After what’s felt like forever, Kingdom is finally back and with it, the same frantic action and excitement that made the first season so endearing. In a time where The Walking Dead is losing ratings and the entire industry seems high on zombie fatigue, Korea shine once more with a new spin on this age-old concept.
This is partly why the show works as well as it does and here, Kingdom wastes no time getting right to the heart of the drama as we return to those closing moments from last season.
Episode 1 of Kingdom Season 2 begins 3 years ago with Hak-Joo questioning whether a plant will bring the dead back. As he talks with his council, they contemplate whether to use this to their advantage or not.
After this brief prologue we return to the battlefield as Lee Chang and the others await the ravenous undead heading their way. As the horns blow, he tells them all to ready their weapons.
It’s not enough though and the undead overwhelm them, forcing them to set up extra defences as the undead advance and fall into a spiked pit set up infront of the barricade. The numbers are overwhelming as a rider makes it to Sangju Citadel and tells them the zombies are coming.
Back at the defences, the cannons prove little help despite managing to wipe out a wave of the undead at the front. As they overwhelm the walls and threaten to break through, Lee Chang tries in vain to hold the line before deciding to retreat.
Meanwhile, Young-Shin leads the group on the raft to Sangju, which is their only hope. As they do, Lee Chang and the others continue to flee as the undead make it to the stream. Thankfully, the Physician knows of a secret pathway and as they hurry toward the gates, the group scramble to unlock it as they find themselves caught in a gauntlet with the undead charging right for them. Young-Shin helps hold the defences as they finally manage to break through.
Although the door won’t shut, Deok-Sung finds himself bitten so he sacrifices himself to save the others, plunging a knife into his belly to hold the door with his own body. It gives them precious time to escape and they take this opportunity and run.
At the same time, Seo-Bi continues to climb as she realizes the sunlight is not what the undead are afraid of – it’s high temperatures. Realizing that the numbers below her haven’t grown since the night before, Seo-Bi decides to climb the mountain and make her way to Saejae.
The Queen continues to hide the truth from her Father, going on to proclaim that when she gives birth to a new Prince, no one will challenge her. The shaman before her gives a prophetic message and her scheme continues to unravel, for now kept to the shadows.
Beom-Pal makes it to his Father and begs him for forgiveness and help. He looks at him in disdain though and tells him Deok-sung is dead. Seo-Bi stays back, listening to this play out, before admitting that she’s a physician. This immediately sparks his interest and as he looks at her, he tells them to make sure she has suitable accommodation.
At the citadel, the group start to ration their food as An-Hyun mentions the disease. Lee Chang catches wind of this though and with Moo-Young by his side, they discuss the implications of this.
With rations already low, things are made even more precarious by the food stores catching on fire thanks to an explosion. One of the government clerks steps forward and admits it was him who caused the fire as he just wanted to feed his child but he accidentally dropped the lamp in doing so.
At Mungyeong Saejae, Seo-Bi looks at the plant and tries to formulate a plan in reversing the disease that’s ravaged the land. Driven to try and save those in the citadel, she continues to work until Hak-Joo catches her with the plant. Realizing that she knows about the resurrections, he decides to bring her along with him to Hanyang to meet the future Prince, proclaiming that their work is far from over.
Lee Chang decides to head up to Saejae; a perilous journey that requires a long trip. With the undead distracted courtesy of the guards on the walls dropping blood below, Prince Chang heads back through the tunnels after giving a proper send-off for their fallen comrade. With the torches extinguished, they prepare for the next chapter as Chang vows that Hak-Joo will die by his sword.
With an exciting 50 minute episode to chew through, Kingdom wastes no time getting right to the heart of the drama. Seeing the defences buckle and fall as the undead charge toward the group in slow motion is arguably the best shot of the episode and the political intrigue around that is enough to make for a really good opener to begin this second season with. Quite what will happen next remains to be seen but if this episode is any indication, we could be in for another wild ride!