Post Mortems
Reign Series Finale

Reign Series Finale: EP Breaks Down Mary's Last Scene, Reveals the Story Behind [Spoiler]'s Return and More

In many ways, The CW’s Reign ended exactly as it lived — full of bloody murder, bloody sex and more syphilitic visions than you could shake a bloody stick at.

Let’s start with the murder: Not only did Friday’s series finale claim the lives of Darnley (at the hands of Bothwell), Jane (at the hands scepter of Elizabeth) and Nicole (death by soup!), but it also jumped ahead 21 years to the night of Mary’s beheading. Series creator Laurie McCarthy tells TVLine she always knew that Reign would end with Mary’s death, no matter how much else of her life story the show was able to tell.

“From the beginning of the show, we knew we were meeting Mary before she even wed her first husband, and her life didn’t end until she was in her forties,” McCarthy reminds us. “So there was going to be a time jump no matter what. In some ways, that gave me creative solace.”

Reign Series Finale FrancisMcCarthy also knew all along that Mary would reunite with Francis in the afterlife, so before Toby Regbo departed midway through Season 3, she asked him to film the scenes you saw in the series finale.

“I asked him to do it before he left, not knowing when we were going to use it,” McCarthy reveals. “And he very graciously agreed to do it. … We’d invested so much in that relationship, and those two have such extraordinary chemistry. I felt like that was where the show began, with their unexpected love story, and I knew that’s how I wanted it to end.”

And then there’s the matter of Mary’s actual beheading. McCarthy tells us there was never talk of showing the graphic act, as she simply “never wanted to see it.”

“We did it with Lola, where you saw it from a distance, and I even regret that, to be frank,” she says. “I didn’t think it was necessary. I wanted to believe that Mary went to a better place, that she went there quickly and that we got to go there with her. Whatever was going on in the last moments that took her away, that’s where I wanted to be. Not with an objective view of her corpse.”

We should also probably discuss the craziest part of the finale — yes, even crazier than the leading lady losing her damn head — which was, of course, Catherine and Narcisse’s “witchy three-way” (McCarthy’s words, not mine) with Emanuelle. Though McCarthy laments not being present for the finale table read, she notes that Megan Follows was, and has always been, “game to do anything.”

“She’s not only a great emotional and cerebral access, she’s a great physical actress, too,” McCarthy says of Follows. “She likes the sexy stuff. And, obviously, Craig Parker is amazing. … You always have a pot of ideas at the beginning of every season, and I think ‘witchy three-way’ came up pretty early this year.”

Reign fans, were you satisfied by Friday’s fatal finale? Grade the show’s conclusion below, then drop a comment with your full review.

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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128 Comments
  1. Lola says:

    It was nice to see Francis. Though the moment was bittersweet, these two people found a love in each other from the time they were children. It was pure and innocent before life got ahold of them. Maybe in the afterlife they both found the peace away from responsibility and royal obligations.

  2. JCPrime1 says:

    I was disappointed that Claude got no resolution. Really sucks they didn’t give her and Lief a happy ending.

    I didn’t understand Catherine’s ending. Guess I’ll have to look up history.

    • Elena says:

      [reposting and updating comment below] I had to do a little history research but what I understood was that Catherine decided to save herself and went to search for her other daugther. As the witch said, Catherine will need her daugther Margaret by her side. In real history Margaret became Queen of France and her husband ( Henry III King of Navarre) became the King of France after Charles and Henry died.

  3. Jamie says:

    Very cathartic to see Mary and Francis together. Beautiful ending… too bad the show didn’t speed up the storyline when they knew they were cancelled so we could see more of Mary, Elizabeth and King James in the future.

    • Antientblue says:

      Agree. Last episode was a bit strange. We are missing mariage with Bothwell, captivity period, Catherine de’ Medici interesting life and destiny of France a bit… I was deeply dissapointed by the last episode, since whole series were really good and followed history facts. Not to mention fantastic costumes.

    • Katie Martinez says:

      I also agree. I would have liked to see the two queens have some kind of interaction.

  4. Other Meresith says:

    I really wish there had been a fifth season. There was so much more to tell! And I will admit that I started crying with the time jump and kept it up for at least 15 minutes after the episode ended.

