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Episode 11: The Greatest Enemy

Three men sit around a fire in the forest. Nasir and two Saracens, both of the others wearing head wraps and robes. They speak in Arabic, their voices low. Will sees them from his spot in the bushes a few feet away. He advances quietly, but they hear the noise of his passage and head for their horses. He comes out of the bushes to watch them go.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Will returns to the camp, where Tuck and John are waiting. John asks if he caught up to Nasir, and Will says he did. There were two strangers with him, and they just took off.

"Do you think he'll be back?" John asks.

"Your guess is as good as mine," Will says sitting down. "I don't know." He takes a sip of milk from a bucket and passes it to John, then gets to his feet again.

"He won't betray us," John says.

"Aye," Tuck says, feeding a small goat the leaves from a branch. "Not Nasir. He'll be back.

"Then what's he up to?" Will asks.

The opening credits play.

A man sharpens a knife, then gives it to the barber who has already shaved off half the Sheriff's goatee. He runs the blade over the Sheriff's neck and the Sheriff hisses, grabbing the man's hand. "If you cut me again, you'll lose your fingers," he threatens. "You're shaving your Sheriff you know, not skinning some rabbit." He looks in the mirror. "Am I doing the right thing, Gisburne?"

"Oh yes, my lord," Gisburne answers. "A great improvement." The Sheriff frowns thoughtfully, deciding how to take that comment. He tells the barber to get on with it. The knife returns to its place on his neck, and a man enters announcing a messenger from the king. The Sheriff looks over in surprise and gets a cut from the blade. "You've mutilated me!" he rages, threatening and cursing as he drives everyone from the room.

The messenger, Hubert de Giscard, is herald to the King. He tells the Sheriff the message is for his own ears only. The Sheriff sends Gisburne away and Hubert comes to the point. "The King wants you to put an end to the wolfshead, Robin Hood. Immediately."

"Immediately, excellent," the Sheriff says. "How?"

De Giscard says the King is not concerned with the means, what he is concerned with is that Robin Hood's name had become a symbol of resistance to John's rule. He tells the Sheriff he is solely responsible for the situation, and if he doesn't get rid of Robin Hood within a month he'll lose everything, his office and lands. Does the Sheriff understand? It's perfectly clear. "Then I wish you happy hunting," the Hubert says as he leaves the room.

"Hunting," the Sheriff says in annoyance and disgust. Then he says the word again as an idea dawns. He smiles and blows out the candle beside him.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Robin and Marion walk through the forest. "Tuck's promised to make us one of his special pies when we get home, " Marion says.

"He's becoming quite a good cook."

"It's something close to his heart."

"Something close to his stomach, more like," Robin jokes. Herne's voice interrupts them, Robin listens as the whisper reaches his ears, "Robin in the Hood. Come." He tells Marion to go ahead to the camp, he'll follow her soon. They exchange a soft kiss, and she darts away toward the camp.

"Herne?" Robin says as he goes to where the Hunter waits.

"Who is the greatest enemy?" Herne asks. "Always near you. Sometimes at your shoulder."

"I've known he was there," Robin says.

"You must face him," Herne says. "Listen. Each man travels along one path and at the end of it, if he has the courage, he will meet himself and find his power."

"Will you be there?"

"No," Herne says. "But we cannot be parted. Another riddle for you." He smiles slightly. "Go now."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The Sheriff explains his plan to some of his soldiers. He points to a map on the table. Cedric's men will be here, he says. If they break free, we'll have sport. We'll use the hounds to hunt Robin and the others down like deer.

Edward of Wickham and his son Matthew are brought into the room by Gisburne. He says that he left soldiers behind in Wickham, no one will be able to leave. The Sheriff accuses Edward and the town of helping Robin Hood for months. Edward denies it, but the Sheriff only calls him a liar. "Do you remember Loxley?" he asks. "That was a rebel village wasn't it? Now it's just a name and a tangle of undergrowth." He says he's going to clear Wickham and sell the men for soldiers, the rest can go begging. Edward calls it shameful and the Sheriff agrees. "It is, isn't it. Monstrous." And Edward is to blame. It will haunt him because the Sheriff will let him live. He looks at Matthew and says the boy can live too, if Edward does exactly what he's told.

