Monday, June 8, 2009

Robin Hood 3.0 - BackFlash!

(aka Bad Blood)

This week's episode is something rather unusual as its funky title sequence shows - composed entirely of footage of Robin and Gizzy, at first glance it seems a slapstick sitcom ala Skinner and the Superintendant, with none of the other cast appearing in any form. Coz they're not in it this week. Dare I even to dream they've got Rob Shearman to adapt Scherzo for TV?! Actually, it's best that I don't...

Robin's just taking a wander around his forest when he sees Gizzy stumbling around the forest with a pathetic homemade bow and arrow, convinced he's being stalked by shadowy figures. Robin, visibly feeling an incredible amount of pity for the human wreck before him, insists that no, he's not been tracking Gizzy to hunt him down in cold blood. Frankly he's got better things to do. Gizzy takes him at his word, but decides to kill him anyway - insisting that he's only kept going by the desire to kill off his enemies. Although Robin doubts Gizzy will be able to even stay conscious throughout the fight, he remains about the only dude in Sherwood to remember how dangerous the man in black is. They prepare to fight and...

Gizzy instantly collapses.

Has our antihero had a heart attack? No, he's got a poison dart in the neck - and so does poor Robin, who is bushwacked by the hooded Grim Reaper figure with the Voice of Peter O'Toole. Turns out Gizzy was being stalked by shadowy figures all along.

The duo wake up, tied together and as is traditional in these situations, become more fearful when they realize the other hasn't actually betrayed them and this is something else entirely. The Hooded Man has decided it is time for an intervention between Robin and Gizzy, to settle the bad blood between them. Gizzy is incredibly self-aware, remember, and knows a lot more about their mutual past than Robin does... or wants to. But the Hooded Man points out that Gizzy still doesn't see the big picture...

A flashback 20 years (well... that'll pretty much fuck up every chronology I've worked out for the show) to when England was proud and happy and all the men and women dressed up EXACTLY like you'd think they would in Robin Hood - all studded tunics and tights for the blokes, veils and headbands for the ladies. Loxley's rightful ruler, Robin's dad (Dean Lennox Kelly, AKA Kev Shakespeare), has been moved down the pecking order when the King declares Sir Rojet of Guisborne Lord of the Manor in return for services rendered in the Crusades. Robin's dad is a mellow bloke, and takes it well, especially as this means that while Mr. Thesaurus is off on Holy Wars, he gets to flirt with Mrs. Guisborne and her outrageous French accent.

As such in these situations, Young Robin (who seems to own a Saracen Bow already, not sure) and Young Gizzy (pure unadultered 11th Century Emo) have to hang out together. And by Christ Young Robin's an irritating little twerp - always bigging himself for his shooting skills and going on about how much better he is than Guisborne in that way that makes you wonder if he's being mildly autistic or maybe just really DOES want to be annoying. Either way, it's bloody insensitive as Sir Rojet has seemingly died in the Crusade.

Thus, Mrs. Guisborne becomes Lady of the Manor and defacto ruler of Loxley - which is not what the Bailiff (Ian Reddington - yes, the Chief Clown of Segonax and one of the less embarrassing characters in B7: Logic of Empire) of the town wants. A Daily Mail reader at heart, the Bailiff doesn't want a woman in charge, especially a French woman! Alas, the only alternative is Robin's dad, who is quite happy for Gizzy's mum to keep running things, and so the Bailiff's themes are schwarted. Schemes are thwarted. Whatever.

To celebrate things and take her children's minds off their father's death, Mrs. Guisborne decides it is time to party. Robin's Dad and Mr. Redshirt will take a Catherine Wheel and attach it to the village watchtower, and then the two best archers (that'll be Young Gizzy and Robin) will use it as target practice to set off a spectacular fireworks display. Thrilled that everyone knows HE is the best archer, Young Robin wants to show off to Young Gizzy by firing an arrow between the threadbare ropes being used to haul up the Catherine Wheel. Young Gizzy rightly points out to the twat that this is insanely dangerous, only for, in the inevitable scuffle, Gizzy's arrow hitting the Wheel and setting off the fireworks... which means a spinning ring of fire falls out of the sky and lands on Mr. Redshirt.

