I'm just a girl sitting in front of her TV asking it to entertain her.

Reign – 2.01 – The Plague – Review: "Buy When There's Blood in the Streets."


Hey Royals! Did you miss me? You know I missed you. It is finally once again time to dissect and discuss a brand new episode of Reign. I know I for one am very pumped about the season 2 opener. I think my avoidance of all the spoilers over the summer really helped me enjoy it even more as it kept me guessing about was going to happen.

If I had to make a long story short here's the rundown of what I would say happened over the course of this episode: Just as Nostradamus foresaw, the Black Plague has come to France’s door once more. Francis found himself on the wrong side of the quarantined gates, on his quest to find Lola and their baby. A noble named Lord Edward got too big for his britches and tried to pressure Mary into exacting his revenge for him. Meanwhile, Kenna and Bash found themselves separated. Lastly, Greer persuaded Leith not get involved with her fiancé’s daughter.

I have to say nothing puts my mind at ease more than when an episode (especially a premiere or a finale) is written by one of a show’s most prolific writers, as was the case for the season 2 premiere of Reign. I can honestly say I have loved every single episode she has a part to play in. She wrote my favorite episode of the series to date, ‘The Consummation’ single handedly, so yeah, I’m a fan.

I think McCarthy really brought her game and knocked this one out of the park. It was an excellent way to open the season and get us all caught on what’s been going on as well as a jumping off point for the first half quarter or half of the season. This episode was well paced and enjoyed the dialog as well as a glimpse at characters motivations and growth in some cases.

In the director’s chair this week was another name often seen in the credits, Fred Gerber. Fred Gerber is one of my favorite TV directors hands down. I love his aesthetic. He really knows how to set up the ambiance and uses the surrounding environment. I love the composition of his shots and his instincts on when and when not to linger in a scene. I always notice the acting is kicked up a notch as well when he is around, too.

And this episode did not deviate from the formula. I particularly loved his use of medium shots and two shots in this episode as well as a few choice and well placed close ups that managed to somehow be subtle. The composition of every scene was also very well thought out. The scenes between Mary and Catherine as well as between Francis and Lola were fantastic. There were lots of reaction shots and Gerber was not afraid to linger in the moment for emphasis which I enjoy in general but especially for emotionally charged situations.

The soundtrack and sound design for this episode was muted, subtle but at the same time a little ominous, which was very apropos for the subject matter that was dealt with in this episode. I thought the use of 'Fight for Your Castle' by Don Brownrigg was a nice choice. I also thought the song choice for the scene where Lola finds Francis holding their child and he tells her she can't leave and also while Mary has Lord Edward locked away with the ill was quite fitting. The name of that song was 'My Lair' by Bear's Den.

"No longer were there individual destinies; only a collective destiny, made of plague and emotions shared by all." – Albert Camus

Character Contemplation

Bash was the best he's been in a very long time in this episode. I love his deep sense of responsibility. He gets the way world works and tries his best to prevent bad things from happening if he can help it. I really enjoyed the tender moment he and Kenna shared after he found her. 'Benna' is growing on me (I still say it should be Kash but whatever). It has made both parties better characters and when it comes to TV couples (especially on The CW, yeah I'm looking at you TVD) that's the rarely case now days so it is super refreshing. Bash also seemingly got a "vision" or "premonition" of some sort. I've been dying for some supernatural happenings in this show since it was revealed that Clarissa was just a flesh and blood creeper and don't even get me started on that whole 'The Darkness' shenanigans. So my hopes are way up on this even though I know they shouldn't be.

Catherine was a quite the pistol in this episode and while initially wanted Catherine to be Mary's mentor after her mother sold her out I've decided there could never be a better foil for her than Catherine. Especially since the role is played by the lovely and talented Megan Follows. I love the pragmatism of Catherine. She is from the house of Medici after all. I love that Catherine is so fierce as well as ready, willing and able to seize power at a moment's notice. But what I love more than that is vulnerable and utterly honest Catherine. My absolute favorite scene in this episode was Catherine giving Mary advice on what she thought was her death bed. I can't wait to see what Catherine gets up to this season. But I know one thing for sure; it's going to be entertaining as hell.

Francis, too, was the best he's been in a very long time as well. They finally back around to giving Toby Regbo something meaty to sink his teeth into and he knocked it out of the part. I loved chemistry between Toby and Anna. I'm not sure where this storyline is going but will one hell of ride it seems. His best scene hands down was when he finally picked his son up and decided that Lola couldn't leave. I loved all the new interactions he had a chance to have as well. Francis being beyond the gates is something that is a win every single time. I am very eager to see him rule as king of France though so the sooner he gets back to the castle the better.

