Make your own free website on Tripod.com
 

EPISODE 5
MUTINY
A vitally important plot point ...



The adventure continues ... albeit with some major changes.  The most obvious change is the loss of the Indefatigable, and its cozy feeling of a happy family under the benevolent protection of Papa Bear Pellew.  A sad but I suppose inevitable loss.

And what have we gained?

Well -- how does this sound: a grown-up, strong, assertive, devastatingly attractive, physical Archie?  It's certainly music to my ears!  In fact, viewers unfamiliar with HH1 may well never guess the compelling story behind the confident officer seen here.  But there are clues, if you know what to look for.

Anything else?

For a ship we have the bigger, darker, faker Renown.  For a captain we have James Sawyer, who may possibly put an end to the good villain drought we've been suffering from since The Duel.  We also have some welcome old faces, a boatload of new faces, more action, more noise, more blood, more skin, more ambiguity, more ethical dilemmas, and the stupidest hats this side of Carmen Miranda.

One other point: if Mutiny feels incomplete, that's because it is.  While the first four episodes can each be viewed as self-contained units in a series, HH2 is very much a two-part movie.  We won't have the full story -- or the full characters, in a lot of cases -- until Episode 6.  With that in mind, let the adventure begin!  

(Er, I mean, continue ... )


A Rather Long Summary

Archie by The Numbers

Unsolved Mysteries

Thoughts


(Image swiped from Two Evil Monks. Sorry; can't help meself!)




Back to top of this page


 
  A RATHER LONG SUMMARY


Ah, the Indies, Horatio -- now that's the place to be.  Clear blue sky and waters, too ...

Nine years after those lines were uttered in The Duel (and an indeterminate number of years after the twin debacles of Muzillac and the Frogette), Horatio (sans dorky hat, for the moment) has finally made it to the Indies.  To Kingston, Jamaica, to be precise.  But ... what the hell is he doing here, and why is he occupying a suite in the town's Crossbar Hotel?

The promise of some answers quickly arrives in the form of Papa Bear himself, Commodore Sir Edward Pellew -- with a decent hat, but a bad wig.  And what the hell is Pellew doing in Kingston?  Besides establishing some continuity with the first series, I mean?  As it turns out, he is both using up his quota of Weight Watchers' "points" courtesy of the scenery, and establishing the premise of the episode: "In a few hours you'll be on trial for your life," he snarls at Horatio.  But this is not the Horatio who blubbered before Pellew in The Wrong War, and he firmly declares that he did what was necessary for the sake of order and discipline.  Talk about waving a red flag before a bull -- "Order and discipline!" Pellew barks.  "Black bloody mutiny, sir!"

Ah!  So that's what this is all about.  Yep, Horatio is charged with mutiny -- insurrection against "one of Nelson's own," Captain James Sawyer of the HMS Renown.  And now we are treated to a prolonged explanation of how Our Hero came to find himself in this pickle ...


**AN EXTREMELY EXTENDED FLASHBACK**


It's a dark and stormy night on board the Renown, and Lt. Horatio Hornblower (now with dorky hat) is there, along with a young midshipman named Wellard (OK hat -- it's that top hat thing Horatio and Archie sometimes wore in the first series), First Lt. Buckland (with dorky hat) -- and  Archie!!!  Here he is: Lieutenant Kennedy, if you please!  But the joy is somewhat muted by the fact that he doesn't get to say anything, can barely be seen through the wind and rain, and when you can see him it turns out that he too is wearing a dorky hat!  Patience, must have patience ...

Our old friends Styles (hatless) and Matthews (a different dorky hat) are present as well, with Styles offering encouragement to some kid who is, I believe, identified simply as "Kid." Amidst the familiar faces are some more new ones: Hobbs, a gunner with a sour-lemon countenance and another different but still dorky hat; and Randall, a semi-hatted rating who is for my money the single most unappealing male character in all six episodes.  (Even he can't touch Mariette, however -- hence the "male" qualification.)  Oh, sure, others may have been more evil or even uglier --- but none possess quite such a rank, banal, toilet-seat-grade personality.  He almost makes one yearn for the wistful charm of Mr. Bunting in The Fire Ships.