While Robin's dad and Gizzy's mum struggle to save Redshirt's life with an emergency tracheotemy, the Bailiff rounds on Young Gizzy and accuses him of murder (the fact Redshirt is alive need not concern us). Young Robin insists that it wasn't his fault, and everyone believes him, cause he's the best archer ever and more importantly, NOT FRENCH. Whipping the mob into a frenzy, the Bailiff is about to hang Gizzy by the neck till dead when a crusader arrives - tis Rojet Thesaurus himself! Rumors of his death were greatly exaggerated, and the execution is off. The Bailiff, high on adrenaline and euroskepticism, tries to kill Gizzy's dad, but like all Crusaders, Rojet's superhuman abilities mean he just gets a knife through the palm on his hand. This act of Double-Fisted Fury pretty much stuns the populace in awe. The Bailiff is sacked and ROJET IS BACK IN TOWN!!

Back at the fire, Robin admits he was an asshole back then, but notes it was a defining experience in his life which has made him a better, more open-minded and responsible man. Gizzy's "No Shit Sherlock" expression is priceless. Buy the DVD box set for it alone.

Another flashback: Robin's dad finally cracks, having tried not to bonk Rojet's wife while the dude himself is in town. Unable to survive without her French salty goodness, he meets Mrs. Guisborne in the forest for some hardcore medieval petting. And of course she's a bit frustrated, as shagging a leper is just not on. Yes, Rojet has leprosy! That's how he was able to take a knife through the hand without wincing (leprosy doesn't really make your flesh drop off, but kills off the nerves and prevents wounds from healing, you know). As the couple chat about how fucked up their lives are - not only must they prevent anyone from twigging Rojet's a leper less the whole Guisborne clan get quarantined-to-death, it turns out Mrs. Guisborne's pregnant with her adulterous lover's baby. And what do you know? The Chief Clown Bailiff just happens to be hiding behind a tree, guaranteed to make the most of this information by the lean and hungry look in his eyes...

Gizzy and Robin refuse point blank to believe this latest plot twist - and Gizzy now believes the Hooded Man is... BAILIFF LONGTHORN!!! (You know, Chief Clown, mentioned him in the previous paragraph). The Hooded Man takes out a knife and... frees Robin and Gizzy, telling them that if they're not going to listen they can just fuck off home. Though tempted, the duo are willing to hear the rest of the story, pack of lies or no.

Robin's Dad suggests Mrs. Guisborne cut her losses and shack up with him - not only does she risk disease, poverty and death staying with Rojet, her husband will be unlikely to fall for the idea that he fathered the child BEFORE heading for the Holy Land. Robin's Dad (having given a disturbing amount of thought to this) comes up with a scheme where she disowns her husband, shacks up with him, has the baby in secret, sends the baby away, she goes on a pilgramige to collect said baby, and claim she's adopting the orphan. This dude puts the Fate into fait complit, and comes across as more of a git than his son ever did.

But what's this? Robin's dad has a name - Malcom Loxley! Hang on, just where does the "Hood" comes from then? Oh and Rojet with his disturbingly Davros voice (ironically though, not appearance) has discovered what his missus has been getting up to. How? Cause, like all Guisbornes, he's got a brain. And like all Guisbornes, he's a bit of a self-pitying Emo, who drives his wife to tears as he selflessly notes that he's brought all this on himself and how he can't blame her for wanting love he could never give and that...

Around the end of this speech he finally shuts up as the Bailiff's told everyone about the leprosy and Gizzy's dad is cast out of Loxley by none other than Redshirt himself! (He got better, you see). While being forced to stand in a pit... this is rather like that Young Ones episode, really... it's time for a quick round of LifeLong Emotional Scarring, as Young Gizzy is ordered by his father to stop being such an Emo, as Gizzy's Mum is forced to declare herself a widow, and everyone has to watch as Rojet has to try and climb out of the pit (now officially a leper), only to find it near impossible. So Malcolm goes to help him. Simultaneously inspiring the altruistic death streak in Young Robin and the rebellious father-hating streak in Young Gizzy. And of course the freaked Young Robin just HAS to bitch about living with a leper's family which, of course, kills off any friendship between him and Gizzy a hell of a lot more effectively than the Arrow Incident.

Malcolm and "Gilane" (seriously, coudln't they have proper introductions so I could get their names?) are bushwhacked by the Bailiff down a dark alley as he gloats about his general evilness and how intends to blackmail them into giving him lands and title and all the usual bollocks medieval peasants dream of. But Malcolm has a cunning plan: a shotgun wedding which will ruin the Bailiff's plans. As Gilane notes, this is kind of insensitive to her kids, who only lost their father five minutes previously.

