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Reign – 1.16 – Monsters – Review: Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.


‘Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.’

‘A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.’
- Albert Camus

Hey Royals! The plot certainly did thicken this week on Reign, didn’t it?

Reign was all I wanted and even just a little bit more this week. So many twists, turns and jaw dropping moments. I felt like we were back at the beginning of this season when almost every episode left me panting with shock and awe and wishing it was Thursday again, already. Reign is turning into a sexy and pithy hybrid of King Lear and Game of Thrones and I for one love it.

Time to dig into this week’s episode of Reign…
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Title: Monsters | Writer: Drew Lindo & Wendy Riss Gatsiounis | Director: Jeff Renfroe
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Long Story Short

Synopsis: Henry continues to behave erratically, worrying everyone. A servant named Penelope (Kathryn Prescott) wins the Queen of the Bean contest and becomes "Queen" for a day. She is able to sexually satisfy Henry and becomes his new mistress, deliberately undermining Catherine. Bash asks Francis for help hunting "the darkness" in the woods, though they are unable to find any trace of it. The brothers reconcile when Bash saves Francis' life, and they learn that it was Henry who ordered the guards to kill Bash. Greer's new fiancé, Lord Julien (Giacomo Gianniotti), catches her kissing Leith and calls off the engagement. Castleroy intervenes when Leith is sent to prison, arranging that Leith be allowed to become a soldier. Castleroy proposes to Greer again, and she accepts. At Mary and Greer's urging, Lola approaches Julien as a potential suitor. Olivia and Nostradamus grow close and kiss. In order to ensure that Bash will no longer threaten Francis' marriage, Henry has Bash immediately wed to Kenna.
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Character Contemplations

Bash – I like Bash, it is no secret. I wanted him back in the castle where he belonged. I got my wish. I also got my other wish in the form of Bash and Francis reconciling. I do wish that Bash was able to save Rowan. But two out of three wishes ain’t so bad. Bash being forced to marry Kenna was a twist I did not see coming AT ALL. I also like how it managed to get Bash a title, a title that will help him on his quest to avenge Rowan’s death. Is it too early to dub him ‘Protector of the Realm? I enjoyed the scenes between Torrance and Adelaide immensely. They really sell the struggle of the relationship between Bash and Mary. Mary cares about him deeply but her heart and her duty is to Francis first and foremost. Bash is still obviously and desperately in love with Mary but it actually wasn’t his primary reason for returning to the castle, just an added bonus. She offered him a way out but he had unfinished business and would not rest until it was done and I really like that particular characteristic in Bash. Will Bash be able to weasel out of this marriage? Will he and Kenna fall in love eventually? Just laughing at myself and all the other Royals who were absolutely convinced that Bash was going to end up married to Lola once upon a short time ago.

Catherine – There is just something about how the lovely Megan Follows portrays Catherine. One minute I love to hate her. The next I’m absolutely smitten with Catherine and find myself actively rooting for her to succeed. The latter and not former was totally the case this week. I do just love when she and Nostradamus are together. Even better when they are hatching plans. Catherine has a genuine concern for not only Henry but her country’s well being too. That’s a drastic change from the beginning of the season and refreshing one as well. I feel sorry for Penelope because I would totally rather have Catherine as a friend than an enemy. Penelope is about to get all kinds of hell reigned down upon her and I’m going to love watching Catherine destroy her piece by piece. You know, sometimes this show does feel like Gossip Girl (and I don’t mean that in a bad way at all, I was a major super fan). The best thing about Gossip Girl was when everyone came together for the big take down at the end of the season and I think that’s just what’s about to happen in this case and make no mistake about Catherine is definitely Queen B.

Francis – Another week, another point for Francis in the Win column when it comes to winning me over. I’m so happy that he and Bash are on the road to reconciliation. As I stated last week, I adore the chemistry between Toby and Torrance and I find the brothers’ relationship to be the best one on the show. I really didn’t appreciate the forced love triangle but hopefully they will gloss over that and find something else to focus on. Francis was very sweet with Mary and enjoyed the little screen time they had together. Toby really brought in the scene where he has to defend Bash from Henry, kudos all around to everyone in that scene actually. I’m very impressed he is not rushing Mary on the heir front. But it is curious that Lola got pregnant so quickly and Mary isn’t with child yet. Historically, Mary did have one child, James I, whose father was Henry Stuart. I’m still very anxious to see if they go by the history books or if they jump the shark. I know I want Toby around as long as possible so here’s to hoping they have a work-around in the works.

