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EPISODE 6
RETRIBUTION
Right.  I am going to get that scriptwriter!!



How could they?  A crime against the audience.  Something so unimaginable, so foul, so cruel -- I would almost go so far as to call it a crime against humanity.  How could they do it?!

Yes, it is with the deepest anguish and regret that I report: the guys are still wearing the dorky hats!

Oh, and there is one other rather heinous crime in this episode ... But I'm not in a hurry to get to it, are you?

And so, the adventure continues in The Adventure Continues ...


A Frightfully Long Summary

Archie by The Numbers

Unsolved Mysteries

Thoughts


(Image from A&E's HH2 press kit; thanks to Beth D. for sharing.)




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  A FRIGHTFULLY LONG SUMMARY


First of all, HH2 being a two-part movie, I'm assuming that anyone reading this has already seen Mutiny, the first part.  Anyone who hasn't is referred to the Mutiny summary on this site.  Too lazy to do a recap here; sorry.

Now then: we've come back to Jamaica again, and this time the preliminaries are over.  Horatio's court martial for mutiny is set to start, and in the opening scene we meet the men who will be sitting in judgment upon him.  Commodore Pellew we already know (conflict of interest?  what conflict of interest?), Captain Hammond we might recall from Episode 2, The Fire Ships (although I can't say The Fire Ships is something I recall very often ...), and Captain Collins is the new guy (incidentally, if the "John Castle" listed in the credits is the John Castle, then it is sadly true that time and tide wait for no man).  Sort of like Good Cop, Bad Cop, and Cop-out, if you follow me.  When the court martial proper begins, we see sitting in the dock Horatio and Buckland and ... and that's it, actually.  Where are Archie and Bush?  Did they miraculously avoid charges?  Don't bet the mortgage on it ...

The proceedings of the court martial are regularly punctuated with flashbacks (anything to do with all that laudanum most of the characters have been scarfing down like soda pop?  when they're not swilling booze, that is?), and since that's where we'll find most of Archie's scenes, let's get to it!


*FLASHBACK #1*
We're on the Renown now, in the immediate aftermath of Episode 5.  The crew is gathering the dead in preparation for a mass funeral.  There is a very brief glimpse of Archie rolling his eyes as Buckland (the ineffectual but good-natured twit) frets over them getting underway to Kingston ...  But don't worry; we'll do better than this all in good time.  Matthews, sewing up some bodies in sailcloth,  says to Horatio, "I only hope a cheery soul will do me the same favor when the time comes."  If this is meant to be foreshadowing, I don't think it's subtle enough.

Dr. Clive (the whiny drunk) tends to the deposed Captain Sawyer (the raving nutter), who is confined in his cabin in a straightjacket.  Thanks to Sawyer, we get a flashback within a flashback: upon seeing Wellard (the whipping boy who says he is not a whipping boy), he recalls his fall down the hatchway.  (Don't worry if you miss it; we'll only see it three hundred more times.)  Meanwhile, twitty old Buckland is conducting the mass funeral with his usual competence -- and at last we get a proper glimpse of Archie!!  He is standing in line near Horatio, mercifully not wearing his dorky hat (one positive thing about funerals, I guess), and lookin' good.  He exchanges some grimaces with Horatio as the service becomes more awkward, particularly when Buckland starts making obligatory noises about Sawyer's health.  But unfortunately we have to get through a few moments of Randall (the toilet seat personality with Riverdance aspirations) before reaching a scene where Archie gets to say something.  As charismatic as ever, Randall tells Hobbs (the creep) that "times like this is every man for himself."  Well, Randall, old son -- you are more than welcome to keep yourself to yourself.  It's no trouble, believe me!

Next there's a strategy meeting in the captain's cabin.  Horatio urges Buckland to attack the fortress of Santo Domingo that very night, on the grounds that it will make their case look better when they reach Kingston and face court martial.  Archie backs him: "The virtue of surprise, sir!"   Buckland is less than impressed and wants to go straight to Kingston.  Bush backs him.  But Buckland, a twit for all seasons, makes a remark about Sawyer being unfit for command -- which is not a good idea since Sawyer is sitting right there!  Even though he's still straightjacketed, Sawyer perks up right away: "One of you had his dirty hands on my back," says he.  And once again he has a flashback to his fall down the hatchway.  There is a significant difference, however: this time, we see that distinctively-haired silhouette that was given such prominence during the actual events in Mutiny.  Now, who has hair like that?  Don't worry if you can't figure it out just yet; we've still got 299 more flashbacks to go.


*COURT MARTIAL*
Dr. Clive is giving testimony, for the most part managing to restrain his whiny tendencies.  (I shudder to contemplate how much of his own "medicine" he must have ingested to accomplish this.)  Just as he did at the end of Mutiny, he says he declared Sawyer unfit for command "under duress," helpfully adding that it was Horatio who decided to "detain" Sawyer.  Pellew (Good Cop) asks why Buckland as the senior officer didn't make this decision.  "That is a question for Mr. Buckland," Clive replies.  And that's about as good as it ever gets for Buckland ... but I don't want to get ahead of the story.

Oh, and where are Archie and Bush??


