In the ninth episode of Kings, I cannot do this. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Kings.
Trigger Warning: For homophobia, misogyny, and suicide.
This is easily the best episode so far, at least to me, because it’s such an amazing combination between Biblical storytelling, modern political intrigue, and FIFTY BILLION PLOTS TWISTS. It’s a jam-packed story that hurts to watch because of the inevitability of it all. I just… HOW IS THIS SHOW REAL? Why wasn’t it bigger??? I CAN’T.
So, I imagine that the annual pilgrimage was always a trip to the king’s secret home and family, wasn’t it? That’s the place where the king found solace and comfort and was able to discover the guiding principal for the year that followed it. The severe irony of this is not lost on me, but you know what? It’s not lost on King Silas, either. While his justifications are often cowardly and absurd, I think he brings David along with him because he craves honesty about himself and his life. And until that agonizing scene towards the end of “Pilgrimage,” this was about these two men being honest, though it was a one-way street. Silas unceremoniously introduces David to his secret life in the countryside. I say “unceremoniously” because there’s no announcement, no explanation given for the trip. After David insists that he has no aspiration to the crown, Silas decides it’s time to bring someone else into his inner circle.
The scenes in that household are tender, kind, and loving. I can’t even deny that. Like David, we get to see Silas in a light that’s largely unfamiliar to us, you know? There’s that moment where David watches his king interact with these people, and a subtle smile crosses his face. He gets it. He may not understand the morality of it all, but he gets why Silas has this and why he’s so full of love. How could he not be? But even though Silas shares one of the biggest secrets of his entire life, David can’t bring himself to offer the same gesture. He lies to Silas, refusing to admit his deepest secret to him, AND IT BACKFIRES LESS THAN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS LATER.
Oh my god, the next episode is going to be so ruthlessly uncomfortable.
In the Shadows
Unlike my thoughts on “Blackout,” I actually understand the triple parallel between the secret relationships in Kings. You know what made this different? The script was way more explicit about the reason why these relationships were being hidden. On top of that, the devious political maneuvering that’s part of running this kingdom is on full display here, and I’ve never seen a cast of characters so willing to turn on one another at the first sense of power. But that’s how people survive in this world. Power is leverage for them, and they all grasp whatever they can to gain it.
Let’s start with the dual panics set forth here: both Jack and Michelle have their reputations risked when evidence of their secret relationships turns up. For Michelle, it’s the photos David took of her during “Blackout.” In Jack’s case, it’s an attempt from Joseph to out Jack to the press out of a misguided sense of honor and kindness. It’s misguided because I’m of the mind that forcibly outing anyone is a terrible, awful thing to do. I was outed after high school, and it was a miserable experience. We should be able to control what we tell people about ourselves, and ultimately, losing that power is frightening. There’s nothing like that sense of dread and terror you feel whenever the news of your sexuality begins to spread. You begin to question every phone call, every glance your way, every person who passes you in the street.
And look, I do understand Joseph’s motivation, and in the end, so does Jack. If it weren’t for Katrina, Jack would have let Joseph’s video go live. Make no mistake: that would have been completely disastrous for him. This episode finally concerns my suspicions that Gilboa is an inherently homophobic society. There’s evidence of this in Rose’s horrific reaction to Joseph’s video. She doesn’t offer any real compassion to her son; instead, she insists that his sexuality is a “mistake of character.” Then she tells him he simply can’t be this way. Then she slaps him, and that’s right around the time I was utterly done with her. Wow, what a shitty, selfish reaction, y’all.
But that’s the world she lives in, and the society supports her. At Joseph’s funeral, Reverend Samuels speaks of the inequality of Gilboa. I actually appreciated that bit because he celebrated Joseph’s life, refused to demonize him for his death, and addressed the reasons why someone might want to end their life after all that struggle. Granted, we know that Queen Rose had Joseph murdered (SERIOUSLY, FUCK HER, SHE’S TERRIBLE), but it still matters that Samuels says this. It’s important to hear it.
So I dug that the show clearly wasn’t trying to say that what Michelle went through was the same as Jack. Indeed, even Rose herself demonstrates why these two situations were so different. To her son, she offered scorn, judgment, and ultimately, callousness. When Michelle finally comes to Rose to speak about the photos she took with David, Rose’s reaction, while still fairly cold, is completely different. In a way, it was strangely supportive. The queen admitted that Michelle would be subject to a vile double standard of misogyny, as David was celebrated for the photos while Michelle would be attacked for them. But she gave Michelle hope that in the future, this momentary “weakness” would become a strength instead. It’s a huge difference from her reaction to Jack! That’s not to suggest that what David and Michelle go through is easy or simplistic. On the contrary, it’s incredibly awful. But there’s a weight to Jack’s story that is missing from Michelle’s, and I think it’s important to point out.
I JUST… WHAT THE FUCK. This show, y’all. How is Michelle’s incident solved? By her brother, who makes a deal with Katrina TO MARRY HER in order to prevent both of their leaks from going public. The marriage will act as a way to piss off Queen Rose, and everyone wins.
EXCEPT SILAS, who is betrayed by David. Y’all, that speech he gives about David’s loyalty and honesty was SERIOUSLY TOO FUCKING MUCH, and then just a few scenes later, Michelle reveals that David has been lying for AGES. Wow, this is seriously too much. I’M SO EXCITED TO WATCH THE NEXT EPISODE.
The video for “Pilgrimage” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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