Is this going to be the week when Francis dies? This is pretty much my first thought with every episode now. Even as this week kicked off with Mary and Francis going sailing together and being generally adorable since Francis had been feeling better, there is always the sense that it’s only a matter of time. Their date is cut short by a letter from Mary’s mother who is ruling over Scotland in her absence, saying that Queen Elizabeth is pushing harder, which they can only suspect is because the other queen has learned of Francis’ illness. Even more unfortunately, this leads in to more screen time for the “virgin” queen.
Over in England, Elizabeth is being pressured to consider a marital alliance with Spain, something Mary has already been working towards. Don Carlos quickly makes an appearance (do the writer’s not realize that these people would not have been able to hop on a plane and go for a visit in a matter of days?) and wastes no time getting down to the bones of his negotiations with Elizabeth. He’s Catholic, she’s protestant. She’s also notoriously fickle when it comes to her suitors. He’s unsurprisingly charming right off the bat and Elizabeth is clearly pleased (though her married boy toy can be seen skulking in the shadows, none too happy). Later on, he tries to convince Elizabeth to stay with him, but doesn’t have any real plans to offer, and Elizabeth seems to be quickly losing interest, though not as quickly as I suspect the rest of us have.
Meanwhile, Mary is doing her best to give her mother what she needs in order to hold off the English, and Prince Charles seems to have stepped up to the plate by offering some input on the military situation. Their plan of course goes horribly wrong, because that’s the speed this show goes, and Catherine is quick to point out that she should have been consulted. Of course, she’s been busy herself now that she’s out of her cell. She’s making a play to be elected regent should Charles be crowned king and has to win over the Privy Council, who for the most part, aren’t big fans of Catherine’s.
Even Narcisse is using his honeymoon with Lola as a ploy to try and gain a vote for himself (through John) on the council to keep Catherine from retaliating against him for his marriage. Still waiting for Lola to do something more active and become a significant character again, especially since it’s starting to look like we’re really not getting Kenna back. Greer’s plot only does marginally more to include her in the central plot. She now owns an alehouse of her own (I think? It’s not an out and out brothel, right? Just a secret brothel?), and uses it to help Mary give false information to the English, as well as facilitate a few other smaller plot points. At least Greer’s new business can serve as a central, non-castle, set piece.
The episode ended by recreating Nostradamus’ initial vision that marrying Mary would mean the death of Francis, except… he didn’t die?! What? Charles and Bash brought Delphine in at the last minute, maybe later as Francis had already died (bringing with it a heart wrenching goodbye from his wife) and brought him back after Mary had agreed to pay the cost of using magic (I still wish there weren’t any supernatural elements to this show), which we’ve already established is a life for a life. Mary was willing to die so her husband could live, but of course it wasn’t that simple… she is the main character of the show. So not long after Francis gasped his way back into the world of the living, Mary’s mother passed away in Scotland, ensuring that Mary’s decision would have the potential to cost Mary her country.
So what does this mean for Francis? Is it possible Nostradamus’ vision has been subverted by Delphine’s interference? Historically, Francis dies young, but this show hasn’t been afraid to take liberties with history. It’s clearly not the central focus. And it would be easier to keep the show in France rather than rebuilding with a new Scottish based cast. I guess we’ll need to wait and see, but I have to admit, the show at least managed to pull all of these wayward plot points together, when I really didn’t think they would. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the direction. I’ll take the addition of Elizabeth and her politics over the magical element and historical divergence, but this show rarely disappoints and I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.
Next week’s review will be delayed by a few days as I’m travelling, but I can’t wait to see where we go from here!