Knightfall recap: the ultimate guide to season 1
After the success of the first series, Knightfall will be returning to our screens later this year with the exciting announcement that none other than Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, will be joining the show.
To celebrate, we’ve compiled a guide to everything and anything about the first series of Knightfall. Those new to the show or those wishing to just refresh their memories can dive into our detailed retelling of the story so far, whilst the hardened veterans of series one can feast upon the myriad of Templar goodies and behind the scenes info that lies below. Enjoy!
What’s the show all about?
Quite simply put, Knightfall is about the final years of the mysterious medieval order known as the Knights Templars.
Who were the Templars? Formed in the early 12th century, shortly after Jerusalem had been captured during the First Crusade, the initial purpose of the Templars was to protect European Christian travellers on their way to sites in the Holy Land. What began as a group of nine knights known as The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, over the course of the next two hundred years the Templars would grow to become the largest, wealthiest and most powerful military organisation of its time.
These warrior monks lived by a strict code; they had to be celibate, own no valuables and keep very little money on them. They lived an austere life, one not attractive to everybody, but yet their numbers swelled into the thousands as new recruits came eagerly. Any money earned by the Templars went to the organisation to help build castles, new routes to the Holy Land and to give to the poor. So whilst the individual warriors were poor, the Order was very wealthy.
Whilst their strict code kept them disciplined, their military training helped to carve them into fearsome warriors. Through their commitment, training and refusal to retreat, the Templars became the most feared fighting force of all the crusaders.
Their time at the top was not to last and by the end of the 13th century, the Templars last remaining foothold in the Holy Land had been lost. This is where Knightfall begins its story, bucking the modern trend as historical consultant for the show Dan Jones explains, ‘Historical drama these days is usually obsessed with origin stories, but what Knightfall does is look at the story of the Templars at its end.’
Knightfall stays faithful to the historical sources of the time whilst blending in the established legends that the Templars have become so associated with. The first series is driven by one such legend, the Holy Grail, and the Templars desire to recover it.
The presence of the Holy Grail in France triggers a race between the Templars, who have now established a base of operations in Paris, and the French monarchy to acquire the Grail. This conflict of interest is a theme that runs throughout the first series.
This conflict of Church vs. State, faith and religion vs. the government and law, heralds the beginning of what we perceive as modern history.
With the rise in the power of nation-states, the authority of the Church is put to the test and questions arise as to where the power of France should be held and how it should be used. This conflict of Church vs. State, faith and religion vs. the government and law, heralds the beginning of what we perceive as modern history.
Although it is to be their final few years, this is perhaps the most fascinating period of time associated with the Templars. Within this setting we discover a brotherhood of warriors continuing to fight for what they believe in whilst their world slowly crumbles around them. Knightfall is a story of belief, loyalty, sacrifice, politics, love, revenge and ultimately power.
So now that we know what the show’s all about, let’s find out exactly what happens in series one.
The story so far
(WARNING: SPOILERS) For those who’ve yet to dive into the clandestine world of the Knights Templars and wish to watch the show instead of reading about its events, we recommend you skip this section and head for the next one entitled ‘Behind the Scenes.’ For those wanting to know what happens in series one of Knightfall, look no further!
The year is 1291 and the seaport city of Acre, modern-day Israel, is under attack. Acre is the last Crusader stronghold in the Holy Land and the Knights Templars face a fierce battle against Mamluk forces to retain it. The Mamluks were fearsome former slaves who’d risen up to achieve political and military supremacy in northern Africa and the Middle East.
Within their ranks, the Templars possess the Holy Grail, the famed religious artefact said to be the cup from which Jesus drank from during the Last Supper. An epic battle ensues and we get our first glimpse of the shows main protagonist, a headstrong, noble and courageous Templar warrior called Landry du Lauzon.
However, it soon becomes clear that the Templars cannot hold the city from the incoming assault. As they attempt to smuggle the Grail out, the ship carrying it is sunk to the bottom of the sea.
