Is it possible to find true love out of an arranged marriage that no one wants to take place? What happens when your allies become your enemies? That's part of the premise behind the CW's new show "Reign," which followed one young woman's quest to become a powerful ruler, or die trying. The results have been done before repeatedly, but the familiar story was now told through the eyes of a young girl poised to be a great ruler. It's too early whether this narrative approach will be a blessing in disquise or a complete mistake.
"Reign" followed Mary Stuart (Adelaide Kane) who was destined to be the future Queen of Scotland, but she was forced to live at a convent until she was old enough to adjust to her dangerous title. She was also painfully aware that she would always be in constant danger of getting murdered or betrayed in the worst way possible by someone close to her. After a near death experience, Mary was sent to live in France to formalize her long running engagement with Prince Francis (Toby Regbo). She crossed paths with the Prince's half brother Sebastian (Torrance Coombs) who also had a strong connection to Mary, even though she could never be with him. Francis' mother Queen Catherine (Megan Follows) did not want the marriage to take place, because she was told by her seer Nostradamus that marrying Mary would cost Francis his life. The Queen had planned to first derail the marriage through destroying Mary's reputation, but that went awry when Mary was warned beforehand. Unfortunately, the Queen also had to contend with King Henry's (Alan Van Sprang) wandering eye that could cause an even bigger scandal if he wasn't too careful. Luckily, Mary had her ladies-in-waiting; Greer (Celina Sinden), Kenna (Caitlin Stasey), Lola (Anna Popplewell) and Aylee (Jenessa Grant) to support her. Will they stick around after a personal tragedy strikes one of them directly?
In terms of questions, the show's biggest one was whether it could cover new ground of making a historical figure more relatable in the modern world. Kane has given viewers a new understanding of what made the future Queen of Scotland tick, but she wasn't given much to do in the premiere besides deliver either a look of shock or confusion at a particular moment. She showed some promise by making her version of Mary to be the purest of individuals that hasn't been corrupted by power yet. Unfortunately, the show seemed to be struggling with finding a way to keep viewers interested in a character, Kane's Mary, who was lost in a totally separate story from the rest of the cast. Kane's character was supposed to be the central focus, but she sometimes felt like a supporting player instead of a leading lady. The premiere episode should've focused a little more on Mary's past and what led her to becoming the potential Queen she is now, but the first 10 minutes felt rushed in order for her to get to France to meet Francis. An extra few minutes could've made a much bigger difference and give viewers some new insight into the character before the actual story began. Let's hope that future episodes will give viewers more of an opportunity to understand Kane's Mary through flashbacks and to help explain the motives of other characters as well. The show's premiere also needed to find a way to flesh out the possible triangle between Mary, Francis and Sebastian in order for viewers to decide properly. The writers also need to spend time exploring Francis' background as well, because the premiere made Regbo's character come off as a young rule who had trouble deciding whether he wanted his independence or to rule France. The show would be better off starting at a slower pace before kicking the love triangle plot into high gear so that viewers can fall in love along with Mary rather than rushing the story along too soon. Only time will tell if that's the case.
As for breakout stars, Coombs and Follows led the pack as two very different people who held different purposes for Kane's naive Mary. Coombs' Sebastian had the potential of being a historical bad boy who had the typical charm and danger with the right amount of vulnerability that made women flock to his character in droves. He embodied the character with a sense of boyish wonder that allowed the character to have grand adventures because he wasn't going to be King like his brother. Coombs' most memorable scene came in the middle of the premiere when he warned Mary to not go after her dog in the woods. He was purposefully vague about the reasons, but Coombs certainly convinced viewers that Mary should listen to his advice. Follows, on the other hand, was the show's resident villainess who loved her son enough to do some very wicked things to keep him alive. She embodied Catherine with the right amount of maternal instinct and malice that made the character a force to be reckoned with. Follows also made Catherine look a little vulnerable as well, because she was following someone else's vision as her guideline to commit some brutal crimes. The show's biggest plot twist would be the Catherine's seer was lying to her the whole time in an effort to further his own agenda. Sadly, that plot twist will likely never happen, but it would be interesting to see how Follows' Catherine would react to such a betrayal. Fingers crossed that Follows will get to further explore Catherine's light and dark sides with equal measure, while making Kane's Mary an admirable foe that could go head-to-head with the Queen down the line.
"Reign" premiered on October 17th and airs Thursdays at 9:00 pm on the CW
Verdict: Kane, Regbo and Coombs have an interesting love triangle story brewing, but it's too early to tell how the story will truly turn out just yet. Hopefully, a future episodes will give viewers a chance to decide which brother is better suited for Kane's Mary.
TV Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)