Lionsgate Home Entertainment (studio)
437 min (length)
24 September 2018 (released)
02 November 2018
The bloody battles of the Knights Templars – a powerful Catholic military order of the Middle Ages – for the possession of the almighty Holy Grail has been given a new and spectacular treatment with an all-star cast and more backstabbing and intrigue than one can squeeze into a medieval manuscript.
The action starts straight away when in 1291, Templar knight Landry du Lauzon (Tom Cullen) and his fellow Templars are amidst an epic siege during the Battle of Acre in the Holy Land. We see this fierce brotherhood of warrior monks battling it out against the Mamluks and their Sultan to protect the Holy Grail but at the last minute a ship on which the Grail is kept blows up and the Grail sinks to the bottom of the sea. Fifteen years later and Landry (who doesn’t look a day older!) is now stationed in Paris, a disillusioned shadow of his former self who breaks one of his holy vows by having a secret affair with a pretty woman… who is none other than Queen Joan of France and Navarre (Olivia Ross), whose marriage to King Philip IV of France (Ed Stoppard) is not exactly a passionate one shall we say. After the Templar’s master, Godfrey, gets killed a strange emblem is found inside the handle of his sword – pointing to the fact that the Grail has re-emerged again and no prizes for guessing that Landry and his men – including expert swordsman Gawain (Pádraic Delaney) and loyal veteran Templar Tancrede de Hautville (Simon Merrells) – take up the search once again.
All easier said than done for soon their mission is hampered by intrigue not only at the King’s Court but within the Templars own order. In particular William de Nogaret (Julian Ovenden), King Phillip’s ultra-scheming counsellor and right-hand man cum general s***-stirrer is never up to any good. He hates the Templars in general and Pope Boniface VIII (Jim Carter) in particular, for William hates all organized religion since his parents were burned at the stake as heretics. Although he initially tries to keep it a secret, William is a deeply meddlesome character when it comes to the quest for the Holy Grail and is mainly responsible for expelling the Jews from Paris despite King Phillip’s warning not to do so.
One of the expelled Jews is Adelina (Sarah-Sofie Boussnina) who was rescued by Landry and his Templars as a child. Now the Templars save her again when William arranged a deadly trap for the Jews and Adelina, a fierce maiden more than capable of handling swords and other weapons, joins unknown forces to protect their people while being equally interested in the Grail.
Meanwhile, Princess Isabella (Sabrina Bartlett) – the young but headstrong young daughter of King Phillip and Queen Joan – is busy with arrangements for her marriage to Prince Luis of Aragon (Marcos Franz) though William de Nogaret, who secretly fancies Isabella (albeit for his own political gain) spreads his evil influence yet again and the marriage ceremony is barely over when Prince Luis ends up dead, leaving his mother Queen Elena of Aragon (Claudia Bassols) screaming for revenge. As if the situation at Kind Philipp’s court wasn’t difficult enough Queen Joan learns that she is pregnant… though the father of her child is Landry and not hubby King Phillip… oh dear!
This is only the tip of the iceberg in what turns out to be a rip-roaring, complex and blood-drenched ten episodes filled with high octane entertainment and ever more characters, including Rashid (Akin Gazi), the leader of the Brotherhood of Light and a worthy opponent of Landry, and Gina McKee as Landry’s long lost mother (who’s as smart as a whip). We also have a masked female Mongolian assassin whose choice of weapon – the so-called Greek Fire – proves to be particularly lethal. All this leaves us with one hell of a cliffhanger which makes the wait for Series 2 especially hard! The acting is top-notch as are the sets and the costumes – deary, this History Channel production must have cost a fair bit to say the least!