Talk History to Me:
An overview Season 1 and 2 of Reign
Talk History to Me:
An overview Season 1 and 2 of Reign
Reign is best described as historical fantasy. Loosely based on the goings on of the French and now the English court. A cross between Game of Thrones, the Tudors and a teen drama. Packed full of political and personal dramas,sex, lies, backstabbing and social mobility all wrapped up inside a castle or two. Sure it takes artistic licence with history, often elongating historical events and whilst beautiful the costumes are far from being historically accurate ; a fact that can be overlooked by their beauty and not forgetting they are kinder on the actors than there historically correct counterparts. Interestingly the glimpses we have seen of Elizabeth’s dresses seem to follow more closely to historical fashions of the Elizabethan era.
As you would expect in any good historical dramas the king has many mistresses notably Diane de Poitiers( Anna Walton) but also including Kenna. Tides turn quickly, there are many spies. Those loyal one minute are your enemies quicker than you can say plague.Whether it be women, religion or land, many are willing to shed blood to get on too and once they are on top then the real battle begins.
The women are portrayed as far more powerful than their actual historical counterparts however it provides for interesting storylines and insights that a story sticking closer to historical accuracy could not show.
Reign loves a good love triangle first Mary, Francis and Tomás (Manola Cardona), Mary, Francis and Bash and then in season two Mary, Francis and Condé. Not forgetting a special mention goes to Mary, Francis, Lola and her young child.
So who are the key players in this deadly game of power play?
As of the start of season three these are the movers and shakers to watch out for.
Mary, Queen of Scots and Queen Consort of France. Married to King Francis her ties and allegiances are often tested in the French court where her ties to Scotland are secondary to those of France.
King Francis’ loyalties lie with France and he seems determined not to be like his late father king Henry. He is often torn between his love if Mary and his love of France.
Catherine de’ Medici, mother of King Francis. A manipulative woman who in her own words is a survivor. She has been around the French court long enough that she understands how fast things can change,she has eyes and ears everywhere and will not allow anything to stand in the way of her own survival and grasp on power even if it means turning on those she loves.
Bash. Oh Bash. Illegitimate son of King Henry and his favourite mistress Diane de Poitiers. Married to Kenna in all but a piece of paper after Kenna’s affair and subsequent pregnancy with another man’s child.
Bash feels more than a little amorous towards Mary however he knows that road leads to nowhere now Mary is married to Francis.
Bash holds ties to the blood woods, a local woods where local pagans carry out blood sacrifices. Bash is determined to take out one who is referred only as the darkness. Seen as a pagan deity by some, Bash seems him as a fellow human and is determined to seek them out and kill them in revenge for killing Rowan. In defeating the Darkness Bash and Nostradamus inadvertently release the Black death.
Lola. Lady in waiting to Mary and mother of Francis’ son. Her presence at court is bittersweet as her child is a constant reminder of the child Mary is yet to deliver for Francis
Another lady in waiting Kenna, former mistress to King Henry finds herself married to Bash but expecting a child with General Renaud (Vince Nappo). With her marriage of the rocks and a child on the way to support they say you will do anything to survive. What is next for Kenna is yet to be seen.
~ Louis, Prince of Condé (Sean Teale), cousin to King Francis first appears during season two where he helps with the effort against the plague. Condé begins a love affair with Mary and as such begins a rivalry between himself and King Francis. Meanwhile he began courting Queen Elizabeth a fact that did not go down well with the French court.Trying to force Mary’s hand to leave with him resulted in a knife to the kidney before a trip to the dungeons and almost certain death for treason. Luckily for Condé he was rescued by English soldiers and the pair underwent a proxy marriage.
Mary, Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane). Daughter of Mary of Guise (Amy Brenneman) and James V of Scotland. Queen of Scotland at only six days of age following the death of her father. Scotland was ruled by Regents in Mary’s place until she reached maturity. Originally betrothed to Edward VI at the age of six months it was hoped their marriage would unite the crowns of England and Scotland. Mary was the great niece of Henry VII and second cousin to the future Elizabeth I (Rachel Skarsten). Angered by a possible wedding to a protestant heir Mary’s pro catholic guardians broke the bethroyal and sought the help of the Catholic French court. The young Mary was then betrothed to the then three year old Dauphin Francis (Toby Regbo).
