Kings: Judgment Day
by Danny Gallagher, posted Apr 22nd 2009 2:56AM
(S01E04) - "What's the point of having power if you don't use it?"
The inevitable has slowly become reality. NBC has shuffled Kings off to a Saturday time slot, affectionately known in TV watcher circles as the "death slot." Kings has now been left in that barren viewer-less void of TV's unwanted to rot in the hot sun of the shunned. Does anyone else smell bacon burning?
It's a shame really. Last Saturday's episode was able to give the series a good kick in the ass, even after the last episode felt like an action packed opus setting itself up for a shark jumper.
"Judgment Day" has turned Kings from a simple game of "Candy Land" where the good make it to the land of sugary goodness and the evil end up stuck in the Chocolate Swamp to a complex mesh of chess where the pieces are allowed to move each other.
Prince Jack continues his reign of douchebaggery by trying to undermine the kingdom's hero-boy David Shepherd in a very interesting position. David's brother, Ethan, faces treason for kidnapping King Silas' daughter. The King's annual Judgment Day, the aristocracy's answer to a Supreme Court, is David's only hope of getting his family's respect back and keeping Ethan's disembodied head from becoming a royal lawn ornament.
Jack seizes the opportunity to not only pit David against the King but also against Princess Michelle, David's one true love, in one fell swoop. The villains really know how to ramp the evilness to 11. Jack and William Cross' moves and scheming go for a mouthful of jugular every time and carry the familiar smell of J.R. Ewing, which is a strange combination of brimstone and Old Spice.
The downside so far is definitely David. He seems blissfully ignorant of everyone's efforts to undermine and destroy him, almost to a Manuel from Fawlty Towers level of fault. His heart is always in the right place, but his head constantly seems to be somewhere else. The big pair of blinders he has on would make even the most timid TV watcher scream at their plasmas to watch out for the knife Jack has reserved for his back. He's either turning a big cheek to the evil that surrounds him in the hope he can win them over or he's dumber than a bag of dead birds. He's blonde and an employee of the government, so I'm more apt to go towards the latter.
The episode also brings Mr. Cross' exiled son, Andrew (played by Macaulay Culkin), back into the kingdom. He barely gets enough screen time to see exactly how he fits into all of this mess. Is he another enemy seeking revenge or will he become a new ally for the throne? The discovery of a black pump in his old bedroom has set up a rather surprising/disturbing twist in this power grabbing tale. I hope that for the sake of my lunch that power will be the only thing Andrew tries grabbing in the next episode.
The episode also features a great deal more humor than expected. It breaks up the tension and haze nicely from scene to scene as tiny, funny segues linking the whole thing together. Silas' constant hunger for real food from his nagging wife makes for some good jokes and leads to another great exchange with Vesper (played by the wonderful Brian Cox), Silas' captive king and closest royal advisor. They aren't the kind of funny that can make you lose bladder control, but they offer the right dose of humor to break up tense moments and improve the flow. It's nice to see that such a serious show people with inflated egos and puppet master syndromes can find ways to not take itself so seriously.
In fact, I think every episode of 24 could be improved by letting a pig walk through the background.