They say history is written by the victors, so Reign must be reigning victorious because this show is pretty much better than the real thing. And no, it’s not just because we love looking at the clothes (seriously, denim needs to get its act together). Call us geeks, but we absolutely can’t resist getting some learning done while we snack away on popcorn and catch up on one of history’s most impressive ladies, Mary Queen of Scots. Especially when she and new hubby Francis have just become the new king and queen of France while still dealing with, you know, unexpected pregnancies, charming half-brothers and a nasty sounding plague.
Of course, only some of that really happened to the real Mary, but sometimes history needs a bit of help spicing things up.
Francis had brothers thanks to his parents’ marriage, but he didn’t have any half-siblings from his father’s long relationship with mistress Diane de Poitiers. That includes a steamy, half-wild brother named Sebastian who’s just as good at surviving the woods as he is at stealing our hearts. History let us down on this one.
Henry II’s gruesome death by lance probably seemed like drummed up operatics, but the king actually did die from a joust gone wrong, head wound and all. In reality, the king was killed by the captain of the Scottish Guard (no tie to Mary). Where Reign really had fun knocking the king from the throne and the saddle was when they revealed Francis was the culprit and it was no accident. Regicide and patricide? Now that’s a scandal.
(Also this hug. Oh man, this hug.)
The real Francis II was apparently a pretty sick kid and, even worse in some books, short. His health, young age and general inexperience meant that when the real Francis inherited the throne, he didn’t get the power that went with it. Aside from the fact that we’re quite the fans of a healthy looking Toby Regbo, we really want to see the young monarchs take charge after everything they’ve been through. And you know, boldly stroll around in armour some more.
Alright, it is entirely possible there was a cute-as-all-get-out cook in Henry’s kitchen who had a smooth way with one particular lady-in-waiting. Unfortunately, before the rise of Gordon Ramsay they weren’t the kind of people to make the history books and we can’t say for sure the lovely Leith ever existed. But if Reign had stuck to those rules, we would all be missing out.
It sounds like a cruel trick, or the kind of parenting that thinks it’s cute to dress identical twins the same and make life harder on everyone, but when Mary was sent to France her four ladies-in-waiting were all called Mary too. On top of the massive headache it would have given us to just try and keep the characters straight, how would we have been able to tell Mash from Frary?
Catherine’s (near) execution
We love Catherine (like, love-love) and hated seeing her locked up and nearly executed in Season 1, something the real Catherine de’ Medici never had to deal with. But you know what? This fictional lady knows how to plan a party and her execution was no exception. In fact, it was such a do that it basically got turned into a royal wedding instead, while the queen of our hearts sashayed off to cause more trouble and hopefully start a party planning side-business.
Given the health of historical Francis, he certainly didn’t run off to Paris for a tryst with his fiancée’s lady while she nearly married his brother. That of course means no Frola baby. And while this is bound to become a big problem for Francis and Mary — who never had kids of their own — we kind of love it when the drama hits the fan on Reign, and this should be no exception.
(But like, sorry not sorry)
The young queen
You know how icky it felt when you found out Juliet was only 13 when she shacked up with Romeo and then poisoned herself because FedEx wasn’t as reliable back then? Mary and Francis married when she was 15 and he was 14. We’re really happy Reign opted for an older cast — especially for all those marital bliss moments.
By the time Mary and Francis were taking over France, pagans were the least of the royal couple’s worries. The bigger issue was the growing number of Protestants in Scotland who didn’t want a Catholic queen and didn’t feel bad rebelling over it. But Season 1 was stressful enough, and those scenes in the woods were fantastically creepy.
In between saving Mary from Catherine’s pretty nasty plots (we forgive most of them) and killing poor Aylee, we were never entirely sure what to think of Clarissa. And even if it basically goes without saying that Catherine didn’t have an illegitimate daughter, the fact that we never knew what extreme stunt she would pull next made her the most terrifying thing in the castle. So…someone should figure out where she is. Soon.
The mad king
If there was anything more brilliant than Henry’s madness at the end of his life, we can’t think of it. Unfortunately, the real Henry never seemed to have as a many problems with his own sanity. But hey, if that’s your thing you should check out England’s Henry VIII, the likely inspiration for Reign. Everyone loves a mad king, right?
Okay, yes. We’re also here for the fashion. The 16th century was a conservative one, for all that they got way into draping fabrics and stunning bling. That definitely wouldn’t fly in the modern age, which is why we can’t get over how Reign has managed to copy the styles while still making them stunning and modern. And for one last time, let’s just talk about this dress:
Oddly enough, that stuff with Nostradamus isn’t too far off the mark…
Reign airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on M3 and Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV Two.