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Higher Ground is the twentieth episode of Season One. It had original ratings of 1.40.


MARY GETS BLOOD ON HER HANDS TO SAVE SCOTLAND — Mary enlists a mercenary to help her, which forces her to realize there are sacrifices and lives she is willing to risk to save her country. Francis embraces his role as Dauphin to lead France in a brutal battle against England, and finds a new ally in Leith. Meanwhile, as Lola grows closer to Lord Julien, she gets increasingly suspicious that he is going to betray her. Henry, Bash, Kenna and Greer also appear.


The episode opens up with the French Outpost near Calais. There are soldiers in the camp, some of which appear to be either wounded or dead, but there is a small group huddled around a fire when Francis and a Noble soldier ride into the camp. Francis inquires as to the whereabouts of the commander, and the soldiers rise when they learn they are speaking with the Dauphin of France; however when they learn that the English are heading their way Francis rips off his royal cloth and takes command of the remaining soldiers.

Meanwhile back at French Court Greer and Mary are walking together and Greer is telling Mary that her ladies missed her at breakfast, and it’s not healthy to spend time alone. Mary confides in Greer that she misses Francis and is worried about him out fighting for Calais, and she expresses that she is not too pleased that he took soldiers meant to protect her mother to save the French and take back Calais. While Mary knows that this had to be done she comments that thousands of French soldiers would have died anyway…and then the two women talk about how all married couples have troubles and Greer says that Mary has redefined marital discord. The women approach and see a guard with a large scar on his face Greer notices Mary’s face and asks her what is wrong; Mary says that every time she sees this particular guard she wants to gouge out his eyes, Greer inquires as to who he is, but before Mary can answer another guard approaches them with an urgent message for Mary.

The doors to the throne room open and Queen Catherine enters in a beautiful red gown with gold embroidery, with a matching crown in her hair. She is followed by some of her ladies to greet her cousins Roman & Hortenza de Medici. The Queen greets Roman happily; however it’s obvious that she is not as happy to see Hortenza who immediately comments on how well Catherine looks despite the circumstances that her husband King Henry is with his mistress in Paris which leaves her alone and seemingly vulnerable. Queen Catherine says that her cousins usually time their visits around Henry’s availability, but since her husband has been in a bad temper lately they would have enjoyed Henry’s company less than usual. Hortenza says that Henry always enjoyed her company as much as she enjoyed his; Queen Catherine says that this was until Henry left her in tears, because he decided to marry her and not Hortenza, and that life is full of surprises.

Hortenza then reveals the truth behind their visit: Roman has trade and she needs back the men she loaned to the Queen sometime ago as she needs them for a job in Florence, Italy, and that Queen Catherine can have no more need for them as they have already served their purpose. Mary enters and Catherine introduces her to the visiting Medici cousins; Hortenza comments that she remembers Mary from when she was a child, and that she always had words to say. Mary begs pardon for a private word with her mother in law, and Hortenza makes a comment that Mary still has words to say. The Queen orders her lady Beatrice to show her cousins their chambers and ensure that they are comfortable.

Queen Catherine then takes Mary’s hand and inquires of her what ails her? Mary gives Catherine the letter and tells that her mother Marie de Guise needs to escape from Scotland to a safe place and that she needs money for travel, guards, and even bribes if necessary; Mary also says that there was a time when Catherine needed help and Marie came through with a considerable loan, but the Queen says that she never used that money, and Mary says that she never gave it back either, Catherine says that she has exchanged 10 times that amount with Marie, and asks if this is really about an old debt? Mary confesses that this is about being a female ruler trapped and alone, and if no one else knows just how terrifying this can be Catherine does. The sympathetic Queen says that she would help if she could, but all of the court’s money is tied up in the war with Calais; however Mary interrupts as she is not talking about the Court’s money she’s talking about Queen Catherine’s money…the gold stash she has hidden in case she needs to skip France in a hurry, and before Catherine can deny it Mary tells her not to bother, because not 6 months ago she was ready to get into that money to escape to Italy because her husband wanted her dead, and she says that her mother and Catherine were friends once; Catherine wishes Marie well and says that there is NO hidden money. Mary grabs Catherine’s arm and begs her for the money the Queen snatches her arm away and tells Mary that she is a Queen, and Queens don’t beg as it invites sympathy, pity and disdain and if Mary gives the impression that she is weak then she may need a secret fund.

