'Knightfall - Season Two'
(Tom Cullen, Mark Hamill, Padraic Delaney, Simon Merrells, Julian Ovenden, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2019 / LGF)
Overview: The march to war begins between King Philip of France and his sworn enemies, the Knights Templar. As the Templars prepare for the storm to come, Talus (Hamill), a battle-hardened veteran of the Crusades, trains the next generation of men he calls “God’s Executioners.”
There will be a reckoning between long-standing rivals – Landry (Cullen) and fallen-knight Gawain Delaney), De Nogaret (Ovenden) and the Catholic church – while Princess Isabella (Gaunt) takes her first steps to becoming the “She-Wolf of France.”
As King Philip (Stoppard) works to destroy the reputation of the Templars to the public at large, Prince Louis (Forbes), his sadistic young son, unleashes the dogs of war on the legendary Knights, reaching a brutal, final climax on Friday the 13th, 1307.
DVD Verdict: In the beginning of every episode of 'Knightfall', it reminds the viewer that while based on some characters and events of history, it is a fictional tale.
So yes, from the off the show is clear and upfront about being historical fiction; if one chooses to watch it, acceptance of this fact is assumed.
That said, wow, 'Knightfall' is plagued with some rather shocking historical inaccuracies! Of course, the most shocking of all is the reference to the kingdom of Catalonia, which never existed!
Catalonia was a county (not a country), part of the kingdom of Aragon. In 1469 the kingdom of Aragon and the kingdom of Castile, joined through the marriage of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, a.k.a. the Catholic Monarchs, thus becoming the kingdom of Spain, which remains to our days.
Anyhoo, other narrative is manipulative also, but that said, and for my money, the show is very good and gets better and better with each episode. Indeed, the final episode is excellent and leaves a lot of intrigue open which I hope continues into a third season.
There are a satisfying number of unexpected twists and turns. Sure, there is some predictability at times, but it doesn't take away from the entertaining value of the show. The costumes and scenery are excellent and believable. The acting is very good and believable.
This is not 'Game of Thrones' in terms of the number of utterly shocking twists and turns and highly intense character development. But then NOTHING out there is like 'Game of Thrones'!
I would say this is similar to Spartacus in terms of the drama, acting and action. Less violence than Spartacus.
Also, there is no nudity in this because it is the History channel. But there is a good love story, and tension throughout, and good guys who do bad things and bad guys who do good things which keeps it from being simplistic.
Some highlights of the show for me include Ed Stoppard's performance as King Philip, who is at times likeable and other times morally ambiguous as he develops over the season, and Julian Ovenden as the sneaky snake William De Nogaret, who was by far my favorite character.
I always love the beguiling characters best, and De Nogaret shines as the character causing chaos and mucking things up for the rest of them.
The hero Landry (played by Tom Cullen) is also interesting in his own right; one would assume Templars would be absolutely boring righteous people, but Landry struggles with his own demons which help to provide a philosophical look into how such vows to a God rarely work as intended.
There was also a pretty fantastic kill in a later episode of this season (carried out by Parsifal, if you'd like to keep an eye out for it) that as a lover of gore I greatly appreciated.
In wrap, and in terms of the historical accuracy - who cares? If you want historical accuracy then watch documentaries or read a pile of history books.
If you want to watch dramatic period depictions with a few historical facts here and there and lots of fiction, drama and action, all in a believable period setting, then watch TV shows and movies.
For, as the second series progresses, the story builds nicely and you get a real feel of love or hate for most of the characters that just wasn't there in the first season.
The series found something it hadn't yet managed to do in creating a real tense, dark and visually disturbing set of episodes that really draw you in. Indeed, when one particularly dark episode had ended I felt emotionally torn by what I had seen! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and contains all 8 of the Season Two episodes on 2 discs.
With tensions at an all-time high at the Knights Templar, stars such as Tom Cullen (Downtown Abbey), Simon Merrells (Spartacus, Dominion), and even Mark Hamill (Star Wars Franchise) deliver an intense performance in HISTORY®’s 'Knightfall: Season Two', coming to DVD on August 6th, 2019 from Lionsgate.