It's not historical accuracy they're going for; perhaps it's shock value.
If looked at only for what can be gained by having the Queen of France, childless and at odds with the King, raped by attempted assassins, then it would come down to the scenes shared between Adelaide Kane and Megan Follows as Mary and Catherine.
Despite the dire, distressing and objectionable subject matter, their portrayals and chemistry as actors saves an otherwise unnecessary development.
Yes, in Reign Season 2 Episode 9 when Francis and Bash are off making their move to put into motion their plan to get Narcisse off of their backs, the Protestants rise up and attempt to assassinate the King.
The only person they find of interest is Mary, in her bedclothes in her chamber. One angry Protestant decides to degrade the Queen and another holds her down. They rush off as another who was looking on gets bashed in the head from Mary. Ironically, he seemed to be the only sane one of the three, if that stands for anything.
Ultimately two people seem to be at fault. Narcisse, who in a stunning admission reveals to Lola not only how he feels about her but how he feels at fault for robbing the French subjects of hope.
Narcisse: I take no pleasure in being right, especially as I may have been wrong about other issues. What happened tonight was reckless. It was the act of a people who feel that they have nothing to lose. To rob people of hope is a dangerous mistake and I suspect it may be my doing.
Lola: Through your pressure on Francis.
Narcisse: I feel this nation is burning and I am the man who lit the match.
And Conde. Unless I am taking Conde's hasty retreat in the wrong way, Reign's way of showing the Prince of Blood's attempt on the crown was done through Conde ruling the Protestants, getting close to Mary and then staging an attack. His departure and desire to be far from Mary was because he's behind the uprising, right?
Castleroy and Greer thought they were funding hope for the Protestants, and so did their guileless leader. His, I don't know, wingman of some sort, skimmed all of the money to give to the Protestant who was calling the shots. Since it's not the guy we thought it was and he doesn't know who is behind it, then Conde is the only person who makes sense.
During Mary's (very different in real life) marriage to Francis, she was never raped. That appears to be a fact. She was later in life and perhaps the powers that be wanted to toss it into the fray before they lost the material. Who knows?
Remember Reign Season 1? There were parties and dancing and sexy moments. There were girls laughing and being scandalous and lots of pretty dresses, but there wasn't the terrible pall of darkness brought about by Francis killing Henry (another utterly fictional part of the series). Watching Reign is a lesson in the suspension of disbelief and, essentially, alternative history.
Make no mistake, what you are watching did not occur. That's why it's upsetting Mary was raped. There are plenty of other avenues to take to create rich story for Mary and Francis, but this? It's unclear how things can be rectified going forward.
Mary was never in on the secret. She still doesn't know Francis killed Henry or was being blackmailed by Narcisse. She thought he was tussling with the Vatican on behalf of France, not killing a guy named Montgomery for knowing his secret. That would have been forgivable. If she discovers the deep darkness of his betrayal on top of the rape, how can their love be salvaged? Perhaps it shouldn't be. Maybe that's the story here.
Back to the strength not only of this installment, but of Reign Season 2 – the relationship between Catherine and Mary. One look upon Mary's face and Catherine knew the girl wasn't alright. She offered herself to Mary without hesitation.
I know you don't want to be touched, that's alright. But, you're safe. I don't know how you managed to escape but you did. You are alive. You will survive this. I know this because I survived. You know that. They try to destroy you by taking your pride and your strength, but those things cannot be taken, not from you. Not ever.Catherine
The bond that began with Mary's pregnancy and fully formed when they were yucking it up with the impostors in their little off-the-road trip has remained. The best and the strongest scenes feature these two powerful women together.
These next moments of your life will either define you as a victim or as a powerful Queen, untouched by failed a assassination attempt. They will define who you are perceived to be, your place in history. Do not let them win. Trust me. Trust me and let me help you. Trust that I can get you through this because I swear to you that I can.Catherine
There is nothing about a rape that makes a show enjoyable to watch. It's hard to even look back at the hour – to the scene when Narcisse was putting his hand up Claude's skirt, for example – and imagine in which direction they were heading.
Mary and Francis are still torn apart by lies. Conde, I think, is a rotten rogue wanting the crown for himself and putting Mary in danger. Narcisse may have redeemed himself, or at least has come to understand his role in matters. Greer and Castleroy are likely in grave danger. Francis and Bash killed someone else for their cause.
That's a heck of a lot of unhappiness going around. Where do you fall after this depressing installment?
NOTE: Reign Season 2 Episode 10 is titled "Mercy" and will serve at the fall finale.
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.