Robot of Sherwood

robot-of-sherwood

Synopsis

The Doctor asks Clara to choose a place, anywhere in time and space, she wants to know and is caught by surprise when she tells him she wants to meet Robin Hood. “There is no Robin Hood”, claims a skeptical Doctor, amused that Clara can believe in the existence of such a romantic hero, someone who according to him, can only exist in story books. But Clara’s answer can clearly explain why she is capable of believe in heroes: “You stop bad things happening every minute of every day. That sounds pretty heroic to me.”

The Doctor then programs the TARDIS to go to the Medieval England and the intrepid blue cabin lands in the middle of Sherwood Forest. The grumpy Doctor jumps out determined to prove that Robin Hood (Tom Riley) is nothing more that a legend but is received by the legend himself, that hit the TARDIS with his trademark, a well-aimed arrow.

Clara almost can’t contain herself at the sight of her hero before her eyes, but the doctor is not willing to believe so easily that the man standing there is actually Robin Hood. Robin Hood, however, is more interested in “rid” the Doctor of the weight of his blue cabin and the two end up dueling over a narrow bridge. Robin Hood using a sword and the Doctor … using a spoon (this is probably the first duel in TV history between a swordsman and a… “spoonsman”). The Doctor proves to be very skilled (err..) spoonsman and defeat Robin throwing him in the water. When he thinks he has won the battle, Robin Hood surprise him coming from nowhere to also throw him into the creek.

Robin then takes them to meet his outlaw friend and the Doctor proceeds determined to prove that they aren’t real, pulling strands of hair and blood samples to check in his sonic screwdriver, without success.

Even knowing it is a Sheriff Notthingham’s (Ben Miller) trap to imprison him, Robin Hood, his friends, the Doctor and Clara go to a tournament to choose who is the best archer in the county. The dispute is won by Robin Hood, but the Doctor ends up interfering firing a well-aimed arrow that parts in two Robin’s arrow seconds before him could receive his award. The two end up dueling once more, under the astonished eyes of the crowd, until the angry Doctor destroys the targets with a shot of his sonic screwdriver. The sheriff orders his soldiers to imprison them but the Doctor and Robin’s resistance ultimately prove that the metal soldiers are actually huge robots that end up locking up Robin, Clara and the Doctor in the Sheriff’s dungeon.

Unable to agree on anything, the Doctor and Robin Hood go on arguing what makes Clara loses her patience with them. But none of them is able to come up with a plan to free them and the two men see Clara be taken away for a meeting with the Sheriff, who want to extract information from her. But Clara manages to outsmart the Sheriff and discovers that the Robots’ ship had fallen there sometime ago, broken, and the Sheriff had teamed up to them to give them the necessary gold to repair their ship only to use the ship to overthrow the King of England.

The Doctor and Robin manage to escape the dungeon and find the central control room of the Robots’ ship, hidden inside the castle. Here the Doctor makes an important discovery, which has direct connection to the first episode (Deep Breath): the Robots are also looking for the Promised Land. He also discovers that the ship is far from being repaired and if it take off in this state it may explode destroying the entire planet. The Sheriff and his Robots soldiers find them, but Robin Hood manages to escape, taking Clara with him. Alone and without his sonic screwdriver, the Doctor is trapped again by the Sheriff that leads him to the dungeons where the locals were enslaved and work to get the gold needed to repair the ship. The Doctor awakens handcuffed next to a young woman who we will later discover to be Marion, Robin Hood’s beloved one.

She helps him to get rid of the shackles and together they manage to defeat one of Robots using a metal tray to rebut the laser shot he fires. Using the same technique and with the help of other trapped humans, the evil robots are defeated and humans freed, leaving the Doctor alone and again at the mercy of the Sheriff and his robots.

Like any good hero, Robin Hood reappears, bringing Clara with him to save the Doctor. He duels with the Sheriff and, proving to be a quick learner, he uses the same trick the Doctor had used to bring him down in the creek to defeat the Sheriff, causing the evil man to fall into a cauldron of molten gold.

The castle and the grounds shake and then everyone runs out, just to watch amazed the alien ship appearing from behind the castle walls. The Doctor knows that the ship will explode because it had not been stocked with enough gold. The only chance they have is to use the golden arrow, the Sheriff of Nottingham’s tournament prize which Robin’s men managed to steal during the confusion. But Robin is injured and the Doctor reveals that he had cheated in the tournament and did not know how to shoot an arrow.

