In the tenth episode of Kings, STOP THIS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Kings.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of racism.
GOD, HOW CAN THIS SHOW DO THIS TO ME.
You know, I was mostly joking when I said during the video for “Chapter One” that I’d be surprised if Katrina survived the episode. Like, on the one hand, I said that because it was a fair assumption. Anyone who tries to take down the king or queen always ends up regretting it. But I also assumed that she was so important to the story – since she was marrying Jack – that she was safe, at least for the time being.
I was so right about her and STILL UTTERLY UNPREPARED FOR WHAT THIS SHOW WOULD DO. She’s killed off-screen and we find out when Jack walks into his engagement party WITH LUCINDA WOLFSON ON HIS ARM. This is so flagrant shit, y’all, and this show deliberately fucked with me here, and I am going to write a STERNLY-WORDED LETTER.
What the hell, Kings. I mean, I really expected this and yet, I totally didn’t.
If anything, I just feel bad for this poor woman. She spends most of this episode learning just what sort of disaster she’s gotten herself into. When we see her at the beginning of “Chapter One,” she’s thrilled to finally be part of the royal family. It’s as if her lifelong dream is coming true. But then she learns of the ramifications of this: the unbearable questions. Jack’s flirting. The cold regulation of it all. She’s nothing more than a pawn, a literal body for the state to use as it pleases, to spawn an heir to the throne. That’s it.
As before, Silas misreads the signs sent to him, and there’s a subplot in this episode that tracks his attempt to view the theft of the Gilboan charter as a chance to do good in the kingdom. It’s the “Chapter One” of the title, a moment where he can build a new Gilboa from what came before. So he sets out to do this by finding a cleaner and renewable energy source, only to have literally every effort fail him. It’s frustrating, but only more so because in the final scene, we see how he’s re-interpreted his sign to start anew.
More on that in a bit.
I really dug the framing device for this episode because it was so odd. It was not something I expected of Kings, but it works within the Biblical framework of the show, especially with that twist at the end. It lends a sense of grandeur to his adventure, which – you know, it’s less of an “adventure” and more of a “month-long journey into terror and disappointment.” I honestly don’t think Silas ever intended for David to return home. If he really wanted that Charter, wouldn’t he give David more than just a gun, an envelope full of money, and a cell phone? And for what it’s worth, David’s first attempt to find the charter was incredibly naïve and misguided. Did he really think he could walk up to the group of black market dudes and just… buy it outright?
But that’s the point. It was a mission destined to fail, and no matter the outcome, Silas would win. So off David is sent to go inevitably fail in Ekron. Ekron itself is… interesting. Like Gath, we only get to see a bit of it, and we know it’s to the south of Gilboa. It’s populated by seedy characters and people who often tried to find a way to exist outside of Gilboan influence. Unfortunately, some of the worldbuilding involves one of my least favorite tropes. Now, I want to talk about visual storytelling here, since it’s something that’s unique to Mark Watches. I understand the need to communicate things in a short period of time with television. In this case, we need to comprehend that Ekron has none of the luxury, organization, or infrastructure of Gilboa. It’s populated by criminals, the black market, addicts, and people living on the fringes of society. And who makes up quite a few of the background characters without lines?
People of color, and most of them are black. Which makes it even stranger that all the characters with speaking roles are white because… look, if you’re going to use people of color to suggest that a land is corrupt, then at least give them lines. But they’ve got none. They exist as strokes of paint on a canvas and nothing more. And given that Abner is dead and both Thomasina and Samuels are supporting characters without a significant story, it feels even more glaring, you know? I say this while also feeling pretty stoked about the grittiness of Ekron, especially since I’ve wanted to see a side to this world that isn’t so pristine and clean. I don’t think this is a conscious thing, either, but it’s kind of ridiculous that I even have to say that. No one sits around and plans this shit out, but inevitably, it happens to most shows produced in this country. I just want something more from this, you know?
Anyway, I did enjoy this episode a great deal, so don’t let my criticism give this review a sense of distaste. This is the first episode where David is largely by himself, and, combined with the fantastic job the make-up department did, we get to see David at his most desperate and his most faithless. The only thing he believes in? The advice of his dead father, which helps guide him to the Charter. And hell, it’s pretty damn fascinating to me that both of David’s parents are such revelatory figures within “Chapter One.” While David’s dad helps him focus, Jesse is the sole character here to tell Silas the truth he’s too frightened to admit. Gods, she’s AMAZING here, especially when she’s admitting that she knows David is on a course for greatness. Because Silas knows it, too, and then he demonstrates it.
BY HAVING DAVID ARRESTED FOR TREASON. Oh god, what horrible lie is he going to invent now?
The video for “Chapter One” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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