Analysis of a Scene XXX: Sir Myles Throws Byrne and Strang Out of “The Abduction Club”

Before there was online dating, there was Sir Myles Patrick Malahide as Sir Myles in "The Abduction Club"

Before there was online dating, there was Sir Myles

Admin and I thought it was time to highlight one of our favourite Malahide characters, Sir Myles from 2002’s “The Abduction Club“, with an Analysis of a Scene that shows off his charisma and leadership.   Now, Sir Myles is just an all-around extremely dashing fellow with a keen sense of humour (he’d have to have one, to deal with his gang of second sons), but he also has a very strong sense of honour and propriety.  He helps his gang of impoverished second sons to kidnap heiresses for marriage, to keep them out of the army or the priesthood, but he’s also established strict rules of conduct – which James Strang (Matthew Rhys) and Garrett Byrne (Daniel Lapaine) have just broken.  They’ve abducted not only Miss Catherine Kennedy (Alice Evans), the intended quarry, but her underaged sister, Anne (Sophia Myles), as well.  Sir Myles is not happy.

Admin:  It is a wonderful production, and it is a delight to see Patrick Malahide playing such a dashing and swashbuckling character.  It is very obvious why he is the Abduction Club’s leader.

Sir Myles:  Gentlemen!  Will you please welcome Miss Catherine Kennedy!
[Toast glasses are handed around]

Sir Myles: "Gentlemen! Will you please welcome Miss Catherine Kennedy!"

Sir Myles: “Gentlemen! Will you please welcome
Miss Catherine Kennedy!”

RF:  Well, Sir Myles is at least very genial and friendly, even if Catherine looks a mite confused!  Can’t say as I blame her, though.  On the other hand, did she really want to be stuck listening to her intended fiancé, John Power (Liam Cunningham), instead?

Admin:  It is hard to believe that John Power is played by the same actor who plays Davos Seaworth.  I barely recognized him.  Sir Myles looks like a proud papa as he introduces the couple.  His expression is so warm and loving which helps explain why what happens next affects him so.

RF:  I didn’t recognize Davos either.  He looked very different with no beard and wearing a powdered white wig.  Catherine would be a lot better off marrying Davos rather than John Power, though.

Byrne:  Gentlemen, a toast to our guest.  To Miss–
Knox [interrupting]:  –Anne Kennedy!
[Everyone turns around as Strang brings Anne into the room. Sir Myles gives them A Look™.]

RF:  And so much for Sir Myles’ genial mood.  He gives both Strang and Anne a look that says he’s not happy with this development.  He knows it could mean big trouble.  However, Strang looks pleased with himself and Anne seems willing to brazen it out.  She’s probably never been kidnapped by a roguishly handsome (but penniless) second son before.

Reacting to Anne's unexpected appearance

Reacting to Anne’s unexpected appearance

Admin:  Sir Myles smoothly turns around already prepared for the worst.  I have to note that poor Anne gets a terrible entrance with a clumsy announcement from team goofball Knox (Tom Murphy).   That is a huge tip-off that things aren’t going to plan, and Sir Myles, an obvious Type A sort, likes his plans.  Sir Myles’ look of concerned disapproval is a powerful catalyst.  It ripples through the entire room setting the tone for the rest of the scene.

RF:  Yeah, Knox seems to be trying to horn in on the glory, probably because no heiress would ever go near him with a ten-foot pole.  You can actually see Sir Myles’ smile fade as soon as he hears Knox’s voice, and then as you say, the entire room falls silent.

Admin:  I really like how quickly Sir Myles reacts to the sudden disruption.  No wonder the tension at his disapproval is immediate.

Sir Myles [gently]:  How old are you, child?
Anne [defiantly]:  I’m twenty-one.
Catherine:  She’s seventeen.
[Murmurs of shock from the crowd.]

"How old are you, child?"

“How old are you, child?”

RF:  Sir Myles is quite gentle with Anne; he knows none of this is her doing.  After Catherine reveals Anne’s true age, you can tell he’s going to turn most of his disapproval on Strang.  Strang maybe looks a bit abashed, but not much.

Admin:  That’s right, Sir Myles shows only empathy and concern for Anne and has no wish to frighten her.  As far as he is concerned Strang is the one who is completely at fault.  You can actually see Sir Myles’ tension intensify like ice hardening when Catherine reveals Anne’s true age.