Queen Mary enters her chambers to find 2 maids hard at work cleaning her room; when she hears a strange noise coming from behind her changing area, she dismisses the maids, and picks up her letter opener from her desk asking who is in her room. When Mary turns around to a voice that says “John Priveaux at your service” Mary wondered when he would arrive, and asks if he was seen, and John mentions that he is never seen, and Mary says that John is so well known in many circles especially her uncle’s, and that he’s a man who gets the job done as a mercenary. John tells Mary that her messenger came to tell him that Mary needed him urgently and inquires as to why. Mary tells John about the supposed secret stash of gold that belongs to the Queen of France, that she needs him to find that money and bring it to her, that she gave Catherine the option of being a human being and saving a life, and she refused. John asks if this is wise considering she is about to steal it, Mary says that if it’s done right the Queen won’t even realize it’s gone possibly for month, and then she asks how John intends to go about this process, he tells her that she doesn’t want the details of how this is done; however Mary says that she does not want blood spilled if that’s what he’s intending, but John says that while no one intends to spill blood plans tend to go awry. Mary makes him promise not to spill innocent blood, and to inform her before any serious action is taken. John tells her to leave everything to him, and then just as suddenly as he appeared he vanishes.

In the castle chapel, Queen Catherine is seen kneeling in a confession box to talk to the priest about the fact that she has taken the Lord’s name in vain many times, she ordered the assassination of a dozen Scottish visitors, she struck her servant in a loss of self control which she has been lacking lately and that because her cousin Hortenza is at court the worst should be expected of her as she loathes this women. She says that she is prepared for her penance; however the Priest does not answer, but instead there is a thud the Queen comes out from behind the curtain and is horrified to see the priest dead on the floor, however as she stares at the body a shadowy figure is seen sneaking up behind her, and a pair of black gloved hands grab her around her mouth silencing her screams, and drag her away as she struggles unsuccessfully.

In the castle courtyard 2 couples: Kenna & Bash, Lola & Remy are taking a brief stroll. Kenna is telling a worried Bash that he should not worry about Francis & the war, and that he will survive and return home, but instead they should try to shake the black mood as they are young wed couples. Lola agrees as Kenna heads out into the snow and says “Let’s play” as she finds a ball and she, Bash & Remy begin a game of kicking the ball while a very pregnant Lola watches form the side; suddenly Lola experiences a pain that brings her to sit on a log and Remy, Kenna and Bash rush over to her as she says that these cramps she is having have been happening lately & perhaps she should lie down. Her loving husband Remy helps her up and the three take her inside.

Meanwhile in the forest Francis & the soldiers stop for a brief rest while on their way to advance on the English when suddenly an arrow flies out of nowhere and lands in a tree almost hitting Francis then instantly a group of English soldiers come running out of the wood and attacks them. The French quickly gain the upper hand, and the English are quickly defeated and killed in the forest; however at one point As an English soldier goes to kill Francis Leith comes and kills him first, saving the life of the Dauphin. Francis asks Leith his name and tells him that he is in his debt.

