Post Mortems

Reign Post Mortem: EP Explains Mary's 'Hideous' Ordeal, Francis' Next Move

Reign Mary Rape Scene

A harrowing event on Thursday’s Reign set the stage for more bloodshed at French Court and changed the course of Mary’s life forever.

A group of Protestant extremists broke into the palace, intent on murdering Francis — but when they realized the king was nowhere to be found, they set their sights on Mary, who was held down and raped in Reign‘s most excruciating scene to date.

Below, executive producer Laurie McCarthy takes TVLine inside Mary’s horrifying attack scene, explains how it will affect all of French Court moving forward and discusses fan backlash following a spoiler leak earlier this year.

TVLINE  | This was a brutal thing to put your main character through. Why did you feel it was necessary?
The rape is something we built to all season. We talked about it when we structured the season. We talked about the rising tensions in France and we talked about bringing them to a boil that became very personal and very destructive — not just to Mary, personally, but also to her marriage.

Reign Mary RapeTVLINE  | Was there any historical reference for this, or was it completely your own invention?
The Protestant/Catholic tension happened and there were assassination attempts on the king that happened, and this was loosely based on that. Given the fact that we’d already toyed with history by having Francis kill his father, I didn’t want to leave that hanging; I wanted it to actually mean something in the context of what’s happening this season. This was a way of bringing all those threads together and showing how vulnerable rulers were at that time, particularly a female ruler.

TVLINE  | How is this going to affect Mary, both short-term and long-term?
Her sense of security is completely gone, and that’s something we’re going to follow through the season. In the short term, she’ll be traumatized, she’ll be scared, she’ll be fearful of her own safety. It’s also going to do incredible damage to her relationship with Francis because, even though it was a hideous act of hatred, it’s going to be hard for her to separate the rage people generally felt toward their rule from the choices that Francis was making.

TVLINE  | Francis seems ready to take action.
Oh yes, he’s ready to take action. It’s going to be bloody and violent and it’s going to have ramifications for the rest of the season. He’s ashamed of the fact that he killed his father, even though he had a million reasons to do it, because it put all of them in grave jeopardy. He thought he was going to dig himself out of this problem, but every time he tried, he got further in. Now, it’s all going to pay off; once Mary learns the truth, it’s going to be hard for her to separate the trauma of being raped and the bloodshed that’s taken place in their region from the choices that Francis has made.

Reign Mary RapeTVLINE  | The follow-up scene between Catherine and Mary was so powerful. This is, I assume, a major turning point in their relationship?
That’s one of the reasons I wanted to write this story, as well. I really wanted to bond those women. No one else can relate to what Mary’s gone through the way Catherine can. We always knew we were going to do the assault on Mary, and we always knew it wouldn’t be the end of the episode, that we’d move past it to how this would alter the relationship between Mary and Catherine. I love the character of Catherine, especially her ability to step up.

TVLINE  | The spoiler about Mary’s rape leaked online a while ago. Were you aware of fans’ responses? And what’s your response to their responses?
When people wrote to me online and said, “Please don’t do this,” I thought, “Thank God people are saying, ‘Please don’t do this.'” You wouldn’t want people to be saying the opposite. I felt their concern for a character that they’ve really come to care for, but it didn’t alter my thinking as to whether or not this was the right story to tell.

TVLINE | I assume you were also a little irked that the spoiler was leaked to begin with.
[Laughs] Well, that too. I did have that response, because it obviously came from someone close to the show. There was an e-mail that went out to the cast and crew — from me — because you don’t want things put out there out of context. It really does everyone a disservice, including the fans.

TVLINE | Lastly, I know we didn’t see exactly what was done to Mary, but could this result in a pregnancy?
I think that’s what she is fearing. I’m sure that’s what she’s afraid of; that would be horrible.