Uh, to return to the story ...  The storm is getting rather dodgy, and Horatio sends Wellard to tell the Renown's captain that they must "double reef the main topsail."  (At least, I think that's what he says.  I confess I found the nautical jargon even more incomprehensible in this episode than in the first four.)   Unfortunately, only a brief glimpse of said captain is required for us to realize that this is not a good idea.

You see ... the captain, James Sawyer, bears an uncanny resemblance to David Warner.  This of necessity means that he's either a) a villain, b) mad as a balloon, or c) both.  And when we are treated to a malevolent (hatless) close-up of Sawyer as he listens to Wellard's report, we know Horatio is in serious trouble!  Oh, and it doesn't help that Sawyer is constantly tended to by a certain Dr. Clive -- who has a fairly decent hat but usually prefers a grotty wig.

Sawyer is deeply affronted that Horatio has ordered the men to do whatever they're doing with the topsail without telling him first.  He goes raging up to the deck and orders all this brazen double reefing to cease and desist immediately.  In his eagerness to obey, Randall pushes "Kid," who splatters to the deck.  Further continuity with the first series is established when a major character barfs within the first ten minutes (Wellard, this time).  And at last Archie has his first line: "Pass the word for the doctor!"  But you still can't really see him ...

Sawyer, taking a leaf from the book of the late unlamented Marquis de Moncoutant, orders Kid's body thrown over the side.  Horatio grimaces heroically.  And at last we get to hear and see Archie speak at the same time: "For God's sake, Horatio!"  Styles urges Horatio to obey Sawyer, for nothing will bring Kid back.  He adds, "Isn't that right, Mr. Kennedy?"  Archie nods sadly: "Yes, Styles, that's right."  A simple line delivered with just the right mixture of despair and disgust.  The long wait has proved worth it: Archie has not lost his touch, not by a long shot!  

Although Horatio gives another grimace, we are at least spared the visual details of the deposition of Kid's remains.  Then we cut to a bright sunny day with the Renown in port, and the arrival of Second Lt. William Bush (with dorky hat).  Bush and Horatio do a Meet Cute, Horatio chews out Hobbs over the ship's poor discipline, and then Captain Sawyer arrives.  Archie is there, too, and wastes little time in reverting to the smartass tendencies we remember so fondly from the first series.  Sawyer has immediately formed a positive opinion of Bush, who says that he knows the captain "by reputation."  Sawyer's past reputation is of a fearless and successful warrior, but that bears little relevance to the nutter who ordered a man tossed over the side -- and Archie is quick to point this out in his own impertinent way: "As a captain or as a man?" Bush huffs that he doesn't much care for Archie's tone, and after he's departed Archie mimics him with deadly accuracy.  He and Wellard enjoy a good chuckle over it, but Horatio the Human Pill quickly puts an end to the amusements.  He orders Wellard to investigate the sounds of scuffling from below decks.

Below, we get closer to Randall than we ever wanted to; he is baiting Styles relentlessly.  Hobbs thinks this is perfectly fine, in keeping with Sawyer's tradition of a "spirited" crew.  Matthews tries to calm the situation.  Wellard arrives and also attempts to break it up, but he's clearly out of his depth when Randall starts sneering and calling him "boy."  BUT, help quickly arrives in the form of Archie -- and what a heralding cry he gives: "Sir, Randall!  You call him sir!"  Never have we heard Archie raise his voice like this, not even with the famous "Belay that!" line from The Duel.  He says it, and he means it!  And as an extra treat, he's finally 86'd the dorky hat!  

(Oh yeah, Horatio is there too.)

The next morning (I guess), the Renown sets sail.  Sawyer orders Horatio to "weather the lizard southwest a quarter west," and apparently that's one of his more sane lines.  Later in Sawyer's cabin, he explains their mission to Lts. Buckland, Bush, Horatio, and Archie.  They are heading to Santo Domingo in the West Indies, because of a slave rebellion and Spanish privateers blocking the bay.  Horatio's teacher's pet routine that worked so well with Pellew earns only scorn from Sawyer.  Archie doesn't get to say anything, but he's not wearing the hat and looks fantabulous.

