Well, folks, it’s over. The sun has set on Kings‘ brief run, and the few loyal viewers are left to mourn what might have been, and, frankly, to mourn what was, because man, that finale had some stinkers. If it had all been horrible, it would have been easier to bear, but seeing such good stuff up against such disasters is like watching an Olympic hopeful bellyflop during the last heat.
Let’s postmortem this episode, so that others may learn from the example: How to Ruin Your Show in Five Easy Pieces.
So, just to wrap up, Jack wants to be king, Uncle Cross wants to be the power behind the throne, Michelle is nervous (I think; it’s hard to tell from her perm-expression), Queen Rose is amazing, King Silas is suffering from selective amnesia and has moments of greatness totally buried by moments of ridiculousness.
David reluctantly helps Silas to power and ends up in a slapfight with him that rivals anything Alexis Carrington Colby and her fountain ever came up with. Jack is punished for his treason—by which I mean, his being gay. The murdered Reverend pulls a Six Feet Under and starts appearing wherever exposition is needed, and David makes a run for it into Gath territory as we end the season with Silas the new king, same as the old king.
There’s nothing more quietly painful than a finale of a show that thought it had a second season, and didn’t have a chance to wrap everything up once it got the chop. As such, it’s hard to critique the lack of closure, since it’s a perfectly decent season finale and shouldn’t necessarily be judged as a series finale.
That said: this show has some explaining to do, because it made five avoidable mistakes in its finale.
1. If Your Supporting Cast is Cool, the Hero Should be Cooler. The best element of this episode is Queen Rose; the highlight was Rose meeting Silas in the empty lobby and holding out the crown she stole under pain of death in anticipation of his return. Her casually triumphant greeting (“Husband.”) is so well-delivered that it makes one wish she had been the one God spoke to. Especially since Ian McShane, whose walking-over-the-hill-to-the-palace scene was truly epic, then has to whine at a green-screen God about not wanting David to be king—a scene even he looks ashamed to be filming. (Sorry, dude. At least it’s all over now.)
2. Reward Your Characters for Fulfilling their Arcs. Jack finally gave up running from one place to another and presented himself to his father with a terse speech about how the two things he’s ever wanted to be (himself, and King) have been denied, and there’s nothing left for him but death. It was great stuff; sadly, he didn’t know that the show expected a second season, so killing him was a no-go, even though it would have been justice-licious. I’m sure he gets imprisoned with King in a Basement, though, right?
3. Less Rape, Please! No dice on that execution—Jack is relegated to a bedroom in the palace, where Thomasina throws his fiancée in with him and tells him that the King has ordered him to produce an heir, because that whole situation is not questionable AT ALL. (Thomasina is back to being stone-cold, since the Random Qualms writer had the week off.) How I pined for Katrina Ghent; if she were still around, she and Jack would be sipping Mai Tais on a beach somewhere, eyeing cabana boys and plotting revenge. No wonder they had to kill her.
4. Pick and Choose your Big Reveals. During the David/Silas slapfight, during which David finally admits he might want to be king, he also cops to some offscreen conversations with God, which—are you KIDDING, show? The one thing that would have made David interesting, and you decided not to show us?
5. Don’t Kill Off Half Your Cast Every Season. So, in the back six of the first season, you kill General Wes Studi, Katrina Ghent, a few council members, and Reverend Samuels? At this rate they wouldn’t have had more than one more season before they ran out of characters; it’s like the last act of Hamlet in here.
So, yes, those five problems will kill a show handily. Though, even though the show’s faults were many, I don’t want to end without mentioning the better elements: Ian McShane, Susanna Thompson, Eamonn Walker, Marlyne Afflack, Sebastian Stan, Eamonn Walker, Leslie Bibb, Wes Studi, the production values, the cinematography, and the score (seriously, I want a soundtrack CD, and I want it now).
The best element of them all: never telling us what Macaulay Culkin did to get exiled. You got me good, show! I’ll certainly be tuning in to your imaginary second season to find out what happened there!
And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand.
— 1 Samuel 24:20