    • Emilymagnan says:

      Yes I completely agree that was my favorite thing to do was watch reign and see marry and so I am very upset and I will admit I did cry also but now it is gone,over even I do wish that marry got to see her son king James at least to just say goodbye it was really hard for marry not to see him / say goodbye

  5. Racquel says:

    Of course it was expected that we would ultimately see Mary meet her death. However, I don’t like how the time jump occurred within the last few minutes of the episode. Schematically of course it made sense, but as an avid fan of Reign, I don’t think that did the storyline of Mary on the show any favors. Yes, she would eventually face her beheading however I think the storyline should have been sped up earlier on because to jump 21 years in 2 minutes didn’t give me any peace as a beloved Mary fan. Really wish there was a fifth season to allow the transition of the storyline to play out more smoothly.

    • I agree,yes!
      Should Not of ended so abruptly fast forward 21 years????? Not right!

    • shannon says:

      i agree… 4 seasons was not enough… im very sad to not be able to watch Reign anymore. it was one of the better shows on now.. entertainment and history..

    • Kara St.Germain says:

      I agree. I Love Reign and was so upset when it was over. I wanted to cry. I was frustrated, mad, empathetic, sad, and happy. Alot went on in the episode before it and I knew the finale was going to be hectic. So, I guess in the end, the writer, producer, and director did their job making us feel all these emotions. I still wish there was more. It ended so fast.

    • Bobbie says:

      I agree also

    • Kayla says:

      Totally agree. I also wish they would have played out more of what was going on in France. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Catherine’s character. Kinda left some stuff hanging. Disappointed 😞

  6. Madina Belvin says:

    I was very disappointed disappointed in final epidose ,, what about Bothwell? As well, what happened to bash ? Its just too sad how producers jumped over so,much detailes and end the season :(:( unfair ..

    • Tyreese Dunbar says:

      All of what you are talk about could not hold in 1 episode and thanks to cw it got cancelled

      • Ezmae says:

        I am pretty sure I read online that they were well into filming season 4 when the show was cancelled & had very little time to try & wrap up the series. I think they did a reasonable job with the finale, given for certain it would have been rushed.

        • Daniel says:

          They should’ve planned more of a finale. The ratings were CRAP. To expect renewal was pure insanity and not within the boundaries of reality.

  7. Tyreese Dunbar says:

    This was a great tv series i was really hoping it could have continued due to the fact that there was alot of romance and drama between some characters and the the other daughter catherine had which we did not know about. I really did not want either Queens to die but if i had to choose it would have been marry who lived i would not change the fact that she died though and i have to give props to McCarthy i realize that there would have been more romance between some of the characters. I had a feeling Elizabeth would not have die though due to the fact that i watch tudor and she was the golden child of Henry VIII. I truly wish they were in for a next season. I like to see a strong woman fight and marry (Adelaide Kane) fit her character. I love CW’s choices in tv series but i am very disappointed thay cancelled this series

    • Kara St.Germain says:

      I agree.

    • Bobbie says:

      Historical Fact Mary was beheaded by Queen Elizabeth. That could not be changed however the witch scene could have been left out and some kind of commentary could have explained both wells ending and the missing 21 years

  8. Liz says:

    The only saving grace of this finale episode is the flashback scenes at the end. Everything was written to hastily. Even with a short season 4, the ending was rushed.

  9. Melissa says:

    “21 years later”.. and they never aged?? lol.. ugh. This show can’t afford makeup artists? What happened to Catherine and Bothwell? However, I was VERY happy they showed her in heaven with Francis!
    All in all, rushed through to end this so badly. It needed another season. I hope they don’t butcher Game of Thrones like this.

    • Elena says:

      I had to do a little history research but what I understood was that Catherine decided to save herself and went to search for her other daugther ( Who in real history became Queen of France and her husband ( Henry III King of Navarre) became the King of France after Henry Charle’s younger brother died.

    • Bothwell stayed imprisoned for the rest of his life and went insane

    • Bothwell was acquitted of Darnleys murder but everyone still suspected he was guilty

    • samendie says:

      I do think they butchered the ending but you can see that the actresses did age with the bags under Mary’s eyes and the redness under Elizabeth’s eyes.

