The ambitious Prince John returns to Nottingham with the aim of having Robin, Gisborne or indeed the Sherrif executed by the time he leaves. Meantime, Utterly Useless Kate, manages to get herself stabbed in an ambush, but is tended to by the Prince’s personal physician who can’t stand his master.
As part of his tour of picturesque Locksley village, Prince John torches the church, with most of the villagers inside at a wedding. This does not endear him to Isabella, who immediately sides with Robin, helping the villagers to tackle the fire. Later, she helps Robin to set Utterly Useless Kate up with something that looks like the disease Scruffula, which only the king can cure.
Naturally, the Prince falls for the ruse and is humiliated when his touch fails to cure the disease. Sadly, the whole thing falls into a hammily acted farce at this point, with a single arrow from Robin landing in the Prince’s chair and Isabella exclaiming with a dramatic gasp: “Oh no! It can’t be!“
A more convincing scene is playing out on the battlements as Gisborne and the Sherrif try to kill each other to please the Prince. After a frankly comic set of near misses at Locksley, this is a more serious fight between the two. Gisborne gets a dagger embedded in his leg, and is clinging for his life from the castle wall when he gets the better of Keith Allen’s character.
If tonight’s episode was Keith Allen’s exit point from the series (he doesn’t seem to be in the next episode), we could have done without the twitching finger to indicate he might still be alive.
My biggest bone of contention was Prince John: Toby Stephens’ portrayal was the most camp and childish I’ve seen this side of Queen Elizabeth in Blackadder. “Do you love me?” was his annoyingly constant refrain, indicating some childhood emotional scarring. However absurd the character was, he at least he sparked some decent action.
Hot woman of the night was the yummy Isabella, Gisborne’s pretty younger sister, who wasted no time in getting into Robin’s tights. She must be so embarrassed about Guy’s overuse of eyeliner and general ‘medieval emo’ look. Or is that mediemo?
On the other hand, Utterly Useless Kate is clearly a bit of skirt drafted in to satisfy the Equal Opportunities policy of the Merry Men. Tonight, to give her something to do, the scriptwriters get her stabbed and then give her a scabby disease. Couple of weeks from now she’ll have caught swine flu…
Tonight’s the night though – six episodes in for both Robin Hood and Primeval – and I want to compare the two shows at this point. More on that later.