggests leaving to make it easier on Elizabeth, she becomes frantic.

In Scotland, Mary (Adelaide Kane) and Darnley (Will Kemp) are trying to get along. When Darnley brings news of Elizabeth’s potential marriage to the Archduke, a Catholic, they agree that they need to act before they lose the Catholic advantage. Darnley promises to call in his English allies to help.

Mary agrees and plans to hold Elizabeth hostage in her own castle. She offers her Royal Seal as her promise to stand behind the allies. Mary wants Elizabeth to publicly acknowledge her as the rightful heir and she’ll let her live. Mary will only make the decision to execute Elizabeth if she gives her no choice.

Darnley is furious when Bothwell (Adam Croasdell) shows up at court. This is a terrific scene. Darnley wants Bothwell to apologize for what he said in the Loyal Watchman letters and to bow to him as his King. Bothwell refuses. He tells him that he may wear the Scottish crown but he’ll always be English by birth. He tells him that he hates the English because they’ve crossed their borders and slaughtered his people for 300 years. Darnley banishes Bothwell from Court.

In the end, Darnley is just in it for power. He asks Mary for the Crown Matrimonial yet again. He tells her that he’s without power without it – but he’s also without risk. If Mary’s Royal Seal is found, she alone will be blamed. He gives her an ultimatum: give him the Crown Matrimonial or she will lose everything that she’s fought for.

Rizzio (Andrew Shaver) goes to Bothwell in a tavern and persuades him to talk to Mary. They meet in her carriage, and she tells him she needs to abort the mission, save the men, and retrieve her seal – and she needs Bothwell to do it all. It would have to be unsanctioned and he’ll be screwed if he doesn’t succeed. Bothwell tells her he’ll do it – and he vows that he would do it for her with or without her crown. I’m very much liking the chemistry between these two!

Mary sends Bothwell and Rizzio to Gideon. Gideon has already pledged to Elizabeth to rescue her from a four hour carriage ride with the Archduke, but he is destined not to fulfill that promise. Gideon has an “Italian” visitor, who turns out to be Rizzio and Bothwell. Gideon is reluctant at first, but agrees that Lord Barrett (James Gilbert) is dangerous and agrees to help.

Back in Scotland, Darnley has gathered the Privy Council and wants Mary to sign the order for the Crown Matrimonial, making him a true King and her equal. Mary tells him that she made him King, but they’ll never be equals and rips up the document.

In England, Rizzio and Bothwell show up to Barrett’s hideout. The tell the Scots there to return home, the mission is off. Barrett tries to resist, and Rizzio sets him straight about the Scottish hierarchy – Darnley is only King Consort and has no real power. Bothwell takes the Seal back from Barrett by force. Gideon is also there and Bothwell wants to kill him for seeing too much, but Rizzio stops him, saying it’s Mary’s call. Bothwell knocks Gideon out and brings him back to Scotland.

Gideon wakes up in Scotland, and Mary explains what happened. She also assures him that she is no longer a threat to Elizabeth. After she promises she releases him and he returns to Elizabeth. At first, he excuses his absence from saving her to having gotten caught up drinking with friends, and I was really expecting we’d have a series of stupid lies, but he actually tells her the truth. But he also tells her that she must marry the Archduke as she’ll always be in danger otherwise.

There’s another intense scene between Bothwell and Mary in which she tells him she should have listened to him and not married Darnley. He tells her that she’s stronger than she thinks she is. She keeps him at arms’ length, however, reminding him that she’s Queen and can’t afford to make a mistake – but the two share a look…

The final scene in Scotland is brilliant. With Rizzio and Bothwell on either side of her throne, Mary summons Darnley in front of her. Darnley immediately apologizes when he sees that she has the Seal. But Mary is done and tells him they’re finished. Darnley, like the petulant child he is, declared he never had a chance – oh, so many chances, Darnley! – and tells her that he’ll drink and whore his way across Scotland. Mary is going to have Bothwell arrest him, but Darnley has one final ace up his sleeve. Mary’s baby needs a father – he still has the power to ruin her if he denies he is the father!

In France, Henry (Nick Slater) attempts to undermine Charles (Spencer Macpherson). He throws a party for Charles – and forgets to invite Charles – to woo the court and show off his own accomplishments. He’s brought gifts for everyone, including a book of black magic – to freak Charles out. Niclole (Ann Pirvu) is captivated – along with the others.

Catherine (Megan Follows – superb as always throughout this episode!) is furious. She tells Henry that Nostradamus warned her about the danger of things like the book. She tells him that he mustn’t let Spain divide their family. When one Valois is weakened, they all are.