"He's done you no harm," Edward protests.

"He's your son, and he's from Wickham," the Sheriff says as if that's reason enough. He tosses the boy an apple, saying "catch." He tells Matthew to come to him, and the boy does. "Give," he says, and Matthew hands back the apple. "Now," the Sheriff begins, "I'm sure you love your father very much and you don't want anything, anything bad, to happen to him, do you?" Matthew shakes his head, no. "That's right," the Sheriff says. "What an intelligent child. So you're going to take a message for him, aren't you? To Robin Hood." Matthew nods, yes.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Robin and the others, minus Nasir, walk through the forest toward Wickham. They're talking about Matthew's message.

"He looked frightened," John says. It smells like trouble, but what kind. Robin says they'll soon find out.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

In Wickham, soldiers hide in the houses, waiting. The Sheriff looks out a window. "Where the devil are they?" he wonders. "Come on! Come on!"

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The group continues toward Wickham, pushing aside branches, stepping over tree roots and undergrowth.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Gisburne talks to Edward. He tells him to welcome them when they come. And if anyone warns them... "Think about your son," he says in a veiled threat.

Robin and the others crouch in the underbrush watching the village. A few villagers move about and smoke floats placidly up from the huts. "It looks all right," Robin says. "Yep," Will answers. "Will," Robin says by way of command, and Will steps out of the forest, heading into the village.

Gisburne sees them and shoves Edward to stand in front of his house. Will motions to the others from the village, it seems okay. They start forward. Some of the soldiers tell the Sheriff they're here. Will goes further into the village, calling a greeting to an old woman. Gisburne holds a knife to Edward's throat and tells him to greet them, to wave at them. Edward steps forward and raises his hand. Will motions back, slightly puzzled. The others are still walking slowly forward. They're all on edge, it looks all right, but it feels wrong. Will draws his sword. He sees flashes of mail as someone goes inside one of the houses, and again from the doorway of another hutch.

"Ambush!" he yells, warning the others. They turn, and a stream of soldiers has cut off the way they came in.

"Now!" the Sheriff yells, and crossbow bolts fly. Robin's band dives for cover as the arrows whistle past them. Much hits one of the soldiers with his slingshot, and an arrow is buried in the wall right next to the Sheriff's face. "Who the hell do they think they're shooting at?" he hisses.

Gisburne knocks Edward out with the hilt of his sword. John and Robin take on two soldiers with their staff and sword respectively, and the scene degenerates into a full scale battle. The Sheriff sends more men out from the house he hides in. Tuck and Marion fight next to each other, each with a sword. Marion cuts at her soldier's legs, then stabs Tuck's. "Go!" she yells, leading Tuck away at a run.

A pair of elderly villagers uses the confusion to escape into the woods.

Will runs over a bridge, tossing a soldier into the water. He kills several while John throws several more into the water. Robin continues to fight, and the Sheriff watches from his hiding place inside. Much is in a small boat, and a soldier starts pulling him to shore. He shouts for John, and the big man throws his staff, knocking the soldier out. Robin, Marion and Tuck regroup with Much. They shove a cart into several soldiers and run for the forest.

John enters a hut and a crush of soldiers tries to go after him. Many of them are jammed in the doorway, but others make it through. The struggle rattles from one end of the house to the other until John bursts through the side of the house with four or five soldiers on his back. He struggles, his strength almost a match for them, but their sheer numbers overpower him and he is subdued under a group of them.

Will kills several more soldiers with gusto, but others close in on all sides. Holding their shields in front of them, they move to tighten the circle. He bashes against the shields, flailing and banging against them with his body, but it does no good. They close in and crush him against the wall of a hut.

