This Knightfall review contains spoilers.
Knightfall Season 2 Episode 4
“Last night was only the beginning.”
By their very nature, historical dramas ultimately face a decision about the speed with which they reach their final conflict and resolution, and Knightfall is no exception to this dilemma. “Equal Before God” takes its time and covers a lot of ground, but in the end, we have to wonder how much can be addressed in the four remaining episodes. Will there be a third season? Only the History execs know for sure.
The multiple palace plot threads leave us to wonder whether some will simply be left unresolved or perhaps addressed in an unannounced third season. From the moment of her arrival, Margaret’s relationship with her sister-in-law sets up an adversarial relationship that momentarily shifts as the future queen of France struggles with her inability to produce an heir. Whether Louis’ impotency has been an ongoing battle or merely a recent occurrence hasn’t been made clear, but either way, it’s been a source of emotional pain for the couple. Her admission to Isabella that she understands without an heir she’s left vulnerable and any blame will be placed on her shoulders doesn’t really generate any empathy, but it does open a window of opportunity for Isabella to regain the dominant position in this relationship.
For all her initial bravado, Margaret comes across as a helpless child next to Isabella, ever the huntress with her leather wrist guard and falcon out searching for their next kill. And though she seems resigned to her future as the English queen, Isabella appears ready to fight for the right to carve out her own niche. When the two sisters get drunk, the overtone that Louis’ sister is setting his wife up for a fall seems obvious. Less clear, however, is the meaning of Isabella’s exit with two attractive men and a seductive expression on her face. While not as overtly evil as her brother, Isabella does possess a clearly demarcated dark side, and the subtext in her “you’re suffering; let me help,” offer doesn’t seem to bode well for Margaret.
Prince Louis’ obsession with taking down Landry continues to exceed even that of his father, and tonight we witness the prince grapple not only with his inability to father a child but also with the fact that he’s been recognized as one of the baby killers posing as Templars. Listening to him lament the pressures and burdens placed on him by his father engenders little sympathy, and when the mother who recognizes him is brought to his chamber, he reaches an indescribable level of cruelty. “If I can’t squier a child, we all might as well be burned alive.” In a way, this is Knightfall at its angsty best.
And while his father’s dismemberment of the queen’s throne can be seen as a petulant, but understood act of a disgraced cuckold, pouring out the blood of the woman’s murdered child at her feet goes beyond the pale. Whether this confrontation has anything to do with it or not, Louis recovers his bedroom mojo, and time will tell if his burden has been lifted. Still, the feeling that Isabella, like De Nogaret, plots in the shadows to somehow spoil this relationship percolates just below the surface.
Contrasted against the turbulence surrounding the royals, the Templar brothers have begun to heal old wounds and welcome new members into the clan. Landry passing his final test in the pouring rain may be a bit of overkill, especially since he really didn’t need to be reborn. He’s the same man, and though Talus reminding him that he’s “earned the right to call me brother,” is a nice touch, it’s his later advice that to Landry that strengthens the unlikely bond these two have formed.
On the one hand, Landry’s transgression with Joan serves as a cautionary tale for the brothers to heed, and when Tancrede reminds his friend that he needs to take a more measured approach to life since he has a daughter to consider, the last thing we expect to hear from Tancrede is that he’s crossed paths with a woman he once loved. Considered with Talus’ reminder to Landry that “no child is better off without its father,” there seems to be a feeling that the brothers sense the end may be near. And when Tancrede tells his friend that “I’m glad to have you back if only to share in my misery,” the misery to which he refers transcends Philip’s imminent assault on the Templars. Do they realize that this may be the time to address other aspects of their lives before it’s too late?
It’s uncertain whether Gawain believes his ability to overrun the temple with the king’s soldiers is a foregone conclusion, or if this first assault means to merely probe the Templar defenses. It does, however, finally bring together two men inextricably linked by a perceived slight on Landry’s end. Nevertheless, sometimes you have to fight fire with fire, and though that literal approach momentarily stems the tide of the first salvo in the war to destroy the Templars, Landry and his brothers must now face life with targets on their backs. Though we do get to watch Gawain take his first shot at Landry, it’s short lived and little more than a tease.
Not unsurprisingly, it doesn’t take Landry long to insert himself into command decisions, and his proposal that the Templars send word to Rome that the Pope has been murdered makes sense. However, even though he’s been accepted back into the brotherhood, his opinions no longer hold the same weight they once did, and his suggestion falls on deaf ears. The insertion of the knights of St. Lazarus into the story feels a bit contrived especially since its primary purpose seems to be to give Roan the opportunity to face his prejudices against the order. He gets to flirt and save a life.
We’ve reached the season’s halfway mark, and though Philip’s assault on the Templars has been ramped up, whether we reach the Friday the 13th massacre remains to be seen. “Equal Before God” provides a solid transition as Landry prepares to face his latest demon in the form of Gawain, but with the spectre of an inconclusive ending for Knightfall hanging overhead, it would be nice to know whether this is it, or the tale will move into a third series.