Flash forward to 1557 and Reign opens with a now 15 year old Mary arriving in France from Scotland alongside her four ladies in waiting Lola (Anna Popplewell), Kenna (Caitlin Stasey), Greer (Celina Sinden) and Aylee (Jenessa Grant) to settle into the French court and begin serious courting of Francis ahead of their arranged wedding. Season one is one big game of will they\ won’t they marry thanks to a prophecy or two, King Henry (Alan Van Sprang) wanting to delay the wedding until it would be more advantageous to France and the small matter of Sebastian\Bash (Torrance Coombs) falling for his half brother’s bride to be.
Speaking of prophecy. All seems to be going well between Mary and Francis. Both are easy on the eye and they seem to enjoy each others company. Which is good since they have been destined to marry since either of them were fully potty trained. So all is good with the uniting of France and Scotland, whatever could go from?
Whilst Mary and Francis are falling in love Nostradamus (Rossif Sutherland) informs Francis’ mother Catherine de’ Medici (Megan Follows) of a prophecy that the marriage of Mary and Francis will lead to Francis’ death. Following this news Catherine sets out to sabotage the happy couple. Hearing the news of the prophecy and the death of her lady in waiting Aylee, Mary sets out to distance herself from Francis and gets close to Francis’ half brother Bash after the a plan is put in place to get Bash legitimised which would make Bash not Francis heir to the French throne. Mary taking advantage King Henry’s obsession with the English throne and states she will only state her claim to the English throne if she is married to Bash. This is to protect Francis who she fears will die if she marries and saves Bash from charges of treason. Bash who had been harbouring feelings towards Mary falls even harder and the couple fall in love. Meanwhile Francis leaves for Paris to explore his new found freedom and drowns his sorrows and beds Lola. So the wedding is off(again)
But wait Nostradamus has had another vision and this time everything is all good. Francis returns to court so yay the wedding is back on! But Mary loves both Francis and Bash but who should she chose? Choosing Francis effectively strips Bash of his potential claim to the throne. Poor Bash. So Mary and Francis finally marry after a bit of interference from several sides. When all looks happy at last Nostradamus receives a full version of the vision where he learns that whilst Mary and Francis are happy, Francis will die within one year of their marriage.
There is just the small issue of Lola’s pregnancy with Francis’ baby .Mary and Lola decide to leave Francis in the dark about his child. That is until the season finale when Lola goes into labour and both her and her unborn child’s life are at risk. Mary informs Francis in the hope of saving them both from certain death even if at a cost to herself.
Throughout the second half of season one King Henry starts to lose himself to insanity after accidentally killing his lover. His actions become more frantic and risk throwing the French court into discord.One of his more interesting actions was forcing Bash to marry Kenna. Bash just has no luck with love. The death of King Henry at the end of season one due to an injury caused by Francis himself at a jousting competition leads to Francis and Mary becoming King and Queen of France at the beginning of series two.
Season two sees France being ravaged by the plague. Mary places the castle into lockdown meaning Francis, Lola and their newborn child are unable to return to the French court whilst it is in. Following the devastation of the plague there comes famine, the guilt of those who survived and lost loved ones and where there is instability there is always those who are ready and willing to take advantage. People set out to settle old debts,use the plight of the court and the French people to better themselves whilst undermining and undercutting enemies new and old. When things are so politically charged no one is truly safe and one must keep their friends safe but their enemies closer. King Henry battles with the role he played in his father’s death whilst balancing being a king and husband with his own insecurities and self worth. All the while Mary battles with the absence of a pregnancy, a state that places her position at court at risk and is made sorer by the presence of Lola and her young child. Mary is surrounded by the constant reminder that as Queen she must bare Francis an heir.
Season two ends with Catherine reaching out to queen Elizabeth I in a plot aimed at seeking revenge on Mary even if at a cost of her own son. A plot that will surely unravel itself in the third season of Reign
For those keenly interested in Elizabeth, she is mentioned throughout season one and two in relation to the failing health of the then Mary I of England, in relation to an illegitimate bastard taking the throne and therefore giving hope to Bash that he too could potentially take the throne of France and in relation to Mary, Queen of Scots claim to the English throne as great niece of Henry VII. She is mentioned in the following episodes in season one; Pilot, Snakes in the Garden, Left Behind, Fated, Inquisition, Long Live The King and Slaughter Of Innocence. In season two she is mentioned in Three Queens and Sins of the Past. Her first appearance on screen is in the season two finale Burn when Catherine de’ Medici seeks her help in bringing Mary to her knees.
You can watch season one and two on Netflix now and new episodes will be added from October 10
-Written by Lisa M Coughlan and edited by Hannah Berry