Once a week, we have an unapologetic Doctor Who geek-out here to discuss the latest episode. I’ve just finished watching the third episode of the 8th season of the rebooted Doctor Who called Robots of Sherwood. Fair warning now: this is not a summary, just an off-the-top response, and it does contain spoilers. Of course it does – we have to talk about this stuff! So let’s begin, Whovians…
I enjoyed this episode more than last week’s Into the Dalek but I think I was ready for a good, fun, family-friendly romp. This was more classic Who, perhaps. It was absolutely nuts, a bit tongue-in-cheek, and I loved it for those very things.
Of course, now that I’m sitting down to write about it, I’m experiencing the exact opposite of last week. Because I didn’t actually like last week’s episode Into the Dalek, but when I sat down to write, I found so much material to unpack, so many theories to explore, so much character development, and connections to the past that to discuss that my actual “liking” of the episode seemed inconsequential. Whereas this week, I thoroughly enjoyed the episode but now that I’m writing it out, I can see that it wasn’t that handy for exploring character development or theories or the overall series arc. It’s a good one to just watch and enjoy without having to connect a lot of dots for folks then. And that’s okay – a bit of fun is always welcome.
I thought this episode was just plain wonderful. The dynamic between Robin and the Doctor was lightening-fast and hilarious: “you appear to be a desiccated man-crone” coupled the Doctor’s frustration with the bantering and laughter. Their scenes in the prison were a delight.
I am really loving this new Doctor, I admit it. He seems so dour, suspicious, and reluctant – which ended up being comedic.
The spoon vs. sword fight was absolutely brilliant – so Nine had the banana, Ten had the 3-D glasses, Eleven had the Jammy Dodgers, now we can add a good thick tablespoon to our repertoire of weaponry.
This episode was so thoroughly in on the joke. It took all the classic Robin Hood elements – like the sword fight over a river, the archery contest, the peasant revolt, and so on but they gave them a bit of a manic Who-twist that they simply worked. When the Doctor wins the contest with a homing device on the arrow to get captured, then blows up the target with the impatient remark that “this is getting silly” I laughed out loud. Of course, there was no major character development or revelations about him during this episode but meh. You can’t have everything in 45 minutes, eh?
Clara improves with every episode of this series. Her bravery, her spunk, her empathy and ability to connect with people is beautiful to behold. And speaking of beauty, who knew that the Doctor kept a lovely supply of hair extensions down in the wardrobe of the TARDIS, eh?
I loved the reveal with Maid Marian in this episode, too. Perhaps I’m Mrs. Thick Thick Thickity Thick Face from Thicktown Thickania (and so’s your dad) but I honestly never made the connection. So it was a pleasant surprise to me at the end to discover that the compassionate, resourceful, and brave peasant woman we had followed throughout the show turned out to be the love of Robin’s life. I’m not ashamed to admit it: I do love a happy ending.
I didn’t find The Threat of the show at all threatening, of course. Who could? The Robots were useless and not at all scary. I was a bit underwhelmed with the Sheriff, too – he was promising at the dinner table with Clara but his death scene left a lot of unanswered questions for me. But I dug around a bit and discovered that there was a scene cut of the episode – one of the Sheriff being beheaded (it was cut because the joke of it isn’t appropriate at this time with the terrible news out of Iraq). But apparently that left a bit of a plot hole – the Sheriff was, in fact, half-robot, half-man. Either way, who cared about that guy? We all knew how it ended.
The only connection to the arc of the series is the fact that these robots from the 29th century also have a damaged ship trying to find the Promised Land.
However, at the end of this episode/inevitable dying of someone, nobody met Missy. So we can surmise that nobody went to Heaven. Which lends credence to the idea that it’s only “good” people – or the ones who sacrifice themselves for the Doctor – who end up in Heaven.
All of which means I was dead wrong in the first episode and the Doctor did NOT push Half-Face Man out of the creepy-skin-balloon-thing (which I learned in our discussion was called “a skilloon” – which is even more shudder-inducing). I’d love to be wrong about that one.
Clara’s goodbye to Robin Hood: “Try to be safe, but always be amazing” was just beautiful. And then the Doctor’s farewell to Robin, their discussion of what is real and how maybe it’s better to just be a story instead of bearing the weight of history reminded me of my favourite moments with the Eleventh Doctor. I am an absolute sucker for the Doctor’s monologues and this felt like that kind of reflective pathos but as a dialogue with another mythic story.
I know, I know – maybe it’s sappy but like I said: happy endings, I dig them.
“May those stories never end,” Robin says. So say we all. (Kiss-kiss, BSG fans. I know you’re here, too.)
P.S. Anyone else notice Timothy Dalton (who played Time Lord Rassillon in the 10th Doctor era) and Second Doctor Patrick Troughton dressed up as Robin Hood in the pictures that the Doctor showed Robin of “the legend”? Love those little sly jokes.
Next week’s episode “Listen” looks bloody terrifying. And was that an older version of Danny Pink I spied in the old orange suit in the sneak peek? I HOPE SO.
Now let’s get to the good part – your responses! I’ve gotten us started, but let’s talk it out. Did you like the episode? Any insights or theories I’ve shamefully neglected?