Episode #6 - An In-Depth Review

"High Standards"
BJ QUOTES
[From the Introduction] "Hello! I'm Brian Jacques and welcome to Redwall!" [Matthias/Cornflower footage is shown] "Sit back and enjoy the excitement on today's episode of Redwall!"

[When asked about Swords] "The real warrior's weapon, the weapon of honor... is the sword. The sword. Martin's sword, the rusty one, was the one he got from his father. And it was broken by Tsarmina, an evil wildcat. But, that sword.... all he had was the handle, when he was a prisoner, tied on his neck, and when he found the mountain of Salamandastron, a great Badger Warrior called Boar the Fighter, who was also a maker of weapons. He had a huge forge and an anvil. And he found a piece of a star, a comet that fell from the sky, a metallic lump, and he beat it in his forge. He heated it and he beat it and the sparks flew off it until he made the blade that would go back onto the handle. Martin's sword, with a blade as keen as midwinter and a tip like an icicle!"

[Character Spotlight on Methuselah] "Methuselah, the Bible tells us, lived 900 years. And at Redwall Abbey, I have a Methuselah. He's everybody's granddad! I suppose he'd be a great-great-great-great-great-great-granddad Methuselah! He is wisdom itself. He is always fair and [speaks in a shaky voice] he has a shaky voice like this. But he's the one who tells Matthias, "There is no magic in the sword, Matthias. The sword is only as good as the warrior who holds it." And what wise words from the oldest mouse at Redwall Abbey, Methuselah!"

[ASK THE AUTHOR Segment] "Why do Redwallers eat fish but not any other animals?"

"It was a hard decision to make. They mostly eat vegetables stuff and... but, they do have an Abbey, and in their Abbey there is a pond, and in that pond there are fish. So, I decided that once a year a fish would have to go. Call it culling, if you will. They have to cull a fish a year. And you remember in the grace it says 'silver fish whose life we take, only for a meal to make.'"

SUMMARY OF NEW FOOTAGE

The episode opens by repeating last week's closing tapestry-shots (daggers on the path, the wagon, and Matthias at Methuselah's grave).

Mortimer and Constance enter Cavern Hole commenting on Methuselah's passing. They also observe that Matthias appears distant, taking the old Recorder's death very hard. Tension in the Hall is high as the spirits of the Abbey-dwellers are down. The Redwallers begin arguing with one another over food, a fight which Mortimer quickly settles by reminding them they're all friends and Redwall must work together if they're to defeat Cluny. As the squabblers walk off, Constance states that it's all because Cluny stole the tapestry. Mortimer solemnly agrees, saying Cluny stole their very spirit, as well.

As a mouse approaches Redwall with a food-laden cart, he's stopped by two rats who hand him over to Cluny. Cluny sentences the mouse to death and has the cart of food taken to St. Ninian's. He looks at Redwall saying that not even a single grain of wheat must reach the Abbey.

At Redwall, Constance, Jess, and Basil look out over the ramparts, trying to ascertain what Cluny could be up to. Cornflower comes along with drinks for them, but the tension even gets to Constance as she suggests Basil might be happier fighting on Cluny's side. As Basil spits out his drink, Cornflower pleads with them not to argue, pointing out that that is exactly what Cluny wants. Constance grumbles an apology to Basil who shrugs it all off.

Later, Cornflower and Matthias meet in front of the tapestry. They discuss the morale of the Abbey when Basil walks up, interrupting them with a rant about Cluny's tactics. He pauses and points to the hole in the tapestry, saying that that's where the trouble started. Matthias agrees, saying they must get the tapestry back. Basil nods that it's either that or abandon Redwall. Matthias and Cornflower are shocked, but Basil says it may be their only choice. Shaking his head, he walks off leaving Matthias and Cornflower alone again. Matthias says that if Basil deserts them..... He walks off after Basil, but as he reaches the doorway he's shocked to see Basil and Jess conferring privately under a tree. After a brief moment the pair slip out of the gate.

There is a scene where Cluny's horde is training, both with fighting and the use of a battering ram. As Cluny watches he stares at the tapestry, flashing back to his dream of Martin. He's disturbed by one of his Captains and swiftly begins berating the lot of them. Picking up his standard, he orders them all to march to Redwall.

At Redwall, Cornflower and Matthias watch Basil and Jess' departure, commenting sadly that things must be grim if those two are deserting them. Matthias shakes his head and says maybe it's time to realize things are hopeless.

Later, in the Great Hall, the Redwallers all meet to discuss Basil and Jess' actions. Some of the woodlanders have some harsh things to say about them, but Constance and Abbot Mortimer put a stop to their accusations, saying that they cannot judge Basil and Jess until they learn of their reasons. Suddenly, Dunwing flies down bringing word that Cluny and his rats are marching towards Redwall. At once the Redwallers spring into action, rushing to their posts in order to drive off the invaders. Abbot Mortimer shakes his head, saying he cannot allow another battle to take place nor any more deaths to occur. Constance exclaims, shocked, that he intends to ask Cluny for terms of surrender! Matthias, overhearing their conversation, leaves quietly in disbelief.