And now I'm going to have to resort to the same strategy I used for The Wrong War, or this is gonna take friggin' forever!  First I'll do a brief recap of the various plot threads, and then a more detailed treatment of Archie's scenes -- at least until we reach the episode's Major Plot Development.  Until then, you need only bear in mind the following: 1) Sawyer is looning about, evincing paranoia over strange things like shipworm and reefing sails (again); 2) Clive and Hobbs have both served with Sawyer for years and are deeply loyal to him (and are more than a little obnoxious); 3) Buckland makes ineffectual noises about the deteriorating situation but is too much of a twit to do anything about it; 4) Bush can't stop mentioning Wellard whenever Sawyer asks him a question; 5) Wellard routinely gets the snot beaten out of him (he is supposed to remind of us of a younger Horatio, after all) or is threatened with same by Sawyer; 6) Horatio is put on continuous watch by Sawyer as punishment for being clever, ambitious, assertive, and -- well, Horatio; 7) Randall and Styles snarl at each other a lot while Matthews tries to restrain Styles; and 8) it seems like just about everyone but the Indy Alumni are taking more than merely the odd nip of laudanum and/or booze.  Oh, and at one point we also get an extended interpretive dance by Randall ... which is almost enough to drive me to laudanum and booze.

On to the Archie Highlights!


* After the blowup in Sawyer's cabin, there is a quiet scene of Horatio and Archie (hatless) in the wardroom that reminds me a great deal of the "nothing-to-fear-from-the-enemy" scene in The Wrong War.  Here Horatio rationalizes Sawyer's behavior while Archie insists that "the man's bedeviled, Horatio!"  Back at Muzillac, Archie would have eventually bowed to Horatio's illogic and non sequiturs; after all,  Horatio is heroic enough to give anything he says an air of conviction.  But now we realize that Archie has changed: he doesn't give up and presses Horatio on each point.  When Horatio says that every captain has his own way, Archie immediately fires back, "Tell that to the poor young seaman of yours that we scraped off the deck and threw over the side." Horatio insists that Sawyer has "earned his place in history."  "It's not history that concerns me, Horatio," Archie replies. "It's the future.  It's far more uncertain."  Game, set, and match to Archie.


* After another disaster involving reefed sails, Sawyer has Wellard beaten.  "It's an injustice, Horatio," Archie insists.  Just about everyone in the crew is watching the beating, including Archie from above decks.  At the eleventh stroke, he walks away in utter disgust. [Warning: hat scene.]


* After his beating, Wellard miserably reports for duty to Bush.  Archie quietly approaches Wellard and tells him to mind the sandglasses.  At first he sounds clipped and formal, a lieutenant giving orders to a midshipman.  But then he lowers his voice and counsels, "Concentrate on the task at hand.  It'll help to keep your mind off the pain."  Then he wanders off again, having offered what comfort he could.  [Warning: hat scene.]

(Ohhh, this little bit is so perfectly played -- and yet the supposedly complete videos have unaccountably removed that wonderful melancholy music from the soundtrack!  It's still a beautiful scene, but it makes me wonder what else the "official" videos have mangled from the edited-for-TV version A&E broadcast ...)


* Sawyer is now in a state where he finds even minding the sandglasses to be evidence of conspiracy, and he orders Wellard beaten again.  "We must intervene!" Archie urges Bush, but Bush simply asks Horatio to "remind Mr. Kennedy that he is merely Fourth Lieutenant" and stalks off.   Archie then rages to Horatio, but he might as well be talking to Switzerland: Horatio merely shrugs that getting involved would only provoke Sawyer more.  This gives Archie pause: "You think I should have held my tongue.  You think I made it worse."  Horatio dips into his bottomless well of banalities: "You acted for the best."  And the old Archie surfaces again, with a deeply sarcastic "Oh. Well.  There's a precious sop for my conscience."  [Warning: hat scene.]

* Wellard's next beating is interrupted when two French frigates appear.  Archie (hatless) gets to go aloft and shout robustly, and for the first time I can ever recall he shows evidence of a flattering suntan.  Horatio saves the Renown by "firing the contents of the coffin" (or something like that), which is a very important plot point for it leads to the next scene where Archie congratulates him.  The important part is that Archie is a) in his shirtsleeves, b) smiling a lot, and c) has his shirt unbuttoned quite a ways down!  But then Sawyer comes in and spoils it all by complaining about Horatio's tactics.  There's just no pleasing some people.


* Sawyer's principle strategy for psychological warfare is to side with the men against the officers.  At one point he does this by ordering double rum for the crew.  "Rum," Archie says to Bush, understanding exactly what motivation lies behind Sawyer's act, "on a full watch."  [Warning: hat scene.]