"Why did you let him escape?" the Sheriff yells a few moments later.

"Don't worry, my lord, I'll catch him," Gisburne says.

"You certainly will not!" the Sheriff corrects. "You stay here and guard the others. I'll find him myself. With the hounds." He mounts and Gisburne watches as a group of soldiers ride after him.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The hounds bay loudly, sniffing at the scent, showing the others the trail.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Robin, Much, Tuck and Marion run through the woods with panicked speed. Marion stumbles and falls; Much and Tuck lift her back to her feet and they keep running.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Gisburne questions Will and John. "Where's Nasir? The Saracen. Why isn't he with you?"

"Wouldn't you like to know," Will says tauntingly. Gisburne kicks him, but he only spits to the side.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Nasir is in the forest with the two other Saracens. One of them gets up from the fire and goes to the horses, then the other follows. They each draw knives, but hide them from view. When they return to the fire, Nasir is already on the defensive. He kicks the man nearest him, and throws his knife at the other. The one he kicked recovers; he and Nasir both draw two swords. Nasir ducks a knife thrown by the other, then kills the thrower. He defeats the one with the swords, holding his blades to the man's neck. Then he eases away. He says something in Arabic and ends with, "One death is enough." He gets on his horse and rides away. But the man follows. Nasir turns in his saddle and shoots an arrow. The man is hit, and tumbles off his horse, dead. "It is finished," Nasir says.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The hounds bellow, pulling their handlers behind them.

The outlaws have stopped for a moment of rest. Much hears the sound. "What's that?" he asks Robin. Robin looks up, listening. He stands up, remembering Herne's words about the greatest enemy, recognizing the sound. "Come on," he says. "We must go." Much and Marion rise to their feet, but Tuck sits panting, exhausted. Much pulls him up. They run a short distance and Tuck stops. He tells them to leave him, he can go any further.

Reluctant to leave him, Robin decides they'll hide him. They help him climb up into a tree. "Now you'll be all right. The hounds will follow our scent," Robin says. Tuck looks down at three worried faces.

"Go on," he says. "I'll be all right."

"Let's go," Robin says, his voice weary.

Tuck watches the dogs run past with the soldiers close behind. They don't even pause at his tree. Then his shoe falls from his foot to the ground. A few passing soldiers see the movement and look up in the tree, spotting him. One of them silently motions for Tuck to climb down.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Robin, Much and Marion go toward a small stream and begin to walk downstream through the shallow water, stepping over rocks and branches. The dogs reach the stream and mill about uncertainly.

"We've lost the scent, my lord," one of the handlers says.

"Then follow both banks until you find it again, dolt!" the Sheriff orders.

The three outlaws continue picking their way through the stream.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The two old villagers who escaped from Wickham see Nasir riding on the road and run up to him, telling him there's been an ambush at Wickham. He dismounts and heads toward Wickham at a run.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Nasir sneaks into the edges of Wickham. He kills a soldier on the perimeter silently, and leaves his body propped up in an imitation of life. He moves farther into the town. He ducks into a building as two sets of soldiers pass each other. One of them sits down, leaning against the house Nasir is hiding in. Nasir's hand pushes through the wall to stab and kill the soldier. His arm reaches forward through the wall to retrieve his dagger, then pull the soldier up to rest against the wall. Two soldiers see him as he pulls himself up in another hut, they run to see what's going on and he throws two knives from his place in the crossbeams, killing both. He drops from his position and kills two more, but his presence has been discovered.

Some of the soldiers yell for Gisburne. A few of the soldiers recognize him as the Saracen and don't want to come near him. Nasir begins to fight with Gisburne. The soldiers finally begin to close in. He continues to fight, defeating several more. Then he ducks into the barn where Will and Little John are captive. Two soldiers hold knives to Will and John's throats.