Clara and the Doctor unite to help Robin shooting the straight arrow, fooling the ship’s sensors and give the ship boost to put it far enough from Earth’s atmosphere that its explosion does not cause any damage.

The episode ends with a lull in the bantering between Robin Hood and the Doctor, who gives a gift to the first: when the Tardis dematerialized, the smiling figure of Marion arises.

Review

In the third episodes of the new series, “Robot of Sherwood”, the Doctor takes Clara to medieval England, inside the Sherwood Forest to prove her that Robin Hood (Tom Riley) is nothing more than a legend. What he does not expect is to be received by the legend himself, that hit the TARDIS with his trademark, a well-aimed arrow. After Clara leaves the TARDIS appropriately dressed and has her fangirl moment, the Doctor and Robin Hood duel over a narrow bridge and this is probably the first duel in history between a swordsman and a… “spoonman”.

doctor-who-series-8-robot-of-sherwood (12)

The duel ends with two very wet heroes and after that, Robin takes Clara and the Doctor to meet his merry band of outlaws friends. Incidentally, every laugh finds a counterpoint in the Doctor’s bad mood, and he is increasingly convinced that they can’t be real. After all, nobody can laugh like that all the time.

Robin participates in a tournament sponsored by the dreaded Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Miller), even though he knows it is a trap to arrest him. When the Doctor cheat and force his victory in the tournament splitting in two Robin Hood’s arrow, he stokes the rivalry between the two of them until the Doctor explodes the targets using his sonic screwdriver. This thoughtless act reveals that the Sheriff had teamed up with a bunch of alien robots and now enslaves the locals to work in his dungeon to produce the gold needed to repair their ship, the only obstacle to the Sheriff’s plan of domination of the realm. Even trapped in the dungeons, the Doctor and Robin Hood don’t leave aside their rivalry, causing Clara to lose her patience with them in one of the funniest moments of the episode. And then, with fights, chases, explosions and a good dose of humor, Clara, the Doctor, Robin Hood and his friends manage to prevent further tragedy and save the day.

doctor-who-series-8-robot-of-sherwood (21)And then we say: finally! All the adventure and fun that had been promised in the trailers and teasers came to real through this episode. And all this thanks to the dynamic and humorous lines from the brilliant Mark Gatiss‘ script.

Although curiously this is the episode that most closely matches what we got used to see in Eleventh’s stories, “Robot of Sherwood” leaves no doubt how much Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is different from his predecessor. His acid sense of humor is a perfect match for his comical grumpy mood, brilliantly explored in this episode. Capaldi himself does a great job delivering his lines so naturally, taking advantage of his Scottish accent and his now very famous “attack eyebrows”.

Yet it is somewhat surprising face a skeptical and grumpy doctor who doubts the existence of romantic heroes such as Robin Hood.  Does he eventually grew old and stopped to be a lunatic and juvenile dreamer? Or is he just a man who needs to rescue his own identity and compensate the universe for all his actions during hundreds of years of time traveling? It is no secret that the Doctor has always had to live with his own regrets. But it seems that the darkness, for centuries hid inside his soul, is finally coming to light. And even when Clara questions his disbelief in heroes telling him how heroic he had been his entire life, the Doctor is unable to avoid a twinge of guilt.

doctor-who-series-8-robot-of-sherwood (3)“You stop bad things happening every minute of every day. That sounds pretty heroic to me,” Clara tells him without seeing the look of discomfort stamped at his face (and here comes the first mystery of this episode: what was the Doctor eating with a spoon?

Anyway, this episode’s spirit was very clear from the beginning and all the bantering between the Doctor and Robin Hood had created some epic moments. My favorites are the ones inside the dungeon, when Robin’s reckless optimism conflicts direct with the new Doctor’s dark sarcasm. But who really wins this scene is in the biting lip of Clara Oswald showing that she had already reached her limit.

Missy did not show up this time, although the “Promise Land” was mentioned, which can only mean that the two are actually linked and that this is the mystery to be solved this season. Of course there are several theories about who or what is Missy. But that is a topic for another post!

Cast

Peter CapaldiThe Doctor
Jenna ColemanClara Oswald
Tom RileyRobin Hood
Ben MillerSheriff of Notthingham
Sabrina BartlettMarian (Quayle daughter's)
Roger Ashton-GriffithsQuayle
Ian Hallard Alan-a-Dale
Trevor CooperFriar Tuck
Rusty GoffeLittle John
Joseph KennedyWill Scarlet
Adam Jones Walter

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