Knightfall: Hard Blows Will Banish the Sin

Knightfall: Hard Blows Will Banish the Sin | Season 1, Episode 5 | Air Date: January 3, 2018 | Rating: 7/11 |

King Philip

*SPOILERS AHEAD* If you didn’t know that this space is where episode recaps (with random bits of commentary) occur, now you do. So, if your mind’s not ready to know exactly what happened in this week’s episode of Knightfall, avert your eyes. Now. You’ve been warned. 

Ready? Let’s roll.

Remember what I said about “WTF?” moments and nothing being what it seems in this show? Yeah. Anyway, the tension between France and England elevates along with the political machinations behind the scenes as Isabella’s wedding day approaches.

Wedding From Hell:

After the unfortunate equine sacrifice (RIP, Sebastian), France throws an old-school, battle pep rally in preparation for marching off to war against England while the English Ambassador – the Earl of Oxford – has disappeared leaving De Nogaret to deduce that a real threat against the royal family could land closer to home and sooner than everyone expects. While ambiguous, De Nogaret is intent on making King Philip take the unknown threat seriously. After a dry exchange with Pope Boniface and a sip of wedding wine, De Nogaret is felled by poison, but not before preventing Queen Joan from the same fate. In a search of Oxford’s room, Gawain finds a nasty substance known as Greek fire: an incendiary that burns hotter than ordinary fire, water cannot extinguish it and is known to be used by one particularly effective Mongolian assassin, Altani (Lourdes Fabares). Isabella’s wedding day is 24 hours away and De Nogaret is closer to death than not (with a snarky Pope Boniface kind enough to tend to his soul’s absolution), but Philip still doubts England’s King Edward (aka Longshanks) has the stones to attack them during a church wedding. Loathe to postpone it, Philip settles for moving the event to a more controlled environment: the palace with the Templar Knights as extra security.

Needless to say, the wedding does not go well. For all of the measures of protection, the assassin manages to loose an arrow from an empty balcony into Landry’s shoulder. Chaos erupts, the assassin snatches Isabella and escapes in a carriage with Prince Llius in hot pursuit on foot, but when Lluis catches up and climbs into the carriage to rescue her, Isabella jumps out intentionally leaving Lluis behind for the assassin to kill with Greek fire.

Gawain & Parsifal

When Isabella administers the antidote to De Nogaret, the plot reveals itself: De Nogaret and Isabella (still believing that Lluis blabbed about their one night together) staged the royal family assassination attempt by self-inflicted poison/murder of Lluis effectively setting up the Earl of Oxford to take the fall as sole conspirator. With Prince Lluis dead and England clearly not responsible for the rogue actions of Oxford, De Nogaret gets exactly what he wanted in the first place: a French/English alliance by way of Isabella marrying the Prince of England.

File under “Tying up loose ends” as Altani executes the Earl of Oxford.

Crime & Punishment, Loss, Love, Loss:

If you’re fascinated by the awful that Tancrede endured, yes, the gauntlet was a real thing in the realm of corporal punishment. But no matter how hard the blows landed (and much to Landry’s heavy heart), Tancrede refuses to repent for the sin of murdering Nassir because he did it to protect the temple. While tucked away in a cell beaten, bloodied and one eye so abused that it’s swollen shut, Gawain and Parsifal have need to consult Tancrede: he’s the only person that Gawain knows who has knowledge of the Greek fire assassin. Initially, Tancrede is less than cooperative (to be expected with the swollen shut eye-thing and all), but eventually gives what info he has.

After the awkward overshare between Landry and Philip of how Joan has returned to Philip’s bed, there’s a back and forth between a confused Landry and an annoyed Joan until she reveals that she’s pregnant. Eventually, the sad light bulb comes on for Landry: Philip will think the child is his.

Draper may not be the warrior knight that his brothers are, but he’s still not a man to be snuck up on in the streets. The Brotherhood of Light – more specifically their old “friend” Rashid – demands the return of Nassir’s body. Nassir was Rashid’s son…and he wants him back. A request that – under previous circumstances – Landry probably would not grant; now it’s one that he cannot deny.

De Nogaret

So we have De Nogaret (the hero!) on the road to recovery, what’s left of Prince Lluis in a box, Landry feeling paternal urges, Queen Joan making King Philip the happiest (and still most gullible) man on earth by sweetly informing him she’s with (Landry’s) child, and Landry abducted by the Brotherhood of Light. Any questions?

Houston, we have a problem:

Yes I am enjoying Knightfall, but I would be remiss to ignore what feels like a situational flaw. Only an idiot would expect a fictionalized account of a highly mysterious sect of medieval history, literal knights in shining armor, a mythical Christian relic and a royal family to remain wholly grounded and never take a fantastical liberty or two, but there’s only so far into soap opera-land that you can safely (and not laughably) venture. As lively as it was with all of its Machiavellian brilliance (De Nogaret and Isabella, combined), it’s easy to view this particular episode is an entrée upon that bridge too far: it was jammed with more plotting/planning/execution/success/deception/revelation at a rapid fire pace (while paying glancing lip service to the heft of the Templars pure purpose) that its made the sacrifice of turning history (and its precious historical figures) into campy caricatures of itself/themselves for entertainment’s sake. Even the overall sharpness of this King Philip of France closer resembles the dupability of England’s Henry VI, so much so that I scoffed at his, “I expect England to underestimate me, De Nogaret, but you should know better.”

Know better, Knightfall. Know better. That said, see you next week.


  • That De Nogaret would pay a random visit to the Earl of Oxford; fine. That he would do so with a battering ram in tow: seriously?
  • Sure, Isabella aligned with De Nogaret (because you know: REVENGE!), but did she know that Prince Lluis would die, let alone die so horribly?
  • Gawain continues to rely on his better angels with Parsifal (good and caring guidance given) and Landry (damned dutiful). As much as I want this Gawain to stay present, we’ve still got five more episodes to go. He and De Nogaret are bound to cross paths again and, as we’ve seen, nothing good comes from that.
  • Interesting is the fact that Draper is a convert: Muslim Saracen to Christian, which is curious considering how vehemently against the mere presence of Nassir within the temple many of the Templar Knights were.
  • While tracking Roland, Adelina spies him at the medieval post office (pigeon carriers, folks) sending a message. Adelina watches, Adelina follows, Adelina gets caught.
  • Why is the Queen of France able to constantly sneak off to that secret spot to meet Landry without ever being caught?


  • “Her happiness is my sole purpose: my holy grail, if you like.” (De Nogaret to Pope Boniface)
  • “If I’m the target, then I cannot also be the perpetrator.” (De Nogaret)
  • “Your history is written by men who speak of honor as if could be bought; my history has a different author.” (Alkani)

Next Week’s Episode: “The Pilgrimage of Chains”