After what's felt like years, the third series of Robin Hood is rumbling toward its conclusion. In an effort to go out with a bang, this episode throws a lot of ideas into forty-five minutes and, as usual, comes up short. Still, it's nice to see them try.
The episode begins with Robin and the Merry Men (plus Guy) ambushing Isabella's messenger and discovering that she intends to provide Prince John with three hundred men to fight against a returning King Richard. Little John and Much report that two villages have already been visited by the Sheriff's men and the menfolk taken away, along with crops and livestock. Now I can understand someone with a modern viewpoint being disgusted with this but this is what's called a peasant levy. Lords had the right to recruit their peasants into their army in times of war, so really Isabella isn't doing anything wrong here (providing she doesn't keep them in her army for more than a couple of months.) Still, Robin and co are modern outlaws with modern outlooks and decide to save the remaining village from conscription. There's some heroic fighting as Hungarian guards are quickly killed and Little John gets to show off his strength while shouting "Raaarrrggghhh!" The Sheriff's men quickly retreat back to Nottingham.
Poochie the Rapping Hound (or Archer as the show calls him) arrives in Nottingham and heads to the castle. Isabella meanwhile continues her descent into cartoon villainy by constantly sneering and berating her staff. She has a new second in command, a man who really needs to have a drink or a throat lozenge or take up a career as a cinema trailer voiceover man, Blamire. He reports that Robin prevented the latest levy and then introduces Archer to Isabella. Blamire recognises Archer and recaps the last episode for the audience. Isabella tries to have Archer carted off to the dungeons but Archer tells her that he is her brother. Isabella doesn't believe it though because her mum was Big Suze from Peep Show and therefore perfect. Archer offers his exotic killing skills but Isabella wisely sees through his bluster and orders him taken away. Archer then immediately kills the two guards transporting him to the dungeon and legs it.
Back in the forest Tuck is fed up of looking after the spookily silent peasant men. He wants them to stand up for themselves and fight the Sheriff alongside the Merry Men. Robin doesn't believe they can do it because he's been helping them for three series and none of them have got off their ass and helped in that time.
Isabella has formulated a cunning plan and summons Kate's mum. Isabella gives Kate's mum orders to plant a necklace on Robin so she can split up Robin and Kate. The reward for doing this is a free trip to Doncaster. I'd prefer money. Kate's mum resists at first but Isabella acts a bit crazy ("Hell is coming Rebbecca! Hahahahaha!") so she agrees.
Kate visits her mum and mum presents one half of the necklace to Kate and tells her that Robin still loves Isabella. She encourages Kate to check Robin's possessions to discover the truth. She then really suspiciously hugs Robin (despite spending all of her previous appearances moaning at him) and plants the other half on him.
So the tedious necklace plot continues as one half falls out of Robin's bags and is recognised by Guy as belonging to his sister. Tuck and Robin accuse Guy of being up to something but he sensibly points out that he wouldn't have told them what the necklace was if he was planning something, dumbasses.
Archer visits The Trip Inn where he meets with a seedy man who deals in information. The seedy man tells Archer about an escape tunnel dug deep beneath the castle by Guy and some unfortunate (and deceased) labourers. At the same time as this, Guy informs Robin and the gang about the tunnel. Robin has decided to take the castle by force and hold it until King Richard arrives. I can see a slight flaw in trying to hold a castle with a gang of seven but I'm sure they will think of something.
Kate doesn't like the plan because it includes Guy who she still hasn't forgiven for killing her brother. Get over it Kate; Guy killed Robin's wife and you don't see him moaning about it. Well apart from that one time he tried to kill Guy but Guy went all nihilistic on him, which freaked him out enough to let Guy live. Apart from that Robin has barely moaned at all, in fact he's had two women this series and is probably trying to remember the previous girl's name, Mavis, Molly, Miranda...? Anyway, Robin puts his foot down and divides everyone up into tasks including asking the men to melt down money to make arrowheads. That's an unusual task considering that the Merry Men shouldn't really have that kind of money just lying around, and also because they could use the money to buy arrowheads. The men run off to enact the plan while Kate discovers the necklace and sobs. Boo hoo, the man you've forced into a relationship may still like the girl he was actually interested in.
Isabella tells Blamire to inform everyone that Allan A Dale has been pardoned. Then she laughs evilly, just to really ram home that she enjoys her new villainous outlook on life. Archer uses the secret tunnel to break into the castle and meet up with Isabella, he tells her all about the tunnel and guesses that Robin will probably use it to break into the castle (it's convenient that they haven't done it yet, isn't it?) Archer then offers to build a deathtrap to kill Robin and Guy in the tunnels. Wow, Archer is really coming across well here seeing as he's offering to murder the men who saved his life last episode.
The Merry Men hear the about the pardoning of Allan and leap to the conclusion that he's betrayed them again (last series he was Guy's informant). Little John does his usual stomping and shouting, forgetting that Allan single handedly saved him from capture last episode. No one will back Allan up so they decide to tie him up and leave him behind in the camp. This would be a more convincing scene if Allan had had to earn acceptance back into the gang or remained under suspicion for a few episodes this series. Once again we have an unconvincing character moment because the plot demands it.
