Column: From Strange and Distant Shores: The Kingdom (Part 2)

By Orrin Grey

The Kingdom: Season Two. Directors: Lars von Trier & Morten Arnfred. Cast: Ernst-Hugo Jaregard, Kirsten Rolffes, Udo Kier. Country: Denmark.

Be warned: this is almost certainly going to contain spoilers for the first season of The Kingdom.

Apparently, Lars von Trier intended The Kingdom to comprise a trilogy of miniseries, but due to a variety of factors, including the deaths of a couple of the main actors, this is instead the end of the entire series. What this means is that Season Two wraps up only a handful of the dangling plot threads from Season One, and ends on its own set of cliffhangers. Which makes for a somewhat unsatisfying viewing experience overall, although Season Two is just as good and just as weird as Season One. (Probably weirder, honestly.)

There isn’t the slow accumulation of the weird and supernatural aspects that there was in Season One. Here, the ghosts and other oddities are on display from the very beginning, and play a big and active part in the series. One of the major new contributions in Season Two is the motif of the “evil eyes”, which watch certain events through green, distorted lenses, giving what are otherwise often mundane goings-on an increasingly ominous cast.

Some of the plots from Season One are tied up here, though most of them lead to new plots. While much of the focus remains on Mrs. Drusse (Kirsten Rolffes) and Stig Helmer (Ernst-Hugo Jaregard), new characters are also introduced, as well as new conflicts, and fairly minor characters from Season One take on bigger roles.

There are high and low points to The Kingdom, and what those are will probably vary from person to person. A few great moments in this half for me included the appearance of a “psychic surgeon” and the transformation of one of the nicest characters from Season One into a sort of patient-hating psychopath after a run-in with Dr. Helmer and some zombie drugs (yeah).

The deformed baby from the end of Season One becomes a major character, while other characters bet on ambulance racing, investigate possible Satanic cults in the basement, get into erotica as a hobby, and seek psychiatric help (of a sort).

Helmer continues to reach new levels of bastardy throughout, although toward the end, it’s great to see one of the other characters start to get some of her own back on him. While the supernatural is occasionally chilling, especially as the events at the heart of the hospital begin to be revealed, it’s mostly the weird and funny character moments that really make the show.

Unfortunately, since The Kingdom ended prematurely, there’s no payoff for any of it. None of the character arcs have any resolution and the central mystery of the supernatural presence that’s haunting the Kingdom never does anything but deepen. It’s an unfortunate way to leave such an intriguing show, but maybe it’s for the best. This way, everyone gets to make up an ending of their own liking and if there’s one thing that the rest of The Kingdom is apt proof of, it’s that this is a series where pretty much anything could, in fact, happen.

You can find both seasons of The Kingdom on Amazon.