Kings: “The New King, Part One”
Posted by therebelprince on July 22, 2009
“Neither you, nor he, nor any vagrant opinion… now you’ve got ME doing it!”
– a rabid William Cross
I’m going to miss Kings. It was far from perfect, and I daresay it wouldn’t have survived a second season anyway, but Michael Green‘s ambitious little drama deserved much more of a chance than it received. (But I’ll save that lamentation for next week’s finale)
Following on from the rest of the season, “The New King, Part One”, basically throws all the pieces in the mix and then leaves us to stare in shock at what comes out again. David is in jail on charges of treason. Michelle is pregnant and quickly finding a husband. Jack, also engaged out of convenience, is cowering after his aggressive and public confrontation with his father in “Javelin”. With the masses uncertain, and his wife coldly awaiting his decisions, King Silas turns to his only confidante: the deposed King Vesper Abaddon (Brian Cox) who is finally rewarded for his years in the dungeons with a television… and who in turn encourages Silas to become a tyrant. It is sage advice under the circumstances, although as we learn it may have been the ultimate revenge from Abaddon’s part (the revelation is ambiguous).
Silas makes the decision and chooses an icy reconciliation with Jack before ordering David executed. As Silas arrives on stage to greet the Gath Premier (Mark Margolis), he is shot, and the nation descends into anarchy. (The most fascinating atmosphere comes late in the night when William Cross holds the Cabinet and the Benjamin family in the conference room while he awaits word of whether Silas has survived).
Overall, “The New King, Part One” is well-written and beautifully designed. Everyone here is at their best – Allison Miller perfectly channels Michelle’s reluctant acceptance of her fate, Dylan Baker is marvellous as Cross takes over the palace in the aftermath of Silas’ death, and Susanna Thompson is flawless. I do wish we’d understood more about the beginning of Silas and Rose’s marriage, but it’s great to see her turning against the King here. Perhaps the most interesting moment is when Rose, upon learning that Silas may still be alive but in hiding, cries out “He’ll come back – and he’ll kill us all!” Her fear speaks volumes about her relationship with him, and I do hope to see their reunion continue in this vein in the second half.
Christopher Egan also really brings his A-Game this week. I suspect that this experience must have been truly exhausting for him, and I really do feel that this has matured him greatly as an actor. David’s poignant scene in the dungeons with Abaddon, and his later fiery inspirational speech to Silas, are both worth watching.
It’s wonderful to see the entire Benjamin clan choose their own paths, with all of them choosing to curb their own desires for the importance of family or the throne. And while Brian Cox‘s scenes with Ian McShane are a bit overwritten, the actors themselves are poignant, and Abaddon’s reaction to the news of the King’s shooting is moving. In fact, the King’s death as a whole was moving and I must admit I was fooled: it seemed so plausible to hire a name like McShane so as to kill them at the end of your first season. While I would never ask to lose McShane from my television screen, it would have been intriguing to see the show go on without him.
Yet when David finds him, Silas does believe that he’s done. Perhaps he is a realist, just like Abaddon was. Perhaps he would choose the loyalty of Thomasina and the love of his mistress Helen, over his Queen and legitimate children. But in the end, he is the King and he will return next week to wreak his vengeance upon those aroudn him.
If there are any weak moments, they exist in the underuse of Macaulay Culkin’s character – yes, he functions as a believable double agent against his father but that appears to be all – and of Eamonn Walker (above, with Egan), whose Reverend Samuels makes an appearance late in the episode but only to remind us of the signs and portents in which he preaches.
When Kings airs its final episode on the 25th, I hope to get some amount of closure, but I also hope that the show does not forget those who have fallen: Joseph, and Katrina Ghent, and General Abner, and countless others. Will the importance of the media image overrule all? Or will William Cross face his comeuppance at Silas’ sword?
* It’s interesting to know that Rose also believes in signs and the supernatural.
* What kind of an idiot is Cross to let David and Michelle wander around unsupervised when they are held under guard?
The Kings finale airs July 25 at 8PM on NBC.