What do you get when you mix the 12th Doctor with Robin Hood?  A really great time, that’s what.

I’ll be the first to admit I had reservations about Robot of Sherwood (note, there is more than one robot, so Robots would have been more appropriate).  The first two episodes have been dark, especially Into the Dalek.  The Doctor has been darker, more sarcastic, and not really one for over-the-top type humor.  The preview clips for this week’s episode gave off a vibe that could linger too much in the over-the-top silly area.  However, that has proven to not be the case.

SPOILER WARNING – THERE ARE SPOILERS AND YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

Right, so the Doctor asks Clara where she wants to go and she says she want sot meet Robin Hood, who the Doctor quickly points out is not real but just to please Clara, he takes her where Robin Hood is told to be in all the legends.  Sure enough they arrive and are suddenly greeted by the man himself.  This Robin Hood is largely what you would expect

from him: energetic, optimistic, upbeat, always laughing, and having an overall merry time.  Throughout the course of the episode we learn there is more to him than what first appears, and the happy face partly acts as a way to hide from the past.  So, while Hood plays the role of the legend, he ultimately is just a man.  This continues the theme of the Doctor trying to figure out if he’s a good man or really just what sort of a man he is in general.  Which leads to a nice ending scene with the Doctor and Hood where Hood asks if he really is just remembered as a legend and forgotten as a man, and is good with being a legend.  Whereupon he tells the Doctor it isn’t bad being a legend, for it allows the people around them to strive to be something greater and that one day they will be the ones people remember.  This, of course, allows the Doctor to reflect on what he’s meant to his companions, and is likely why he wasn’t mad at Clara for telling his story.

The big concern I had this week was how Capaldi would be in a lighter episode.  I was ready to dismiss this as a filler, but it was more than that.  Allowing Capaldi to be lighter also allowed him to further expand the range of his Doctor.  He doesn’t do the silly humor of the 11th Doctor, but instead has a more subtle approach, much like the 3rd Doctor.  He’ll throw in quick little lines or have entertaining arguments/banter with characters, much as he did in a scene when he, Clara, and Hood were locked up in a jail cell.  The Doctor and Hood started arguing over who could die slower and eventually Clara told them to shut up and think of a plan, and they both claimed to have a plan.  Though, neither had a plan, which was clear when Clara made them explain their plans.  The best part here was when she told the Doctor not to include the sonic screwdriver in the plan.  Yes, it was because he was without the sonic at the time, but it was also a nice joke pointing out how the sonic became the easy out for every situation in series 7 and how it has already been used a lot less this series.

Actually, it's not as ridiculous as you may think

Actually, it’s not as ridiculous as you may think

I also enjoy how this Doctor is so sure of himself all the time and is proven wrong on several occasions.  He has this need to always be right, as if being wrong is a sign of weakness.  While darker, this Doctor is still vulnerable, he just tries to hide it in a different way.  This is one thing Moffat seems to have a good hold on, as the 11th Doctor also felt old, tired, and vulnerable despite being played by Matt Smith.  It was great seeing Capaldi come to terms with Robin Hood being a real man, not just a legend.

There was a story in case you’re wondering.  It was a fairly standard evil bad guy (redundant? sure, why not?) who gained control of a legion of robots from space and had an end goal of ruling Earth.  Nothing spectacular but it played out decently enough and had a nice Classic Who vibe to it with the castle setting, robots (Classic Who seemed to embrace robots and androids more than New Who), and story.  The robots actually had a pretty cool design both disguised as knights and with their helmets off.

Importantly, the Doctor checked the database in the robots ship and found out they were looking for The Promise Land (I believe that’s what it said, will re-watch to confirm).  This somehow links back to Missy, who was missing from this episode, which is fine, too much of her would likely result in lack of mystery and interest.  The arc so far reminds me of series 5 and the cracks, which is awesome considering series 5 remains my favorite since the show came back in 2005.

My only real issue is the lack of Danny Pink.  I’m curious to see where his story will go and what happened in his past as a soldier.  But that will likely come soon enough, so no worries there.

Overall, Robot of Sherwood  isn’t going to go down as an all time classic, but it’s a fun episode which I will not be opposed to watching again.

Next week looks to get darker again, with this trailer for Listen:

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