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Reign – 2.02 – Drawn and Quartered – Review: “Return of the King.”


Hey Royals! It’s time once again to dissect and discuss a brand new episode of Reign. I thought this episode was great. I don't mind the slow build up of the season either. We are really getting a good hard look at our characters, their motivations and their coming trials and tribulations. So many interesting things are being put into place and I'm eager to see our cast react to what's going on. Hopefully, they'll be a cohesive unit and come out of it ever stronger.

With that said, I guess, I'll just get right into this review...

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: In the aftermath of the plague, a powerful lord discovers that Mary was responsible for the death of his son and demands vengeance, testing the loyalties of Mary, Francis and Catherine. Francis returns to the castle with Lola and their newborn son, creating tension with Mary. Greer is torn by her loyalty to her fiancé, Lord Castleroy, who blames Leith for his daughter’s demise. Meanwhile, Kenna urges Bash to be formally recognized in his new role.

I enjoy the writing team of Wendy Riss Gatsiounis & Drew Lindo. I am an especially huge fan of the last episode they wrote together which was episode 1x21: Long Live the King so I was pleasantly surprised that were back so early in the season. Gatisionis and Lindo are the type of writing partners that really seem to balance each other out and work well together. I’m not sure who does what but what I do know is that they do it well together. Most of all I appreciate that there weren’t flashbacks (or what I call recapping) in this episode. The writers trusted the viewers were paying attention and aren’t complete idiots.

This was yet another well-paced episode. I enjoyed the character interactions between everyone but most of all between Francis and Mary. I found the dialog to be ominous and riddled with foreshadowing and in case you’re wondering, that’s not a bad thing at all. I love a good mystery and intrigue even more. I’m really loving this glimpse into the under belly of royal politics and how the kingdom of France is really run.

This episode saw a return of Jeff Renfroe to the director’s chair. Episode 1x16: Monsters was the last time we heard from him and oddly enough it was an episode that Gatisionis and Lindo wrote as well. Renfroe has a very simplistic directorial aesthetic. I’ve noticed he’s not one for tracking shots and a lot pans and zooms. Instead he is master of the medium shot and subtly detached close-ups. Renfroe definitely has a varied and fantastic repertoire in the aesthetics department. I did notice a nice angle shot during the Castleroy and Leith confrontation scene and found the use of it very interesting. I love the way he uses space and lighting as an enhancement to a scene. The episodes he shoots seem a lot more vibrant than others. The composition of a lot of early scenes in this with Mary and Francis were very purposefully blocked with a lot of space between. I especially love how the sex scene between Francis and Mary was shot both during and afterwards.

I thought Renfroe did a fantastic job in getting the actors to emote in a very regal manner and subdued manner which of course is necessary when at court because all eyes are on the royals and gossip spreads like wildfire. Also the composition of the scenes with Francis, Mary, Lola and Bash were blocked nicely and maybe were a tad bit suggestive about where these characters allegiances lie right now or will lie eventually. While we didn’t linger in the moments and every scene ended on a strong note. I appreciate that the transition between scenes, they weren’t jarring and the episode flowed very nicely.

I am really enjoying the soundtrack and general sound design of the season. This episode only featured one song which was ‘Fuel to the Fire’ by Agnes Obel. The scoring was muted and really enhanced the emotional as well as tense scenes. The season thus far has been really thoughtful and a step up from last season with its use of “jump scare” noises and other ambient noises as well. It seems like this season there will be a bigger focus on some kind of supernatural element and the scoring is really laying that ground work so it seems. I hope I’m right because ‘Reign’ needs to start blending into the new CW (which is heavily based around action oriented Sci-Fi & Fantasy) if stands any chance at a renewal and drawing in new viewers to make it to a season 3.

“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.” - Aristotle

Character Contemplation

They better not be teasing me with this whole Bash is tied to the supernatural myth arc of the season or so help me, I will be taking a trip to Canada. I’m here for the creepy, spooky and supernatural on Reign. It’s even better if Bash is all tied up in it as well. Bash is just a feels inducing machine for these past two episodes. I’m like a mother just beaming with pride. I love Bash’s sense of duty and right and wrong. The fact that he is embracing Kenna and becoming inspired by her to do better and be better and want more out of life is just amazing. I also like that the brothers are reconnecting and reestablishing the bond that drew to me this show in the first place. Reign writers, keep it up!

You can’t keep a scheming, manipulative, two faced woman down for long. Catherine was back in action as deliciously biting and conniving as ever. But the thing I love most about Catherine, her fierce mama bear personality, was out in full force again. I really like that Catherine loves her children, it’s her saving grace. The scene between her and Francis where they talk about whether or not Francis should be in Lola’s baby’s life was very well written and very well acted. Though, I wonder if was just another one of Catherine’s schemes to get Mary out of the picture.

