Sherwood Final Review – Every Arrow Hits Its Target | Television & radio

A crossbow is a silent weapon. It’s devastating, but silent. James Graham’s Sherwood arc eventually did the same.

The six-part series didn’t falter in its intricate plot, attention to detail, or its perfect evocation of place. It has put psychological acuity, inner suffering (oh, Andy…) and community tensions over the traditional tension of a thriller or police proceeding, although there are aspects of both running through it. And if it felt like a slightly disappointing final episode, that was almost entirely due to the sky-high expectations aroused by the previous five.

There were plenty of narrative reels to unwrap in the last hour in the divided former mining village of Ashfield, and they were. While young Ronan Sparrow’s theory that the arrow banging in their door at the end of the fifth episode rhymed with Sparrow (“I’m just saying”) it might have “some to do with it” quickly became shot by his father, Mickey (Philip Jackson). “He’s not a beat poet, Ronan, he’s a psycho.”

If a writer can capture the gentle brutality of family sarcasm, you know they can pretty much do anything.

The first mystery was why Scott (Adam Hugill) had murdered Gary Jackson (Alun Armstrong). Was it related to Gary’s abiding hatred of “scabs”—including Scott’s own father? Was it something to do with the Sparrows shuffling that he and Gary were both involved in in different ways? Or did it have something to do with that long-ago fire and events behind Gary’s redacted records?

It turned out – and this is where the slight disappointment comes in – none of these. He hated Gary for being such a force to be reckoned with in the village; a symbol – as he sees it – of a happier, stronger generation. ‘All the old men here are so proud… And we’re not going anywhere. I’m not complaining. It is what it is.” Discontent, frustration and alienation combined into murderous intentions.

It felt a bit corny, in light of the emotional depths that had been probed for every other character. However, a later scene scolded us obliquely for needing such neat answers. During the semi-cathartic showdown between villagers gathered by St Clair to try and put the ghosts to rest after Scott is charged, Ian’s brother Martin (Mark Frost) dismisses someone else’s version of the events that have left him scarred. “No one did this to me – it was an accident. But that’s not a good enough story, is it? Nowhere to put your anger down then.” And maybe he has a point.

Elsewhere, it was resolved more satisfactorily for those of us who are still hungry for such a base fare. Thanks to a favor owed to DI Salisbury by a crime-scene photographer and a small, missed reference during a conversation with a fellow villager, which snags in Julie’s mind in a way that can only happen in a close-knit community like theirs, the Keats’s identity begins to become apparent. It’s finally confirmed in a somewhat – again, very slightly – inconclusive way at the school’s harvest festival (reflecting the one they gathered for the night of the fire – Sherwood is filled with these recalls to blend past and present). “Keats” leaves, chased by Ian St Clair (David Morrissey), who averts the impending suicide by using everything he’s learned about the need to forgive yourself as much as others for past sins.

That, after all, is what Sherwood was all about. While it has taken up many other issues, including current issues such as how power protects itself and whose interests are best served by nagging the working class, the underlying concern has been how psychological wounds are created, how they fester, whether they can heal. – and what can be done with the new energy released if so.

The entire cast has been deservedly and unanimously praised. Sherwood is crammed with the undisputed best of a generation of British acting talent in Manville, Morrissey, Lorraine Ashbourne (who gets all the work she deserves, but not always the glory – despite never absolutely failing every moment she’s on screen persuasive) and which fulfill every other leading role. They all had a great script to work with and a glorious direction that made it even more than the sum of its parts.

Each arrow found its target.

Leave a Comment