* At one point during Horatio's extended watch, Archie comes up on deck to give him some company -- and, thankfully, he quickly removes his hat.  Horatio is relieved that it wasn't Sawyer, to which Archie inquires, "Why, what new madness has he embarked on?"  Prior to this, Sawyer had already paid a nerve-wracking visit during which he urged Horatio to shoot him.  "He wants to die," Horatio brilliantly deduces.  "Then -- let him," Archie replies.  Horatio's fear is that if Sawyer goes, he'll be determined to take everyone with him.  "What can we do for you, Mr. Hobbs?" Archie suddenly asks without turning around.  Sure enough Hobbs is lurking about in the background, but he quickly scuttles off.  Then, a short time later, "What now, Hobbs."  It is not a question.  However, it's not Hobbs either, but Matthews.


* Turns out Matthews was sent to Horatio under false pretenses so that Randall could pound on  Styles with less than even odds.  In the aftermath of this fight, Styles, Randall, Horatio, and Archie end up in Sawyer's cabin as he presides over the matter.  He drops the charges because he likes a spirited crew; he is openly contemptuous of the Renown's lieutenants.  Archie has no dialogue, but he's not wearing the hat and looks great.


* Horatio, Buckland, and Archie (hatless) meet secretly in the hold to discuss the Sawyer situation.  It's pretty dim down there, but we do get some choice shots of Archie.  They are interrupted by approaching footsteps.  Why, it's Mr. Bush!  "I thought you might feel that the captain wasn't fit for command ..." he hesitates, "... as I do."  At last, Bush is welcomed to the fold.  

There is an interesting interplay of personalities here as the meeting continues.  Horatio, Bush, and Buckland seem more concerned with the logistics of removing Sawyer from command, with the appearance and aftermath.  Whereas Archie's concerns seem to be more on a personal level: he pointedly asks, "What about Wellard?"  In any case, Horatio has (finally) made up his mind that something must be done, and he announces portentously (and perceptively), "This is mutiny, Mr. Buckland.  Mutiny."


* In the meantime, Hobbs has been quizzing a spaced-out Wellard as to the lieutenants' whereabouts.  He tells Sawyer that all four are missing.  Sawyer storms out of his cabin brandishing two pistols and bellowing that it's "black bloody mutiny!"  Wellard goes down to the hold to warn the lieutenants, and they split up.  Horatio and Wellard hide behind some barrels, while Bush, Buckland and Archie (still hatless) ascend a hatchway.  Archie makes a little too much noise shutting the grating (and gives an absolutely adorable grimace), and Sawyer sends Hobbs and some marines off in that direction.


* Sawyer is near an open hatchway, waving his pistols about.  Horatio and Wellard are off to the side, behind some barrels.  Archie is hiding behind a door.  "I hear you!" Sawyer shouts to the door.  "Out!  Out!" Archie doesn't move.  Horatio tells Wellard to run.  "Stay where you are!" Sawyer screams.  Then, more quietly (and quite poignantly), "They've abandoned me ... Where are my true men?"  At this point Archie opens the door and steps out directly in front of Sawyer, whose back is toward the open hatchway.  "Sir ..." Archie says softly, slowly advancing.  "Keep your distance!" Sawyer hisses.  "Sir ..." Archie tries again.  Horatio and Wellard emerge from the shadows.  Sawyer backs up some more - and then there is a very ambiguous series of shots where Sawyer falls through the hatchway while Horatio and Archie stand above him with outstretched arms.  What, pray, just happened here?  We'll be coming back to this question again in due course.  (And again, and again, and ...)  All I'll say for now is that a lot of emphasis seems to be placed on a front-facing silhouette with very distinctive hair.


* In the immediate confused aftermath, Buckland decides that because Sawyer is still alive (if comatose) they should continue to act under his orders.  He's also very worried about the whole thing, in his twitty way.  "We did nothing," Archie  insists, "except consider our options under those circumstances."  Bush adds that events overtook them.  "And the air smells all the better for it," adds an unrepentant Archie.  He gets a mild reprimand from Buckland for this, but then there is a quiet scene with Bush.  Bush tells Archie he doesn't envy Buckland, who will have to take command if Clive declares Sawyer unfit.  He then advises Archie to get some sleep - and for the first time, Archie seems to think Bush is not such a bad fellow after all:  "Thank you, Mr. Bush, but I will share the watch with you."  [Warning: hat scene.]