Flash forward fifteen years and the Templars find themselves now based in Paris, and Landry has developed a very close relationship with the current King of France, Philip IV (Ed Stoppard).
Landry is the kind of guy who doesn’t quite fit into the system. Born an orphan and raised by nuns, he has always felt like an outsider. He is a natural rebel, constantly challenging the order and rules around him, unafraid to ask questions.
However, Landry is incredibly loyal to his brothers and the Templar cause, believing everything he does is in their best interests.
During an interview about the show, British actor Tom Cullen who plays Landry said, ‘The character I play Landry, in many ways he’s a classic hero but the show is called Knightfall, it’s not called Knightrise. We start the show at the point where Landry is falling apart in many ways, he’s very polarised.’
This internal conflict between being a devout Christian and a rule breaker becomes a key theme with Landry as the series progresses, as he begins to question his own beliefs.
It’s not long into the show before we are shown this rebellious side of Landry, as he breaks one of the Templars strict codes and begins an affair with a married woman, none other than Queen Joan of Navarre (Olivia Ross), the wife of King Philip. It is not some meaningless fling however as Landry declares his love for Joan early on in the series.
Whilst Landry is not based on any specific person in history but rather a representation of the quintessential Templar warrior, Queen Joan and King Philip were very much real people.
For Joan, Landry is the passionate relationship she never had; the love that was robbed from her by diplomacy and politics.
Joan and Philip married at a very young age, their union arranged for them for political reasons. When Knightfall begins the King and Queen’s marriage has been a loveless one for a while. In real life, accounts suggest that the couple actually had a deep affection for one another. Although a slight deviation from the history books, the show does stay true to the actual character of Joan, depicting her as a strong-willed and politically astute person. Just like in real life, Philip comes to rely heavily on Joan for wisdom and emotional support.
Philip’s been on the throne for some 15 years by the time Knightfall begins its story. He’s become one of the most formidable monarchs in Europe although he is now heavily indebted to the Templars.
Charming and charismatic, it is no wonder he has the nickname Philip the Fair, although this seems to have little to no impact on the affections of his wife. Cracks within their marriage are starting to get wider, frustrating Philip as he attempts to find the root of their marital issues and heal the relationship.
For Joan, Landry is the passionate relationship she never had; the love that was robbed from her by diplomacy and politics. However, she is very aware that she is one of the most important women in Europe and soon struggles to find the balance between wanting to be a good Queen and doing the best for her daughter, Isabella (played by Sabrina Bartlett in season one, and Genevieve Gaunt in season two), who is now a teenager and soon to be introduced into society. She is the most celebrated and eligible lady in the land.
Just like her mother and father, the character of Isabella is based on the real child of Joan and Philip. Isabella of France was one of the most spectacular monarchs in British history. As Queen, she deposed her own King via an invasion against her own monarchy. She would come to be known as the ‘She-Wolf of France,’ forever remembered in literature and plays as a femme fatale figure, a stunning beauty with a cruel and manipulative personality.
In Knightfall Isabella’s mother, Joan cares deeply for her daughter and wants her to be happy. She wants her to have something she never had - a marriage of love. The show begins with a budding romance between Isabella and the prince of Catalonia, the man it seems she hopes to marry. However, there is another suitor in the mix, Prince Edward II of England and like her mother before her, Isabella could well become a political pawn with her future lying outside of her own hands.
One of those influencers over the fate of Isabella is Willian De Nogaret (Julian Ovenden), the chief advisor to the King. Governed by his intellect, De Nogaret only believes in what he can see and perceive, often bringing him into conflict with the faith of the Church. He believes the Pope is corrupt and has a deep distrust of the Templars. His goal is to eradicate the threats to Philip’s throne and elevate the power of France. He is the quintessential power behind the throne character, the master manipulator pulling the strings from the shadows.
