Oct 18 2013 9:26am

Queen of Hearts: Reign’s Series Premiere Recap

Sebastian (Bash), Mary, and Francis in ReignWhere many heroines on teenage dramas dream of being prom queen, Mary, heroine of the new fantasy historical drama, Reign, already is queen. Of Scotland, to be exact, and, if she plays her cards right, of France as well. Think you know the story from the history books already? Well, maybe, and maybe not.

With strapless gowns, ladies in waiting named Lola and Aylee, spooky doings in the woods and a mysterious voice warning young Mary not to drink a fateful cup of wine, Reign makes it clear from the get-go that historical accuracy is not the star of the show. Yes, the real life Mary was betrothed to and did marry the Dauphin Francis, later King Francis II of France, but politics aren’t the star of the show here, either. Well, sometimes, according to Francis, but that’s for later.

Romantic teen angst abounds here, in sumptuous settings. Young Mary has been betrothed to Francis since they were children, and several brief flashbacks indicate that the kids were all right and might have a chance of making a go of this marriage thing as young adults. There’s some charming, awkward flirting going on as Mary interrupts Francis and discovers his avocation of making knives and swords.   

Mary and Francis in ReignMary charms Francis with her own accomplishments, that she can milk a goat and cut peat. Good skills to know, Francis allows, in case there’s ever an uprising in France. They’d have to do something to get by. Mary is quick to respond that she’d take him back to Scotland and he could rule with her there. Francis hopes he’ll never have to take Mary up on that, and it’s a sweet moment, until the betrothed pair disperses, and Francis finds a not entirely clothed Natalia in his rooms. Nobody saw her come in, Natalia assures him. Nobody ever does, and that doesn’t have to change. Francis looks besotted and Natalia looks sultry.

No big surprise that, when Mary drops by later to gift Francis with some pretty pebbles, that he won’t let her in. Is he alone? Francis won’t answer that, because kings don’t have to answer to their wives (though his mother, Catherine, would tell a different story) and closes the door in his royal bride’s face.

Fans of young adult or new adult dramas know that this is exactly when our heroine needs a dangerous, handsome bad boy to happen on the scene, and in Reign, that’s Sebastian, aka Bash. Bash is Francis’ half-brother, from their father’s mistress, Diane. Bash is dashing, roguish, can do what he wants and doesn’t have to be king. Basically, he’s perfect and Dad likes him better. He’s also Francis’ best friend and he brought Mary’s missing dog home. How is a young, vulnerable queen far from home supposed to ignore all of that? Hint: she can’t.

Lest we forget that Mary and Francis are all but wed, another royal wedding provides not only a chance for Mary and her ladies to witness a marital consummation (albeit through a mostly obscuring curtain) but another moment where Mary and Francis remember the good times they had as kiddos (this time, dancing as feathers rain down upon them for a reason that isn’t immediately obvious, but hey, it was pretty.) Later that night, a sleeping Mary wakes to fight off an intruder bent on divesting her of her virtue. Mary resists, and guards haul off the man, who proves to be one of her ladies’ acquaintances. This serves to remind Mary exactly what’s at stake, and of course sets up the conflict between her and Francis.

Mary demands to know if Francis ever really means to marry her. Maybe he will, Francis answers, but they have to consider more than only themselves; they have to consider their countries. Was Mary even thinking about Scotland when she caused a scene at court, asking to speak to her attacker? Well, no, but would Francis even want to marry her if they weren’t monarchs? If they were just a boy and a girl? The two almost kiss, before Francis wrenches himself away. He won’t. He can’t. Whether his angst comes from political principle or the naked Natalia back in his room, we have yet to find out.

The tale history tells is already written, but Reign’s characters are only getting started. Who knows what mischief Mary’s ladies and their potential suitors will bring to the mix, and with Nostradamus putting in his two cents on occasion, things are going to get tricky. For now, the burning question is clear: Team Francis or Team Bash?


Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.

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1. Torifl
TEAM BASH!!! Francis is a putz and needs to cut the cord.

History tells us who she eventually marries but I find this adaption of her teen years interesting.
Anna Bowling
2. AnnaBowling
@Torifl, I detect some enthusiasm there. Bash certainly does make an impression, and though history tells one tale, Reign is a whole new ballgame, so it's anybody's guess who will win Mary's heart.
3. Gerri Brousseau
I always fall for the bad boy, so I'm team BASH for sure. I love the setting and costumes. Am I the only one who noticed this, in the scene when the ladies in waiting are descending from the coach, one of them is wearing sling back pumps. I mean seriously? All in all, I liked it. Looking forward to seeing what they do with this series, because as you said, history is history.
Anna Bowling
4. AnnaBowling
@Gerri Brousseau, looks like Team Bash is in the lead so far. I didn't notice the slingback pumps, but I did note the sleeveless and strapless gowns.
5. tammye
I found it interesting but couldn't help but think about how her life ended. Damn history books ruin all the make believe fun!
Anna Bowling
6. AnnaBowling
@tammye, I know! It's an interesting concept and certainly entertaining with the inventive interpretation, but I do wonder how they're going to end the series on a satisfying note, at any stage.
8. Kikka
Thanks Anna for your perfect & funny recap about this brand new Reign (I've still to watch it properly living in Italy, but I did manage to see parts & read the rest): essentially it's a fanfiction at heart within a loosely based on history frame...that said it seems a nice guilty pleasure indeed, & since this isn't History Channel we know better, LOL! Besides about the drama ahead that we think we know from real facts I won't be surprised at all if Francis won't die at all in the end...Actually it'd be an absolute first for CW network to kill off this way a major role, they've always had their HEA, so why stop now?! About significant girly Amletic questions as TEAM BASH vs TEAM FRANCIS it's odd how on a first moment I was all for the supposed bad boy's charm (& I also have the suspect he may win Mary's heart in the end since it's the typical forbidden love that the network likes), but lately I've come to appreciate also the fresh young attitude of Francis, especially Regbo's acting has grown on me, therefore now I'm in total dilemma since I've no idea anymore who to ship...time will help me I hope! ^_^ I was a bit shocked initially for the clash of random costumes & music, let's hope it'll change a little with the next eps, I mean at least about the language, ok to keep it as a whole in English, but a bit more *class* wouldn't hurt...on the other hand I know from Gossip Girl time that CW needs to hook the teens with certain songs (but there's also great Trevor Morris, SOS! ;-D) & with a new vogue & fashion that they hope to sell them later on, business as usual, c'est la vie but I know we'll have fun watching it as well! Ciao xo
9. Kikka
PS_How cool is Ashford Castle BTW?! Breathtakingly perfect setting
10. Teazia
TEAM BASH!!!! Torrance is way hotter than Toby and who doesn't love a bad boy?

Artemis Greyson
12. Artemis Grayson
Hey! Great write up! But just an FYI reign-cw.wikia PLAGERIZED this off you. Check it out.
EX) "Mary charms Francis with her own accomplishments, that she can milk a goat and cut peat. Good skills to know, Francis allows, in case there’s ever an uprising in France."

To have them stop you have to write in here...
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