*FLASHBACK #2*
In the Renown's wardroom, Archie and Horatio appear to be doing their bit to deplete the ship's already sorely tried alcohol stores -- but hey, these guys are Indy Alumni.  It's just social drinking, you understand.  "Acting Captain," says Archie of Buckland.  "I tell you, Horatio, never was a man more aptly named.  He plays the part, but he doesn't even believe it.  No more than I."  Horatio admonishes that they've already lost one captain. "Yes," Archie replies thoughtfully.  "Yes, I know.  But we could be halfway to the fort by now.  If only Mr. Bush -- "  And who should choose to enter at that exact moment but -- Mr. Bush!  "The virtue of surprise, Mr. Kennedy," says he.  Sounds a bit like Archie and Major Edrington sparring at the docks in The Wrong War, doesn't it?  Having Bush in the mix may well prove interesting after all ...

Anyway, the long and short of it is that Bush has changed his mind and wants to attack the fort, "for I see if we do nothing we shall hang."  But unbeknownst to the lieutenants, Randall and a considerable number of sailors are in the process of deserting.  Randall tries to persuade Hobbs to come along, but Hobbs starts to become more appealing when he refuses to leave Sawyer.  And Randall becomes even less appealing (who would have thought it possible) by clouting Hobbs on the head.


*COURT MARTIAL*
Horatio is giving testimony: he says it was their duty to Sawyer to attack the fort.  Hammond (Bad Cop) says Horatio is more ambitious than dutiful.  Gee, I can't imagine whatever gave him that idea.

Still no sign of Archie or Bush ...


*FLASHBACK #3*
Matthews discovers that Randall and his mates are gone.  If nothing else, this finally convinces Buckland to attack the fort for the sake of morale.  Horatio, Archie, Bush, Wellard, Hobbes, Matthews, Styles, and a bunch of others row to the island, where they almost immediately discover the putrefying corpses of Randall et al.  Whether this constitutes high tragedy is up to the individual viewer's discretion.  (Speaking of discretion: yeah, that really is a nekkid bum among the bodies.  The interpretation of which I leave up to you.)  


*COURT MARTIAL*
Actually, this is a private tête-à-tête among the captains.  Hammond (Bad Cop) says Sawyer's name must be preserved (Sawyer is, as we are reminded constantly, "one of Nelson's own"), and just to prove what a baaaaaad dude he is, he kills a completely inoffensive fly.  Pellew retorts that Hammond is simply looking for a scapegoat.  Don't know where he got that impression from; I mean, all Hammond said was that they'll "find someone to take away the smell ..."


*FLASHBACK #4*
Back on Santo Domingo, Horatio declares that Randall et al were killed by the rebel slave army (remember them?), which by pure coincidence is now attacking their boats and sending a scouting party to the Renown.  The rebel leader orders Buckland to leave the island, and Buckland can't get his twitty tongue around the word "fire."  No "fiyahs" from this man -- a sure sign that he is not the stuff leaders are made of.  

Back on the island, we have finally reached a Major Plot Development: the Renowns are surveying the fort.  This is important because: 1) Archie watches a frolicking Spanish couple through a spyglass and has a high old time of it (sample comments: "Good God!" and "Well well well!"), and 2) it is absolutely, positively the last time we will ever see him wearing the dorky hat!!  Hallelujah!

The fun ends when the marines on the Renown misinterpret Buckland's tremulous "f-f-fire?" and let rip.  Not only does this majorly tick off the rebel leader, who goes off in a huff, but it also alerts the fort to the Renown's presence.  One of the frolicking Spaniards raises the alarm, and -- there being nothing else to lose -- the Renowns attack.  And at this point there's a lot of quick intercutting of various scenes, with Archie getting to do a fair bit of running around and shooting.  They are unable to breach the fort's inner door, but never fear: Horatio gives a few clicks of the ol' computer and comes up with Incredibly Brilliant Idea # 72764-6A.  He deduces that Archie's "friend from the tower" must have gained access through a back route.  And without so much as a by-your-leave to senior officer Bush, he runs off with Archie, Wellard, Matthews and Hobbs.

Now we are getting into serious drool material here: "Horatio, what the hell are we doing here?" Archie gasps as he charges about with a barrel of gun powder on his shoulder.  (I may be wrong, but I do believe this is the first episode where he's ever uttered cuss words.  Our Boy really has grown up!)  And then, when Matthews finds the manhole that is the fort's "back door," Archie and Horatio grin evilly at Wellard -- who is the only one small enough to make it through the opening.  Then, as they are lowering Wellard headfirst into the tunnel below, a Spaniard fires at them.  The shock causes them to drop Wellard, and Archie is mad as -- well, as hell!  He immediately picks up a pistol, and with a killer nose scrunch he pops the guy off with a single shot.  "All right, Mr. Wellard?" he then calls down into the hole.  Wellard is fine, for the moment -- but then some more pesky Spaniards appear in the tunnel.  Archie drops him a pistol, urging "Fiyah!  You must fiyah!"  Wellard does, but then Hobbs blows one of the gunpowder barrels and nearly burns the kid to a crisp (unintentionally, of course).  Archie has got his flinching-at-explosions technique down pat now, and I would designate this whole sequence a certifiable Rewind Moment.

And then, before we have a chance to recover, we next see Archie climbing down a rope!  It's a good thing these scenes are intercut with footage of Bush and the rest above ground; pure undiluted doses of a physical Archie are probably not good for the heart.  But after they find an unscorched Wellard, Archie gets to do more running around and shooting.  More gunpowder barrels blaze, and just as Bush is preparing to surrender ("Tell Mr. Hornblower he'll hang from the yardarm" is his warm valediction), Horatio and the others blast through the fort's inner door.  Then there is yet more running around and shooting, but the Spaniards surrender surprisingly easily after all that bother.  Gee, it couldn't possibly have anything to do with the three Spanish ships Styles and Matthews spot leaving the harbor, could it?

