It is very rare these days to find secular entertainment depict Christianity in a way that upholds biblical sexuality, as well as depict sin and repentance. Even Ned Flanders is no longer a satirical stereotype of Evangelicals. History Channel’s Knightfall wrestles with Christian themes while also creating an action-packed mystery with production value a league or two ahead of the bloated CGI manure piles that pass for feature films this day.
The first season of Knightfall takes place fifteen years after losing the Siege of Acre 1291 and what they thought was the Holy Grail. The show begins with the death of the temple master of Paris which leads the protagonist, Landry, on a quest to uncover a mystery that leads to the location of the real Holy Grail. But Landry is no hero. In fact, having lost his faith after the siege, he has descended into an adulterous affair with Queen Joan, all while being good friends with the King whom he is cuckholding. It’s worth emphasizing that the Knights Templar is a monastic order. So our unworthy hero, Landry, has a renewed purpose in life which contradicts his sinful behavior. Meanwhile the seed of his treachery has consequences. This ultimately leads Landry to alienate much of the Templar order including Gawain, his best friend who departs the order to work with De Nogaret, the Iago-like figure advising the King. The first season ends with great battle sequences and Landry’s final decent into darkness.
While the first season is about the fall, season two was about the repentance. Having betrayed the Templars, Landry must atone, working hard to earn back his standing with the order. It’s a rare to see the atonement part of a story be so gritty, every bit of progress feeling earned to the viewer. But, alas King Phillip has a vendetta against the Templars and will have them destroyed. Landry then is forced to confront Gawain whose leading the charge against the Templars. But after defeating the Templars, Gawain is unable to reconcile working for an evil king, and is imprisoned with the Templars. Episode seven was the best episode in the series by far, featuring a diverse array of medieval torture instruments. With Landry and the Templars imprisoned with their betrayer Gawain, in facing death they choose to forgive him reciting the Lord’s Prayer. The episode ends with a fire pitching as the main heroes begin to burn at the stake.
Episode seven should have featured five more minutes where Landry and others burn to death. Episode eight should not have been made. Instead, the heroes escape death.
This story is fiction but uses real life figures as characters such as King Phillip IV The Fair, De Nogeret, Pope Boniface, while the Templar characters are inspired by the actual Templars, Landry not being a real figure. That being said, we should not judge the historical fiction according to actual historical events, rather we should judge this period piece on realism within the confines of the time period the story takes place.
The escape, coincidentally timed without foreshadow and wholly dependent on the mistakes of the villains, was just some bad television. I dreaded watching this cliché turn of events. The overall ending of the season was garbage. The boss fight at the end featured a student-master dynamic that Knightfall established as evenly matched in season 1 was so onesided despite Landry being wounded, exhausted, and magically appearing in a place he had no business being in. Garbage story telling. A better ending would be starting the next season with new protagonists who take revenge on the King and Pope who according to legend were summoned in a tribunal before God by the late Templar Grand Master because both died a year or so after the Friday the 13th, 1307. That would be daring and good story telling.
But instead of doing what I would have done, Knightfall has little to move forward to, other than killing off King Louis X, moving onto Philip V, and then Charles IV. The events take place prior to the Hundred Years War, as alluded to in season one with the marriage of Isabella to Edward II. There is very little foreseeable plot for Landry and the surviving Templars to cross paths with the King of France. So either way, replacing one set of characters was inevitable, so they should have gone the more realistic path. History Channel has not come out with a season three, likely because they wrote themselves off a cliff.
I am thirsty entertainment wanting to produce high quality content sparing me from feminist and intersectional BS. The show has 90% accomplished this. It’s incredibly rare to see a show depict people wrestling with faith, forgiveness, and repentance. It’s even rarer for these concepts to be wrestled with in storytelling in an overtly Christian way. While History Channel is not a Christian organization, they tell a gritty story that did not get bogged down by intersectional politics. Unfortunately, this show is undermined by televisions tendencies to maintain normalcy at the expense of risky story telling. Knightfall is an instance of good that could have been great, and this is my greatest grievance with the show. With all of this said I would recommend watching, especially if you are into medieval fiction.