Immediately the sound of chains is heard and we see a frightened Queen Catherine blindfolded & chained by her hands and feet to a chair in a dismal looking place talking to her kidnapper John who is sitting in front of her face about the fact that she can: sense he’s there, that’s he’s wise not to speak otherwise he’d be boasting about his English superiority, but she can tell what this is all about for one thing it has nothing to do with the war in Calais. She senses that this “person” is a mercenary and does not intend to kill her at least not yet which means he wants something from her like money or information. The Queen also realizes that the fact that he was able to get inside the castle to take her reveals 1 of 2 things that either he works there which she finds highly unlikely or else he was hired by someone close to her who is in desperate need of funds who has long had it in for her perhaps a young Queen. While she is talking John is listening to her not saying a word but eating an apple, but looks interested when his prisoner Queen offers him double of whatever he was paid to kidnap her IF he brings her the head of whoever is responsible for this. John gets up, sets his apple on the chair, then walks over to Catherine as she asks him if they have a deal John walks to her left side and puts his knife to her ear as if he’s going to cut off her ear or take her earring. The Queen is shuddering with fear.

Back at French Court Remy is with his wife Lola who is being checked out by Agnes the wet nurse who has her hand on Lola’s huge baby bump and says that she has a nice healthy baby inside given the strong kick she felt. Agnes tells the couple that their baby is going to be just fine. Agnes then leaves Lola and her husband alone as they talk about their new baby, that Lola is happy as she has a better husband than she could hope for or than she deserves; however Lola admits to her husband that she is scared about giving birth and she knows Remy feels the same way, she also asks him to be with her when she gives birth, but Remy is reluctant as he feels that the other ladies would be more suitable for her; however Lola feels safe with her husband, and Remy only wants what’s best for her.

Mary is seen walking into her room followed by Hortenza who has just told her that Queen Catherine has been kidnapped. Mary asks what she means as Hortenza asks her to keep her voice down lest she alert the whole world to the vulnerability of King Henry’s court: (with him away in Paris, his heir at war and now his Queen has been kidnapped) she then gives Mary a note that she says was slipped under her door. Mary reads it and the note demands that 20,000 francs be delivered to the base of the Louis XI obelisk by sundown the next day. Hortenza thought it proper to tell Mary as she is the last royal in the castle in case she decides to do anything about it, when Mary asks what she means Hortenza reveals that the Medici family has a long standing tradition of not dealing with kidnappers or ransom demands indicating that if they bowed to the demands their family would never be safe.

Mary then protests asking “What of Catherine?” Given that this is the King’s wife they’re talking about Hortenza says that perhaps Henry will pay the ransom but Mary says that it will take days to get word to the King long after the deadline. The note is clear that if they do not give in to the kidnapper's demands then Catherine’s body will be dumped at the castle gates. Hortenza tells Mary that she has been in this situation before and there are 2 possible outcomes: either Catherine’s kidnappers intend to return her alive in which case there is plenty of time to pay the ransom or they don’t intend to wait for the ransom in which case there is no point in rushing to pay it. The door opens and Roman rushes in with a cloth in his hand that was found at the castle gate. The three gather around as Mary opens up the cloth and they are stunned to see a human ear with a beautiful earring attached to it which Mary identifies as belonging to Catherine. Mary then suggests a 3rd outcome: that the kidnappers intend to return Catherine but in pieces. Despite this frightening “gift” Hortenza stands firm that their family simply cannot give into the kidnappers’ demands and she and Roman leave Mary alone.

Back in the woods the war to take Calais back continues as Francis and the other soldiers make their way towards the castle where the English are. Francis makes the observation that the castle is undermanned which will make it easy to take. Suddenly the English are firing the cannon at the soldiers and Francis commands to take cover as they run for the forests as he says that either they stay and finish this war or they die trying.

Meanwhile back at French Court Greer visits Lola who is resting quietly. Lola confides to Greer that her family’s banker has released her dowry to Remy; however Lola loves Remy and tells Greer that while he’s owed the money legally she’s a little suspicious that he married her to get the dowry money, as this was before they fell in love with each other. Greer also admits that she thinks of Leith everyday.

