The Star/Asia News Network
SPOILER ALERT: Mild spoilers abound for Season 2 of Kingdom.
The second season of the Korean zombie drama Kingdom, out on Netflix, continues with more doom in the form of a zombie invasion of massive proportions.
Set during the Joseon period, the drama – based on the webcomic Burning Hell by Kim Eun-hee (also the TV series' writer) – tells of a time when the greed of certain powerful rulers starts a plague in the kingdom affecting the commoners. The fast-spreading plague sees the dead coming back alive, with a basic need to sink their rotten teeth into a living person, as many as possible.
At the end of Season One, we saw some of the key characters come to the realization that the advancing living dead cannot be stopped – the numbers keep increasing and, as it turns out, they can roam during daylight too! (Early in the season, zombies hibernated in the mornings seeking shady areas.)
At the same time, Crown Prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon) and his people not only have to fight off the zombies, but they also have to deal with the dirty political maneuverings in the palace initiated by Minister Cho Hak-jo (Ryu Seung-ryong), who is looking to make sure his heir eventually sits on the throne.
Having set the foundation in the first season, the new season focuses more on developing the characters, as well as providing background info on the disease that brings the dead very much alive and ferocious.
Here are five reasons how Season Two is just more absorbing than the first.
1. Flower power
We finally get some answers about how the beautiful, yet dangerous, flower was first introduced to the kingdom.
In S1, we are told that Hak-jo used the flower to bring back the dead emperor in an effort to manipulate other ministers and practically run the country himself. That action resulted in the zombie outbreak.
But in S2, through a flashback, we discover the flower was used for a far more sinister reason during the war against the Japanese. And, of course, Hak-jo was behind it!
2. Prince Lee Chang comes into his own
In S2, we get to see another side of Prince Lee Chang. When he set out of the palace to find the truth about his father's condition in last season, he showcased his mastery as an archer and a swordsman... skills that come in handy when piercing and slicing off zombies' heads.
In S2, Lee Chang proves his leadership quality as well – coming up with a daring plan to send food to those in need. His never-give-up personality in turn inspires other men to follow in his bold footsteps.
Even the cowardly Jo Beom-pal (Jun Suk-ho), who runs at the first sight of trouble, shows great courage at one point in S2.
3. Well-executed action scenes
S1 had its fair share of action sequences with Kim Sung-kyu's Young-shin taking up the sole gun and doing a damn good job of keeping zombies at bay.
S2 is even more explosive – there are cannons! Daring escapes! Lots of blood being spilled! More guns! – with at least three well-executed action sequences.
One brutal fight scene is shown in rewind mode, which by itself is horrific enough, but at the same time, you can't take your eyes off it because the cinematography is just so stunning.
4. Queen control
Sure, Hak-jo was truly vile in S1. As hinted in Episode 6 of the first season, we are finally properly introduced to the new season's villain – Queen Jo (Kim Hye-jun).
And man, she is one merciless woman, so fixated on the throne that she is willing to do anything to achieve her goal.
Kudos to actress Kim for making the young queen seem so evil with just a single look.
5. Game changer finale
The final episode of S2 is where the series gets a little sci-fi, with Bae Doo-na's Seo-bi finally discovering the flower's secret. And you'll never guess it... well, unless you're Guillermo del Toro.
That last episode also features a massive battle against the zombies, with not so favorable outcome. All this sets up for an exciting Season 3, which will feature a new character played by actress Jun Ji-hyun (My Love From The Star).
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