Reign 1×13 ‘The Consummation’: Consumption

Source: The CW



Reign has, so far, been very good at doing exactly what I don’t think they’re about to do. The heavily condensed plot here isn’t just surprising in its pointed temporal accuracy, it actively bucks expectations by presumably jettisoning its central plot device. I know I shouldn’t despair over Bash leaving, since I was skeptical when the King Bash subplot kicked off that Francis would remain a character with any real legs (and technically we knew that he had to come back). But with the marriage, the plot seems like it’s in a hole. Francis can keep a chief mistress (Lola, one presumes, it what promises to be a major love triangle), but Reign‘s treatment of Catherine and Clarissa kinda suggests that Mary can’t.

Um, okay. That was quick, I guess. I mean, in real life the sequence of events between 1557 and 1560 probably seemed quick as well. Then again, real life wasn’t a cross between One Tree Hill and Game of Thrones. It would be one thing if the show ignored the actual, real life deaths of Henry II in 1559 and Francis II in 1560, but the characters Henry and Franky-boy both have their deaths alluded to in this episode: Francis, about a year after the marriage we witness here, and Henry necessarily some time before that (which is actually a more abbreviated schedule than history records).

Source: The CW

Source: The CW

But let’s turn back to the events of this episode because, well, it was crazy. Mary’s mother, Mary de Guise (played by Amy, from Judging Amy) shows up and sends Mary for a loop. de Guise (if that name rings any bells for you, check the stray thoughts) is firmly in the “marry Francis, you idiot, why are you listening to a man who talks like a brain-damaged Fred Thompson” camp, and we get a glimmer of some of some mother-daughter tension. de Guise is firmly of the Catherine school, but with less aptitude for Lady Macbeth style pseud-soliloquies and far more period-inappropriate strapless dresses.

There isn’t a ton of subtlety in Mary and her mother’s relationship, but honestly there doesn’t need to be. This is, really, about Catherine jumping on an opportunity when she sees it. There’s really no need for de Guise to be secretive about her feelings, but she went a little heavy on her pro-Francis agenda early and Catherine took the obvious route. Mary is obviously highly susceptible to her mother’s desires (which is an interesting bit of character development on its own), since she’s pretty much found reasons to go along with all of her mother’s life plans for her.

Source: The CW

Source: The CW

Cathy D sees that and quickly finds a way for Mary to give her mother’s desires an outlet. The papal dispensation/legitimization/whatever it is this week has been the sword hanging over the plans of the French court, and Mary is one of the few in the mix whose future basically looks the same no matter who ends up king. By compounding her vague moves towards independence (activated by Henry being a dick), her mother’s explicit desires, and the fact that Mary herself kinda still likes Francis, Catherine takes the choice away from Mary by putting it directly in her hands.

It’s a weird moment, and the show is gonna need more of them if it keeps up this breakneck pace. Like Clarissa coming back from the dead. We all saw that coming. But still great. I love this terrible nonsense so much. It’s on the air by virtue of Game of Thrones, and shares a ton of DNA, but it’s bad at being that type of conniving conspiratorial thriller. But occasionally some brilliant weirdness shines through in these process episodes.


Stray Thoughts:

  • What even is this Cathy D nonsense?
  • Aww, I love Lola and Franky together.
  • Boning some rando before “suiciding” is the most character development we’ve ever gotten out of Nostra.
  • Man, Mary’s solution to everything is to run away and then probably elope.
  • Okay, this makes no sense. Nostra was clearly seeing Franky die. The fact that he was never the firstborn seems like a terrible loophole. And look! It’s wrong!
  • Source: The CW

    Source: The CW

    Oh look, Kenna’s back, doing what she does best.

  • This castle has terrible security. They just let Mary do whatever.
  • Oooooh, shirtless Bash. LOOK AT SHIRTLESS BASH EVERYONE.
  • “It’s you. It’s always been you.” Goddamn it Reign are you kidding me.
  • Why not just give Bash an extraneous dukedom or something? It’s not like this was a new problem.
  • Are they…are they getting married in the exact same set from Princess Bride.
  • Your unsolicited history lesson: You probably recognize the name “Guise” (if you recognize it at all) from the French Wars of Religion. The family Guise were leaders of the ultra-catholic faction in France, which generally put them at odds with Catherine de Medici, though they still provided occasional allies. Henry Guise, or the Duke of Guise, was a founder of the Catholic League to prevent the protestant Henry of Navarre (Henry IV, he of “Paris is worth a mass”) from taking the compromise position of the Dauphin, leading to the late stage War of the Three Henries. After mostly succeeding in defeating the protestant Huguenots with Henry III (son of Catherine and Henry II), the Guises broke with them and advocated a harder line. The Catholic League took Paris, but Henry was able to assassinate both the Duke and Cardinal de Guise on Christmas Eve 1588. Catherine would die of old age ten days later, and Henry was assassinated by a monk a few months after that, leading to the reign of the Huguenot, but converted, Henry IV. tl;dr it’s funny that Mary Stuart is half Guise.
  • Now that I’ve written that all out, I realize that a lot of this show could be about the protestant reformation.



John M.

works for a legal newspaper in Baltimore and lives within three blocks of Tilghman Middle, the alley where Omar and Brother Mouzone have their showdown, and Pearson’s Florists. He enjoys putting his liberal arts degree to good use by watching a lot of TV and reading a lot of internet. He occasionally blogs (about Dawson’s Creek) on tumblr.


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  • Kat

    The episode was kind of all over the place, especially near the ending. They really rushed the wedding scene and it was harsh that Bash had to watch the consummation. I’m not surprised Mary chose Francis. I never quite felt as though she fully reciprocated Bash’s affection for her. She always seemed to me as though she was with him because she had to in order to save Francis’s life and she was trying to “learn” to love him whereas, Bash already loved her. I hate how Bash and Francis’ brotherhood is destroyed now.