"Saracen, one move and they die," Gisburne yells. Nasir looks at them and John slowly shakes him head. Nasir's shoulders slump and he walks with bowed head out of the barn, not resisting a cluster of swords and spears pointed at his chest.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The dogs bay, not having found the scent yet. Robin, Marion and Much crouch in the stream, trying to cool off with handfuls of water in their hair and on their faces.

"Why don't we stand and fight them?" Marion asks.

"Now, look," Robin answers. "There are too many of them and they know where we are." He looks up and around him. "We've got to get out of the forest." He rises and the others follow.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Nasir is tied up with Will, Little John and Edward.

"Who were those men you went off with?" Will asks.

"Hashashiyun," Nasir answers. "In your tongue, assassins."

"Killers," Will says.

"They kill, yes," Nasir says. "But like us for their belief."

"What did they want with you?" Will asks.

Nasir looks up, taking a deep breath. "I am one of them. Now I have washed my hands of them."

"And they let you?" Will asks skeptically.

"They had no choice," Nasir answers. John raises his eyebrows, and Will laughs silently.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Behind Robin the hounds have found the scent. He and the other two run out of the forest. The soldiers follow close behind. Robin, Marion and Much run up a hill. Standing at the top, Robin and Marion string their bows hastily. The Sheriff and the other soldiers watch them.

"So, he's gone to ground," the Sheriff says. He orders the soldiers forward. Robin and Marion shoot twice each, both killing two soldiers. Fall back! Form ranks! the orders are shouted. The soldiers scramble back, out of range of the bows. "Damn the man," the Sheriff says. "He could always outshoot us with those cursed longbows."

He orders two mounted knights to charge Robin. Marion and Robin loose another two arrows, and the men fall. The Sheriff orders one of the soldiers to take his men to the side and attack Robin that way. Robin tells Marion to cover them. She calls when they begin moving forward. She and Robin shoot four of the five soldiers down. The fifth drops to the ground, hiding.

"Flush him out," Robin says. Marion shoots two arroms that land in the ground near his head. He stands to run. "Nice shooting," Robin tells Marion. He shoots the man down.

"What will he do now?" Marion asks, looking at the Sheriff.

"We're out of range of his crossbows," Robin says. "And we've shown him he can't outflank us quickly. Now it's a matter of time."

"Are we going to die?" Marion asks.

"Everyone dies," Robin says.

"That's not what I said," Marion tells him.

"I know," he says with a smile. "It isn't over yet." Marion walks a few feet away, looking at the group of soldiers that face them.

The Sheriff tells Andrew, one of the mounted knights, to move down the valley with his men and make his way behind Robin. He rides away with several others behind him.

Robin sits down next to Much. "Now when I tell you to," he begins, "you're to go with Marion."

"But---" Much says, and Robin cuts him off.

"Now don't worry, it'll be safe because I'm going to stay and cover you. Then I want you to make your way to Sherwood and lie low until its dark."

"But what about you?" Much asks.

"I shall be with you later."

"When?"

"Later."

"You will, won't you?" Much asks, unsure.

"I promise," Robin says.

"That's all right then," Much says, smiling. Robin touches his head gently, ruffling his hair.

"Good," he says. "Now listen. You keep an eye on our friends over there," he nods toward the soldiers, "and if anyone moves, sing out."

"Right."

Robin gets up and approaches Marion. "I'm going to ask you to do something you won't want to do," he says, standing close to her. "But it's the only way."

"I'm not leaving you if that's what you're going to say." He tries to say something but she cuts him off, facing the soldiers instead of looking at him "NO! I'm staying here. Here."

"I thought you had more courage."

"Courage?!" she says in disbelief.

"Stay alive," he says, looking into her eys. "Dying is easy." She draws in a gasping breath, and covers her mouth, her eyes on his face. She sinks to the ground and covers her face, crying.

