Politics take the forefront in the medieval zombie drama: Kingdom Season 2

Amorah Schultze, Feature Editor

Kingdom returns with the daunting task of maintaining the pace and tension built from the previous season’s finale. Set during Joseon (1500s) Korea, most of the country is ravaged after fending off a Japanese invasion. To maintain their militant power, the Haewon Cho Clan resurrected the dying king using a rare flower, which transformed him into a zombie.

The illegitimate Crown Prince caught wind of the sinister plot and traveled to Jiyulheon to investigate the doctor who performed on his father. However, upon arriving, he found that most of the townspeople had caught the disease and by the midpoint of Season 1, the plague ran rampant through the Southern district of Bongnae.

Chang and his loyal companions then ventured to protect the quarantined Sangnae and sought aid from a war hero named Lord Ahn Hyeon. Season 1 ends on Sangnae’s imminent invasion by zombies as well as Lord Cho Hak-Ju stationed at Mungyeong Saejae, eager to kill Chang.

While concluding on the climax of a battle wasn’t a wise decision for Season 1, the following season continues at its break-neck pace without sacrificing character. It’s thrilling, gripping, and each new mystery and twist unfolds in a natural manner which never feels forced.

With politics at the forefront, the show continues to explore universal themes about the nature of power. The effectiveness of loyalty versus fear in amassing influence, and the underlying tragedy common people suffer contrasting starkly with elite entitlement are two themes that are deeply expanded on through engaging schemes from both sides of the battlefield.

The action is, once again, stellar. Not only do the writers flaunt some ingenious military strategies (a kite-flying cannonball scene comes to mind), but the extravagant, accurate, and detailed set pieces truly immerse one in the medieval setting of Korea.

The season ends with a fittingly Game of Thrones-esque battle sequence, as I can’t fail to mention the heavy-handed references to GoT. While the entrenched political subterfuge is enticing, I will admit most of the plot twists I could see from a mile away, just by virtue of watching similar shows. Additionally, the reliance on flashbacks is jarring to the pace of the show and usually serves to confirm what I think is obvious. If there is one true flaw to pick at, it’s that the writers have little faith in the audience to pick up subtext and emotional conflicts tend to devolve into an obvious flashback scene.

That’s not to say, however, that there are no emotional moments which ground the show. Regardless of minor pacing problems, gut-wrenching character deaths are used to bookend each act, challenging selfless Chang and his willingness to protect his people as well as exposing the horrifying sins of the Haewon Cho Clan. There’s also many relationship-driven moments between the characters which provide a little levity and wit to an otherwise serious show.

The acting is also worthy to note. The depth each actor provides and the efficiently-established chemistry of the main cast elevates the story as more than an action-based zombie show. Of worthy note is Bae Doona as Seo-Bi, the quietly strong and compassionate physician which is truly an empowering depiction of a female character.

Ultimately, Kingdom Season 2 is an impeccably refined exploration of power, class, social hierarchies, and of course zombies.Whether you’re looking for an extensive dive into the nature of aristocratic power, or just wanting to see a heroic Crown Prince and a rag-tag group of fighters slice their way through zombie hordes, you’re in for a real treat.