For a historical show, CW’s Reign managed to gain quite a bit of success. Originally airing from 2013 to 2017, the show sought to tell the story of Mary, Queen of Scots, throughout her journey from being engaged to King Frances to being head to head against her cousin Elizabeth I of England. With a rating of 7.5 out of 10 on IMDb, it’s safe to say that the show found its niche and collected a devoted fan base that enjoyed the twists and tweaks the show made to reality.
In spite of the quality acting, breathtaking outfits, and ongoing political intrigue, the Reign did have its faults. Many storylines seemed forced and failed to advance the plot, while the introduction and departure of certain characters definitely hurt the show. Here, we take a look back at the worst episodes, ranked according to IMDb.
Updated on April 21st, 2022 by George Chrysostomou: Reign is still a beloved show from the CW, even if it was eventually canceled. As fans revisit it, some of the scores have continued to shift and change. However, these episodes are still amongst the worst, despite the fact that ultimately overall their IMDb scores are still really respectable! Note that the scores are still subject to change.
15 Blood For Blood (7.6)
The fifth episode of season five was a bit of a hot mess, mostly due to the inclusion of so many sub-plots. Sometimes, you can have too much of a good thing! In “Blood For Blood”, the tensions between Catholics and Protestants are growing stronger, leading to tremendous acts of violence throughout France.
Simultaneously, Castleroy is revealed as a Protestant, setting in motion a disastrous chain of events. Meanwhile, Francis starts believing that the ghost of his father really is haunting him through possessions which even in the world of Reign is quite farfetched. It’s a major one for the characters though!
14 The Darkness (7.6)
The whole plot involving Bash and the dark magic practice by pagans in season one was quite unnecessary. It didn’t do much as far as moving the story along is concerned, and it got pretty old, pretty fast.
The most interesting thing about the fifteenth episode of the first season was the growing madness of King Henry and the consequent growing concern from Mary, Francis, and Catherine.
13 Royal Blood (7.6)
There was a string of bad moves the show made early on. And one of those mistakes included having Francis and Lola have sex behind Mary’s back, which is wrong in several ways, even by 16th-century standards.
Aside from that, the storyline that followed Bash’s possible succession fell flat, and the kidnapping of the young princes by Clarissa was also a shot in the dark that didn’t end well in terms of episode quality.
12 Tempting Fate (7.5)
On the topic of very bad moves, a good one to add to the list is the season two storyline that involved Mary falling in love with Condé. Now, people who were avid fans of Mary and Frances together did not take this well.
Whatever, what made it even worse was the added detail of Condé being a spy for Elizabeth, Mary’s enemy, and doing her bidding while getting close to Mary.
11 Reversal Of Fortune (7.5)
“Reversal Of Fortune” immediately followed the events of “Tempting Fate”, as the eighteenth episode of season two. The love story between Mary and Condé further complicates when Scotland is under attack and Mary must make the final decision in regards to whom she wants to stay wit.
Meanwhile, Francis is dying, and Mary decides to remain by his side in order to save her country. But the strain in their marriage is now tighter than ever.
10 Tasting Revenge (7.5)
As the fifteenth episode of the second season of Reign, “Tasting Revenge” was the predecessor to “Reversal of Fortune” and “Tempting Fate”. Thus, it was the episode that precipitated the relationship between Mary and Condé.
Francis makes one last attempt to reconcile with this wife, but when it fails, he tells her that she can be with the man she wants discreetly. Simultaneously, lords start showing off their daughters in court in the hopes of making them mistresses of the King. For fans of the couple, this episode was painful to watch.
9 The Shakedown (7.5)
Sometimes an episode is simply filler and that feels somewhat like the case with “The Shakedown.” It does deal with the fallout of the Earthquake in Scotland, which is sure to trouble the monarchy. Outside of this though, the Season 4 Episode 12 installment is lacking.
The focus is largely on Mary here, who perhaps isn’t doing enough to help out her people after the tragic circumstances. The character is one that has caused a mixture of opinions from audiences, but the narrative reveals here are largely quite bland.
8 Pilot (7.5)
Curiously enough, the first episode of the show ranks among the lowest-rated on the show. This is understandable; the job of a pilot is only to introduce characters and set up storylines.
As far as action is concerned, there wasn’t much of it, and not many exciting things happened that would make audiences rate it as a high pilot. It’s still a great episode in terms of its visual design and costumes though.
7 Fugitive (7.4)
By the time “Fugitive”, the twentieth episode of the second season came around, Mary and Francis were still on bad terms. She attempts to reconcile with her husband as she finally understands the consequences of having blindly trusted Condé.
Francis, bitter and enraged, stops at nothing to catch Condé, as the latter is still doing Elizabeth’s bidding and putting together an Army with the intention of going after Francis.
6 Blood In The Water (7.4)
“Blood In The Water” is the penultimate episode of the show and starts to set up the much-needed features that propel the finale. However, much like the final episode itself, it really left a lot to be desired and felt somewhat rushed considering what it needed to tackle.
There are twists and magical turns that were perhaps uncharacteristic of the series, although the revelation surrounding the murder of Elizabeth’s friend and the repercussions of that are definitely interesting. This missed the emotional themes that it needed to hit though.
5 Dirty Laundry (7.4)
Reign’s first season is very hit and miss. “Dirty Laundry,” in particular, is one of those episodes that for some is a hit, and for some, it’s a miss. It’s paced strangely in its bid to try and ramp up the second half of the season. Mary and Francis’ return to court is the center of the tale.
After being on their Honeymoon, their sudden comeback to court is met with all kinds of gossip and new reveals. It feels almost like an episode of everyone catching up though, so that larger plot threads could be woven for the future. Henry and Catherine’s subplot is perhaps more interesting.
4 Flight Or Fight (7.3)
“Fight Or Flight” is Episode 6 of Series 3 and is therefore really another filler. It’s just as the series is getting going and thus is largely adding broad strokes of character development without too much nuance. It’s a largely forgettable installment.
It’s dealing with the fallout of Francis’ death which consequently requires a great deal of political movement and a shift in the relationships being formed. It’s thus a breather and a way to ultimately set plans in motion that unravel, especially in regard to Mary’s position of power.
3 Sins Of The Past (7.3)
Series 2 is overall a pretty good season, perhaps one of the best. Episode 13 left a lot to be desired though, finding itself in that middling second act without much direction. This is very much an episode of planning, which means not a lot happens.
There is plotting and scheming as the Winter’s Ease Feast is being prepared, and a promise that things are surely about to get explosive. Sure the drama is worth watching, but there’s not a great deal of development here. It’s a lot of waiting for the next episode.
2 Abandoned (7.3)
“Abandoned” preceded the events that take place in “Fugitive” making it the nineteenth episode of the second season. Mary has decided to stay with the weakened Francis, even though their marriage is in shambles.
Condé accepts to marry Elizabeth, and becomes King Consort of England, making him a mortal enemy not only to France but to Mary herself as well.
1 All It Cost Her…(7.2)
And the lowest-rated episode of Reign is none other than the very last one! In the show’s defense, it would be quite difficult to appease fans and stay true to Mary’s life.
Because truth is, Mary Queen of Scots did they, and Elizabeth was the one who had her killed. Perhaps fans can take solace in the fact that Mary was eventually reunited with Francis.
NEXT: 15 Historical Dramas To Watch If You Liked Reign
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