Reign fans, your thoughts on tonight’s developments? Drop ’em in the comments section below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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64 Comments
  1. Ashley says:

    Actually, it doesn’t do a disservice to fans, it gives the ones that could be potentially triggered the knowledge of what’s about to happen and either skip the episode, DVR and skip the scene, or whatever they see fit to protect themselves. Not everyone reads spoilers, or interacts online with fans that would spread the spoilers. It would’ve been nice from them to include a warning at the beginning of the episode or when coming back from the previous commercial break.

    • ... says:

      If you’re that sensitive, how in the world do you consume pop culture? Goodness. If you’re that triggered by something, read spoilers, be proactive, don’t rely on others to do what you should already be doing.

      • Guest says:

        I think in cases like this, a warning at the beginning of the episode is 100% warranted. Sure, it’s pop culture and violence and sex happen, but this is an issue that can be surprising to many if they’re not warned and can trigger something for them. Rape is a touchy subject, one that I have no experience on, nor would I ever want to. It may be an important issue that could be addressed on television, but not everyone will read spoilers just to see if there’s anything triggering in an episode. For those viewers who don’t read spoilers, they deserve the warning.

  2. Dana says:

    Raping the lead character to create drama for a couple is never ok. And I bet this sicko will have her get pregnant with her rapist’s baby. Done with Reign.

    • Dude says:

      You clearly don’t understand that this storyline was about Mary as a ruler and a character and not as half a ship so frankly, good riddance.

    • Isobel says:

      it is for drama, it history she isn’t raped in France, she is domestically abused in Scotland by her second husband but that’s something different

  3. Dani says:

    I hope the show brings out Elizabeth pretty soon. I just want to see her character with Mary. Love the show but with its ratings, I’m so pessimistic!

  4. Jamie says:

    I am pretty appalled that Laurie saw all the backlash from the spoiler… and thought “Yes what an excellent idea I thought of, they don’t want it so I must write it immediately” How out of touch with reality can you get?!?!?!? In a season where they desperately need ratings, “our concerns went unheard”. I was okay with the episode until I read this interview. I am utterly disgusted with Laurie McCarthy as a person. And to add insult to injury the CW added a “PSA” online, but didn’t bother to air it after the show. How did the CW let this happen??????????

  5. ... says:

    I was raped when I was 20 and I was fine with the inclusion of the act here. It was handled carefully (extremely short, no lingering thrusts/shots of her face, she fought back) and the focus was more on the immediate aftermath, which I found dramatically rich.

  6. applepe says:

    Like a lot of people said: Most of us are not online all the time reading spoilers so, I for example, had no idea of it. If I would have been warn I would have SKIP THE SCENE!!!!!! I dont like this EP any more. I will not get tired of “LEARN FROM SHONDA”. And if she gets mary character pregnancy well… this woamn is sickkkkkkkkkkkk

    • Carly says:

      Yes Shona Rhimes is amazing and talented, but do you watch Scandal? Because a rape happened on Scandal and we saw much more of what happened during that scene than we did with Mary.

  7. Kelly (@kellwoohoo) says:

    Mary was almost raped by Colin. Her and her ladies were almost raped by the Italians holding them hostage. Catherine admitted she was gang raped. Kenna was almost raped multiple times. And now Mary was gang raped. How many rapes will it take before it’s enough for this show? It’s sickening how much this plot point is used on a teen show!

    • Stop says:

      It was the time period Kelly. Women were raped regularly. They had little rights and were seen as objects.

      • the girl says:

        Exactly. That aspect of womanhood becomes immediately vulnerable when a woman is thrust into that environment.

        • the girl says:

          And by “that environment” I mean, a time and place of civil unrest and rebellion which appears destined to lead to war. If this battle between the Protestants and the Catholics continues, there will be plenty more women raped, both within and without the royal house.

      • I’m not sure you can use “historical accuracy” as a justification for something happening on Reign.

        • Isobel says:

          and women of nobility and royalty were protected by guards, none of them would be raped in real history, unless it was marital rape

          • the girl says:

            That’s not true. There were rumors that Mary had been raped many times in actual history. Women of nobility were only safe if nothing ever happened to their guards. And let’s be real, something does sometimes happen to their guards. That’s why Claude said she was not allowed to live somewhere without an escort or husband, because being caught alone and unprotected is a surefire guarantee for a woman’s “virtue” to be “compromised” during a time period such as this, regardless of her social status or bloodline.

