Reign Report: "Slaughter of Innocence"
And yet, for all my love, this face summarizes many of my feelings about this show. This was actually a very painful moment for Henry, as he decided to poison his son so as to marry Mary despite recognizing he was probably tipping off the deep end a little; but this screencap happened and it was all over.
He's so far off the deep end that he starts assembling the castle at night to kill people at random to prove he's king. Francis grudgingly admits that My Dad is Not Great Right Now face is going to be permanent and maybe they need to kill Henry, at which point everyone, including Greer who doesn't even know any of this, simultaneously cannot believe Francis has hemmed and hawed this long.
Francis makes good by joining a joust undercover (I see) and dovetailing history by being the person who unseated Henry and gave him the skull splinter that slowly killed him. The show tries to make this something very sad that he will carry with him forever, but it's a little hard to feel that way about a king who was literally planning a war without pants on mere weeks ago.
Nobody's too torn up.
While everything is chaos in the castle, and Kenna and the little kid get menaced by the Darkness in a subplot so perfunctory I never even got a screencap of it, Lola gets an even worse one where she' in labor for somewhere between six hour and four days (temporal causality is also a fantasy element on this show). The only thing that makes it worth it is that the peasant whose house she barged into (rude) immediately figures out that when she's taking dictation for the letter to Mary, said Mary is the Queen of Scots.
This peasant has already demonstrated a better understanding of every political and social hierarchy in France than Kenna and we've only known her three minutes.
Somewhere in the middle of this plot soup, Leith comes home and is immediately the worst at Greer for honoring her engagement to the incredibly nice wealthy feminist. In the most surprisingly mature move any of the handmaidens has made since Lola blackmailed the Queen, Greer mentions to Castleroy that he came by, just to avoid any misunderstandings.
Also, can we talk about how hard they are working to make Castleroy handsomer and more rugged every time we see him?
Leith and Greer do still enjoy making out, but he's mortified that she won't ditch Castleroy for him; I'm mostly mortified that she's making out with a guy while she's gunning to marry another guy and the only lesson she learned since last time is "lock the door." But she sticks to her guns, and Leith gets super pissed and pledges to Gatsby the living hell out of himself just to mess with her. "I will rise, and rise, and rise," he says.
Not pictured: him angrily spitting "Milady" on his way out.
Don't worry, he immediately smarms at this escapee from Dangerous Beauty, who still ditches him (good) to meet her dad in her imaginary-Venetian finest.
This last-minute subsubsubplot should probably feel like he's going to romance the daughter and Greer will get jealous, but honestly I was too busy appreciating the look of an actor who cannot bring himself to pretend he has seen this woman before in life ever.
Meanwhile, Bash and Nostradamus are hastily patching up that plot hole about the Darkness.
This pagan lullaby rhymes "caress" with "Darkness." Kill every pagan.
(Kenna is not killed. Darkness is killed. Sadly he curses everyone with the plague on his way out. Whoops.
And yet, none of that bothered me as much as this.
Not the dress, the dress is fine. ("Fine.") But she wears the English coat of arms on her dress as a symbolic power grab to galvanize the people! She and Catherine talk about the power of clothing to convey a message and the historical significance of color and symbolism! ARE YOU KIDDING ME, SHOW? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Meanwhile, Catherine was in this gold foil business. In this shot it actually looks a little majestic, which makes me partially forgive them for the oddly matronly tiny-ruffle neckline.
In fairness, whatever the shortcomings of her neckline, her face continues to be this show's single biggest asset. (This is on Henry's deathbed, as he asks her to reach out to Diane. It's sincerely meant, which Alan Van Sprang manages well, but I feel like he should know better than to remind Catherine of someone she doesn't like right before he expires, removing the last possible barrier between Diane and a tall glass of poison.)
Francis, however, is legit torn up, and there's a nice moment where Bash arrives from his subplot moments too late to say goodbye to the father who hasn't interacted with him in several episodes, but Francis is super glad to see him because he's having some feelings.
This is one of those times where you wish Bash had interacted with either of these dudes in a meaningful way in the last few weeks so this moment would have a little more weight, but still, it's a nice moment of reconciliation.
Honestly, though, one thing mattered in this finale more than any other:
Sure, she imported France's first python just to get Olivia out of the picture, but when the plague is on the doorstep, they're instantly friends again. Next season; road trip to escape contagion. Start wishing for it now.