3.9 I NEVER LIKED YOU -- EVEN WHEN I TRIED TO!!
(aka A Dangerous Deal)
Typical. I finally realize who PJ reminds me of (an incredible sober Russell Brand) and the pretender sods off for a week. Is there ANYONE bar Tuck and the old guard who have been in every episode this year? Oh well, in the safe hands of Graeme Harper, the episode starts in the time old fashion of Robin sneaking into Nottingham Castle to flirt with a semi-naked woman in denial about having the hots for him, and also play Verbal Poker with the Sherrif. Unfortunately, this time they are one in the same, and Robin is clearly emotionally very confused, rather like young children watching the end of Caves of Androzani ("Doctor Who's dying... but look at the tits on his companion!!! I don't know what to feel!")
Indeed, the Hooded One comes across rather nasty and bullying in this scene as he sneaks into Izzy's bedroom with a knife and tells her bluntly to help him out or die in the inevitable fall of Prince John (who, remember, humiliated himself and revealed his intentions in front of all of Christendom). But, since Izzy is a spiteful bitch with a pathological inability to take responsibility for her actions, it's easy to get on Robin's side as she sneers she's NOT a class traitor, thank you very much, she's a liberated feminist who's broken the glass ceiling thanks to PJ's affirmative action. And, you know, Psycho Izzy intends to the best bestest Sheriff of Nottingham ever ever ever!
Her main advantage is not her cleverness or ruthlessness, but the fact she's batshit insane and Robin has no idea how to handle her. When he treats her like he did Vasey, she reacts in exactly the wrong way: responding to his challenge by screaming for the guards and chasing him out of her bedroom with her own knife. When he does a daring Batman-style escape down a rope... Izzy cuts the rope (and I boggle at Robin staring at her and saying, "Oh shi---" - and yes, he really does say that). Needless to say Robin escapes with naught but a bruised arse and a grudge, but is his lesson learnt?
Watching the episode I can thankfully say it's a hell of a lot better than the 45 minutes of camp padding last week. The plot is incidental, involving a Danish burial site just left of Dead Man's Crossing (the new hotspot in Nottingham, that) and pretty much the rest is hardcore characterization. The plot revolves around the characters, how they think of each other and what they do when pressed. Naturally, of course, Little John, Tuck and Alan are pretty much sidelined in this, but they get their respective moments of comedy, angst and insensitive prickiness in no particular order.
Izzy: well, we finally find out why her middle name was changed to "Damaged Goods" and it wasn't out of love for RTD's New Adventure. Effectively portrayed as a schizophrenic with her idealistic PR shell and the broken and very bitter woman within, this week slowly but surely grinds her into naught but enemy. The new Sheriff, wearing Vasey's robes which fit disturbingly well, Izzy wins the common folk over with her promises of reform, honesty, tolerance and feminine equality. Mind you, her picking up a girlfriend on the job incredibly obviously maybe caused a Steven Moffatesque surge of blind lust to help her popularity. But, with the return of her husband, it's all downhill. By the end of the episode, she's almost possessed by Vasey, posing the same way, stabbing people in the stomach the same way, and executing people at the drop of a hat. She's very much Servalan this week, but the Season 4 kill-it-if-it-lives psycho Bitch in Black. Either way, the gold exchange seems a deliberate homage to a certain B7 episode and she even starts dressing and cutting her hair the same way by the week's end. She also is determined to kill Robin, and has literally become a black widow after her slutting it up with both genders.
Thornton: (BTW I'm sure someone else has been called Thornton in this series!) A one-note bully psycho megalomaniac whose pathological hatred of women is only matched by his greed for money. Of course, the moral presumably is that people don't HAVE to be witty, entertaining and realistic drammatic personae to make people's lives a hell, and this jerk's soul-destroying treatment of Izzy is really the only reason he's there. I can't think of a more overlookable character, with even his return-from-the-dead moments greeted by "For fuck's sake!" by all bar Izzy. Who rather unsurprisingly kills him. I defy anyone to be surprised at this. In fact, the only reason they've brought him in and killed him off is simply to show that she won't get ANY kind of catharsis and is "broken" for good.