But if you think THAT could mess Gizzy up further, what about when he discovers that Gilane is secretly nipping off to a leper colony and supplying Rojet with food while all the time ordering him to forget his father. These conflicting messages predictably screw up our Gothic Guy even more! Well, upon confronting his mum in the middle of the forests causes her to go into premature labor (something Gizzy of today smacks himself on the forehead for not twigging at the time, assuming it was a heart attack or somesuch), but somehow this premature baby (which looks disturbingly full grown and healthy) has a distinctive birthmark and is given the name of "Archer" by his proud mum. And on a dark and stormy night, the "fake orphan" plot comes into play.

Young Gizzy sneaks into the leper colony and tries to get his dad to stop the wedding, and being something of a naive jerk doesn't get the complicated business of love and assumes his father is a weak spineless dog that never really loved them. (It strikes me, then, that all of Vasey's gags about Gizzy fancying "lepers" were actually incredibly hurtful - but did the Sheriff know that at the time?) But, shamed into action, Rojet lumbers zombie-like back to Loxley to interrupt the ceremony. And, while shooting things with arrows, Young Robin spots him and warns the village. Which allows the Bailiff to whip up another rent-a-mob, would you believe?

Malcolm tracks Rojet down to the manor house but Young Gizzy is waiting for him and, gripped with righteous rage (and completely unaware Malcolm is trying to save Rojet from a lynching-or-whatever-they-do-to-lepers), snatches up a burning torch and tries to kill his prospective stepfather. In the course of this, the house predictably catches fire (meaning that burning Marion's house probably had huge Freudian implications for Guy in Sisterhood). Young Gizzy and Young Izzy flee while Malcolm rushes upstairs to find Rojet and Gilane in a romantic pose. Thanks to Young Gizzy's winding everyone up, he's managed to create a three way fight in the love triangle, with everyone convinced the other has betrayed them.

Even though the fucking house is on fire, the blokes insist on a swordfight and Gilane refuses to leave without them. Outside, the Bailiff and the mob assume that Malcolm has deliberately set fire to the manor house so as to purge it from disease and despite Young Gizzy's screams, the mob add their burning torches to the fire. Reverend Redshirt stopped Young Robin from diving into the flames to help his dad, but Young Gizzy remained where he was out of sheer pyrophobia.

With the house burnt to the ground, the Bailiff cruelly tells everyone that Young Gizzy was to blame for all the death and exiles them from the village. With Young Izzy in tow, Young Gizzy tries to return to France (but end up so utterly penniless and desperate, Gizzy ultimately sold her to Thornton in the belief it'd be better than staying with him). The Bailiff intends to take over Loxley and tells Young Robin to piss off as well, while "We shall start as we mean to go on: tax collection!"

In a truly strange sequence (which I simply MUST assume is a reference to The Time Monster or throw up at how cheesy it is), the shattered Young Robin flees to his mother's grave, unsure what to do when he hears the Responsibility Talk from his dad in his mind and suddenly -WHAM!- everyone is in glorious technicolour (having been increasingly monochrome throughout the episode). Snatching up his Saracen Bow, Young Robin charges back into Loxley as the Bailiff's... um, bailiffs... begin to trash the town. As he is the legal ruler of the town and everyone hates the Bailiff's guts, Robin takes over to cheers and funy stuff. (While, of course, his home smoulders nearby...)

But the Hooded Man reveals that there was no real point blaming themselves. By the time the Bailiff added to the flames, Gilane was dead (in a predictable tragedy like this I'm sure you can guess how). But how does he know this? Because the Hooded Man is NOT the Bailiff, but Malcolm himself who survived the fire, but was so badly burnt and scorched (his vocal chords transformed into those of O'Toole too, presumably, since it's clearly being dubbed on), and thoroughly aware of what an asshole he'd been, he fled and allowed everyone to think he was dead. The revelation that his dad abanonded him pisses off Robin far more than Gizzy's repeated attempts to murder him throughout the episodes. But the revelationt that Gizzy wasn't solely responsible for his parents' deaths blows his mind in a completely different way

The dying Malcolm insists that the two need to forgive each other after their lives of blaming each other for their parent's mistakes - but as Robin points out, they have plenty of new reasons to hate each other. Gizzy reveals that he has been trying to make amends for killing Marion and indeed he was the one that slaughtered Vasey (a fact Robin at least has been ignorant of all the time). Malcolm explains that he needs them to save their brother Archer, who is to hang in York prison very soon.

