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Reign, season two

I have suffered for your sins, my readers. I watched the second season of Reign, a show very very loosely based on the life of Mary Queen of Scots, and one of the most gloriously terrible television shows ever to hit our screens.

Here's what you missed:

1. Lola taking a bath. This, as it turned out, was a major plot point. Not making this up.

2. A return to the entire Lola taking a bath plot, as an even MORE major plot point this time, complete with SCANDAL and CHARACTER DECEPTIONS and TERRIBLE COSTUMES.

3. Fraternal twin ghosts who initially seemed OUT FOR BLOOD and later turned out to be OUT FOR A SNOWBALL FIGHT.

4. Characters rather understandably deciding that rather than pay attention to, say, the deadly fights between Catholics and Protestants and various extras constantly dying around them, they should go off and read a sex journal and frolic in a fountain. And then going and doing just this.

5. Catherine d'Medici getting her feet poked at by birds, and later forced to spend an entire scene inside a metal tank sealed around her neck like yes, I am also not making this up.

6. Also, Catherine d'Medici getting oral sex from a ghost. No. Really.

7. The arrival of King Antoine of Navarre (someone the show seemed to occasionally confuse with his son, Henri of Navarre, later Henri IV of France, because this is not really the sort of show that cares about those sorts of differences) who initially, alas, didn't seem to stand out much among all of the other characters, so the show had him throw an orgy and then threaten people which meant that he still didn't stand out that much among all of the other characters.

8. Francis going ahead and becoming king and then being just terrible at kinging.

9. Mary, Queen of Scots becoming a passionate defender of religious tolerance and Protestants.

I know, I know.

THIS SHOW.

10. A character getting sacrificed to cure another character's ear infection, and by "sacrificed," I mean "gently killed with poison and given a nice sad death scene while another person happily noted that this was saving the sacrificed person a lot of grief," like, THIS SHOW.

11. Another character covering her chest with blood and then having sex with a random servant during a siege like you know, everyone has their own ways to celebrate what might be their last moments on the planet, or, in this case, possibly the show.

(This was apparently supposed to be some blood ritual meant to remind us that a) pagans, the people who live in the woods and chant a lot about blood, were on this show back in the first season, and b) give two characters some sort of soul bond which will allow them to feel each other's pain or whatever. I would be kinda interested in where this is going except that I'm pretty sure that, like the ghosts, it's going to end up going to either sex or snowball fights.)

12. The show's first gay couple, who turned out to be easily blackmailed priests. So that was nice.

13. Yet another love triangle for Mary Queen of Scots only less interesting for the most part since new Love Triangle Guy (called by the show Louis, Prince of Conde, something that I'm sure the ghost of the real Louis, Prince of Conde, has his ghost lawyers on top of right now since if ever a television show could be accused of libeling a French aristocrat, this show would be it) was very boring until a knife got brought out and even then.

(Love triangles, done right, can be awesome – as a recent episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. demonstrated, and Reign has managed decent love triangles before. This wasn't one of them, mostly because Mary had a number of other less boring love triangle options available.)

14. A rather unexpected touch of historical accuracy as Mary Queen of Scots kept making terrible decision after terrible decision after terrible decision. Actually this one makes the historical one look rather sensible, restrained, and in complete control of her emotions. Especially because with the historical one, I can at least explain it by "She thought Bothwell was one hot, sexy dude," which if not exactly borne out by the pictures we have of Bothwell, at least offers an explanation, whereas with the TV Mary I usually have no idea why she is doing anything that she's doing.

15. Catherine d'Medici strangling someone and banging said someone on the floor and NOBODY ELSE NOTICING THIS AT ALL. It's good to be queen.

16. A great moment when a brothel madam looked down at the attractive man kneeling before her, earnestly offering honorable marriage, and said, nah, I'm good. Thanks.

17. An amazing insistence by the show that prostitution is a solid road to wealth, success, and excellent champagne. Also, poisoning opportunities.