* Another non-speaking but hatless scene: Clive is tending Sawyer's unconscious form in the captain's cabin as the lieutenants stand by.  He says the fall through the hatchway has caused Sawyer to lose his memory and made him "calmer."  He then embarks on a stream of medical doublespeak as Horatio and Bush press for clarification.  It also turns out that Clive has been giving Sawyer laudanum.  In a later scene, the lieutenants pressure Clive further into declaring Sawyer unfit.  "You keep pre-var-i-cat-ing!" Archie says.  Clive is clearly drunk and whines that they can satisfy themselves as to Sawyer's fitness.  There is also an interesting close-up of Horatio when Clive mentions Sawyer getting "pushed" into the hold ... (Hobbs has concluded that the fall was a push as well, by the way.  But by whom?  Anything to do with that front-facing, distinctively-haired silhouette?)


And now, at last, we're ready for the Major Plot Development: Horatio decides to take a shower.  (What did you expect?  Sawyer falling down the hatchway?  Ha.)  Now, this shower scene has drawn a lot of comment, and frankly I'm at a loss to understand why.  Here's Horatio, just demonstrating his knowledge of the importance of proper hygiene (a somewhat revolutionary notion for his day, apparently) and its role in preventing the spread of infectious disease.  I don't find a comprehensive understanding of pathology very sexy, do you?  I just don't get it ...

BUT, we do get to see Archie flashing his patented goofy grin at the absurdity of the situation - and as an added bonus, he even takes off his hat.  However, the high spirits quickly evaporate when Sawyer suddenly appears on the scene.  Talk about getting caught with your trousers down!  Sawyer orders the arrest of Horatio, Archie, and Bush.  Buckland's not happy about it, but Horatio silently urges him to carry out the order to avoid more trouble.  It must be a tribute to Horatio's qualities as a leader that he can bend a superior officer to his will even while in the altogether.  On the other hand, this is tower-of-jello Buckland we're talking about here, so maybe it 's not much of a feat after all ...

By now the Renown has reached the island fortress of Santo Domingo.  The fort is too high up for the ship's guns to reach.  As if that isn't trouble enough, the ship is sitting in only a few feet of water.  Buckland, to his credit, warns Sawyer on both these points and begs him to release the other three lieutenants.  Sawyer refuses.

Down in the hold, Horatio pleads with Hobbs to release them.  Hobbs seems to hesitate for a moment, but ultimately refuses.  There are some terrific shots of Archie's famous "sapphire bullets" peering up through the grating during this exchange ...

Sawyer's madness finally crosses the line to certifiable incompetence when he orders the guns to fire on the fort.  The force of the shots causes the ship to run aground.  While Wellard and Sawyer fight over a pistol and Buckland fusses twittily over a cut on his forehead, water starts pouring into the hold -- accompanied by shells from the fort.  "Heated shot!" Archie exclaims.  "They're using heated shot!"  Horatio actually MAKES A JOKE: "I wouldn't worry, Mr. Kennedy!  We'll drown long before we burn!"

Amidst the general chaos (and a big cheer for Styles when he shoots Randall in the foot - no more dancing!), Matthews and Styles release the lieutenants from the hold.  Horatio immediately assumes command of the situation (despite the fact that he has seniority only over Archie ...) and comes up with a brilliant if incomprehensible idea for pulling the ship free.  It somehow involves an anchor, and somehow Bush falls into the drink, and somehow Horatio rescues him.  But the important part is that Archie is in his shirtsleeves again (and still hatless), manning the capstan.

Meanwhile, Sawyer's memory starts to return.  He is huddled on the deck with Hobbs and Clive watching over him when at last he declares: "They pushed me!"  Uh oh.

The ship still won't pull free, so Horatio comes bounding up on deck with another brilliant idea: "double shotting the guns" (?) will "break the suction" (?).  Sawyer threatens to shoot Horatio, at which point Clive finally declares Sawyer unfit for command.  

