Sunday, June 28, 2009

Kings -- "Pilgrimage"

Christopher Egan David Shepherd Sebastian Stan Prince Jack Kings Brotherhood images photos screencaps pictures screengrabs
Tonight's episode of Kings, "Pilgrimage", was just one more shining example of why it's such a ridiculous shame that this show has been canceled. The relationships between these characters, the way they constantly evolve and reassess their choices, is amazing to watch. There's drama, suspense, sexiness, and an ethereal web of spirituality and myth that binds it all together.

Sebastian Stan once again infuses Prince Jack with a heartbreaking mix of pride and love and anguish, struggling beneath a shell of duty and appearance and arrogance. "Pilgrimage" begins with Jack's lover Joseph (Michael Arden), creating a tape that declares his love for the Prince, and sending it to all of the news programs as well as Jack. He hopes that he can out Jack and force him to face who he really is.

Thomasina intercepts Jack's mail, and brings it to his mother for damage control. Jack tries to play along, telling his mother he barely knew Joseph, and agreeing with her decision to quash the rumors as soon as possible. Jack is unprepared, however, for the startling news that Joseph killed himself after making the video.

Jack attends the funeral for Joseph, keeping to the shadows, but he's seen by the Reverend Samuels (Eamonn Walker). Rev. Samuels gives a service that mentions Joseph's bravery, for dealing with the difficulty of his differences, but living as one whole and true person during his life--unlike Jack, who constantly lives two lives. Rev. Samuels also says that Joseph died not for loving the wrong person, but for loving too much.

I was honestly expecting Jack to stick to his arrogance and anger with this, especially with all the pressure from his mother. But Joseph's drastic actions, and perhaps the words of the reverend, seem to have a strong effect on him. When his mother berates him for going to the funeral of his "accuser", he boldly confesses his love for Joseph. Even after she slaps him and condemns his "character flaws", he doesn't back down.

Allison Miller Princess Michelle Christopher Egan David Shepherd Kings Brotherhood screencaps images pictures photos screengrabsMeanwhile, David (Christopher Egan) and Princess Michelle (Allison Miller) continue their own secretive relationship. David is unhappy with the subterfuge, hating all the sneaking around and keeping it all from the king he admires. Michelle insists, however, that she can not bear her father's disappointment in breaking her vows to serve only God.

As Kings is a melodrama, we're not surprised when David's apartment is ransacked and the camera with compromising photos of Michelle goes missing. We discover that the queen's brother William (Dylan Baker) took all of the items from David's department. We also see his bizarre, recently exiled son Andrew (Macauley Culkin), discovering the photos by accident as he rifles through all of David's stolen belongings.

Michelle tries to bond with Jack over their mutual angst, and to get him to help her with keeping her relationship secret. Jack will have none of it, telling her that she can easily learn to push her feelings down so far even she won't be able to find them--but she'll suffer for it. He declares he won't help her do something that will hurt her in the end, which is pretty brotherly stuff coming from the typically self-centered Jack. It's only just the beginning, however.

Queen Rose (Susanna Thompson) makes a big mistake when she makes minister Katrina Ghent (Leslie Bibb) her enemy. Through an opportunistic employee and the queen's dissed nephew, Katrina finds herself in possession of both the photos involving Michelle, and the video involving Prince Jack. She delights in giving the queen a choice--choose which one of her children to save from scandal.

I'm not surprised when she chooses Jack. The queen's choices are always for her own and the royalty's best interests, and Jack's scandal is far more embarrassing for them than Michelle's will be. So she sacrifices her daughter to protect the image of the royal family, telling Michelle it will eventually be a positive image maker for her.

Next we see Jack meeting with Katrina, asking her to trade his tape for his sister's, giving himself up in order to save her rep and her father's wrath. It's a startling move for Jack, and Katrina is surprised--but manages to come up with a new way to capitalize on his newfound nobility. She wants the best revenge on Jack's mother, and says she'll keep both things quiet if Jack marries her.

She seems to have her answer when we see Jack handing Michelle her camera back. Michelle is as startled as we are, but I'm happy when she grabs Jack before he moves away, kissing him warmly on the cheek. Jack and Michelle get so much conflicting loveand manipulation from their parents, they really do need to stick together more.

Christopher Egan David Shepherd closeup Kings screencaps images photos pictures screengrabsWhile all of this wheeling and dealing is going down, King Silas (Ian McShane) invites David to go on his regular pilgrimage--a trip he tells his ministers and followers is where he communes with God and figures out what's next for the kingdom. On the way to this pilgrimage, he asks David to interpret his own moment with the crown of butterflies. David tells him he thinks it's a message from God to serve his king. Silas is pleased with David's devotion and seeming lack of ambition. He gives directions to David to drive, and they soon arrive at the house of Silas' lover Helen (Sarita Choudhury) and their son.

David is stunned, and unsure how to react. He can see the love Silas has for his second family, but he doesn't know how to reconcile it with his own notions of love and honor. He asks Silas why he doesn't just stay in the country, where he's happy, and Silas tells him he has a calling that he must obey.

David then makes a fatal error, out of misguided devotion to Michelle. Silas tells him that he brought him to the country because he wanted David to know all of his secrets--that if two people share secrets, they can share trust. He says David knows his secrets and can forgive him, and now David can impart any secrets and be forgiven. This is the perfect opportunity for David to spill the beans about him and Michelle, but he lies instead.

I know they're trying to create drama here, but I feel like they broke the story a bit. It seems out of character for David to lie outright--I would have thought he would have hinted at something, saying it wasn't only his secret to tell, or remaining cagey. But this out and out lie?

Sure enough, it will come back to bite him. Emboldened by her brother's actions, and his advice to avoid living a lie, Michelle goes to her father and confesses her love for David. She is overjoyed when she visits David, telling him it is all okay and that they no longer need to sneak around. David is distressed, however, and he surmises correctly that Silas feels this has been a huge breach of trust. We'll have to wait until next week to find out how Silas reacts.

Watch Kings on NBC Saturday nights at 8/7c, or catch all the Kings episodes online at

PHOTOS: Christopher Egan as David Shepherd, Sebastian Stan as Prince Jack, Allison Miller as Princess Michelle, Kings screencaps, c2009 UMS, NBC.

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