    • TJ says:

      In real life Bothwell married Mary, was acquitted of Darley’s murder, and ended up imprisoned while (some believe) trying to regain Mary’s throne for her after she was forced to abdicate. He was imprisoned, went insane during his torturous imprisoent, and his body later mumified. According to research, the pillar he was chained to had an indentation from his chains and his family was unable to claim his body for a long time. He died about 7 years prior to Mary, I believe.

      Margot/Margaret married to help her brothers after the bloody massacre that was foretold and later became queen of France with her husband by her side after Charles then Henri died.

  10. Daniel Armour says:

    It’s a shame the series didn’t get a fifth season or at least a full 22 episode season to fully wrap up all its storylines (Some sort of closure for Claude, Leith, Narcisse, Greer, James, Catherine, etc. would’ve been great). However, given what they had to work with, I thought the final scenes worked well and the ending with Francis/the montage really bough things home.

    I’ll definitely miss Reign. It wasn’t a perfect show – What show is? – but I was always invested in it and it made for some good Thursday/Friday Night TV.

  11. Reannon says:

    Wow heartbreaking that there wasn’t enough closure. What an open ended ending so much left unsaid, so sad to learn this series was canceled ot was what i looked for ward to every friday.

  12. Disappointed and unsatisfied says:

    The ending was rushed, I didn’t like the time jump, I didn’t know what was going on, I thought Mary was dreaming. It was like the show found out they were canceled and rushed this ending into the last episode. I was disappointed, there are so many unanswered questions, the show needed another season to finalize everything. It was nice to see Francis again and that whole scene was great..I just wish it wasn’t rushed into.

    • Ezmae says:

      They had very little warning of the shows cancellation which is why the ending was unfortunately rushed in an attempt to wrap up a few things.

  13. Joan Elizabeth says:

    I thought ending with her and Francis was brilliant. And showing Elizabeth’s vulnerable side as she aged was spot on..And finally stating the obvious … how difficult it was to be female. I am from a long line of strong Protestant British woman. And the history of my ancestors. You stayed on task to the best you could with the history. Thank you for a wicked wonderful piece of history… BRAVO.

  14. I don’t why the season or the finale was do rushed-Laurie said they talked about it being the final season before finding out for sure in 4.15 that it would be.They should’ve split the season in two parts-one with Darnley, one eith Bothwell,Marys arrest,trial,conviction,captivity and beheading.
    I loved the last 10 or so minutes-her reuniting in heaven with Francis and the flashback montage and everything.Supposedly Elizabeth was furious when she found how quick Marys excecution was carried out irl and Dhe didn’t really want to execute Mary.

    • ? says:

      We’ll never know the truth of what Elizabeth felt. She needed Mary to die but couldn’t be seen as wanting her to die. She split the difference by publicly being upset and furious that it happened while still allowing it to happen. Politics.

  15. Bella says:

    I’m sad it ended but on the same token I’m glad that they told the story in full circle reuniting Mary & Frances in the end. It was short & rushed but I guess it kind of gave the story a sort of happy ending in the end. At least for the avid Frary fans, it’s sort of a closure to the love story. I will still miss it though. Reign was one of a kind. Much love to all the cast for bringing Reign come to life.

    • Stephie says:

      I wish they could have at least had a 2 hour finale to wrap up everyone storylines, like Maude and Katherine. I know Mary did marry Bothwell shortly after Darnleys death. And Mary was only with her son a year until they were separated and she was forced to live away from everyone by Queen Elizabeth.

  16. Michele Waters says:

    This ending really bothered Me! It left so much untold. What happened to Greer? And all the others? It should have least been narrated in or something!? I enjoyed this show since day one and the ending really gave this great show disappointment

  17. kar says:

    The Mary ending was fine, but what about everyone else? Like Claude?

  18. Charlotte Forte' says:

    Placing Mary back into the man who loved her unconditionally. Who knew her from her childhood, stood beside her through betrayal and gave his life for her in his end was epic. I love these two actors. Their scenes together was always believable. I fell in love with their characters. Thank you for ending it this way. I’m going to rewatch all three seasons.

  19. Melissa says:

    I felt the final scenes with Mary and Francis reunited were beautiful and the montage of series scenes were wonderful to see again. I do wish there had been more resolution with the other characters as to their fates within the show. As a history nerd for that time period I knew what happened historically to the ones based on real figures, but it would have been nice to see what happened to the created characters like Greer and Bash or the storylines that were invented for the show. I do wish they had put Mary in the red petticoat at her execution though.