Greer – When it comes to Reign, I really have to be careful what I wish for. I know last week I said I wanted Greer’s storyline to be spiced up a bit but not like this. I also said she was the only one who hadn’t caused a scandal or dishonored her family in any way. I guess I spoke too soon. Truth be told, I’d rather Greer be happy than Lola since she is the most deserving, loyal and dutiful one out of all of Mary’s ladies-in-waiting. But at last we know Lord Castleroy genuinely likes Greer and will probably give her the world without her even asking.

Henry – A mad king is born. While it is super cool that Alan van Sprang gets some juicy material to work with I fear for the character’s safety and thus the actor’s season 2 status. But on the other hand if they off Henry then Francis will become king and we know how short a time his “reign” lasted. Henry has gone mad and they are really playing up this factor. I thought it was terrifyingly brilliant that they had Henry pour candle wax into a man’s ears because he hadn’t listened to him. When Henry went after Bash, I was actually afraid Bash was going to die.

Keena – At least she isn’t dead at the hands of Henry. She is married to a man with a title, even if he is a bastard. I wondered if Henry dies if can she get annulled. As long as the marriage isn’t consummated, I think that is plausible. Some might say she got just what she deserved but it’s definitely not what Bash deserves. I hate that Keena is now “settled” down because her character was getting so much more wise and interesting. I have a feeling this is not where the story ends for Kenna, it’s only the beginning.

Lola – Not too much to say on the Lola front. She is tricking the nice, sweet and kind Julien into marrying her and is basically trying to cuckold him. I know what is at stake for Lola but something about just sticks in my craw. Do I want Lola to be happy? Of course, I do. Does Julien deserve to be saddled with a woman who is in such a predicament, unbeknownst to him? I don’t think so. The only way things work for me in that relationship is if she comes clean to him and he accepts it. Maybe him blowing off Greer and seeing her happy with Lord Castleroy will make him reevaluate some things. I just don’t see Lola as the type of person who could be happy living a lie. If she can, then I have grossly misjudged her character. The biggest questions for Lola are: 1) Is she actually going to have that baby? 2) Will Francis find out that she is pregnant with his child. 3) If Francis does find out about the baby how will that affect his relationship with Mary (especially if she is not with child but the time Lola’s baby is popped out)?

Mary – Mary is still trying to juggle a lot of things. She is fretting about not being pregnant. She is trying to keep Lola’s secret as well as trying to find her a husband. Did I mention that all of her ladies have now been involved in a bit of scandal (Lola’s has yet to be discovered but still)? Mary’s future kingdom is now being run by a mad king and Bash is back in the castle and that just can’t bode well for the relationship between her and Francis. He will serve as a constant reminder whether he is married to Kenna or not.

Penelope – Penelope went from sweet and charming to manipulative in about .5 seconds flat. I feel bad for her because Henry is not the true power in the castle, Catherine is. She has now crossed Catherine and heaven help her because she is about to get torn to pieces. I do like that she came across all doe-eyed and sweet only to be revealed as a woman who was reaching to leave her station and lot in life. But she might as well have been named Icarus because her wax wings have now flown to close the sun and they are melting and she is falling to her death. Queen Penelope might have a nice ring to it but Catherine will get her crown back at all costs.

Olivia – I will never forgive her for running away when she was needed most. But I do think that this is a far more interesting storyline for her than being just another royal mistress. I like what she brings out in Nostradamus. That kiss was just utter perfection, was it not?

Nostradamus – Finally, we’re learning more and more about Nostradamus. His backstory is so tragic and compelling. But on the same token he is not above getting down and dirty with his bestie Catherine to plot and hatch schemes. The nature of Nostradamus as he is presented on the show is so dichotomous. I enjoy it thoroughly. I’m still waiting on the other shoe to drop when it comes to him. There has just got to be more to him than meets the eye. Tell me he’s a secret pagan or maybe his father is the man that is ‘The Darkness’. I’m dying for a plot twist and since Reign has been in the business of granting my wishes as of late I’m eager to see if they will oblige me on this front as well.

Awards

Character of the Night
• Grand Prize – Henry
• Runner up – Catherine
• Third place – Penelope

Best Character Interactions
• Grand Prize – Bash & Francis
• Runner up – Catherine & Penelope
• Third place – Greer & Lola

Line of the Night
• Henry: Lady Greer. Well done with that kitchen boy. That nasty gossip is the first interesting thing I’ve ever heard about you.

Scene of the Night
• Bash saves Francis’s life.
• Francis pleads with Henry to not harm Bash.
• Penelope turns the tables on Catherine and ‘poisons’ her.

Favorite lady-in-waiting
• Greer (Three weeks in a row, that’s a new record)

That Awkward Moment Award
• That awkward moment when Reign channels its inner Game of Thrones by having a ‘mad’ king.

