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Season 1 Episode 1

Image from Knightfall, streamed via Netflix

Despite the not great reviews I heard after Knightfall's first episode aired, I found that You'd Know What To Do was actually a solid beginning to History's newest series. A few years back, History gave us Vikings, a pulsing good show that has managed to remain strong despite the end of the story of its enigmatic lead, Ragnar Lothbrok. Knightfall does not have the surprising freshness that Vikings' first episode did, but it told a coherent story that ended with a tantalising mystery. That is a foundation an entertaining show can be built on.

You'd Know What To Do started at the Siege of Acre in 1291. As the Holy Land fell to the forces of Saladin, the Knights Templar took the Holy Grail to a ship to evacuate. Separated from the ship bearing the Holy Grail because he went back to help a trapped father trying to flea with his daughter, Landry (Tom Cullen of Downton Abbey), a senior brother of the Knights Templar, could only watch when the vessel exploded. Since that day, the Holy Grail has been lost to the Templars. 

Fifteen years later, the Templars now lived in Paris. Landry was restless soldier conducting an illicit affair with Joan, the Queen of France, whilst remaining a friend to her husband King Philip. His faith shaken, Landry could not understand why Godfrey, Master and Commander of the Paris Temple, had not ordered the retaking of the Holy Land, though the Templars had the money and the soldiers for a campaign. When Godfrey was murdered, curiously after receiving a message that led him out of the city (an orange), Landry found himself the new Master.

Paris was a bustling city led by a King deep in debt to the Templars, and advised by the scheming William de Nogaret. To fill the King's coffers, de Nogaret devised a plan to use the tension between the Christians and the Jews to his advantage. He hired a man to pretend to pretend to be a Jew and kill a Christian publicly, in the market square. De Nogaret then convinced the King that the best way to protect the Jews was to expel them from the city. De Nogaret ordered for the Jews to be attacked on the road, and their treasure retrieved. Joan overheard this plan, and warned Landry. Landry's first act as acting Master was to order the protection of the Jews.

The scale of the battle at Acre was immense, and showed Knightfall's ambition, but even to my decidedly non expert eyes, the CGI was just okay, in that it got the job done and set the scene, but did little else to add to the story. Knightfall did better with the much smaller scale battle between the Knights Templar and the men De Nogaret hired to attack the Jews leaving the city, though it did make me wonder why the Knights got off their horses before lining up in formation. Would being on horseback not have placed the Knights Templar at an advantage against their foes? Would involving horses in the battle scene have been much more expensive to film?

Through a farmboy named Parsifal who helped him when he was set upon by highwaymen, Godfrey sent a message to Landry. The man who cleaned Godfrey's sword found a blue stone inside the hilt. The stone led to a lantern, which led to an image of shadow and light, the Holy Grail and a fleur-de-lis. The Holy Grail was in France.


■ At Acre, Gawain ran back to save Landry's life. He took an arrow to his leg, which left him crippled.

■ The Knights Templar were betrayed at Acre, by whom, it was not yet shown.

■ The Holy Grail was shown to have sank to the bottom of the sea following the explosion of the boat.

■ The leader of the highwaymen who set upon Godfrey got away.

■ Young Parsifal found his fiancee Marie murdered in their farm, likely by the highwaymen who attacked Godfrey.

■ The girl whose father Landry saved in Acre was now a young woman who helped the Templars fight the men De Nogaret paid to attack Jews.

■ King Philip was suspicious that De Nogaret had something to do with the attack on the Jews.

Note: This recap used to be posted on my old blog.

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