opens on a dark, gloomy night in Nottingham as the familiar black shape of Gisborne
strides towards another meeting with Allan A’ Dale
, once loyal outlaw, now turned traitor. Allan tells Guy of Robin Hood’s plan to ambush Henry of Lewis, messenger to the Sheriff of Nottingham
with information about where King Richard will land on his return to England. Later, when Henry fails to show up, Robin realises he must have a spy in his midst, and warns Marian she may be in danger of having her secret identity revealed as a result.
Before Guy of Gisborne can get him to the Castle, Henry is taken ill and the Sheriff’s own doctor is unable to cure him. The Sheriff then sends for Matilda, a woman renown for her ability to heal people, but whose own daughter is about to give birth to a breached baby. Although the Sheriff doesn’t know it yet it was Matilda who delivered the baby Robin of Loxley, something which pleases him even less than her greeting of “Hello baldy!”
Fearing she might be able to save Henry, and that he will deliver his message to the Sheriff, Robin gains access in disguise and threatens to kill him first. Matilda intervenes, but drugs Henry so he is unable to speak sensibly. Robin then escapes to help Matilda’s daughter, whilst she herself is restrained by the Sheriff.
Whilst this was going on Marian
has used her charms on Guy to persuade him to allow her to roam the castle without an armed escort. She hopes to spy on him and find out who the traitor is. To this end she follows Guy into “The Trip”, and hears him deliver a message (plus a purse of coins), to the serving maid. But Gisborne catches her, and it is only his vanity which has him believe she is following because she desires him and for no ulterior motive. (Gullible Guy!)
Back at the outlaw camp Much cannot keep secret the knowledge he has learned earlier from Robin himself that there must be a spy in the camp, and heated arguments ensue before Robin arrives with Matilda’s pregnant daughter, now in labour. Robin gives the traitor one chance to step forward and confess, but no-one does.
Then follows what I think is the most brilliantly edited sequence of the series so far. Whilst the Sheriff of Nottingham puts Matilda on trial in Loxley for being a witch, her daughter undergoes a painful childbirth assisted only by Djaq and John. The scenes involving Gordon Kennedy (John) are especially poignant as his huge inexperienced hands first “turn” and then deliver the baby, as the mother asks him about his own wife. John explains he could not be present when his own son was born, because he had to be “in the forest”. It is a scene of few words, but much is conveyed. And all the time the camera is cutting back and forth to Matilda, strapped to a ducking stool, and being repeatedly submerged under the river, screaming curses at her gloating accuser the Sheriff.
In what will be their final act as one united group, the outlaws rescue Matilda by having Robin swim under water with an air pipe, whilst Henry of Lewis is also captured. More excitement ensues when, on the way back to camp, Henry manages to free himself and put a blade to Much’s throat. Henry believes Robin will not shoot to kill, but tonight this was the Robin Hood of legend, and one deadly arrow finds its mark in his chest.
Robin still has to deal with the problem of a traitor in his camp. Who can it be? He devises a plan involving Will Scarlet
. Perhaps because of what happened to Will last week, he trusts him most. Robin takes Will to one side and, without explaining too much, thumps him severely in front of the others and sends him away, telling them Will was the traitor. But Robin knows from what Marian heard whilst spying on Guy, that the real traitor will go to The Trip that night for his / her money.
Night falls, and an anxious Allan A ‘ Dale goes to the Inn for his blood money. But a well aimed arrow pins it to the table, and a blade is placed against his neck. “You’re always in the sun, Robin. I’m always in the shade”, pleads Allan. But there can be no forgiveness and Allan knows that to cross Robin Hood’s path again is to forfeit his life.
Outstanding episode. In fact this was my personal favourite of this series so far. Brilliant acting in that final scene between Joe Armstrong (Allan) and Jonas Armstrong (Robin). In fact both these two actors really shone throughout the story. Superb work also from Gordon Kennedy (John) who can do so much with so few lines. (I really liked the bit about the naming of the new baby.) Also, as we guessed, Djaq did indeed have her suspicions about Allan. The scene where Allan approaches her, knowing she must have guessed his secret, is another high light of the show. Joe might not command the teenage fan base Harry and Jonas enjoy, but for my money he's the best actor among the younger cast.
It was interesting that the one thing Djaq couldn’t do, having demonstrated so many advanced medical skills in the past, was to “turn” a breached baby and deliver it. The final scene was also well placed, seeing Robin Hood and “his merry men”
reduced in number now, but still heading towards the main road to rob from the rich and give to the poor. Fantastic episode!
Oh, and yes there really IS a place called The Trip (to Jerusalem) in Nottingham. It is the oldes inn in England, and has strong links with Robin Hood. You can see it HERE
More pictures in the week, Hoodies!
Labels: Allan A Dale, harry lloyd, Joe Armstrong, Jonas Armstrong, lucy griffith, Nottingham, Robin Hood, series 2, will scarlet