In the twelfth and penultimate episode of Kings, everything goes to hell and I will never heal from this. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Kings.
Trigger Warning: For homophobia and police brutality.
I’m breathless. I’m speechless. I am in awe of this episode because it doesn’t trade characterization for the story beats. It’s one thing to fill an episode with plot twists galore – which this episode does IN SPADES – but to do so in a way to reflect on long-standing characterization is masterful.
And goddamn, this is unreal.
I really thought I had him figured out, y’all. His name was a clue, I thought, to his nature within the narrative. When Silas sought him out, he offered up advice that was effective but horrifying. Everything Abadon recommended was a ghost of what he did. Utilize violence. Inspire fear. Dominate everyone underneath the monarchy. Maintain power at any cost. Was it going to work? Probably, but it would turn Silas from a king into a tyrant.
So I came to believe, after Abadon admitted that he had purposely manipulated Silas, that this man was the evil temptation within Kings. His role was to gain Silas’s trust, and then send him down a terrible, dark path. Except then the whole thing is upended when David is imprisoned next to Abadon. I thought it had to be intentional that his voice appeared so God-like to David. What followed was a completely bizarre conversation about power, love, and loyalty, and it made me re-think Abadon. I’d viewed him solely through the lens of his horrific tyranny, which is as I should. The man is a monster. But why does he offer his support to David? Why does he speak of the importance of love? The show is often metaphorical about the various roles that people play, and I found it incredibly fascinating that Abadon himself played two different people to Silas and David, respectfully. And it’s even more intriguing to thing about what these two men do after speaking with the deposed leader, you know?
Before all the storylines converge in one shocking moment, there are two separate plots unfolding before us. We’ve got David’s impending execution and the trade of Port Prosperity to Gath. Silas is renewed after his talk with Abadon, and you can see it in his brutality. He orders force to be used to evict those who won’t leave their homes, and that includes shooting any resistance twice. It was clear that Silas would take all of this by force, and it seemed the perfect time for William’s little coup. And that’s how Kings fooled me. Look, I didn’t entertain the notion that William was any better than Silas. At least Silas had a conscience. One he ignored frequently, but it was there. But Silas was so relentlessly terrible in this recent batch of episodes that I, too, longed for Jack to ascend the throne.
I hated him for the homophobic way he addressed Jack in this episode and made his son kiss the ground. I hated him for his display of force against people who were being evicted from their homes. I hated him for his arrogance. I hated him for creating an atmosphere where Michelle couldn’t speak the truth about her pregnancy and where David would nearly lose faith in everything because of the unfairness of it all. So when Jack took his place next to Silas during the transfer ceremony, I eagerly awaited him to do something, anything to get Silas out of this damn country.
I was so wrong.
I don’t know if William planned for that shooter to appear in the crowd, but it certainly worked in his favor. Jack leapt in front of his father to take a bullet, which would make him a hero in the people’s eyes. Silas was – for most of the episode – an assassinated king. The country was in chaos for a brief moment, and Jack’s time was here. Yet before this even happened, we saw how Silas’s “death” tore apart Rose, which was EASILY Susanna Thompson’s best performance of the year. We saw how David stumbled back into life after Jack spared him at the firing range. (A nice callback to the times that David saved Jack.) We saw how Jack really felt ready to become king. And it all didn’t matter, did it?
That’s what gets me about this episode. I thought Silas was the worst. And he’s undeniably terrible, a vicious leader whose arrogance and pride has ruined lives and drifted the kingdom away from God. No one can argue this. And yet, in the first scene where Jack is king and he must make his first decree, William reveals that this was always a sham. Look, I expected him to demand things of Jack and I expected him to play a huge part in a monarchy run by the previous king’s son. I did not expect what we see here. Somehow, in less than a day, William proves to everyone that he’s worse than King Silas. It’s a chilling thing to witness because the terror escalates so quickly. Perry is knocked out, multiple people are threatened with death, and William orders the army to immediately begin a brutal campaign of revenge in Gath. He doesn’t want to waste any time fucking up absolutely everything.
You can see the dread and disgust in David and Jack’s faces. It’s unreal to watch, but both of them know that this is a disaster of untold proportions. So what do you do? How do you get rid of someone who now has control of all the vital elements of the state? That out is provided to us by – I’m guessing – Thomasina. While Michelle and the guards are the ones who help David get out of the palace, it has to have been Thomasina’s dedication that got Silas out of his ambulance and to Serenity. It’s so mind-blowing to me that as David made his way to Helen’s property, I knew he was going to ask Silas to come back. AND SOMEHOW, THAT WAS A BETTER OPTION THAN WILLIAM AND JACK.
But what I’m thankful for is the fact that the script is very explicit about the fact that while there may be a practical reason for Silas’s return, he doesn’t deserve it. David’s ferocious condemnation of Silas is one of the most powerful moments in this whole series because WE NEEDED IT. So did Silas. He needed to hear that he did not deserve to die while being loved. He needed to hear that he had ruined lives and killed people and he is a despicable person.
And yet, Gilboa needs him. What a fucked up world this has become.
The video for “The New King, Part I” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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