How the Old Testament Spoiled Kings

Amour fou
Amour fou
Well, Kings has survived another week, and there haven’t been a great deal of changes from where we last left off: King Silas is still suspicious of David; David is still infatuated with the King’s daughter; and Jack is still miffed at David’s meteoric rise to fame. Thankfully, all the prophetic signs and wonders that got my goat last week have abated for the moment, or at least, have become more ambiguous (Ian McShane snapping a deer’s neck was much more ominous than David dreaming/seeing the phrase ‘don’t go’ over and over). The teen melodrama subplots, unfortunately, don’t seem to be going away soon, and David is still squeaky clean as ever (are we really to believe that making out with some random chick is to be read as a moral trangression?). But hey, when you cast two Desis in a scene together on network TV, all is easily forgiven.

Here’s my guess as to where it’s all leading, thanks to an intense half hour of wikipediaided catechism. The show, as everyone has already pointed out, is built on the Old Testament narratives of David, Jonathan (Jack), and Saul (Silas) and the trifecta’s struggle for power in the old Israeli kingdom. And so, if creator Michael Green stays true to his source material, then the likely outcome is this: like Saul’s son Jonathan eventually siding with David instead of his father, Jack will side with David as the legitimate heir of Gilboa. Though in the Bible, the J & D relationship is a deep, homosocial (scholars say -erotic) love, I’m guessing in the show things will stay tame; Jack will first envy (as we’re seeing now) David, then fall head over heels for him, with David responding in more tepid, bro-like ways. Maybe with a dap, and a “thanks.” Crushed, Jack will die. Silas will keep trying to kill David, to no avail. Facing an insurmountable rebellion led by David, old Silas will commit suicide. And if the show survives long enough, David will be crowned King.

That’s more or less how it all goes down in the holy book. Will it play out that way in Kings? Maybe. Still, it doesn’t really matter. Assuming that Green is interested in subverting the classic Biblical narratives in interesting ways, and in exploring what the narrative could mean in a modern day dystopia – well, that’s enough to compel me. Now, to rope in the twenty million others watching Amazing Race.

– Thumbu Sammy


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Brother of L. Augustus Del Pietro

4 thoughts on “How the Old Testament Spoiled Kings”

  1. I’m pretty sure those pictures of David will show him getting a handjob in an alleyway. Being an NBC production, ‘Kings’ couldn’t treat us to that most hallowed of sound effects — “fap-fap-fap” — but I thought I heard his pants being unbuttoned before he says “You just dug a little deeper.”

    I’ll keep watching ‘Kings’ if there’s promise of gay teen sexual tension on network TV — in a biblical allegory, no less. (There’s another tag for your two ‘Kings’ posts, by the way.) Otherwise, I don’t think I can deal with David’s “Gee, shucks” country bumpkin routine much longer.

  2. You know, in some ways, David reminds me of Bullock from Deadwood – partly, ’cause he plays opposite McShane, but partly because he embodies this particular (and particularly obnoxious) version of moral authority. What partially redeemed Bullock for me was when his rage started to become a significant liability, when it opened up some new plot possibilities. Right now, only Jack seems to have ‘the rage’ in him.

    I’m sure something will emerge that humanizes David; the biblical David must have had some flaws (correct me if I’m wrong, but the Old Testament seemed to have a whole lot more interesting players than the New one – there’s a Mahabharata-Ramayan comparison to be made). But if David is just as squeaky clean in the book as he is in the show, Green could take a look at Joseph Heller’s “God Knows,” which is apparently another retelling of the tale. I heard Major Major Major Major makes a cameo.

  3. I also think that David’s “innocence” is getting a little weak. It is hard to reconcile this with the “real” King David, sometimes. We know that eventually he will be king, and then seduce a married woman, get her pregnant, and then send her husband off to get killed in a war, so that that David can have her all to himself. But I still love this show to death. I so want it to survive.

  4. I hear you, JR. The transition from David as protagonist to David as corrupt monarch is also what’s potentially so exciting about the series; it’d be like Shakespeare’s second tetralogy in TV drama form. Granted, that’d all hinge on whether the series survives long enough (and I’m hoping it does too). Did the biblical pre-king David have any qualities in him that anticipated some of the stuff he does later on?

    What’s interesting is Silas, who seems utterly sympathetic, seems like he could pull some of that off, without completely becoming villain. If a character is compelling enough, he can get away (literally) with murder.

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