Francis as a king, I’m just not buying it right now. I only want good things for Francis. But I just feel like his heart is just not that into ruling. But Francis as a husband and a father to a bastard child, now that’s interesting and compelling to me. My jaw dropped in one of Francis’s final scenes where he is holding the baby and his father’s ghost possesses the wet nurse. His facial reaction was priceless. I love this twist that Francis killed Henry and in the end might go mad like his father did with the guilt (a lot of mental illnesses are hereditary and royals are pretty incestuous by nature on top of that). I know last week I said I was interested in seeing how Francis would rule but now that I’ve gotten a taste I don’t think that’s where personal investment with this character is going to lie.

Greer is a hot mess and she needs to pull herself together. Don’t hate me but I’m totally rooting for Lord Castleroy. He’s definitely a character that can be put in contention for most improved character. While I may not want to see a sex scene between Greer and Castleroy I still think he is a better choice for her (within the parameters of the social mores this show is steeped in). I enjoy the qualities Greer brings out in him and I like that he is a stabilizing force in her life. I’m not a fan of love triangles so the sooner they decide on Greer’s course of action the sooner I’ll be happy not to have to write about this.

I know not every side character can be in every episode but I did miss Kenna something fierce. There had better be some really good scenes with her in them next week to make up for this. I’m really enjoying Kenna’s growth as a character and am eager to see more. I’m most definitely interested in seeing how Pascal’s death is going to affect her.

I’m just not feeling Leith anymore. I can’t believe they gave his character a full season story arc. Here’s hoping things get a little more interesting. But wow, that was a crappy thing for Francis to do to him. But I guess that old saying, the good of the many outweigh the needs of the few is true. That was also a kind genius plot contrivance to get Leith to move to court. I hear they are building up this character to be one of Francis’s good friends and I did enjoy their interactions when they were last seen together so there is definitely a lot of potential for this character, here’s hoping they don’t take too long kick this character into gear.

The situation between Francis, Lola and Mary is so damn awkward that I’m in a constant state of secondhand embarrassment for everyone involved anytime the three of them are in a room together now. Motherhood does agree with Lola, however. Anna Popplewell is nailing the nurturing and maternal act! There wasn’t much for Lola to do in this episode but be a third wheel unfortunately. I imagine it’s going to be a good long while before things are truly cordial between her and Mary. That is something I hate because I love the chemistry between Kane and Popplewell. I’m also going to need a lot less of Francis and Lola to stomach this whole messed up situation as well. I’m still very curious how this is all going to work out in the end; especially if Francis does claim the baby publicly.

We seriously need to slow clap it out for Mary. She was absolutely brilliant. Kane killed it with her performance of Mary this week. She was large and in charge and wasn’t going to back down from a fight. I really love Mary’s sense of what’s right and wrong and her willingness to stand in her truth and convictions. Mary can easily become Catherine 2.0 but she is proactively fighting against that tide. I wish France was ready for a queen like Mary but sadly it doesn’t seem like it is. I hate the way the French nobles treat her because she is a queen in her own right and just hate people practically spitting in her face. I wonder what lies ahead for Mary… We can’t possibly still be on historical side of story, right? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we need to jump the track and take this story into the realm of unadulterated fiction otherwise we are hindered by time constraints.

So Nostradamus is coming back right? At the end of this episode that is by far my biggest burning question. The relationship between Mary and Nostradamus had such promise. It can’t end like this. Catherine is going to hunt him down and drag him back to the castle. Right? The scene between Catherine and Nostradamus in the holding cell was great. Everything about that interaction was on point. Nostradamus can’t go right when things are getting creepy and spooky. He’s the king of that stuff. I’ll be royally ticked if Nostradamus’s absence is permanent.

Grade: A-

Final Thoughts: This was a terrific follow up to the season opener. There was just the right amount of angst, drama, tension and intrigue. I’m really enjoying Kane’s performance this season as Mary and her determination to be a fair and just queen. I very much look forward to witnessing all of the growing pains that come along with this journey.

Awards

Character of the Night
• Mary

Best Character Interactions
• Francis and Mary
• Francis and Bash
• Catherine and Nostradamus

Line of the Night
• Lola: I just want to be with my child.

Scene of the Night
• Francis and Mary work together to trick Lord Narcisse

Favorite Lady-In-Waiting
• Lola

Highlights

Memorable Moments
• Francis’s face when the wet nurse gets possessed by his father’s ghost
• Lord Narcisse discovers a survivor in the catacombs and learns the truth about what happened to his son
• Mary puts all the pieces of the puzzle together about what Narcisse has been up to
• Catherine realizes what Mary and Nostradamus did to her

Laudable Lines
• Francis: Your kisses are more easily attained than your words.
• Catherine: Bring us some whiskey!
• Mary: I let my anger get the best of me.

Superb Scenes
• Lord Conde challenges Francis to rule righteously as Lord Narcisse accuses him of being a radical protestant.
• Mary tells Francis to recognize his child
• Mary tries to express her hurt over the fact that Francis has a child with Lola

Lowlights
• No Kenna.

Miscellaneous

Biggest Surprise of the Episode
• No Kenna
• Nostradamus running away
.

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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