  20. Charlotte Forte' says:

    Placing Mary back into the man who loved her unconditionally. Who knew her from her childhood, stood beside her through betrayal and gave his life for her in his end was epic. I love these two actors. Their scenes together was always believable. I fell in love with their characters. Thank you for ending it this way. I’m going to rewatch all four seasons.

  21. scotlore says:

    A constant major plot point throughout this series was the battle for the Scottish and English thrones and yet the show just merely mentions in the final minutes like a footnote, that her son eventually united England and Scotland, which yes he did. It just surprised me that they didn’t also add that Mary may have lost the battle but in the end it is her line, the Stuart line, that is on the British throne even today. Elizabeth II’s family (the Hanover line) are descendants of the Stuarts aren’t they?

    • Jim says:

      I don’t think so. Definitely not in the male line, anyway. European aristocracy is so incestuous that if you go back far enough, everyone is related to everyone else.

  22. Servante Lewis says:

    i wish the show would never end in some ways i feel as if each character can be tied to a person in one way or another we all have sword hanging over our heads or someone wanting to take our crowns, lives, or even our thrones so to speak i feel this show was the perfect escape and best way to spend those stressful nights and days by throwing myself into this -not tv show but a – work of art i thank the directors and everyone involved in the creation of this master piece. LONG LIVE THI KING OF THE ENGLISH AND SCOTTS !!!!

  23. cameron says:

    The entire episode was so rushed. I was unaware of the coming series finale, just another fan of the show and anticipating what would come in the next week. The pace of this episode was so telegraphed, so many meaningful scenes reduced to mere seconds, that I began to read between the lines and see the inevitable. Sad to see it end so abruptly but I suppose it had to.

  24. Anna Grace says:

    Really wanted a reunion with francis and mary, but it wasnt as passionate as i had hoped. Felt kinda forced.

  25. Mina Escobar says:

    I think the ending was very lacking. It was smushed together in an attempt to try to tie up loose ends but ended up creating more in the long run. What was the point of the three way and the prophecy to go get Margo if we weren’t going to explore the afterwards? No marriage to Bothwell, no explanation as to how Elizabeth went from “As a lonely Queen I understand Mary” to “Gotta keep her locked up, she’s still after my throne”. It went from Birth-Darnley Murder-I bow to no man-Beheading-Francis Reunion-Roll Credits. Glad I watched the series, disappointed with the ending though.

  26. JM says:

    I was really looking forward to the season finale. It might have been better if it ran for two hours to finish out the story between Charles, Henry and Catherine. I also hoped for Elizabeth’s aide to Mary. What happened with Barthwell? What happened to Lola’s son? Narcisse didn’t play a continuous role in his life. It hurt to see Mary die without her son at her side. However, he united both Scotland and England.

  27. SUSAN GRAY says:

    I WANT IT TO COME BACK ON IT MY FAVORSHOW

  28. AzadDubai says:

    Interesting end to the tv show reign; I didn’t expect that the show would end so dramatically; a lot of the characters ‘died’ suddenly then to realize that ‘probably’ this was the reign finale. The last 2 minutes don’t get MARY sufficient merit for her worth in the tv show. Anyways it was a superb ending; and I loved that Mary’s death was not illustrated as Lola’s was. Thanks to the actors and producers for this enlightening tv series and looking forward to other new ones.

  29. James says:

    I was not happy with the last season. There was no flow. It felt rushed. I felt like I was watching a cheap soap opera. IMO, the story line with Lisa, Queen of Spain and Catherine, didn’t flow. I would have preferred if they focused only Mary so we could have gotten the whole story of the lead up to Mary’s execution.

    • James says:

      Also, it should be noted that even though Queen Elizabeth had Mary killed, Mary’s descendants would rule England for many years to come and the Church of England would become solidified. Also, King James, Mary’s son would​ bring biblical scholars together to put together the King James Version of the Bible which is still in use today. So, in the Mary won!