Sir Myles:  Strang… Taking a girl of under eighteen is against the club rules.
Strang:  Yes.  Your rules, Sir Myles, not mine.
Sir Myles:  Rules which have served this club well for over fifty years.  Now, you will take this young lady back now, and you will offer your apology to her family.
Strang [looking at Anne]:  No, I don’t think I will.

Sir Myles: "Strang... Taking a girl of under eighteen is against the club rules."

Sir Myles: “Strang… Taking a girl of under eighteen is
against the club rules.”

RF:  Sir Myles’ voice acquires an edge – but just an edge, so far – of anger when he tells Strang he’s violated the rules, and his tone is very precise when he says they’ve “served this club well for over fifty years”.  Clearly he’s not impressed by Strang’s display of bravado, although Strang seems to be showing off for Anne.  The little glance between them is a nice touch; they’re conspiring in being “naughty” together.

Strang: "Your rules, Sir Myles, not mine"<br> Sir Myles: "Rules which have served this club well for over fifty years."

Strang: “Yes. Your rules, Sir Myles, not mine.”
Sir Myles: “Rules which have served this club well for
over fifty years.”

Admin:  Yeah, there are some obvious cracks in Strang’s bravado.  His nervousness shows which proves, actually, just how brave he really is being in standing up to the formidable Sir Myles.  Sir Myles, however, is completely unimpressed with any such bravery.  He is absolutely resolute in his position.  He keeps his cool with a firm demand that Strang return Anne to her home, but you can see that Sir Myles is broiling inside.  He’s kind of scary.  Anne certainly looks scared even though she isn’t the one he’s furious with.

Sir Myles: "Now, you will take this young lady back now,<br>and you will offer your apology to her family."<br /> Strang: "No, I don't think I will."

Sir Myles: “Now, you will take this young lady back now,
and you will offer your apology to her family.”
Strang: “No, I don’t think I will.”

RF:  The room stays absolutely dead silent.  No one wants to get between Sir Myles and Strang.  Not sure what Strang expected; did he think Sir Myles would say, “Oh well, okay, maybe just this once”?

Admin:  Could be.  Sir Myles is both unconventional and incredibly dashing.  Strang, not fully appreciating the consequences of what he has just done, may have honestly thought Sir Myles would approve of his daring.

[A moment of silence as Sir Myles digests this.]
Sir Myles:  James Strang… You are expelled from the club.
[Another pause as Strang and the rest of the club digests this.]

Sir Myles: "James Strang... You are expelled from the club."

Sir Myles: “James Strang… You are expelled from the club.”

RF:  No compromise.  You get the impression it’s not something Sir Myles wanted to do, but it’s something he had to do.  He phrases it very formally too, so there can be no question.   You can tell by the hushed silence in the crowd and the looks being exchanged that no one else quite knows what to make of what’s going on, either.  Byrne looks a bit annoyed while Strang remains defiant, meeting Sir Myles’ eyes.

Admin:  I love the pause.  You can tell that Sir Myles hates having to do this, especially as he seems to consider these lads to be like sons to him.  Even worse, you can feel the profound disappointment he feels.  By breaking the club rules and defying his mentor’s authority, Strang has (unintentionally) betrayed Sir Myles.  He doesn’t show it openly, but you know Sir Myles is taking it all to heart.

Sir Myles:  I am now leaving.  Anyone else who chooses to remain in this house will also cease to be members.
[The rest of the club, with the exception of Strang, Anne, Byrne, and Catherine, leaves.]

"I am now leaving. Anyone else who chooses to remain in this house will also cease to be members."

“I am now leaving. Anyone else who chooses to remain
in this house will also cease to be members.”

RF:  I like how Sir Myles doesn’t have to raise his voice to make his authority felt.  He’s just very precise and matter-of-fact about the whole thing.  And his threat is an extremely effective one; not only do his gang of ne’er-do-wells miss out on potential romance if they’re booted out, they also go back to facing either the army or the priesthood as their likely fate.  And none of them want that!  Hence the silence and rapidity with which the other club members leave – none of them want to get shut out of a good thing.

Admin:  Poor Sir Myles.  He was really ready to have the entire club dissolve if that is what it came to.  I am glad they left as Sir Myles commanded.  I couldn’t bear it otherwise.

