Season 4 Episode 2

Corporal Punishment

Aired Wednesday 9:30 PM Oct 05, 1989 on BBC

Episode Recap

For the only time in the series, Captain Blackadder is not plotting to escape from the trenches. His company awaits the order from HQ for an advance, but a communication crisis fills the trench with the wrong messages. Fed up, Blackadder ignores every message thereafter. All of these messages are to advance on the enemy. When the last of these messages comes via carrier pigeon, Blackadder shoots the pigeon without reading the end of the message: "Due to communications crisis, the shooting of carrier pigeons is now a court-martial offense." Blackadder tries to cover his hasty action, but when General Melchett and Captain Darling arrive at the trench, Baldrick and George spill their guts.

Still, Blackadder feels he can get out of an execution by consulting his lawyer, the most brilliantly successful attorney in England. However, Private Baldrick misdirects Blackadder's letter. It is delivered instead to George, who isn't nearly as good at debating as his uncle (a lawyer). Blackadder's court-martial is an even more open-and-shut case, since mad Melchett is the judge and Captain Darling is the prosecuting counsel. It only takes five minutes to consign Blackadder to the firing squad – which greets Blackadder at his cell that night.

Baldrick mistakenly hands Blackadder a note George had intended for his mother. In the note, Blackadder reads that George's uncle has been appointed Minister of War. Back in the trench, Baldrick and George have trouble remembering who can save Blackadder. And even when they do, they get completely drunk on a case of scotch sent by George's mother. But Blackadder returns to the trench, having come within an eye-blink of death. He reads them a message from George's uncle, who has reversed the General's decision on procedural violations. At the end of the telegram is a personal message from uncle to nephew: "Surprised you didn't ask me to do it yourself, actually."

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