The award for most awkward situation goes to Greer for sure. I was kind of shocked that they didn't drag this situation out a little longer. I really thought Greer pleading with Leith basically saying he is her weakness and if exposed long enough she would give into the temptation that he represents.

My heart broke for Kenna in this episode. It was just one trauma after another. But she was strong and managed to stay alive. I really loved what the character of Pascal brought out in Kenna. But maybe this loss will spur her to want to have a baby with Bash. I have enjoyed Kenna's meteoric rise to a great, complex and interesting character. I have high hopes for this character over the course of season 2 and I don't think Reign writers plan on disappointing me.

I love Anna Popplewell and in the beginning of this show's run she was consistently winning the best 'Lady-In-Waiting' award. I still like Lola well enough and Popplewell is still slaying every week but the Lola broke the girl code and it's kind of tainted the character for me. Do I still want her to have nice things? Oh, most definitely. Did a secret part of me want either her or the baby to die to make things less confusing for Francis and Mary? Don't judge me but yes there was just the teeniest part of me that was holding out for that option and only because the Frary relationship drama is already pretty contentious and doesn't need any more fuel to the fire at the point.

In the end I was glad to see both the mother and child doing just fine. My heart absolutely broke for Lola when Francis decided that he wasn't going to let her and the baby go. But the scenes between Francis and Lola really opened up both characters. This is the storyline that I'm most invested in at this point because it really is a game changer and might be the jumping off point where the writers decide to ditch the historical aspect and allow themselves to get a little more creative.

The hits just keep coming for Mary and with no end in sight it seems. Adelaide Kane slayed in this week's episode. She really holds her own with Megan Follows and their scenes together just simmer with quiet loathing and begrudging respect from both characters. Mary is beginning to think like a queen. Unfortunately, for her, the queen she is channeling happens to be Catherine. I thought it was great that they had Catherine tell Mary that she didn't set out to become the kind of queen she ended up either. I'm not sure if this is foreshadowing or not. But I kind of hope so. Mary wants to do the right thing. But is the right thing always going to be good for the kingdom? Probably not. What's that saying about good intentions?

I don't think most rulers set out to become tyrannical dictators but there is a reason there is saying about how absolute power corrupts absolutely. We got a glimpse of how things really work in the kingdom of France and it was bleak. How Mary adjusts to these new realities now that her eyes are wide open is anyone guess but I'd venture to say she's going to the play the game and play to win. Something tells me this business with Lord Edward will definitely come back to bite her in the butt and I'm going to enjoy watching it unfold and see Mary's evolution as a ruler.

Finally, Nostradamus has head in the game! I was floored that Nostradamus chose to help Mary pull one over on Catherine. I've wanted to see a lot more from Nostradamus but this character still remains the most underdeveloped and mysterious. We gotten glimpses of the man he is but not nearly enough. I hope this season is the rise of a manipulative Nostradamus who wants to pull all of the strings in the French court. Whether his intentions are noble or malevolent, it doesn't matter to me just give that man something more to do. I mean there is still the threat of Clarissa hanging over his head (and Mary's as well presumably) too so that could come as an unexpected twist quite literally at any time. I really enjoyed when he a love interest as we got to see a different side of him so I hope he gets another love interest this season (for the character development I swear, LOL).

Grade: A

Final Thoughts: This was a lovely season opener. I was surprised that it picked up right after the events of last season's finale and didn't utilize a time jump. But I thought that was actually a good choice. This episode was well paced and had pretty good dialog. I enjoyed this episode because it was basically a character study and a really nice way to come back to the characters we know and love and see the growth from the end of last season expanded upon.

Awards

Character of the Night
• Mary

Best Character Interactions
• Mary and Catherine
• Francis and Lola

Line of the Night
• Nostradamus: I am immune to the plague my queen but not fire.

Scene of the Night
• Mary locks up Lord Edward with the victims of the plague.

Favorite Lady-In-Waiting
• Kenna

Highlights


Memorable Moments
• Bash finds Kenna.
• Francis finally holds his child
• Mary orders Catherine as her queen to shut the hell up.


Laudable Lines
• Kenna: Catherine’s being too nice.
• Catherine: Welcome to your rule, my queen. And welcome to the real France.
• Catherine: It worked for the pope.

Superb Scenes
• Catherine tells Mary not to let Lola get between her relationship with Francis.
• Greer confronts and pleads with Leith not pursue her fiancé’s daughter.
• Bash's dream of the little girl ghost telling him there will be a reckoning.


Lowlights
• There wasn't a Francis and Mary reunion.

Miscellaneous

Biggest Surprise of the Episode
• Nostradamus helping Mary pull one over on Catherine.
• Nostradamus having a clean shaven face.

Friendly Reminder
• Don’t forget to live tweet with the show (@CWReign) and me (@lilithhellfire) every Thursday night at 9 pm EST.

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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