18. In a related scene, Kenna, celebrating that the three ladies in waiting are all now fallen women in one way or another which means they need to drink up. You go, Kenna, you go!

19. Toby Regbo, who plays Francis, learning to act, if not quite convince us that he is a king until the finale when he went into a SHRIEKING FORCE OF RAGE on a chained up prisoner in a dungeon along with a few other moments which if not exactly strictly kingly did convince me that Francis knows his way around a dungeon, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

A few of the other actors also leveled up, meaning that this is no longer a show where Megan Follows (Catherine d'Medici) acts, and everyone else is just sorta there. I am as surprised as you are. But for those tuning in for the bad acting: fear not. Leith is still on the show.

20. And, as I hoped, Elizabeth I of England showed up, looking nicely demented, quite possibly because despite a nice attempt to put a collar thing on her, her gown was not exactly like any of the gowns the historical Elizabeth wears in her various portraits, and when I say "not exactly like" I mean "not at all alike." This bodes well for the third season, although not that well – Elizabeth I seems to be interested in the boring Conde guy. Aim higher, Elizabeth! Much higher! Or at least more interesting.

One warning: For some unclear reason, Reign decided to throw a rape plot into all of this, and although I thought the rape itself was handled as well as rapes on television are ever handled (that is, not well), and wasn't, in my opinion, overly graphic, I thought the aftermath was handled rather less well, so if not very well handled rape storylines aren't your thing, I would recommend skipping the middle of the season, or the show altogether.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
swan_tower
Nov. 1st, 2015 10:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you confirming that nope, I still don't want to watch this show.

(I could forgive a lot of terrible history if they just gave me costume porn. BUT THEY CAN'T EVEN DO THAT RIGHT.)

Out of curiosity, is the second season of Flash substantially better than the first? I found the first one overwhelmingly disappointing, but I'll give it a second chance if it's gotten its act together.
mariness
Nov. 1st, 2015 11:07 pm (UTC)
So far, four episodes in, I think the second season of Flash is actually a little worse than the first season.

The biggest problem is a lack of focus. It's already developed Barry into a superpowered hero, so there's not much there for the show to play with. Thanks to a narrative stunt over on Arrow, it can't really do anything with its Big Bad until April. And it's having to spend time introducing spinoff characters. The spinoff thing is also happening over on Arrow, but there, those two characters were already involved in the narrative. On Flash, it's, oh, yes, well, a new actor is coming in to play the other half of Firestorm, so let's pause things while we introduce that guy.

The result is that Arrow, after a very up and down season last year, is having a pretty good season so far - we'll see how things go - and is returning to asking the hard questions again, while Flash is just meandering.

We'll see if this changes after the mid season finales of both shows, when the Legends characters finally go off for their own thing with the occasional crossovers.
abigail_n
Nov. 2nd, 2015 07:12 am (UTC)
It's the big questions thing that is making me seriously prefer Arrow over Flash this season. I have problems with how Arrow has transitioned into full-on heroics and abandoned its roots in economic issues and inequality, and this season isn't exactly a return to that. But just by raising the fact that there's a limited utility to a guy who beats up criminals in a mask, the show is saying something that hardly any other superhero show is.

Flash, meanwhile, seems to have taken its light tone as a license to do anything, no matter how morally suspect, with no consequences. So in four episodes Barry has committed two premeditated murders, and is illegally imprisoning a third person, and neither he nor anyone on his team seems to care. Also, the stuff with Iris, Joe and her mother makes me want to throw my TV out the window.
mariness
Nov. 2nd, 2015 01:17 pm (UTC)
Oh, )(*)(*, the Iris stuff.

