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Doctor Who

"Robot of Sherwood" (Aired September 6, 2014)

Samantha Wessel

We start off with the Doctor once again furiously drawing something on the blackboard as he tells Clara she can pick when and where their next adventure will take place. Clara confesses she's always wanted to meet Robin Hood. The Doctor sweetly/condescendingly tells her that Robin Hood is an old fashioned hero, and old fashioned heroes only exist in old fashioned story books. Clara reminds the Doctor he always shows up just in time to save the day, but the Doctor merely responds he's just passing time. Well, we know this simply isn't true. We know from last week that the Doctor appears to be trying to save the day - after all, isn't that the thing that makes him a good man? 

After the Doctor throws out a few more alternate suggestions, Clara insists on going to see Robin Hood. The Doctor sets the TARDIS on course for Sherwood Forrest, England in 1190 A.D. The TARDIS lands in a forest that looks very similar to where Matt Smith and David Tennant's Doctors met in "The Day of the Doctor" 50th Anniversary Special. ANYWAY, as the Doctor exits the TARDIS, he tells Clara there are no damsels in distress and that Robin Hood isn't real. But wouldn't you just know it, right as the Doctor makes this comment, an arrow comes flying out of nowhere and hits the TARDIS door. Robin Hood emerges from the shrubs proving the Doctor he's wrong. With a wink from Robin, we're off on another caper!

As the Doctor and Robin begin one of their many squabbles about whether or not Robin is going to relieve the Doctor of his TARDIS, Clara emerges from the TARDIS in all her Renfaire glory. (I don't say that sarcastically- Clara looked beautiful and I really loved the costume.) Clara is thrilled to meet Robin, though the Doctor insists that he isn't really Robin Hood. This leads to a duel between the Doctor and Robin, with the Doctor using his spoon as his weapon of choice.  As the two duel, Robin manages to strike a button off of the Doctor's jacket, and the Doctor appears to surrender at this moment. However, as Robin takes a breather, the Doctor turns and goes back to back with Robin, pushing him off the log into the water. As Clara and the Doctor are searching the water for Robin, Robin sneaks up behind the Doctor and pushes him in. This is only the beginning of the childish pissing contest between the Doctor and Robin during this episode. 

We then have a brief journey into the town of Nottingham, and see a peasant woman in shackles. Though her name isn't said, I assumed it was Maid Marian. Not a big leap there. We see the Sheriff of Nottingham kill a man who was trying to help Marian, and we see his guards who move like robots. Considering they move slowly and we don't see any eyes behind the masks, they obviously have to be the robots mentioned in the title of this episode. 

Back in Sherwood Forrest, Robin introduces Clara and the Doctor to his band of Merry Men. As each one is introduced, the Doctor performs some kind of test to determine if they are human. He's convinced there is no way Robin Hood could be a real figure. The Doctor is also extremely annoyed at the ability and willingness of the Merry Men to be quick with a laugh.  Clara asks Robin about the Sheriff of Nottingham and freaks him out a bit with all of the information she knows about him. Clara asks Robin why he's so sad, she can tell he's really sad because he laughs too much. Robin recounts his story to Clara, and she freaks him out a bit with all of her knowledge about him. He mentions Marian, and Clara gets extremely excited that Marian is a real person. Meanwhile, the Doctor has realized that it is far too leafy and sunny for England in the fall. When Clara suggests global warming, the Doctor reminds Clara it is only 1190.

Robin then announces there is an archery competition, and the winner will receive a golden arrow. Knowing her Robin Hood lore, Clara warns Robin it is a trap, but he's no dumb-dumb, he knows it's a trap. The Doctor implores Robin and the Merry Men, once again, not to laugh. Clara asks the Doctor why he can't believe that Robin is actually Robin Hood. She asks when he stopped believing in things. The Doctor retorts asking Clara when she started "believing in impossible heroes." Clara folds her arms, looks at the Doctor, smiles and says "Don't you know?"

