REVIEW: Knightfall, S1E7 – And Certainly Not the Cripple

Knightfall deals with the hypocrisy of several of its main characters in ‘And Certainly Not the Cripple,’ as well as the ways in which they each fail themselves or the institutions they represent. Throughout the episode, Queen Elena’s attack on Navarre shakes up Joan (Olivia Ross) and Philip’s (Ed Stoppard) newly mended relationship, while relics from the past test Landry (Tom Cullen) and Parsifal (Bobby Schofield) in their darkest hours.

It’s hard out here for a knight whose master breaks all his vows.

When ‘And Certainly Not the Cripple’ opens, Landry has followed the trail to the orphanage where he met Godfrey only to find that it has burned down and the relic is probably ash with it. He confesses the entire ordeal thus far to Pope Boniface (Jim Carter), including his dealings with the Brotherhood of the Light, but the chiding he receives seems to make him more sure that the Grail is his destiny rather than less.  And yet he spends the first half of the episode more focused on Joan and their baby rather than on seeking new avenues to find the Grail.

Landry’s crisis of conscience at the thought of abandoning his child seems a bit extreme, considering that he knows full well the baby will have a father and not experience the abandonment he did. A life on the run with an ex-Templar who betrayed the King would be far worse, so it stands to reason that Landry is still using the idea of a life with Joan as an escape from duty as a Templar. But perhaps his biggest mistake in ‘And Certainly Not the Cripple’ was admitting his misdeeds to Gawain (Pádraic Delaney), who immediately takes that information to De Nogaret (Julian Ovenden, humorously dressed as a beggar all episode). “Your Master seems to deny everyone but himself,” the clever fox replies, and he’s not wrong.

Denying Gawain the opportunity to sip from the Grail is the final straw, leading Gawain to go full Judas by the end of the hour. While Gawain’s actions are wrong, it’s hard to deny that he’s right about Landry’s vows and the ways he’s gone against the Templar code. So what does it mean that he’s God’s chosen one to recover the Grail? Either way it’s a good thing he drew his sword, because the hunt for the artifact was pretty uneventful before that. The most interesting character involved in the quest was the mysterious nun from Godfrey’s past who seemed a little too invested in Landry and his role. We have to assume she’ll play a larger role from here on out, especially when she warns that neither Landry nor the Grail are safe at the Temple and insists on going with him.

The Chosen One fulfills his destiny.

In the meantime, Joan is publicly pregnant now and Landry is furious that she didn’t give him time to find a way for them to be together, but the awkward love triangle is interrupted by news that Navarre has been attacked. Joan wishes to travel there and gather the troops, which Philip vehemently opposes in a tense argument between the royal couple that takes place in front of the entire court. While they both make fair points, they’re also both in the wrong and the cracks in their marriage shine through – Joan knows little of the necessities of governance and doesn’t respect her husband’s position, while Philip’s arguments are laced with misogyny and ignore his wife’s needs and desires.

When the King returns to her chambers that night, he finds that the Queen has already escaped and is on her way to Navarre. The upside to this is that ‘And Certainly Not the Cripple’ provides a lighthearted distraction to the wars – both earthly and holy – when Philip requests a night out on the town with Landry in response to his wife’s actions. Philip seeing his country through the eyes of the commoners could have taken up a whole episode, but the side story quickly devolves into a bar brawl and a reminder that Landry is betraying not only is King but also the man who considers him a friend.

As for Joan, she is quickly in over her head when she reaches Navarre. The nobles there do not hold her in high esteem and do not trust that France will send the reinforcements they need. She gives an admirable speech, but it’s soon undercut by the dozens of severed hands that Queen Elena sends as a horrifying gift. Hopefully she will have a chance to acquit herself better during the parlay and prove to her people and her husband that she’s a ruler in her own right.

Continuing the theme of keeping your own counsel that Knightfall seemed to be exploring this week, Parsifal is consumed by the note from Roland that proves he’s working for someone else, but he has lost the opportunity to question the mercenary as will be tried and held elsewhere. Once more, the Templar in training is asked to submit to God’s will, and once more he cannot leave his fiancée’s death in the past. He stops Roland’s wagon and tortures the truth out of him, even killing him in a gruesome sequence as soon as he receives the information he desires. But the victory remains hollow, and as soon as he goes to warn his brethren, he winds up stabbed in the stomach for the crime of telling the wrong person. He may not be dead, but it’s clear that vengeance did him no favors.

‘And Certainly Not the Cripple’ ends with De Nogaret realizing that Landry is the father of Joan’s child just as Landry himself realizes he’s standing before his mother. Parents and children are a reoccurring motif this season on Knightfall, and it’s certainly interesting how much of the show’s stakes revolve around those dynamics.