Bush observes that if the ships make it out to sea they might as well not have bothered with the fort, but Horatio calls up Incredibly Brilliant Idea # 41074-01X: "Hot shot, sir!  Nothing like it!"  Hmmm, I suppose not.  The Hot Shot Experiment is not an initial success, but there are some phenomenal views of Archie standing at the wall with a spyglass.  After Horatio's first attempt with the shot, Archie tracks its progress and announces, "The sea boils, Mr. Bush!"  (A number of people have told me that this, too, is a Rewind Moment ... for various lewd reasons that I am too much of a nice girl to get into here.  But I'll take their word for it.)  Then one of the cannons blows, much to Horatio's consternation -- particularly when he launches into a spiel about the "coefficient of heat expansion" or something and Bush cuts him off with "I call it bloody dangerous."  Archie gives an appreciative snort at this -- and I must say, I quite like Horatio's Mr. Pouty-Pants snit as his colleagues have some fun at his expense.  If we get to see more of this, then Bush is quite welcome aboard.  Oh, and he himself has a better time with the hot shot, leading to Archie's momentary Shakespearean lapse: "A hit!  A palpable hit!"  And call me a glutton, but after all this Archie-gorging, I'm pleased to say that the sequence ends on an even higher note: a simply fabulous grin as the Renown pulls in to port.


*COURT MARTIAL*
Hammond goes from Bad Cop to Really Bad Cop when he says that Horatio's "ingenious" underground attack on the fort put Bush and the others at the walls in danger.  What's this guy's beef, anyway?  I mean, just cuz Horatio skipped off without any orders or permission from Bush ... uh -- yes.  Well.  Ahem.  But fortunately for Horatio, Pellew (Good Cop) is there to do a bit of spin doctoring.  And later, in private, Pellew says that Horatio was one of the very best: "I will not hang out of hand a man so dear to me as one of my very own."  Well, it's a good thing he's not biased or anything.

And excuse me, but is there any sign yet of Archie and Bush?


*FLASHBACK #5*
Buckland arrives at the fort, flush with triumph and bartering with the Spanish commander, Senor Ortega.  We get to see some choice smirks from Archie as Buckland refers to himself as "captain" and prattles on about gift horses.  The horse in question is the whole island: Ortega wants to give it all up.  Very generous of him, and Buckland is ready to accept -- but then Horatio jumps in and "suggests" that Buckland wait before deciding.  "You must watch this man," Ortega remarks to Buckland.  But of course Horatio is right if undiplomatic: turns out the fort's supply rooms are almost empty.  "Where's the rest?" Buckland cluelessly inquires.  "This is the rest, sir," Archie replies.  You can almost hear him grinding his teeth.  Horatio deduces that the Spaniards have been under siege from the rebel slave army; they are so keen to leave the island because they're starving.  Buckland immediately decides to leave -- and the poor guy, even when he does work himself up to making a firm decision, Horatio jumps in yet again.  This time it's Incredibly Brilliant Idea # 9123845-52D: since the Spanish ships are out of the fort's range and the Renown is in too shallow waters to fire, they will take one of the ship's guns up a cliff.  (I just recounts 'em; I don't explains 'em.)

There is then a very cutting scene with Sawyer and a razor and Horatio ... Uh, maybe that didn't come out quite right.  Anyway, Horatio says that he thinks Sawyer is paying the price for his past courage and has become a danger to himself.  His argument is somewhat helped by the fact that Sawyer is in the process of slicing his own hand open with the razor.  Archie and Bush arrive and announce that they are ready to take the ship's gun to the island.  Sawyer looks straight at Horatio and says, "Damn you."  Hey, don't hold back, man.

On the island, Hobbs taunts Wellard about pushing Sawyer: "You were so out of your head with laudanum you wouldn't remember a thing!"  (Out of his head on laudanum?  On this ship?  I'm shocked.)  Fortunately Archie and Horatio come to the rescue by asking Wellard to ride the gun up the cliff.


*COURT MARTIAL*
Hammond listens to Horatio's explanation of the gun-up-the-cliff scheme and calls him an "opportunist."

Paging Archie and Bush ...


*FLASHBACK #6*
It's been awhile since we've had a good dose of Archie the Smartass, and now the perfect opportunity presents itself when one of the ropes securing Wellard's gun begins to fray.  Horatio immediately bounds to the rescue ... until he actually reaches the edge of the cliff and has a good look down - and down and down.  "All right, are you, Horatio?" Archie asks ever-so-solicitously.  Fine, Horatio gulps.  "I remember when you used to be scared of heights, Mr. Hornblower!" Archie replies perhaps a bit too loudly.  Bush gets into the act when he says one should do what one dislikes, such as eating turnips even though he never touches them now ...  Um, I guess you had to be there.

Of course Horatio saves Wellard, but not before Wellard has another flashback to Sawyer's fall.  This one doesn't include the distinctive hair, though.  There is then a bit of business with getting the gun set up while Buckland wines and dines Senor Ortega and his wife.  Archie doesn't get to do much as the gun hits one of the ships and Ortega capitulates, but at least he's there!


