History Channel’s ‘Knightfall’ Takes Chances and They Pay Off For the Viewer

The History Channel’s Knightfall did not impress me with their first three episodes.  Rather than focus on their unique story element, they appeared to go down the line of another historical drama that does little in terms of an interesting story.  In episodes 104-106, the story of Knightfall is now becoming intriguing.

Summing up the major plot points that episode 101 through 103 of Knightfall introduced, there is Landry’s (Tom Cullen) torn devotion to the Knights Templar as he has fathered a child with the Queen of France (Olivia Ross) and his search for the Holy Grail.  Parsifal (Bobby Schofield) is continuing his revenge for his fiancé by tracking down Roland (Cengiz Dervis) while becoming a Knights Templar initiate.  The King (Ed Stoppard) and Queen are preparing for their daughter, Princess Isabella (Sabrina Bartlett), to wed the Prince of Catalonia (Marcos Franz).  All the while, the scheming William De Nogaret (Julian Ovenden) is still present in the King’s court and is the family’s trusted advisor.

These new three episodes add more background to the tale of Landry and how he came to be in the employ of Godfrey (Sam Hazeldine).  Landry has always been entangled with the search and protection of the Holy Grail ever since he met Godfrey.  One of his first violent encounters had to do with protecting it even though he was a little boy.  It is through visions elicited by a Pagan priest that Landry begins to remember more of his past.  The goal of these visions was to remember where he had seen a star tattooed on the now-deceased Arabic man at the Templar.  Through a long series of scenes, all important to who Landry is, we find out that the star and the man belong to the Brotherhood of the Light.

While young Landry and Godfrey meet the Brotherhood of the Light in the desert, and they appear to be united to keeping the Holy Grail safe, they are now not so friendly now that one of their brothers has died and was murdered in the care of the Knights Templar.  We can all thank Tancrede (Simon Merrells) for that stroke of genius, as he says he performed this heinous act to keep the Holy Grail safe.  While Tancrede pays dearly for his deed, the Brotherhood is out for their own revenge.  It appears the dead man was the son of the leader, Rashid (Akin Gazi).

Eventually, Landry is kidnapped by the Brotherhood and tortured.  It is under this torture that things become clearer for Landry, especially in regards to Tancrede.  While Landry is wise to the Brotherhood’s tricks, they are a real threat to the Knights Templar, and thus Tancrede is thrown out of the Knights Templar.  While this appears to be a punishment for Tancrede, we come to find out; it is to preserve his life.

The most exciting part of these three episodes is the plot to save Princess Isabella from her wedding.  However, Princess Isabella is in the dark as to the who is the real culprit of her mistrust in the Prince.  It should have been evident from the beginning that De Nogaret is quite smitten with the Princess, and not in a fatherly kind of way.  Through his series of hidden peepholes, he spies on the Princess and Prince consummating their marriage early.  De Nogaret leaks this information in the form of the Princess is not a virgin, and this results in a very public examination of the Princess to confirm if her hymen is intact.  Thank you, mother Queen, who paid off the midwife to say she was still a virgin.  Because of the humiliation endured by the Princess, she is rightfully angry and is convinced the Prince told someone about their tryst because who else would know about it.  The Princess confides in De Nogaret that she does not want to marry the Prince any longer and asks him to help her out.

What ensues is probably the most brilliant plot point of the series thus far.  De Nogaret is poisoned and is on his deathbed.  The Princess is kidnapped after her wedding, and the Prince tries to save her.  That twist of the Princess jumping out of the carriage and the rage on her face just before the Prince going up in flames in the carriage is one of the best moments of the series.  This Princess is not so innocent and confirms her part in all of this when she gives De Nogaret the antidote to the poison.

The game is afoot, even more, when the Princess finds out about De Nogaret’s secret passageway of peepholes.  This is when the truth comes out completely, and De Nogaret is sentenced to hang.  Luckily for him, his uncle Malraux (Jack Sandle) whom Landry and Godfrey have met before, saves him at the last minute.

There are plenty more continuing storylines that will be important to the ongoing plot points of Knightfall.  Queen Joan is still pregnant, and so has to commence a physical relationship with the King again to hide that she has been adulterous.  Parsifal is still tackling the loss of his love and his need for revenge.  However, Adelina (Sarah-Sofie Boussnina) has become smitten with him and spares him from being killed by Roland even though she is being paid for the deed.  This backfires, and she comes to blows with Roland in a hanging sheet-filled room (nothing good ever happens in these rooms), but is saved and delivered along with Roland to the Templar.  A fictitious war with England is started all because of the long game De Nogaret is playing.

These three episodes of Knightfall show the promise of the show, whereas the first three episodes did nothing to pique viewers’ interest.  It is in these episodes that the writers took some chances, and they paid off.  The scenery and the limited CGI is not nearly as distracting.  I like the idea of slowly peeling back the layers of Landry, as all of these characters are new to us, and finding out what is beneath their façade.   There is still conflict in almost every character in this show, and the resolution to their problems appears far off, much like the Holy Grail.