Robin Hood 3.8: The King Is Dead, Long Live the King
For episode eight of this season, the writers of Robin Hood drag out the ol' is the king dead or is he not plot, and can the usuper successfully stage a coup/fake coronation (any guesses as to how that always turns out? ). The episode opened with an assassin/knight called Lord Sheridan (who just happened to train Robin back in the day) played by Robert Pugh. He looked very familiar so I checked out his IMDB page - turns out he's appeared in Marple, Poirot, Bleak House, The Virgin Queen, and Torchwood, to name a few appearances. The fact that Sheridan's joined John's camp is a textbook chance for Robin (Jonas Armstrong) to act all brooding and angsty. Why oh why doesn't the whole world see things Robin's way? Poor guy. *sigh* Two things about this first segment of the episode - did anyone think it was weird/odd that such skillful wax artisans were around in King Richard's day? Maybe I am just not up on my history in that era. Also, is it weird that Isabella(Lara Pulver) would be making a play for the position of sheriff? Also - three things, I lied - part of me really loved how over-the-top hammy Prince John's (Toby Stephens) response to the news of his brother's "demise was - Stephens seems like he's really had a heckuva lot of fun with this role and it shows. He's in on the joke - I only wish Prince John had been able to make an appearance in season two, which for my money was the most consistent and well-scripted run of episodes.
The Gisborne siblings sure are messed up, aren't they? Despite the fact that Isabella jumped the shark and became completely unhinged in episode seven, I loved the nuance that Richard Armitage gave Guy's character in their first scene together. Sure, Isabella ends up smooth-talking her way out of imminent danger by offering reconciliation and promising to speak to the prince on Guy's behalf. But for a few brief moments, it seems like Guy hesitates killing Izzy because he's changed, because he can't quite make himself cross that line and kill family. The Marian thing still haunts my favorite dark and brooding anti-hero. ;-) He's still got a LONG way to go though, as he walked right into that whole drugging and betrayal scenario, didn't he?
You know I've got to say, it cracks me up that Robin & Co.'s bright idea for stopping Prince John is stealing the crown so there can't be a coronation. Seems flimsier than usual, even by this show's standards, but what do I know? *rolls eyes* I do have to say, though, that I got a kick out of Robin navigating the obstacles in the booby-trapped strongroom. Just like the good ol' days of Indiana Jones-style action in season two. ;-) Speaking of crowns and coronations, I have to call out the actor playing the archbishop - Ian Gelder. He was most recently seen as Mr. Dekker in Torchwood: Children of Earth.
Love, love, loved Guy going off on Isabella and Prince John ("I can't be disfigured for my coronation!!" - HILARIOUS!). This is what I've wanted to see since the beginning of this show, practically - Guy exploring his potential good side and being forced to realize that the corrupt, power-hungry people he's banked on don't care about him, they only care about him as long as he's useful to them. However - in case you haven't figured this out yet, the showrunners really dropped the ball on running the show this season in my opinion, the lack of focus directly leading to the cancellation of the show. Tragically SQUANDERED potential. *sigh*
You know what this episode really made me miss? Storylines that actually made me interested in the various members of the gang. Storylines like Allan's (Joe Armstrong) betrayal in season two, that made me care about his character more than every other one in the show (save Guy, of course). Now all Allan and Much (Sam Troughton) are good for is crushing on Kate (Joanne Froggatt), and all she's good for crushing on Robin and engineering a play for a little upward social mobility. Even when Marian was at her most annoying, she had Kate beaten by a mile.
A few words about the coronation scene. First - the outlaws' play to stop the proceedings by impersonating Richard behind shiny shields? Completely lame. LOVED Guy's appearance and how he and Robin seem to be able to set aside the past to some degree and recognize that for the first time ever, they have common enemies. Also got a chuckle out of the fight turning into a fist fight after the archbishop threatens anyone who draws blood in the church with eternal damnation. Way to work around that little problem. ;-) Final verdict: this episode had one or two good moments, but it's one of the weakest of season three so far.