*COURT MARTIAL*
Pellew, just to show he can be as baaaaaad as Hammond, needles Buckland about the rebel slave army.  He calls Buckland's handling of the situation a "blunder" that "cost lives."  Hang on, Sir Ed -- at least let us get to that part!

Calling out an APB on Archie and Bush ...


*FLASHBACK #7*
Speak of the devil: just as the Spanish ships are striking their colors, the rebel slaves appear on a hilltop and prepare to attack.  Bush wants to fight, but Horatio "suggests" they retreat since they are only twenty men.  A shot rings out. "Not quite twenty," says Archie with impeccable timing.  They promptly skedaddle.  While Buckland and the Ortegas watch from the deck of the Renown, Sawyer starts singing lustily (he's done this before, actually -- and it must be conceded that he's better at it than Randall was at dancing).  When Buckland goes below to confront him, Sawyer tells him bluntly that Horatio is a real commander and that the men laugh at Buckland: "Strike first or he will take your ship and you will be dead before you know it."  Well!  It seems that Sawyer is much more than a raving nutter: he's also a canny, sly, manipulative old bastard.  Now that's character development!


*COURT MARTIAL*
Pellew asks Buckland how well he works with Horatio.  Buckland tries to be diplomatic by praising Horatio's "precocious talent."  Well, there's the kiss of death right there: we all know that "precocious" equals "supremely annoying."  I mean, can you stand Wesley Crusher?

Missing Persons Reports filed for Archie and Bush ...


*FLASHBACK #8*
As the Renowns and the Spaniards rush to evacuate the island, Buckland says he needs a man to lay charges to destroy the fort.  And of course it doesn't really mean anything that he's looking straight at Horatio while saying this ...  Archie figures it all out in an instant and offers to go, as does Bush.  But Horatio being Horatio, he agrees to being involuntarily volunteered and says goodbye to Archie and Bush.  Not to make light of a serious situation, but I did want to point out that Archie's farewell look is a prize Freeze Frame Moment.  Just in case you wanted to know.


*COURT MARTIAL*
Pellew asks Buckland if he "wanted" Horatio to survive blowing the fort.  Ouch!  Now, I think that is totally uncalled for.  I mean, just because Ortega had told Buckland to watch Horatio, and just because Sawyer had told Buckland to strike first ... and, uh -- well, it's too bad Buckland can't plead the Fifth Amendment.  The most he can say is "I resent that!"

Archie and Bush, wherefore art thou?


*FLASHBACK #9*
On the Renown, the Spanish prisoners are being herded down into the hold.  Buckland refuses to let Styles and Matthews take a boat back for Horatio.  He also wonders where Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Bush have got to ...

In the fort, Horatio is busy laying charges when a white handkerchief appears, quickly followed by -- Archie!!  And Bush.   "Are you out of your mind?" Horatio demands.  Archie, with a completely face-splitting grin, replies, "Very possibly, but we thought you could use the company."  He then gives a little -- well, it's hard to characterize.  Some viewers have termed it a "hip wiggle," others a "shoulder shimmy."  I do think it's more lower-body in origin and leverage, but either way it certainly has grabbed people's attention!  Anyway, amidst Horatio's protests that they have lost their collective wits, the charges are set and they hightail it outta there.  (There was a scene cut from the "official" videos of the guys running through a tunnel, with Archie shouting "This way!" ...  But it was on the A&E broadcast version, if you have a copy handy.)  Just as they escape via that manhole from their earlier attack, the fort blows and we get another choice shot of Archie's flinching-at-explosions technique.

Everyone on the Renown is watching.  "Now you know what it's like to lose your hero," says Hobbs to Styles and Matthews.  They both insist that Horatio will be back.  "Well, I admire your faith," Hobbs replies.  "Your victory is now complete, sir," Clive says to Buckland.  Buckland orders the ship to set sail for Kingston -- but just then Styles catches site of something on the island's cliff top.  

The "something" is of course our guys waving their arms and shouting.  Bush is ready to give up, but then Horatio comes up with Incredibly Brilliant Idea # 38713-40W: "We're going to jump!"  Bush is more than a little reluctant and not persuaded by Archie's argument that "it's only water; you won't break anything" nor by Horatio's rare witticism that it's "easier than eating turnips."  (Har har.)  Even as Bush is protesting that "we're not going to jump, and that's my final word," they go over the side with a leap that would make the Flying Zuchini Brothers proud.

Now, I have my doubts that this scene is anywhere in the book (even leaving aside the whole issue of Archie's presence), but it is undeniably presented as the high point of this episode.  For one thing, it is a glimpse of what could be an entertaining future with Horatio, Archie, and Bush as Napoleonic-era Three Musketeers.  For another, it proves that the stalwart faith of Styles and Matthews is fully justified.  For another, it appears to make both Hobbs and Clive realize that Horatio is as remarkable a leader as their own hero, Sawyer, once was.  Oh, and it also ticks Buckland off to no end.  

Once back on the ship, Horatio is immediately packed off to command the three prize ships.  Buckland orders Sawyer released from his straitjacket and pours himself a drink.  And another.  And another.  This is the Renown, after all.  Have another, Mr. Buckland!  It's on the house.  