  8. Gwen says:

    I don’t see the point in asking anyone involved with this show whether there was a “historical reference” for anything – this show has jumped the shark historically from the beginning, so they might as well bring in an alien invasion or time travel at this point.

  9. Ian says:

    I didnt find it sensationalist at all. Rape was a very real circumstance for women at that time, as it is at any time.

    This show is brilliant.

  10. Karsus says:

    That was unkindly done. I was surprised – but not really in a “this makes the show more interesting and adds more depth” way. In general, I expect people newly converting to a religion and ideals… to be a bit more idealistic.

  11. Nicki says:

    This is all disgusting. What in the name of all that is decent in the world is wrong with this woman? First of all, the sentence “The rape is something we built to all season” should never be uttered ever. It should never be the height of your season to have a character stripped of her agency. Doing what I should have done long ago; I give up on Reign entirely.

  12. Robin says:

    I love Reign. I do. And I’m not happy about what happened, and it is greatly upsetting. My heart was literally beating out of my chest as I watched. I understand people (especially people who have been a victim themselves) feeling gutted and traumatized maybe by what happened tonight. That is distressing. All that said though the actors on Reign: Adelaide Kane, Megan Follows and Toby Regbo, were just superb – in my opinion! It is highly unlikely they will be recognized with any kind of award for their work – but they should! They are amazing at what they do.

    I do hope the show has done some good. Maybe someone who has been a victim will step forward for some help, after watching the PSA they tweeted.

    I also hope they ratings go up! I do want this show to stick around.

    One more thing – I severely hope they do not go there with Mary being pregnant as a result of this. That is almost predictable – you don’t want to be that now Reign…

  13. Dude says:

    I’m not one of those people who just shut down and go “no” when a rape storyline is introduced. If it’s important to the story and is well written, I see the value in it. In this case, it fits the time period and was very well drawn and I see the value in it going forward and how this impacts Mary as a character so Im all for exploring this avenue.

  14. ninamags says:

    I had no idea this was going to happen! I am pretty much spoiler free and this came as a shock.

    Francis will be even more upset at himself than ever.

    • Rosemary says:

      Wtf cares about Francis? He wasn’t raped. But of course, the male reaction is more important, according to sick writer Laurie.

  15. Sara says:

    I don’t understand people who complain about it being awful that rape is used as a plot point. Yes, a deplorable act is used to further the plot. Do these people have the same issue when characters are beat up or murdered?

    Women in this era were often the victims of violence, and historians generally believe that Mary herself was actually raped in real life. It would be disingenuous of the writers to completely ignore the reality of the era they are covering.

    They weren’t glamorizing rape. It is ridiculous to make such a suggestion. And it is also equally ridiculous to suggest that television shows, movies, or books should stay away from a topic that quite frankly needs attention and discussion.

    • Nadia says:

      Yes, murder and abuse are horrible things. But rape is stripping a woman of her innocence. It takes the liveliness and drive out of her. It’s a scar that will forever be imprinted in her. Sometimes they result in the woman getting pregnant. How horrible would that be to have a living breathing human, as a reminder for the rest of your life, of probably the worst event of your life. Rape is taking away a woman’s life

      • Stephanie says:

        And for those reasons (which aren’t really all that thought out and are weak at best), rape shouldn’t be openly discussed or used as a plot point? Using the backwards logic that it is too terrible talk about in the mass media further perpetuates the belief in victims that they cannot heal and that it should be kept a shameful secret.

    • Isobel says:

      Mary may have been raped but it wasn’t in France and it wasn’t by French Huguenots who Mary supported in being tortured. I’m not sure why this show is promoting the idea of french protestants being immoral and evil when they were massacred for simply following their religion

  16. Shania says:

    Except for not putting a warning at the start of the episode, I thought this scene was okay. They only showed as much as they needed to and moved on very quickly to Mary and Catherine’s very powerful scene. I know it is a very sensitive and distressing topic, but it is also very real and hidden away. This scene brought awareness and I am very interested to see where they go.
    I also understand people that say ‘rape is not something that should be a story line’ but neither is murder, torture etc. and yet nothing is said about that. These things were very common during that time period. I’m going to keep watching to see how they address this story line.