Back at the war with Calais the French soldiers are hiding in the woods as Francis looks at the English on the roof of a castle, and he notices that there is a bin of gunpowder next to the cannons which are still being fired on them, meant for reloading. Francis knows that if they were to hit that gunpowder that this would take care of the English. The men are a bit reluctant however but Francis assures them that if they stick to the strategy that they will get out alive and the English will be gone.

Back at court Kenna and Bash are in their chambers discussing Lola and Remy’s marriage. Kenna wants Bash to find out info on Remy as she is worried about Lola, but Bash refuses saying that while they came together quickly that it’s best to let them find their way. Bash knows that Lola is pregnant by someone else and suspects that Kenna knows who the real father is while he says that Lola is lucky to have found Remy as her child will have a title & respect.

Down in the undergrounds of the castle Mary meets with John and seems quite upset that he has left her out of the loop and more importantly he has kidnapped the Queen of France and cut off her ear. John notices that Mary is new at this “game” he assures her that the Queen is just fine, as he did not cut off her ear but took the ear of a dead body and put Catherine’s earring on it, he also tells Mary that the ransom note that the Medici’s are refusing to pay was a distraction as well. Mary then asks John if he plans to kill the Queen, he reveals that he plans to do no such thing; however he announces that not only does the Queen suspect that Mary is responsible for this, but she has offered him double what he is being paid to bring her Mary’s head. This puts a shock on Mary’s face, but John tells her to rest easily as he would not be a successful mercenary if he could be swayed so easily and he tells her to choose someone who could be used to put the Queen at ease with who is responsible someone who would not be missed, and he tells her not to waste time about it.

Elsewhere in the castle Mary confesses to Bash about the mercenary kidnapping Catherine in order to get her money. Though she didn’t mean for this situation to go this far she now has to find an innocent person to throw under the bus so to speak. Bash is not to happy with this decision of sending an innocent to their death but Mary doesn’t know what she is capable of anymore; however she has been looking at the men responsible for the slaughter of the dozen Scotsmen at the brothel in “Liege Lord” and she has come across a guard with a large scar from brow to chin, Bash tells Mary that she came to him because he killed someone when the pagans forced him to choose a sacrifice and he did it not only for Mary but for himself also. Bash also advises Mary to be sure of what she is doing or else her conscience won’t ever let her rest again.

Elsewhere in the castle Mary spies the guard she is looking for and runs into Hortenza instead who tells Mary that she has a talent for sneaking up on people but Mary comments on Hortenza speaking with Catherine’s guard; however Hortenza says that those guards belong to her and that she only loaned them to Catherine for a job, and asks Mary why she inquires of the guard? Mary says that she wanted to employ them to help find Catherine. Hortenza tells Mary that she needs to be a much better liar if she expects to be taken seriously…Mary admits that she wants to question him as he did some work for Catherine and she wanted to know the specifics of the job. Hortenza seems to know that Mary is referring to the whorehouse massacre, and admits that while they may have been doing a job for Catherine that those guards are loyal to her not the Queen of France. Mary looks quite surprised as Hortenza tells her not to and demands to know if Catherine put her up to this thinking that Catherine is using Mary to banish her from court. The Queen was afraid that Hortenza wanted to steal her husband and therefore had been trying for years to rid French Court of her. Hortenza also tells Mary that Catherine had her “little harlot” Beatrice to spy on her and now she has Mary doing the same thing. Hortenza then says that Mary is trying to gauge her in the slaughter of her countrymen, and that she had nothing to do with it. She also says that she loaned Catherine those men long before she planed the attack, and if Mary says anything different then she’ll deal with Mary in the same way as Beatrice queen or not. Mary asks Hortenza if she is threatening her, and Hortenza replies that if it means stepping on a servant, maid, nothing, insect she does not mind getting the heal of her shoe bloody, and that she cannot have the women bearing false witness against her when Henry returns home. She then apologizes to Mary if she has read her wrong; however she smugly says that her cousin the Queen of France must be taught to stay out of her affairs…assuming she makes it back to the castle. Hortenza then leaves Mary, who looks quite worried.

