Another episode and another plot twist, with The Kingdoms of Ruin Episode 5, “Joy to the World.” At the end of the last episode, Adonis seemingly agrees to help the Witches on Lunamilia grow a new Chloe from the Mito tree, the tree from which all witchkind are born. But as the end of the episode showed, he brought back Doroka and not his mentor. While at first, it feels like a mistake, Adonis is quick to tell the audience that it was on purpose in order to not put Chloe through the pain of living and dying again in a world that is hunting her and her kind.
While this puts the Witches at a disadvantage, it’s even worse when the Redia Empire shows up after following a tracker in Adonis’s body. Dedicated to cutting down the empire with his own hands and without the help of the witches, it’s easy to see how Adonis’s initial admission of wanting to spare Chloe pain again came from the same selfish place as any of his other choices. He knew the empire was coming, and it seems like he wanted them to.
The Kingdoms of Ruin Episode 5 is a shocker, and Adonis is on the fast track to having no redeeming qualities. Especially since the last episode was extremely focused on worldbuilding and providing the audience with exposition as to who the Witches are and how they have survived since being hunted by the Redia Empire, there hasn’t been time to get to know Adonis beyond his anger.
I don’t hate that Adonis is stuck in his rage. After being imprisoned for ten years, watching his mentor executed in front of him brutally, and stewing in his hatred, rage is an emotion that makes sense. That said, the writing of the series hasn’t given depth to that rage. We see his past in flashbacks, his love of Chloe, and the violence he’s seen, but the only way we see his grief is through his rage.
We are only in Episode 5 and there can be room for growth, but right now, his rage is betraying any semblance of greater cause or movement. He’s protecting Chloe’s memory by detaching it from the world around him. But maybe, that’s just who he is supposed to be. Broken and in pain, with only rage as a way forward.
When the Redia Empire’s soldiers make their appearance and execute the remaining Witches, burning the Mito tree in the process, it’s hard to see a future. We’re supposed to be on the side of Witchkind in The Kingdoms of Ruin, but in Episode 6, I have to question if our hero even is. I have to question what gaze we’re supposed to be looking from because, narratively, I’m not sure if the series entirely grasps it.
Going forward, with Doroka seemingly by Adonis’s side, The Kingdoms of Ruin needs to explore the rage in the narrative, ground it in something powerful, and add much-needed depth to make Adonis and this story become multifaceted. With another cliffhanger ending, the series will pull you back for Episode 6, but it can’t rely on shocking moments alone. The Kingdoms of Ruin need more because blood only goes so far.
The Kingdoms of Ruin Episode 5 — "Joy to the World"
Going forward, with Doroka seemingly by Adonis’s side, The Kingdoms of Ruin needs to explore the rage in the narrative, ground it in something powerful, and add much-needed depth to make Adonis and this story become multifaceted.