Robin Hood. Series 2. Episode 6. "For England!"
Deep in Sherwood Forest Robin Hood and his gang come across Allan A Dale as he searches for the purse of blood money he dropped there. They taunt him and, although Djaq seems to want to give him a second chance, Robin declares Allan might as well be dead as far as they are concerned. As they are talking, a small number of Black Knights pass by and Robin decides to follow them into Nottingham to investigate. (Both his gang and myself are left wondering what he needs them for in the first place if he's always telling them to stay behind?)
In Nottingham Castle Guy of Gisborne presents Marian with a new dress and invites her to be his partner at the celebrations where the document supporting Prince John will be signed. As he leaves, Robin enters by the window and he and Marian resolve to find out exactly what the document is all about. This they do, and Marian is startled to read the Duke of Winchester's name listed upon it. He was an old friend of her father, Edward, and she cannot believe he would betray the King. So Robin goes to intercept Winchester and make an ally of him. When he does so, Winchester appears to take Robin's side.
Robin Hood then returns to his camp to enlist the outlaws' help. But Will Scarlet is one step ahead of him, and has been using his skills to produce a range of musical instrument which conceal deadly weapons. ("Q" would have been most impressed, as would 007 himself!) Dressed as minstrels the "Merry Men" (and woman) gain access to the Castle under the pretence of playing later at the banquet where the Black Knights are to assemble.
Gisborne is beside himself with rage at the prospect of Winchester gaining Marian, but the Sheriff gives way to the demand. However, Sussex is not a prize he is best pleased to lose and, when Winchester leaves the room, he insists that Gisborne arrange a hanging just to cheer him up! And who should enter the room at that ill timed moment? Allan A Dale, now working for Guy! Guy speaks on Allan's behalf, but as far the Sheriff is concerned he is of no further use, and Allan renews his acquaintance with the dungeons. (He must know his way around there by now!)
The tension then rises dramatically. In another part of the dungeons Robin Hood learns from Edward that Winchester will betray him and pledge support to Prince John after all, whilst up in Marian's room an uninvited Guy tells her all about Winchester's designs on her and that she must run away and escape! This is a great scene, presenting us at long last with a very different side to Gisborne as he kisses her cheek and leaves her to prepare. And it gets better! Outside the room Guy is stopped by the Sheriff who is well aware of what's been happening. Rather than fly into a rage, or indeed have an armed escort at the ready, the Sheriff uses only the power of his personality and authority to "seduce" Guy back into line with his promise of the great power which he stands to inherit. As Guy loses all sense of pride and gives in, the Sheriff even seems to brush a tear from his cheek, putting him firmly back in his place. (A remarkable touch this, and just the kind of tiny ad-lib one suspects Keith Allen has placed there in the moment). Marian is then stopped from leaving. Her wrists are chained as Guy and his men escort her to the Duke of Winchester.
But wait… can they still be alive? And laughing? Robin hadn't reckoned on Winchester telling the Sheriff of his likely presence in the Castle, and they have had time to pad their clothing. Now the show's true climax can take place as the Sheriff pits Robin Hood against Allan A Dale, high above a vat of boiling oil in the Castle courtyard! The insults between these former friends fly thick and fast as they are forced to fight to the death, with Marian (still chained) looking on and the minstrel band of outlaws awaiting a safe moment to just try and intercede….
Comment: Another fantastic episode. Great to see Guy risking his own life for Marian, as well as his very own special way of rescuing her in the end. We were told this series was going to get darker, and it has. When Robin threw those blades there were no "trick shots" intended, just a clean kill! As with Allan. When Robin was distracted, Allan took full advantage of the moment and wanted him in that oil! Also, how scary is Keith Allen? Less panto more psycho!
Good bits of humour too. We even got a musician joke when the guard looked rather incredulously at John, and Much said "He's the drummer". Other fun bits for me were Much chatting up the "groupie", and Will only making John the bells after he'd made everyone else a deadly musical weapon.
More pictures in the week Hoodies!