Jul 16 2009 10:58am

A Few Good Men?: Kings, “Javelin”

This week, Kings did its best Perry Mason impression, showing us the dangerously expedient Gilboan justice system and proving the old adage that any man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client.

With David under (false) arrest for treason, the royal family starts to fall apart for the tenth time this week. Eamonn Walker finally gets more than one line, Thomasina falls into a sappy subplot, and the last three minutes are enough to make you excited for next week. Almost.

This rigged-trial episode might have been tense, even riveting, if David was an ambitious statesman who had never engaged in outright treason but who was certainly ambitious for the throne. Then he would have had to stress his innocence while avoiding legitimate criticism. However, this would require David to have a personality. Instead, he maintains the sort of flawless beneficence you see in orphans in Victorian literature.

Luckily, King Silas and Prince Jack are around to pick up the narrative slack. Silas puts Jack in charge of a trial Jack knows is a sham, and Jack seems willing to fabricate evidence all day long, even though his enthusiasm always wanes in the face of David’s self-defense, which he does, in fact, insist on doing himself. (Oh, Lady Death, for this Silas will have to give up the crown?)

In Sudden Subplotlandia, Michelle falls ill. Sadly, it’s not fatal: she’s just pregnant. (No, really. This is all they could think to do with her, with only two episodes left.) Queen Rose takes up lioness duty instantly, forbidding Michelle to tell her father, since Rose has (correctly) judged that Silas hates David more than he loves Michelle.

Thomasina, randomly, feels badly about being asked to arrange the death of Jack’s false witness. Afraid she’s not a good person any more, she kisses that guard who had a crush on her six episodes ago. I thought Thomasina was more badass than this, and was pretty sure she was comfortable with the idea of arranging for people to go missing. Maybe this was back when the writing made sense; who can remember that far?

The Reverend gets a much more interesting dilemma, when William Cross approaches him with another offer to join the Society of Guys Who Want to Overthrow Silas. The Reverend tries to talk some sense into Silas, including a stunt where he blows out all the lights in a grocery store (nice trick!), but Silas is beyond listening. When Cross points out that if the Reverend feels like joining, Cross could get David out of the country, the Reverend’s direct connection to God is on Low Signal, and he agrees.

When the Reverend and Cross sneak David out of prison and offer him a free trip out of the country to avoid the gallows, David refuses (apparently if you run from a rigged trial full of fake evidence, you’re guilty?). Once safely back in prison, David warns Jack of the danger. Jack looks both surprised and appalled—those are his cohorts, dammit—but the glittering anime tears falling from David’s blameless blue eyes are making Jack feel a little guilty about the whole affair.

King Silas eventually takes David aside and explains to him, the way one would explain to a small child, that because everyone loves David best, Silas’s reign is threatened. David Twist silently vows to get scarlet fever as soon as possible.

And so, in the middle of closing statements, Jack breaks that case wide open, revealing himself—and King Silas—as big fat liars. Then, everything hits the fan.

Silas tries to run but ends up trapped in the building by protesters. His reign has turned! David gets dragged around by other people. (It’s symbolic, see?) And Jack makes a break for the fire exit, where he discovers that he has the loyalty of the guards for no discernible reason, and also that Uncle William has a gun for him to use! That’s going to go really well for somebody.

Please note that the episode title, “Javelin,” also makes an increasingly-rare Biblical reference, and is from a quote I pulled a few weeks back, when I thought Silas hating David would be set in motion before episode ten. Ah, those were innocent days!

The LORD therefore be judge, and judge between me and thee, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand.

— 1 Samuel 24:15

1. Kabada1
Mostly spot on review, although I was satisfied with the overall result anyway, for some reason.

But you're being unfair saying that Silas' hate/envy of David hasn't been set up.
In almost every episode there was some sort of reference that Silas feels threatened by Dave.
Mitchell Downs
2. Beamish
"David Twist silently vows to get scarlet fever as soon as possible."

Genuine lough-out-loud moment. That was brilliant.

I actually liked this episode in spite of its absurdities because I have simply come to expect them: David will be written and acted poorly; Michelle will be mostly superfluous yet oddly critical to the plot; The Queen will get tough; Jack will flip-flop and Silas will have all the great dialogue.