The Master of the Paris Temple is a man named Godfrey (Sam Hazeldine), a veteran from the Siege of Acre. It is clear that Landry has become restless and begins to question Godfrey about the motives of the Templars. Why are they not spending more on the poor? Why are they still in Paris? Why haven’t they tried to take the Holy Lands back? Godfrey’s reply, ‘It is not for us to decide, it is for God to decide.’ It’s clear already that Landry is perhaps not as willing to leave such issues to blind faith and begins to have different ideas about what the Templars should be focussing on.
Their conversation is cut short when Godfrey rushes off after receiving a message, bizarrely in the form of an orange. He declares Landry to be Master in his absence and leaves him with one message, ‘we must protect the Jews.’
On his journey Godfrey is stopped by highwaymen and is mortally wounded in the fight that ensues, although he manages to kill everyone bar the leader of the thieves, a man named Roland.
A farmhand called Parsifal (Bobby Schofield), who came to Godfrey’s aid during the fight, now rushes to the dying knight’s side. Godfrey hands Parsifal his sword declaring that he should return it to the Templars, specifically to Landry as ‘God’s kingdom depends on it.’ Parsifal does return it to Landry who asks fellow Templar Gawain (Pádraic Delaney) to retrieve Godfrey’s body in order to give him a proper Templar burial.
We first saw Gawain during the Siege of Acre, in which he saved Landry’s life and took an arrow in the leg during the process. The injury has left him crippled. Before his injury Gawain was one of the most fearsome Templar warriors of all time. His skills as a swordsman were legendary and second to none. However, his injury has dwindled his status amongst his brothers, as he is no longer the warrior they once depended on. Clearly struggling to deal with his newfound existence, Gawain’s devotion and loyalty to the Templars and to Landry will be tested as the series goes on.
Civil unrest builds in Paris between the Christians and the Jews, which results in a Jewish man stabbing to death a Christian in the streets. To prevent all out war, the King orders the evacuation of all Jews from the city upon the advice of De Nogaret. However, all is not as it seems and Joan overhears De Nogaret revealing his true intentions behind the move.
The Jewish man who stabbed the Christian was, in fact, a man pretending to be a Jew to cause civil instability and give De Nogaret a reason to convince the King to remove the Jews from the city. When they are out, he plans on using mercenaries to attack them and rob them of their money to help fill the King’s coffers.
Joan passes this information onto Landry, who informs fellow Templar Tancrede de Hautville (Simon Merrells) about the plot, without revealing his source. The character of Tancrede is based on a real-life Christian soldier called Tancred who fought during the First Crusade. Since the Templars didn’t exist until after the First Crusade, Tancred was not actually a Templar.
However, like his historical namesake, Knightfall’s Tancrede is a battle-hardened soldier and a devout Christian. He is fiercely loyal to his brothers, honest and unwavering in his beliefs and prepared to do anything for the Templar cause. He is also a man of wise practical advice; the meaning of his name is ‘giver of counsel.’ He often gives invaluable advice to his friend Landry, acting as a counterbalance against Landry’s more impulsive side.
Although suspicious at first of the authenticity of the threat, Tancrede joins Landry as he musters a force of Templars to lie in wait outside of the city to protect the Jews as they evacuate. When the Jews are attacked, the Templars protect them and foil De Nogaret’s plan.
After the fight, Landry continues on to find Godfrey’s body. However, when they reach Parsifal’s farm they discover that Parsifal’s fiancé has been murdered, most likely by the highwaymen.
The Holy Grail is in France.
Back in Paris, whilst Godfrey’s sword is being cleaned by a Templar named Draper (Nasser Memarzia), a blue stone is discovered in the handle. After the lantern from which the stone came from is found, the stone is fixed back on and it illuminates an image of the Holy Grail and the fleur de lis on the wall. The Holy Grail is in France.
