Episode #20 - An In-Depth Review

"Peril in the Toplands"
[From the Introduction] "Hello! I'm Brian Jacques and welcome to Redwall! When we last saw Mattimeo he was in great danger. Matthias wasn't able to help him and Redwall was under siege! Today, escape attempts continue! New friends are found! But, Slagar gains more power. Stay tuned to see brave mice fend off fierce fish, Cornflower battle evil birds, and Mattimeo deal with Stonefleck's army of evil rats on Redwall!"

[When asked about Redwall Animals] "That church back there, that Abbey church, I used to like the fact that there were lots of animals. You may see them... there's, uh, griffins, there's eagles. There's a lion, there's a boar's head, a pig, y'know. And they...They used to put these out as gargoyles. They were supposed, I think, in medieval times, they were to keep away the devils. To keep away the bad spirits. In legends, the raven was always associated with death!"

[Character Spotlight on Baby Rollo] "Rollo, beside being a baby, is always a great help. Because, sometimes, the little people can see things that we can't. And he is the one who discovers the ants that leads them to the clues. Y'see, they're all looking in different directions. And what's Rollo doing? He's playing with ants. He's playing with ants and that's how they find out. Instead of saying to him, 'Come away, don't look at it...' they suddenly have an idea. 'Yes, this is it!' So, besides all the family of Redwall helping Rollo, Rollo helps them."


The episode opens with last week's tapestry shots in reverse. The order is now: 1) Slagar shaking his fist at Mattimeo (unlike last week's closing, however, Mattimeo's shirt is now purple and blue rather than Matthias' red and green); 2) Matthias, Basil, and Orlando at the foot of the Great South Cliffs; and 3) Ironbeak on the roof with three of his soldiers.

After Stonefleck tells Slagar that if they crossed in daylight they'd be caught by the Painted Ones, Cynthia begins to cry and Slagar threatens her. Mattimeo steps between them telling Slagar he'd have to go through him, first.

There's a scene where Stonefleck says the coast is clear and they begin marching along the riverbank. Tess tells Matti she's scared, so he comforts her. Vitch then runs off to tell Slagar something and returns to taunt Matti that they won't stand a chance when they meet up with Stonefleck's rats.

A scene is added of Cornflower and Mrs. Churchmouse climbing a winding flight of stairs to set a trap for Ironbeak and his army. Baby Rollo squeezes through the barricade and follows them. Intending to grease the roof so the birds can't use it anymore, Cornflower and Mrs. Churchmouse are about to pour buckets out the window when Rollo yells, "Boo!" and frightens them. The resulting noise and dropped buckets give them away and they're captured by Ironbeak. In the book, we never saw their actual capture (and these circumstances are quite different from that of the book. See "Changes" section).

Another escape attempt has been added. Mattimeo distracts Slagar and Stonefleck by throwing rocks. Thinking Stonefleck's rats have arrived, they turn their backs on the slaves who make a run for it. They hide in a riverbank, thinking they've escaped, but they find themselves surrounded by Stonefleck's rats, who have finally arrived. While facing the rats, Stonefleck and Slagar appear behind Mattimeo and the others and they're recaptured.

While Stonefleck's rats are firing arrows at Matthias and the others, the episode fades into the tapestry-closing shots. This time around they are: 1) Stonefleck's rats firing arrows at Cheek, who is on the raft, and the rest, who are around it. Pikefish can be seen under the water; 2) Constance battling two of Ironbeak's birds while two others carry Cornflower, Mrs. Churchmouse, and Rollo overhead; and 3) Matthias, Basil, and the others scaling the Great South Cliffs.


- The Painted Ones all appear to be white (save for the chief, who's red). In the book, the Painted Ones are described as being "black and green".

- The circumstances of Cornflower, Mrs. Churchmouse, and Rollo's abduction have been changed. In the book, they were accidentally locked out of the Abbey after the diversionary attack on Ironbeak and were captured as they tried to get back to Cavern Hole. Here, they snuck off to set a trap for the birds (Rollo sneaking after them) and were captured in the process.

- Stonefleck's rats now come to the slaves and physically ferry them across. In the book, they were on the opposite shore and pulled Slagar and the rest across the river on a raft.


Sir Harry the Muse (Andrew Gillies) - Harry's voice has a very refined owl-ish quality to it, similar to Captain Snow's. In addition to that, he's able to recite Sir Harry's poems accurately and skillfully. A nice job all around.


Ah, the Painted Ones. What hath happened to thee?

Ok, seriously. Granted, Brian never spelled out what they were, exactly, in Mattimeo. But, later books suggest that the Painted Ones are little more than your everyday vermin who paint themselves and take to the trees. Savage? Yes. Nutty? Yes. An exotic animal? No. As I said last time, the Painted Ones look like a species of monkey you'd find in South America. I also have a problem with the fact that they're depicted as white (the everyday Painted Ones) and red (the chief). In the book, Brian specifically stated they were black and green. Black and green makes far more sense, as the purpose of their painting themselves was to blend in with the darkness and the foliage. How hard is it to spot something white or red in the treetops and darkness?

Aside from that, though, this was another excellent episode. We were almost halfway through it before I hit a change. Honestly, I thought we were going to have a "changeless" episode on our hands. Even with the three changes, though, it came pretty darn close. The pacing remains perfect, the direction is excellent, and the adaptation is outstanding. I would have preferred Sir Harry's design to be more akin to Captain Snow's, but I quickly grew accustomed to it.

I was pleasantly surprised that Sir Harry's poems were left intact, for the most part. It would have been so easy for them to forget that aspect of Sir Harry's character, to turn him into a "regular" owl. The people behind the show deserve a big hand for not taking the easy way out. Sir Harry is every bit as unique in the show as he was in the book.

Unfortunately, Stonefleck's voice still gets on my nerves. Luckily, he won't be around much longer. ;)

Ironbeak's interaction with the Redwallers remains great. The diversionary tactics on the Abbey lawn, with Ambrose Spike (always nice to see the ol' hedgepig) teaching archery was very amusing, especially with Baby Rollo assisting him. Ironbeak deserved what he got. ;)

Till next time.

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