Actually, Michelle was quite critical to this episode, no matter how poorly the character is scripted: she was David's truth that would actually prove him innocent and then she has to hide from him because she is, miraculously, pregnant.

And that is where the minimal logic of the show falls apart.

We have reached a point where everyone, viewer and characters included, has to see that this is a world where God takes a direct hand in events. From the crown of butterflies to the "deal with death" remissions - truly miraculous things happen. Silas, by his character, ignores these things since that is his flaw. But what is Michelle's excuse? She is miraculously saved from death, she miraculously conceives with man who literally surrounded by miraculous achievement...and she runs from him in his moment of need?!

I understand, from a plotting perspective, that having Jack suddenly jump up and denounce Silas was better drama (and it was quite good by any measure)- but once again we are just expected to accept some foolish character choices for convenience.

This episode was good - and the end promised great things next week. Yet, they have so clearly not earned that optimism. Creepy Mac again. I am beginning to miss him.
C.D. Thomas
3. cdthomas
First, is Jack so inconstant a man that he can't even participate in a conspiracy when a man's more studly or resolute than he? If this is true, why did he survive in the Army without getting fragged? Also, Cross never drew a stupid breath except in relation to his son, so I assume he has psych profiles for each and every royal, including his sis. He must have seen Jack would break because he would have proof that David was the better son Jack would never be, and as soon as Jack broke, Cross should put that gun in his hand.

Again, predictable, because the two things Jack does best is bitchiness and treason. When a King calls his son a faggot, is that progress? If GLAAD gives this show an award next year, I swear I will slap the image award committee members myself.

Next, Silas started a show trial with the flimsiest of stooges, convinced that the four or five families who actually run things won't see through his plan? If the people can be manipulated into hating him all of a sudden, when they didn't when his brothers went all militia, then what does that say about God's judgment in making David the king apparent? Why the hell shouldn't this shallow land be swept away in a haze of fire, plague and trash? In this show's dismantling of any shred of dignity these royals might have had, it also dismantled what dignity and grace the people held in reserve, waiting for a good king to bring them out.

And the good Reverend gets a backstory, then an immediate dissing from God? Was his holiness only an excuse to demonstrate party tricks to Silas? Then he goes to Cross? Was this what Liberty Mutual had in mind when they branded this show with the theme of "responsibility"?

About "But what is Michelle's excuse? She is miraculously saved from death, she miraculously conceives with man who literally surrounded by miraculous achievement...and she runs from him in his moment of need?!"

Dang frakking Skippy. That was Michelle's test, and she failed it.

God let her live after Lady Death hankered after her so He could most likely make her David's first consort, and she can't see that a miracle pregnancy with David is God's way of backing their, um, horse?

Screw Silas' possible freakout (like it would get worse than this?) and screw Rose's absolute myopia concerning her advantages in this sitch. She knows her brother's been suspiciously near her son (like she doesn't have spies?), she must be able to muster her brother's resources should Silas get shirty, so what's to stop her from shipping Michelle and eventually David to a secure private compound until Silas gets it though his thick skull that God will let Lady Death collect on her deal, if he doesn't step aside?

If Rose's supposed to be close to Lady M in her love and protectiveness about Silas, to the point of declaring war when he was worried about Michelle, why wouldn't Rose take Silas aside and say, it's over now? Either live as David's most trusted adviser or die with your legacy permanently tarnished?

By the by, why wouldn't Lady Death stop by that night to say, Michelle's preggers, it's David's child, and you sure I can't take her now? Seeing Death now would have been a perfect buildup to the final ep, when There Should Be Blood...

And Thomasina? If they didn't feel they had to distort the character to show one person sympathetically this episode, they would have had the balls to show her as she has been:

With momentary guilt about the crude assassination, she listens to her stalker guard, kisses him, gives him a smile... and orders a wetwork man to break into the guard's bedroom, plant child pr0n and make his death look like sleep apnea, with crushed Cheetos on his chest.

The Thomasina we know would have hated showing that one weakness, and would have doubled down in evil, just to prove herself right.

This conclusion is supposed to be the concentration of plot that should show the characters under pressure, with their most essential nature on display; unfortunately this only shows them to be morons.

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