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"Lardner's Ring"
Robin Hood episode
Series2episode9RobinHood.jpg
Guy prepares to burn down Robin's tree
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 9
Written by Dominic Minghella
Directed by Roger Goldby
Original airdate December 1, 2007
Guest stars

Mathew Horne

Episode chronology
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"Get Carter" "Walkabout"

Lardner's Ring is the ninth episode of series two of the BBC's Robin Hood series. It aired on Saturday 1 December on BBC One. Its title is presumably a tribute to the writer Ring Lardner, Jr., who was amongst the writers of the 1950s BBC television series The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Contents

Plot

A mortally wounded one-legged messenger from King Richard flees Locksley Manor and is pursued by Alan and Gisbourne's men. He manages to hide a wicker cage up a tree before suffering a bad fall. Robin and Marian arrive and drive off Alan and his men. With his dying breath, the messenger tells Robin that the King needs him to recruit more men to fight in the Holy Land and utters the word "Lardner." After Marian and Robin bury the messenger, Marian asks Robin if he would like to say a few words. Robin says that he would, but instead of giving a eulogy, he asks Marian if she will marry him. Marian agrees, and they form a plan, "Find Lardner", whom they assume to be another messenger, "warn King Richard, defeat the Sheriff, and then get married."

The Sheriff is furious at the messenger's escape. Chief focus of his wrath is a fool whom Gisborne had hired to entertain his guests. It is revealed that the fool had spoken with the king's messenger before the chase, informing him, quite innocently, that Gisborne was the new lord of Locksley and that Robin was an outlaw. As the Sheriff's men drag the fool away, he makes a number of "prophetic" predictions, including a warning about the "Ring of Lardner" spelling trouble for Prince John. It is assumed that the original messenger had told the fool about Lardner's ring prior to being chased off by Gisbourne's men.

Will and Djaq discover that Locksley Village is being scoured for Lardner's ring. They create a distraction that allows some villagers to escape, but Will is captured. Back at camp, Djaq tells Robin that "Lardner" might be an anglicisation of "La Denah", a Saracen carrier pigeon and Robin's message of reply will take only days to get back to King Richard. She wonders aloud how Richard could have gotten a Sultan's prized bird. Robin speculates that Richard might have made an alliance with the Sultan, but she worries that the Sultan has been captured, "And if they've got him, they've got everyone."

Meanwhile, the Sheriff plans to execute the fool and the captured Will Scarlet. Pretending to plead for mercy, the fool filches a manacle key off of Alan's belt. Alan notices but pretends not to. After the Sheriff leaves, Will and the fool escape.

Whilst the gang sets about composing a pigeon-sized message to the King, Robin and Marian ride off to the last place they had seen saw the King's messenger, correctly deducing that the only place he could have left Lardner was in the tree. Robin pulls out a rope and climbs, telling Marian not to follow, but she disobeys. Just as they reach Lardner, the Sheriff and Gisborne arrive. Surrounded, and trapped in the tree, Robin and Marian realise that unless they resort to desperate measures they will both die without warning Richard.

The Sheriff goes back to the castle, saying, "I have an idea." Meanwhile, Marian insists that Robin pretend to have been holding her hostage. This is enough to make Gisbourne back off, making room for the outlaws, with help from the fool, to distract Gisbourne's men with a smoke screen. Robin gets a clear route of escape from the tree, but Marian decides she can be of more use in the castle. Robin gives her an engagement ring and they kiss each other goodbye. Gisbourne "rescues" Marian.

As the outlaws escape, Will releases the pigeon out in the open. Unfortunately, the Sheriff returns from his errand to the castle with a hunting hawk, which quickly dispatches the small pigeon. The Sheriff is smug and heads off back to the castle.

Back at camp, Robin is feeling despondent, having lost both Marian and Lardner. Will reveals that the pigeon that was killed had been a decoy, a spare prop bird provided by the fool. The very living Lardner is given the message on a ring around his foot and released into the open. The episode closes with a shot of the bird flying over Sherwood, carrying a message, "Prince John plots to steal your throne. Make peace--" these two words inserted by Djaq "--and come home immediately."

Cast

Continuity

Gisborne threatens to burn down the tree in which Robin is hiding, using pitch as an accelerant. As Guy mentions, Robin previously used pitch to set Gisborne on fire in the episode "Childhood."

Throughout season 1 and 2 small flirtatious moments between Will and Djaq can be spotted, it is only until the scene with Much's speech about honey in this episode that there is evidence that the gang are sensing a possible union between the two. Robin is told that Will and Djaq have gone to one of the villages to get honey, Much then hints "If that's what they've gone for. But why does it need two of them, hmm?"

Popular culture references

The Sheriff urges his men on with the line "We must catch the pigeon! Catch the pigeon now!" This is a reference to Dick Dastardly's catchphrase in Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines.

Significance of the title

"Lardner's Ring" is likely a reference to blacklisted American writer Ring Lardner, Jr., who wrote a large number of episodes for The Adventures of Robin Hood in the 1950s under a variety of pseudonyms.

References

External links

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