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Over the course of the stormy first season, Mary, Queen of Scots, struggled to balance her many roles — as Queen of Scotland, as royal fiancée, and later as young wife to the future King of France, and as faithful friend to her ladies in waiting.
Challenges came in every form: the reigning queen consort of France, Francis’ mother, Catherine de Medici, did everything she could to destroy the union of Mary and Francis, even if that meant taking Mary’s life. Francis and Mary were both torn by their duties to their nations, paving the way for Mary to form a close bond with Bash, Francis’ illegitimate brother, who could offer Mary a level of devotion the future king could not. King Henry descended into madness. And a bloodthirsty menace in the woods was annihilated, but not before taking dozens of lives and heralding the coming of a plague. By the end of the season, the shocking death of King Henry made Francis and Mary the new King and Queen of France. But before their new crowns could be placed on their heads, Francis had placed himself on the wrong side of the quarantined castle’s gates, rushing to help Lola give birth to his first and possibly only child.
The second season begins with Mary and Francis on the throne of a nation burning. France is rocked by the aftereffects of the plague – a disease that crept inside the castle walls, taking thousands upon thousands of lives across the land, and ravaging the stability of a nation. From the ashes, powerful lords will rise, carrying out personal, religious and political vendettas, taking lives, and tearing at Mary and Francis’ commitment to their people – and to each other. Though the plague will come to an end, famine will follow, and among the devastated survivors, there is a feeling that the dead still walk the earth. Reports of ghostly visitations will result in mass hysteria and lawlessness. Across all levels of society, there are people eager to exploit the fear and guilt of those who managed to live through the plague. Royals and commoners alike now face a future where friendships will be tested, loyalties betrayed and loved ones murdered.
No one knows this better than Francis, who is haunted by the part he played in his father’s death and by Henry’s final warning that betraying someone you love is a weight you will carry all your days. Francis’ guilt will tear at his relationship with Mary and his feelings about his own worth. While Francis struggles with his terrible secret, he is grateful that his half-brother Bash is standing by to help navigate the dangerous political waters. Even Catherine – now the Queen Mother – is still capable of plotting against Francis and Mary in order to regain her own power.
Despite the political and social upheaval, life at court continues to revolve around love, lust and arranged marriages. Among Mary’s ladies-in-waiting, Greer chose a suitor with social status over Leith, the kitchen servant-turned-soldier who begged her to marry him, while Kenna seems to have found happiness in her marriage to Bash. Mary herself must face the fact that her remaining lady-in-waiting, Lola, is the mother of Francis’ child. Though Mary does her best to have no animosity toward Lola, the child serves as a constant reminder that Mary has not yet produced an heir of her own. Her childless state diminishes Mary’s power in the eyes of the court and only adds to the danger she faces as she tries to control the nobles, maintain her marriage and rule over a nation forever changed by pestilence and famine. (The CW)
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