Well, after the last few weeks, Kings must have realized it only had one episode left, because it made up for the lethargy by hurling everything it had at the screen. (I had to work to find a non-spoilery image. It was that kind of week.)
As Silas prepares to hand over Port Prosperity to Gath, Uncle Whiny prepares to put Jack on the throne, Michelle prepares a life without David, and David prepares to die. And that’s the first five minutes. Double bonus: characters end this episode in a different emotional situation than the one in which they began it! (Mostly.)
We open in Wine Cellar Penitentiary, where Silas gets advice from the crazy ex-king: “Kill everyone! People love that.” On his way out, Silas stops by David’s cell next door for good news/bad news: Peace tomorrow! Also, your execution!
After Silas leaves, the crazy ex-king giggles to himself for six hours. Good sign!
Queen Rose, meanwhile, plays Silas like a fiddle: “Peace is set. Have some leg! Also, pardon Jack or you’ll never get under this suit again.” Checkmate!
David of Monte Cristo chats with the crazy ex-king, who eats David’s last meal for him and blithely mentions he’s the reason David’s a goner. David’s like, “ bless you, too, I guess.”
Then, in a series of awesome intercuts, Silas makes a barely-penitent Jack kiss the floor, Uncle Cross takes his place in a totally unguarded balcony, the royal family emerges, Gath takes the stage, and David is marched out for execution. Moments later, Cross’s assassin fires, Jack takes a bullet for Silas, Silas catches two in the chest and goes down, and David’s firing squad is shot by a group of commandos. (It’s a busy three minutes.)
Queen Rose goes to pieces in front of the Reverend, hysterically swearing Silas isn’t dead right up until King Jack makes his entrance, looking like a Shakespeare hero in Act Four who still thinks he’s going to live to the end of the play. Jack’s first act as King is to hug David a lot. (I’ll bet.) King Jack brings David into the royal audience chamber (surprising Michelle to the point of apoplexy), and starts a speech about forging peace.
Uncle Cross snaps at him to stuff the speeches and declares martial law. For some reason, no one is more surprised than Jack. (Oh, honey.) then in the most priceless moment of the entire series so far, Cross launches into a speech about how things will change, then stops, horrified, and snaps, “Now you’ve got me doing it.” HA!
It will come as a surprise to no one that David escapes and finds Silas recovering from his wounds at his mistress’s place. David begs Silas to come back; Silas declines until he hears about Uncle Cross. Then he McShanes, “I am the King.”
This episode was head and shoulders above the last few. A lot of this is because there was actually some forward narrative momentum. A lot of this is because the characters actually made choices that reflected on their characters and not just on the plot. Specifically, I was impressed that Jack took a bullet for the father who had recently humiliated him, becoming a hero in the crunch. He also arranged for David to be rescued from death, which genuinely surprised me. We’ll see how long THAT friendship lasts.
David finally got a personality this week! He was frustrated, afraid, and finally resigned, all emotions that visibly passed over his face. (No one’s more surprised than I am.) And his loyalty to Silas finally manifests in a noble way, when he seeks to aid the King who had ordered his death only hours before.
As always, there are frustrating holes (a longstanding and prickly relationship between Queen Rose and the Reverend only comes up now? Is Thomasina back to being badass after last week and the kissing?), but overall, outstanding. Especially stylistically, the show felt right; from the camera work to the gorgeous score (I want a sountrack, NBC!), Kings was meant to be an epic drama, and this week it delivered.
My wish list for the finale: someone besides Silas on the throne for good, a major character death, Queen Rose seeing Silas again, and WHATEVER THE HELL MACAULAY DID. (I will settle for just that last thing.)
Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.
— 1 Samuel 26:9