THOUGHT CORNER: OK - so many thoughts on this! My first reaction is: awwww, Clara totally admires the Doctor. Then after thinking about it, I realized just a week ago she wasn't even sure if he was a good man. Granted, the episode that we saw a week ago must be longer ago in Clara and the Doctor's timeline, but it feels weird to have Clara go from being unsure if the Doctor is even a good man to him being her hero. Which, I mean, he is her hero. He's our hero too. And I guess the interesting thing is that he isn't a perfect hero. He's flawed, sad, angry, and bitter (at least this regeneration is). EXIT THOUGHT CORNER

The next day at the archery competition, it is down to the Sheriff and Robin, who is competing under the name Tom the Tinkerer. The Sheriff hits the last target dead center, but Robin of course splits the arrow and everyone is so happy. As Robin goes to take the golden arrow from the Sheriff, the Doctor shows up and splits Robin's arrow. The Doctor takes the golden arrow, throws it to the side, and says he wants something else. Robin, annoyed but not deterred, shoots an arrow splitting the Doctor's. The Doctor shoots another, then Robin another. OK! I GET IT, GUYS! Thankfully, the Doctor also feels the situation is getting silly, and blows up the target with his sonic screwdriver. The Sheriff then orders his guards to get the Doctor and Robin jumps to the Doctor's rescue, much to the Doctor's chagrin. Robin chops an arm off one of the guards, and sho'nugh, the guards are robots. SHOCKING! Robin tells his Merry Men to run, while Clara, the Doctor, and Robin are captured by the guards. The Doctor insists the best way to know what is going on is to be captured.

We then get an update on the suspected Maid Marian. One of Marian's fellow prisoners has collapsed. She's trying to assist him, but one of the robot guards comes over and uses his purple nose laser to disintegrate him. Good scene.

We're back to Clara, the Doctor, and Robin all chained up. The confined space allows the Doctor and Robin to have all kinds of pissing matches, including who is to blame for their current state, who is going to save them, etc. Robin makes fun of the Doctor's age by pointing out his grey hair and his "sickly" form. There is so much arguing and bantering, part of me feels like there are some unspoken feelings. 

THOUGHT CORNER: What I love about the arguments between the Doctor and Robin is it shows that this Doctor is still playful and egotistical. The Doctor has never been one to shy away from his ability to save people, and is pretty sure of his superiority in most situations. It is one of the things we as viewers find charming about the Doctor (but that's because he isn't real and we don't have to tolerate it in real life). The first couple of episodes made me wonder if Twelve lacked the same self-assurances that Nine, Ten, and Eleven had. However, the Doctor's constant bickering with Robin shows it is still there. EXIT THOUGHT CORNER

Clara is pushed to her limits, hearing the Doctor and Robin arguing non-stop. She asks them who has a plan to get them out of the situation. When Robin is asked, he said he is biding his time. The Doctor on the other hand has one, but AS USUAL, it depends on his handy-dandy sonic screwdriver, which he has forgotten was taken from him by the Sheriff. The door then opens and Guardy McMethTooth comes in to take the person in charge. OF COURSE Robin and the Doctor start arguing over who is in charge, so McMethTooth takes Clara because obviously she's really in charge. 

Meanwhile, the Merry Men are proud of themselves for taking the golden arrow, and Friar Tuck says tomorrow they have to go save Robin. Good talk. Then we see the place where Marian is being kept, and lots of gold being poured. Ok, cool.

Clara and the Sheriff are having a nice, romantic dinner. The Sheriff has the Doctor's sonic screwdriver and spoon, and seems equally mystified by both. The Sheriff is impressed by Clara's directness and boldness, and asks if she and the Doctor are from "beyond the stars." She reminds him he's the one with the robot army, so he should tell her. Clara tells the Sheriff she was always destined to draw the eye of a great man, and that he is a great man. She's playing him, and totally seems to be working. The Sheriff then tells Clara that he was feeling unappreciated by Prince John, and then one day he saw the lights of the spaceship. He went and found the robot guards, and now he wants to use them to take over England, then the world. The Sheriff then asks Clara about her story, and she tells him that she was lying, she didn't really see the spaceship crash. The Sheriff wants Clara as his consort. She declines. 

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Robin are trying to find a way to get out. They yell for Guard Meth Teeth, who Robin is able to head butt and knock out. The Doctor and Robin play footsie, and end up kicking the keys out of reach. Somehow, they're able to to stop quarreling long enough to realize they can lift the block holding the chains and run. The Doctor finds the spaceship that the robot guards arrived on, and goes into the logs to try and discover where the ship was headed. He finds that it was going to the Promised Land. The Doctor also discovers that the castle they're all in is really the spaceship in disguise, and that the robots are gathering gold to repair the engines so they can leave again. And critical to the Doctor's theory about Robin, the Doctor finds among the ship's computer files every myth and legend, including Robin Hood. The Doctor convinces himself that Robin Hood is one of the robots created as a symbol of hope against the Sheriff's evil. Robin is too perfect - perfect hair, teeth, chin- he's not real!

