As I was watching Reign Season 2 Episode 3 I kept thinking how amazing Francis and Mary are together and that their greatest challenges come when the act separately.
Trust isn't easy to attain in any marriage, let alone one between a very young couple who were pledged to wed as small children, who are navigating their first year of wedded bliss, a bastard child and who also happen to be the King and Queen of France.
The writing on Reign continues to be one of its strongest assets. They have essentially taken a story that originally titillated with sex and forbidden romances and turned it into a passionate tale about young love, marriage vows, equality of the sexes and the politics required to rule a country (or three).
In short, Reign is a very smart series that should be taken seriously.
There have been so many barriers thrown in front of Mary and Francis. There was the whole Bash scenario in Reign Season 1 that lead to an unhappy Francis bedding Mary's best friend, Lola, who bore their child. Catherine tried to prevent their union using whatever means she had at her disposal and then Henry died, thrusting them into the spotlight well before their due.
The Plague came, destroying their food supply and making both the people and the nobles wonder if Francis has it in him to rule France or if he will rule by fear, as did his father. Through it all, Mary and Francis have maintained a brutal honesty with each other as they put their country first.
You have a delicate peace to maintain. That is a King's work. And I have a mess to clean up and that is, if you ask your nobles, a woman's work. But, this time, since I got you into this, I don't mind doing it.Mary
It was quite interesting to learn that word had gotten around about their bargain with Narcisse leading the people to think Francis was a clone of Henry's. If they only knew the truth of the matter, they might understand. Narcisse is a bastard. He made every attempt to keep precious grain from France to fill his need for vengeance, even threatening another man's son. He even turned down an offer of friendship from Catherine in his quest to get what he wanted.
Narcisse: An advisor of my choice or regrettably there is no deal.
Catherine: I shall get my grain elsewhere.
Narcisse: You didn't come here because your heart bleeds for your starving countrymen. What are you hiding?
Catherine: Perhaps I'm hiding a bleeding heart.
Catherine's heart may not have been bleeding, but it isn't cast in stone either. She does good deeds for her people with the hope that word will get around should things go poorly at the castle. I can live with that. She's proven more than once that her hard words shelter a softer side as she proudly wants Francis to reign as he wishes and not in his father's shadow, even if outwardly she urges him to protect himself.
The German Duke came out of nowhere, and we learned he was at court to free his protestant friends that Henry imprisoned for believing in God the wrong way. It seemed Narcisse was behind the removal of said prisoners, whose release would have lead to peace on the religious front and afforded a deal for grain.
It's sometimes easy for Francis to place the blame on Mary for going against his wishes, mostly in public, but it was Conde's desire to live up to the man she saw in him that caused him to fess up and release the prisoners he was hoping to use as a bargaining chip.
The webs that are woven on Reign are tangled indeed, but the young King and Queen deftly handle that worst of them together.
We knew Bash and Kenna would face challenges in their marriage because they wanted different things, but wasn't it refreshing to see her stand up for her husband and turn down an estate once she understood what was at stake? They still have their own barriers to overcome, but they, too, seem to be a smart match.
There was some foreboding to come, I think, when Conde shared with Mary how different life will be when she has children of her own and how that will strengthen the bond she shares with Francis. At the same time that conversation was taking place, Francis was visiting Lola and the baby.
Yet when it was all said and done, the rulers of France walked to their coronation knowing, as we all do, that they work better together than apart.
I was wrong. What I asked of you, the backward step. You must know. I want the sameFrancis
world as you do, the better one, and the only way to field it is together. We do greater things when we act as one, when we trust each other as equals. This is not a coronation for a King. It is for a King and Queen.
We can hope that the bond between Francis and Lola doesn't grow at the expense of Francis and Mary. At least we know that Mary isn't without child for lack of trying. We have had two installments in a row where we were treated to seeing just how in love the King and Queen of France are through the layers of their bed linens.
It might sound corny, but Reign gives hope to young people about the compromises made for love and duty. It encourages couples to speak freely and honestly and to understand and forgive each other, even when mistakes are made. Against incredible odds, armies and political intrigue, love is born and endures.
If you haven't seen all of this incredible series, there is no time like the present to watch Reign online so that you can catch up. Discover how they got here and anticipate their next moves. Be sure to check out the Reign quotes section, as well, as there were a lot of good ones this week (as always!).
Here is your first look ahead at Reign Season 2 Episode 4, "The Lamb and the Slaughter."
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.