Knightfall: God’s Executioners | Season 2, Episode 1 | Air Date: March 25, 2019 | Rating: 8/11 |
*SPOILERS AHEAD* Episode recaps (with random bits of commentary) occur in this space, so if your mind’s not ready to know exactly what happened in this week’s episode of Knightfall, avert your eyes. Now.
Ready? Let’s roll.
Welcome to season 2 of Knightfall which picks up directly after the Versailles showdown in season 1’s finale. Pregnant Queen Joan is dead but the child survived via a C-section, Landry is a new dad, King Philip IV of France is out for blood, and the state of the Templar Knights’ existence is in jeopardy. Now let’s unpack our season 2 premiere…and welcome Mr. Mark Hamill’s artfully done scary, scarred face scowl and growl to the fold as Talus.
Picture it: 14th century France and Temple Master Landry is reliving one of the worst days of his life via a dream/nightmare. It’s the season 1 finale battle against France’s King Philip and his Red Knights which resulted in the death of Queen Joan, but instead of surviving the battle, Landry falls to Philip’s vengeance and sword while Philip spitefully blames him for Joan’s death.
Back To Basics:
Landry is on a new path – something akin to a walk of shame – and his road to redemption looks like it’s going to be a bumpy one.
After waking from that bad dream and trusting the extraordinarily loyal Tancrede (yes, I am still on #TeamTancrede) with the task of finding a safe and secret place for baby Eve, Landry attempts to make things right with his fellow Templar brethren at the Chartres Temple but finds himself as unwelcome as an STD and officially (and violently) banished from the order. After a couple of weeks of groveling outside the temple walls, the scorn and disgust of knights (particularly vehement from Berenger and a grumpy Initiate Master Talus), humbling himself before God, some vocal defense from Tancrede, and a close vote later, Landry is granted reentry to the Temple, but as a lowly initiate.
That’s right: Landry is going back to medieval holy war basic training.
It goes about as well as you might expect: Landry and Talus butt heads during training sessions (Talus is not shy about wanting Landry gone), he receives cold shoulders from most of his fellow initiates, and he struggles with surrendering his knightly ego to his fallen brother status. And when a handful of initiates (of course Landry is among them) accompany Tancrede, Draper, Naimon, and Berenger on a covert mission to recover the hidden gold left behind at the Paris temple (now under Philip’s command), Landry disobeys a direct order from Talus and things go awry resulting in the deaths of two perfectly good, unfallen brothers – including Naimon who cast the deciding vote to allow Landry reentry to the temple. They may have recovered the gold, but now Talus is even more done with Landry who takes up the art of self-flagellation in repentance.
Humility is hard.
Back in Paris at the royal household of King Philip, things are status quo – well, all things except for the hair situations as master of shadiness DeNogaret is now beardless with a longer hairdo while King Philip is sporting a haircut and a face full of rugged whiskers. They’ve literally switched faces! It’s a good look on Philip, this resemblance to his good friend Landry, but it doesn’t change how black his heart has become: he’s still a bit miffed at Landry for sleeping with his wife and the Templar Knights for taking up arms against him.
Enter – with equestrian style – Prince Louis (Tom Forbes): Philip’s son freshly returned from a mission bearing severed fingers as proof of his success along with beloved Princess Isabella (now portrayed by Genevieve Gaunt) still by her father’s side. It’s all smiles and warm welcomes (along with Louis displaying some shade of his own towards “old friend” DeNogaret) until Louis hears of his mother’s death which Philip spins (read: lies) to have been by Landry’s hand instead of his own. Louis finds three points particularly unacceptable: 1) that Landry’s head isn’t on a pike, 2) that his mother’s body is still in Versailles, and 3) that Philip called her a whore. Though Queen Joan may have trespassed against her husband with another man, a boy’s mom is still a boy’s mom.
While a loving son towards Joan he may have been, Louis seems to have inherited his father’s capacity for cruelty and ugly.