  17. Arlene says:

    This espisode was truly explosive well played well dippected. A lot of viewers & fans may be upset but thats how rape plays out there is no warning no signs it just happens some ppl have experiences less or more horrific. It truly is a terrible placeto be and hard to recover from some dont ever the actress played it well bringing awareness always hurts cutose to You all with such a hard supject matter it was well played.

  18. Marie says:

    I dont see the big deal everyone is making about this this is a TV SHOW the make up story good and BAD no im not happy that marry was rape because i love her but it a plot twist like the plague was . Rape it a sensitive subject such as pedophilia is but it in a lot of show like criminal mind law in order SUV it was even in the tudor when the brother of ann was his newly wed wife ( i dont remenber her name) yes they were married but ot was still a rape and i didnt see a trend online about it i dont see the viewer of every tv show who had a rape in going crazy and and call the showrunner crazy stupid insane . Yes you can be inconfortable about such a hard subject but sadly it something that happen every fuc**** day FOR REAL and destroy life of hundred girls and boy and it was always this way even in 14 century it not okay at all but it happen and not they bring it on tv to show people that yes it happen and to victim to tell them that it not something they live alone a lot of person live the same thing and i think the show with the way the made was well done we didnt see the act itself and we didnt spend 2 hours on the asault . Yes it a teen show but rape happen to teen too if even one teen see this episode and say to themselves what happend to me didnt happen only to me so i dont need to feel ashame about it i think it made is job . Stop making big story about it because it happend to the lead character it wouldnt have been less a bad act because it would have happend to kenna lola or greer but people would have talked less talk about it because it wouldnt be the lead character terrible thing happen even the to ones we love the most they want to show how strong mary is and bring francis and her close together again by suporting her and fight for her i think it will be nice to see francis protecting side for a couple of episode . On that we all have ours opinion but for me it a show and they need to show real drama bad and good thing or we will be litsening to barbie and soft and bad soap show about how happy people is and cheesy love story they need drama and controversal subject to see the strengh in the character.

    • Fish says:

      The issue I have is that the writers are clearly using the horrible act as a plot twist to advance the Mary and Conde affair crap. The support from Catherine and the reaction from Francis, was intense and well written, but the spoilers and previews, show what the overall goal by the cheap , sophomoric writing intentions were and that’s to propping up of the Conde and Mary triangle. Done with this series and judging by ratings so is the rest of the country. The young women, show runners should be ashamed.

      • Marie says:

        We all got ours point of view i guess but i dont see what you saw there i dont think they made the rape happend for mary and code to be more ”involved ” if at the end he help her thru it it would be as a friend like if someone in real life was rape her or his friend would help she or he go tru it but again we can all have different opinion but a tv show is a tv show and it will always make us laught happy sad cry or angry at time it life we will never all see eye to eyes

  19. Shirley says:

    I thought the episode was well written. It was sad and horrible, but well acted. The storyline reflected how many women were treated in that era. It also allowed the viewers to see how these women bonded. Megan Follows and Adelaide Kane did a fantastic job!

  20. Sarah says:

    People saying this rape storyline was well-written make me laugh. Just wait for the upcoming episodes where the focus will be all on Francis, not Mary – the rape victim. Its already been said that the rape plotline was created for Francis’s storyline – not even for the couple. The purpose of the rape was for Francis to become darker while Mary will be shoved in the background.

  21. Miley says:

    The show is trash. Only a trashy show would use rape to try to get a ratings boost. Hoping this writer never gets a job again.

    • Marie says:

      when people say that this show is trash and it need to get cancel i feel like people say that rape victim are trash and they shoudnt be listen to they adress the same story as 90210 when naomi was rape the tudor when torrance coombs was raping that girl in season 3 it was rape too but no one tell the writher they were mean and stupid !