Meanwhile Narcisse (Craig Parker) seems to be falling back into his old ways as he continues to seduce Nicole. He compliments her on being the source of Charles’ confidence, and she tells him that he is the source of her happiness. It seems she might be the weak link that Henry is searching for…

Henry and Charles are playing tennis, and Henry, in very unsportsmanlike behavior throws a ball – which turns out to be full of rocks as Narcisse discovers – directly at Charles face – breaking his nose. Catherine confronts Henry and tells him she knows what he’s up to – undermining Charles AND eyeing Nicole.

Henry lies and denies it, but Catherine has the proof. Henry insists that he’s done more and Leesa wants him in power. Catherine insists that all Charles had to do was be born first. She also tells him that the book of black magic is heresy and all she has to do is take it to the Vatican. Henry is aghast and doesn’t believe that Catherine would accuse her own son of witchcraft, but she tells him she would if it prevented the family from being torn apart. Henry agrees to apologize to Charles.

At yet another super-awkward family dinner, Henry finally apologizes, at Narcisse’s prompting, but also taunts Charles. Charles tells him to get out of his Court, and Henry says he can’t because Spain wants him there – Charles attacks Henry!

Claude (Rose Williams) is distraught after the dinner. Charles is damaged and Henry is ruthless – she’d hoped to be a family. Luc (Steve Lund) tries to console her that perhaps it can be different when they start a family of their own. Claude reminds him that she’s not in love with him, and he tells her that he’s not in love with her either….yet. Maybe there’s hope for them in the future.

Narcisse goes to Henry and tells him they’ll go to the Vatican, telling them Henry dabbles in the occult. Henry tells Narcisse that he knows about Nicole. Narcisse tells him to make sure he has proof before he threatens, but he’s impressed enough to go to Catherine and suggest that they are backing the wrong horse with Charles. Narcisse tells Catherine that he likes Charles, but he’s irrevocably damaged and Catherine doesn’t have the power to save him.

So naturally, Catherine turns to the book of black magic!

This was a solid episode with lots of action that moved the plots along fairly nicely in both France and Scotland. It’s becoming very clear that there’s no way we are going to make it to the end of Mary’s story, however – to say nothing of Catherine, Henry or the rest of the French Court. What did you think of the episode? Are you team Charles or team Henry? Is anybody not team Bothwell?

“The Shakedown” was written by the team of Patti Carr and Lara Olsen and was directed by Norma Bailey. Once again, the episode resonates throughout the storylines. There is a literal shakedown of Scotland by an earthquake, but there are intrigues and blackmail afoot everywhere.

Mary goes on a walkabout to survey the damage of the Earthquake and is desperate to help her people. She appeals to the Privy Council but the emergency fund has already been depleted – and there’s no money left. Knox (Jonathan Goad) shows up to gloat and tells her that either she fails her people or she exposes her weakness to the Privy Council. Either way, it helps his cause!

Mary goes to Darnley at his estate. He’s been draining the treasury to support his debauchery. Mary wants the money back. She doesn’t care if he punishes her, but he can’t let the Scottish people suffer. Darnley agrees to help – he’s not a monster, he protests – but he wants to be able to return to Court. Mary points out that they hate each other, but Darnley just wants respect from the people – who can’t respect a King that they can’t see.

Luckily, Mary doesn’t actually trust Darnley – as Bothwell first fears – so she arranges for a huge party to welcome him back at Court. I loved the toasting scene. Darnley makes a show of kissing Mary and then comments that not everyone seems happy to see him back – Bothwell is giving him death stares for instance. Mary tells Darnley that he can’t expect everyone to be happy he’s back – some of them know him! ZING! Mary and Bothwell sneak away to steal the gold back from Darnley, only to find most of it already gone.

Bothwell stalls Darnley when he arrives back so that Mary can take what money there is to safety. Bothwell and Darnley fight, but Darnley has him taken prisoner and beaten. Darnley arrives back to Court with Bothwell under arrest, and Rizzio tells Mary that Darnley spent the money acquiring property – and solidifying his own power that way. Mary knows that he is buying influence with her enemies. He’s actively working against her.

Mary confronts Darnley and asks how low he will go. She insists that he’s taken his quest for power too far. Darnley insists that she lied to him, stole from him, and betrayed him with another man! Bothwell all but admitted that he loved Mary. Darnley insists that he defended Mary’s honor by beating him to within an inch of his life. But Bothwell won’t die because that would have proved that he cared. Mary insists that the child is Darnley’s and that Bothwell only returned to Court to protect her from him!

There’s a terrific scene between Mary and Bothwell when she goes to visit him in prison. It’s clear that Darnley is not willing to share power and he is willing to take it. Mary insists that they have to find another way to stop him – she’s not ready to kill a King just yet.

In the final scene, however, we see that Darnley is working with Knox! They are planning on convincing the Privy Council to grant Darnley the Crown Matrimonial. Knox suggests that Darnley might have to convert… and Darnley is pretty much fine with that.