    • ninergrl6 says:

      Really there was no reason to carry on with the characters in France at all this season. None of it was relevant for Mary’s storyline. If Megan Follows weren’t so spectacular, all of the French political drama should’ve (would’ve?) been scrapped. I understand that we’d been following those character for 3 seasons, but if the show is about MARY, season 4 shouldn’t have had anything to do with France beyond a mention or two, maybe a one-off guest spot.

  30. Tracy Veress says:

    I was totally blown away by the way the ending was handled. Instead of being grutesome, it was actually quite beautifully done. Even though she was put to death, that fulfilled her destiny, to be with the love of her life, Francis.

  31. Brittany Erica(B.Erica) says:

    I was very happy to see mary with frances again. That’s where she belonged. All these other 2nd not even best relationships were an obvious fail to compared to frances and mary.

  32. While there are so many fans wailing and crying buckets after the finale – its also 99% Frary shippers who tuned in to see the final 2 minutes. For the rest of us – shipping preferences aside – who actually stuck with this show to the end, the finale was at utter fail. No storylines resolved??? Yes Mary was beheaded, but what about Luc? Claude? James? Bothwell, Greer? With the way this ended, Luc Narcisse was a superfluous character who could have been edited out of the entire season with zero impact on the other storylines. Why was Greer divorced from Castleroy? While I didnt favour her romance with James, in the end, it also amounted to nothing. I understand people were happy to see Francis. But other than that, this entire season was a waste. Filler episodes leading to a hideously paced finale. Very disappointing.

  33. Ash says:

    Im equally amazed and appalled at the finale of reign. It breaks my heart haha but it was so fitting. I hope it isn’t over….. Although without Mary it isn’t ‘Reign’

  34. Andria says:

    So upset it ended any chances of starting back like prison break did !!!!

  35. Alison says:

    I think there was more to tell and 2 more seasons left to do it in. Good show but if this season was broken down and touched the rearing of baby James the viewers would have felt more at peace with Mary’s death.

  36. B. Cohen says:

    Loved the series. Please have a re-run of the finale. Missed it and so sad.

  37. Watcher says:

    Very disappointed. Of course these shows don’t play to historical accuracy, but the portrayal of Elizabeth and Mary as weak, emotional women bowing to the “stronger sex” was wrong. At least Catherine was given strength but not enough as she was the true power behind the throne after Henry’s untimely death. Disagree? Brush up on your history. The best of the show was Henry and Catherine. Great chemistry.

    The last 2 episodes got a bit perverse, making young Henry a cross-dresser (historians believe he was homosexual) and the menage au trois. Quite sickening to stoop to this when it appeared that there was no decent script(s) to end the series.

    CW needs to produce better programs of substance vs. silly and totally unbelievable, perverse nonsense like “Lost Girl” or “Riverdale”. Frankly, I don’t know any woman interested in a menage au trois. Maybe if 2 men were involved, but no. Programming is obsessed with men’s fantasies.

  38. Yvonne says:

    I will miss the show, all the actors and actresses. I’ll miss all the art, clothes, and history. I am so saddened how Mary had to live her life and that of The Scotland people always in fear. Saddened after watching The Tudors and how England changed their religion and exposing how Christians died for their faith and how corrupt Rome was. Huge history lessons. Internet helped explain what the 2 shows provoked me to go explore. Thanks #Reign I enjoyed!!! And #tudors

  39. Meredith says:

    I have watched this show from beginning to end and I’ve loved it! I really really hated it couldn’t have gone longer but the ending was superb! I loved how it went straight to her life back in Francis’ arms like it should have been but we couldn’t control history! As far as the 21 year jump I’m sure McCarthy didn’t want to do it that way but you couldn’t do 21 years in an episode, let alone in 2 mins… I’m pretty sure if there was another season or 2 it would have been something!

  40. SANDY says:

    I have loved this show from the very beginning. I know the history so I knew how it would end and I am glad it ended with Mary and Francis, thank you so much for a good series I and just sad it ended so soon.

  41. jarima says:

    The way it ended made you think the show lost it’s funding and they just had to cut it off abruptly and had to end it within 30 minutes of airtime! So many questions left unanswered, such a disappointment.

  42. carolyn sprague says:

    When a series ends that you really love, is there any good way to say goodbye? Bitter sweet, although, I was so glad it left us with Mary’s “after life” because her love story with Francis was where it all began for me. What a cast, ,,I will really miss them all.

