REVIEW: Knightfall, S1E4 – He Who Discovers His Own Self, Discovers God

Knightfall goes on a vision quest in ‘He Who Discovers His Own Self, Discovers God’ while also turning another corner when it comes to palace intrigue. Landry (Tom Cullen) ventures into his own past thanks to a friendly neighborhood heretic, Gawain (Pádraic Delaney) discovers a murderer in the Templar’s midst, and Isabella’s (Sabrina Bartlett) romance with Luis hits another major snafu.

The episode opens with a powerful speech from Landry about how the Templars were established to protect all religious people regardless of their denomination, and yet a Saracen was murdered within the walls of their sacred temple. It is moments like these where Knightfall hits closest to home, subtly reminding its audience that even those with the best of intentions can become overzealous and violent in the supposed protection of their own beliefs. It may be hard to relate to royal entanglements – enjoyable they may be – but everyone has personal experience with their prejudices and those of others. Before leaving to seek answers regarding the Grail, Landry leaves Gawain in charge of the inquest into the murder. This seems like a terrible idea at first given Gawain’s questionable loyalty, but ‘He Who Discovers His Own Self, Discovers God’ takes the opportunity to upend expectations here.

Detective Gawain on the case.

Landry doesn’t trust his fellow Templar much more than the audience does at this point in time, so he tasks Tancrede (Simon Merrells) with watching over Gawain and making sure he doesn’t stray. And for a moment, it seems like Gawain may buck against his orders once more. He immediately decides that young initiate Pierre (Joey Batey) is responsible for the murder, despite the boy admitting only to stealing bread out of hunger, and threatens to hang him at dawn. The conflict on Tancrede’s face is revealed to be guilt rather than concern for his colleague’s behavior, and Gawain reveals himself to be much smarter than I originally gave him credit for. But it turns out Tancrede committed the murder out of something other than religious fervor; his motivation was fear of the Grail and what finding it may do to the Templars. Sadly, history would suggest he was right.

While the Templars are fighting amongst themselves, Landry makes the highly unusual choice of seeking the help of a heretic named Jonas (Peter Marinker) to uncover the meaning behind the strange mark he saw on the Saracen’s wrist. This quest not only serves the purpose of actually furthering the most important plot in Knightfall‘s repertoire, it also creates a literal window into Landry’s soul and his past. The Templar is so focused on finding the truth that he is willing to seek the aid of a known heretic and trust himself in the hands of Jonas’ “terrifying gods,” and he is rewarded by some insightful scenes from his childhood. Landry’s relationship with Godfrey (Sam Hazeldine) receives a great deal of care in ‘He Who Discovers His Own Self, Discovers God’ as the starting point of their deep connection is brought out in his memories alongside the meaning of the mark.

After a run-in with the dangerous Malraux, who did indeed wear the same mark, young Landry immediately rushed to warn Godfrey and join him in the transportation of a mysterious box – one which most likely contained the Grail. Though Godfrey did not reveal the specifics, he did admit that he had taken something that Malraux’s group believed belonged to them. And when Malraux comes after them once more, Godfrey saves his young protege’s life despite being wounded himself, cementing their lifelong friendship and camaraderie. He learns that the mark belongs to the Brotherhood of the Light once he wakes up calling out the episode’s title in another language, but the most interesting part of Landry’s memories is when Godfrey explains the meaning of last week’s Knightfall title: every human has a white wolf and a black wolf inside them, and they must constantly decide whether to feed the love and faith or the fear and hate. It is a powerful message that might have made more sense in the previous episode, but which speaks to the actions of many characters in ‘He Who Discovers His Own Self, Discovers God’ as well.

One such is example is found in the story of Adelina (Sarah-Sofie Boussnina), who was paid to bring Parsifal (Bobby Schofield) to the murderous highwayman Roland. Despite the knowledge that doing such a cruel thing will help her people, and perhaps understanding the consequences she will suffer if she doesn’t, she chooses to warn Parsifal of the danger instead and save his life. Though the episode does not dwell much on her choice, it is an interesting dilemma nonetheless. When faced between an evil action that may prevent future evil and a good one that may indirectly cause evil later, which is the moral choice? She is now responsible for Roland’s actions, but that doesn’t mean her people won’t hold her accountable for the dangers that may befall them later. Hopefully Parsifal will feel indebted to her for saving his life (not to mention returning Marie’s necklace!) and help them out.

Isabella knows not the power she wields.

The final storyline of last night’s Knightfall was also its most intricate, which skillfully meshed Isabella’s romantic woes with Joan’s (Olivia Ross) pregnancy and managed to throw in a few surprises as well. When the Queen of Catalonia comes to visit, De Nogaret (Julian Ovenden) of course takes it as another opportunity to destroy the frail union between the two nations. He uses the secret of Isabella and Luis’ intimate relations to do, throwing the entire court into chaos at the thought that their darling princess may have lost her virtue. Everyone has a different agenda when it comes to leveraging this information – the Queen, for example, would really like Navarre to be returned to her people – but only Joan really understands what this means for her daughter. While Philip will not even entertain the notion that Isabella is not a virgin, Joan sits down and has an honest conversation with her about love and passion. She does not reveal her own romantic secret, but it is a bittersweet and emotional scene nonetheless that opens up new layers for both women.

And though previous episodes already made it clear that De Nogaret harbors some uncomfortable feelings for Isabella, ‘He Who Discovers His Own Self, Discovers God’ suggests she may be more of a weakness than he previously anticipated. He actually loses his cool once it is announced that the princess will be forced to undergo a purity test to prove that she did not have sex with Luis, and almost endangers his own agenda. Of course, his greed wins out, but it is interesting to note that the young woman wields a certain power over him without even realizing. But the real power player of Knightfall this week is Queen Joan, who pays off the lady in charge of the test to get the result she desires. This works out for De Nogaret, since poor Isabella now believes her beloved betrayed her by speaking of their night together – and now she wants the union dissolved by whatever means necessary.

The purity test doesn’t work out quite so well for Joan herself, as the woman who conducted it informs the Queen that she is still pregnant. No wonder the abortifacient didn’t cause Joan any ill effects; it wasn’t the real one. An episode of protecting her daughter changes Joan’s mind, though, and she chooses to keep the baby and seduce her husband in order to ensure her own safety. I was surprised when she didn’t consider this option last week, so I’m glad to see the show recognized it was on the table. Could it be that Knightfall will turn one of France’s future kings into Landry’s son? How very The Musketeers of them, which I say in the most complimentary way possible.

‘He Who Discovers His Own Self, Discovers God’ ends with England dropping off a dead horse dropped at the King’s doorstep, signifying war. The ominous final note raises the stakes for the palace side of the story, while the discovery of the Brotherhood of the Light adds some weight to Landry’s own mission. Now the question is whether the two stories will intertwine this season.