In England, Elizabeth and Gideon escape to a cottage on the coast because Elizabeth is utterly freaked out by the barely thwarted rebellion. She has her maid – Jane (Megan Hutchings) taste her tea to see if it’s “cold” because she’s terrified it’s been poisoned!

We get some pleasant role play and general playing on the beach between Gideon and Elizabeth before Jane suddenly shows up! She gives them what seems to be a plausible explanation – she had a few days off and is visiting family, but Elizabeth is taking no chances and smacks her in the head with a handy paddle!

Elizabeth is determined that Gideon must kill Jane to hide their secret. He insists that Jane is an innocent, loyal servant and points out that Lola’s death still haunts Jane. Elizabeth insists that she is the “Virgin” Queen – and has to remain so to the world! Gideon is about to take Jane to the woods and kill her even as Gideon insists that he can’t make Elizabeth feel safe when men come to the door searching for Jane who’s been reported missing.

Elizabeth hides in the basement where Jane is being held. In the end, Elizabeth can’t kill her either because Lola does still haunt her – all of which is laying the groundwork for her not to be able to kill Mary when it comes to it. Elizabeth lets her go, only to have Jane show up back at Court! She begs to be allowed to stay – she needs the work and promises to keep Elizabeth’s secret. She reveals that she already knows about Dudley and she’s kept that secret! Elizabeth agrees, but in the last scene we see Jane writing – and it appears she is spying on Elizabeth for someone!

In France, Charles and Luc are having an archery contest. Charles wins, but Henry taunts him again, suggesting that the family only lets him think he’s the best archer in the family. Charles then challenges Henry. He’ll shoot an apple off Henry’s head – the prize is the crown! Henry says that he promised Catherine not to challenge the king. Claude is appalled – if he misses, Henry could be dead! Narcisse agrees it’s not a good idea. Henry shrugs it off – some other time… And Charles shoots the apple out of his hand! Everyone is appalled, but Narcisse looks thoughtful. This is out of character for Charles.

However, Narcisse starts laying the groundwork to join Henry’s “team” by telling him he feels a certain kinship with him. Henry is called to “watch” as his brother considers a situation brewing with some English nobles. Charles wants to strike quickly, but Henry advises waiting to ensure the best advantage.

Narcisse goes to Catherine and wants to know what’s changed with Charles. Catherine insists that Charles is simply stronger than Narcisse thought – he was wrong. However, Catherine isn’t impressed when she hears Charles order the English nobles thrown in prison. Henry tells her that Charles is out of control.

Claude is the first to discover that Catherine has cast a spell on Charles. I love when these two have scenes together! Both are terrific in this one. Catherine insists she was just trying to make Charles stronger and burns the rope figure she was using, promising not to do it again. Honestly, it felt like the Darkhold plot from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for a moment! Catherine insists that she can fix the situation through conventional means – she’ll get the English lords to negotiate.

Catherine asks how Claude is doing and she confesses that she’s having a hard time honoring the promise she made to Leith. Catherine insists that Claude won’t be able to keep both her promises – to give Luc an heir and not to fall in love. Claude goes to Luc to fulfill the first promise.

Catherine finds Charles by the fire, considering the offer to negotiate. He’s concerned about looking weak, but Catherine assures him that it’s a chance to show how strong and confident he is. In the end, Charles goes off, supposedly to negotiate and returns with the English lords’ heads on pikes! Everyone is horrified – including Catherine. Narcisse insists that these are the actions of a madman, leading them to war!

Meanwhile, Narcisse has gone to Luc to ask him to spy on Henry and Charles via Claude. Luc refuses and Narcisse produces a letter that he intercepted. Claude has hired men to find Leith, and she plans to go to him once she’s provided Luc with an heir. Narcisse insists that power is shifting at court and they must use every resource in their power to ensure they pick the right side. Luc is upset – this isn’t the kind of marriage he wanted.

After Charles returns, Claude goes to Luc for help. Luc shows her the letter and tells her that he can’t be with her. She tells him that I maybe too late – she’s already falling in love with Luc and feels terrible about breaking her vow to Leith. She tells Luc that she grew up in Court, surrounded by lies and betrayal and if she breaks her vows she’ll be no better than her mother or father. She tells him she doesn’t want to become like them. Luc assures her she won’t. From now on their marriage will simply be a political formality – but he’s clearly sad about it.

Catherine goes to Charles and demands to know why he did it. Charles tells her that he’d planned to negotiate but he always has to prove himself or people will rise against him. Charles confesses that he knows he’s weak – everyone sees it but Catherine. He confesses that he’s afraid and hugs Catherine.

In the final scene in France, Narcisse comes to Catherine and tells her that Henry diffused the situation. Narcisse insists that he was right about Henry – he’s a natural and has talent. Catherine insists that Henry’s talent is in going after what doesn’t belong to him – and we see Henry tell Nicole that Charles is not the man for her – and she’s listening!

It would seem that all the monarchs are in danger from within their own inner circles! What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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