Robin crouches beside her. "No, no, no," he says. "You're a Crusader's daughter. Look at me." She looks hesitantly into his eyes. "I'm asking you to stay alive because it's meant to be."

"Nothing's meant to be," Marion says.

"It is, it is," Robin disagrees. "One day you'll know it."

"Oh, let me stay with you," Marion begs. "Please."

"There are so many things I want to say to you," Robin says. "But time's caught me up and now I'll never say them." She shakes her head, tears in her eyes. "Except that I loved you from the moment I saw you, and every moment since."

"Don't make me go," she pleads.

"Do you want them to win?"

"I don't care about them."

"You must," Robin says, his voice heated. Her eyes widen in surprise. "For the sake of everything we've been to each other, you MUST care. Because that way you'll keep alive all we've believed in. And I can't die then, can I?" Her head is bowed, and he ducks his. "I'm right aren't I?" She nods silently. They two of them stand, looking at the soldiers.

The Sheriff paces impatiently. "Where is Andrew?" he hisses.

"Now listen," Robin says. "He's sent men down the valley. Now, soon they'll circle round and cut off your escape. You must go now."

"Hold me," she says. They embrace, and share a kiss, then embrace again.

The Sheriff calls for two volunteers. When no one steps up, he chooses two soldiers and pushes them forward. They run toward the hill, zig-zagging. Much calls out, and both Robin and Marion loose an arrow, killing both men.

"Take Albion," Robin says, shoving the sword and scabberd at her. "Go." She takes the sword, then she and Much run.

She stops once, turns back and screams, "I love you!"

"They're breaking out!" the Sheriff says. He orders the attack, but Robin stands alone on the hill. "Why is he staying there?" he asks. The soldiers start forward and Robin shoots three arrows, each one killing a man closer to the Sheriff. The last arrow kills a man the Sheriff shoved in front of him just a second before. He orders them to fall back and the men retreat. "How many arrows does the man have?" the Sheriff asks.

Robin throws away his quiver, stringing his last arrow against a red sky. He looks down and shoots the last arrow high into the sky, far beyond any of the soldiers. The soldiers watch the arrow land, then begin to advance again. He smiles. Then he turns to face the other way. Andrew and his men come up over the ridge. They stand in a row. Robin turns back toward the Sheriff, lifts his bow and breaks it across his knee. The Sheriff yells for the soldiers to shoot and six crossbow bolts fly.

"At last!" the Sheriff says. And the other soldiers run toward the hill with a triumphant shout.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Much and Marion have returned to Sherwood. Much asks if they should light a fire.

"No," Marion says dully.

"But you're cold," the boy answers.

"No fire."

Much scoots closer to Marion, smiling. "Remember that time he fought the Templars?"

"Yes."

"And that time when he jumped from Ravenscar Cliff?"

"I remember."

"He'll be back. Then we'll rescue Scarlet and Little John. He won't let the Sheriff have them."

"Robin's dead," Marion says.

"No, he can't be," Much answers.

"He is," Marion says, her voice strained. "He said good-bye to me."

"No," Much denies. "You're wrong. He'll come. He'll meet us. He promised."

Slowly, stressing each word, Marion replies, "No. He. Is. Dead. Why do you think he gave me Albion?"

"Because he," Much starts, then stops. "He..." He stops again, his face crumpling. "Dead?" She nods, and he begins to cry. He lowers his head and she holds it in her arms, resting her head on top of his. "He promised," Much says, his voice small and broken.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The Sheriff returns to Wickham. Gisburne assumes Robin escaped. But the Sheriff tells him he's dead. Gisburne asks where the body is. The Sheriff asks if Gisburne doubts him, and tells him he can ask the men who killed him. Gisburne says that surely it's important to show the body to the people in Nottingham. But the Sheriff disagrees; regardless of what they do or show the people, even if they put his head on the gate, the people will believe what they want to believe. Nothing they can do will convince them.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Gisburne enters the building where John, Will, Tuck, Edward and Nasir are prisoners. "I've some interesting news for you. Your precious leader is dead. What do you say to that?" They all stare blankly at him. "Nothing? I am surprised. Not that it matters very much. By this time tomorrow, you'll have joined him." Nasir spits at him as he leaves. And John begins to laugh. Will looks at him.

