Season 2 of “Reign” continued on The CW Thursday night after taking a week off for the holiday. Episode 9, “Act of War,” featured a scene that many viewers knew was coming; yet no one was ready for it when it finally occurred – the sexual assault of Queen Mary (Adelaide Kane).
Rumors of a rape scene occurring on “Reign” hit the web a few months ago. Fans dedicated to the show and characters immediately began a petition to stop the series from airing the act. But despite signatures, the show decided move forward with the controversial storyline.
Episode 9 found the castle under attack from Protestants looking to kill King Francis (Toby Regbo). The king was out of the castle taking care of a loose end regarding Narcisse’s (Craig Parker) blackmail, but Mary was in her chamber. When they didn’t find Francis, they decided to attack the queen. One intruder blamed her for killing his son. With the help of the other guards, they held Mary down while he assaulted her.
A horrific scene to watch, “Reign” continued to tackle the subject with Queen Catherine (Megan Follows), who found Mary after the attack.
“I know you don’t want to be touched, that’s alright. But you’re safe,” Catherine said to Mary. “I don’t know how you managed to escape but you did. You are alive. You will survive this. I know this because I survived, you know that too. They tried to destroy you by taking your pride and strength. But those things cannot be taken. Not from you. Not ever.
Although Mary initially resisted, Catherine proceeded to outline a plan for her.
“We’re going to change your clothes, fix your hair. We’re going to erase any mark of their hands on you,” Catherine continued. “We are. We are going to do this for you, and for Francis, and for Scotland and for France. They tried to diminish a king tonight by degrading a queen and they will not succeed. Cause the world will never know what they did to you … These next moments of your life will either define you as a victim or a powerful queen untouched by a failed assassination attempt. They will define who you are perceived to be, your place in history. Do not let them win. Trust me. Trust me and let me help you. Trust that I can get you through this because I swear to you that I can.”
Mary agreed and took Catherine’s hand. She reassured her loyal subjects that she was unharmed by the attack, but confessed everything to Francis when he returned. Her husband immediately blamed himself for his absence from the castle, but Mary reassured him that it was not his fault. However guilt immediately started eating away at Francis because he had lied to Mary about where he was when the assault happened.
“Reign” showrunner Laurie McCarthy took to Twitter following the episode to praise Adelaide Kane and Toby Regbo for their “breathtaking and brave performances.” But some fans didn’t agree. Her post was immediately flooded with hate responses, many threatening to stop watching the show. Others posted on the social media site that the episode was “trash,” and that the show should be ashamed to use such a serious issue “for drama.”
But McCarthy stands by her decision to air the scene. The showrunner told Enterainment Weekly that the writers “were always going to be incredibly careful about it.”
“We were always going to treat the storyline with the respect and dignity and time it deserved, not just in our attention to detail, but in terms of service it and honoring it for the rest of the season,” McCarthy explained. She added that it wasn’t something that they decided on a whim.
“There were many discussions in the writers room about it; there were discussions with the studio and the network; there were discussions with Adelaide [Kane] herself,” the showrunner continued.
Not all “Reign” fans were upset over the decision with the sexual assault plot line. Amidst all the outrage, some thanked the series for tackling a difficult subject and bringing awareness to rape victims.
Episode 9 concluded with a video message from Adelaide Kane regarding sexual assault, and information on Rainn's National Sexual Assault hotlines.
“Tonight’s episode deals with a very serious issue,” she explained to viewers. “Today sexual assault happens all too often. The majority knows their perpetrator. If this has happened to you, tell someone. You are not to blame for what happened and there are people who can help.”
Following Kane’s message about seeking help, Actor Toby Regbo posted the following for his followers.
Regardless of how TV shows handle sensitive subjects, in the real world we must handle it with total compassion. https://t.co/I1k7U4ekQc
— Toby Regbo (@toby_regbo) December 5, 2014
What are your thoughts on “Reign’s” decision to tackle sexual assault? Tweet your thoughts to @AmandaTVScoop or take the poll.