TV Report Card: 'Reign' Season 2 Review

Overview: Mary and Francis faced down enemies from outside the castle and within, all the while battling the ups and downs of a new marriage. Elsewhere, Mary’s ladies found love, flirtation, scandalous trysts and disaster.

Storyline Direction Pros:

The Arrival of Narcisse
Every show needs a rogue, a character whose loyalties are questionable, methods mischievous and charm indisputable. With the introduction of Lord Narcisse, “Reign” created a character comprised of all of these attributes and they struck bonafide gold with the casting of “Legend of the Seeker” star Craig Parker in the role. Parker was a scene stealing behemoth on the gone-way-too-soon sci-fantasy and he’s kept that record going with his performance on “Reign”.

Francis
What a difference a season can make. Francis went from jaded, moody hipster prince to full-fledged old-timey romantic hero in the span of two seasons, resulting in one of the best character evolutions in recent memory. As the young King and Queen’s marriage ran aground, it fell upon Francis to keep the marital faith and he did so under incredibly arduous circumstances.

His commitment went above and beyond and to his credit; he never came across as a fool for his loyalty either, rather a really devoted spouse caught in an impossible situation. The story arc also gave Francis' portrayer Toby Regbo some mightily meaty material, which he handled with deft skill and tremendous nuance. In light of season two, the fate that awaits Francis has only been made all the more tragic.

Reinventing Greer
Given how she started season two, it was next to impossible to predict how Greer’s journey would pan out. She overcame a thorny triangle, settling upon Lord Castleroy, got married, secured her future and then inadvertently funded a group of religious zealots who tried to overthrow her Queen. In the end, Greer wound up suffering a terrible string of misfortunes. Never one to stay down for long, she pulled herself together and started her own business…as a madame. Let’s be honest, out of all of Mary’s ladies, Greer was the last one you would’ve expected to take up that mantle.  

All Hail, Queen Catherine
One of the most complicated female characters on television, the Catherine de’ Medici of “Reign” is a mother lion who uniformly rules with her iron fist and calculating cerebral prowess. She is witty, cutthroat, humorous and downright diabolical. Walking this tight rope of a character with masterful skill is actress Megan Fellows, who portrays Catherine’s fiery perseverance and raving intellect with an incendiary dynamism that is spellbinding. Catherine is the series’ villain, sometimes heroine, dependable wild card and indefatigable must-see.

Storyline Direction Cons:

Manic Monde
Mary had a very rough season and the result of her suffering was acting extremely out of character. Mary, who spent her life dreaming about marrying Francis, became ensconced in a treacherous love affair with Conde, a slimy opportunist. When she finally came to her senses, the damage was done and when she accepted accountability for her gruesome affair, she still tried to throw some of the blame on the compassionate Francis, who had done nothing to contribute to the sordid triangle.

While Mary played her part, she wasn’t entirely in her right mind at the time and Conde knew that. He took advantage of someone recovering from a horrific ordeal and instead of guiding her back into the loving arms of her husband; he worked tirelessly to drive a wedge between them. To add salt in the wound, he later attempted a coup against Francis so he could become the King of France. The guy had no scruples and he didn’t entirely reap his comeuppance. Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, the narrative still seemed set on portraying him as a tragic romantic hero, something he most certainly was not.

Bidding Farewell to Castleroy
The Castleroy/Greer coupling was a refreshing touch of something pleasantly unexpected and when she actually chose him over Leith, it was even more surprising. What turned out to be even more shocking than all of that was how suddenly it all came screeching to a halt. Castleroy was sent away to rot in prison off-screen without even so much as a goodbye scene with Greer and just like that, their storyline was over. Poor Castleroy definitely didn’t deserve his fate and fans of the pairing deserved a lot more, in terms of closure.

Catherine Going Crazy
Catherine’s battle with lucidity and slight mental breakdown was a clearly well-intentioned misstep. Thankfully it happened early on and was resolved relatively quickly. Catherine is at her best when she’s fully in charge of her faculties. That said; Megan Fellows did great work making the most of the storyline.

Mary’s Downfall
The most crucial blunder of the season was the aftermath of Mary’s rape. Why she blamed Francis, turned to Conde and risked her country to pursue him was baffling. Mary’s behavior was beyond out of character. She had consistently been shown putting others before herself, so when she flagrantly disregarded Francis’ feelings in the wake of her attack, it was an absolute about-face. Her behavior and mistreatment of him eventually brought on his deadly illness.

As a result of her role in his sickness, Mary’s place on the morality throne has been permanently tarnished, displacing her from her previously held moral superiority over Catherine. It’ll be tough for her to find redemption afterwards, though she made strong inroads in the season finale. No matter the storyline, major praise belong to Mary's portrayer Adelaide Kane, who continued to wow with one amazing performance after another as the traumatized Queen.

Overall Grade: A- | “Reign” maintained its quality from the previous season, totally avoiding the dreaded mark of a “sophomore slump”. It balanced melodrama with character driven storylines that’s twists and turns, while at times frustrating, only served as a testament to the amount of passion its characters command. Compelling, romantic, regal and visually sumptuous, The CW period piece continued to be an enduring treasure.

1 comment

  1. Reign really needs to Save Francis!!! Who cares about history!! This ain't no history channel!!

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