'Reign' Needs to Quit Trying to Be Something It's Not — Three Places to Start
This week's Reign, "Terror of the Faithful," showcased the problem that Reign has had all season: A perfectly juicy and intriguing premise gets bogged down in boring plot. Reign barely qualifies as historical drama, what with all of the changes it makes, but it keeps trying this season to be about history and about dreary, dreary things like plagues and religious persecution.
Now, this is not to say that I don't enjoy accurate historical dramas or shows about serious things. I do. But Reign is not such a show. Reign is Gossip Girl with fancy ball gowns every week. Reign is fashion porn and love triangles and intrigue, intrigue, intrigue.
Or at least, Reign used to be those things.
This season, Reign has lost its way. Every week is something depressing and serious, dragging the characters away from the trivial affairs and bizarre castle happenings that made me fall in love with the show. I fell in love with glorious headbands, a crazy Phantom of the Opera ghost haunting the castle walls and a literally mad king wreaking havoc on everyone around him.
Maybe it's because Mary and Francis are real rulers now. They are the King and Queen and, like Peter Parker, they're learning that with great power comes great responsibility. I understand that and I want to respect it, but my old, crazy show is suffering for it.
Here are three things that need more attention, STAT, to get Reign back to its former glory:
1. Mary's ladies in waiting need more screen time (and they need to matter). In its first season, Reign wasn't just about Mary Queen of Scots' love life or political position, it was always very much about her and her BFFs, frolicking around French court in lovely gowns and ridiculous head baubles. I want that back and then some. I want to see more of Mary's relationships with her ladies and to see their friendships develop. Those friendships were once a cornerstone for Mary and they've all fallen by the wayside as everyone has either become a wife or a mother. These female friendships are great to watch play out and also, the more time the ladies in waiting spend together, the better the fashion porn. It's just the way it is. Princess Claude can hang out with them, too. It will be grand.
2. Queen Catherine needs to keep seeing those weird ghost girls. I know I might have been the only person who was/is obsessed with Reign's dalliance with the supernatural, but that's okay. I can carry this torch along if I have to. Creepy Wall Ghost from season one was a fantastic arc. I was really excited about King Henry's maybe-possession of the servant lady earlier this season (and I'm super impressed with that Nanny's acting — pretending to be possessed by the dead king to his son/murderer's astonished and angry face is pretty ballsy). Now, Catherine is seeing Shining-style ghost twins and I want her haunting to take center stage a little more. In true Reign fashion, I expect this to be debunked (my personal theory is that she is being drugged with something that makes her hallucinate or that she has a brain tumor. I hope she's being drugged because I don't want this character to die. I would mourn greatly).
3. Turn up the sexy. I love Narcisse (I suspect everyone loves him, because he's brilliant and a little evil and all-around awesome). He's the sexiest thing about the show right now and his chemistry with Lola has been great (much better than her chemistry with any previous suitors, including her tryst with Francis). But aside from that, the sexiness of the show's first season is all but gone. Everyone is married and over it with their spouses, it seems. If I bought the political stuff from this show, it might be okay, and I'm not expecting Game of Thrones level sexcapades on The CW, but Reign sold itself as a daring, sexy drama. Be that. Don't break your promises and, if you must, be better at what you try to do instead.
Please, old Reign, come back before The CW cancels you (and really, the ratings are not looking good, even by CW standards).