While Buckland is having a liquid breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Hobbs takes Sawyer down to the hatchway that was the scene of his fall.  We get yet another flashback of the distinctively-haired silhouette, but Sawyer can't quite put a face to that coiffure.  Wellard and Archie both enter the hold (one after the other, and for no discernible reason that I can determine), but Sawyer fails to identify either of them as his assailant.  

Meanwhile, down in the hold Senora Ortega is making strange facial tics at one of the marines.  Apparently there's just nothing more enticing than a woman with twitching nostrils, and before you know it the randy old toad has let her out of the ladies' cell.

Back at the hatchway, Archie assures Wellard that "you have nothing to fear from the noose."   Wellard says he's not afraid for himself but that he owes a great debt to two men on the ship and would do anything to repay it.  Yikes -- encouraging Wellard to believe in himself is one thing, but I fear Archie has created a monster!

Down in the hold, the randy marine and Senora Ortega fool around for a second, but she then knifes him in the back and grabs the keys to the cells.

In the captain's cabin, Clive leaves Sawyer for the night, and Sawyer flashes back again to the distinctively-haired silhouette.  "Now I remember!" Sawyer declares.  And this time, just in case we couldn't figure it out for ourselves, the silhouette dissolves into another scene -- of Horatio, lying awake in his hammock.  

Below decks all hell is breaking loose.  The Spaniards easily deal with a drunken Buckland, but Bush is tougher game and manages to raise the alarm.  The A&E broadcast had two little scenes of Archie and Wellard still by the hatchway, with Archie shooting a Spaniard and shouting "This way!"  Wellard was shown disregarding the command and going off in another direction ... But since the "official" videos don't have the scene, Wellard turns up in Sawyer's cabin entirely without explanation - and with a pistol as his calling card.  "I can't let you remember!" he says, a bit belatedly.

There's a lot of fighting going on here, with Archie making liberal use of both sword and pistol and forcing his way above decks.  There we see Bush get skewered and Horatio arriving with the prize ships to save the day as usual.  It's just a little tougher this time, though.

Down in the captain's cabin Wellard insists that, "I am no boy, and you are no man at all to strike me."  As the Spaniards begin to pound on the door, Sawyer says, "Wellard!  I  know who pushed me.  Here, at least one of us can face the enemy with a clear head."  He hands Wellard a pistol ands orders "Fiyah!" (no doubt about it: this man was indeed a leader).  Wellard fires, to Sawyer's approval: "Brave lad!"  And hey, just like that all is forgiven!  Which, by the unwritten rules of drama,  inevitably means that they both must die.  The Spaniards oblige.

Back above decks, Ortega is aiming at Horatio, Archie makes a little "ugh" noise, and Bush manages to shoot Ortega.  The Spaniards quickly surrender to Horatio, everyone fusses over Bush, a dying Wellard (apparently) confides to Hobbs who pushed Sawyer, Horatio tells Hobbs that Sawyer was "a leader of men and he died in battle," a singularly ungrateful Buckland is released, and at last Horatio ambles over to where Archie is sitting on the deck.  Which brings me to what I've been trying my best to avoid.  (Why do you think this summary is so long?)

"I heard about Buckland," Archie chuckles.  "Silly old fool."  Horatio shrugs it off and then casually inquires, "Is that your blood?"  "It's just a scratch," Archie replies, but his voice is getting increasingly chokey as he tries to ask, "Prisoners under lock and key?"  Horatio rips open his jacket: "I said is that your blood!"  It is.  Lots and lots of it.  "It's not as bad as it looks," Archie gurgles (disturbingly reminiscent of "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist- ").  Horatio embraces him, and for a moment Archie looks like he just might become the latest inductee into the Hornblower On-Camera Barfing Club.  Couldn't blame him if he did; that fake blood most likely doesn't taste very good, and there's a loud glurping noise as he swallows a considerable amount of it ... But instead he settles for dribbling some of it from his mouth, and the scene mercifully fades out.


*COURT MARTIAL*
Actually, before we return to the court martial there is a brief little scene which solves the mystery of where Archie and Bush have been all this time: the prison infirmary.  And at this point I find it even harder than usual to carry on with some semblance of objectivity, for not only is my favorite character really dying, but -- as a number of people have pointed out -- his fatal wound is complicated by a major bout of Ali MacGraw's Disease!  It is almost obscene how good this man looks covered in sweat and bloody bandages with no shirt and a single fly crawling over him ... That fly, incidentally, has been the subject of lurid fantasies on the part of some female viewers.  I'm sorry, but you ladies are sick.  (Oh, and thanks to whoever sent me the .jpg files ...)  Anyway, Archie gasps out "Horatio ..." while Bush looks faintly disturbed.

Back at the court martial, Pellew allows Buckland to be ridiculed to the point where Buckland lets the proverbial cat out of the bag: he declares for all and sundry to hear that Sawyer was incompetent because Horatio pushed him down the hold.  He is certain Hobbs can verify this.

In the infirmary, Clive tells Bush he'll mend while Archie coughs and gurgles some more.

At the court martial, Hobbs' testimony isn't quite what Buckland wanted to hear: "My captain was a leader of men, and he died in battle."  (Where have we heard this before, I wonder?) "But," he adds, "I'm afraid I cannot tell you who pushed him."  Cannot or will not?  

In another private meeting of the captains, Pellew says "We should not try to hang this man.  We should promote him." Uh, Sir Ed -- that's laying it on just a bit thick, don't you think?  In any case, Hammond's not buying it and says that Horatio should take the stand and say for himself who pushed Sawyer.

