I may have spoken too soon—“Too Hot to Handle” cranks the silliness factor up a bit high for my tastes. Nevertheless, there are some enjoyable moments in this episode by Chris Lang. With the addition of some singing this episode could be Robin Hood: The Operetta. Anyway, I will say Lang has a talent for creating wonderful space for choreographed and interesting fight scenes. It looks hot enough to be Albuquerque in Nottingham. I think Isabella enjoys teasing PJ a bit too much: she tells him he is “hot, hot, hot” (yes, like the song). She also enjoys when Robin pops out of the undergrowth, though the lady doth protest too much (“God, don’t do that!”), and he offers her strawberries. Oodalolly—the subtext evaporateth. Unfortunately for their little idyll, PJ sees them. “The people rather do insist on adoring him,” he laments of Robin. “It is me they should adore!” “They were all over each other,” he muses, before telling Guy to kill them. Yes, his sister. It’s a bit Roman, I suppose! He should not suffer “any pathetic pangs of familial loyalty.”
The outlaws are sweaty and thirsty like everyone else in Locksley. Tuck urges Robin to think “the Sheriff is dead—isn’t that a good thing?” Robin fears total oppression from PJ, which he is probably right to. Despite all this, Kate seems really happy in this episode—I’m not quite sure why. Her cousin has a baby whose “name’s Robin . . . after the bird. No, joke!” Robin is feeling entirely domestic and yearns for a family of his own—“I envy them.” “We’ve got each other,” says Much facetiously, though unlike the Much of a few seasons ago, he doesn’t press the point when his joke falls short.
If he seeks domestic bliss with Isabella, she should be aware that “Robin Hood is needed here” while he should read a bit more between the lines, “I have no interest in being on the losing side.” “What do I have to do to make you trust me?” But, I suppose if I were Isabella, perpetually angry because of being tossed between men like a sack of potatoes, I would be interested in preserving myself politically, too. “He doesn’t scare me,” Isabella says, rather cruelly revealing to Robin that Guy “wet the bed ‘til he was 12.” (I’m gearing up for the flashback episode. I’m curious as to what revelations we are going to receive. Will young Guy have been bullied by cocky young Robin? Will we be made to pity him?) Guy, as per PJ’s instructions, has followed Isabella to see if she is indeed meeting with Robin. Descending on both of them, he hesitates to kill. “What a shame you didn’t show compassion to Marian!”
Guy demonstrates further straits of stupidity by believing Isabella when she agrees to kill Robin in front of him. “You’re a rubbish kisser!” a stung Robin retorts. Nevertheless we are set up for a cool, rather Pirates of the Caribbean-like fight with two swords and a set of manacles. Kinky. When, inevitably, Robin and Isabella are able to knock Guy out, Isabella is very keen to “consign him to Hell.” Robin prevents her from committing murder, and they tie him to a tree (that’s always happening to him!). “Take it back!” Isabella rages, hurt. Manacled together, the two personalities find it difficult to compromise: “I am letting you have your own way!” Much as any woman, Isabella wants to know about her predecessor Marian. “She must have been a special woman to have such a hold over you and my brother.” Robin angrily denies that Marian ever gave Guy any reason to expect reciprocation. (Yeah right.)
The rest of the outlaws are engaged in watering the entire village population, led by Tuck to the River Trent. Isabella, having been tricked by PJ, leads Robin into the cistern (?) of Nottingham Castle and they try to unblock the spring. Guy is there to “execute a traitor . . . and his accomplice.” (I’m impressed with his self-control . . . he didn’t call her anything more rancorous than “accomplice.”) Kate has been kidnapped and is brought before PJ, who likes the look of her. “You’re the Devil!” “How sweet . . . you’re jealous.” Hold on, I thought I’d imagined that Kate fancied Robin. What a tangled web we weave . . . “Why should Hoodie have all the fun?” When Guy reports, PJ is annoyed not to hear the straight truth: “don’t go all enigmatic on me, Gisborne.” When Guy tells him that Robin and Isabella are dead, the Errol Flynn-like PJ is pleased. In fact, Guy has just left them to be drowned—a very Doctor Who-like death. To his credit (if you can call it that) when PJ offers Guy a drink in celebration of having killed his sister and her lover, he replies, “I don’t want a drink, Sire.” PJ offers him the keys to Nottingham.
As I say, this script seems very cinematic: Robin and Isabella are treading water waiting slowly to die. “Would you mind holding me, I’m freezing?” asks Isabella as Robin, less dutifully, more lovingly, does so. They fantasize about a domestic life together with four children and a farm. Then Robin has an idea. “Take your dress off.” No, not that kind of idea. He sees a way out. I was a bit insulted that he was going to make Isabella strip when he was wearing more layers, but then she produced some underwear so it was okay. (Not the natural-cloth smock that would have been in period, but never mind.) It’s all a bit Goonies-style as Robin is able to shoot an arrow attached to Isabella’s dress up through a hole so they can climb up the cloth to the exit. Once they escape, they have to chance to free Kate. Isabella just wants Robin to run away with her. “We’ve got to take this chance!” “It’ll always be just a dream,” Robin says of their fantasies together. “I’m not her!” Isabella says.
Just then PJ and Guy arrive. “You let the team down,” tsks PJ. “I’ve waited ALL MY LIFE to be Sheriff!” I really wonder about Guy sometimes—I got the impression from the first series that he genuinely believed in PJ’s claim on the throne against the example of profligate King Richard, but maybe like everyone else, he just wanted to be on the winning side. “You’re a pretender!” Isabella is angry, too, believing she’s been “blinded by his flattery.” There’s a truly spectacular fight as Isabella tries to bash in Robin’s head (a woman scorned . . .) and Guy and PJ fight, before all the roles reverse and they fight again. Kate takes the opportunity to escape. So Isabella is left with a chip on her shoulder over Robin, and Robin doesn’t seem too annoyed—in fact, I wonder if he’s now going to be fawning over Kate. Oh yeah, and the villagers get their water.