Back in their bedroom Kenna is in bed when Bash comes in the room. Kenna inquires of her husband as to where he was as she was worried and therefore about to send the servants looking for him. Bash tells his wife that he was looking into Lord Julian’s profile; Kenna asks if he’s destitute, if he killed his previous wife. Bash can’t answer these questions only that he’s planning a hunting trip, but he doesn’t think for a minute that Julian’s going hunting, but that he may be planning to leave Lola.

Back at the shed in the woods where Queen Catherine is being held prisoner we see the frightened Queen still chained to a chair when John comes in with a sack in his hands. When she asks if he did as she asked of him he drops the sack in her lap as she gasps almost screaming as she feels the parcel in her lap, and asks if he cut off the head of Mary Queen of Scotland? He replies that he did not cut off Mary’s head’ however Catherine asks whose head is in her lap, but warns John to answer her carefully, because if he lies to her then she won’t spill about where to find the money. John answers that the head belongs to someone who has despised her for a long time, someone who needed money desperately, and that she’ll find proof of what he’s telling her when she gets back to the castle. John then demands for the Queen to tell him where the gold is located, but he warns her that if she lies to him about the money then not only will he come back and find her, but he will take her children as well. Queen Catherine is not one to risk her babies for any reason so she tells John that there’s a chest of gold in an empty sarcophagus beneath the apse at the church of St. Isabelle. John then drops the key into Catherine’s lap and leaves her alone as she quickly unlocks the chains and with 1 chain still on her right hand she opens the parcel in her lap and is horrified to see the head of her cousin Hortenza de Medici.

Meanwhile at Calais Francis is winding flammable cloth around an arrow as he tells the soldiers to be fast and Leith tells him not to miss. The soldiers let out war cries as they run out in the open and Francis makes his way to make his shot: the English are trying unsuccessfully to hit the soldiers as Francis hurries to light his fire, light the arrow, and as he says “God help us all” he fires the arrow which lands right in the barrel of gunpowder causing a huge explosion eliminating the entire English team. Francis and the soldiers cheer happily as they have successfully retaken Calais from the English, but they then notice that Leith is missing.

Back at the castle Kenna is with Lola having just told her that her husband Julian has left with a carriage but no hounds for a hunting trip which Lola finds to be suspicious as she thinks that he is going to leave her. Then Julian comes in and Kenna leaves them alone, as Lola gets out of bed and she and Julian talk as Lola begs him to stay with her and not leave her, Julian says that he might stop in court for a hand of cards and have her dinner sent to her but Lola begs Julian to please hear her that she doesn’t need elaborate things and that she came into this marriage as means of survival but she would never have done it if she didn’t think she had found someone she could care for, and she has as she wants him and nothing more and that he could keep her for much less than he imagined and she wishes he could believe that. Julian tells Lola that he does believe her, and that she is everything he could ever want in a wife then he leaves the room.

In the castle's main hallway a furious Queen Catherine is returning home followed by guards & her ladies who are trying to attend to the highly agitated Queen whom while she is brushing them off her is demanding that the castle be locked down until further notice. Roman approaches her thanking God that she is safe and sound; however the very angry Queen isn’t buying it as she says “You, you expect me to believe you know nothing of this?” the guards bring the head of Hortenza by the window as Roman swears that he knows nothing of this. The Queen orders a search of Hortenza’s rooms as well as those of Mary Queen of Scots demanding her letters everyone she’s been talking with and her movements also, and until she is satisfied with the results of what happened she will discover the identity of her abductor and destroy them she then throws her handkerchief down on the floor with a loud slap and says “GO!” and walks away as her lady picks up the cloth and they trot off after her as the guards hurry off to obey her command.