During this period in medieval history, Churches throughout Europe had no printed Bibles. What they did have was holy relics. The most important of them all was the Holy Grail, a symbol of renewal and power and anyone who has it possesses the powers associated with it. As an important Christian artefact, the Grail means different things to different people. As the series progresses we see that there are some people who wish to protect the Grail, some who wish to exploit it and some who wish to destroy it. The question is, who will get there first?
Although the most likely successor to Godfrey as Master of the Paris Temple due to experience and age is Tancrede, he steps aside and let’s his younger friend Landry claim his seat at the top, since Godfrey had chosen Landry to be in charge in his absence. Pope Boniface VIII (Jim Carter) arrives in Paris to officially swear Landry into his new position of authority, which at first does not sit comfortably with the young knight who questions his ability to lead. The Pope gives Landry his backing and after the ceremony, requests that Landry find the Grail. With such a symbol back within their possession, the Templars and the Church could once again unite all of Christendom and launch a crusade to take back the Holy Land.
Whilst the Templars are an intimidating fighting force, they take their orders from the Pope and revere him as their guiding light on Earth. Like the King, Queen, and Isabella, Boniface was also a real figure from history. Benedetto Caetani would become Pope Boniface VIII in 1294 and would soon assert himself a force to be reckoned with. He famously went head-to-head against King Philip in a feud that would come to symbolise the rising duel between Church and State. His role in Knightfall seems very much the same.
After being dispatched to retrieve the body of Godfrey, Gawain discovers that the body has been taken under the orders of Roland. When this news reaches Landry, he immediately realises that the men who killed Godfrey were not just highwaymen but were in some way linked to the Holy Grail. Landry and Tancrede ride out to join Gawain and the now mourning Parsifal.
The men are eventually led to a building where a battle ensues with Roland’s men and Gawain struggles to fight as effectively as he used to. Even so, the Templars are victorious and are able to retrieve Godfrey’s body, whereby afterwards Landry suggests that Parsifal should join the Templars. Parsifal subsequently goes into training.
Once back in Paris, the Pope suggests the men should look inside the body of Godfrey for any clues. Although considered sacrilege by the Templars, they agree to conduct the autopsy and discover a key hidden inside Godfrey’s stomach.
The Pope has also been busy deciding the fate of Isabella, declaring she should marry Prince Lluis of Catalonia. The King and Queen have agreed to the union making Isabella most excited. The prospect of a loving marriage is now something within her grasp.
De Nogaret, on the other hand, has been constantly butting heads with the Pope over this issue. He believes Isabella should marry Edward II of England and create an all-powerful union between two great European nations. To quote him directly from the show, ‘Think of Isabella to be princess of France and Queen of England, both is to be Queen of the world.’ The fact that rumours resound about Edward favouring the company of men is of no concern to De Nogaret. In his eyes, Isabella is but a chess piece to be bartered and manoeuvred around in order to secure the best political outcome for the government.
So determined to achieve this goal, he directs the same man who killed the Christian in the streets to assassinate the Pope. This attempt fails and the head of the assassin is returned to De Nogaret by the Catalonian ambassador who had somehow learnt of the plot.
Undeterred he turns his attention to the Templars after hearing the news of Godfrey. He approaches Gawain, now drinking in a bar and breaking the Templar code. Gawain is frustrated that his physical abilities are no longer what they were and Landry has subsequently placed him in charge of training new initiates, a role he sees as beneath him. His days as a warrior are behind him and he begins to regret ever saving Landry’s life.
De Nogaret uses this to his advantage and offers up the help of the King’s physicians in exchange for information about the Pope. Gawain tells De Nogaret about the Holy Grail.
Soon after it’s revealed that Joan has fallen pregnant with Landry’s child and although she attempts to rid of the baby via a herbal potion, her handmaiden Sophie prevents her from actually taking the correct tonic. At that point, Joan changes her mind and decides to keep the baby.
After speaking with the Pope, Landry calls off his affair with Joan. Whilst the Pope is now privy to this information, he does not know with whom exactly Landry was sleeping with.