"I don't believe it," he says, still laughing. "He wants us to die thinking that Robin's dead." His laughter turns slowly into crying.

"What about Marion and Much?" Will says.

"What do you mean?" Tuck asks.

"Why not tell us they're all dead? What difference does it make. I think it's true," he says. "I think he's gone." Tears streak John's face.

Nasir speaks in Arabic, "Salaam alaikum, Robin."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

A hooded man looks across a lake of water to the reflection of Herne with the stag upon his head. Herne himself stands on the bank, as a man, without the stag. "I am Herne the Hunter," his voice says. "And you are a leaf driven by the wind."

Robin's voice answers, "Herne is a spirit, and you...?"

"I am a man," Herne answers.

"Yes, a man." Robin voice overlaps another new voice.

"Tell me this then," Herne says. "What brought you here?"

"I don't know," the hooded man answers, his voice again overlapping and echoing Robin's. "There was a voice."

"What did this voice say to you? Tell me."

"It said, nothing's forgotten. Nothing's ever forgotten."

"So," Herne says. "He is free."

"Nobody's free," the hooded man says, his voice now separated from Robin's. "What does it mean?"

"A hooded man shall come to the forest, there to meet with Herne the Hunter, to be his son and do his bidding." He stands with the hooded man, and hands him a bow. "String the bow."

"Why?"

"To give it purpose, and you also must have purpose and prove yourself."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

In Wickham, Gisburne is on edge. He wants to return to Nottingham.

"Do you think the girl and the half-wit are going to attack?" the Sheriff asks snidely.

"The outlaws have many sympathizers," Gisburne points out.

"Sympathizers don't do anything but sympathize, Gisburne." The Sheriff pauses. "Relax, man. We've won."

The point of a sword works its way through the wall of the hut that holds the outlaws, emerging right next to Will's head.

"What's that?" John asks.

"Well it ain't mice is it?" Will answers, grinning.

"It's Robin!" John says, and Will nods. John laughs, and Will shushes him. "Gisburne was lying!" Nasir grins, looking to see if any of the guards have noticed what's happening.

Will looks back to the wall and an arrow sticks through the hole. He looks at it, then at the guard, and smiles. He calls the soldier over, and the arrow is loosed, killing the man. Hands begin to break through the mud and sticks holding the wall together.

"Help him," John tells Will.

"Help him," Will echoes. He holds up his bound hands. "How can I?" They both break into quiet laughter again. The hooded man comes through the hole in the wall.

"Robin!" John says. The man motions with his hand for him to be silent. John and Will nudge each other, still giggling. The man cuts Nasir free and the Saracen moves to keep watch from the door. The man frees Will, then John. He moves to Edward, but Edward tells him to leave him or they'll kill his son. He sets to work on Tuck instead.

The Sheriff calls that they're leaving. "Get the prisoners."

Will crawls out of the hole in the wall, and John follows. Tuck tries to go through but gets stuck. They pull on him, finally squeezing him through. Nasir goes through as the soldiers enter the hovel. The hooded man fights against them, then goes to the door and shoots. An arrow pierces Gisburne arm, and he grimaces in pain. Everytime the man draws his bow, the soldiers see Robin. The Sheriff yells at them, tells them to kill him. But they stand motionless, amazed and afraid. The hooded man lowers his bow and walks into the forest, disappearing.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The outlaws return to camp, whistling and in high spirits. They find Marion and Much already there. Marion holds Albion in front of her. As they see it, they realize the truth. Robin is dead.

