I was very excited to tune in to Reign's season premiere last night on The CW simply because ever since Gossip Girl and 90210 went off the air I've been dying for some good old teen drama on my television, and while Reign gave a solid showing in its premiere episode, it still has some work to do.
Reign is essentially a teenage version of Game of Thrones, just not nearly as well written, with a lot of 'Your Grace's and m'lady's thrown around to make sure we know that this isn't the Upper East Side, that this is in fact 1557 France. The show centres of Mary, the young Queen of Scots, who has been hidden away at a convent since she was 9 because there are many people who want her dead. Those people get dangerously close to achieving their goal as we see in one of the opening scenes where one of the nuns dies over her lunch thanks to drawing the short straw and having to be the one who has to taste the Queen's food. Due to the assassination attempt the rest of the nuns feel that it's time for Mary to be sent to France because she'll be safer in the French Court where she is betrothed to that country's future king, Francis. But before she goes Mary is warned by a young girl to watch out for the ghosts in the castle -- the tortured souls -- especially a young woman who's face has been ruined so much that she hides it. Hint -- foreshadow alert!
We then see the future King of France, Francis, speaking with his half-brother 'Bash' (that's short for Sebastian, so you know with a nickname like that he's the fun one) and already we know that Francis likes the ladies and isn't too thrilled with the thought of Mary's arrival. But that's OK because Francis's mother, Catherine, played by Megan Follows (Anne of Green Gables!!!) is on his side and won't let anything happen to Francis that he doesn't want. Francis is a total mama's boy. At this point I see Mary as the Khaleesi, Francis is Joffrey-lite, and Bash is Jon Snow.
Catherine is very Cersai like in that she will do anything to protect her son and her realm. Catherine meets with Nostradamus, played by a very cute Rossif Sutherland (Keifer's half-brother) and explains that she's wary of Mary since she's not sure how she will control a daughter in-law who's also a Queen in her own right. Obviously Catherine likes to hold all the cards and is threatened by someone who might wield more power than her marrying her son. Nostradamus tells Catherine that if Francis marries Mary it will cost him his life, causing Catherine to do anything in her power to stop the union. Then we see a brief glimpse of someone with a bag covering their head, making us all remember the young girl's foreshadowing to Mary about the castle's tortured souls.
When Mary finally arrives at the King of France's castle with her 4 ladies in waiting she greeted by the King and his mistress. I'm still confused why it's ok for the King to flaunt his mistress so boldly but maybe my knowledge of 16th century manners is a bit rusty. It's only then that we find out that Bash is the King's bastard son (see the Jon Snow reference) and that the ladies in waiting find him very hot indeed.
After all the regular pleasantries are exchanged Mary goes off to find Francis to deliver some rocks for him to decorate the swords that he makes and knocks on his door. Unfortunately for Mary, Francis is preoccupied with a woman named Natalia who he clearly has history with. Natalia knows that Mary is there to marry Francis and she doesn't care, she's ok being the other woman. When Francis answers the door to find Mary he's clearly annoyed, mostly because he's basically been caught with his pants down and tells Mary that " if you ever want to be the queen of France you must understand something, kings do not answer to their wives." He might be a mama's boy but he's definitely a chip off the old block!
Mary is not amused. So she decides to console herself by heading back to the water with her dog where she found the rocks only to throw them away. But her dog runs off into the woods after something that must be sinister because that's how foreboding the woods look. Mary tries to chase after him but Bash shows up just at the right time to protect the Queen from whatever lies in wait in those woods. You can see that the writers are trying to build up a bit of forbidden sexual tension here between Mary and Bash, or maybe just unrequited love on Bash's part as well as making us wonder what it is in those woods that's so sinister. It seems that Bash might be just as jealous of Francis and his betrothed as Francis is of Bash and his freedom. This could be an interesting love triangle.
One of Mary's ladies in waiting, Lola, is surprised when her love, Colin, arrives from Scotland to surprise her. Lola knows her 16th century manners and tells Colin that they have to ask permission from the Queen for him to stay in the castle so they run off to meet with Catherine. Poor Colin didn't know what hit him because Catherine uses him as her opportunity to ensure that Francis and Mary will never wed.
After returning to her room Mary is shocked to see that the rocks that she threw away are back in her room. Where did they come from? She decides to do some exploring and comes upon one of those screens that people use to change behind. As she's standing in front of it a hand appears to press against the other side. While most of us would scream like little children and run, Mary touches the hand through the fabric of the screen. The voice on the other side warns Mary to "'Taste all the love and sorrow but don't drink the wine. Don't!" The voice and the hand then disappear down a secret passageway.
That night everyone is in attendance for Francis's sister's wedding and Colin offers Mary a glass of wine while Lola looks on disapprovingly. Mary remembers the voice's warning and smartly refuses to actually drink any of the wine. She and her ladies in waiting then decide to sneak out and watch the consummation ceremony of the newlyweds. After they're finished watching many of the girls are quite 'excited' and they all head off in different directions. One of the girls, Greer, runs to a random stairwell because she's just so turned on that she can't make it to the privacy of her own bedroom and starts to pleasure herself right then and there. She's interrupted by The King who is more than happy to 'give her a hand' (see what I did there?).
Mary is sleeping in bed when Colin sneaks into her room and starts to unbuckle his pants. Uh oh, this doesn't look good for Mary, but then Mary wakes up completely surprising Colin and he's thrown in the dungeon. Turns out that Catherine is so determined that her son not marry Mary that she wanted Colin to rape her so that her virtue would be in question, leaving her unfit to marry the future King. That wine she was supposed to drink was supposed to drug her so that she wouldn't be able to refuse Colin. Fortunately for Mary she was forewarned by the ghost. Unfortunately for Colin he became the scapegoat and was beheaded. Shoulda stayed in Scotland, Colin. Also -- if it was so important that Mary drink the wine don't you think that someone would have noticed that she actually didn't drink the wine?
The episode ends with Francis telling Mary that his only goal is to do what's right for France, and he's not convinced an alliance with Scotland is just that, so Mary shouldn't get her hopes up about marrying him. Mary then tells Francis that she's got her own country to worry about and that she's going to start doing just that.
I like Reign, but there was little originality to it and it was all a bit clichéd and predictable. Australian actress Adelaide Kane is gorgeous as the Queen of Scots and she looks like she'll be able to bring a feisty strength to her role that she'll need to go up against Megan Follows' Queen of France. Hopefully the writing and storylines will tighten up in the next couple episodes.