Knightfall’s “He Who Discovers his Own Self, Discovers God” takes a small step back from the romantic intricacies of the French upper-class — bringing the focus back to our Knights and the historical story of politics, murder, mystery, and intrigue. It was an intense hour of television, without much room to breathe, as the tide starts shifting in the story-line. After-all, Knightfall is a very ambitious drama, taking on multiple viewpoints and important stories that all have to tie back to the Quest. Personally, I think that “He Who Discovers His Own Self, Discovers God” is one of the best episodes yet, simply for the fact that it really starts to find the overall tone and stride. With burdens of tradition affecting many of our characters tonight, this episode beautifully shows the desire to break free from traditions past, but much like the hunt for the Grail, the only thing they know how to do is follow suit.
Even taking a step back from the relationship aspect of the drama, those story arcs can’t be ignored completely and the Royal women are both in a bit of a pickle. Pregnant with Landry’s child, Joan made a dangerous decision in trying to bring on a miscarriage. Landry after all has made it clear that he cannot nor would run away with her. Thinking that the tonic her maid brought back from the apothecary was the real deal, Joan goes about her daily business thinking that she’d lost the child. But the stress brought on by Isabella proves otherwise. She’s young, she’s in love, she’s happy to be engaged to the Prince of her choice — which leads to her in bed with him before marriage. Isabella spends this episode having her purity questioned, breaking down to her mother with the truth, being put through a public purity test, and feeling the harsh sting of betrayal from her supposed beloved. It was a private moment, a secret between her and Prince Luis…if she didn’t tell, then he must have. And like most young love, she goes from head over heels in love to wanting the marriage called off in the blink of an eye. It is after Isabella’s purity test that we learn Queen Joan bribed the mid-wife to protect her child; but the midwife has been doing this for years and can spot a pregnant woman in a crowded room. Realizing that she is still with child, Joan embarks a new plan, joining the King in his bed chambers that night. Honestly, I don’t know why she didn’t just opt for that choice in the first place, as it seemed the most logical thing to do. Hopefully he just doesn’t pay too close attention to the math once the child is born, as I doubt she ever plans to tell him who the real father is.
Landry hits the ground running, determined to find out the meaning behind the symbol on the dead Saracen’s wrist. He claims to have seen it once before in his life, but cannot remember anything else about it other than the memory being attached to a very bad man. Landry first tires his Templar resources, but nobody has been able to find any information for him. So he turns to a self-proclaimed heretic for answers. This is another big moment for Landry’s overall growth. He has admitted to his sins with a friend’s wife, now absolved from those sins and wanting to fulfill his duty to the Knight’s, he is in full on Master of the Templar mode. But his decision to put his trust in a man who has strayed so far from Landry’s God in order to find an answer, gives him another level of intrigue.
The best part about Landry visiting Jonas the heretic, is the fantastic backstory we get into Landry’s childhood. It seems that Godfrey and the Grail had played a much larger role in his young life than I had assumed and it shows us a deeper side to Landry, his struggle of wanting to be a good man but feeling as though he is always falling short. We see Landry wanting to prove himself to Godfrey and to the Knights, to make something more of himself and what he was left for. Through a series of flashbacks we see Landry, a young boy left to the church in the care of Mother Superior. A young boy who wants to become Godfrey’s squire and assist the Brotherhood. A young boy making a quick decision to warn Godfrey after a stranger comes asking about him and threatening Mother Superior. And this is where Godfrey imparts the first big lesson Landry will learn, that you have to know when to feed the black wolf inside of you, and when to feed the white one. That each and every person holds within the ability to go light or dark, and that the key is learning when to use fear and hate over love or faith.
These flashbacks also show Landry’s first (and seemingly forgotten) encounter with The Brotherhood of Light. When it comes to the Knight’s Templar and the importance of a relic such as The Holy Grail, there can never be too many secret societies and mysterious groups out there trying to control it. These flashback scenes of Landry looking into his past and seeing the type of human is was and now is, is a critical moment for the series. It was beautifully shot and edited, with not one of the flashbacks feeling rushed or jumpy. It brings Landry full circle, back to the present and what he must do now.
An impending war with England, an unwanted wedding on the horizon, the befuddled search for the elusive Grail, political power struggles hidden in the Palace, murder in the least expected places from the least expected men, there is never a dull moment in Knightfall. The puzzle for the Holy Grail is always changing, anytime one piece might be found, the others can (an do) shift. I don’t know what is in store for next week, but I can tell you it’ll be exceptional.
Nightfall airs on Wednesday nights at 10/9c on History!
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