Last week, Reign got very serious in a very big way when it tackled rape in a storyline that involved its protagonist, Mary Queen of Scots, being sexually assaulted as an act of war. This week, the show actually managed to shift back to its delightfully weird and soapy roots, while staying true to the oh-so-serious turn things took after last week's episode. Yes, that's an impressive balancing act and yes, I'm being serious.
The real beauty of this week's episode, "Mercy," is that it was, at its heart, a breakups and make-ups episode. Yes, Reign went back to high school, right where it belongs, and tugged at our most prepubescent heartstrings with two major "breakups" and one major (and so, so, so bizarre — like, I cannot stress how bizarre) make-up. The real art here is that Reign does not take place in a high school. It takes place in a royal court where everyone is married and really not able to divorce or split up easily. With that in mind, it handled its take on a breakup deftly. I will now rank these breakups and make-ups because, well, honestly, I just really enjoy ranking things.
3. Greer and Castleroy
Breakup or Make-up: Breakup
Reason: Coming in third place in this competition (it's so not really a competition) are Greer and Lord Castleroy. They split because he was arrested for his Protestantism and after he's sprung from jail when her ex-lover calls in a favor to the king (dumb move, Leith) she, for whatever reason, thinks it would make him look more guilty if his wife left France with him. In reality, I think she just likes living in a castle and isn't ready to convert to her husband's dangerous (at the time) faith. Also, she'll probably show Leith just how grateful she is for him using that favor on her husband with a different kind of favor of her own because things seem to be getting back to normal in the world of Reign so I'm assuming it gets sexy.
Why it ranks third: It's definitely a breakup because Castleroy is leaving France forever and Greer has no interest in going with him. He even says he hopes he sees her again when he's heading out. They both seem to basically know things are over, but they're just going to stay married and never speak again? It's a weird relationship, but whatever works for them.
2. Mary and Francis
Breakup or Make-up: Breakup. Big time.
Reason: Mary blames Francis for her rape. She admits that it's irrational, but she can't shake the feeling that it's tied to him and she knows that she'll always associate the most traumatic event of her life with him and his dishonesty with her. She can't get over it, even after the men who attacked her are found and murdered, brutally. She decides that if a painful death for her attackers didn't right the wrong, she needs to break things off with Francis. Of course, they can't just breakup because they are married Catholics who are also King and Queen of two countries which are united and strengthened by and, let's face it, basically dependent on their union. There is every reason in the world why they can't actually stop being married, ever. But Mary wants to be Francis' wife in name only and to never interact with him again outside of their duties as King and Queen. I'm of the opinion that they are OTP and this won't last, but it's pretty crushing, nonetheless.
Why it ranks second: It's a big breakup. These are the two main characters. They're probably soul mates. It's huge. Also, it's setting Mary up to play the field and not feel guilty forever, so the implications on the plot are great.
1. Catherine and Henry
Breakup or Make -up: MAKE-UP.
Reason: Oh, are you scratching your head right now? Are you thinking about how Henry is dead and this is impossible? Well, Catherine's visits by the castle ghosts have gotten more extreme than ever. Her dead ghost daughters talked her into poisoning her live, not ghost daughter, Claude. And then Henry slithered up her bed as a ghost, materialized and proceeded to make love to her and demand that she verbally say she wants him back. Reign always does supernatural fake-outs (so far, all of its supernatural plots have been explained eventually), but this one takes the cake. Also, Henry was insane but, as long as you don't go by any open windows with him, he's the most fun thing on the show.
Why it ranks first: HENRY IS DEAD. He's a ghost. Or, more likely, the result of a tumor or something that Catherine has. Whatever it is, he's back for now and I'll take it.