Meg: Radical bissexual feminist, she's suspiciously too perfect for the first person Izzy has to judge as sheriff - an independant man-hating young woman. Of COURSE they were going to instantly fall in love, but considering the general tolerance for women shown in this series (especially considering the times), she preaches a bit too much. Defense mechanism or not, her gloating and picking on men gets irritating fast, which is of course why she undergoes her own character arc, realizing that Izzy might be cut from the same cloth, but in a radically different shape. Ooh, that's a good metaphor. Must use that more often. Anyway, all she needs is to meet a man who doesn't patronize her and she quickly revises her genital greviences. Obviously doomed but not, as I first thought, because she was going to be busy filming with Matt Smith.
Gizzy: Left rotting in the dungeon formerly used by his ex-girlfriend's ex-dad, Gizzy is in hell and... worryingly... is completely cool about it. In fact, he can see the funny side about it all and has come to the Zen-like acceptance that yeah, he probably deserves it. He seems, as Meg notes, to have a completely clear conscience, as even selling his sister to Thornton years back was borne of good intentions. Indeed, the episode rather heavily implies Izzy was a total cow BEFORE her marriage. Gizzy is now so self-aware, he can tell Meg is the universe taunting him with a Marion substitute, and doubts any relationship would end well. Nevertheless, with death at his heels, he bargains for Meg's life as she's an innocent. Ends up wandering the forrest, with a minor catharsis but pretty much back to square one after leaving Acre.
Robin: Like I said, he's a bit confused about Izzy's combined status as ex-lover, tormented soul in need for help, possible ally and Black Widow psycho. He's the first prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt, and heartily approves her pro-gay policies and immediately sees the emotional damage Thornton can do to her. Ultimately, he doesn't realize that Izzy doesn't believe in mercy and his pacifist attitudes get him dubbed weak and therefore expendable. It is only when she has, quite unprovoked, tried to cut him open and screaming abuse at him does he realize she's beyond saving. He also has to deal with...
Kate: As far as the story is concerned, her gut alpha female hatred of Izzy is entirely down to sound judge of character - and, having met Kate's mother, it makes sense she can detect such an uber-bitch. Finally her hormones get the better of her and she repeatedly snogs Robin in mid argument about what a cow Izzy is. As is often in these romances, Robin is simulataneously shocked and not entirely eager - apart from anything else, he seems to be the only other human being to realize Much is utterly head over heels in love with her and refuses to get involved. Unfortunately (and I'm probably projecting here, coz otherwise Kate is the biggest bitch since Inquisitor Darkel), Kate assumes that ever since she told him off, Much has no romantic desire for her at all and in a matey fashion asks our favorite character to tell Robin it's OK for them to start bonking.
Much: of course, just can't cope with this. Nicely shown as having been expecting this brand new love triangle, our miller's son finally comes to the conclusion that If You Love It Set It Free. Unable to tell Ms Tollinger he loves her, and unable to get in the way of Robin's happiness, he takes the final step and leaves the gang. In the middle of the night. Without saying anything. Which of course means that the gang come across as a bunch of assholes as they don't even notice he's gone the next day (but as Alan notes, he's often wandering off to get food - hah, I'd like to see the lot of them coping without Much to cook, clean, sew and maintain their secret base, as he's the only one who knows how it works now Will's gone. Mind you, if Will and Djaq were around, there's no way they would have missed his heartbreak). Ironically, Much's new painfree start is ruined and he ends up back at the camp, unable to tell everyone how he feels and more miserable than ever. The only question is... will he try to leave them again?
What else is there to say?
"I'm not a stupid girl! I'm Meg!" - surely a Family Guy reference?
NEXT WEEK: DON'T LOOK AT ME, SKIPPY...
"There are still things you do not know about your past..."
When an old bloke who sounds like Peter O'Toole mysteriously appears at Robin's side, they travel back in time to discover the Untold Origin of Robin Hood! What happened to his parents? Was William Shakespeare REALLY Robin's dad? Who got the plague? Why does Gizzy keep appearing? Is leprosy genetic? And will Marion, Edward, Matilda and the Scarlet family turn up? Yes, it is the first ever Robin-lite episode!