Episode #7 - An In-Depth Review

"Captain Snow"
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 a Tapestry] "Y'know, pals... in Redwall Abbey there is a huge tapestry. And a tapestry was something that was around as a historical record. But, Redwall's tapestry recorded the life of Redwall. And it's sort of... before you could write letters, it could show you in pictures, the same as these cave drawings, but, they're on rock. But, the tapestry was woven. And they've put the picture of Martin in the middle... They've put the picture of the Abbey... they've put pictures of various villains and heroes... And it's like a record of the Abbey life, telling what's happened. The tapestry is a record. So, you get these good people and they can weave... they can weave a picture. Oh, it's a skilled art!"

[Character Spotlight on Basil Stag Hare] "Basil Stag Hare! One of the lovable characters in my book. I once knew a man and I created all my hares, including Basil, from this man. And he was a sort of a... a Captain from the... the old world war, retired, and he wore a big tweed suits, and... big puffy red face, he says, and... little bristly mustache. He used to talk like this 'wot wot wot'."

[ASK THE AUTHOR Segment] "Why are there no raccoons or chipmunks in Redwall?"

[laughs] "When I'm down in Texas they ask me why there aren't any armadillos or rattlesnakes! I can tell you quite easily. I use the native animals of the British Isles. Yeah. Badgers, stoats, squirrels, hedgehogs, mice, moles, and, now and again, when it really calls for it, I can bring in a strange animal from overseas. But, not all that often. So, basically... I mean, I can't use every creature in the zoo. I just use the creatures from my native land, the creatures I know about. Yeah."

SUMMARY OF NEW FOOTAGE

The episode opens with the two unnamed mousemaids finishing the repair of the tapestry. Matthias, Basil, and Jess all walk up, praising the mice on a job well done. The scene fades to St. Ninian's, where Cluny is once more drilling his horde in methods of attack, only to return to Matthias, Basil, and Jess. Matthias states that he needs to find the sword. Basil points to Asmodeus on the tapestry, saying that they know who has the sword, don't they? Matthias sighs that they have no idea where the snake would have hidden it. Basil nods, then says that there is "another old mouse-eater" who might know. He points to an owl on the tapestry and answers, "Captain Snow".

Yet another vermin-drill is included. Cluny begins ranting and raving, "batter and burn" (indications of his later plan, to use a battering ram and fire to break through Redwall's gates). He promises that he'll get back Redwall's "precious tapestry hero" and will burn it to ashes.

There's a short shot of the vermin horde racing down the path with Cluny riding atop the battering ram.

Atop the ramparts, Basil, Cornflower, and Constance watch Cluny's approach. Constance instructs Cornflower to fetch Matthias. As Cornflower tries to think up a plausible excuse, Basil interjects that Matthias is on a secret mission regarding the sword. They thought the Abbot might not have approved and didn't want to frighten the populace. Constance grumbles that it's nice to be informed of this "mission". She says they'll have to get along without him and begins barking out orders to the Redwallers below. Basil goes over to comfort Cornflower, but she says it's not Cluny she's worried about, it's Matthias. He's out there and there's not a thing she can do to help him. With that, she runs off. Basil chuckles to himself as he swats a hornet away from his face. Constance, meanwhile, asks a mole if all the dibbuns are in Cavern Hole. After receiving an affirmative, she shoos a hornet away, herself (you know where this is leading. ;)

Later, as Cluny's attack is fully under way, Mortimer tells Constance to find Matthias-- he always seems to know what to do in these kinds of situations. Constance turns to Warbeak and asks her to go to the old barn to tell Matthias that they need him. With a nod, Warbeak takes flight. Constance bats some more hornets away, then notices their hive underneath one of the ramparts.

After Matthias finishes talking to Captain Snow, he returns to the GUOSIM. Before they can talk, Warbeak swoops down to tell Matthias of Redwall's peril. Matthias turns to the shrews and asks for their help in saving Redwall. With their agreement, they set off for Redwall.

Back at the Abbey, the vermin break through the gates (although the Redwallers shore up the remains admirably). As Basil tends to an injured mole, Constance walks up holding a barrel of honey and asks for his help.

Cluny and a few rats sneak around the Abbey and set fire to one of it's lesser gates.

Atop the ramparts, Basil carefully drops the hornet's nest into the barrel of honey. As the rats prepare to ram the gates one last time, Constance pushes the barrel over the wall, covering the battering ram with honey and releasing a swarm of angry hornets. As the Redwallers celebrate, Cornflower suddenly notices the east gate is on fire and warns Constance. The Redwallers rush to defend the gate as Cluny breaks through it's ashes. He's met by Constance, who throws a large beam at the rats, as well as a group of archers. As Cluny is about to redouble his efforts, Matthias appears, silouhetted against the full moon. He cries out, "Redwall!", and the shrews appear beside him, immediately setting upon Cluny's horde and successfully driving them all back.

In Cavern Hole, the Redwallers are celebrating their victory. Mortimer, Basil, and Constance walk up to where Cornflower is tending Matthias' injuries. Mortimer commends him on a job well done, saying he knew Matthias was at Redwall all along. Matthias and Cornflower exhange glances, then look up at Martin's tapestry. Cornflower says Matthias will get the sword back, she just knows it. Then, she drags him off to get something to eat. As the camera centers on the tapestry, Martin's voice says, "I-Am That Is, my sword will wield for me."

The episode then ends with the tapestry-esque shots-- The first is of Captain Snow perched on a branch, his medal hanging around his neck. The second is of Squire Julian crouching in his garden, munching on a carrot. The final shot is of Cluny retreating while a GUOSIM shrew bites his tail.


CHANGES FROM BOOK

- The scene where Basil tells Matthias of Captain Snow takes place in the Great Hall, not the Infirmary, and now includes Jess. (see above summary)

- Basil offers to take Matthias to Snow, but Matthias insists he's needed for Redwall's defense. He also makes Basil promise not to tell anyone that he's gone. Basil then gives Matthias the medal to show to Captain Snow. The entire conversation takes place outside the Abbey, not in the Infirmary (with Cornflower watching from the ramparts).

- The GUOSIM have become a tribe of gypsies (complete with Russian accents). The militant air that usually surrounds them has been lost and there is only a hint of democracy in their actions.

- No mention of the Black Stone is made by the GUOSIM.

- Matthias shows no indignation against the GUOSIM for their failure to warn him of Squire Julian.

- Captain Snow's tree doesn't seem to be very close to the barn, which is at odds with what was stated in the book.

- Matthias meets Captain Snow at night, not during the day, which doesn't make much sense.

- Very few signs are shown of the quarrel between Julian and Snow. Only one throwaway line that Julian had to ask Snow to leave the barn.

- Snow swoops down and grabs Matthias, depositing him on a tree branch. Their meeting takes place in the tree, not on the ground.

- The hornet attack is now credited to Constance and Basil, not Jess and Sam (Sam hasn't even been introduced yet.)

- The battering ram is covered in honey, not vegetable oil.

- Matthias and the GUOSIM return to Redwall after the meeting with Captain Snow. In the book, Matthias did not return until after he had recovered Martin's sword from Asmodeus. Translating into the climax of the book.


VOICE CRITIQUES

Guosim - Like all members of the GUOSIM, Guosim has a thick Russian accent. If you've seen any movies that show Russian emmigrants, or even "An American Tail", then you should be able to imagine the accent. It's not one that I particularly favor for the GUOSIM in general. It doesn't fit with their character. The voice does fit with the gypsy motif the series gave the shrews, but that's not GUOSIM either.

Log-A-Log - Log-A-Log was never named outright in the show, but cross-checking the lines with the book made it pretty easy to identify which shrew he was. I have the same reservations for him as I did with Guosim.

Squire Julian Gingivere - Julian reminded me of Basil's voice. It sounds similar, but not enough so that I'd say Richard Binsley does it. A pretty good job, although a tad more aloof than I'd prefer for the Squire.

Captain Snow - Think of any cliche "hoot hoot" owl voice and you've got Captain Snow. Not that bad, all told. His "normal" voice is nice and deep. He came across as more graceful than the character is, however. The voice lost the madness Snow had in the book.


CRITIQUE

The tapestry endings return! For this episode, at least. ;) I'm glad, because these are the best parts of the episode, IMHO. Snow's tapestry scene from this episode was especially drawn well. Future prospects look good, as well, because they ran plenty of tapestry shots that have yet to be shown during the extra footage while BJ talked-- including some from Mattimeo.

There are a few happenings this episode that I wanted to direct your attention to. The first is that Darkclaw is alive. Last episode he (and another Captain) was sentenced to death. The last we saw of him was when he was running for his life. This would have been a good way to achieve an "off-screen" death. Instead, it shows a far more tolerant Cluny than we came to know in the book (who had rats executed left and right).

The second point of interest is that Constance named the Joseph Bell outright. This was the first such occurance that I've noticed where the bell was named and it's nice to have it brought to the series.

Okay. On with the rest of the review. Silent Sam and Ambrose Spike are still missing. This would have been a good opportunity to bring in Sam, as he and Jess were supposed to concoct the hornet plan. Instead, the plan is transferred to Constance and Basil. It's a pity.

I wasn't too pleased with the de-militarization of the GUOSIM (although I can probably understand their reasoning, out of place as it is). Having them reduced to a band of gypsies does a disservice to the characters and doesn't make the GUOSIM seem like a real organization. The loss of the Black Stone was also a bad decision on their part. That said, the shrews did have some of the funnier lines in the episode. Most notably while Matthias speaks to Captain Snow and when he asks for their help defending Redwall (I'll get to that in a minute). It does little to make up for the deviation from the book, but with this series you take what you can get. ;)

I was also displeased that Matthias' anger at the shrews over their not informing him of the Squire was removed. This case of cowardice is what "shamed" the shrews into helping Matthias and also bore with it a powerful message on how to treat your friends (messages that this show seems to like). They probably removed it to keep the GUOSIM entirely "good", thereby not causing conflict among the "good guys", but I still don't support it's absence.

Finally, we have Matthias' return, with the GUOSIM, to Redwall. This is one more change I didn't like. When Matthias left Redwall, it was to undertake a dangerous mission where he was determined not to return until he had Martin's sword. By having him return to the Abbey, it downplayed the importance of the mission. It also downplayed the hard choice Matthias had to make, leaving Redwall in it's time of need in order to accomplish a greater good that would ultimately save the Abbey. This change is nearly the exact opposite and I'm sorry to see it lost in the series.

The episode as a whole, however, was rather good. The standard kind of adaptation I've come to expect from the series. The plot is once more moving along and the end is quickly approaching. This episode actually marks the halfway point of the first season, so we're almost there. Just six episodes left. ;)




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