Francis, the poor Prepubescent Wonder, begins his first sad mewlings towards the power of kingship. He exerts his fledgling authority when Mary asks him to convince his father to send armies to help Scotland defend itself against the English. First, he tries to appeal to his royal douchebag-ness King Henry through reason, using the logic of risk/reward to make a case for sending troops to Scotland and quickly quelching the war. When this fails, Francis tries blunt force, challenging his father to a duel and learning the hard way that royals lie. Finally, when backed into a corner and threatened with losing the woman he finds himself loving, Francis uses the true tool of royalty--blackmail. Henry's confronted with his own son's threats, nods his head and says "finally." Finally, the weak-willed heir is using the means Henry sees as necessary. When the plans backfire and Bash lies mortally wounded, it only serves to reinforce the lesson. Kings must be ruthless, must be heartless if they are to act for what's best for their country. And even though Francis did act as correctly as he possibly could, he now sees the risk in being so frivolous.
What's interesting is that Henry is operating without knowledge of all the machinations in effect here. He is the only one politically invested in the marriage between Francis and Mary (they are in it for love, and Evil Anne Queen would prefer it not happening at all). And yet Henry remains unaware of Portugal's threatening of the engagement. So all his plottings and declarations of what a king should be like are done under the false assumption that even with inaction, his alliance with Scotland is secure. If he knew of Portugal, wouldn't he behave differently? And why wouldn't Francis use that information to spur him to action, rather than waste a trump card like Henry's infidelity?
Mary, for her part, acts with more grace and power under her situation. After all, she is already a queen, and has already been dealing with the subtle politics of court. Her very presence in the French court gives her more negotiation experience than the wispy Francis, and though out of her depth she wields her title like a champ. Mary wisely uses her inexplicable feelings for young Francis to get him on her side and working for her benefit. When that fails to work, she makes some very clever connections and attempts to buy Portugal's armies with promises of timber. It's a savvy move, and it almost pays off in the way she wants.
The trouble comes again with the lack of the entire picture. While Mary figured she was negotiating with favored bastard Tomas, who in her mind was powerless, she was actually working with a man who had just been granted the Pope's go-ahead to be the next king of Portugal. This becomes more complex when Tomas reveals he's taken a fancy to Mary, and will send her men if she marries him. Which frustratingly illustrates the lack of control Mary will always have. Though she is a queen, and knows how to operate on a national skill, Mary's sex will never allow her to have the power she is due. In the end, though she maneuvers royally, her greatest weapon will be her marriage. The timber trade would have been enough for most alliances, but this young pretty sovereign makes kings demand more.
Which, though unfortunate in it's implications, is not altogether a bad thing. Tomas is absolutely dreamy, and the thought that she would even hesitate at jumping on that Portuguese bandwagon is a bit laughable. Mary's choices are between France, with its inhospitable court and a prince who is waiting for his voice to drop, and Portugal, which offers an incredibly attractive and powerful prince who's crazy about Mary and would offer Scotland anything it asks. From the outsider perspective, the choice does not seem that difficult.
Adelaide Kane somehow manages to convincingly sell Mary's discomfort with Tomas's advances, using skeptic glances and arched eyebrows to her advantage. The standout is her response to a ludicrous Latin dance sequence, as she remains stiff and uncomfortable while Tomas handsily praces around her. Still, Mary's allegiance and desires somehow remain with Francis. While Mary and Francis try to make their engagement work, Bash's wound leaves Francis feeling more incapable than ever. He kisses her in an awkward scene that looks like a middle schooler putting the moves on a teacher, and tells Mary to wed Tomas. The show ends with no one in power, save the possible exception of Nostradamus, whose patchwork visions of Portugal fighting the English start coming to fruition.
-King Henry remains the biggest tool in the toolbox, as he pressures slutty LiW to sleep with him, and starts toying with her when she asks for more time. Even if he is as good a kisser as she declare, that is NOT WORTH IT girl. Drop his royal jerkwad and move on with life.
-The complications of being a woman are continued in innocent LiW's love life, which is so boring I can't even write about it without yawning. Basically she's so poor that she needs to marry well to save her family, but she's falling in love with a servant. There you go, necessary CW parts of Reign all present and accounted for.
-Nostradamus in particular continues to be awesome, particularly when Henry tries to force him to be the amusing court psychic. Instead Nostradamus provides fortune cookie predictions until he is pressed for more, and suddenly he is bluntly and unapologetically dark. The mystery around his alliances is hinted at, which makes me wish more of this show spotlighted Nostradamus.
-Evil Anne Queen is not given many scenes this episode (much to my chagrin), but her squeal of delight at the silly Latin music more than proves her worth.