Monday, April 20, 2009

robin hood vol.7 x 2

“I have simply chosen another battleground.”

I did watch episode 2, by the way, “Cause and Effect,” but I didn’t have my notebook with me so I didn’t write any notes. I’ll try to be a bit more brief and forthright about episodes 3 and 4. “Lost in Translation” was written by Ryan Craig and hinges on a fascinating idea, bringing the ideas of the Reformation and Henry VIII’s innovations of the Tudor era, into the 12th century. Craig has done his research, so at least there is a pretension to actual events that might have swirled around in people’s heads in the 1190s.

Though the Sheriff has just pawned Gisborne off on King John’s men, he’s still in deep trouble. “My advice is this: please him.” Nevertheless, as usual, the dastardly Sheriff isn’t taking this one sitting down—he’s found the Abbot of Kirklees’ “explosive little nugget hidden away” and will spend the episode exploiting it until the Abbot has done his bidding. This bidding is to excommunicate Robin & co. for having stolen from the Church (which they didn’t do). They are “deemed unclean and must be wiped away” as per the edicts of Celestine III (which means this could be set no later than 1198 since that Pope died that year). Naturally one points a finger at Allan, but this time he’s not responsible.

I think Tuck has been a very strong addition to this season. He is perceptive and passionate. “The people fear and love the Church in equal measure.” Because the Abbot was “one of the finest scholars of his generation,” for him to turn on Robin guarantees that “there is something more precious than truth” involved. Now, with all this fairly intellectual talk, was it really necessary for Tuck to climb up to confront the Abbot through a privy hole?

Kate is the villager who was introduced last episode as a dose of much-needed estrogen. In this episode she wishes to trust Robin & co. but her mother says “they’re heretics now . . . we’ll hang. We have to protect ourselves now.” Tuck escapes only to confront the Abbot again, finding out that the precious secret is a translation of the Bible into English that has been the Abbot’s life’s work. It’s an ambitious project for both him and the series, a fascinating what-if? into history. Nevertheless, the Abbot allows Tuck to be captured, and the Sheriff has torture in mind. “You start off, I’ll harmonize,” quips Tuck. The Sheriff isn’t pleased with the hired help, though: “You are more useless than Gisborne.” Burn.

Much has taken a shine to Kate (in fact everybody’s got a thing for her except Little John) but is rebuffed. “Nothing will ever happen between us.” (What happened to the servant-girl in Bonchurch? I thought she was waiting for Much?) Robin is impressed about the Abbot’s plan to translate the Bible (well, he would be; he’s read the Koran so he said in series 1). Little John thinks it’s “blasphemy!” Allan wonders “is that allowed?”

The Sheriff has decided, in order to get popular support and root out Robin once and for all, he will give them a relic that is tangible. The Abbot finds his plan “heinous.” “I know—poetic irony, isn’t it?” Waves of Ladyhawke in all but music flit through the Sheriff’s presentation of “the hand of St Luke” to the Nottingham congregation, while the Abbot lets this lie fly and therefore condemns Robin & co. to burning at the stake.
As ever, the episode is made up completely of escapes, recaptures, plotted deaths and tortures that don’t happen. But that is the nature of the game. Kate proves her true mettle by trying to help Robin & co. escape (her best shot is handing Robin an arrowhead while she shouts a bit too dramatically, “heretics, devils, I trusted you!”, but I suppose there’s some irony in that). Finally the Abbot comes clean, declaring the Sheriff what we all know him to be—“the spawn of Satan!!”

Sins of the Father” by Holly Philips feels somewhat authentic in its production values, but storywise it feels a bit ho-hum. What I do like about Kate is that while Marian got to be model for some alternate universe’s version of what medieval women wore, Kate’s outfits are more toned down, less cumbersome, and fit the historical precedent (basically, though her makeup is certainly not medieval!). She takes center stage yet again as some marauding mongrel named Rufus goes to Locksley Village and grabs Kate because she dares to stand up to him. It’s all a bit Edith in “The Time Meddler” for Kate—“I won’t make you suffer for disrespecting me,” Rufus says with an evil, lecherous glint in his eye. “You will make me smile.” The Sheriff at least appreciates Rufus; “you make Gisborne look all warm and snuggly.” When Kate is asked to dance for Rufus’ entertainment, I felt sure he was going to whip out some red-hot slippers à la 10th Kingdom. But in fact he had plain old lechery on his mind. I liked Kate’s response, though. “Dancing is pretty basic.”

Rufus decided to tear down Kate’s mother’s entire pottery shop, kiln and all, so this is why Much concludes “I think Locksley’s on fire.” Robin, interestingly, asks, “Where’s Gisborne?” Tracing Rufus, the gang burst in just as Kate’s about to stab him in the ribs when he tries something on her. “I was doing fine on my own!” Rufus expounds his world view: “Charity is pointless. I don’t get kicked around.” They escape with Kate, nevertheless. She has to then leave her home in order that her family doesn’t suffer retaliation (like we couldn’t see that coming). “Thank you all for ruining everything.” Allan’s legendary nonchalance complements Kate’s bristly sarcasm. “I’m wounded.” “She thinks I’m legendary,” says Much. It’s interesting that John bonds best with the two young women characters we’ve had on the show. Is he a father figure? “You’re not on your own, Kate.”

The Sheriff is considering sending men to Northumberland for money. Rufus is happy to do this for him, having a hidden agenda of his own. A spectacular fight is followed by Kate and Allan getting kidnapped by Rufus (and son, whose name is Edmund) and held in the butcher shop that once belonged to Rufus’ father. “Damn, damn, damn!” Kate explodes. “You’re not exactly easy on the eyes,” says Allan, somehow channelling 1940s screwball comedy. Capturing Edmund, Tuck tries to make the medieval man think for himself instead of being his father’s pawn. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t loyalty to one’s parents be considered one of the highest of virtues? “Honor thy mother and father”—yes? “He’s always tried to bully you.” Interesting that Tuck calls Rufus “violent and manipulative” when Tuck is those things, too, just not at the same time.

“Beneath this harsh surface is just more harsh surface,” announces the Sheriff on finding ALL his henchmen gone. Rufus, meanwhile, in the butcher’s shop is clearly into S/M as he chains Allan and Kate unnecessarily from the ceiling and its about to commence the torture/execution when Robin & co. burst in with the news. “He allowed his father to die for a crime he committed.” Oopsies. Rufus has been pursuing revenge on the Sheriff when he should really be dealing with the crimes of his own conscience, ie “the sins of the father.” Much more entertaining is when the Sheriff shouts, out of habit we assume, “get after them!” and is punched in the face by Robin.

Rufus dies, Edmund goes off into the sunset we hope a better man, and Kate thinks, “Yeah, if you guys wanted me around . . .” “Kate, I want you to stay,” says Robin. So stay she does, igniting passion wherever she goes.

Gisborne back next week, hallelujah.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope we get to see the next series of this show over here.

Your descriptions are quite interesting. It's funny how modern sensibilities keep getting overlaid onto a story several hundred years old. Tuck's comments to Edmund come to mind. (Tuck sounds a bit like his character is based on the one from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? Just wondering--the way he confronts the Abbot.)

From what you are saying about Kate's outfits, it sounds like the costumers are actually going back to something more appropriate than a baby-doll dress? I hope (or more realistically--wish!).

I enjoy reading your reviews.