    • ninergrl6 says:

      Just a few months ago Grimm delivered an amazing series finale that made me bawl. Buffy & Quantum Leap are two other great series finales that immediately come to mind. The (eternal) problem with Reign is the actual history of what happened to these people. Sure, they could’ve gone completely fictional and made up a different resolution or ended Mary’s story early without getting to the end of her life, but anything other than the true end for Mary would’ve felt wrong. They *needed* to get there. I just wish they had more episodes/seasons to do it.

  43. Sylvia says:

    Oh man I was super bummed to watch what I thought was the season finale then to see the time jump and realize it was the series finale. It rather kills off any possibilty of a revival though maybe someone will pull a Nashville CMT and do a spin off with Elizabeth and her untold years? I mean, Sir Francis Drake, cmon, would love to see a CW interpret of the Golden Age. Also which, and sorry, this isn’t talking smart about TV at all: this was the most attractive male cast on any current show. I am so going to miss the Man Candy. Had been looking forward to seeing Bothwell marry Mary and then of course Craig Parker is just so deliciously wicked. Sigh. Big sigh.

    • nedsdag says:

      Indeed. It was the “Man Candy” that kept me interested, especially Darnley, Bothwell, and Henry. I hope they get more roles in the future.

  44. Christine says:

    What a disappointing end over all.. 😢😢😢 loved this series. Can’t believe that’s it finished.. boo so many unanswered questions

  45. Karen Stone says:

    I think you should have waited and done season’s 5 and 6. It just ended to quickly. I do love the show.

  46. Rebecca says:

    This show was truly amazing I fell in love with the very first episode I can watch all four seasons over over again I wish it would have never ended so much love between Mary and Francis just a amazing show

    • Lynda B says:

      I agree, I loved the show from start to finish, and so loved that Francis and Mary were united at the end…………..I so loved them both in their characters. Great show, I will truly miss it.

  47. sandra says:

    I will surely miss this series. One of TV best. Would of liked to see one more season just to tie up some lose ends, in relationships and the state of the countries at hand.

  48. Abena Minnow says:

    WE NEED A SPIN OFF, WE NEED A SPIN OFF, WE NEED A SPIN OFF. Give us anything, Francis and Mary in heaven lol, we will take it, beggars aren’t choosers. But seriously can the producers come up with a similar show? And this time be smart about the storyline and not kill off a main beloved character? yah yah yah I know the whole history about francis dying but they killed him off way too early. Final wish list, pls include adelaide and toby, such chemistry those two have, haven’t seen it in anything for a long time.

  49. LH says:

    Years ago I had read some historical fiction about this era (HenrY VIII, his wives and Mary in particular, so I enjoyed seeing part of that brought to life. I wish it fidntdidnt have to end, I feel a void allready. Looked forward to the show each week and thought the acting was top notch. I even liked Narcisse though he was a bit of a philandering rogue. I’m going to get some biographies now to see how true the show was.

    • ninergrl6 says:

      It definitely made me appreciate the real history more that I had before. I visited Scotland & England last summer, and I was moved to tears thinking of the real-life people in whose footsteps I walked, particularly Mary. Even though Reign wasn’t 100% historically accurate, I still learned a lot from the show.

  50. De says:

    Wow. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a rushed finale. I understand they’re hoping for an extra season, but they had at least half a season to prepare period they have way too many storylines going for a finale episode. And what the heck was with that Catherine narcisse witch story? That was just bizarre and completely confusing.

    And Claude looking for Luke after losing Leith and being left alone was disappointing period

    I really would have liked the strong ending for Catherine

    And the 21-year time Jump was really really sloppy. If they were going to do that, and I understand ending the show with her death, but then they should have at least had half an episode minimum to spread the time Jump instead of the two minutes. That was just strange. And the conversation between Elizabeth and Mary’s son was awkward and just weird.

    And what happened to Greer?

    And I just read an interview with Laurie that Bash had died – okay? Mary reacted as if his spirit and contacted the guy and Bash was still alive – I took it to mean that Bosch had some cool Druid power or he did that or something. If that meant bash died then why did Mary not react?

    I don’t know. I really love the show, but I found the finale to be pretty disappointing.