The History Channel has been successful in dramatizing history in a way that engages viewers and compels them to imagine events as they happened and creatively fills in the blanks that exist in the history books. They were successful with Vikings which told a story of the legendary Norsemen basing the series on real historical figures but coloring the current narrative.

The new History Channel series, Knightfall goes further back to the middle ages, to the Crusade and in particular, the Knights Templar, whose history is shrouded in mystery, conspiracies, and theories about the Christian warriors who protected pilgrims to the Holy Land and the most critical relic in Christendom, The Holy Grail.

The series stars Downtown Abbey’s Tom Cullen who plays Landry, for the last couple of weeks since it came out, the series caught the attention of a lot of people who like all things medieval, conspiracies and theories about the Knights Templars. The story follows Landry, who gets appointed as the Master and Commander of the Paris Temple 15 years after his mentor Godfrey’s assassination.

Landry is battle worn and frustrated by what the order has become since Godfrey’s death, the loss of the Holy Grail by the Saracens and unseen forces that seem to be hell-bent on destroying the law and taking the secrets of the grail. Everyone has an agenda, France’s ruler, King Phillip, his wife, Queen Joan and their daughter Princess Isabella.

There are secret plans and machinations involving the church and the government (who happen to be part of the same coin), and then there is Guillaume de Nogaret, played by Julian Ovenden. He is Phillip’s scheming and manipulative adviser who hatches secret plans to destroy the power that organized religion has, as revenge for his parents being burned at stake as heretics.

Episode 6: The Pilgrimage of Chains takes the show to a new level where Isabella exposes De Nogaret after she finds a false wall that leads to a hallway with access to the private rooms in the palace. She reveals to the King and everyone in the hall that there are peepholes in halls and that De Nogaret had been spying on everyone and had orchestrated the failed assassination of this monarch.

King Philip, who until now has been portrayed as a weak ruler, loses his cool and punches his trusted adviser for tricking his daughter into a murder scheme that led to some innocent men being tortured and killed. This changes the narrative in the castle, and De Nogaret is imprisoned and sentenced to death.

A character like de Nogaret who has driven the intrigue in the castle until now, is too important to be killed off so quickly, and his uncle, Malraux cleverly orchestrate his escape, and the master manipulator survives to continue his plotting.

Landry, on the other hand, is going through this crisis. After being captured by the Saracens and tortured, he returns to the temple. He is informed that Godfrey’s killer has been found and he flies into a rage and beats the man within an inch of his life. This Landry is out of control, out of sorts.

He learns from Rashid that Godfrey betrayed the temple at Acre by letting the Saracens in sacrificing thousands to save millions more. Rashid wants Tancrede, a Templar brother who killed his son in exchange for information on where to find the Grail. Landry refuses, but Tancrede makes the situation more manageable and emerges from the shadows to tell them that God might not want the Grail to be found. This points to the plot of the mysterious powers that the grail is rumored to have.

Rashid finally gives Landry a clue to where the Grail might be by telling Landry to go back to the place he first met Godfrey. There are so many pivotal scenes in this episode; it’s hard just to pick one. Perhaps this episode’s title alludes to the freeing of characters from their inhibitions and restraints so they can reach their real potential.

This episode marks an essential, pivotal point in the historical series. There are so many plot threads, and the writers and directors have done so much to weave them together and balance the stories that unravel. So far, so good. We wait for the next episode with bated breath.