      • Sue Miller says:

        The show runner for Reign has explictly stated this rape was done to advance *Francis’s* story and to drive a further wedge between him and Mary. This is not speculation This is what she said. If you don’t believe me scroll back up and re-read the quotes in the interview.

        A rape of a character (any character, female or male) should _not_ be done as a way to focus dramtatic impact on their spouse or partner. In other words, if a woman is raped, the “story” should _not_ be about how it upsets her husband and his dramatic struggle to get over it.

        Honestly, Francis is a waste of a character and poorly written. He’s a terrible husband who lies at the drop of a hat, steals Mary’s mother’s army for his own purposes, and even had Mary locked up in the tower (remember that?). He can’t keep his pants on; how many court ladies has he slept with since Mary showed up? At least three! Four if you count him convincing Mary to have sex with him before he was even sure he was going to marry her.

        The writers are not “mean and stupid” because they included rape in the episode. They’re mean and stupid if they think having Mary raped because Francis needs more drama. The guy just killed his dad a few months ago. I think he has enough drama to last out the end of the season.

  22. Renee says:

    I found the inclusion of the rape to be both psychologically appropriate and relevant to the story.
    It is important to remember that in many cases rape is more of an assertion on dominance than a pursuit of pleasure. So it is completely believable that it would be committed as an act of hatred, and therefore relevant for the unfolding storyline and accurate in its brief portrayal.
    A teen show will never please everyone, but at least this show does not give a false fairytale perception about the risks of violence and abuse toward women that happen in all times and societies.

    • I thought this comment was the most well thought out and on point comment on this entire article. Especially your last line. This sort of dominance over women is a very real danger, and I think the show handled it as carefully as possible.

      Whether McCarthy’s comments were insensitive or not, I thought that the scene was written well, and it “fit” into the storyline that has been building all season. It didn’t seem out of place for the context of the show and pseudo historical period. I don’t believe that the rape was simply a plot device to further Francis’ character arc and I thought the scene with Catherine was both wonderfully acted and heart wrenching.

  23. Gerald says:

    This whole season and this episode was so well written. While event itself is tragic, it was handled well and the scenes following were some of the best acted on television.

  24. Pati says:

    I saw a headline that tonight’s episode was the most shocking in the shows history I thought it was going to be nothing and that they were just making a big deal. I was in shock when I saw it, I can’t believe she was raped, the main character that we love so much. To mee it was shocking that they went with this story line, I’m used to this on other shows that are more grown up but Reign is such a bubble gum show. I just really hope that she doesn’t get pregnant and that this story line gets dragged

  25. anon says:

    I applaud Reign for the storyline, which I thought was done with great sensitivity and honesty. I am a rape survivor, and I am utterly dismayed by all the comments saying they don’t want to be exposed to this on tv. Rape is extremely isolating, and the topic needs to be brought out into the open so that victims might heal, and future violence might be prevented.

  26. Brooke says:

    If Mary falls pregnant to this rape, I’m so not watching the show anymore. Like give her and Frances one happy moment or relief or something!

  27. madeega says:

    I do not feel that the rape of Mary was a suitable way of arousing tension in the series. It was so uncool.

  28. jane says:

    Uhm.it okay I like it because there is a lot at risk and it gives the movie more tension and it sure as hell putting people in suspens.

  29. selena says:

    You’ve done a great job(to the producer).The rape scene as given the film more life.Then Mary gets pregnant people think it for one of the gangs and there is chaos she then gives birth to triplets,Francis and Catherine later finds out it for Francis and so on.GOOD JOB

  30. anne kanyena says:

    if marry and francis separate the movie is going to be a nag remember they promised each other to stay together what pregnant or not shouldnt separate them.if it happens i will stop showing the film.

  31. anne kanyena says:

    marry and francis must stay together no matter what.your showing the people that moving from one marriage to another is easy which is not like that

  32. tsevca says:

    And Catherine doesn´t know how to prevent the pregnancy?

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