“Reign” may be The CW’s new period drama, but it’s so much more than just corsets and accents.
The series premiere of “Reign” aired Thursday (Oct. 17), and offered up an hour chock-full of romance, drama, political intrigue, conspiracies, bloody decapitations, and supernatural mysteries, all set against a backdrop of beautiful medieval castles and modern music. So what happened when a young Mary, Queen of Scots, made her long-awaited return to the French Court in the premiere?
Before we even see Mary, we get our first glimpse of the queen’s right-hand seer, Nostradamus (a younger and sexier version of the historical figure, because why not? It’s The CW). It seems as if his prophecy of Mary’s return is less than joyous, as a tree begins raining (Reigning? Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) blood.
At the convent where Mary was sent to grow up in safety, Sister Helen — Mary’s food taster — dies as a result of poisoned food aimed at Mary. The assassination attempt prompts Mary’s long-awaited return to the French Court where her betrothed, Prince Francis, awaits. But the castle might not be any more safe for Mary as Rose, a young girl at the convent, warns her of ghosts roaming the castle, one in particular: a young girl whose face is ruined. But it turns out this “ghost” is actually Mary’s ally as she later warns Mary not to drink the wine, which is laced with a sleeping potion (more on that in a bit).
Mary’s arrival is not the only occasion to celebrate at the castle, as the court is preparing for Francis’ sister’s wedding to a Spanish noble. During the preparations, we meet the royal family. Sebastian “Bash” is the king’s bastard child, while Mary’s childhood friend/betrothed Francis is a total momma’s boy. While his father, the king, approves of his upcoming wedding and alliance with Scotland, the queen does not, and her disapproval only grows when Nostradamus shares his vision that Francis’ union with Mary “will cost him his life.”
The queen acts on this prophecy in order to ensure her son’s safety, and sees an opportunity when one of Mary’s ladies-in-waiting, Lola, is surprised at the castle by her love, Colin. The queen blackmails Colin into attempting to rape Mary after she had been drugged by the wine, which Mary does not drink. Colin is caught, and executed (so the queen can blame it as an English plot to make Mary unfit to wed Francis or any royal).
The queen’s disapproval of Mary is not the only thing threatening the future union as Francis takes after his father in one major way: he has a mistress of his own, Talia. Even after Mary arrives at the castle, they continue their affair, and Mary almost walks in on them, learning of Francis’ straying ways.
Mary’s anger at Francis only grows when she is shown compassion and kindness by Francis’ dashing and rogue-ish half-brother Bash. He helps Mary find her runaway dog, and one scene at the wedding showcases the new series’ love triangle perfectly. Bash and Mary share an intense look that Francis catches. But before Mary and Bash can dance together, feathers rain down and spark a memory for both Francis and Mary of jumping on a bed as children and feathers exploding from the pillows. They remember the good times they shared and are about to dance together before the bedding ceremony begins and interrupts their thoughts.
After the ladies-in-waiting and Mary spy on the ceremony to find out what Mary will be in for after her wedding, they all run off to different corners of the castle. One in particular, Kenna, is so overcome and turned on by what she saw that she begins to … ahem, “take care of herself,” before the king happens upon her and “takes over for her,” if you know what we mean. Though this scene has been cut down from the version the press was given over the summer, it’s still quite clear what is going on, and still pretty risque. Will Kenna’s affair with the king continue past this hallway dalliance? Unclear for now.
Later, Francis confronts Mary about his concern for his country outweighing his happy memories of playing with Mary as children. He believes an alliance with Scotland could ruin France and doesn’t want to jump into a marriage with Marry yet. Mary, however, is more concerned about Francis’ feelings about her. Would Francis want Mary if they weren’t royals, and there was no stake in their marriage? Their attraction and history seems to point to yes, but Francis refuses to get caught up in love.
As if all the romance and political intrigue wasn’t enough to whet your appetite, there also seems to be something mysterious and bloody lurking in the woods outside of the castle that drew Mary’s dog to the scent of “the blood.” Is it the queen’s sacrifices that Nostradamus counsels her to continue performing in order to ensure her son’s safety? Or something else?
Did the “Reign” series premiere royally intrigue you? Or will you execute the new show from your DVR season pass list? Hit the comments below with your thoughts and opinions.
“Reign” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.