In the beginning of Robot Of Sherwood, 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 believes in the existence of such a romantic hero, someone who according to him, can only exist in story books. But Clara’s answer clearly explains her belief in such heroes: “You stop bad things happening every minute of every day. That sounds pretty heroic to me.”
The Doctor programs the TARDIS to go to the Medieval England and the blue ship 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, who hits the TARDIS with his trademark, a well-aimed arrow.
Clara almost can’t contain herself at the sight of her hero, 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 fights with a sword and the Doctor… Well, The Doctor fights with a spoon, of course. This is probably the first duel in TV history between a swordsman and a “spoonsman” (please, allow me this little pun).
The Doctor proves to be a very skilled (err..) spoonsman and defeats Robin throwing him in the water. When he thinks he has won the battle, Robin Hood surprises him and, coming from nowhere, he also throws the Time Lord into the creek.
Robin then takes them to meet his outlaws friend and the Doctor, determined to prove that none of them is real, start to examine them, pulling strands of hair and taking blood samples to check with his sonic screwdriver. But to his disappointment, he has no success.
Even knowing it is a trap created by the Sheriff Notthingham (Ben Miller), Robin Hood, his friends, the Doctor and Clara go to a tournament which will choose the best archer in the county. The dispute is obviously won by Robin Hood. But the Doctor interferes, with an arrow at the bulls-eye, that breaks in two one of Robin’s just a few seconds before the Sheriff is about to give him his prize.
And this can only mean that Robin and the Doctor start to compete against each other, because none of them is willing to lose. Until the Doctor, losing his temper, destroys all the targets with a shot of his sonic. The Sheriff finally has his winner and orders his soldiers to imprison then all. But Robin and The Doctor resistance end up revealing the true nature of the Sheriff’s men. They are actually huge metal robots, who capture Clara, the Doctor and Robin to lock them in the dungeons.
Unable to agree on anything, the Doctor and Robin Hood keep arguing, making Clara loose her temper with them. But none of them is able to come up with a plan to free them and the two men watch when Clara is taken away for a meeting with the Sheriff.
But Clara Oswald manages to outsmart the Sheriff while he tries to obtain any information from her, and finds out the Robots came into a ship that had crashed on Earth long time ago. The Sheriff has teamed up with these creatures to help them find the gold they need to repair their ship, but his plans are none selfless. He needs the ship and the army to overthrow the King of England.
While Clara is with the Sheriff, Robin and the Doctor manage to escape the dungeon. They find a strange metal door in the middle of the castle, they soon find out leads to a control room inside the Robot’s ship. Here is where the Doctor makes an important discovery, directly connected with the first episode (Deep Breath): the Robots are also looking for the Promised Land. The Doctor also finds out the ship is far from being repaired and if they try to fly her in her current state, she may explode, destroying the entire planet.
The Sheriff and his Robots soldiers come to find them, but Robin Hood manages to escape, taking Clara with him. Alone and without his sonic screwdriver, the Doctor is trapped again. This time the Sheriff takes him to the dungeons, where the locals are enslaved and work to get the gold needed to repair the ship. After sometime, The Doctor awakens and he is handcuffed next to a young woman who we will later discover to be Marion, Robin Hood’s beloved one.
Marion helps him to get rid of the shackles. 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 people trapped there, the evil robots are defeated and all the humans freed, leaving the Doctor alone but once more at the mercy of the Sheriff and his personal army.
Like any good hero, Robin Hood comes back to save the Doctor, bringing Clara with him. He fights 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 astonished watch the alien ship emerging 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 properly shoot an arrow.
Clara and the Doctor join their forced then to help Robin to shoot an straight arrow, fooling the ship’s sensors and giving the ship a boost hard enough to put it far from Earth’s atmosphere, so the explosion won’t 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 dematerialised, the smiling figure of Marion surges from behind it.
In the third episode of the eighth 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”.
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.
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.
“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!
|Peter Capaldi||The Doctor|
|Jenna Coleman||Clara Oswald|
|Tom Riley||Robin Hood|
|Ben Miller||Sheriff of Notthingham|
|Sabrina Bartlett||Marian (Quayle daughter's)|
|Trevor Cooper||Friar Tuck|
|Rusty Goffe||Little John|
|Joseph Kennedy||Will Scarlet|