3.3 OFF THEIR FAITHS...
(aka Lost In Translation)
For the first-ever Guisborne-free episode of Robin Hood, I'm pleased to say they didn't rehash the plot like last week. Instead this almost entirely original with the most subtle continuity link I can think of, and I only spotted it because I watched Treasure of the Nation yesterday. In that, Vasey ransacks Kirklee's Abbey, and here we discover he found the biggest bit of blackmail imaginable: a homemade bible translated into English from the original Latin. A book like that would change the world and allow normal people to actually read what all this bloody religious stuff is all about, and is therefore considered heresy and progress depending on who you talk to. But for the Sherrif of Nottingham, it means blackmail of the Abbot of Kirklee's.
So, naturally, once the old sod returns from Rome for the first time in ages, Vasey threatens to destroy the Abbot's life's work unless the Church turns its whole effort into demonizing Robin Hood. Without Gizzy and less than a month to provide Prince John with the corpse of Robin, Vasey has pulled out the big guns. The Abbot is a hugely respected figure in society, and when he confirms Vasey's tale that Robin is possessed by Satan and orders the people of Locksley to turn in their savior, even Little John knows how fundamentally screwed they are. Of course, with Locksley being represented by Kate, her horrid mother and baby sister (who in a hideous retcon turns out to be the little girl from Total Eclipse), they all fold like a house of cards.
Tuck thus decides to do what he does best and screw around with the situation to make it more interesting, proving completely hypocritical compared to his behavior last week (though thankfully this is remarked upon by Robin, so someone's paying attention). With circumstances spiralling completely out of control, it's up to our heroes to save Tuck, put Vasey in his place and save the soul of the Abbot.
This is a lovely episode with a strong and intricate plot. Taking out Guisborne allows Vasey to hog the limelight as ever before, delighting in his own two-facedness as he tries to rally the peasants to his cause and completely-off-the-top-of-his-head making a bullshit story about being involved in a miracle while waving up "relics" he dug out of graves that day. Keith Allan has even more fun as usual, while the character grows increasingly annoyed that no one else is willing to indulge his theatrics any more unless they're in the middle of a church and the Abbot is constantly agreeing with him. He also gets to finally battle wits with Robin as they both talk for their reputations in front of the people and it's brilliant that this damn fine evil plan ends up with Vasey even worse off than before, unable even to get revenge on those who betrayed him.
As ever the only flaw is Kate and her tedious family. Once again there's a real feeling she's been edited in at the last moment. She's portrayed slightly more helpful and friendly this week, but she remains a two-dimensional cutout that somehow corrupts all around her. Much, despite being a real ladies' man when he pretends to be a minstrel and having clearly had some lessons in intergender relationships by Djaq, can barely talk to her for more than a few seconds at a time and totally relying on whispered advice from Alan. When Kate retorts that she has no feelings for him forever and pretty much blames him for everything under the sun, you can see the subtitle: "WE WILL SLEEP TOGETHER BEFORE THIS SEASON FINISHES". Even her one significant act to the plot of saving Robin is so bloody predictable it doesn't even count as a plot twist - the cruddy "flashback" to a scene three seconds previously smacks of padding, when even Lardner's Ring assumed the audience had enough intelligence to work it out herself. There's also a sub-Bottom bit of toilet humor that also sticks out like a sore thumb and makes me wonder if this episode was underrunning.
Kate's revolting mother and token villager once more threatens to be the only thing ever to make me want to fast forward through an episode, as she rants that Robin Hood - you know, the savior of the people whole villages build shrines to and everyone in town knows as the rightful ruler - is playing a war game with the Sheriff for selfish reasons. Is she retarded? Her screams of "Where were you when my son died?" really deserve a slap and "Where the fuck were YOU, bitch? You were hiding under a table and blaming everyone except yourself!" The hints that next week might be her final appearance simply can't come soon enough for me.
And Kate still doesn't do anything for me. She looks and acts like Phoebe from Friends, only less interestingly. All of this suggests to me that originally Eve would have returned but for some reason there's been a massive, last second rewrite and instead of recasting her, they've tried to make a completely different character out of her. Compare any scene of her with the bit where Alan and Tuck team up, with our former traitor once more proving he's got the most "Robin Hood"ness with bravery, intelligence, self-sacrifice and downright luck.
But with a surprisingly non-anachronistic plot, a new ongoing plot scenario, some Double-the-Fist style stunts and a heartwarming coda, Lost in Translation picks up after the relative drop in quality last week. The only problem with the story is a rather obvious device of swapping the translated Bible with another book, which no one even suggests trying!
NEXT TIME: um... not sure...
"Robin Hood's not here to save you now..."
A Robert Holmes double act of Kevin Eldon and maybe-Sean-Pertwee arrive in town to claim the clash Prince John wants and they don't intend to let anyone or anything stand in the way. Will Guisborne return? Will Kate's mother die horribly? Will Prince John finally show his ugly mug?
LAWRENCE MILES'... OH, JUST FORGET IT