This Knightfall review contains spoilers.
Knightfall Episode 3
“It’s more than a symbol.”
They were this close, yet once again Landry and the gang come up just short of finding that darned elusive Grail. Although the acting remains strong and the visual style still dazzles, Knightfall seems headed down a conventional nighttime soap opera path which is unfortunate given everything it has going for it.
From the opening scene in which the brothers finally lay Godfrey to rest, “The Black Wolf and the White Wolf” insists on shunning subtlety and places the burial against Queen Joan throwing up into a bucket as she suffers from morning sickness. We know immediately where this is headed. Before we even have a chance to consider the implications of her condition, Philip admits his wife’s passion for him has disappeared and asks Landry, the presumed father of her child, to speak to Joan on his behalf. And then, when we learn that she and Philip haven’t shared a bed in two years, the queen’s trust in her handmaiden seems terribly misplaced.
It’s not surprising that she sends the young woman to the apothecary for a potion to terminate the pregnancy, but this story does come with a twist when we learn that Joan truly fears her husband’s wrath should he find out she’s carrying another man’s baby. Though we haven’t seen this side of him yet, her fear that the king will have her killed does add a bit of flavor to an otherwise pedestrian plot line. She tells her girl that she’s “learned never to cross the king again.” Obviously, her choices are limited, and as expected, as soon as the girl leaves to obtain the elixr, Philip walks in.
There’s no question that Joan’s dilemma could have profound effects on both church and state, but tonight, the events are handled so indelicately and so predictably that it’s difficult to become too engaged in the problems of otherwise likable characters. When the girl returns with the potion and asks the queen whether the child was “born out of love,” her decision whether to tell Landry can’t come soon enough. However, even that scene comes with its own set of issues.
King Philip holds a banquet to celebrate his friend’s new title as Master of the Temple which gives Joan the perfect opportunity to break the news to her dance partner Landry. She does get close, but he cuts her off, and taking heed of the pope’s words to “end this business immediately,” tells her he sees no hope for their future together. Of course, the camera hones in on the king who watches the two dance together, and then when he asks Landry how the conversation went, the Templar’s reply simply states the obvious. “I should not interfere with your marriage.” Too late, pal.
Although the adult love triangle thread should certainly lead to some juicy confrontations in the future, the young princess and her betrothed prince jump into the action as well, or should we say, jump into bed. The arranged marriage plot line figures to prominently impact the overall arc since the union of France and Catalonia will have far reaching effects that involve the church and England as well. Despite the fact that we see a clever young prince get to the truth of the situation, the behind the scenes political machinations with De Nogaret at the center, still have an opportunity to break up these two young lovers. As if anticipating the worst, we watch Isabella (Sabrina Bartlett) and Nicholas (Edward Bourne) embrace, the queen weeping in her chamber, and De Nogaret peeping through the hole in the princess’ door. Oh what a tangled web we weave.
Landry and Tancrede (Simon Merrells) find themselves caught in an elaborate plot to wrest the Grail from the hands of the Templars, and the introduction of the mysterious Saracens to the mix makes for a fascinating addition and the highlight of “The Black Wolf and The White Wolf.” You have to love the black ninja outfits and the well thought out plan that culminates in one member escaping by jumping into the well. However, the revelation that Godfrey anticipated this moment would eventually arrive, heightens what seemed to be another follow-the-clue moment. When Godfrey’s brother tells the knights that drinking from the Grail healed him of his crippling wounds, this adds another interesting level to the tale.
Though the scroll with directions to the Grail gets burned in the fire, we can excuse the trope-like nature of this event because of the ominous overtones from the wounded Saracen warrior’s warning. “The Grail will destroy you all.” And to add to the intrigue, the Saracen is found with his throat cut leading Landry to take control of the rapidly evolving situation. “Seal the temple; nobody leaves. There’s a murderer in our midst.” So who’s behind this man’s death? Smart money says that De Nogaret has a finger in this pie to some extent, but this complication could have its origins in a number of avenues.
Even though Landry and Joan’s betrayal feels a bit too melodramatic, there are enough other elements in play to keep Knightfall on an upward trajectory. Will Isabella marry the man she loves and watch France go to war with England, or will she be forced into a loveless union as De Nogaret desires leaving Catalonia seething? Is the burned scroll a total loss, or can the scholars glean some details to put Landry back on the road to the Grail? “The Black Wolf and The White Wolf” certainly keeps things moving, and so far gives us enough to come back for more.