The 'Woman in a Refrigerator' Award
• Rowan, oh how we hardly knew ye. Rowan was a pretty cool chick. I wanted more of her so naturally they killed her off. I never thought that Reign would become ‘THAT kind of show’ where they needlessly kill off women to add to a male character’s man-pain. If you are not familiar with the term, I highly suggest you Google it, it’s a quite interesting subject.

Highlights


Memorable Moments
1. Henry is walking around barefoot as he forces Bash and Kenna to wed.
2. Henry wants to watch Mary give Penelope pointers about how to please a ruler.
3. Nostradamus and Olivia kiss.

Laudable Lines
1. Henry: This has been the source of my fury, people refusing to listen to their king. Or are your ears full of wax?
2. Mary: It’s alright to miss him even though he angered you.
3. Nostradamus: I see your plan to keep the king out of sight has failed.
4. Mary: Well, bully for you on a speedy recovery.

Superb Scenes
1. Catherine tells Penelope that she wants to be her friend and encourages her to think long term.
2. Catherine and Nostradamus are back to being plotting, scheming, conniving besties.
3. Penelope turns into a super vixen and gives Henry everything he’s been craving sexually.

Biggest Surprises of the Episode
• Henry makes Bash marry Kenna.
• Greer gets caught kissing Leith and that in turn dissolves her engagement.
• Greer and Mary push Lola to try and woo Julien into getting engaged to her.
• Penelope is a devious and manipulative little tart.

Lowlights

• The darkness is just a man, so there really isn’t much hope left for something truly creepy and supernatural, now.

Miscellaneous

Style Spotlight: I really liked the first black and gold dress we spot Mary in. I think it’s a trend. [See last week’s review]
Fun Fact: Did you know that one of King Henry II’s sons, Henri d'Angoulême was actually legitimized and became governor of Provence?

Tasty Tidbit: It is implied that Nostradamus was one of the few people who were naturally resistant to The Plague. A small number of people are naturally resistant to bubonic plague due to unusual protein structures. The bacteria's enzymes cannot interact with these proteins easily. This protein structure seems to be tied to a specific gene. Before the 1340s, only about 0.2% of the European population appeared to have had this gene when we examine DNA from their remains. Now a much larger percentage of the Europeans have the gene that makes them resistant to Yersinia Pestis. The 0.2% of people who were immune back in the 1300s survived the genetic bottleneck and then passed on this immunity to a significant number of their modern descendants. Today, if you are a Caucasian American, the odds are about 15% that you have inherited this gene.

History Lesson: Henry suffered an untimely death in a jousting tournament held to celebrate the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis at the conclusion of the Eighth Italian War. I wonder if they will work this into the plot. I’d really love to see Reign do a tournament.

Side Notes: Am I the only one shipping Nostradamus and Olivia? I really like those characters together and the two actors have really nice chemistry together. I think I like them together because it keeps Olivia out of Francis’s orbit, if I’m going to be honest.

Grade: A
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The Numbers Game aka Ratings
Our numbers are coming up slowly but surely. We scored a .6 in the demo and had about 1,400,000 viewers this week. To put that in perspective, The Vampire Diaries only scored a .8 in the demo and had about 1,730,000 viewers. But don’t expect them to come up too much more for the time being. I expect the show to go back to getting .7’s on a regular once we begin to gear up for May Sweeps and the season finale. If you really have your heart set on trending, make sure to not over use the episode title in tweets prior to 7 pm EST.

Remember, even if you don't have Nielsen's box you can still help the ratings (a little) in your own way by live tweeting with show. You can pitch in by using the show's hashtag (#Reign) and the show's episode title in every tweet you make about the show on Thursdays. Prime tweeting hours to get the show trending are usually between 7 pm EST until about 1 am EST (after the west coast airing has gone off).

If you are Canadian and you’d like to help the show on the social media front, don’t live tweet on Wednesdays; do it on Thursdays instead with the US Royals.

I’d highly suggest for you to stream the last three episodes of Reign from the CW site during this two week hiatus as well. Remember TV is a business and business is about making money. TV makes money from advertising. Click those ads when streaming, Royals!

Friendly Reminders
Reign returns with an all new episode, ‘Liege Lord’ on April 10, 2014.
Don’t forget to watch and live tweet with the show (@CWReign) & me (@lilithhellfire) every Thursday night at 9 pm EST.

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Well, now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

ps: Don't forget to promote this and all interesting Reign articles in all the social media you can. For instance be sure to click the like button, retweet this and +1 this article if you like it and appreciate this reviewer's hard work.

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