SOME SPOILERS AHEAD.
I have so many feelings about this finale – some of them not so positive as the episode went on – that it’s hard to sort through them all. But what I felt in the final moments of this episode was a bitter sweet mixture of catharsis and sadness. I didn’t expect to be this sad about the series ending, even as I watched the episode.
After Darnley left baby James alone in the woods, Mary finally got him back thanks to an extensive search by her men and a farmer who happened upon him and took him to a church. With Darnley posing a significant threat to to her and her child (the Privy Council still planned to name him Steward even after the kidnapping), Mary finally decided that it was time to have Darnley killed. And she succeeded, surprisingly. I didn’t think that Darnley would actually die.
I must say that I didn’t like that these were the circumstances under which Darnley would be assassinated. It didn’t feel right, given the state of his mental health. Really, I blame his mother. If Lady Lennox hadn’t filled his head with lies about Mary and used his mental illness to manipulate him, this would not have happened. Even in his precarious position after baby James was found, she still continued to try to take advantage of him. She was just awful.
I didn’t think anything of Mary and Bothwell letting others in on their plot to murder Darnley. I certainly didn’t expect them to tattle to John Knox. It was cowardly and beyond frustrating because Knox, at last, had something he could truly hold over Mary and get rid of her; the one thing he’s always wanted and he got it. It was so maddening that he won! And was so smug about it too!
Over in France, another character died in this episode. The peanuts were a dead (no pun intended) giveaway as to how Nicole would die. Coupled with the witch’s statement that she would die soon, it was obvious. The chef did say that it was new to France and they would not have known about peanut allergies. It was so simple! So simple that I laughed. It was so uncomplicated and almost coincidental that it was kind of ridiculous.
If Catherine lived in the age of news media she would be the Queen of Spin! It was beautiful how deftly she she weaved a story of blame against Spain and used Nicole’s death to position her sons to fight back against their would be challengers.
I knew that the witch’s price for Nicole’s death would have been steep. Catherine herself knew it. But it got pretty weird when it seemed like all she wanted was a threesome with Catherine and Narcisse and she went really far when she tried to summon the devil (and get pregnant?) during their little tryst. The best part of the scene was when Catherine didn’t even hesitate in killing her. She just picked up the knife and started stabbing.
I don’t recall Catherine’s daughter Margot ever having existed – I didn’t even remember Leeza- or her ever being mentioned. Exactly how many children did she have with Henry? I naturally thought that the witch had been referring to Claude. I kind of thought that Catherine would have sacrificed herself for Charles and Henry (Jr), but she doesn’t love her children that much.
There was yet another character death in this episode and that was Jane. I understood where she was coming from when she explained to Elizabeth why she aided Narcisse; she hate royals. But as Elizabeth said, neither she nor Gideon ever did anything to harm Jane (well, except when Elizabeth hit her over the head and almost killed her because she’d seen Elizabeth and Gideon together). It’s hard to believe that she never came to care for them, even a little, after all of the time she spent with them. Just enough to give a second thought to what she was doing. She seemed so good-natured.
The venom with which she spoke to Elizabeth was so unlike the meek, gentle girl she’d been before then. I liked that version of her so much better. There was so much bitterness and hatred coming out of her when she spoke to Elizabeth in fact, that I didn’t blame the English queen when she hit her. I was surprised when Jane was still standing after suffering such a blow, but I didn’t think she’d been struck hard enough for Elizabeth to have actually killed her.
Elizabeth and Ferdinand were a ship I was sad to see sink. I knew the marriage wouldn’t happen. As one of the world’s most famous monarchs, everyone knows that Elizabeth I never married. Still, he was so sweet on her that I liked the idea of them together. Despite knowing that he had nothing to do with Gideon’s death, she still seemed oddly antagonistic toward him – which I didn’t understand. However, I guess his attempt to change the terms of their marriage contract was enough to earn him her ire.
Just as I had suspected, Mary’s letter freed Elizabeth from her marriage obligations and she leapt at the chance to end the engagement. Her “I am England and I do not need saving” speech to Ferdinand was so moving and empowering that I cheered when she was done. As was her speech to her men as they headed off for war with Spain, dressed in armour and ready for battle.
My major problem with this finale is that it left a lot of hanging plot lines that will never be resolved. Plot lines that had all of the potential to spin off into good stories for a hypothetical fifth season; Mary’s imprisonment, the ensuing conflict between France and Spain, Margot’s return to French court and Elizabeth ushering in her golden age. There was so much fodder there for another season and the show was nowhere close to the of the stories of any of it’s three queens.
Another problem was the twenty-one year time skip. It was jarring and felt very, very random. It felt tacked on, like and afterthought. Something that the creators had to stick onto the end because they didn’t know that what they were filming was the final season and had to shoot that part later on and add it in to give the series a “conclusive” finish. It felt rushed.
But the finale scene in which Mary, in death, reunited with Francis momentarily made me forget my misgivings about it. I got swept up in my feelings. I was so happy that it was him that she met when she died and that they finally got their happily ever after. It was a beautiful moment.
- Can’t say I’m sad that Nicole is dead.
- Elizabeth does not seem bothered about killing Jane.
- Is war with Spain really a good idea?
- Go Elizabeth!
- Wait…what? Twenty-one years later?!
- Mary: “It seems like so long ago.” I know right!