This review is based on the first three episodes of Kingdom Season Two, there are six episodes in total.
Zombies are back in season as Netflix brings back its critically acclaimed Korean period zombie drama Kingdom for a second season, but with political intrigue and drama, who are the real monsters in this series?
Season Two picks up right where Season One left off, with Crown Prince Lee Chang and his battalion setting up camp to ward off the zombies but now, the zombies don’t go to sleep the moment the sun is up, because they never did. Instead, they come running en masse and it is up to Lee Chang and his men to rely on their skills and wits to hold them off. With hordes of zombies relentlessly coming after them, the men are less with no choice but to head to Sangju, one of the last few cities safe from the zombie invasion.
Throughout the first few episodes, Kingdom does an extremely good job at portraying the despair and futility of the survivor’s situation. You might just be one ladder away from finally being (temporarily) safe from the zombie horde but oh no, there is a swarm of zombies right on your tail, ready to bite you as you attempt to make your way up the ladder. They tease you with a little bit of hope and then yank it right out with a well-timed zombie horde. Even the survivors in Sangju aren’t completely safe as they each desperately try to survive with what food and water are available.
Though Kingdom is mainly known for its zombies, it is also very much a political drama, filled with plot points commonly associated with one. We have the conniving Minister Cho Hak Ju who is working alongside his daughter, the Queen, to wrest power over the land from the Crown Prince and into the Haewon Cho clan, pregnant women being killed after they give birth, and a dead king being revived as a zombie, most definitely for Cho Hak Ju’s nefarious purposes.
Being both a zombie and political drama helps to make sure that there is never a boring moment in Kingdom. One moment you are following Lee Chang and hunter Yeong Shin as they desperately try to escape certain death at the hands of zombies and the next you have officials trying to figure out why corpses of pregnant women have been thrown away, discarded alongside their dead infant.
We are also finally introduced to the snitch who has been giving up Lee Chang’s actions at every corner to the Haewon Cho clan, though it is difficult to hold him accountable for his actions once we find out his reason for doing so. Which once again goes to show the amount of care and attention the producers have given into this show, shaping each of the main casts into nuanced, three-dimensional characters who each have their own motives and reasons for their actions.
This is illustrated once again when we are given a glimpse of Cho Hak Ju’s backstory, from the first time Cho Hak Ju proposes the use of the resurrection plant to General Ahn Hyun, to help fight against the Japanese army. This was done at the expense of the villagers living in Sumang, Yeong Shin’s hometown, who were sacrificed to be turned into zombies to help fight in the war.
We also learn that everything he has done, finding the resurrection plant, using the “lowly commoners” as pawns in war, was because of his sworn duty to defend the royal family. Though his cause is noble, it is clear from his moral ambiguity that he is more than willing to use whatever means necessary to achieve it, even if it means sacrificing the many. In Cho’s mind, the ends justify the means and that is evident even in the current time period of the drama.
Are there deaths? Yes. Does the show kill off characters we’ve come to love? Definitely.
Though we do not see as much of Seo Bi in the first three episodes of Season Two, she still definitely played a key role in a major event in episode two and three. We can only imagine her role will be much bigger in the later episodes as she races against time to find a cure to the zombie virus before any more of humanity is wiped out.
Pacing-wise, the drama zips across the actions in double-quick time (though its zombies are definitely way too fast). This makes it perfect for binge-watching which was certainly what we ended up doing. It was just nigh impossible to stop watching once you’ve started, with each episode ending on a cliff hanger that’ll make you immediately switch to the next episode for more. Each episode is a little under an hour but with how action-packed each episode is, it hardly feels like any time has passed before you find the credits rolling.
Fans of the first season will definitely not want to miss this as it brings everything you love about the first movie and adds onto it, with more backstory, more character development, and of course, more Usain Bolt-like zombies.
If the first three episodes are already this good, then we certainly can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for us. We highly recommend you watch the first season to properly understand what led to the events in the second season’s first episode, though even if you haven’t watched it, you can still enjoy Season Two for all its zombie-filled action.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Filled with more zombies, more political intrigue, and even more zombies, Kingdom Season Two is the perfect follow-up to Netflix’s original Korean period zombie drama.
Story - 8.5/10
Direction - 9/10
Characterisation - 9/10
Geek Satisfaction - 9/10