Then the guns fire, and the ship breaks free.   Clive immediately waffles on his earlier declaration of Sawyer's unfitness, maintaining that it was made under duress.  (Details, details.)  Sawyer is confined to his cabin, Buckland (who is in command now) expresses amazement at Horatio's boldness, Archie (still hatless) flashes a bee-yew-tee-ful smile, and we get some nice views of everyone's tonsils as they yell nautical-type stuff.  


**BACK TO THE FUTURE**


We've come back to Jamaica and Horatio's prison cell, where Horatio commits a horrendous  Freudian slip: when Pellew asks if Sawyer's fall precipitated his condition, Horatio replies, "That's what seemed to push him over the edge."  Pellew considers this an "interesting" choice of words.  And as the credits roll after some meaningful close-ups, we can feel certain we haven't heard the last of this little matter ...

I suppose I should say "The End," at this point ... but I'm more inclined to say "Now what?!"


Back to Mutiny


 
  ARCHIE BY THE NUMBERS


Scenes: 49 of 117 (somebody's been attending the Wrong War School of Film Editing: lots of quick intercutting between brief little scenes)

Smiles: 9

Smartass remarks: 2

Nose scrunches: 8

Lip licks: 0

Loose hair scenes: 0

Open shirt scenes: 1

No shirt scenes: 0

Lost-in-thought trances: 0

Fits: 0

Times Horatio says "Ah-chie": 6

Noble friendship gestures: 1


You will of course notice the absence of some of the mannerisms we
remember so well from HH1.  Therefore, on the basis of this tally I
think it can be empirically proven: Archie really has grown up!  Q.E.D.


(NOTE: for particulars, see the Observations pages.)


Back to Mutiny


 
(?) UNSOLVED MYSTERIES


* What is Pellew doing in Jamaica?


* Horatio to Archie: "May I remind you that when we first heard we were to transfer to Captain Sawyer's command, we drank Portsmouth dry in celebration."  Two mysteries here, actually.  1) What does this have to do with any of Archie's preceding statements?  2) How could the scriptwriters sadistically tease us like this?  A little flashback within the flashback showing some depiction of this (apparently) legendary round of debauchery would have been appreciated.  Hmph.


* Admittedly I still don't know a head from a halyard, but why is Bush so worried about preventing an anchor from sinking?  

NOTE 5/13/01: It has since been pointed out to me that said anchor was in fact not yet attached to a line.  Well ... OK, I'll buy that.  But ya gotta tell a person these things, ya know!
(Thanks to Cynthia for the info!)


* What Napoleonic-era fashion guru decided it would be a brilliant idea to twist those bicorns 90 degrees, and what was he smoking when he decided it?  


* So what did happen to Captain Sawyer?  It's a two-part movie ...


Back to Mutiny


 
THOUGHTS


* I probably sound like a parrot by now, but one of the very best aspects of HH1 was its strongly defined characters.  Does HH2 measure up?  A little difficult to say on the basis of Mutiny, because the story doesn't so much end as reach an intermission break.  These characters have not finished developing yet, and the impressions we've gained of them here may well prove inaccurate.  For now, we've got Sawyer the raving nutter (although at times he seems capable of insight and even poignancy), Hobbs the creep, Clive the whiny drunk, and Buckland the ineffectual but good-natured twit.  Will this change?  I can only say that for some indefinable reason Hobbs reminds me of Mr. Hunter in The Duchess and The Devil -- and that was not a static character by any means.  We await Episode 6 for further illumination ...


* On the other hand, I can't help noticing that most of this episode's moments of genuine warmth and camaraderie come to us courtesy of the Indy Alumni -- all of whom (except for Horatio) are not "supposed" to be here, canonically speaking.  And yet while these characters don't appear in the book Lieutenant Hornblower, how much darker and colder would Mutiny be without those little scenes of Horatio and Archie, Archie and Wellard, Styles and Matthews, Horatio and Matthews, etc.?  And what does this bode for the future?  It's far more uncertain ...


* Those bloody hats are driving me to distraction.  Oh, I'm sure they're historically accurate and everything, but they're also totally unflattering -- especially from the front.  At least Archie manages to carry it off with a bit more aplomb than a lot of his shipmates can muster.  But every time the guys lean forward in close consultation, I almost expect them to knock into each other or even poke out an eye.  They all look like they're walking around balancing banana boats on their heads!  Sheesh.


