TV Report Card | 'Reign' Season 1 Review

Overview: Mary, Queen of Scots had to to out-maneuver the Queen of France, choose between two paramours and fight surrounding threats, including “the darkness”, for her life. Meanwhile, her handmaidens searched for true love and financial security.

Storyline Direction Pros: Pleasant surprises on TV are unusual and the story of how the first season of “Reign”, the CW’s splashy period piece went from this, to this and now to this review, is a remarkable one. "Reign" never backed down; it has an irrepressible spirit determined to succeed.

Already eclipsing the first season of “Gossip Girl”, it is currently on trajectory to join “One Tree Hill” as a top-notch teen soap. Despite being set in a different century, the characters couldn’t be any more relevant or relatable. The female characters are strong; some more morally motivated than others and they are all naturally flawed.

The males on the show have had their cons but it’s difficult to complain when their hearts are in the right place. On a television network that has mass murderers and other blood-thirsty psychopaths as romantic ideals, “Reign” has provided a refuge for those seeking righteous decency from its male protagonists. 

Maintaining its wholesome quality it carries itself with an edge, as the devious Queen Catherine wields her sharp mind and political savvy to rule the kingdom from behind a veil. She is a villain/anti-villain and she doesn’t mince intentions. Her cutthroat mentality’s effect on Mary has been a compelling development.

It is rare for a series to have a good villain and with Catherine, “Reign” has struck gold. She also sparked with King Henry, their connection unfortunately concluded by season's end. Their sparring was entertaining and the episodes centering on their power struggle were some of the best offerings of the season.

Also worth mentioning is that the series’ sidestepped clichés, especially when it came to Greer’s storyline. Likewise, Mary while conflicted over Francis and Bash, managed to never come across disloyal as it seemed obvious to whom her heart was vested.

Storyline Direction Cons: Lola’s storyline was a tad predictable and her character suffered throughout the baby drama. Despite her claims of wanting to be sensitive to Mary, she came across exceedingly selfish. Dragging her feet until, her happy ending could be obtained and risking Mary’s in the process.

Nostradamus’s morphing role on the show from anvil dropper to full-time supporting character had its good and bad points, before leveling out to something positive. Francis’ character was a bit inconsistent and his boy to man transition was a little awkward. Continued...

Next Season Speculation: Hopefully Greer remains with the Pepper King. He is kind-hearted and their dynamic is unusual. There is a powerful lesson to be taught about loving a person for who they are. Greer’s infatuation with Leith is heavily centered on the lusty physical surface. It would speak highly of her character to dig deeper and realize the importance of having an upstanding man, regardless of their physical appearance by her side.

Kudos to the series for making both of her suitor’s appealing and thus making the triangle trickier to decide, however if Greer were to break up with the Pepper King now, she would lose a lot of points, personally.

Production Caliber: From the outset of the series, it was visually stunning and remained that way throughout. The beautiful costuming, spectacular set pieces and breathtaking locations were on par with a cable series.

Performance Quality: Adelaide Kane improved exponentially as the upstanding Mary. Her confidence in the role by the end of the season was distinguishable. It’s not easy playing the “good guy” and she convincingly pulled off Mary’s kindness and tenacious leadership with gusto. 

Megan Fellows was without a doubt, the series MVP as Catherine. Fellows’ kept the flickers of humanity burning despite, the sinister manipulations of the ruthless Queen and it was masterful. Caitlin Stasey (Kenna) and Celina Sinden (Greer) evolved nicely throughout the season as did Torrance Coombs (Bash). Alan Van Sprang’s ferocious portrayal of King Henry II’s deteriorating psyche was sensational and added an invigorating layer to the series.

Musical Score: Between The Lumineer’s stirring theme song and the folksy contributions of Rosi Golan, Band of Skulls, Lee DeWyze and Unkle, the soundtrack was glorious.

Overall Grade: B+, the biggest surprise of the television season was the creative advancement of “Reign”. From intriguing CW soap to guilty pleasure and finally, a respectable sudsy period piece, it’s been a thrillingly fun ride.

2 comments

  1. I'm finding myself shocked while reading this review. You mention Greer, Kenna and Bash's journey through the season and the other strong actors but you didn't even mention Francis and Toby. Toby is an extremely versatile actor that portrays Francis in a compelling and incredibly human way. He can express heartbreak very well, like when he said his goodbyes in 1x09, For King and Country. His chemistry with Adelaide Kane is off the charts. Not to mention, Francis has developed a huge amount over the season. He went from a duty-bound prince who thought love was irrelevant to placing candles in his wife's room during the first light festival. While all of the other characters have developed no doubt, it makes no sense to mention their developments and leave out Francis. His is one of the main characters whereas Kenna and Greer go episodes with only several lines.

    I would challenge you to pay more attention to the main characters next time you write a review. Based on the new promotional pictures, Francis, Mary and Catherine are the three main characters. So treat Toby as such.

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    1. Hi Emma, thanks for leaving a comment and taking the time to pen your well-written response to the review. Toby Regbo is fortunate to have such a passionate fan.

      As long as people's comments are respectful they will be published, whether those opinions agree or disagree and I appreciate you taking the time to voice yours. - Britt

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