Reign Season 1 Review “Slaughter of Innocence”

Slaughter of Innocence

While the first half of Reign’s first season was very much what people expected – a soap opera that just happened to be focused on Mary Queen of Scots, her friends and her suitors but, despite the iffy synopsis, it became one of the best and most surprising debut shows of the year. After the business of who Mary was going to marry was over, however, things swiftly changed. Gone was the teen drama of pre-Christmas Reign and in came a dark, sometimes gritty, always ludicrous period drama about the trials of a capable young queen.

This season finale, ‘Slaughter of the Innocence’, then, feels like a capper to only this second run of episodes, with the naive young royal that arrived at French Court only hinted at in nostalgic whispers. Gone is the thought that Francis and Mary are some romantic endgame romance, as is the notion of any sort of love triangle, and we are instead dealing with the various impossible decisions they are having to make on a weekly basis. Mad King Henry has provided a compelling villain for them to fight against – at least more compelling that whatever or whoever the darkness turned out to be – but the resolution to that conflict here doesn’t really address the problems of Mary, her husband and her surviving ladies.

While Mary and Francis have the weight of their respective countries on their shoulders, the strain on Lola, Greer, Bash et al are offered no less dramatic weight. Lola’s fate is the big cliffhanger this finale leaves us with, with her and her baby’s life hanging in the balance as Francis rides off to meet his new heir, and I’m kind of glad the resolution to Reign’s most soapy storyline has been left until after the summer break. There was just no room to really delve into Francis’ reaction to the last minute reveal Mary decides to give him and, if the threat of the fast-spreading plague turns out to be one of season two’s bad guys, then it’s best left until later.

Because Francis is king now after assassinating his father via eye-splinter, and the grief and remorse tied to that will likely shape his character across the next year. Disregarding how awesome Mary always is, that scene between the two brothers in which Francis counters Bash’s respectful kneel with a bromancey hug was the best moment of the hour, and a good step in the right direction for their dynamic. CW shows sometimes forget to craft non-romantic relationships with any sort of depth, but that moment showed that someone behind the scenes has rejected that network memo.

Now that the dust has settled, we can look back on Reign’s first season as an utterly surprisingly and constantly entertaining ride of a television show, completely rejecting the instant criticism it received when announced and becoming one of the best things the CW has done in years. And now we have a second, hopefully more confident, season to look forward to – long live Reign!

What did you think of the episode, and the season? Will Lola survive? Can Mary and Francis survive yet another blow to their relationship? What are your hopes for season two? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.