Sir Myles:  Byrne, I suggest you take both of these young ladies back at once.
Byrne:  Sir Myles… [moves closer and whispers]  I really think I have a chance with the elder girl…
Sir Myles [quietly]:  Garrett, this club operates on the knife edge of the law.  Now, which side of that blade do you want to be on?
Byrne [shaking his head]:  I’m sorry, Sir Myles.
[Sir Myles gives him a look of mixed anger and frustration, turns, and leaves.]

Sir Myles: "Byrne, I suggest you take both of these young ladies back at once."

Sir Myles: “Byrne, I suggest you take both of these young ladies
back at once.”

RF:  I think Sir Myles was counting on Byrne to be the Voice of Reason here, but no such luck – Byrne has decided to throw in his lot with Strang.  You can see Sir Myles’ frustration in his frown and the way he sets his mouth; he’s disappointed in Byrne because he likely thought he had potential, but he needs to write him (and Strang) off if he won’t follow the rules.  The rules are the only thing preventing the club from being broken up as it is; for some reason, families don’t like their heiress daughters being abducted by penniless ne’er-do-wells.  Anyway, there’s a little contest of wills and then Sir Myles leaves without arguing any further.

Sir Myles: "Garrett, this club operates on the knife edge of the law. Now, which side of that blade do you want to be on?"

Sir Myles: “Garrett, this club operates on the knife edge of the law. Now, which side of that blade do you want to be on?”

Admin:   Yeah, it is obvious that Sir Myles has some respect for Byrne and probably sees him as being the most like himself.  Byrne returns some of the favor by at least looking extremely sorry and full of regret over having to betray his mentor.  You know that Sir Myles is truly gutted at what has happened and probably wants to act out, but he is very much in control of his emotions.  His disappointment shows keenly, but he is not going to wheedle or beg nor is he going to resort to harsh words or violence.   He simply walks away.

Mixed anger and exasperation with Byrne

Mixed anger and exasperation with Byrne

RF:  Sir Myles also gives Byrne a very intense look when he mentions that the club “operates on the knife edge of the law”; he’s trying to talk sense into Byrne (emphasized by his using Byrne’s first name), but (of course) it doesn’t work.  Or maybe it does, but Byrne decides supporting Srang is more important.

Admin:  It certainly lets us know why Sir Myles needs to be in full control all the time.  One slip-up can have fatal consequences.

Anne:  Mr. Byrne, do you allow all your servants to behave like this?
Strang:  I’m not a servant.
Byrne:  He is, as he says, not a servant.  Sometimes I doubt whether he is a gentleman.  But what I can say, without fear of contradiction, is that he is a complete and utter ass.

RF:  I thought this part was interesting because despite being booted out of the club, Strang has lost none of his bravado, nor his willingness to banter with Anne.  However, you can tell from Byrne’s exasperated and angry tone that while he backed up Strang, he’s not pleased at being forced to choose his friendship over his loyalty to Sir Myles.  So, everyone’s now in a perfect mood for a cross-country road trip/chase, right?  😉

Admin:  While this is a romantic lark for Strang and Anne, it is far more serious for Byrne.  He and Catherine had Sir Myles’ blessing, and it seemed like he was Sir Myles’ favorite.  Byrne endangers a nearly guaranteed future by turning his back on someone who has given him so much opportunity all for a hot headed friend, and he knows it.

Wrap-Up:

Charm, charisma, dashing heroics, and serious leadership all in one.

Charm, charisma, dashing heroics, and serious leadership
all in one.

RF:  This is a great scene for establishing the main characters of “The Abduction Club”.  We get a sense of Sir Myles’ respect for tradition and his desire to mentor his little gang in an almost fatherly way, but we also get an idea of his sense of honour and propriety.  There might be abductions going on, but they’re going to be *romantic* and the ladies should be delighted!  And we also get an idea of what Sir Myles and his club are up against: namely, that their activities are only tolerated because they’re kept under a certain amount of control.  We also see Sir Myles’ ability act as a decisive leader, even as he’s disappointed by Strang and Byrne’s conduct.  He knows there will be consequences.  It’s a great set-up for the rest of the film.

Admin: Yes, Sir Myles’ intensity lets the viewer know that any deviation from club protocol can have dire consequences.  But, aside from the seriousness, we really see how caring and devoted he is to his charges.  He wants to oversee only happy marriages which gives him a charming fatherly quality.  And the rest of the film is excellent.  Patrick Malahide is incredibly dashing and heroic as Sir Myles.  It is a very fun romp with an excellent conclusion!

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