Kings: The New King

The season finale of Kings was a two parter, so I decided to talk about both parts in one post, because I’m obstinate that way. And because they fitted together neatly, so it made more sense to talk about them both at once, rather than separating the discussion into two posts.

And, let me tell you, I was monumentally unsatisfied. I mean, we all know the story, so it’s not like I finished and went “now we’ll never know what happens,” but the ending really made me furious that the show was canceled, because I wanted to see it happen. I thought that they did a totally amazing job of telling and updating a very old story, and I don’t understand why something so elegantly crafted, with so many layers of nuance and complexity, was deemed less important than a random array of medical soaps and stupid comedy shows.

Watching the end, as David runs into the woods and a single butterfly drifts across the screen, was kind of like watching the Death of Art. I mean, sure, there’s a lot of great television on the air still, but this was amazing television, and it makes me incredibly sad that I won’t be able to watch it anymore. I get that ratings are king, and that if it’s not profitable, it’s not profitable, but…gah.

I think that the greatest revelation in the first part was the fact that William Cross has always been working with an agenda. He’s a fascinating character because he’s often present, but in the background, patiently waiting for his opportunity, and once it opened up, he swung right into action and totally transformed. He was the kind of character that you see on the periphery and recognize as a threat, but you don’t realize how dangerous he is until too late. From a fairly mild-mannered if sneaky man, he became totally commanding, and he made it clear that he controlled David and Jack. That scene in which Jack tries to rise and is forced down by a member of his own military was pretty telling. And, in the end, like all slimeballs, he flees rather than facing the consequences of his own actions.

His exploitation, of course, fed directly in Jack’s desperate desire for power. And nowhere was that desire more evident than in the scene where the crown is snatched away from him at the last minute and he is obviously crestfallen. His decision to stay, rather than fleeing with William, could be read as genuine regret; or as a canny effort to get himself into the position to be kind again.

I also think it’s fascinating that they managed to work in an allegory about weapons manufacturers and defense contractors into a retelling of the Bible. Cross clearly has a lot of parallels with the industries which are working right now to promote the continuation of war because they profit from it, even if they don’t work quite as explicitly as Cross. And it was interesting to see how deftly he took advantage of Jack from the very start to achieve his goals; Jack, for all he tries to pretend otherwise, is incredibly naive. And his punishment was pretty intense, and in a way a punishment for his wife as well as him.

I ended still disliking Rose. She’s so manipulative, and so willing to do whatever it takes to gain her will. I guess maybe that’s what you need to be if you’re married to a corrupt tyrant and you want to retain your family’s hold on power. I do think that she powerfully illustrated the fact that queens are far from empty figureheads concerned with party planning, and that was probably a good message to send. She was definitely a strong female character, but that doesn’t mean I liked her.

Of course, it’s impossible to talk about Kings without talking about David, who is the driving force behind the story. I found his disillusionment over the course of the series very sad, but also compelling, to watch. And, being of an unromantic disposition, I don’t quite understand why he forgave Michelle so readily after she basically condemned him to death. Michelle, it’s clear, follows the orders of her mother and is kind of cowed by her, and her choice to save her skin over standing up for David left a bitter taste in my mouth, made even more bitter when David apparently submitted to it. Clearly, my tendency to hold a grudge makes it hard for me to accept their reconciliation, which may have been hurried along to tie up at least one end.

There was a heck of a lot of story to tell here. And I’m glad that it didn’t get rushed and trampled over in the hurry to tie things up for viewers. I think that they made the right choice by ending where they did; it would have been impossible to cram in all of the complexities of the story and do them justice. Now, I’m going to continue hoping that it will become a cult hit which gets revived on television or on the big screen so that I can see more of the story.