Meanwhile Robin, Tuck, Guy and Little John split up to enact their plan. There's some hugging and firm handshaking as the men go their separate ways, believing that they may not see each other again. No hugging for Guy though, look at his little face:
Tuck attempts to rouse the peasants into helping him and Little John stop the supply train but the silent peasants merely stare impassively. Little John reminds Tuck that dying horribly in a stupid fashion is the Merry Men's job and leads Tuck away.
Archer completes his work on the deathtrap (conveniently just in time to stop Robin and Guy even though it showed a scene of Archer forging metal parts for the trap, which I assume had plenty of time to cool) and takes his payment from Isabella. She then tells Archer that she'll kill him if she sees him again. There's gratitude, she's also just banished the fastest blacksmith in the world!
Kate meets up with her mum to start a new life in Doncaster but her mum admits that it was a joke all along and Robin doesn't love Isabella. Hahahaha! Kate is glad because now she can continue her forced romance.
Robin, Much and Guy walk into Archer's speedily constructed trap. It's a pit that fills with limestone pebbles and as it was constructed by Archer, is probably the most deadly trap the show has ever seen. Much accuses Guy of leading them into a trap but Guy points out that he wouldn't be stupid enough to be caught in his own trap. I guess Much is dumb this week then.
Allan escapes his bonds and runs off into the forest moaning about his mistreatment (he has a point), he then encounters some guards and swiftly kills them. "It can't be" he says looking off screen. Hmmm... do you think he's seen someone he recognises. Someone dead? Either that or he's seen a good script.
Tuck and Little John reach the gates of the castle and prepare to stop the supply train heading for Prince John's troops. As they stand there, with no plan, the silent peasants arrive holding flaming torches and pitchforks. Tuck's shouting worked! Tuck encourages the peasants to sit down in front of the wagons as he watched Gandhi last week and wants to give passive resistance a try.
Meanwhile, someone has recently watched Fellowship of the Ring and thought it was cool when Boromir was shot by arrows and killed (I have to admit that it was actually) and decide to have Allan suffer the same fate. You can tell he's going to die because there's sad music, slow motion, and Allan's cries are dragged out and distorted, "Arrrrgggghhhhhhhhh!" Allan crawls away but is cut off by someone, he looks up and says, "You!" If you don't know who this is by now then you really haven't been paying attention.
Robin and co continue to drown in "limestone" (which doesn't look likely considering they're happily standing under the deluge without going, "Ow! Shit! Ow! That really hurts!").
Tuck's passive resistance seems to work until Isabella gets bored and shoots Tuck with a crossbow. Kate appears in angry mode as she doesn't like being tricked into thinking the object of her affection loves someone else. She offers herself up to be killed by a nameless guard as Isabella orders him to kill her but Archer intervenes by throwing a SHURIKEN into the guard's back. A SHURIKEN. A SHURIKEN. A shuriken. A shuriken... I think I just travelled back in time to the late 80s/early 90s. I also notice that Archer has a katana sheathed on his back - WOW HE IS JUST LIKE A NINJA. Like Michael Dudikoff. So Archer has completely reversed his opinion and decided not to let everyone die after seeing Tuck get shot. Wow, Archer's characterisation is really consistent.
The passive resistance goes out of the window as Archer kills a few guards and a brawl ensues. During the melee Archer remembers that he's probably killed Robin and has Kate help him deactivate his deathtrap. Robin and co fall out of the trap; Robin is seemingly dead but brought back to life by Kate's advanced knowledge of CPR FROM THE FUTURE. Really show? Really? Much is dead too but Archer has a potion of Cure Critical Wounds and brings him back from the brink. Guy is fine. Yep really, Guy's just okay, drowning in limestone is no problem for the Amritage. Kate tells Robin all about Isabella's evil mind games and Robin realises that he tied up Allan by mistake. Bit late for that Robin.
Isabella commands Blamire to protect her from the peasants but he serves a new master now and leaves her to die. Then Kate confronts Isabella alone and IT IS ON.
There's some scrapping and Kate eventually wins when the rest of the gang turn up to corner Isabella and clap her in irons. Robin then declares that Isabella is a traitor and that the castle now belongs to the people of Nottingham. Communist. Much interrupts the cheering to show Robin and co a rolled up old carpet on the drawbridge. Oh, wait a minute, it's Allan inside. He's probably going to say something cheeky in a minute and make everyone laugh. Allan?
Hey, who removed the arrows from his back?
The gang looked sad because well, basically they got him killed by acting like douches. Plus Allan's death wasn't even a noble or dignified one as he died in vain, alone and unable to help anyone with the information he had. The gang then run back into the castle because a small army starts to form outside the walls.
The leader of this army?
Well none other than Sheriff Vasey.
NEXT EPISODE: The castle siege that I thought was going to be in this episode but wasn't. Who will live? Who will die? Who will escape the show?