There are so many great things about this scene….where to begin? First, Megan Follows and Adelaide Kane consistently turn out some of the best performances on this show. I never tire of watching either of them in a scene together and look forward to whatever plot devices the writers come up with to pair these two off together. Despite the fact that Catherine was set up as a classic “villian” for the first part of this season, I have always sympathized with her character. I have enjoyed watching the ever-evolving relationship between Mary and Catherine unfold which, lest we forget, has run the gamut from hate and loathing, to death attempts, to allies in their plight to save Francis, to sex talks, to them recently becoming “fast friends” as Catherine rather comically stated. (And we’re still in season one folks! That’s a lot to pack in…..long may they both reign!)
What strikes me about their dynamic in this scene is the mother-daughter nature of their relationship. When Catherine rather cruelly explains to Mary that these harsh decisions are a part of her duty, I felt less like she was being intentionally mean and more like she was providing her with a teachable moment.
Mary has spent almost her entire life in France, away from her homeland in Scotland, and there is a real sense that Queen Catherine is the only mother that she has ever really known. With the exception of the years that Mary spent stashed away at the convent, she has spent more of her lifetime with Catherine than she has with her own mother. Despite their past differences, I believe that Catherine is trying to impart the wisdom that comes with experience, just like any mother would for her child. Earlier episodes have eluded to the fact that when Mary was a child, there was some fondness between them.
"You were kind to me, when I was young." - Mary, Hearts and Minds
The role of Queen forces them to make awful choices, choices that will result in the deaths of others, and there is no escape from this reality, no matter how much Mary may wish it so. I was glad that we were allowed see Catherine’s resignation over her decision. It illustrates that despite the fact that Catherine has accepted the fate of her station, these choices never really become easier with time.
"In time you’ll get used to it. You’ll now know in your bones the losses you face each time you send men out and you’ll do it anyway. It will be a cold choice, it’s mathematical you could say. Because the only other option is to pull the covers over your head and give up." - Catherine, Liege Lord
I loved Mary’s breakdown into tears and eventual escape into Francis’ arms in her feeble attempts to remain strong. As much as this episode was about Mary getting her first taste of power, it was also about the fact that she is still very much a child learning to handle her increasing responsibilities. As strong, confident and powerful she appeared in the scene where she is speaking to her Scottish countrymen, her teary-eyed breakdown in front of Catherine shows that she is still a teenage girl, learning to bear the weight of responsibility that has been placed upon her young shoulders.