Series Title: Robin Hood (IMDb)
Episode: 1.04 “Parent Hood”
Original Air Date: October 28, 2006
Length: 45 minutes
Director: Richard Standeven
Writer: Paul Cornell
Lead Actors: Jonas Armstrong (Robin), William Beck (Royston White), Richard Armitage (Guy of Gisborne), Keith Allen (Sheriff of Nottingham), Gordon Kennedy (Little John)
Synopsis: “Roy is captured and the results may be dire for Locksley; at Nottingham, Marian pays a price for her outspokenness.” (IMDb)
Recommendation: Another strong episode.
Key Thoughts (with a big SPOILER this time)
Marian: [Robin is sending food over walls attached to arrows] That is a waste of arrows!
Robin Hood: No!
Marian: You could simply throw the food.
Robin Hood: We could. But where would be the fun in that?
This episode focuses on Royston White, the more aggressive and bullying of the outlaws, who gets captured by the Sheriff’s men. He was the de facto leader of the group before Robin came and has an especially strong relationship with Little John. Much disliked him because of his boisterous, mocking nature, but this episode does a lot to make him more likable. Right before killing him off.
Oh, the outlaws do mount a rescue attempt, certainly. But as they fight their way through the courtyard, Roy ends up having to sacrifice himself to buy the others’ time to escape. We see half a dozen soldiers back Roy against a wall and hack him down—it’s a bit intense for a family show, even though it is filmed from behind the soldiers and you never see the weapons actually hit him.
Another plot thread involves the outlaws finding an abandoned infant in the forest. After some moral prodding from Robin, they agree to find a way to return it to its mother. This leads to some amusing dialogue, like Will Scarlet wondering if they should just give the baby boy a little bow and quiver if he’s going to pal around with them.
The third plot thread involves Marian getting into trouble for not being subtle enough in her opposition of the Sheriff. Seemingly disregarding the privileges of nobles, the Sheriff decides that for the rule of law to be preserved, he must make a public example of her. Her punishment is to have her beautiful long hair cut to a conveniently modern-looking shoulder length.
A few aspects about this part struck me as odd. I may be mistaken, but I don’t think a sheriff of that time would have had the authority to punish someone of noble blood without direct authorization from the king (or in this case, the as-yet unseen Prince John). Also, I can’t believe that the other nobles in the area (whom we rarely see, but were present in Episode 1) would allow one of their own to be so humiliated like that. Nobles tended to stick up for their own rights and privileges, and to not show proper respect for one could be a serious offense. Additionally, Marian’s father makes no protest at all, despite being very wide-eyed and fearful all through the proceedings. As a respected noble and former sheriff himself, I’d think he would have at least some influence in such a serious matter.
As another side note, I don’t like how Robin quotes from the Qur’an instead of the Bible. Presumably this is to show his cultural sensitivity (and to set up Episode 5). However, it comes across as the show going out of its way to de-Christianize the medieval Christian setting as much as possible to make it palatable for a modern liberal audience.
Now for my…
Obligatory Marian rant
When Robin saves Marian from some harassing guards, he asks roguishly “Having some trouble?” And she replies arrogantly and disdainfully with “Nothing I couldn’t handle myself, thank you.” Really mature, Marian. Not only are you lying in a desperate attempt to preserve the illusion of your own superiority, but you are incapable of showing gratitude when someone does you a good turn.
Later, Robin asks Marian if she can take the abandoned baby to Knighton, where its mother is supposed to be, and her instant retort is “Because I’m a woman?” all defensive-like. YES, Marian, because you are a woman. Women give birth and are generally better at nurturing babies than men are. Yes, you, Marian, because Robin and his men are hunted outlaws in the greenwood and can’t take care of an infant, whereas you, respectable woman that you are, can easily make sure the baby stays safe and well-fed and gets returned to his parents. If you want the moral high ground, do not act as though your anachronistic and inappropriate faux-feminism is more important to you than a baby’s life.
Then when Robin says he has to leave, for his safety (they are in a village), she wryly calls it “the call of the wild.” Robin immediately calls her out on this, asking why everything she says is a criticism. Her excuse? “I do not know. I suppose these are the lives we have chosen. Always different directions.” She thinks that she is being “careful” and therefore stands a better chance of fighting the Sheriff; that is, without ever directly confronting him. Robin is quick to point out her hypocrisy (and a few times where she has acted more boldly like him, in contradiction to her own stated views). The show does acknowledge her rudeness, but not its inappropriateness.
Overall, though, it’s another strong episode. Roy’s death has enough gravity to work, and the episode still manages to end on an upbeat, even funny, note. Solid entertainment.