In 2019, alternative rock band The Moth and The Flame released their album Ruthless, which featured the track “Only Just Begun.” The song was accompanied by a beautifully constructed music video starring a medieval knight hilariously clashing with the streets of a modern metropolis. Where did this idea come from though, and what is its meaning, exactly?
“(It was) inspired by the time I met a gas station attendant in the desert that was an ACL fighter… he was hanging out with a sword behind the cash register,” says Julian Acosta, the director of the band’s music videos. The origin might be simple and funny, but the result becomes much more powerful even beyond its initial context when looking at the music video itself.
The video opens with the knight, shining in the dark as a beacon. He is whisked away to a new backdrop—urban high-rises with electric lamps that nearly blind him. The video takes the knight to a demolition derby of racecars ramming one another. He observes the metal scraping, confused but interested. He is at least familiar with being a rusted old shell that clashes against others in battle. The figure is whisked away elsewhere just as someone throws a beer can at him and he tries to defend himself using his shield. ‘I don’t always conquer… Is that really a surprise?’ ask the lyrics. ‘Love won’t always haunt me… But it definitely tries.’ The lyrics speak of the
knight as if he has been harmed for not advancing into a relationship, perhaps. There is regret, a hope to move on, but the regret lingers as a
ghost would. Advancing on, the song takes a somewhat inspirational outlook. ‘I know you can see… that there’s just so much more to me.’ The main chorus chants ‘I have only just begun.’ This main chorus repeats several times, before regressing back into self-doubt, warning itself. ‘I hate that I’m not perfect…. / and it eats me up inside. / But hate cannot prepare you… / for the hurdles in your stride.’ The knight wanders, gets lost in the city before ending up in a nightclub. People cheer him on, but he is separate from them mentally: He is unable to remove his helmet, and when he throws away the sword it ends back up in his hand. He cannot break free from his past, or who he is. Perhaps a message about those suffering from mental trauma or PTSD? After taking up the sword in bitter defeat, the climax of the video shows him finally seeing another knight. Someone he can relate to and duel. They fight in the street, and he overcomes the much larger foe. In the end, the knight creates a shrine to this fallen foe. Maybe they could have been friends like in the photographs. Is he alone once again? Or has he has come to terms with his problems inside and laid them to rest?
“For me, it’s about finding your place in the world, loneliness, and not giving up to find the person that gives you purpose,” says Acosta. Personally, the song and video resonate deeply with me. We live for
these moments that give us great purpose, even if they are preciously rare.