Successful second season, I say. Knightfall never got the attention of the earlier History production, Vikings, and to a certain degree that is understandable. In its first season, Vikings pulsed with life and fresh perspective. It was a show unlike anything on at that time, with a magnetic lead in Travis Fimmel. There is little that separates Knightfall from other period pieces featuring kings and knights. It was, however, well done enough to merit an audience, and I am happy to have been along for the ride.
From the moment the gates of Paris were closed, 'While I breathe, I trust the cross' was a study in battle claustrophobia. Master Talus, Gabriel, Anne, and members of the Order of Saint Lazarus rescued the templars condemned to die at the stake, but in the fight that ensued, they were separated.
It couldn't have been easy to stage, then piece together, multiple scenes in a darkened city, but for the most part, Knightfall pulled it off. Did I wish there was more spacial awareness so that the audience could discern their relative positions from the palace and from each other? Sure, but I find myself in a mood to let this go. I even liked the scene when Landry, Tancrede, and another templar (Vasant?), climbed to the roofs so they could spot each other and arrange where to meet. There was such relief and even happiness in Tom Cullen's face when he saw that they, too, survived the night.
Was it unrealistic for Master Talus to have singlehandedly fought off dozens of French soldiers and survived? Again, sure, but I liked it anyway. Master Talus was a larger than life character, and such a scene suited him. Mark Hamill has been phenomenal as Master Talus. How I have grown up knowing him only as Luke Skywalker, I do not know.
The templars managed to escape by going through tunnels leading to the palace, then commandeering the King's ship. Anne and Tancrede died, because the happy ending they dreamed of could not be. Landry, however, returned for one more showdown with Philip. It was then, after Louis walked away and de Nogaret closed the door, that the claustrophobic threat transferred from templar to king.
It has been a while now since I watched the first season, but I still remember how the affair between Landry and Queen Joan was one of my least favourite aspects of it. I feel like there was not anywhere near enough heat between them to sell the love that cost the lives of many, including Joan's. The fallout from that affair, however, has been spectacular. Landry's journey to find himself again showcased Tom Cullen in fine form as the lead, but Ed Stoppard as King Philip and Tom Forbes as Prince Louis both crafted such watchable villains.
When Louis did not bother to go after Landry on the streets of Paris, it was clear that, though he initially struggled, he had already decided to turn his back on his father. He took an axe to break down the door of the tower where Margaret was held. Alas, he found his beloved wife dying. 'You should have been kinder to the women I loved', he told Philip before he condemned his father to death by Landry's hands. Louis was capable of appalling cruelty, but he remained one of this season's finest additions.
The fight between Landry and Philip did not last long. Landry prevailed, as expected. This series about templars was grounded on forbidden love. It was fitting to see it end in a duel between two men who cherished the same woman in their own wildly different ways.
Will there be a third season of Knightfall? As of this writing, there is no firm answer to this yet. If this is the end, so be it. It is not easy to stand out in the crowded field of Peak TV. Knightfall was solid but maybe, that was only enough for a couple of seasons.
⚔︎ Philip's handpicked Pope quarreled with him
⚔︎ Even de Nogaret left Philip. 'The King is dead. Long live the King.' Cold.
⚔︎ Philip imparted some dark lessons to Isabella before she left for England. I would not mind a show centred on Isabella.