The story of Mary, Queen of Scots is retold in a more dramatized and folkish manner in the CW’s Reign, which concluded after four seasons in 2017. The historical drama is set primarily in France but later expands to England and Scotland, where Mary also reigns. Being a historical fiction about royals, the series is all about power plays.
The royals are often left to a battle of wits rather than swords, especially when it comes to strategies of attack and political arrangements. They are also sometimes brought into contact with the poorer citizens of their society, those who are uneducated and disadvantaged. This gives pause to characters like Mary, who feels guilty that others have been dealt such a hand in life.
Bash is Henry’s bastard son who has lived a life in the shadow of his half-brother, Francis. He despises and spurns the royal lifestyle, often flouting his duties and further ruining his reputation.
Though Bash is a good person and has a deep emotional capacity, he sometimes acts recklessly. For instance, he doesn’t consider how being romantically involved with Mary will affect both of their lives, or Francis’s. He later abandons his family to pursue the Druids and learn more about the psychic abilities he discovers through Delphine.
Leith is an educated man who ends up working in the kitchens at court. Despite his upbringing, he’s considered a peasant in his society, and it’s only through his pure heart that he rises through the ranks to become a noble.
He makes sacrifices for Francis and for his country without expecting anything in return, which earns him Francis’s friendship and the land and title of a noble. This means that all of his success is essentially accidental, and not something he achieved with purposeful hard work. It speaks to his good heart and kind character, but maybe not to his intelligence.
Lola is one of Mary’s few long friendships. She remains loyal to her until the end, even when she befriends Elizabeth – and it’s this loyalty that costs Lola her life.
Of course, Lola makes her fair share of mistakes along the way, like the rest. However, Lola knows her way around the court, and she manages to learn a lot about both Mary and Elizabeth’s respective situations. She’s also highly emotionally intelligent, as seen in her relationship with Narcisse.
Lady Greer is one of Mary’s best friends, and she often offers sound advice, but sometimes fails to follow it herself. Greer is condemned to an unfulfilling life from an early age because of her parents’ wish for her to marry well. Thus, when she falls for Leith, she knows they can never be together, so their relationship only causes them pain.
Leith is frustrated that Greer won’t take charge of her own destiny or come to her senses. Greer must fend for herself, even opening a brothel, which helps her financially but doesn’t provide her satisfaction in life. She’s the only one to stay with Mary until the end of the series.
King Henry may not be the most pleasant character, but his intelligence is undeniable. He maintains a steady grip on power, at least for some time, and manages to keep things under control.
However, his way of thinking is heavily flawed, especially when it comes to his being a role model for his children. He rules with an iron fist, believing that sacrifices need to be made to keep things in order. This may be true, but Henry simply becomes ruthless, insensitive, and almost insane. His leadership is thanks mostly to his ruthlessness, rather than his intelligence.
Narcisse is very cunning, and he comes up with some nasty but cleverly woven plans, though they often fail because of his character. Of course, he grows a lot throughout the series, which helps him become more emotionally intelligent.
At first, Narcisse is very selfish and self-serving, and he devises some complicated plans to get what he wants, like power, status, and wealth. He tricks some other very clever characters, but ultimately, he is outsmarted and faces embarrassment and political downfall. He claws his way back up the ranks and earns the trust of characters fans least expected him to get close to, like Lola.
Though Francis begins the series as a somewhat irresponsible young man, he begins to accept the responsibility of being a royal when he realizes his union with Mary is inevitable.
He demonstrates an incredible ability to devise strategies, plan for his nation’s wealth, and of course, emotional intelligence. He’s empathetic, prudent, considerate, authoritative, and diligent.
Mary proves herself to be an intelligent leader and person time and again throughout the show’s four seasons. Though she does meet her downfall in the end, it’s only because she has remained true to herself throughout her life.
Mary sometimes comes up with plans that are smarter than Francis’s or Catherine’s, which goes to show that she has a mind for politics, war, and strategy. Unfortunately, though, Mary trusts the wrong people all too often. Nevertheless, she is a capable leader, a role model, and a loyal Scot.
Elizabeth is undoubtedly smarter than Mary, which becomes clearer as the end of season 4 draws near. Ultimately, it’s Elizabeth who conquers the kingdom and proves that she knows better than Mary.
Elizabeth has a mind that only knows tactics, power, and advantage. She is clever, sharp, and single-minded, which makes her a great leader, but perhaps not quite as likable a character as Mary.
Though Catherine is robbed of her power, she is still the smartest and wisest character in the series – except, perhaps, for the all-knowing Nostradamus. Catherine is sharp of tongue and mind, and she never fails to show it. If she’s not coming up with elaborate murder plots, she’s figuring out ways for her family to rise in power through other means.
Over the four seasons, she also becomes more emotionally available. She becomes a friend and confidante to Mary, offering her support through her darkest experiences. She knows when to push forward, and when to remain quiet. Almost always, Catherine succeeds in her schemes.
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