Saturday, May 5, 2007

Robin Hood—Peace? Off!

In a rather strangely choreographed opening scene, an apparently crazy guy sets fire to the church. Robin intervenes as the villagers are trying to drown the mysterious stranger. The man has strange tattoos on his body. Djaq claims not to know what they mean, but kind of acts like she does. Robin says he has "Crusader's Sickness," presumably some kind of PTSD. The Merry Men aren't happy about having to look after him.

Robin, et al, find a tipped-over wagon in the woods. (I couldn't decide if the anachronistic language used here when they raved about the wagon was amusing or just painful.) There's a strange mask in it that freaks out Little John and the others, though Robin doesn't seemed bothered. They think it's some sort of black magic, and that there's a sorcerer at the castle.

In the castle, the sheriff entertains a Saracen guest with chilled monkey brains. I mean goat brain. He's the owner of the wagon. I'm not sure why a Middle Eastern type would have to have such weird stuff on the menu. I went to a Middle Eastern restaurant last weekend, and it was all hummus and baba ganouj. Not a goat brain in sight. Falafel must just be too boring for this show.

In any case, Robin eventually abducts him. Turns out he's a prince, coming to offer peace to King John. The "black magic" mask is an acupuncture tool he's brought as a peace offering. And the sheriff of course has no intention of entertaining peace negotiations. Rather, he intends to collect a ransom for the prince. But when another Saracen arrives to retrieve the prince, he has no intention of paying the ransom, and instead he has his own double cross in store. And Robin's traumatized guest proves to have a darker secret than even the other veterans of the Crusades could have imagined.

A few things: Was it just me, or was Guy's attempt to distract the Saracen "rescuer" awfully flirty? Also, the ending of this episode annoyed me. Harold was tortured and made to commit atrocities during the Crusades, apparently while receiving training to become the same kind of assassin as those sent to kill the prince. If he had the same training, then he was able to take out the four of them almost single-handedly why? Because he was a man and they were women? Or was his training supposed to be even darker and more sinister and thorough? Whatever the case, it didn't work for me.

On the other hand, I did like the fact that they've addressed the darker side of the Crusades, which in most Robin Hood stories is still represented as the great and righteous Holy War, or mostly treated as an off-screen plot device. I also like that they've presented the Saracens not only as human, but have also brought into the story some aspects of the greater scientific knowledge prevalent in the Middle East at that time. Although I'm not entirely sure they would have known much about acupuncture... I could be wrong there, though.