"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Friday, March 01, 2019

Knightfall: Mark Hamill Joins Templar Series

Despite receiving fairly rotten critical reviews, the History™ Knight Templar miniseries Knightfall turned out to be fabulously successful for the channel, proving once again that there remains an unwavering public interest in timeless notions of brotherhood, chivalry, honor and bravery (along with a little secrecy and slow motion blood spurts from battle wounds). Audiences often tend to confound critics. 

March 18th, 2019 marks the 705th anniversary of the death of Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon – better known to history as the Knights Templar. So, Season 2 of the show is set to premiere on Monday March 25th, 2019, the week of De Molay's death, at 10PM EST. 

At least somebody at A&E/History isn't entirely asleep.

Now that the Templars have been accused by Philip and Boniface of heresy in Season 1, perhaps some of the silliness of those early episodes will be blunted. (The Holy Slide Projector, complete with secret Grail clues? Really? How blatantly third-section degree lecture could you get?). Plus, there's a new executive producer on hand. Aaron Helbing of "The Flash" and "Spartacus" has replaced last season's original show runner, Dominic Minghella. Eight new episodes have been produced. Still, the historical spoiler is that there are two more popes before the Templars get their expiration notice via special delivery. So I suspect there's more soap opera to sit through before we get to October the 13th of 1307.

The returning cast includes Tom Cullen as Landry; Ed Stoppard (“The Crown”) as King Philip IV of France; Pádraic Delaney (The Wind That Shakes the Barley, “The Tudors”) as Gawain; Simon Merrells (“Spartacus”, “Dominion”) as Tancrede; Julian Ovenden (“Downton Abbey”) as William DeNogaret; and Jim Carter (“Downton Abbey”) as Pope Boniface VIII.

The big news is that Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, now strides in as Talus, Landry's new "initiate master," to aid in his reformation and redemption from last season's fall from grace. According to press releases, Talus is "a battle-hardened Knight Templar veteran of the Crusades, who survived captivity for 10 years in the Holy Land and is tasked with training the new initiates to the Order." Sure, he's disguised under even more fulsome beardishness than he was in the last Star Wars episode, and he's using his very best wisened, sagely, pseudo-Britishy, vaguely unidentifiable continental accent. But there's something undeniably full circle to have witnessed Hamill grow up onscreen from callow galactic teenager, to Jedi Knight and Master, and now as an hirsute elder among the very grandaddy of all of history's chivalric knightly orders. Such is the curious effect of pop culture on perceptions.

Have a look at the newest string of teasers and trailers.

Also joining the cast are Genevieve Gaunt (“The Royals”) as Princess Isabella, the daughter of King Philip who history would eventually call “the she-wolf of France”; Tom Forbes (“The Bastard Executioner”) as Prince Louis, the violent and unpredictable son of King Philip and heir to the throne; and Clementine Nicholson (“Underworld: Blood Wars”) as Margaret, Princess of Burgundy and wife of Prince Louis of France.

Bear in mind that this is entertainment, not actual history. As long as everybody keeps it in proper perspective, Knightfall is worth another look. Frankly, I enjoy seeing the recreation of medieval Paris, sites like the then relatively new chapel of Ste. Chappelle, and the Paris Temple, the Templar's stronghold and headquarters there that was eventually demolished by Napoleon. There's nothing left of it today besides the neighborhood name of Temple that appears on the Metro station and a couple of streets.

Meanwhile, Masons, along with members and officers of both the Masonic appendant order of Knights Templar and the Order of DeMolay for boys and young men, need to be aware that we all may be living through culturally-driven upticks right now. We are all receiving new interest from shows like Knightfall, AMC's Lodge 49, Netflix's streaming of the five-part series Inside the Freemasons created for the UGLE's 300th anniversary last year, and other spotlights being turned on us. 

Gather ye interest while ye may, Brethren.


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