Spoiler alert! If you haven’t seen Netflix Original zombie series and don’t want any level of spoilers, then turn back now. But if you don’t mind, well you can stay and read. This is a short roundup as well as my thoughts on Netflix’s Kingdom Season 1 and 2 plus a few expectations for the next season. Again, this is about the Netflix series, okay?
In a kingdom defeated by corruption and famine, a mysterious plague spreads to turn the infected into monsters. The crown prince, framed for treason and desperate to save his people, sets out on a journey to unveil what evil lurks in the dark.
The moment I saw Kingdom’s first-ever trailer, I was filled with eagerness to watch the whole series. I enjoy period pieces and I am also a huge fan of the horror genre. But when you put these two together, it creates an even more interesting and thrilling piece. Netflix’s Kingdom proved that!
When the series came to Netflix worldwide on January 25 last year, it received critical acclaim both from critics and the audience. The first season holds a 93% approval rating with an average rating of 8/10 based on 14 critic reviews on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. It also received a 97% audience score with an average 4.58 rating based on 292 user ratings.
Those are very impressive ratings and I am not surprised. I gave all the episodes in season 1 a 10/10 rating on IMDb. The reason for this perfect rating is Netflix’s Kingdom’s fresh take on the flesh-eating monsters.
Since zombies have been a part of the pop culture for a very long time, there have been countless films made. Few of my favourites include The Return of the Living Dead (1985), Night of the Living Dead (1968), Zombieland (2009) and Tain to Busan (2016). Now, I am adding in Netflix’s Kingdom to my list.
My Review: Season 1
Though Netflix’s Kingdom features an overused theme, they presented a different time and plot. (Yes, I said it and you know it!) Kingdom is set in the medieval Joseon dynasty (1392 to 1897) which was a politically troubling time for both citizens and royalty. Corruption and famine were rampant plus their nation is plagued with the infected and other types of carnivorous and liquor-drinking monsters in various parts of the kingdom. 🙂
In a typical period drama or a typical zombie film, you will not see these problems right away. It takes time to build up. But Netflix’s Kingdom’s pacing is fast and more engaging. From the title sequence, we were already given so many clues or Easter eggs about what happened to the King.
That sequence gave chills to my body more than Netflix’s Stranger Things title sequence, to be honest. With the ominous music, dark colour and the incense smoke, the title sequence helped establish the setting and tone of the series.
And the first episode did not disappoint! It was enough for viewers to get hooked and finish all six episodes. Yes, there are only six episodes but each is 43 to 56-minute long. And though it was faced-paced, their execution did not fail to leave a great impression. It also did not fail to love and despise certain characters.
And as soon as I got to the last episode, I was amazed by the great plot twist. The zombies we know does not exist here. Moreover, the infected and the cause were revealed and explained well in this series all thanks to Seo-Bi who acquired Physician Lee Seung-Hui’s journal detailing the use of the legendary resurrection plant which helped her piece things together.
But season 1 ended with a major cliffhanger!
My Review: Season 2
Like all viewers, I too was left hanging for a long time but I was patient because season 2 was announced early. Fast forward to March 13, Netflix dropped the second season of Kingdom. And let me tell you the moment that happed, my feed was filled with well, COVID-19 updates as well as a disappointment as to why there are only six episodes and the ending.
First, let me answer the number of episodes. I did study film in college but even without that knowledge, there’s only one reason I can think of and others might have thought of, too. Budget. So I did a little research to back this up and stumbled on Variety.com’s 2018 article.
“Netflix gave me more freedom than any Korean company I have worked with. Netflix gave me minimal feedback on the script, and did not oblige me to incorporate their notes,” Kim said. The only condition was that the director could not control the budget.
“Initially, ‘Kingdom’ was intended as an eight-episode series and production was supposed to be completed in four months. In the end, however, we took about six months on production and overspent the budget, for which we had to pay a penalty.” Kim said that each episode cost more than $1.78 million (KRW2 billion).
There you go! But honestly, they executed their material well in those six episodes. And though season 1 ended with a major cliffhanger, I can say that I am very much satisfied with how season 2 progressed and ended.
If Kingdom season 1 takes and makes you feel part of the journey, season 2 gives you the justice you’ve been wanting to claim with an action-packed add-on. Moreover, the latest season revealed all the secrets from Haewon Cho Clan’s ruthlessness to Queen Cho’s schemes. It also shared important flashbacks which were used as short backstories and resolutions of the characters we adore and despise. This includes Chief State Councilor Cho Hak-Ju and Lord Ahn Hyeon’s past, Moo-young’s story which is vital to the ending.
With a faced-paced series like this, they did not waste any time and gave all characters the screentime – sacrifice and death – they deserve. And though all is somewhat well, season 2 did leave some stories to tell.
Honestly, it wasn’t a huge cliffhanger but rather a door that leads to a bigger plot. I am again eager to see what they have in store in the third season. 10/10 IMDb
But with the virus that is spreading in real life (Coronavirus disease or COVID-19), I know that the next season will take some time. And that is okay because this series gave people especially those who are experiencing a community quarantine something to ponder on.
You see, our government issued a statement regarding a community quarantine on March 12th. Like most people, I got worried and stressed out which upset my entire nervous and digestive system. When the series dropped and as I clicked play, my mind did not forget the pandemic but it did open my mind to certain things in life. *That’s just me, okay?