The key found in the stomach of Godfrey is placed on the lantern with the blue and projects an image showing the crest of the De Caux family, the next clue in the puzzle for the Grail.
Landry and Tancrede ride to meet a member of that family who turns out to be the brother of Godfrey called Raymond. He tells Landry how he was crippled before he drank from the Grail and was instantly healed. This miracle had made Godfrey a man of God and this is why he dedicated his life to the Templars.
Before Raymond can hand Landry a scroll with directions to the Grail on it, he is killed by a Saracen, a term used among Christian writers in Europe during the Middle Ages to refer to Arabs and Muslims. During the fight that ensues, the scroll is lost in a fire and the Saracen is severely wounded.
Landry and Tancrede bring the Saracen back to the Temple in the hope of healing him and finding out what he knows. The Saracen heeds the warning to the Templars that the Grail will be the downfall of them all.
Before any information can be extracted the Saracen is murdered in the Temple. Landry orders a lockdown to find the culprit and after an investigation conducted by Gawain, it turns out to be Tancrede who committed the crime. Believing the Saracen’s warning about the Grail, Tancrede thought that God did not want it to fall into human hands and so killed the Saracen to snuff out any chances of the Templars finding the Grail. Tancrede is placed under lock and key.
However, a strange mark is discovered on the Saracens body. After talking to Jonas the Pagan (Peter Marinker) in the woods who is able to help Landry remember things from his past, the next clue to find the Grail becomes apparent – an orange. Landry remembers that before he was killed Godfrey had been called away after receiving an orange, which he now knows is a calling card of a group called the Brotherhood of Light. Landry now places an orange out in the Temple and waits.
Whilst this has been happening the decision of whom Isabella should marry has been causing all kinds of political machinations. After De Nogaret witnesses her sleeping with the Catalonia Prince Lluis, he passes the information on in the hope the union between the two will fall apart meaning that she’ll have to go with Prince Edward of England.
Lluis’ mother, Queen Elena of Catalonia (Claudia Bassols) arrives in Paris and is disgusted to discover the purity of her future daughter-in-law has been compromised before the official wedding. However, Isabella passes a purity test and the wedding is back on. Joan bribed the midwife to ensure her daughter was spared any blushes, although Isabella is fuming about the fact people know she slept with Lluis and believes it was her future husband who leaked the information.
No longer wishing to marry such a man, Isabella turns to De Nogaret to help her get out of the union and so a planned is hatched. The English have already made it clear they will go to war with France if Isabella does not marry Edward and so De Nogaret plays on this by making it look as if he’s been poisoned by the English. He kidnaps the English ambassador in France, the Earl of Oxford, and hides him away making it look like the Earl had carried out the poisoning before fleeing.
With De Nogaret on his deathbed, the Templars are alerted to the discovery of Greek Fire in the Church. This highly flammable substance is known to be used by a mysterious mercenary and so the wedding between Lluis and Isabella is moved to the castle, which can be more safely guarded…or so they think.
Shortly after the wedding begins, the mercenary appears and fires an arrow towards Lluis. Landry steps in and takes the blow although the mercenary is able to capture Isabella and bundles her into a carriage. Lluis runs after them and scrambles into the same carriage. It’s at this point Isabella reveals she is no victim, jumping out of the carriage just before the mercenary ignites it with Greek Fire and blows it up. Isabella pretends to weep as she witnesses the death of Lluis.
Isabella then runs to De Nogaret’s side and gives him the antidote to the poison; he awakens to discover their plan has worked…clearly, the mercenary was working for them. Telling everyone it was a miracle that he has recovered from the poison, De Nogaret convinces the King that the Earl of Oxford, who De Nogaret has now had killed in secret, was clearly behind this plot and working alone. An olive branch is offered to the English in the form of Isabella’s hand in marriage to Edward.