In the infirmary, Clive asks Archie, "Who am I?"  "You're Clive, you great fool" is the gracious response.  But Archie immediately reverts to his smiling old self when Horatio arrives - until, that is, he sees Clive shake Horatio's hand and wish him "the very best."  Archie watches suspiciously.  "When they ask you, did you push Captain Sawyer into the hold ... " he begins.  "Are you asking me that question now?" Horatio cuts him off.  Archie has become earnest once more: "No, I am not."  Horatio refuses to answer, saying he would "rather not speculate."  One can almost see the gears turning in Archie's head ...

Next there are some scenes of men testing a gallows (Did I forget to mention that the penalty for mutiny is death?  Silly me.), intercut with Horatio returning to the infirmary.  To his disappointment, Archie isn't there.  Where is he, you ask?  Well ...

In the courtroom, the next witness is called.  The door opens ... and there's our widdle Archie, whom we've had the simultaneous pleasure and pain of watching grow up all this time, shuffling toward the witness stand, almost stumbling into a row of spectators, and finally bringing himself to stand to attention before a mildly astonished Pellew.

In the infirmary Horatio realizes what Archie is up to and immediately races off to the courtroom, oblivious of Bush's protests that "it must be done" ... But by the time he gets there, Archie has already done the deed: "I alone pushed him.  I alone pushed Captain Sawyer into the hold."  After considering this confession for possibly as long as three nanoseconds, Pellew pounds on his gavel and orders "Take this man down!"  There are then several significant -- and unbearably tragic -- close-ups: a quietly disbelieving Hobbs, a dazed but determined Archie, and a shattered Horatio.

After one quick glimpse of Buckland helping himself to the rest of the Renown's spirit rations, it can no longer be put off.  This is it: the big Death Scene.  Horatio's demeanor in this scene has been heavily criticized as, ah, somewhat excessively stoical -- especially in light of his howl-howl-howling over Mariette in The Wrong War.  But let us allow the fellas to speak for themselves:


H: Why?
A: Look at me, Horatio.  There's not a gallows in the world can touch me now.
H: Archie ...
A: It doesn't hurt, Horatio.  Don't let them see it hurts.  But I am frightened.
H: You're the bravest man I know, Archie!
A: A little prone to panic.
H: Archie, you're the one who jumped off a cliff with a man who can't swim and
    another who's afraid of heights.
A: So I am.
H: No panic then.
A: And none now.
H: And then when you stood up in court and took the blame ...
A: Poor Horatio.  So quick to give, so slow to accept the simplest gift.  You've done
    the same for me and others besides a thousand times.
H: But never at such a dear cost.
A: Please take what I offer.  Just take it and say goodbye.
H: Archie ... I'm honored to have served with you.
A: And I to have known you.  You see?  Better already! [dies]
H: My dear friend.


Nahhh, I won't knock Horatio for suppressing his emotions.  Although I wouldn't have minded him saying "my dear friend" before Archie fades away.  (And I'm not even going to get into the whole business of Archie's mysteriously disappearing and reappearing queue, either.  Whaddaya think I am, a nitpicker?)

Incidentally, Archie's body does indeed fade away -- quite literally, as Horatio (and the audience) watches.  There has been some questioning as to the precise meaning of this bit of time-lapse photography.  It's been suggested several times that this is in fact Scotty's transporter beam, whisking Archie away to the Enterprise's state-of-the-art sickbay where Dr. McCoy will save his life and thus prevent history from being irrevocably altered to the detriment of mankind by ensuring that Archie will indeed survive to become the progenitor of John Fitzgerald.  

Well, I've yet to hear a better explanation.

Pellew arrives and accords Archie about as much attention in death as he did in life: i.e., very little.  When Horatio asks if he believes Archie was telling the truth about pushing Sawyer, he does offer as a sop: "I think Mr. Kennedy was a man of great loyalty, sir.  He saw his duty and did it." Horatio laments the loss of Archie's good name.  Pellew informs Horatio that he is to be the new commander of the prize ship Retribution.  Cool, sez Horatio (in essence).  Well, he's working through his grief ...

And then the familiar music swells and the credits roll, but it all rings a bit hollow to these ears o' mine.  The End, indeed.


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  ARCHIE BY THE NUMBERS


Scenes: 54 of 121 ("official" videos) or 57 of 124 (A&E broadcast version)

Smiles: 18

Smartass remarks: 4

Nose scrunches: 4

Lip licks: 0

Loose hair scenes: 0

Open shirt scenes: 0

No shirt scenes: 4

Lost-in-thought trances: 1

Fits: 0

Times Horatio says "Ah-chie": 13

Noble friendship gestures: 3


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


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(?) UNSOLVED MYSTERIES


* Are there only two midshipmen on the Renown?  We only ever see Wellard and some guy who never says anything but wears a midshipmany-type uniform.  No wonder Wellard always looks a bit peaked!


* Excuse me, but just how many brain cells does that marine have -- the one guarding the Spanish ladies?  Here he is, hardly a superstud -- and yet it never once occurs to him that Senora Ortega just might possibly have the ghost of a shadow of a whisper of an ulterior motive for suddenly and outrageously flirting with him???


* Were Sawyer's pistols ever introduced into the court martial?  You know, those pistols Horatio asked Wellard to retrieve in Mutiny because "they could be vital evidence"?