And just when you thought that Knightfall had met its graves robbed-per-series quota in season 1 with Godfrey, Louis later returns to the castle bearing Joan’s decomposed body. After you’ve imagined the wretched stench of such a thing, Philip’s in-house…, I mean in-castle doctor reveals that Joan’s body was cut open. Engaging in some reasonable deduction, Philip correctly concludes that the baby is still alive. Landry’s baby.
The Dark Side:
Even though Philip and DeNogaret each continue to feed the other’s worst impulses, that simply goes to prove that – if nothing else – the two make a good bad team.
Still seething over Landry still breathing and not having control of the Templars’ wealth (Philip incorrectly assumes that their treasure is not at the Paris temple), Philip heeds DeNogaret’s counsel (manipulation) that moving against the Templars would equate to moving against the Pope which could bring down unholy (and financial) consequences against him and France and nobody needs that. Yes, it’s good counsel for Philip’s causes, but by now we know that DeNogaret cares about those causes because they will ultimately serve his.
Elsewhere in a seedier part of the city, we find a rather fit looking and agile Gawain (his leg seems to be holding up) making a living in medieval fight club-style under the moniker ‘The Crusader’. It’s ugly and brutal and a squalid situation, but that is where the former knight known as the greatest swordsman in all of Paris has landed after the battle in Versailles and where DeNogaret also finds him. Leave it to DeNogaret to eloquently liken Gawain to fellow fallen angel Lucifer and also leave it to DeNogaret to – once again – recruit Gawain for his anti-Templar Knights/Pope Boniface purposes. He really dislikes Pope Boniface, doesn’t he?
Talus How You Really Feel:
I’m not even a little sorry for that.
His mission: to train the next batch of battle-ready Templar Knights aka God’s executioners and Initiate Master Talus seems pretty damned good at his job, but he also serves as a vivid example of the harsh, linear, and seemingly contradictory mindset of the Order and the “Christian soldier” concept of the time in relation to the faith of peace and love that it serves. So what is Talus’ story? So far, all that we know is that he survived 10 years of captivity in the Holy Land. To be continued on that front but, in the meantime, revel in Hamill’s portrayal of Talus: a stern, hard-nosed, foul-mouthed taskmaster of God. Thanks for coming, Hamill.
And so begins Knightfall, season 2 off to a fairly solid start with the pristine sheen of the Templar’s reputation bit tarnished, our main players dealing with the consequences of last season’s actions, while we can only imagine how new additions, Talus and Prince Louis, will complicate matters. History tells us that all things Templar come crashing down in short order, the question is how will Knightfall get there.
- In the spirit of professionalism, I’m working under the premise that there is no way in hell that showrunner Aaron Helbing would allow a glaring continuity-fail like having Landry fighting a presently full-bearded Philip in his dream instead of the clean-shaven one that he actually fought to make the final cut without a reason. Mirroring, perhaps? God, I hope so.
- Not one mention of the Holy Grail.
- The force of brotherly bonds is strong between Landry and Tancrede even as we watch the two try to distance themselves from one another.
- Brace yourselves because the brutality level for this season has clearly been ratcheted up a few notches.
- It’s too bad that “Boy, bye” and “Bye, Felicia” weren’t a part of 14th century vernacular because I’d pay good money to hear Mark Hamill utter those words with Talus-like venom.
- Berenger: Considering how the season 1 finale ended, you know he has a unique agenda. Keep an eye on him.
- Baby Eve: who’s been feeding her since she was born? Seriously, who?
- With an “I would rather stay and witness your justice, father,” Isabella stands by rather calmly while Philip slices out the tongue of knight Pascal who knows that he killed Joan. As the showrunners weave Isabella’s true historical role as a medieval princess through the fiction, it looks like we will see the she-wolf that sprouted in season 1 come to into bloom.
- “When has a mission ever gone according to plan?” (Berenger)
- “I did not come here to die, Gawain: I came to offer you renewed purpose.” (DeNogaret)
- “Sometimes the seeds of a man’s destruction are also the seeds of his redemption.” (DeNogaret)
- “The most pious among us can become impure. But even the most vile can be saved.” (Rhone)
- “Each man must earn his own way into the Temple.” (Talus)
Next week’s episode: “The Devil Inside”
All Photos: Larry Horricks courtesy of HISTORY