Title: Reign S1.E20 “Higher Ground”
Released: 2014
Series:  Reign

Previously on Reign: Catherine had Mary’s Scotsmen killed. Lord Nerd saved Pastry Boy from the dungeon by having him conscripted into the army, for Greer’s benefit. Francis has commandeered Mary’s promised army in order to take Calais. Catherine is worried about Henry’s increasingly erratic full-on craziness.

Wasn’t this episode the best? The insanity of it all is obviously leading up to an epic finale. I don’t know about you, but I think I’m going to need a crash helmet.

The Intrigue

  • Francis is with the army advancing on Calais, while the Duke of Guise and his men are coming in from another direction. Francis attempts to rouse the troops by risking his own life along with them. Mary is worried for Francis, even though he made off with the army intended for Scotland.

  • Quick, raise the drawbridge, de’ Medicis are coming to visit! Royals, they’re just like us. They have awful family members too. Two Medici cousins, Roman and Hortense, have arrived to visit/torment Catherine.

  • Mary goes to Catherine for help in getting her mother away from the Scottish castle that’s under siege. She knows Catherine has secret funds stashed away and begs for help. But Catherine claims to have no money.

  • A hot mercenary (played by go-to genre actor, Tahmoh Penikett) who’s been recommended by her shady uncle, meets Mary in her chambers. She tells him she “gave Catherine the option of being a human being, but she refused.” She wants him to steal Catherine’s stash of gold, preferably without bloodshed.

Not pictured: Mary, surely fanning herself.
  • Catherine goes to confession. She tells the priest she has taken the Lord’s name in vain, many times. Oh, and she ordered the assassination of a dozen Scottish visitors. And really, who hasn’t been there? She hears a thump and finds the priest unconscious on the floor before she’s abducted by a man in black. You have to wonder if the devil has come for his bride.

  • Bash and Kenna, and Lola and Julian are taking a stroll in the courtyard, during a snowstorm. It looks miserable. Kenna tries to comfort Bash, who is bummed that he’s missing out on the battle of Calais. He may also be worried about Francis. Lola gets a cramp and needs to lie down.

  • There’s a snowy battle with swords, axes, and spears. Francis is attacked and nearly a goner, when his life is saved by none other than Pastry Boy! He looks great in his soldier metal, in case you were wondering. Francis tells him that’s he’s in his debt.

Thanks to Entertainment Weekly, for understanding our Pastry Boy needs.

  • Catherine is blindfolded and deducing who’s holding her hostage. The is not her first rodeo, and she figures out exactly what’s up. She offers double the mercenary’s fee for the head of whoever hired him.

  • The castle midwife says that the suddenly hugely pregnant Lola will be fine. Julian offers to sleep elsewhere so she’ll be more comfortable. Lola tells him that she’s frightened of giving birth and asks if he’ll be with her. He doesn’t want to be. Word. Who does?

  • A ransom note is delivered to Hortense de’ Medici, who passes it on to Mary, somewhat off-handedly. And then, despite receiving a severed ear wearing Catherine’s earring, she maintains that the Medicis have a “policy” of not giving in to such demands. Probably because they can’t stand each other.

  • Francis is advancing on a castle with an army of like four soldiers. The other side has a canon. Maybe war commander isn’t Francis’s thing.

  • Lola tells Greer that Julian had been pressing the bank for her dowry money. She’s sad that it looks like he did marry her for her money, and now she loves him. Greer thinks it could still work out. She admits that she still thinks of Pastry Boy, though she’ll probably never lay eyes on him again.

  • Kenna wants Bash to feel Julian out and see if he’s legit. Bash is reluctant to get involved, because he’s smarter than Kenna. Spoiler: this does not last.

  • The hot mercenary is willing to fake Mary’s murder to get the money out of Catherine, but they’ll need a head. He tells Mary to hurry up and pick someone at court that he can kill in her stead. Ooh! Too bad Penelope is gone.

  • Yet again, Mary takes Bash into her confidence. He warns her that it’s not easy on the conscience to be responsible for the death of another.

  • Mary wants to ask Catherine’s guards what they know about the whorehouse massacre. Hortense admits that they’re her guards, simply on loan to Catherine, but that she didn’t give them the order to kill Mary’s men. Hortense threatens to squash Mary (like she plans to do to nosy maid Beatrice) if Mary is spying on her for Catherine.

  • Bash checked into Julian, because he’s a sucker. He said Julian is planning a hunting trip, with one horse, a carriage, and no hounds or hunting gear. Sounds like the dude is gonna take the money and run.

  • The hot mercenary brings Catherine a head, telling her it belonged to the person who had her kidnapped for money, a person who’s not Mary. Catherine unwraps the head of her cousin Hortense.

  • Francis and his tiny army mount a distraction, while Francis manages to blow up the enemy’s canon.

  • At Kenna’s urging, Lola tries to confront Julian about his hunting trip plans and find out if he loves her. She tells him that she can live simply and doesn’t need fancy things. He tells her that she’s everything he ever dreamed of. And then walks away. Huh.

  • Pastry Boy was injured and Francis tries to save him, while sending the other soldiers off to secure the castle and bring the Duke of Guise. Francis tells Pastry Boy that he has to live, so that Francis can reward him with lands and title, so that the woman he loves won’t be out of reach. Aw, way to be, Francis.

  • Roman de’ Medici searched Hortense’s chambers on Catherine’s orders, and reports to her that Hortense was broke and being blackmailed and that’s why she had Catherine kidnapped. Catherine still believes Mary is capable of this plot, but not the murder. Not yet, anyway.

  • Julian admits to Lola that he was going to leave and that he’s penniless and married Lola for her money. But now he loves her and was ashamed. “All I have to offer you is me.” Whoa, swoony Julian. He promises to earn her trust and that there will be no more lies.

  • The hot mercenary tells Mary that she made an excellent choice for her head stand-in. Mary justifies herself by claiming that Hortense was going to have Catherine’s maid, Beatrice, killed. She wants him to take some other men like him to rescue her mother, and supplies him with Hortense’s murdering guards, saying “they’re my monsters now.” I got chills, y’all.

History According to Reign

  • The real Prince Francis was not at the battle of Calais. He was only about 14 years old and in frail health. So, basically, he’d have been about as useless as our Francis.

  • The Medicis didn’t seem to actually have an official policy of not paying ransoms, having done so at various times in the past. Maybe that “policy” only exists when it’s Catherine that’s being held hostage?

Number of Times I Forgot I Wasn’t Watching Gossip Girl: 2

1. “You’re a queen, don’t beg! It incites sympathy, then pity, then disdain.” I have no doubt that Blair Waldorf would have been on the same page with Queen Catherine.

2. Kenna wanting Bash to get the goods on Julian is so delightfully juvenile.

Why do something yourself when you can send a spy to do it?

Next: The darkness (sigh), mad Henry, and Catherine telling Mary “you and I are going to kill the king of France.”


Kandis (she/her) is a proud member of the Austin FYA book club chapter who loves vampires, romance novels, live tweeting CW shows, and Jonah Griggs. She’s not like a regular mom. She’s a cool mom.