Although it may not be the most historically accurate show on television, Reign’s second season does an excellent job of keeping viewers hooked on the series thanks to ensemble cast and various storylines – which sees almost every character dealing with some form of romance and heartache.
Reign: The Complete Second Season collects all 22 episodes and includes a “behind the scenes” featurette with the cast. The “Playing by Her Rules: A Day on Set with a Queen and Her Court” follows Adelaide Kane from make-up and wardrobe to blocking and shooting several scenes. It also includes short interviews with other cast members about what it is like shooting the series and the work that goes into its detailed production. There is also an assortment of deleted scenes from various episodes.
The second season finds Queen Mary Stuart (Kane) and her husband King Francis (Toby Regbo) trying to settle into their new roles as rulers of France as well as trying to conceive a child to secure their throne. The season picks up where Season One ended with Francis heading out to help Lola (Anna Popplewell) with the birth of their child right as his country is dealing with the return of the Black Death. The opening episode also introduces Francis’ cousin Louis Condé (Sean Teale) – a rival for his throne and for Mary’s heart.
Once they get the plague out of the way, Francis and Mary have to deal with several other threats during the season – including a brewing civil war between the Catholics and the Protestants; the fallout of a raid on the castle (which shatters Mary’s happy world); a separation that leaves Francis looking for a mistress and Mary romancing Condé; and an internal threat from Lord Narcisse (Craig Parker).
Other characters also suffer heartbreak and hardship this season as Sebastian (Torrance Coombs) and Kenna (Caitlin Stasey) separate; Greer (Celina Sinden) is banned from court and starts a new life as the owner of a brothel; and Queen Catherine’s (the incredible Megan Follows) various schemes finally catch up to her.
Although it is not big on historical accuracy, Reign does follow the basic events of the actual Francis and Mary – which leads to Francis’ days on the series being numbered. Several additions are written into the season, but they all add to the drama and keep the show entertaining. This season opened up the storylines and took the audience out of the castle thanks to new threats to the crown and the growing presence of Mary’s cousin Queen Elizabeth. The season ends with a great cliffhanger that promises Elizabeth to have an even greater role in the third season.
Reign still has some problems (the court romance gets a tad much from time to time as characters fall in and out of love quickly), but the lush production values and large ensemble cast keep the series entertaining. The addition of the religious civil war gave the season a bigger scope, and interest beyond the courtly love affairs of Season One.
The young cast of actors has settled into their roles, and seems to be trying to make the most of the rushed character development the writers put into the season. Several of the romance storylines feel forced this season (Kenna falls for a visiting noble practically overnight ending her relationship with Sebastian), but they make the most of it. The writers also up the action this season as Sebastian and Francis fight various plots to overthrow the crown.
Like she did in Season One, Megan Follows continues to steal every scene she is in as Catherine. The talented actress always seems to be scheming to get rid of Mary – even when she appears to be truly trying to help her after the castle attack. Follows will come across as loving to Mary and then give the camera a glance as if to tell the audience she is about to put the dagger in Mary’s back. It is a brilliant performance from start to finish.
Although it has problems and won’t appeal to everyone, Reign manages to entertain thanks to its blend of romance and history. The writers of the series do an excellent job making all the characters matter, and the season ends with a cliffhanger that leaves you wanting to see where Reign goes next.