Thursday, February 27, 2014

REVIEW: 'Reign' Stages a Kidnapping, a Proposal, a Hanging and a Bet Over a Woman in 'Royal Blood'

The CW's Reign - Episode 1.12 Royal Blood

When Clarissa kidnaps Henry and Catherine's younger children, Mary and Bash work to find them, with tragic results. When Lola attempts to help her brother with a debt he owes, Francis rescues her, causing the two of them to grow closer.

Throughout the first half of the season, I came to the conclusion that Reign knows how to write Francis well and knows how to write Bash well. And yet, they can almost never write them well at the same time. In the beginning, it was all about Mary and Francis. They focused on why Francis is a great guy and a good fit to be King and Mary's future husband. The most recent episodes have turned that concept on its head. Now, it's all about Mary and Bash and why Bash is a great guy and good for both Mary and France. When the focus was on Francis, Bash didn't do anything and vice versa.

However, I feel that Francis' absence in the handful of 2014 episodes was a part of the season's grand plan. He needed to be cast aside for a bit - which, in turn, allowed the more colorful and entertaining parts of the show to come into better focus. In "Royal Blood," Francis returns and the show smartly keeps him detached from the stuff happening at French Court. They even physically move the action away to Paris to signify the distance between these two main stories. He spends the episode interacting with Lola - who really is the only lady-in-waiting that feels important at this point. The show is forcing them together by creating this conflict which he saves her from. But it also adds a nice wrinkle for when he returns to Court in the coming weeks.

Continuing on the thread of secondary characters, the King and Queen's other children were brought to the forefront as the story with Clarissa came to a head. Who knew they had two other young children? Seriously? I knew there was that one - but we haven't really seen him since that early episode where he meets his future bride and we first learn Clarissa's name. Since then, we haven't heard or seen anything from them. And that's good too. I don't need them to be a chief focus for the show. But this episode does remember that they exist and will also be effected by the attempt to legitimize Bash.

And it's all so the show can offer a swift turning point with the Mary-Catherine-Clarissa arc. Notice how in that confrontation scene Bash just stands in the background and doesn't say anything. Mary's the one frequently interacting with Clarissa and who wants to help her. The mask was a nice gesture even though the reveal that she is Catherine's daughter has turned Clarissa into an animalistic presence. Once that change occurred, there was no way for her to go other than death. 

Some more thoughts:
  • "Royal Blood" was directed by Holly Dale from a story by Wendy Riss Gatsiounis and teleplay by Alan McCullough.
  • What's happening with the ladies-in-waiting? - Kenna and Greer talk and lose the children. That's it. It's still a problem that I still have to look up those characters' names.
  • I just feel the show is embracing the sex and the bloody gore more now. Remember when it was a big deal when they had to trim down that "sex" scene in the pilot?
  • Also, remember when the show used to have those supernatural elements on the fringe of everything? Then they exposed Clarissa and everything started making sense.