Before we discuss the poisoned dresses, hanging corpses and heretical Bloodwoods that made up so much of "Snakes in the Garden," I have to ask the most pressing Reign question of all:
Do you think Renaissance-style hair braids with little beads and pearls and stuff in them are going to be a big look for winter?
Kidding, kidding: the big question (to me, at least) in this episode was the identity of the mysterious, masked, marble-rolling lady named Clarissa. She's feeding information to Mary, she tried to save Colin, her identity is known to Nostradamus, she secretly lives in the castle, and, most importantly, she wears a bag on her head!
Who is this mystery woman, and what does she care about the fate of an alliance with Scotland (and the sexy teenaged royal who represents it)?
The reasons behind Catherine's plotting and her alliance with England are extremely straight-forward, if not a pretty concerning; but why is this masked semi-wraith so invested in the outcome? I mean, I'm sure we'll find out soon, but I want to know nowwwwww!
Moving on: Even without any insight into the identity of Clarissa, the second episode of Reign rollicked along, revealing the plot against Mary to be twice as complicated as it seemed last week. I thought this was a stronger episode in every way, including offering a stronger and more engaged performance from Adelaide Kane - even if her Mary remains sometimes so much kinder and so much more sensible than any of the doofs surrounding her in the court that it kind of beggars belief.
This episode turned down the sex and turned up the violence, leaving us with torture dungeons and men being hung to death from trees. The genius of Reign so far is that it imports modern emotional enlightenment, but sets it alongside Renaissance terror; Mary's self-help-style demands for genuine love and the king's extremely civil (and sexy!) negotiations with his new mistress look all the sharper when set against a wooded area forbidden because it is full of murderous heretics and a queen driven for blood by the predictions of a psychic. I mean, I'm excited that I even got to write that sentence.
This show is truly turning something old into something new, skipping (or so it seems) the standard supernatural thrills of teen soaps for something more terrifying--actual day-to-day life in the Renaissance.
Though we're barely into the season, Reign feels solid already - it's sumptuously shot, the Reign quotes are soapily over-the-top and the warming up between Mary and Francis in this episode was, dare I say, believable? That was some pretty serious emoting for a guy in doublet.
Who painted the "x" in Catherine's bed? Who is Clarissa, and why does she care about Mary's fate? Does anyone else inadvertently think "Franklin & Bash!" when they see Francis and Bash together?