A royal rumble’s brewing this week in Reign’s France, with Megan Follows’ Queen Catherine scrambling to make sure her misdeeds from the pilot stay untraceable.
There’s deceit. There’s ruthlessness. There’s putting one’s survival about everything else. For acolytes of the 1980s TV-movie adaptation of Anne of Green Gables* — Follows’ best-known work — we’re a long way from sunbursts and marble halls.
And the actress jokes that Prince Francis’ manipulative mom may not be so different from Anne Shirley, after all.
“Sometimes, mean people come in nice-looking, sweet packages,” she says with a laugh. “Listen, if [Anne] was on the throne and Gilbert had had a mistress, you don’t know what she might’ve been up to!”
Read on as Follows gives us the lowdown on Thursday’s episode (The CW, 9/8c) and teases what’s to come, including the queen’s thoughts on the king’s latest fling and the probability of some side “snuggles” of her own.
*Yes, kindred spirits, we’re aware that the referenced line is actually from the Anne of Avonlea miniseries. Have some raspberry cordial and relax.
TVLINE | In this week’s episode, Catherine finds out that someone who knows about her plot from the pilot is still alive, and she stops at nothing to silence that person.
I definitely am informed by the few faithful alliances that I have – and there’s not many that I can trust – that there might still be a problem… I cannot let it be known what I’ve done. That just can’t happen.
TVLINE | Colin was killed in the pilot – which we saw in detail – but that wasn’t her first plan. Her plans don’t immediately leap to murder.
Yes, and I would like the jury to note that. [Laughs] I did not just jump right to ruthless murder… I wasn’t going right for death.
TVLINE | That leads to my next question: How long before Catherine does go straight to putting out a hit on someone in her way?
Well, it depends on how threatened I am. That’s what’s fun for me as an actor, and what’s not fun for the character, is that it’s a game of survival. It’s sort of a giant chess game with poisonous pieces. I have to be very careful. And when you get threatened and seemingly backed into corners, [that determines] how drastic the measures become. She doesn’t do it just for the fun or the sake of causing mayhem or destruction. It’s stemming out of a heightened sense of survival.
TVLINE | It gets at the point that even though she’s a powerful woman, she doesn’t have much power relative to all of the men – including her son – in her life.
That’s absolutely correct. She doesn’t have the freedom to go through the front door with her power. That’s not the way her world is structured. She’s already got mistresses and bastard children and temperamental teenage sons and dynamic young queens that threaten her – I can’t even use the word “stability” – her position.
TVLINE | How much of Catherine’s overall anger can be attributed to the fact that Francis is so taken with a woman who’s not her? He’s not listening to her completely anymore.
That’s the universal and recognizable component. For all of us mothers with handsome, young teenage sons, the world starts to become a very different place. You are the most important woman in the world and then, for all the right reasons, that changes. It can lead to a bit of an identity crisis. [Laughs] Imagine poor Mary – she’s got the ultimate mother-in-law from hell!
TVLINE | The king’s involvement with lady-in-waiting Kenna in the pilot is nothing new for him, with a mistress and bastard son at court. Will Catherine find out about his latest dalliance?
I don’t think Henry – let’s put it this way – is too subtle about where he puts his affections… I don’t think he thinks about how it undermines his wife.
TVLINE | Does Catherine even care at this point?
I think there are elements. Any more instabilities and any more potential heirs thrown into the mix – there is a precariousness to it. I think she, on the one hand, has a savviness. But [his affair is] one more thing for her to have to manage. [Laughs] And that can be exhausting.
TVLINE | You saying that brings to mind harried soccer moms who won’t allow their kids to take on another sport. “We can’t get you to the practices you have now!”
[Laughs] “Honey, you can’t have another mistress! I’m sorry. The coffers are only so big. I’m sorry.”
TVLINE | Might Catherine have some lovers of her own on the side at some point in the future?
That would be nice, wouldn’t it? [Laughs] Catherine needs some snuggles somewhere.
TVLINE | Maybe Nostradamus can give her a little hug.
I like the thought of that.
TVLINE | Can you tease what those two are up to as the season goes on?
He’s one of the few people that knows what I’m up to. He’s also put into a precarious situation with that. I can’t even be specific because I’m not even clear, but there are secrets that he has, too — that he has against me.
TVLINE | So it’s not all shared cups of wine and conspiratorial glances?
No, I don’t think so. I think some of it is a deep respect that they have for each other – also, she funds a lot of his exploration. She is his benefactress. They can have fantastic conversations and speak on a level, and with an exploration of the world, that’s unique. Some of that comes up, too, the threats of different ways of seeing the world and how those voices are perceived as heresy, the fear of that.