By this stage Landry is now aware of Joan’s situation and believes the two can have a future together, although Joan at this stage does not believe so. To cover her tracks Joan has begun sleeping with her husband again to ensure Philip believes the baby is his when he realises she is pregnant.
Landry’s orange is received and the Brotherhood of Light, led by a man named Rashid, capture Landry and hold him hostage. Rashid is a fearsome warrior, idealistic, uncompromising and willing to die for his beliefs. His job is to keep the Grail out of the hands of men and to stop further blood being spilt in its name.
After testing Landry to discover his true intentions, a deal is brokered, whereby Rashid will give up what he knows about the whereabouts of the Grail if Landry hands over Tancrede, as the man Tancrede murdered was Rashid’s son. Rashid also tells Landry that Godfrey had been working with them to keep the Grail away from the Templars and other people who wanted it. Godfrey had, in fact, let the Saracens in at Acre all those years ago, deliberately causing its downfall and sacrificing the lives of thousands to save millions if the Grail had got into the wrong hands.
Unwilling to hand over his fellow brother, Landry declares he is not a traitor like Godfrey and has Tancrede excommunicated for his crime in order to protect him from the Brotherhood of Light. Landry attempts to hand himself over to the Brotherhood instead. Tancrede appears from nowhere and offers himself up and repents his sins to the Templars. In return, Rashid advises Landry to go to the place where he first met Godfrey. That place was Landry’s orphanage.
Upon arrival, he discovers the orphanage has burnt down, although a mysterious woman appears called Anna (Gina McKee) and reveals herself to be Landry’s mother. She takes Landry and Gawain, who is to accompany him, to a place where the Grail has been kept safe for 15 years.
There they discover an orange tree holding on one of its branches a box containing the Grail. It’s at this point that Gawain’s building resentment of Landry comes to a head and he fights Landry for the holy cup, as he wishes to drink from it and use it’s redeeming powers, something Landry does not agree with. Landry easily overpowers and subdues him.
Landry insists to his mother that the Grail must be returned to the Pope, she strongly disagrees believing it will be the death of him but accompanies him back anyway.
Meanwhile back in Paris, De Nogaret is being heralded as a hero by the King for foiling the so-called wedding day plot. With more power and respect, De Nogaret turns his attention to the Templars who he now believes are a great threat to the King’s position as they are loyal to the Pope. He begins amassing a mercenary army with the help of his uncle.
However, De Nogaret’s newfound elevated position is short lived as Isabella discovers a secret passageway with peepholes linking De Nogaret’s room with hers. She realises it was De Nogaret who revealed that she’d slept with Lluis, not Lluis.
After she calls him out, King Phillip sentences De Nogaret to death for treason and murder. During the hanging, De Nogaret’s uncle leaps into view, cuts the rope and they both escape on horseback.
Whilst this has been going on Parsifal has been working with a young Jewish girl, Adelina (Sarah-Sofie Boussnina) to track down Roland. At first, the two were at odds with each other after Adelina had stolen from Parsifal to help raise money to feed her fellow Jews, who had returned to the city and were attempting to eke out a living. However, now with Adelina’s help, Parsifal is able to interrogate Roman who has been captured and imprisoned. He discovers that Roman has in fact been working for the Pope. Before Parsifal can reveal this information to anyone, a Templar squire who is working undercover for the Pope kills him.
Queen Elena enters the fray again as she attempts to conquer Navarre, the region of Joan’s birth, in retribution for the death of her son now that De Nogaret’s plot has been revealed. Against her husband’s wishes due to her pregnancy, Joan rushes to Navarre to assure the Nobleman there that France will protect them.
However, Joan’s attempts to parlay with Elena end in initial failure as she is captured and taken prisoner. After Elena threatens to kill one of Joan’s children in revenge for the death of hers, Joan manages to manipulate Elena into a position where she can stab and kill her.
