‘Reign’ Review: Mary Makes Her Choice In the Dramatic ‘Tempting Fate’
Recap and review of Reign – Season 2 Episode 17 – Tempting Fate:
With each passing week, I’m more and more convinced that some of these characters on Reign simply love the danger. It’s really the only explanation I can come up with for the recklessness on display in “Tempting Fate,” a dramatic hour of TV that suggests our heroes just might be gluttons for drama.
For example, Mary (Adelaide Kane) has learned that the envoy she sent to discover a safe passage to Scotland for herself and Condé (Sean Teale) has been murdered outside a tavern. Little does she know that Narcisse (Craig Parker) was behind it all — and worse, he now has possession of the letters Mary sent with the envoy, which he uses to win the favor of Catherine (Megan Follows). However, in a fortuitous little turn of events, Catherine doesn’t want to see Mary beheaded, since she’s actually grown quite fond of the girl. So Mary appears to have received a bit of a reprieve: except she forges on with Condé anyway, despite Francis (Toby Regbo) warning her to be more discreet. She essentially makes her choice, choosing to stay with Condé even though he confesses to meeting with Queen Elizabeth’s envoy. They then consummate their love under Francis’s roof, and this is pretty much what I mean when I say these people are gluttons for danger and drama. Mary ought to know far better than to take that sort of risk while she’s still at French court, since Francis isn’t going to have much of a choice if someone sees she and Condé together. He’s going to have to behead her to maintain the legitimacy of his rule. At the very least, he’d have to imprison Mary or send her off to a convent, since nobody in the kingdom is going to believe their kids are legitimate if they’re ever fortunate enough to have any. So even while passion and romance often reign supreme on this show, I can’t really see the logic in the choices the characters are making, particularly since they should be far more pragmatic than this.
Of course, it’s not as though Mary and Condé don’t have a plan. They’re able to turn Elizabeth’s envoy into their own agent to replace the one that was killed. Thus, they’re able to figure out which ports have British soldiers and which don’t. This will allow them to figure out which way is safer to travel. And they really have to get moving sooner rather than later if Condé is going to be able to avoid Antoine’s wrath for rejecting Elizabeth (and if Mary is going to make a clean break from Francis). But while their plan is in motion, I still feel like they could be far more careful than they’re being. But passion makes people do crazy things. Hell, even Catherine is acting passionately, going to bed with Narcisse after Francis takes ill. She’s worried that the prophecy by Nostradamus is coming true, and we have far more reason to believe it now than to disbelieve it, since Francis might be the unwitting victim of Bash’s desperation: In trying to avoid addressing his deteriorating marriage, Bash (Torrance Coombs) goes on a series of missions in the village to keep himself distracted from Kenna (Caitlin Stasey). But one of those missions results in him getting stabbed in the gut. Bash is pretty much done for, until he’s discovered by Delphine, the healer/nun from a few episodes back. She’s able to heal him, but warns him that her gift comes with a price, as with all blood magic in any form of media (seriously, whether it’s True Blood or Game of Thrones, only death can pay for life). He pleads with Delphine to save him, perhaps realizing that his disagreements with Kenna are nothing when faced with the terror of possibly never seeing her again. But in making Delphine save him, Bash might cause Francis’s death, since the King immediately takes ill with an “earache” (we know, from the prophecy, that Francis bleeds from his ear as he’s dying). By tempting fate, it seems everyone is teetering right on the edge of disaster, whether it’s Mary and Condé coming perilously close to being outed publicly, or whether it’s Bash utilizing blood magic. I just don’t see how any of this ends well for anyone.
Even the secondary characters are tempting fate. Leith (Jonathan Keltz) wants Greer (Celina Sinden) to run away with him so they can be married, but she’s still technically married to Castleroy. So Leith approaches the Cardinal about possibly helping them out, and this seems to put a nasty idea in the Cardinal’s head. Granted, we don’t know what that idea is, but you can tell just by looking at his face, after he hears Leith is a friend of the king, that this could end up being a political nightmare for both Leith and Francis. It’s bad enough that Leith is recklessly trying to wed a married woman, even if her husband is likely going to be in prison for the rest of his life. But it’s even worse when you consider that he’s approaching people who could easily use this information against him. It sort of speaks to one of the underlying themes of the episode, which is that it’s really freaking dangerous to care for someone in a world like this. Anyone you love can be used as leverage against you, whether it’s by crooked religious authorities (the Cardinal), by social climbers looking to regain political power (Narcisse), or by the forces of fate (as Catherine learns when Francis takes ill). It’s enough to make you understand why Narcisse is such a loner, or why he rarely seems to care all that much about anyone, save for Lola. Love is dangerous, and to truly succeed at the game of thrones, you need to be untethered to anyone who can be used against you. Not saying it’s right, but it’s at least understandable.
“Tempting Fate” is as fascinating as it is dramatic, for how it explores the impulses of these characters towards making the most dangerous choices possible. Maybe they just can’t help themselves, or maybe their circumstances simply leave them no other choice. Either way, it makes for outstandingly soapy drama. Seriously, Reign is one of my favorite primetime soaps, and episodes like this are why.
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