Sorry, Sleepy Hollow: Reign saw your headless horseman and raised you a French court complete with a supernatural spirit protecting a young! sexy! teenage! Mary, Queen of Scots as she works her way through the social and political minefield that was royalty at the time.
History buffs are sure to be disappointed by The CW getting into the politics of 16th century French court (Francis II of France was not so much a stud as he was sickly), but for those of us who are looking for an over-the-top costume drama by the people who brought you 90210, welcome to your new favorite show.
The premiere showcased Mary’s (Adelaide Kane) arrival at court, and — just like in high school — it’s hard to be the new girl. She meets up with her Anthropologie-dressed ladies in waiting, and awkwardly meets the Dauphin of France, Francis. (Toby Regbo)…and his hot half-brother Bash (Torrance Coombs), who looks like a Vampire Diaries castoff who already has an Oscar in smoldering.
There’s something rotten in the state of France: Seer Nostradamus has told Francis’ mother, Queen Catherine (Megan Follows), that the marriage between her son and Mary cannot happen, because Mary “will cost Francis his life.” (History spoiler alert: Francis’ future isn’t great.) But worrying about death is for the olds — the teenagers at court have Francis’ sister’s wedding party to attend!
As they get ready to dance barefoot together to The Lumineers (and Doris Kearns Goodwin rolls her eyes), an overwhelmed Mary finds herself alone in a room while a mysterious voice tells her not to drink the wine at the party tonight. But when Mary opens the door to see who is there…no one appears, you guys. Is the castle haunted? Is the little girl at the nunnery actually a witch of some kind? Does this show have a weird supernatural element running through it? Did you forget for a second you were watching The CW? NEVER FORGET.
At the wedding party, sexy new guy Colin tries to get Mary to drink the wine, but she’s too busy dancing with her friends. She’s not too busy, however, to sneak off and watch people get busy (hey-O!), a.k.a. a bedding ceremony. This is the part of the show that drew headlines earlier this week; originally, there was a much more extended scene of the one girl touching herself before the King joins in (“May I?”). But this time around, viewers still get the idea, if not the HBO visuals.
Because Mary didn’t drink the roofied wine, when Colin comes to her bed that night to rape her (!) and thereby make her unfit to marry Francis, she awakes and screams instead. Colin is hauled off and beheaded, and Mary lives to fight another day. She doesn’t know it yet, but Queen Catherine orchestrated the whole thing and clearly has more tricks up her sleeve to try and stop the marriage.
-Half-brother Bash is clearly being set up as the third part of the royalty love triangle; hope he gets to hook up with a few of the ladies in waiting while Mary crushes his heart. I also hope he is modeled after Prince Harry and gets into all kinds of antics.
-Francis and Mary meeting for the first time outside the castle was the most painfully awkward moment I saw on television this year. “Nice legs,” Francis mumbles. “Yes, I have legs,” Mary might as well have replied.
-”Kings do not answer to their wives!” So clearly Francis isn’t going to be “the good brother” either.
-It’ll be interesting to see how the pacing of this show works, and whether each episode covers days or weeks at a time; the will-they, won’t-they window is much smaller in the 16th century.
-”History just got all sexypants” is the tagline to the Broadway show Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson, but it sums up everything that is going on here as well. In The CW’s attempt to make a teenage Game of Thrones (and also taking the same sexy liberties The Tudors took with historical figures), the premiere was a promisingly ridiculous soapy hour. EW critic Melissa Maerz called the show “good, frothy fun.”
Agreed? Will you continue to watch? And is this show not the perfect crazy, over-the-top Thursday night pairing for Scandal?