This Knightfall review contains spoilers.
Knightfall Episode 4
“Are you sure you want this marriage?”
Just when Knightfall appeared ready to focus on the romantic entanglements of its ruling class, “He Who Discovers His Own Self, Discovers God” takes the historical narrative back to its roots of mystery, murder, and political intrigue. Landry embarks on a vision quest and leaves Tancrede and Gawain behind to get to the bottom of the Saracen’s murder, but the tale takes an unexpected turn when the killer’s identity is revealed.
Tonight’s episode hits the pavement running as Landry’s search to find meaning behind the symbol found on the dead Saracen’s wrist leads him to consult Jonas (Peter Marinker), a self professed heretic, who helps the knight dig deep into his memories. What’s interesting here is Landry’s willingness to travel outside the Templar norms and put his faith and trust in a man who has turned his own back on God. The ritual Jonas performs not only allows the knight to delve into his subconscious, but opens our eyes to the complexities of a man who tries to live by a strict moral code and often falls short. Still, the flashbacks to his childhood provide more information than simply the origin of the Saracen’s markings.
Getting to experience the origin story of Landry and Godfrey’s relationship provides critical backstory for Landry and comes at the perfect time. Able to travel all the way back to his early years with his mother, Landry momentarily loses his composure, and it’s not clear whether it’s the sight of his mother or the fact that he’s managed to travel this far into his past. Regardless, using flashbacks within the context of Jonas’ guidance offers a candid view of the young man’s struggle to make something of himself. We quickly jump a few more years into the future, and Landry now lives at a convent under the watchful eye of Mother Superior. These scenes move swiftly as the adult knight hones in on critical moments from his time at the convent, and it’s the appearance of a stranger asking about Godfrey that forms the key point in his life.
After physically threatening Mother Superior, Malraux (Jack Sandle) learns that Godfrey went to Jerusalem and sets out to steal the Grail, but it’s young Landry’s reaction that forms the basis of the adult we’ve come to know. Being able to warn Godfrey reveals the boy’s tenacity and desire to join the Templars as Godfrey’s squier, and it’s here that last week’s episode title comes more into focus. The insight we glean from his explanation to the boy that each person holds within him to ability to go light or dark, and the key is learning when to use fear and hate to your advantage in lieu of love and faith. Knowing whether to feed the black wolf or the white wolf becomes the first lesson Godfrey imparts to his new squier.
“He Who Discovers His Own Self, Discovers God” deftly takes the Grail’s story and presents it from another perspective. We’ve seen Landry’s devotion to protecting and now recovering the relic, and tonight we see through his eyes the sacrifices believers have been willing to make to protect this sacred object. It’s not clear whether the boy knows the box contains only sand as he’s pursued by Malraux through the woods which only adds to the scene’s impact. But it’s the picture of the severely wounded knight shooting an arrow through Malraux to save Landry that cements their burgeoning relationship. How could he not take on this brave young boy who displays such courage and commitment?
That said, this plot line then neatly dovetails into Landry’s initial confrontation with The Brotherhood of Light as he and Godfrey ride in the desert. Let’s not forget that Knightfall follows the adventures of one of the most enigmatic groups in history, so we can never have too many secret organizations in the mix. And while it’s critical that Landry has now put an organizational face to the symbol, it’s his recollection of the “simple orange” that brings him back to the present and an awareness of how he must proceed. This entire sequence really examines this life long bond and adds a twist to an already compelling arc.
The intrigue surrounding Isabella’s wedding takes a few convincing detours along the way, and the writers manage to methodically weave in Joan’s pregnancy with the lie that De Nogaret spreads about the princess’s failure to save herself for marriage. The bad blood between Joan and her cousin Queen Elena (Claudia Bassols) of Catalonia makes for some delightful exchanges between the two women as they jockey for position in this high stakes poker game. This is the perfect opportunity for another side of Joan to present itself, and her defense of her daughter, even in the face of the truth, speaks well of Landry’s love. However, it’s behind closed doors that her pain manifests itself when her daughter tells her that even though “it was only once,” she’d be happy to be pregnant. Here, the parallel of their situations works, and we feel for both.
While both women struggle to protect their virtues, the political machinations go into full motion as Catalonia’s queen tries to wring Navarre from France as compensation for the princess’s lack of purity, and even though Isabella “passes” a later purity test, the cold reality of life inside the palace walls rings out loud and clear. Like Landry, De Nogaret’s complexities continue to befuddle as evidenced by his dismay at the humiliation suffered by the princess. What did he think was going to happen? The relationship these two enjoy pops up momentarily, and this is certainly one to watch moving forward.
In the end though, Joan does what any competent queen does; she tips the game’s balance in her favor and pays off the woman conducting the purity test. Now, however, she must contend with her own issue. When she finds out she’s still pregnant, her handmaiden admits that she didn’t give her queen the real potion because she feared the queen would one day regret the decision. Wait. What? That girl’s lucky she still has her head. Nonetheless, Joan opts for the strategy that she likely should have gone with in the beginning and shares a bed with her husband.
And in a flurry of activity at episode’s end, King Philip must now accept the fact that Don Corleone, I mean England, refuses to accept the snub of its prince, and it appears war looms on the horizon. The pace of “He Who Discovers His Own Self, Discovers God” is spot on, and now that Isabella has gone behind her parents’ back to “Uncle De Nogaret,” all bets are off. Can De Nogaret broker a peace and line his pockets as well?
Then again, it’s impossible to forget Landry’s orders to Gawain and Tancrede when he leaves to seek Jonas’ help. Tasked with finding the Saracen’s killer, Gawain thinks he’s found his man in one of the younger novitiates, but it’s also immediately clear that the boy’s admitting to a crime he didn’t commit. Once Tancrede’s guilt in this matters arises, Landry’s faced with another difficult decision.
All things considered, Knightfall opens up a solid series of new threads and takes existing ones in new directions, all while re-examining the personal allegiances we’ve come to know in the show’s early days. Now that Master Landry has returned from his fact finding mission, any answers he thinks he has found, constitute only a piece of an ever expanding puzzle in which he finds himself.