After last week’s semi-boring and Very Serious episode, the ridiculous and fun Robot of Sherwood was pretty much perfect! Normally Mark Gatiss episodes are spooky and creepy (which isn’t a bad thing by any means!) but this was like a ray of goofy sunshine and I appreciated it greatly.
So we start with the Doctor letting Clara choose their destination for the week, and she’s like “Well I know you’ll probably tell me he doesn’t exist but I mostly just want to go meet Robin Hood” and the Doctor is like “He doesn’t exist but ok, let’s go to Sherwood Forest in whatever old-timey year his story takes place if only to prove that I am smart and you are dumb!” and then the egg is immediately on his face because the second they land Robin Hood shoots the TARDIS with an arrow.
The Doctor is like “Who are you and why are you pretending to be Robin Hood” and Robin Hood is like “LOL I’m going to steal the TARDIS” and then they have a sword fight on a bridge except the Doctor is using a spoon instead of a sword because… well… he’s the Doctor. Clara watches them and pretty much doesn’t give a shit who wins because she’s lovin’ it either way.
You’ve gotta give it to my girl Clara: when she goes for the period costumes she does it up right. In fact Clara is just excellent in general in this episode and I can’t tell you how glad I am that she is finally a real character because Jenna Coleman is great and deserved a lot better than what she was given to work with last season.
ANYWAY! The Doctor uses cunning fight tactics to knock Robin into the water, and then they go to Robin’s lair and meet all of his bros. Clara is living for it, but the Doctor is convinced that it’s some kind of illusion or trick because hell no Robin Hood isn’t real, get a grip! Clara is just like “Whatever” and then asks Robin why he’s so sad. Robin is like “Why do you think I’m sad?” and Clara says “Because you LOL too much” and he confesses that he lost his land and title and girlfriend to the evil sheriff.
So they go to a big archery tournament at the local castle and the very Count Rugeny sheriff (who btw at the beginning of the episode murdered a dude so he could make his daughter work in his gold sweatshop) faces off against our boy Robin and they’re both soooo good at shooting arrows, but Robin is just a little better so he wins the golden arrow. But then the Doctor beats both of them and then he and Robin take turns doing trick shots for like an hour until the Doctor gets bored and just explodes the target with his sonic screwdriver.
Sheriff Rugen is like “Neat trick! You’re under robot arrest!” and then his knights, who are all secretly robots who shoot purple lasers shaped like crosses out of their foreheads to disintegrate people, throw him and Robin and Clara into a dungeon.
Robin and the Doctor squabble for a long time about who has a better escape plan when really neither of them has a plan and Clara is like “I’VE HAD IT, OFFICIALLY!” and makes them STFU. A guard who was eavesdropping decides that Clara is clearly the brains of the operation and takes her to Sheriff Rugen, and by pretending that she wants his D she gets him to tell her the story of how the robots came down from outer space and promised to help him become the king and all he has to do is help them make a golden microchip or something so they can fix their spaceship.
Meanwhile the Doctor and Robin are still bickering in the dungeon but manage to pull off the old “pretend you’re sick so the guard comes within headbutting range” ruse (I mean in the guard’s defense it probably wasn’t yet a cliche in Yesteryear) and then they wander around until they find the spaceship hidden inside the castle. The Doctor sees on the computer interface thing that the spaceship is trying to get to The Promised Land (which you may remember is where the human organ harvesting cyborgs from the season premiere were trying to go) and he devises this theory that the whole Sheriff Rugen/Robin Hood rivalry thing is part of a robot ruse to placate the populace while they steal all the gold to repair their ship and basically this happens:
The sexual tension is seriously through the roof though, for real. But anyway, Sheriff Rugen busts in on them with Clara and everybody yells at each other for a while and then Robin grabs Clara and they jump out a convenient hole in the wall into the moat and then a robot knocks the Doctor unconscious and they chain him up with that peasant lady who got sold into indentured servitude at the beginning of the episode.
The robots are starting to rev up the engines even though they don’t have enough gold yet to fly properly and according to the Doctor all of England will explode if they take off, so he and the peasant lady devise a plan to stage an uprising wherein all the peasants murder all the robots by reflecting their purple lasers back at them using a fuckload of shiny tea trays that were just lying around I guess.
Meanwhile Robin has Clara back at his lair and is grilling her for the 411 on the Doctor because he is suspicious. We are left in suspense as to what she says but apparently it was good because at a crucial moment Robin dramatically busts back into the castle with Clara and rescues the Doctor and then convinces him that he is not actually a robot and then Robin and Sheriff Rugen have a sword fight and Robin uses the tricky move the Doctor used on him before to knock Sheriff Rugen into a convenient vat of molten gold.
They get the hell out of the spaceship castle right before it takes off and they’re like “Well fuck it’s still going to blow everything up, these robots are idiots” but then the Doctor remembers the golden arrow that was the prize from the archery competition and determines that if they shoot the ship with the arrow it will give it just the extra boost it needs to get far enough away before it blows up that it won’t destroy everything? I think? It doesn’t make a ton of sense, but whatever, it ends up being funny because Robin Hood can’t shoot the arrow because he got his arm sliced in the sword fight and he’s like “But you are a pretty ballin’ archer yourself, Doctor” and the Doctor is like “Actually I cheated and used an arrow with a homing device LOLOL” and long story short, the only way to save everybody is for our trio of heroes to stage an elaborate crotch shot together.
But anyway, it works and the ship blows up and only the robots die and who cares about them, they’re just some stupid robots who are bad at planning! Clara tells Robin not to give up on finding his gf Marian before heading back in to the TARDIS. The Doctor and Robin shake hands and Robin is like “I’m glad that in the future people just think I’m a fairy tale because that’s way more exciting than stupid boring history. P.S. Clara told me your whole life story and she clearly thinks of you as a fairy tale hero” and the Doctor is like “But I’m not” and Robin is like “Eh, whatevs, just go with it” and they shake hands and then the TARDIS disappears and who should be waiting behind it but the peasant chick, who conveniently happens to be Marian! They make out and everybody is happy except all the bad guys who blew up. The end!
I don’t think I effectively communicated how legitimately funny this episode was but it made me LOL so many times that I almost forgot that our new resident hottie Danny Pink was nowhere to be seen! Also I have to give credit to the Doctor Who team for managing to sneak this shot past the BBC: