Horatio Hornblower

Season 2 Episode 2


Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Mar 25, 2001 on ITV
out of 10
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Episode Summary

After declaring their Captain unfit for command, the officers of the HMS Renown struggle to complete their mission against the Spanish only to find themselves facing a court martial upon returning to a British port.

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  • Horatio on trial

    The premise for this episode is from a small passage in the book that covers the trial, which is stretched over two hours. The story presented in “Mutiny” and “Retribution” could easily have been done in one episode and some of the other material in “Mr. Lieutenant Hornblower” could have been used for another stand-alone episode. Instead we have a somewhat forced cliffhanger with the story continuing, mostly in flashbacks, from the previous episode.

    In this segment of the story, however, we see Bush fitting into Horatio’s world more. While he is a senior officer, and more experienced, he recognizes Hornblower’s ability to think on his feet and to improvise in difficult situations.

    The characters of Styles and Matthews are expanded in these two episodes as well. Matthews is now Boatswain and Styles is his mate. While these characters are only mentioned briefly in one book, the inclusion of them in the movies helps the continuity and they reflect the admiration of many of the crewmen for Hornblower.

  • The second part of the Mutiny/Retribution mini-series is a both action-packed and a tear-jeerker as we say goodbye to a close friend

    The rollicking action and drama of the Mutiny episode left us at the point where no one is telling who pushed Captain Sawyer down the hole. While 4th Lt Kennedy and 2nd Lt. Bush convalesce in the prison hospital with serious wounds, 3rd Lt. Hornblower and 1st Lt. Buckland sit in court recounting (through flashbacks) the events surrounding the alledged mutiny and following battle that, while a success, left Captain Sawyer and others dead.

    Who was in command? Was it the dithering Buckland, who was so easy to manipulate he even took Horatio's actions to help as a threat to his command, or was it really the 3rd Lt. who had gained the friendship of the by-the-book Lt. Bush.

    David Warner again plays his part to such brilliance that at first you wonder if the others can reach the bar he has raised so high. I'm happy to say they do.

    Ioan Gruffudd in both of these episodes is wonderfully three-dimentional as both a modest man and great leader. Paul McGann plays the part of Lt. William Bush with many layers, showing one can be incredibly disciplined and still a hearty adventurous spirit. Jamie Bamber's Archie Kennedy finally has grown into a real mad while the Nicholas Jones's Buckland makes you feel pity for being a Lt. at his advanced age, annoyed at his inability to command, and angry when he takes the helpful Hornblower as a threat.

    The action is thrilling and the pathos a bit melodramatic at times, but it still seems to fit for the most part. Even when Sawyer finally gives the midshipman he tortured his due, it could have come off as soft, but instead it feels right.

    A great adventure to be sure.moreless
David Warner

David Warner

Captain James Sawyer

Guest Star

Terence Corrigan

Terence Corrigan

Midshipman Wellard

Guest Star

Philip Glenister

Philip Glenister


Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • As Captain Sawyer and Wellard prepare to be be attacked by the Spanish prisoners on the Renown, Wellard is standing on Sawyer's left. Later however, as Hobbs talks to the dying Wellard, he and Sawyer have switched positions.

    • After the decision is made to evacuate the Fort, the Spanish are making their way to the boats one of the Spanish Soldiers steps on the skirt of one of the female prisoners causing her to fall forward.

    • When Spanish Prisoners attempt to capture the Renown, they try to capture Bush. Bush is waiting for them with two pistols, and when they turn around he fires them both. He then fires one of them for a second time. This is impossible as the weapons can only carry one shot at a time.

  • QUOTES (2)

  • NOTES (1)