In Sherwood Forest (which seems to have undergone a change in season since last week), Robin Hood makes a chance encounter with Guy of Gisborne. Guy assumes Robin has been following him, and that more Outlaws are at hand, but this is not the case. So Guy puts down his bow and draws his sword, eager to engage in a duel to the death with Robin. Robin is at first reluctant to do so, saying that Guy is in no fit state for such combat. (Why should he care?)
Anyway, as their swords are about to clash, “poisoned darts” fly out from the forest, hitting both men in the neck, causing them fall drugged to the ground. As they lie dormant, a shrouded figure steps out from the trees.
Robin Hood and Guy awake at nightfall, bound and tied by a camp a fire. The shrouded figure is seated nearby, and tells them both they must listen to his story in order to “save a life”. After some bickering, this they agree to do, and the rest of the show is related in flash-back style to a time 20 years previous, recounting how both Robin Hood’s and Guy of Gisborne’s parents really died.20 years previous:
In Loxley, Lady Gisborne (Guy’s mother), has been having an affair with Lord Loxley (Robin’s father), whilst her husband Lord Gisborne is away on the Crusades. She believes her husband has been killed in battle, and (as a means of establishing a way by which her new relationship can be brought out into the open), states that her lands should therefore be acquired by Lord Loxley to maintain.
As the villagers are commemorating the loss of lives in the Holy Lands, the young boy Robin is showing off his archery skills to the boy Guy. (Yes folks, he already has a Saracen bow, which I assume was brought back from the Crusades by his father.) Robin’s behaviour causes a fire to break out, which in turn seriously injures a priest. In an attempt to stop Robin, young Guy grabs the bow from him. But the result is that the villagers then assume it was Guy’s arrow that started the fire, and so he not Robin is blamed for the priest’s injury. Not only that, but an opportunistic Bailiff, who wants the Gisborne property for himself rather than let the French Lady Gisborne inherit them from her dead husband, decides to hang the boy Guy there and then. And all this while, young Robin Hood is denying it was in fact he who caused the fire, seemingly only too willing to have Guy take the blame. (Yep, you get it. They want us to like Guy more than Robin).
At which point enter Sir Roger of Gisborne, Guy‘s father. It turns out that he is not dead after all. In defence of his son Guy, Sir Roger draws swords against the Bailiff. He wins the fight, and Guy is released when the priest’s injuries are seen not to be fatal. But during the fight a curious thing is observed by the crowd when the Bailiff’s blade goes clean through Sir Roger’s hand seemingly causing him no pain.
The boy Robin later confesses to his father, Lord Loxley, that the fire had been his fault, but receives no more than a little fatherly style talk for his wrong doing. Lord Loxley also continues his affair with Lady Gisborne, regardless of her husband’s return. During one of their secret meetings, Loxley informs her that only leprosy could account for the lack of pain in her husband’s hand when the blade passed through it. She in turn informs Loxley that she is pregnant. (Hmmm, from leprosy to pregnancy in one sentence.) All of this is observed from a safe distance by the dastardly Bailiff.
Lord Loxley (being the sensitive type that he is), tells Lady Gisborne to inform the village that her husband is a leper, because in that way her marriage will immediately be dissolved. After that, he suggests she could go away and have the child she is expecting, before returning later to unite with him. (Are you still with me?) All this she agrees to, but when she returns home her husband Lord Gisborne is waiting. Much to her surprise, he is not angry at her affair, wishing only that she has found someone to take care of her when he dies. This makes Lady Gisborne sorry for the plan she has agreed to, but it is too late to stop it now, and the Bailiff soon arrives with various other authority figures, who march the leprous Lord away to the edge of the village, where a ceremony banishes him for ever.
When leaving, the noble Lord Gisborne asks only that Lord Loxley take care of his family, but the boy Guy is far less forgiving, and the seeds of future discontent are clearly being sown. Now, with Lord Gisborne out of the way, the Bailiff intends to take the Gisborne property for his own. Only this will keep him from telling the village that Lady Gisborne is pregnant with Loxley’s child. So Loxley hands over the land, believing it can easily be reclaimed when he weds the Lady. However, the marriage is doomed never to happen, and so Guy will lose those lands.
