Thursday, April 17, 2014

REVIEW: 'Reign' - Mary Has to Choose Between Scotland and Francis While Henry Continues to Spiral in 'No Exit'

The CW's Reign - Episode 1.18 No Exit

When Mary's brother James arrives in France and convinces her to return to Scotland, Francis is suspicious and uncovers a plot that would destroy her. King Henry's downward spiral continues leaving Penelope in change, causing Catherine and Kenna to take drastic measures. Meanwhile, Lola becomes wary of Lord Julien's motives behind his marriage proposal.

Marriage has been a chief focus for Reign during the second half of its season. It's a concept that every young character aspires to. Mary and her ladies-in-waiting are eagerly awaiting to find a man with vast wealth and a title to marry and make them happy. They each had their own ideals of marriage. Mary is a royal and was to marry because of the politics involved. She was engaged to Francis at a young age to secure her country's future. She hoped that love would come and make the union that much more pleasant to live with. And that did come. She really does love Francis. But that doesn't make the issues of marriage any less complex. In fact, because Mary and Francis are royals, it makes things even more tumultuous. You just knew that when Mary said she would choose her country over Francis at the close of last week's episode that she would be put to that test very quickly.

Both a literal and metaphorical storm are brewing in "No Exit." Unrest is stirring in Scotland and Mary's half-brother comes to French court to tell her she needs to come home. She is all set to go and lead her people but Francis is hesitant out of fear for her safety. He loves Mary and wants to do everything in his power to protect her. Yes, there is a plot out there to kill her on her voyage home. He keeps her at court by locking her up claiming she can't leave until it's safer for her. Things are never going to be safer for her. Mary knows that. And yet, Francis doesn't want her to leave their stable surroundings in French court to travel to Scotland where they won't have as much protection. He's gone to the extreme in order to keep her in France. Yes, it keeps her alive but also puts a huge roadblock in the middle of their marriage.

And the rest of the ensemble is dealing with marital issues as well. The only stable one is Greer and that's only because the show's not doing anything with her right now. King Henry has gone mad. The people who know the truth are scared of what he is capable of doing. And yet, he has new girl Penelope who treats him the way he wants to be treated. She excited him even though he is still pining after Kenna. Everyone still refers to Penelope as Queen - which frankly doesn't make much sense, she's his new mistress at best. But it builds into the idea of marriage the show is trying to take. He and Catherine have grown so apart from each other even though they are married. They each have their own political ambitions that are almost never one and the same.

And then, there's a couple like Kenna and Bash. They were reluctantly forced into marrying each other by the manic king. But now, they are trying to make an effort. This marriage is nothing what they expected. And after working with Catherine to help get rid of Penelope, they really are getting closer.

Lastly, there is Lola who married Lord Julien in this episode - albeit offscreen. Reign has a habit of introducing characters as nice and noble only to make turn them into self-interested or suspicious people one episode later. That's exactly what happens with Julien here - it doesn't even take Mary's brother James a full episode before seeming suspicious. Last week, he was the answer to all of Lola's problems. Now, she's worried her rush to the alter has led her into a union with someone with ulterior motives. It has something to do with money but because of the familiarity with the story I'm not that interested in the outcome. Which is sad because for a couple episodes there I was interested in Lola as a character.

Some more thoughts:
  • "No Exit" was written by Hannah Schneider and directed by Mike Rohl.
  • It's great that the show realized that Nostradamus' visions are much more enjoyable when we get to see them too. Him staring off into space, someone asking him what it is and him saying something ominous just wasn't working.
  • But that Nostradamus-Olivia subplot was just so completely unnecessary. 
  • Does the show even remember the plot thread of Clarissa still being alive? It sure doesn't seem like it. Maybe the show just won't ever address it again. That's wishful thinking. I'm sure she'll pop up again in some grand way in one of the final episodes in a way that's suppose to "surprise" us.