* What rupture occurred in the space-time continuum that allowed Wellard and Sawyer to switch places in their death scene?  When they're shot, Wellard is on Sawyer's left.  When they're lying on the floor dead, Wellard is on Sawyer's right.  (Actually, I have seen some explanations offered for this.  But they involve complicated questions of physics, and frankly I consider life too short to agonize over it.  Where's Horatio when you need him?)


* OK, so who did push Captain Sawyer?  Archie?  C'mon ...


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THOUGHTS


* Interesting choice of title.  If I'm not mistaken, the word "retribution" is uttered precisely twice in the episode, and both times in the last three minutes or so.  Clearly there must be some thematic significance, but what?  Defined bluntly, "retribution" means "payback."  Therefore, I suppose it could be argued that Horatio getting his own command represents payback for his heroism.  Except that this seems a bit too pat after the roller coaster ride Horatio (and the audience) has been through.

The twist is that "retribution" can mean payback either as a reward or as a punishment.  Yes, Horatio gets his own ship, but he also loses his best friend.  Is he being punished for undermining the all-but-sacred authority of a captain?  Closer, but I think it may be more fundamental than that: not so much a defiance of authority as a loss of ideals, trust, innocence -- all the things that Archie has come to represent in this series.  Archie's passing deprives Horatio not only of a friend but of aspects of his own nature -- aspects that might make him a more endearing human being, but that have little place within the harsh realities of leadership.  And make no mistake: Hammond's accusations of ambition are not completely unfounded.  Horatio does want to be a leader; time and again we see him stepping in and taking charge irrespective of the chain of command.  And eventually he will achieve his ambitions, the great future everyone claims to see in him ... But one suspects the price was paid long ago in a little prison infirmary in Kingston.


* Having said that, many parts of this episode are just pure fun.  The scenes at the fort are especially entertaining: Archie and his inquiring spyglass, Horatio and his hot shot, Bush and his turnips, Styles and his crab's breakfast, Randall and his indisputably dead corpse.  And on top of that, dorky hat sightings are few and far between!


* OK, so what about all those characters that seemed incompletely developed in Mutiny?  Do they come into their own in Retribution?  For the most part, yes.  Sawyer the raving nutter never really does end the good villain drought ... but that's not a loss, because he does become something equally (if not more) interesting: a sort of 18th century naval King Lear, poignant when not in his "perfect mind" and grandly tragic during his moments of lucidity.  We have no trouble believing that this was once a great man; that he recognizes similar qualities of leadership in Horatio should remove all doubts on that score.  Hobbs the creep becomes Hobbs the Cordelia, loyal to his captain to the last -- and refusing to condemn Horatio, in whom he too sees the man Sawyer once was.  Buckland the ineffectual but good-natured twit remains ineffectual, but he also proves to be easily manipulated.  Each time someone tells him how brilliant Horatio is, the more poison seeps into his soul.  Yet he also is not without his moments of poignancy, for he is fully aware of his limitations: "I never expected it [command] to be easy.  I expected to be fit for it."  The irony is crushing: Sawyer was "unfit" for command because he was mad.  Buckland has no such excuse to fall back on.

The only character I really don't "get" is Clive.  Both he and Hobbs are loyal to Sawyer, and both seem to reach some kind of apotheosis regarding Horatio during the cliff-jumping scene.  (This is more apparent with Hobbs, however, for Clive's face is unfortunately blocked by a rope!)  He seems sympathetic when Horatio is on the hot seat at the court martial, and when Archie is dying.  Yet when giving his own testimony (chronologically after the cliff-jumping scene), he unwaveringly fingers Horatio as the instigator of the mutiny.  Perhaps he had a change of heart after giving his testimony?  Or perhaps it's just a scriptwriting gaffe?  (Like we've never come across those before ... )


* And what of those two characters so bound up with Archie: Wellard and Bush?  As expected, Wellard does get a chance to strut his stuff once he's out from under Sawyer's thumb.  Indeed, he is quite brazenly defiant with Sawyer: "I am no boy, and you are no man at all to strike me."  In his need to prove his courage and his craving for approbation from his superiors, he still seems to be a reflection of the younger Horatio and Archie.  But when he dies, the audience is left with the feeling that a promising life was snuffed out far too soon.

As for Mr. Bush ... Well, I really do wish the scriptwriters would stop trying to coerce us into liking this bloke!  This time the manipulation takes the form of a completely contrived hostile relationship with Styles, which naturally resolves itself when Bush is wounded, etc., etc.  But apart from that lapse, Bush acquits himself quite well here, particularly in the scenes he shares with Horatio and Archie.  It is nothing short of delightful to watch Bush and Archie needling the ever-so-serious Horatio, or conversely, Horatio and Archie urging the stolid Bush to take a walk on the wild side.  These scenes have a sparkle that leaves one regretting the three-way partnership which could have been.  But of course, we are instead left with just Horatio and Bush.  Not to sound like a case of sour grapes, but I would nevertheless maintain that there is a subtle difference between turning on a light switch and lighting up a room.


* Speaking of lighting up a room ... I'm going to have to revise my old opinion, which held that Archie looked his best in The Duel.  I still think he had the best hair there (I am nothing if not stubborn!), but for overall drooliciousness, he really has it all in Retribution!  Grrrreat hair, a flattering suntan, the ever-reliable sapphire bullets, lots and lots of big smiles, intriguing trousers -- and this is all even before he gets shot by an Ali MacGraw-caliber bullet!  After that happens, I don't trust myself to list his attributes without becoming the target of an FCC investigation.


