Reign chronicles the life of Mary Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane) as she takes her place as Queen of Scotland as a beautiful teenaged girl, destined to wed Prince Francis (Toby Regbo), the handsome dauphin of France. As she arrives at French court having spent her youth in seclusion at a French convent, not everyone is happy to see her, namely Queen Catherine Medici (Megan Follows), as her constant companion and advisor Nostradamus (Rossif Sutherland) has warned her that Mary's marriage to Francis will be the cause of his demise. Consequently, Catherine will do everything in her power to see Mary leave France. Meanwhile, Francis is a bit smitten with Mary, as she is with him, but each are torn between their devotion to their respective countries and their personal feelings. Add to the mix the King's dashing and sexy bastard son Sebastian AKA "Bash" (Torrance Coombs, The Tudors) who has eyes for Mary and you can see that trouble will brew quickly in court.
But what's a Queen without her ladies, and Mary has no shortage of lovely friends surrounding her. There's sweet Greer (Celina Sinden) who comes from a once wealthy family, but has no title and must find a suitable husband while at court. However, the fates have other plans for Greer. Then there's free-spirited Kenna (Caitlin Stasey) who catches the eye of King Henry (Alan Van Sprang, The Tudors) himself, but while Kenna enjoys the attention, she has no idea of the long-reaching consequences of her flippant actions. Quiet Lola (Anna Popplewell, The Chronicles of Narnia) is a dear friend to Mary, but one mistake may cost her everything and spell doom for Mary as well. Finally, there's Aylee (Jenessa Grant), whose family owns half of Scotland, but even that can't stop Nostradamus' prediction that the girl will never again see her home country.
Throughout the 22 episodes of Reign: The Complete First Season, there will be many twists and turns, many nail-biting moments, and quite a few shockers. Mary is a clever girl and a force to be reckoned with and each time she is met with a seemingly impossible challenge, she comes back with a new way to vanquish her threat. Her greatest enemy will, at times, become her strongest ally, and her heart will take her to some strange places as she fights to protect those she loves and finds herself loving those she shouldn't.
In addition to the historical intrigue, I really enjoyed the bit of mysticism thrown into the show in the form of the mysterious pagans who worshipped blood gods in the dark woods. It gave the show a fantasy element and this, combined with a particular character named Clarissa who hides in the shadows of the castle, gave the show a delightfully creepy vibe at times.
I absolutely fell in love with Reign: The Complete First Season from the very first episode. You have romance and betrayal, so yes, there's a dash of Gossip Girl thrown in, but the show is completely addictive. The production value is amazing and the sets and costumes are simply breathtaking. The actors are all quite believable, but the best actress on the show has got to be Megan Follows as Queen Catherine. She is amazing and a joy to watch as she puppets the king and most everyone else in court. The writing is also very sharp and witty and Catherine gets the best one-liners as well. I also really enjoyed the insertion of modern music into the show. It always seemed to fit perfectly and really gave the show a fresh, current feeling, while retaining the medieval feel at the same time. Imagine hearing "Royal" by Lorde being played at a wedding dance on violins in a medieval style. It's truly perfect and fitting. I love the creative license the show takes with history, keeping it real enough to cover the facts, but playing around a bit with the events as they could have happened. You'll watch the characters fall in love and be immensely happy, but only long enough to make one wonder if Joss Whedon isn't writing the scripts. No one can ever be truly happy for very long...
Not only are there deleted scenes for nearly every episode, but there are two featurettes to give you some insight into the show. The first covered the sets and authenticity of the show, while the other is a making-of featurette with cast and crew. Both are fairly short, but really enjoyable. I especially enjoyed seeing where the episodes were filmed and how the sets were created.
As the season drew to a close, Season Two is nicely set up with the approach of the Black Plague threatening France and even those seemingly untouchable at court. I can't wait to see what is in store for Mary and those who surround her. If you love historical drama, you'll love Reign. Highly, highly recommended.