In the forest the French have just defeated the English but they are looking for Leith and find him in the woods badly injured Francis stays with Leith despite telling Francis to leave him alone to die, but Francis won’t do it as Leith saved his life, and that there must be someone Leith wants to see again. Leith tells Francis that there is a girl whom he cares for deeply, but not only is she above his station she is also engaged to be married; however Francis tells Leith to consider that he may have more to offer her as now that he is a friend of the next King of France Kings get to bestow lands & titles on those they wish to reward. Francis then says “live Leith Bayard, go home to the woman you love, marry her, and be happy, but live.” As he helps Leith up they see the other soldiers and realize that the road to Calais is now open.

Back at French court it’s now night time and we see Remy preparing to leave Lola as he contemplates wether to get in the carriage.

Meanwhile in Queen Catherine’s chambers she is in her pajamas eating grapes on her couch when a guard enters and announces “Roman de Medici Your Grace.” Roman comes in her room with news: he supervised the search of Hortenza’s room and discovered that her jewel box was empty, and as it turns out she was penniless. Catherine asks how this can be as Hortenza’s husband supposedly left her a fortune when he died. Roman then reveals a note that was also found among her things, Catherine asks for the note and upon reading it sees that the note contains instructions for the delivery of money, and it seems that Hortenza was being blackmailed by someone who suspected that she had planed her husband’s death. Catherine asks if Hortenza did indeed plan her husband’s death. Roman answers that they know Hortenza, and that she had been paying vast sums for years to keep her secret which is why she came to court to hold Catherine for ransom. The Queen gets up from her seat as Roman apologizes to her that they didn’t notice any of this sooner; however the Queen says that for a moment what had escaped her notice was Mary Queen of Scots…a child she raised for a while. She wondered what lessons Mary had learned from her lately she warned her about begging & looking weak and Roman asks if she thinks Mary arranged this? The Queen responds that she thinks that Mary is capable of all of it except Hortenza’s murder as it takes time for a woman to grow that hard and then admits that she was nearly 30 when she killed an innocent and that innocence is relative. She also wonders how long Mary’s will last because once gone it can never be reclaimed.

Julian bursts into Lola’s room and admits that he wasn’t playing cards but that he was going to leave her and he suspects that she knew this. He also admits that: he’s fallen out with his family, that he has no money of his own, that he intended to live off what he could get from Lola’s dowry. Lola bids him to continue as Julian further admits that he is as close to penniless as the son of a wealthy family can be, and Lola asks if this is why he married her and cared not that she’s carrying another man’s child. Julian admits that money was the reason he married her, but as he came to love her he could no longer keep such a secret from her. Lola talks about her shame of being abandoned not 1 year into their marriage, Julian didn’t think about that but Lola’s fear made her want Julian at her side while his fear made him want to run away. Lola asks what he’s afraid of and Julian replies that all he has to offer her is himself as Lola says that she wants a simpler life & to be with Julian; however Lola makes him promise her no more lies.

In the castle undergrounds John meets with Mary and: gives her a sample of the money, tells her that the rest is hidden safely, with Hortenza’s body safely buried & her head taken quickly. Then there’s the letter he planted in the room to convince Queen Catherine of her guilt. John comments that Mary made an excellent choice; however Mary feels that there is no excellent choice at all when it comes to murder & that she has been at court long enough to know how the Medici’s work and act: Hortenza was going to have Beatrice killed & her guard confirmed it. Mary says that she traded one life for another, but just as John gets ready to leave Mary tells him that she is not one with him yet as now she needs men she can trust to see her mother safely from Scotland John tells her that finding men like him who are willing to do whatever it takes despite the risks won’t be easy; however Mary says that she has already taken care of this and bids John to follow her…Mary leads John to another room where they see Hortenza’s men as Mary comments that they used to work for Hortenza until their mistress lost her head and now they work for her, but will answer to John. Mary tells the men to pack and be ready to sail within the hour. John comments if Mary knows what she is doing as these men are monsters Mary knows this but now they are her monsters.


Main Cast[]

Recurring Cast[]

Guest Cast[]





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