'Reign' Season Finale Review: 'Burn' Delivers a Mixed Bag of Emotions

Recap and review of Reign - Season 2 Finale - Burn:

It's a tragic thing when a heart hardens. However, Reign shows that there's a certain necessity in blocking out one's emotions, even when the coast is clear. "Burn" is a season finale that results in a mixed bag of emotions, from tearful, complicated reunions, to spitfire partings. In a way, I'm still not sure how I feel about it.

For the most part, I enjoyed how several of the storylines were tied up, even though there wasn't really a sense of closure for some of them. For one, Condé (Sean Teale) somehow manages to survive this finale, despite Mary (Adelaide Kane) stabbing him in the gut, and Francis (Toby Regbo) vowing to have his head after he's led to believe that baby John has been murdered in a botched kidnapping attempt. For Francis, this entire season has shown us the gradual hardening of his heart, as he's grown distant from Mary due to circumstances beyond his control. Mary's rape made it difficult for him to reach her, and he couldn't put the kibosh on her affair with Condé without denying her the closure she was badly seeking. In a way, Francis couldn't win this season, so it made sense that he would grow as dark as he inevitably did. Regbo delivers his best performance of the season when Francis believes baby John is dead, as he believes the one light left in his life has been snuffed out. With the one pure thing remaining to him gone, he just falls into a heap of tears and unfathomable anger, nearly threatening to kill Condé then and there, if Mary were not able comfort him. It's a staggeringly great performance, and it pairs well with his later anger when he discovers the truth of what happened. John is alive, and the botched kidnapping was merely a well-intentioned ruse by Catherine (Megan Follows). While Catherine blames Mary and even Narcisse (Craig Parker) for her role in the plan coming to light, it's still ultimately her own fault that Francis strips her of her lands, title and income, and banishes her from the kingdom. And yet, Catherine isn't exactly wrong that Mary is getting off scot-free for being with Condé and nearly bringing down the Valois dynasty. Francis is in a position where I don't think there's anyone he can truly trust 100%, and that means he's in a far more precarious position, heading into season 3, then he could have ever imagined when this season started. And this season started with a plague infecting the kingdom, for crying out loud!

Reign - Francis banishes Catherine
Credit: The CW

But with the increasingly, necessarily grim nature of Francis's character coming to light -- illustrating that the demands of rulership require this sort of emotionless pragmatism -- we also get a reunion that was a long time in coming. By betraying Condé and helping Francis put down the coup, resulting in Condé signing away his claim to the French throne, Mary earns redemption in Francis's eyes. But more than that, she comes to a realization herself: she loves Francis and always has, and she always will, despite all they've been through (or perhaps because of it). She acknowledges that they might not be able to save each other, but they can love each other, and that can be just as good in a world this uncertain. They make love, and it's played as a moment of triumph, with the show's preeminent love story being re-consummated. And yet, I didn't feel the emotional punch I probably should have with this. Maybe it's the hardships they've been through this season, but I just didn't buy that they'd reconcile like this. Too much distance has grown between them. I suppose I could buy it with a little more time, but this all felt too sudden to really work. And it pains me to say that, since I love Francis and Mary together (well, I did, before the painfully unnecessary rape story set their relationship problems into motion). In fact, the big takeaway from this reunion isn't that Mary and Francis are back to loving each other again, but rather that Francis is still, apparently, dying from whatever illness is slowly claiming him. Mary vows she'll love Francis for the rest of her life, but it seems as though his life is poised to end first. And theirs isn't the only relationship being threatened here.

Reign - Mary and Francis reunite
Credit: The CW

Kenna (Caitlin Stasey) and Bash (Torrance Coombs) have a similarly emotional reunion, complete with a roll in the hay. But Bash inevitably discovers, from Delphine, of all people, that Kenna is pregnant with Renaude's baby. Considering Renaude has just been hanged for treason, this makes Bash look like even more of a cuckold, particularly if he goes through with raising a traitor's child. He's understandably livid with Kenna, since it now looks like she only reconciled with him so they could have sex and explain away the pregnancy without creating a scandal. Kenna insists this isn't the case, but it's all in the appearance of the matter. I've long said that Bash and Kenna are my favorite relationship in the show, and I actually did feel all the emotion for their reunion that I didn't feel with Francis and Mary's, which is why it was so heartbreaking to see them go right back to separation. Even if it did make sense why Bash would cast her out, it was devastating, just the same. I'm not exactly sure what Kenna will do next, but I could see her shacking up with Greer (Celina Sinden) in a sort of Full House situation. Hell, it could make for an amusing sitcom if it weren't so sad. Then again, Full House dealt with a widower raising three girls after his wife dies. And Fuller House is apparently going to have the same premise, more or less, so I suppose comedy and tragedy go hand-in-hand. On TV, at least, if not in life.

Recap and review of Reign - Season 2 Finale - Burn
Credit: The CW

Ultimately, I'm still processing my mixed feelings about "Burn", and I'm just as undecided about Reign Season 2 overall. I'll definitely keep watching, but while this season had its compelling moments, I feel as though the show compromised much of what made it such an enjoyable show in its first season. Strangely enough, by veering further away from history (with the rape, with Condé, with the rebellion, etc.) things got too real, and it made the show often hard to stomach. It's still a favorite of mine, but this finale didn't fill me with the sort of closure I thought I would have. And that's a shame, because I feel like Reign is a better show than a lot of people give it credit for being.

But what did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!

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