Francis is back! Francis is back! FRANCIS IS BACK! Reign is back too, from it's two-week hiatus (thanks a lot, Olympics), but more importantly (in case I forgot to mention it): Francis is back. After Mary ripped his heart out (figuratively), danced on it (figuratively), and got engaged to his half-brother (literally), Francis left the kingdom to enjoy is newfound freedom as the French bastard-to-be. He was absent for two weeks, but it felt like two years.
I should mention this is also the week I realized just how firmly I am Team Francis. When he appeared onscreen, I actually felt butterflies in my stomach. Reign has reverted me to middle school. If you are also Team Francis, proceed with caution. You won't be happy with everything you read below.
Mary and Bash Play House
With the queen on death row, Mary is going to be responsible for the well-being of Francis' little brothers (Bash's half-brothers). There are several threats on their life (from Bash supporters who don't want to leave anyone to usurp him down the road) and Mary is intent on keeping them safe. Bash plans a safe version of the kingdom's winter festival so the boys can experience a normal childhood and stay safe, but they're kidnapped during the festival. Don't blame Mary, who was watching them play; all of the kids from the castle are there and running around wearing masks. It's a babysitting gig from hell.
Mary is outraged and in a panic, but Bash privately tells her that he arranged for the abduction. HIs plan is to have the boys taken out of the kingdom to safety. Mary is mega-pissed that he didn't consult her first, and would rather have the boys close, where she can watch them herself. But since she's a woman with no rights and he's already put his plan in motion, she goes along with it.
The Creepy Castle Ghost Kidnaps the Princes
The Creepy Castle Ghost (whose real name is Clarissa but who should be known as the Phantom of the French Court, thanks to the hideously scary half-mask Mary has made for her) finds out about Bash's plan, stows away in the carriage taking the boys to the first checkpoint, and kidnaps them. She wants them to be a family — until the first sign of trouble. As soon as Mary, Bash, and the queen discover her plan and catch up to her, she's ready to murder-suicide her way out of the whole thing, taking the boys with her. Queen Catherine finally admits that she's Clarissa's biological mother and tries to talk her out of slitting her middle son's throat. Reason doesn't work with Clarissa, so Mary hits her in the head with a rock and kills her (I couldn't make this up if I tried).
Francis Hooks Up With…
Lola. Yeah. I know, right? Just let it sink in.
So how did that happen? Lola's brother is a good-for-nothing gambler and he's racked up a lot of debt. Lola gets the money together and comes to bail him out, but the owner of the casino wants something extra to take care of the interest: A night with Lola. Since, again, women have no rights, she's having a hard time saying no, especially if she wants her brother to be allowed to leave safely. Suddenly, a rich viscount places a bet: He'll pay four times her brother's debt and the owner can have Lola if he loses on a single cut of the cards. If he wins, the debt is forgiven and Lola is his.
The viscount is none other than (you guessed it): Francis. He loses the first bet and doubles down again, betting eight times the debt. Luckily, he wins, but a former prince can pretty much pay off any debt, I guess, so he wasn't in so much danger. Lola and Francis stay up talking all night and, in the morning, they have sex (after she assures him that he won't be taking her virtue. He's classy like that… but I'm still rooting for him to win Mary in the end). They plan to part ways forever since Francis never intends to return to the castle, but news that his mother is to be executed changes his plans and things are bound to get very awkward soon. I can't handle it.
Image: The CW