History Channel’s ‘Knightfall’ Season 1 Premiere: A Non-Spoiler Early Review [Opinion]

History Channel has a new series premiering on December 6 called Knightfall. Fans of the channel’s other medieval drama, Vikings, are already anticipating the new show. But will Knightfall be as good as Vikings?

Knightfall is set some 200 years after the events currently occurring in Vikings, although, with the introduction of the new character, Heahmund (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), I have already previously drawn similarities between the two shows. Heahmund is a warrior Bishop that is from an order that precedes the Knights Templar, who are the featured religious warriors in Knightfall.

Knightfall centers around the Templar Knight, Landry (Tom Cullen), and opens with the downfall of the Templars, which seems like a strange place to start a series based on this group. However, at the Battle of Acre, not only are the Templars defeated, but they lose the Holy Grail as well. Season 1 of Knightfall then becomes the search for this mystical religious item. And, for history buffs who have been drawn to learning about the Templar Knights, the search for the Holy Grail is quite often the catalyst for doing so.

While the Knightfall premiere episode sets the parameters of Season 1 early, the show is actually so much more than just the search for the Holy Grail. In fact, it is the political intrigue in Knightfall that I found much more fascinating.

History Channel's 'Knightfall,' Season 1, premiere, the French royal family
[Image by Larry Horricks/History Channel]

The show is set in Acre, France, and the leader at the time, King Philip (Ed Stoppard), is deciding whom his daughter, Princess Isabella (Sabrina Bartlett), should marry. Isabella wants to marry Prince Lluis (Marcos Franz) of Catalonia. Her mother, Queen Joan of Navarre (Olivia Ross), wants her daughter to marry for love, rather than be committed to a loveless union like her own. Others, such as William De Nogaret (Julian Ovenden), would like to see Isabella married into English royalty. As to be expected, this marriage and the intricate underlay of political game play become central to Season 1 of Knightfall on many occasions. In fact, at times, it overtakes the search for the Holy Grail, giving Knightfall a multi-layered dimension that Game of Thrones fans will find pleasing.

Landry, the main Templar Knight character in Knightfall, is just as layered. While the Templars are monastic, Landry still finds time for love, even if he has to hide his lover away from the eyes of his faith. However, as viewers will find out, there is more than one reason why this woman has to remain a secret. Landry’s story, as a result, is a constant battle between his faith and his emotions. Knightfall balances this part beautifully and splices Landry’s upbringing and reasons for joining the Templars in with his current day turmoil dramatically.

Recently, Tom Cullen did an interview via ShowbizJunkies and summed up Knightfall perfectly.

“The show talks about revenge and betrayal, brotherhood, loyalty, faith, humanity and mortality. I think that it raises really big questions about who we are whilst at the same time being really kind of fun and entertaining. So, that takes you on a really wild journey.”

[Image by Larry Horricks/History Channel]

For those viewers who watch shows like Vikings and Game of Thrones for the battle scenes, then Knightfall will not disappoint in this regard either. Each battle scene is a dynamic display of beauty and violence. At times, Knightfall slows down parts of each battle so you can fully appreciate certain scenes, then speeds it back up to real time, which brings the viewer straight back into the action.

Finally, for those who know nothing about the history of the Templar Knights, have no fear, because the character of Parsifal (Bobby Schofield) is ever-present in Knightfall as he joins as an initiate of the Templars and works his way up the ranks. His journey is an easy way to introduce viewers to the world of the Templars and what their rules and regulations were at that point in time.

The only downside I can see with Knightfall is the fact that History Channel has decided to place Season 5 of Vikings and Season 1 of Knightfall on the same night, one after the other. While this will be awesome while watching both shows, once they are over, however, there will be a definite lag for shows like this as the final season of Game of Thrones may not even air until as late as 2019. History Channel could have placed the premiere of Knightfall after the mid-season finale of Vikings and had a much even spread of drama for viewers.

Overall, though, I am going to step out on a limb and say that Knightfall has the early potential to be much better than Vikings. And this is saying something considering those who know me know that Vikings makes my Top 5 list of favorite TV shows of all time. Knightfall sets the scene early and masterfully, drawing the viewer in to its multi-faceted viewpoint. So, by the end of Season 1, you will be begging for more.

Knightfall premieres with Season 1 on History Channel on Wednesday, December 6, at 10 p.m. ET.

[Featured Image by Larry Horricks/History Channel]