Remember, remember, the fifth of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot.
I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.
Happy Guy Fawkes Night
First, here is a quick summary, courtesy of Wikipedia.
“Into the Labyrinth” is about a struggle between two feuding sorcerers, good guy Rothgo (Ron Moody) and the evil Belor (Pamela Salem). Each wants to recover the Nidus, one of those super magical items that brings with it untold powers…and without which Rothgo will die. Rothgo befriends three modern children, Phil, Helen and Terry (Charlie Caine, Lisa Turner, and Simon Henderson) who help him in his quest. They travel through different time periods, hoping to piece together different parts of the Nidus, but they always find trouble in the form of Belor.
In “Treason” the children are transported to the reign of King James I during the infamous Gunpowder Plot. Rothgo has assumed the identity of Guy/Guido Fawkes. Belor is hanging around in the form of a bat and seems to be getting a massive kick out of attacking poor little Helen’s hair. The effects are dated, but Pamela Salem is having such a blast (no pun intended) with the role which more than makes up for any production value issues.
Meet King James
But, enough of that. We’re in this for Patrick Malahide, and it doesn’t take long for him to show up with his armed guards who seem very worried to have him wandering around underground tunnels for clandestine meetings. The head guard is concerned that the underground structure itself might be dangerous.
King James: “These vaults have stood as long as there has been an English throne. I do not fear of collapse…not in the sense you mean.” Awww, that was rather sentimental and patriotic, but he has a well placed fear of a rather different sort of collapse.
King James has a really lovely high class Scottish accent. It is gorgeous. The king himself is rather feeble, Mr. Malahide conveys someone who clearly isn’t the most physically intimidating. But, he has lots of showy confidence as he boldly asserts he means to keep with his promise to meet Fawkes and sends his guards away out of conversational earshot. “Away, away,” he says, like they are pests to be shooed off.
As they depart, King James looks very shifty and suspicious while he waits for his meeting. Guy Fawkes (Rothgo in disguise) quickly appears. King James shares his doubts about the meeting, ruminating on how he agreed to meet Fawkes “despite the advice of my ministers, in spite of all my own self councils, in spite of all that speaks plain sense, I’ve come to these vile dungeons to meet you.” That’s a lot of self-doubt for a king. He tempers all that, though, in a commanding tone: ”Your explanation had better be swift and plausible with all.”
Fawkes starts slowly getting to the point, though with lots of sucking-up chatter. As he is bleating away, he doesn’t see Belor sneaking around. She magically transforms herself into the Queen, Anne of Denmark.
Fawkes starts getting to the point, but makes the mistake of “insisting” that the King listen. “Insist? A sovereign may not be ordered.” King James says that in a very unpleasant way. He really does not like having anyone question his authority or sense of superiority in any way.
Fawkes Finally Reveals the Plot
Rothgo really needs to work on his powers of persuasion, because he then suggests his information will help the King boost his popularity with the people. “You speak as though I were not popular already.” Honestly, he really needs to get to the plot stuff faster before the King gets too miffed.
Eventually he does and gives up Robert Catesby’s name. Unfortunately for Fawkes, he also has to reveal his own involvement in the plot.
King James: “Your honesty has a virtue, Fawkes, and for it you shall die.” Wow! Fawkes reminds the King that he is giving this information to save his royal self and asks that his own life be spared also. “No compacts. A King does not bargain with a serf.”
But, the King has another moment of self doubt. “But suppose there were a plot,” he muses anxiously. Fawkes jumps on that, promising that with his information the King can be saved.
“Tell me what you know, Fawkes, you will be treated…justly.” (Note the suspicious ellipses.) Fawkes goes on to warn him of the 5th of November plot to destroy Westminster. Fawkes suggests the guards wait until Catesby shows up with a powder keg.
The relieved King promises Fawkes his compact, “and you will be given what you deserve.” Hmmm…and what would that be? He continues, “Catesby will hang, and you will go down in history.” I have to say, he sounds more sinister than grateful!