Unbeknown to Lord Loxley, Lady Gisborne continues to go into the forest and take aid to her dying husband in a small leper colony there. This causes even further resentment from Guy, who feels he is being cut off from his father. Guy’s choice at this point would be to return to France. But whatever plans he and his mother might embark upon are interrupted by the premature birth of a son. (Are you all still with me? So now Guy and Robin Hood share a “half brother”).
The baby has an arrow shaped birth mark on it’s chest, and so is given the name Archer before being taken to a safe place. (Hey, I didn’t write this stuff. I’m only reviewing it). Then, in an attempt to stop the marriage between his mother and Robin’s father, Guy goes to the leper colony to inform his father of the intended event. However, he is only angered more when he learns his father condones the marriage so that his wife will have someone to take care of her. So why (and I really don’t get this bit), in the very next scene, does the leprous Lord Gisborne go striding back into Loxley to try and stop the marriage!? (Answers on a post card please. It makes no sense to me).
As the leprous Lord enters the village, the boy Robin starts shouting “The leper is back! The leper is back!” (Don’t you just love this kid? No??) Suffice to say a fight soon breaks out between the two Lords, during which yet another accidental fire breaks out (how many is that so far?) this time started by Guy. Not only that, but Lord Loxley accidentally causes the death of Lady Gisborne in the process. (Kind of clumsy I guess). Outside the manor the dastardly Bailiff tells the villagers the fire must have been started to rid the place of disease. And so everyone readily takes up their burning torches to further that end, causing the deaths of those inside. To cut a long story short, after his father’s assumed death in the fire, the boy Robin takes possession of the Loxley Estate.
Now we go forward 20 years to see Guy’s and Robin’s reactions to this information regarding how their parents really died. “All these years I though it was my fault”, says Guy of his accidental fire starting that day, and we see a little more of the reason for his character.
Whilst Robin and Guy ponder their thoughts the mysterious man who has been relating this tale removes his cowl, and stands revealed as Robin Hood’s father. It transpires that he escaped the fire, but is now himself dying of leprosy. Furthermore, the reason he has tracked down Robin and Guy is that he needs them to “save a life”. (Yep, you saw it coming didn’t you?) Their half brother, the one with the arrow shaped birth mark on his chest, is about to be hung in Yorkshire, and they are expected to go save him. “I need you to unite,” he says. “Forgive each other to save a brother”. And then he shoots them again with his darts.
When Robin Hood and Guy next awake, it is Guy who first extends his hand to Robin as they depart for Yorkshire. (A move which will please Yorkshire Hoodies, and facilitate the change from filming the “Nottingham Castle” in Hungary to a different “Yorkshire Castle” apparently in the UK).Comment:
This episode will divide the fans for many reasons. Obviously the intention is to establish a premise for a new Robin Hood in Series 4. However, whilst I can accept the idea of a half brother inheriting the role, or a distant relation, I cannot accept any other part of this highly contrived episode which, in my opinion, undoes all the good will which the previous few episodes had helped restore.
What we have here is another appalling attempt to “re-invent” of the Legend, amounting to as much of a travesty as the murder of Marian was at the end of Series 2. Not only that, but the whole “story” holds as much “corn” as your average breakfast cereal. An arrow shaped birthmark? Calling the baby Archer? Guy accidentally meeting Robin just as Robin’s leprous father accidentally finds them both together, and informs them of their parent’s accidental deaths, soon after Robin had accidentally nearly killed a priest? Not to mention all the other little gems you have in stall if you haven’t watched it yet. (Look out for the Saracen bow on the Christian cross gravestone).
What would have been better? To perhaps see a young girl Marian in Robin Hood’s boyhood, or maybe a boy servant, Much. What I personally am left with is an overwhelming desire to go see a new Robin Hood film, (the Russell Crowe one can’t be far away); something to wash this crass nonsense all away.
Sorry Hoodies. I hated this silly concoction beyond intellectual comment.
Labels: bbc, David Harewood, Isabella Gisborne, Joanne Froggatt, Jonas Armstrong, Lara Pulver, Richard Armitage, Robin Hood, Robin Hood pictures, Series 3