The Doctor Meets the Man Behind the Legend as the “Robot of Sherwood”

Photo: BBC
Photo: BBC

“Old fashioned heroes only exist in old fashioned stories.”

Over the years, Doctor Who have included many iconic figures into the show, and this week the awesome Mark Gatiss gave us and the Doctor our first meeting with the man in tights. The episode had a much lighter feel than the last two weeks, however don’t think there weren’t any breadcrumbs dropped as we have had in previous episodes. So let’s get ready to meet the “Robot of Sherwood”.

What you need to know:

  • The Doctor lets Clara choose their destination, and he is less than impressed when Clara asks to meet Robin Hood. He tells her that Robin Hood isn’t real, but she won’t believe him so the Doctor takes her to Sherwood Forest in 1190 and lo and behold who do we meet – that’s right Robin Hood, played by the dashing Tom Riley.
  • What would Robin Hood be without the classic fight on a log over the brook, however this time it is the Doctor that Robin Hood fights. Just to prove a point about how much he hates weapons of all types, he fights Robin with a spoon and he wins! Robin ends up in the brook and thanks to Robin’s quick thinking so does the Doctor.
  • We see armour wearing soldiers pillaging a village in the name of the Sheriff of Nottingham. What would a Robin Hood story be without the dastardly Sheriff? This Sheriff is played by the wonderful Ben Miller and Gatiss has written a Sheriff who is cold, calculating and not afraid to kill anyone who will get in his way.
  • Gatiss really has given us the Robin Hood that we know and love, and Robin Hood is nothing without his Band of Merry Men, so enters Will Scarlett, Friar Tuck, Little John and Alan A Dale. Clara is loving every second of meeting the man behind the legend, however the Doctor is still trying to work out just who this man really is because to him Robin Hood can’t be a real man. He notices that the weather in Sherwood Forest is unnaturally warm and green, and he doesn’t understand why anyone doesn’t think this is unusual.
  • The Doctor does not understand why Clara is so ready to believe that Robin Hood is actually real; Clara asks the Doctor, “When did you stop believing in everything?” The Doctor asks her, “When did you start believing in impossible heroes?” Really Doctor, you have to ask Clara that?!
  • Next on the checklist of any good Robin Hood story we have the archery competition between Robin and The Sheriff of Nottingham. Of course Robin wins and is declared the best archer in the land, however the Doctor throws a spanner in the works and an archery fight breaks out between the pair.
  • During the fight to escape being captured, Robin and the Doctor discover that the Sheriff’s soldiers are actually robots. Now what are robots doing in 12th Century England, now that is the question? The robots will destroy any human that they deem to be past their usefulness. My particular highlight of the brilliant fight scene was Peter Capaldi pulling a martial arts move that took me right back to watching Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor. Thank you Mark Gatiss for making a nod towards the man I think of as the best old Who Doctor.
  • The Doctor, Robin and Clara are captured and find themselves in a dungeon, where the Doctor and Robin proceed to bicker like badly behaved schoolboys. I have to say I did love Clara’s nicknames for the pair: “Prince of Thieves” and “Last of the Time Lords” did make me chuckle.
  • Whilst the trio are trying to escape their dungeon imprisonment, the Merry Men have the Golden Arrow Robin won and they notice that the Sheriff’s soldiers only ever plunder villages for gold. Cut to a circuit board being filled with molten gold.
  • Clara is taken to meet the Sheriff and he quickly asks if Clara “is from beyond the stars”. We discover that the Sheriff saw lights in the sky, and met mechanical men full of promises. These alien creatures shared their secrets with the Sheriff and he believes he is destined to become a King in everything bar the name. Clara is yet again shown to be strong and in control, which is something I am beginning to really enjoy about Jenna Coleman’s performances.
  • We discover that the castle is actually hiding a ship which crash landed on the way to The Promised Land. The Doctor remembers that the half faced man from “Deep Breath” was also promised this ultimate destination. Obviously along side the elusive Missy, the Promised Land is going to be another motif running through this eighth season.
  • The Doctor discovers that the ship is damaged and leaking radiation, which is causing the temperature increase, and he believes that Robin Hood has been created by this radiation as well. The spaceship needs gold to be repaired and this explains why the soldiers are hunting for gold.
  • Robin Hood wants to know everything the Doctor knows about him and the Merry Men, and more importantly he wants to know what the Doctor’s plan is. The question really is, does the Doctor really have a plan?
  • The Sheriff of Nottingham realises the Doctor is the only one who can thwart his plans and asks, “Who will rid me of this turbulent Doctor?” This is a nod towards Henry VIII who asked, “who will rid me of this troublesome priest?” about Thomas Becket which led to the murder of the latter.
  • After being captured yet again, the Doctor frees the prisoners and destroys the robot soldiers with the help of some serving trays, he is very inventive this new Doctor. He yet again calls the people “pudding headed”, which links back to “Deep Breath,” obviously this Doctor thinks humans are all a bit soft in the head.
  • During his fight with the Sheriff of Nottingham, the Doctor realises that Robin Hood is really a real man, and not just a legend. Enter Robin Hood to complete the iconic moments of any good Robin Hood story, the final fight to the death between him and the Sheriff of Nottingham. After the expected sword fight, the Sheriff meets his untimely end in the vat of gold that was meant to help him reach The Promised Land.
  • After Clara, The Doctor and Robin Hood escape from the ship we see that the ship is taking off, but it has insufficient gold to safely leave the earth. Remember that golden arrow, well the trio work together to fire the arrow at the ship and that boost of gold allows it to safely leave the earth before it blows up.
  • As she is leaving Sherwood Forest, Clara tells Robin to “be safe if you can be, but always be amazing.” Robin Hood asks the Doctor if history truly only remembers him as a legend rather than a real man. The Doctor tells him that this is the case, and Robin likes this idea and tells the Doctor “that history is a burden, stories can help us fly.” The Doctor does not see himself as a hero either, but Robin tells him that if they keep pretending then people will become heroes in their names.
  • As a final thank you to Robin, the Doctor reunites him with Marion and everyone lives happily ever after which was a wonderful way to end this episode.

I always look forward to any episode written by or starring Mark Gatiss, and for me this episode did not disappoint. Yes it was a much lighter episode than “Deep Breath” and “Into the Dalek”, however it is always good to be reminded that Doctor Who can be light hearted and  fun.

Next week’s episode will be a huge departure from this week’s frivolity as Steven Moffat explains in his synopsis for “Listen,” which will air next Saturday on BBC One.

What happens when the Doctor is alone – pacing the Tardis by candlelight, poking the shadows with a stick, listening for a footfall among all those endless, empty rooms. What scares the grand old man of space and time? What horrors lurk under his bed? Ghosts of the past and future crowd into the lives of the Doctor and Clara; a terrified caretaker in a children’s home, the last man standing in the universe, and a little boy who doesn’t want to join the army …

If this doesn’t get checking for the monsters under your bed just check out the trailer for next week.

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Kirsty Wallace

Chief Managing Editor at 4 Your Excitement
Kirsty Wallace is the Chief Managing Editor for 4 Your Excitement.

Kirsty has been writing in secret ever since High School however has recently decided to share her ramblings with the world.When not writing about all things culture especially Doctor Who, Glee, Literature and Theatre especially musicals such as Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Kinky Boots; she can be found working as a Personal Assistant and Administrator.

She spends way too much time on Twitter talking about all her favourite things , however as her father points out at least she is surrounded by friends!!Kirsty also enjoys travelling with the UK and wider afield.
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