This episode finds Horatio as a lieutenant, and under a new captain. Captain Sawyer is old and set in his ways. He’s a sadistic punk who likes to watch young boys get beaten. While Sawyer is a long time Hero of Hornblower’s, Horatio finds things are not so easy when Sawyer’s craziness is turned on him. He then has to balance his loyalty to his captain with the “good of the Navy.”
We are also introduced to William Bush in this episode. Bush is one of the three most important characters in the Hornblower series, yet viewers who have not read the books might think at first that Bush is an antagonist instead of a friend. Paul McGann’s portrayal of Bush is an excellent contrast to Ioan’s Hornblower, which reflects the relationship of the two as written in the book.