Fawkes leaves and Belor, in the guise of Queen Anne, approaches the King. She confronts the King on meeting with conspirators in the cellars. It is actually kind of funny how unsurprised he is to have her suddenly show up. Like are they always hanging out down there?
Anyway, she doesn’t trust Fawkes. King James insists that he has given Fawkes his word and that he will be treated….”justly.” Of course, the word “justly” has some more of those suspicious ellipses and the background music helpfully telegraphs that point by going “dun-dun-dun.” Dun-dun-dun, indeed.
Searching for the Nidus
Meanwhile the kids are searching for Rothgo. Philip (Charlie Caine) bumps into him first. Rothgo/Fawkes explains the plan. They need to get the Nidus back together and it is likely going to be hidden in Catesby’s keg.
Catesby (Ian MacKenzie) shows up, but Belor as Queen Anne gets to him first, scaring him away with her witching powers. He is later arrested by the King’s guards.
A Shy King
King James tells not-Queen Anne that the traitor Catesby has been caught. She asks what of Fawkes. “He will return to me for his…reward.” She presses him, reminding him that Fawkes betrayed Catesby and might betray him. “It is possible, yet I have given my word that he will be given a just reward for his honesty and loyalty to the King.” She picks up on his meaning, “a prize at the end of a rope?” She says Fawkes and his kind are her eternal enemies (very true considering Fawkes is really Rothgo). King James: “Then I will ponder on ways to rid the Queen of her enemies.” Awwwww 🙂
It is interesting the way he seems almost shy when in her presence. All of his bluster and confidence quickly evaporate. I don’t think that is necessarily historically accurate, so it might have more to do with Belor’s witchy influence. She is a scary lady!
Skip to the End
Anyway, skipping to the end a bit, the kids and Rothgo find the piece of the Nidus which begins to form a necklace around Helen’s neck. They will have several more time-traveling adventures to recover the rest of it.
A Quivering Wreck
But, it isn’t quite all over. Fawkes is arrested by the King’s guards. As the guards take him away, sneaky King James comes limping out from a corner. “The lesson for you, Guido Fawkes, is that treason will always be rewarded by treachery,” he murmurs to himself.
But, he is not alone. Rothgo, in an astral projection form like a children’s tea-time version of Doctor Strange, approaches him, scaring the King so bad he grovels in terror. Rothgo admonishes him for his betrayal. The King does not know “Rothgo”, but his face looks so familiar to him.
“Then call me Fawkes if you prefer.” He goes on, “You think you have triumphed, but Sire, my quest in this time has been fruitful, but your reign will be a sickly and unhappy one.” He reveals himself as an immortal, and says that the King and Queen will both die in the end. Then he fades out, leaving the King quaking away.
Despite being well over 30 years old and not having a massive budget, Into the Labyrinth is a very good and entertaining production. I like the way it is educational without being patronizing in any way or losing any of its fantastical elements.
Interestingly, the eldest child actor, Charlie Caine, has appeared in another Patrick Malahide project. He played Abel in the very excellent Smack and Thistle. He’s quite a bit younger in this though.
Pamela Salem and Ron Moody are both very good in their roles as the feuding sorcerers. Moody’s trust in the children’s abilities is both sweet and believable. And, as mentioned before, Pamela Salem is clearly enjoying herself in the role of the eeeeevil Belor. She is also excellent as a very domineering and intimidating Queen Anne of Denmark.
And, of course, Patrick Malahide is wonderful as always. His King James seems physically weak with a slight limp, but he has a decidedly menacing sinister streak. At times he appears nervous and unsure of himself and is almost downright shy near his “wife”. He’s certainly a multi-faceted character despite the severe time limitations (the whole thing is under 30 minutes).
While Mr. Malahide isn’t as technically attractive as he usually is (the Jacobean style is hardly flattering on anyone, really, so no big deal), his Scottish accent is absolutely divine. It has a purring quality that is made dangerous with a few choice inflections. Watching “Treason” is a lovely way to spend Guy Fawkes Day, so I recommend it.