Meanwhile, De Nogaret has snuck back into Paris dressed as a beggar and speaks with Gawain who reveals that Landry has been sleeping with a married woman. After De Nogaret hears of Joan’s pregnancy he puts two and two together and somehow manages to wangle a meeting with the King, at which point he reveals all to his former master. Although at first Philip does not believe him, as Landry has been his closest friend, the seeds of doubt have been planted.
After Joan’s return from Navarre, Philip begins to drop hints that he knows something is up. Joan attempts to flee back to the safety of Navarre with Isabella who, however, is reluctant to go. Before she can leave, Sophie, Joan’s handmaiden turns up beaten and bloody. Philip declares to Joan that she can never leave and Isabella takes the side of her Dad after discovering for herself the affair her mother has had.
Landry works out that IV must have been one of the Pope’s guards and so Roland must have been working for the Pope.
When Landry returns the Grail to the Pope he realises that something is not quite right. The guard around the Pope are now wearing chain mail. Before his death, Parsifal had uncovered a scroll in Roland’s possession signed by someone called IV, who was requesting more men to be sent to Paris. Landry works out that IV must have been one of the Pope’s guards and so Roland must have been working for the Pope.
After confronting him with this knowledge the Pope admits to having Godfrey killed as he was a traitor who refused to hand over the Grail to the church. With the Grail now in his possession, the Pope wishes to unite all of Europe into one state under his rule with no kings. The Grail reinforces the idea of Christ and his existence, something that the Pope believes can dilute the powers of governments.
The Templars engage in a fight with the Pope’s guard. Rashid and his men appear and help the Templars win the battle, although Rashid dies during the fight. Tancrede also returns, dressed as one the Brotherhood of Light, demonstrating that Rashid never intended to kill him. Tancrede returns to being a Templar and reveals to Landry that the Grail predates the Last Supper and has an even deeper meaning.
By this time De Nogaret has been reinstated back into his position as right-hand man to the King and has convinced Philip that he needs to defeat the Templars using the mercenary army he has been building.
Landry is summoned by Jacques De Molay (Robert Pugh), the Grand Master of the Templars, and must explain to him his actions. De Molay sides with the Pope and Landry is charged with crimes against the Church. At his trial, Gawain and the Pope speak against Landry, who in the end is found guilty and sentenced to be excommunicated and burnt at the stake for being a heretic.
As Landry languishes in a cell awaiting his fate, his faith in God and everything he has believed in is shaken to the very core. Gawain comes to see him and applies a blow to Landry’s left knee via a sledgehammer.
Before Landry can be excommunicated though, his mother speaks with the Pope and tells him something about the Grail and its power that immediately makes the Pope change his mind about Landry’s fate. The Pope advises De Molay that Landry cannot be excommunicated and whilst the Pope is apologising to Landry, a guard informs him that the Grail has been stolen.
The thief turns out to be the mercenary and so we know that the Grail is now in the possession of De Nogaret and the King, who hopes to lure the Templars back to Paris and have them slaughtered by the army they have been recruiting.
Joan overhears this plot and knocks Philip out with a candlestick after he threatens to kill her unborn child. She steals the Grail and rides to meet Landry in the Forest of Versailles. After telling Landry the King’s plans, she goes into labour. Shortly after, a battle breaks out between the Templars and the King’s army, now led by Gawain who has switched sides and been given a knee brace by the royal doctor, greatly enhancing his fighting skills.
During the battle, Landry is separated by the King’s men and ends up in a one-on-one fight with the King himself who overpowers a struggling Landry - the sledgehammer to the knee from Gawain taking its toll. Joan stumbles over to Landry and the King and insists Philip let him live. He agrees to this and stabs her in the stomach instead, completing Philip’s descent into darkness that has slowly played out during the series.
De Molay turns up with more Templar warriors and the King’s army retreats. Landry attempts to save Joan’s life by getting her to drink from the Grail. When this fails, he throws the Grail against a tree and smashes it. Although Joan dies, the unborn child is saved and Landry is left holding his new daughter.