Yeah. Let's take one of the most complained about plot lines from last season - everyone keeps lying to Iris for no reason - and repeat it, with Joe lying to Iris again for no reason. At least on Arrow people usually have good reasons for lying. Iris is a grown adult. There's no reason not to tell her that her mother is alive, a deadbeat, and back in town. None. There was no reason not to tell her this YEARS ago - back in high school, at the latest. I want to like Joe, and I thought the actors did a great job of selling the scene, but I was annoyed to be watching the scene in the first place.

I figured the straight out murdering bad guys was a way of avoiding another fan complaint from last season - the just throwing bad guys into cells that apparently don't have bathrooms without a trial - and then Flash threw someone into a cell without due process all over again, so I was wrong about that.

I also remain irked that although Barry did experience some guilt over pretty much creating a black hole over a major city, nearly killing everyone there (something worse than anyone other than Malcolm has done over on Arrow so far), the result was "Yay, let's have a Flash Day!" and Barry's guilt in this made equivalent, in script, to Caitlin's guilt about putting her career first and not going off with Ronnie, like, not the same thing, show. I know the Flash Day thing is from the comics, but maybe not have it in the same episode where Barry is still repairing property damage from the black hole?

And that's all apart from the pacing problems. Though I did like the shark.

Meanwhile, after what I thought was a pretty up and down third season over on Arrow - well, yeah, this season the heroic stuff for some characters is a bit, shall we say, unearned (I have no idea why the Green Arrow is a symbol of hope at this point, regardless of whether or not he operates in the light or the darkness. He just blew up a train. Moving on!) most of the time, the characters still have pretty solid reasons for lying to each other - I wouldn't be telling people about my dealings with Damien either. I liked the Quentin/Oliver stuff, and I think that Arrow is back to at least starting to ask some of the questions again. I foresee some more upcoming silliness with Ray where that will all get ignored, but that's probably just going to be a four to five episode sideplot, and in the meantime, so far, this season feels a lot more unified/stronger than last season.
abigail_n
Nov. 2nd, 2015 03:18 pm (UTC)
I saw someone on tumblr try to argue that the subplot about Iris's mother indicates that Joe is growing and learning to respect his daughter, because he came to her instead of continuing to keep the secret until she found out on her own, the way she did with Barry. But I don't buy that. For one thing, Joe only told the truth once it became necessary - if Francine had stayed away, he might never have told Iris about her. For another, this ignores the fact that Joe is on thin ice and should know this. After last year, he should have realized that he needed to come forward about this huge lie ASAP or risk losing Iris forever, and he didn't. The fact that none of this has shown up on the show - that the purpose of the whole storyline seems to be introducing Wally West rather than Iris as a character - is seriously pissing me off.

Barry's guilt in this made equivalent, in script, to Caitlin's guilt about putting her career first and not going off with Ronnie, like, not the same thing, show

Yes, good point. I think in general superhero shows have a tendency to argue that we should overlook huge failures of this type because the heroes are so well-intentioned and care so much (Agents of SHIELD is terrible on this front). But you know, if you arrogate to yourself this sort of power and authority, and mess up on a scale of nearly destroying a city, you should too feel guilt about it, and maybe reevaluate the whole vigilante thing. (But then, Flash never quite acknowledges that Barry is a vigilante, does it? Neither does AoS.)

I have no idea why the Green Arrow is a symbol of hope at this point

I think the argument is that things are so bad in Star City that it's willing to cling to a figure who was very marginal only a few years ago. I'm more bothered by the fact that it isn't taken as a given that Oliver is the Green Arrow. He was publicly linked to the Arrow just recently, the person who took the fall for him was completely the wrong size, and it's not like he doesn't have a distinctive chin.
swan_tower
Nov. 1st, 2015 11:47 pm (UTC)
Ugh. Okay, I'm going to continue to steer clear. Thanks for the rundown!
mariness
Nov. 2nd, 2015 01:22 pm (UTC)
I really wish Reign had left out the rape plot, because otherwise I could continue to recommend this show as gloriously bad television, complete with ghosts skilled at oral sex. As it is I have to hesitate.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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