As the the Doctor begins to accuse Robin of collusion with the Sheriff, the Sheriff enters with Clara. The robot guards aim at Robin, but Clara jumps in to try to save the day. Robin then bear hugs Clara and jumps out the window, the only way he knows to save himself from the Doctor. Once the Doctor sees Robin leave the water with Clara, he turns to the Sheriff and the Sheriff explains his plan to the Doctor. The Doctor tells the Sheriff he's actually building a bomb, but before he can explain any further, one of the robots knocks the Doctor the eff out. 

Clara wakes up back in Sherwood Forrest surrounded by Robin and the Merry Men. Robin tells Clara he needs to know everything about the doctor and what his plans are. 

The Doctor awakens in the peasant prison/workshop next to, you guessed it!, Maid Marian. The Doctor tells Marian they need to get the peasants to start a riot. Marian is able to release the Doctor, and when one of the Robot guards comes over to kill the Doctor, Marian and the Doctor hold up some mysteriously acquired silver trays, which reflects the nose purple laser beam back at the robot, and the robot explodes. We then see that Marian and the Doctor have alerted all of the peasants that they need a silver tray, and the peasants are able to take out the robot guards. The Doctor then tells Marian and the other peasants to run. Before she leaves, Marian kisses the Doctor on the cheek. (Was it me, or did it seem like the Doctor was confused by this gesture from Marian? It's like he isn't used to touch from people. I have noticed that this Doctor is a lot less affectionate than Nine and Ten.)

After using some technology (which he seems pretty adept at considering it is 1190), the Sheriff realizes there is a riot happening downstairs, and goes to check it out. The Doctor then tells the Sheriff that there isn't enough gold to fully restore the engines, and that he'll essentailly blow up the English country side. He then tells the Sheriff that he is aware the Sheriff created Robin as a symbol of hope and that the two are really working together. The Sheriff tells the Doctor this would be a stupid thing to do, and the Doctor realizes it too. He was so blinded by his ego and insisteince that Robin Hood couldn't be real to realize that he was, in fact, a real human. As the Doctor calls Robin a legend, Robin shows up with Clara. Robin and the Sheriff begin dueling. After the Sheriff is able to disarm Robin, Robin pulls the Doctor's move from before, and is able to push the Sheriff into the hot tub of gold. 

The Doctor, Clara, and Robin then run out of the castle as the spaceship begins to take off. The Doctor makes the comment wondering aloud where the golden arrow is, and the Merry Men responded that they stole it. He then suggests that the golden arrow may be enough for the spaceship to reach orbit. HOLD. THE. EFF. UP. So all that gold that the robots were mining from the ground was going to be insufficient to get the spaceship into orbit, but one dinky golden arrow has enough gold content to achieve this goal? I'm calling B.S. But, with teamwork between Clara, the Doctor, and Robin, the golden arrow hits the spaceship, allowing it to get into orbit, wehre it promptly explodes. Ok, I know this is "Doctor Who," but c'mon guys - give me something better than that!

Clara and the Doctor are getting ready to leave. Robin tells Clara that he will miss her, and that "whoever he is, he's a very lucky man." Clara implores Robin not to give up on Marian, and to continue to be amazing. Robin then goes to ask the Doctor that if it is true that over time he is forgotten as the man Robin of Loxkley, and is remembered as a legend. When the Doctor tells him that is the case, Robin responds, "Good. Hisotry is a burden. Stories can make us fly." The Doctor confesses he still doesn't believe Robin's story. Robin then asks if it is too much to believe that a privileged man, tired of seeing the suffering of the poor would steal a TARDIS, and fight the good fight? Clara told Robin the Doctor's story. The Doctor is not happy, but Robin tells the Doctor that he is Clara's hero. When the Doctor denies he is a hero, Robin says he isn't either, "but perhaps if we keep pretending to be, perhaps others will be in our name. Perhaps we will both be stories. And may those stories never end." Y'all, this made me teary-eyed. It was so sweet and sincere, and shows that the Doctor is truly struggling with how he is seen not only by Clara, but by others. As the TARDIS departs, we see the peasant girl who is confirmed to be Marian (EVERYONE ACT SURPRISED NOW). 

CLOSING THOUGHTS: I really liked this episode, the golden arrow thing aside. I love that the Doctor is struggling with his identity as a hero. That makes sense to me. He's not sure what to believe anymore, and considering he doesn't even know if he's a good man, it all makes sense to me. There was also the requisite reference to the Promised Land. Also, the next episode looks SUPER CREEPY. I'm excited. Till next time...