Robin and Gizzy aren't a 100% prepared to do this, or even work with each other... so Malcolm blow-darts them unconscious again and leaves them to work out what the hell to do now. He's a bit mental nowadays, did that come across at all?

The duo awake later that day, but Gizzy is now so utterly sick of this touchy-feely wishy-washy show-your-emotions bollocks (and, be fair, so are probably most of the audience), he's willing to help out on the mission as long as they just shut the hell up!!

"Guisborne has chosen to join us in our struggles, John."
Didn't I predict that? Didn't I? I so did! The Merry Men head for York to save Robin's long-lost brother, but Sheriff Izzy is on their trail - the Sherrif of York is waiting for them with a very unpleasant surprise. Will they all make it out of this one? And just where are Much and Kate? Hmm?


Jared Hansen said...

Sounds like a very, erm, interesting episode. Solidifies the re-writing of the series and, to an extent, I guess it explains why exactly Guisbourne has a claimant to Locksley and thus a reason for the Sherrif to use him in his plans even when he doesn't really like him.

As for the 'Hood' I assumed that it was a epithet he was given as a name, but now you mention it I think it was actually used as the character's name a couple of times in the first season.

What I'm really hanging out for is Vasey's return from the dead... although I'm suspecting that was just a big tease..

Youth of Australia said...

What I'm really hanging out for is Vasey's return from the dead... although I'm suspecting that was just a big tease..
I fear that too.

Much as I'd love KA to return, I just can't see how. I mean, Vasey's faked his death before (quite a few times actually) but it doesn't work. The only person he could try to be fooling is Gizzy, which makes little sense as

a) He could have simply killed Gizzy there and then
b) Gizzy would have checked for any kind of trickery

So the only person who could be fooled is the person who NEEDS to be in on the conspiracy. And in either case, Vasey would become "a non person" and probably flee the country and never come back, so he might as WELL be dead.

Hopefully next week will blow my brain as Vasey comes back from the dead with absolutely no explanation bar, "Oh my dear Guizborne, you HAVE been niave!!!"

Or somesuch.

Meantime, check this dude Ingemar out for an award winning "Um, OK, thanks for sharing..." out of left fieldness.

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

The only person he could try to be fooling is Gizzy, which makes little sense as

I actually assumed that he wanted PJ to think that he was dead, so he could lie low until the madness had died down.

Hopefully next week will blow my brain as Vasey comes back from the dead with absolutely no explanation bar, "Oh my dear Guizborne, you HAVE been niave!!!"

That's definitely what I'm hoping for.

Youth of Australia said...

I actually assumed that he wanted PJ to think that he was dead, so he could lie low until the madness had died down.
It still makes his plan to fake his death ridiculously haphazard, as it's only a fluke Gizzy has the convenient knife in his leg at the time. And why come up with such a death scene if no one sees it?

That's definitely what I'm hoping for.
He'll probably even peel off a plastic facemask like his sister did...

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Well, Guisbourne as well then. I think he wants EVERYONE to think he's dead. For some reason. He's a bloody nutter!

Youth of Australia said...

It still seems to rely on too many random factors. The one thing we KNOW is Gizzy isn't in on the scheme and genuinely wants the bastard dead.

So HOW did Vasey ensure that, for example, the following didn't happen:

Vasey: Argh! Don't trust him, Guizborne! Argh!
Gizzy: Oh well, I need his false tooth to prove he's dead. Hang on, you're still breathing?!
(Gizzy kills him properly)

And if Vasey wanted to be thought dead, why didn't he fake his death earlier in the episode when it looked like he'd been caught in the fire?

Seriously though, it's the tooth that ruins any conspiracy theory, as without it we could say Gizzy was so wasted on adrenaline and pain he didn't bother to check for vital signs. But are we supposed to think that Gizzy was able to remove a tooth from a living man and not notice? Only if he was somehow helping the Sheriff to flee, and that wouldn't make any sense.

Unless Vasey doped himself up with that Saracen death potion or something... but it's still pushing things.

To be brutally honest, I wouldn't be surprised if Vasey never appeared again. Mind you, that's what I said about Servalan...