* Getting back to the characters, one who most definitely has undergone significant development is -- Archie!!  We saw him beginning to find his way back in The Wrong War, and although it's uncertain how many years have passed since then, they definitely must have been good years.  Somewhere along the way -- with a little help from Horatio, most likely -- Archie has found his strength and confidence.  But he has by no means abandoned his old persona: it's there in every smartalecky remark, every gesture of sympathy and support for Wellard, every railing against injustice and cruelty, every chafing against rules that seem to defy common sense and humanity.  One gets the sense that this is not so much a "new" Archie as the Archie who, underneath the panic and despair, was really there all along.

One of the most touching scenes in this episode is when Archie sets Wellard to work upon the sandglasses, adding quietly, "Concentrate on the task at hand.  It'll help to keep your mind off the pain."  I'm told that in the book this was actually Bush's line.  But Archie's own history inevitably colors it, making it just that much richer and more resonant.

And now I'm going to give a little more detailed treatment to two of the new major characters, because they are almost inextricably linked to Archie in different ways:


* Wellard: Back when we first learned that Archie would indeed appear in HH2, there was much speculation as to how exactly he would fit in.  A suggestion offered several times was to make him into the Wellard character, with the reasoning that he was already well accustomed to serving as the series' whipping boy.  I for one am grateful the scriptwriters did not choose this option, on two counts:

1) In many ways, Wellard seems to have it worse than Archie did.  We're told he has no family and no friends, whereas Archie had his father (the one with the gillie) and Clayton and Horatio to help him out.  We actually see Wellard getting beaten, whereas Archie's suffering was off-camera (not to mention the realm of conjecture).  Wellard's tormentor is not some overaged, underachieving midshipman but the omnipotent Captain Himself.  And no one ever turned Archie into a dope fiend either, now that I think of it.

2) Ironically, Wellard's character clearly proves once and for all that there was always more to Archie than just his capacity for suffering.  Oh, I feel sorry for Wellard (and he is a cutie-pie), but I personally don't find him particularly interesting as a person.  At least, not in this episode.  Sometimes he seems to be a reflection of the younger Horatio, sometimes of the younger Archie -- but what is he in himself?  Archie, even when at his most despairing, always stubbornly clung to his own individuality.  With Wellard, is there any "there" there?

Perhaps there is.  We do catch some glimpse of an internal storm after Sawyer's fall, when Wellard aims a pistol at the captain for a few seconds.  A hint of things to come?  It's a two-part movie ...


* Bush: I can't claim to have approached this character with an open mind.  On the contrary, my mind was closed, padlocked, and hermetically sealed.  Why?  Because I knew what he was doing there, what he was supposed to be.  In the Hornblower novels, Horatio's best friend is Mr. William Bush.  Archie's replacement?  Bah.  He'd have to earn it.  So did he?

I know I'm in the minority here, but I don't much care for the "Meet Cute," "Reload!" or anchor scenes.  They smack of contrivance and manipulation to me -- as if the scriptwriters were in effect ordering, "You WILL like this character, Jor-El!  Both you and your heirs!"  Much better, to my mind, are the scenes where Bush gradually starts to cotton on to Sawyer's madness, and then when he joins the other lieutenants in the hold.  Well played, this: testing the waters, then finally taking the plunge.  Now that's more like it.  If Bush must represent the future, then let us at least come by it honestly.  We'll see how he does in Episode 6 ...


* Because I have standards, I am not even going to mention those trousers in that scene.  (Oops!)


* I don't seem to have much to say about Horatio here ... Except that it strikes me now more than ever that he must have some kind of Incredibly Brilliant Ideas Database stored away in his cerebrum, which he can access as quickly as if he had a Pentium IV processor tucked away in there as well.  It doesn't matter what the problem is -- French frigates, anchors sinking, grounded ships -- and it doesn't even matter if I usually can't follow the logic behind his solutions at all.  What matters is that it only takes him a few seconds to think of some way to save the day, every single time.  

I suppose in this respect he has changed somewhat, for at least in HH1 we did get to see him make mistakes every now and then.  When faced with a physical crisis now, there isn't a whole lot of suspense.  But physical isn't the only kind of crisis, and HH2's story remains compelling -- because Horatio's interpersonal communication skills are far less reliable.  Our Hero is most likely going to have his work cut out for him in Episode 6 ...


* Did I mention I hate the hats?


Back to Mutiny