* Pellew is great, Pellew is good, Pellew is God -- but I sure wouldn't want him presiding over my court martial.  He is so blatantly biased that it makes the O.J. Simpson trial appear a model of restraint and propriety.  Now, of course we're all in favor of him saving Our Hero.  But don't at least some of his efforts backfire?  When Hammond takes some swipes at Horatio, Pellew can't rush to protect his protégé fast enough.  But when Buckland comes in for ridicule, Pellew doesn't exactly leap to his defense.  That in itself might not seem so bad ... except that it is only when Buckland has reached this point of public humiliation that he accuses Horatio of pushing Sawyer.  Ironically, a little more impartiality on Sir Ed's part might have actually helped Horatio.  To say nothing of Archie's posthumous reputation!


* All right; enough pussyfooting: who did push Captain Sawyer?  Well, I'll try to keep this as short and simple as possible, because it's very easy to get bogged down and go off on tangents.  Therefore: 1) nobody who matters believes Archie did it; 2) Wellard probably didn't do it; 3) the films drop more than a few hints that Horatio did it; 4) Sawyer firmly believes Horatio did it; 5) but that doesn't necessarily mean Horatio did it.  Taking these in turn:

1) nobody who matters believes Archie did it
Hobbs, the only other man who might know what really happened, looks openly skeptical when Archie makes his confession.  The final dialogue between Horatio and Archie, and then between Horatio and Pellew, is very clear that Archie was making a sacrifice on Horatio's behalf.  He was not sacrificing his life (he was mortally wounded anyway) but his "good name," which was no small matter at the time.  After all, it was Sawyer's own "good name" that the Admiralty itself was so anxious to protect.  

2) Wellard probably didn't do it
Admittedly Wellard waffles back and forth on what he knows or doesn't know, or what he can or can't say.  But he had at least two other opportunities to kill Sawyer and didn't take them.

3) the films drop more than a few hints that Horatio did it
His demeanor in the immediate aftermath of the fall is somewhat casual in a forced way ("He must have overbalanced," he says when Bush quizzes him).  There is a significant close-up of him looking thoughtful when Clive whines that, "You don't seem frightened of the fact that someone may have shoved him down that ladder and nearly killed him ..."  He commits that awful faux pas with Pellew ("That's what seemed to push him over the edge.")  When Hobbs takes Sawyer to the hold to prod his memory, Sawyer identifies and dismisses Wellard and Archie in turn as his assailants -- but there is one person conspicuously absent.  The dying Wellard (apparently) tells Hobbs who pushed Sawyer, yet when called to testify Hobbs refuses to implicate anyone -- but perhaps significantly, he does so using Horatio's exact words as a eulogy to Sawyer's courage.   And of course, there's the little matter of the following:

 4) Sawyer firmly believes Horatio did it
Much is made of that distinctively-haired silhouette Sawyer keeps flashing back to.  Four men were in that hold, and only one of them has a Little Orphan Annie mop.  If Horatio had just left off the curling iron or (and you know how much it pains me to say this) simply kept his dorky hat firmly on his head, he'd have been home free.  And as if we couldn't tell Our Hero's hair from anyone else's, the camera gives us that very helpful dissolve from the silhouette to Horatio lying awake in his hammock.

5) but that doesn't necessarily mean Horatio did it
As conclusive as the hair clue seems to be, let us not forget that it is also completely from Sawyer's perspective.  In case it's escaped anyone's notice, Sawyer is a not exactly a competent witness with a reliable memory.  For one thing, he's a lunatic.  For another, he says, "One of you had his dirty hands on my back," yet it is clear in both the actual scene and in the flashbacks that nobody was at his back.  Moreover, it would be entirely in character for Horatio to confess even if he didn't do it: that was exactly what he did in The Duchess and The Devil, as Archie very well knew.  The most appealing theory is that nobody did it; the old coot just fell.  Except that, were that so, Horatio could have simply said so in court without compromising his sense of responsibility and duty.  The Admiralty might not have been happy about it, but in the absence of any real evidence to the contrary, that would have been the end of it.

And Episode 6 would have been about 15 minutes long!


* I'm guessing that Archie is about 26 years old here, and he has certainly packed a lot of living into that brief span of time.  Much of it he would probably not wish to recall while on his deathbed; indeed it makes me quite sad when he describes himself even then as "a little prone to panic."  Archie, my friend, you didn't panic once in HH2.   Horatio might not be terribly emotive in the death scene, but he is at least quick to restore some balance and remind Archie of how brave he really is.  In fact, it has been pointed out by people more perceptive than I that each character reassures the other about their greatest insecurities: Horatio tells Archie he's "honored to have served with you" (Archie's doubts that he is officer material), and Archie tells Horatio that he's honored "to have known you" (Horatio's doubts of his worth as a human being).  Still doesn't make up for what I regard as a wanton bit of (literal) character assassination ... but all things considered, not a bad epitaph by half.


* So, where do we go from here?  Oh, the Hornblower series continues to sail on ... And if a lifetime of Fire Ships retreads represents a siren song to your heart, then the future is now.

But if you ask me, it ain't got the same soul.


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