Through the trees comes Robin's voice, "Nothing is forgotten. Nothing is ever forgotten."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The Sheriff sits in his chair in Nottingham castle. "Well, whoever he is, he isn't Robin Hood," he says.

"It hardly matters now does it," Gisburne answers. Because of him, the outlaws are back in Sherwood."

"But who is he, Gisburne?" the Sheriff asks. "Who is he?"

"I don't know," Gisburne admits. "But I know who the men thought he was."

"And just as I was beginning to believe it was all over," the Sheriff says. "How stupid of me. It's not over. It'll never be over."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

In Sherwood, the outlaws stand by a small lake, preparing to honor Robin's memory with the flaming arrows they will shoot into the water. Nasir shoots first, remembering his first fight against Robin. Then Tuck shoots, thinking of the time he dumped Robin into the water when they were playing with their quaterstaffs. Will is next. And Robin's voice rings out in his mind as it did when he convinced them to become the group they are, "You were sleeping. You've slept too long. We all have. It's time we woke. Time we stopped running." John shoots his arrow, and remembers Robin's words when the first members of their group where killed. "Our friends who were killed. They'll never starve or be tortured or chained in the dark. They're here with us in Sherwood. They always will be. Because they're free." As Much shoots he remembers the way Robin said good-bye to him just a few hours earlier. Marion goes last, remembering Robin's farewell to her, "There are so many things I want to say to you. But time's caught me up and now I'll never say them. Except that I loved you from the moment I saw you, and every moment since." She remembers their last embrace and the moment they first met, hearing him tell her again, "You're like a May morning."

From behind them, another arrow flies into the water. They turn to look and see the hooded man before them.

end


So why is it one of my Favorites?

Well, just my opinion, but this is just about as perfect as an episode of television can be. I don't really know what there is NOT to like about it. Admittedly some people may dislike the fact that Robin dies. But frankly, I thought that his death was appropriate. Realistically, outlaws don't usually live to old age. And if you're going to go out...well what a way to go. It just seemed like the perfect end for Robin of Loxley. It's an episode that you will remember however many times you see it. The image of Robin standing alone on the Tor, his bow raised is something I don't think it's possible to forget. And in the end, that's exactly as it should be. This is why the legend of Robin Hood is still remembered...images like that. His heroism, and his willingness to give up his life for his family, is a perfect way to remember Robin. And if you don't feel something watching him say good-bye, or standing alone on the hill, or breaking his bow...well I can't imagine anyone not feeling something.

It's not just the end that works though. It's the whole episode. There's this sort of rising sense of despair as each of the outlaws is caught one by one. You're watching them fall, it's a process and it leaves you with this sense of doom that just slowly grows until the climax of Robin's death. There's a definite building action, a rising tension, that pays off perfectly.

But just when you feel you're at your lowest, there is hope. Instead of ending on a purely miserable note, the episode brings in the hooded man, Herne's son and Robin's successor. (which I love) The outlaws, who had died a figurative death in being captured, are brought back to life by the man who has in a manner of speaking brought Robin (or at least his role) back. There's a sense of death and rebirth that is really beautifully done. And it helps a little to alleviate the heartbreak. Because there is heartbreak. Even watching the outlaws, when they think Robin's come to save them is heartbreaking, because we know the truth that they don't.

Other things to like...a little more of Nasir's past is revealed. Beautiful dialogue with Robin and Much, and Robin and Marion. Nice imagery, mainly in Robin's last moments on the hill, but also things like the hooded man being called, and the outlaws seeing Marion with Albion, the flaming arrows. There's just a lot of beauty that serves to make the emotions even more deep.

Overall...I really can't say enough about the episode. It's one of my top two favorite episodes of RoS, and it's one of the best episodes of television period, in my opinion. At least in my case...it's an episode full of real emotion, real pain. It's something that makes me cry everytime I see it, but something I love to see again and again. It's just a perfect closing chapter on Robin of Loxley. And a perfect beginning to a new chapter.

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