Matthias goes down to the kitchens to speak to Cornflower, who is drying dishes in an effort to show everyone that things are alright, as usual. They discuss the Abbot's plan and she points out that everything started going downhill when the tapestry was stolen. Looking at the dishtowel, Matthias nods that she's right and leaves. He meets Dunwing on the Abbey lawn and asks her to tell him where Cluny is. He grabs some rope off of a wagon, boosts the morale of the defenders, then rapels down the side of Redwall. Cornflower appears to wish him well, then unties the rope, tossing it down to him. Waving, Matthias runs into Mossflower.

As the rat horde approaches Redwall, we see Matthias sitting in a tree waiting for them. When they're close enough, he swings down and snatches the tapestry off of the standard. Matthias doesn't manage to grab hold of the tree on the opposite side of the path, however, and swings back towards Cluny. As the rat waves his sword in an attempt to impale Matthias, he begins being pelted by acorns thrown by Jess. Basil shows up and begins making sport with Cluny's soldiers. The retrieval scene proceeds mostly as it was in the book, save for Matthias' involvement and Basil and Jess' roles being of lesser importance (see the Changes section).

The tapestry is returned to much celebration at Redwall, with Basil, Jess, and especially Matthias being hailed as heroes (the two former also receiving apologies for everyone's doubting their loyalty).

Later, they hold a celebration in the Great Hall as two unnamed Sisters of Redwall repair the tapestry as per Mortimer's instructions. Matthias winks at Cornflower, saying it's beautiful, doesn't she think? Cornflower laughs and then says that it's shameful how she doubted Basil and Jess. Matthias narrows his eyes and says that was Cluny, not her. She smiles and looks at the now repaired tapestry saying that it's made them stronger than ever. The scene fades to a shot of the Abbey gates and the episode ends.


CHANGES FROM BOOK

- It's Matthias, not Cornflower and Silent Sam (who hasn't even appeared yet), who observes Basil and Jess' conversation under the tree.

- The scene where the tapestry is recovered has been changed. Whereas before it was simply Basil and Jess, now it's Matthias, with Basil and Jess providing back-up, who retrieves the tapestry. The conversation between Jess and Cluny, where the dishtowel is passed off as the tapestry, now has Matthias in Jess' stead. The tapestry also never leaves Matthias' possession until they're back at Redwall.

- As Methuselah died prematurely, it is now two unnamed Sisters of Redwall who repair the tapestry.


VOICE CRITIQUES

- There are no new voices to critique this week.


CRITIQUE

Just as I went and stated that my favorite part of the episodes were the tapestry-closings, they remove them. ;) We got last week's closing shots as an opener, but no new ones, which is a real shame. Hopefully, they'll be back next week. If not, then the first five episodes will always have a step-up on the others.

Aside from that, there is very little to say about this episode. I would have preferred the retrieval scene to have been handled better. Matthias' involvement doesn't anger me-- they're trying to present the identifiable hero and this change works in the context of the show's story. But.... they didn't need to downplay Jess and Basil's work. I think it would have been better to have Matthias, Jess, and Basil all working together rather than running into each other on the field of battle. Basil and Jess left hours (at least) before Matthias. Why is it they waited to act until Matthias did? Because the show needed Matthias to be the hero. But, in accomplishing that, they didn't show the characters of Jess and Basil. Making this a three-beast plan would have made Matthias the hero, kept Basil and Jess involved, and treated each one with respect and would have delivered the message to the young-viewers that teamwork is important. Hmm... if only Nelvana would hire me as a consultant on these sorts of things. ;)

The rest of the episode was fairly original stuff, as I've summarized above. No real nitpicks. I did like both the music and the facial expressions when Matthias said they may have to realize that the situation is hopeless. Excellent job of conveying that hopelessness and creating a very powerful moment in the series. A small make-up for the lack of tapestry-closings. ;)

It looks like Cluny sentenced Darkclaw and a fat, unnamed, Jim-Cummings-esque Captain to death. The scene faded away before anything actually happened, so that's why I say it "looks like". They may appear in the future. I hope it's so with the unnamed Captain because he delivered most of the humorous moments in Cluny's camp.

We're starting to see the leader in Matthias. The series eliminated his "war commander" type role (the training sessions and defense commands and so-forth). It failed to showcase Matthias as someone all Redwallers look up to and they're moving in the right direction by establishing that now. Just in time, too, as Matthias leaves Redwall in episode #7.

That's about it. Nice animation, nice music, nice voice-acting, and no overpowering changes made. It all flows nicely and is a worthy addition to the series. Not as good as some of the previous episodes, but better than last week. While they were both mainly comprised of original footage, this episode had enough from the book to make it feel like we were progressing the story which is good.

See you next week.




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Matthias