As Joan and the fallen Templars receive their burial, Templar Berenger (Peter O’Meara) extracts a small scroll from the base of the broken Holy Grail and it’s revealed to contain the name of Landry written on it. Berenger swallows the scroll for safekeeping.
Was that cup really the Holy Grail or was it just another clue to the whereabouts of the real holy relic? We’ll have to wait for series two to answer those questions.
Behind the scenes
Knightfall launched to good reviews with IGN Movies declaring, ‘Knightfall creates an engaging story centred around the Knights Templar and their search for the Holy Grail. With gorgeous costumes and wonderfully designed sets, Knightfall does a great job of bringing 14th century Paris to life.’
Den of Geek supported this opinion stating that Knightfall, ‘offers a strong debut with a nice blend of action and character development as it skillfully sets up a compelling web of treachery, deceit, and lust.’
Production for the show began back in 2016 and it’s executive produced by Hollywood action star Jeremy Renner of Avengers, The Hurt Locker and Mission Impossible fame. Being a fan of all things sword related, being the owner of an expensive Franklin Mint Excalibur Sword, Renner said why he was drawn to the project, ‘I love things that are based in history. This ended up being a really interesting thing for me, my grandfather being a Free Mason and all.’
Filming was done in the Czech Republic and Croatia. The Walls of Dubrovnik's Fort Lovrijenac and Pile Bay provided the backdrop for the scenes depicting the Siege of Acre, whilst Prague and its many medieval castles played host to the majority of the shoot.
A medieval replica of Paris was built in the Prague studios to be used as exterior sets. According to Tom Cullen, ‘It took 400 people, 7 days a week for 4 months to build these. They built multiple streets, a Palace, Temple, market square, Church, city walls (complete with moat), shops and taverns.’ These were the biggest sets in Europe.
Cullen had to go the gym for about 3-4 hours a day in preparation for playing Landry
The sets, bar one small part, would succumb to a fire and be destroyed, with estimated damage costing in the region of £3.5 million. Quick thinking Renner said they should film the fire in case they ever needed to use the footage to depict Paris burning.
Describing himself when he first got offered the role as ‘a cross between a gerbil and a Christmas pudding,’ Cullen had to go the gym for about 3-4 hours a day in preparation for playing Landry. He and his fellow knights also undertook nearly three weeks of boot camp training. Describing it as an intense program involving boxing, circuit training, sword fighting, horse riding and the gym, the actors would come out the other side physically changed and in better shape to carry their costumes which weighed up to 50lbs.
Although Cullen had a stunt double, nothing could protect him from the freezing cold conditions filming the final battle scene. Trudging in deep mud in -10 degrees, Cullen lost 4 toenails during the process.
Asked what drew him to the show, Cullen, a long time friend of Game of Thrones actor Kit Harrington, having met each other back in drama school, said, ‘after a long frustrating period of reading a lot of scripts with nothing jumping out at me and then Knightfall came along and I was just really blown by its scale and the kind of complexity of the characters.’ He also admitted to being obsessed with knights ever since we was a kid, ‘running around pretending to be a knight, fighting in slow motion.’
If you recognise Cullen but can’t quite place him, it’s because you probably saw him as Lord Anthony Gillingham in Downton Abbey, the ITV period drama that became a global smash hit. Knightfall is a bit of a Downton reunion with two other cast members having previously appeared in that show - Jim Carter (aka the Pope) was Carlson the butler in Downton and Julian Ovenden (aka De Nogaret) was Charles Blake in Downton.
When filming in Prague, Cullen would share a car in every day with Carter. ‘Every morning I’d play my music until one day Jim asked me to switch it off, describing my taste in music like “Three Frenchmen pissing in a bucket.” I’ve never laughed so hard.’
Filming has already wrapped on the next series of Knightfall and it will be hitting our screens this summer.