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Recap / Blackadder S 1 E 3 The Archbishop

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When the previous Archbishop of Canterbury is assassinated, Edmund suspects his (much more liked) brother, Harry, would be the next archbishop. Naturally, due to the fact that each of the other Archbishops has been very tragically and accidentally brutally murdered, this role is very dangerous, almost certainly eliminating Harry from Edmund's path between the throne.

Unfortunately for Edmund, King Richard didn't want a pious person such as Harry to be Archbishop (in order to maximize control over the nation), and instead chooses Edmund. After his commission, he convinces a dying man who had sinned greatly that all his life that "Heaven is for people who like the sort of things that go on in Heaven, like, uh, well, singing, talking to God, watering pot plants. Whereas Hell, on the other hand, is for people who like the other sorts of things: adultery, pillage, torture - those areas," and so earns respect from his father.


Due to a misunderstanding, two drunken ex-crusaders believe that the King had ordered Edmund's death, and so attempt to kill him. The resulting chase leads them to a nunnery, where they don habits as a disguise, and later are discovered by the Mother Superior. Edmund lies about the situation so that he may be excommunicated, no longer to be the Archbishop.

  • Accidental Murder: They're chalking the latest Archbishop's death like this - Sir Mortimer, the tall handsome fellow with no ears who happened to be the King's hired killer, was rushing forwards the Archbishop in the hopes of being blessed. Unfortunately, Mortimer was wearing a Turkish helmet - which happens to have a two-foot-long spike on top - and killed the Archbishop instantly upon collision. If you're wondering how this was an accident at this point, Sir Mortimer had simply forgotten to take off the helmet before asking to be blessed. He just assumed he was wearing a regular one.
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  • Asshole Victim: The Archbishop at the beginning- see Pedophile Priest.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The Queen, who assumes talk of Edmund's flock means he has actual sheep. Even King Richard seems confused by that one.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: Some of those Archbishops' deaths are just utter mysteries, like the tragic impalement of the previous incumbent due to a soldier with a spiked helmet thoughtlessly rushing towards him. Or that other one, who got killed by a falling gargoyle while swimming. Or the one before him who somehow slipped and fell...onto Norwich Cathedral's highest spire.
  • The Ditz: Prince Harry, who can't figure out what the link between all these mysterious archbishop deaths is, and who consults Archbishop Edmund on topics such as "what if my hand offends me and I have to cut it off, but then have to cut off my other hand as well". It's implied King Richard didn't just give him the position of Archbishop of Canterbury specifically because Harry would've been too dumb to actually control.
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  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even the debauched, warmongering, homicidal King Richard is disgusted by Lord Graveney's claim about having committed adultery 1000 times with his mother.
  • Hell of a Time: What Edmund tries to convince a dying lord Hell is like.
  • Hell Seeker: What Edmund turns the dying nobleman into. He really thinks Hell will be fun!
  • High Turnover Rate: The position of Archbishop itself.
  • Historical In-Joke: Richard's exclamation of 'who will rid me of this turbulent priest?' and the knights mistaking it for an order to kill actually happened to Henry II.
  • Locked Away in a Monastery: Although in this case, Edmund is made head of it.
  • The Magnificent: Edmund is known with the less than imposing title of Archbishop Edmund the Unwilling.
  • Naughty Nuns: A major profit area in the Church is apparently selling sexual favours of nuns. Edmund is surprised that people actually pay for them. Including, as it turns out, other nuns.
    • The nuns we see at the end apparently engage in lesbian bondage games with each other.
  • Nun Too Holy: Edmund, Baldrick and Percy all become church officials... though needless to say their behavior doesn't change. Edmund's first impulse upon getting the job is to see how he can make money out of it!
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Richard actually lowers his voice and speaks to Edmund at a normal volume when threatening him. It's far scarier than his shouting.
  • Pedophile Priest: The Archbishop at the beginning of the episode, as Harry mentions he has a "Catamite" (A Medieval term for a young male Sex Slave.)
  • Pet the Dog: King Richard IV actually commends Edmund's actions... admittedly, for tricking a man into believing he'll go to hell and swindling him out of his land, but the church was trying to do the same thing anyhow.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The two crusaders hear King Richard quoting someone, and believe it to be a demand for Edmund's death.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Edmund's response to his unwanted posting is to try and leg it to France. Unfortunately, King Richard foresaw this eventuality, and heads him off.
  • Sinister Minister: Every representative of the clergy seen is sinister and greedier than sin at the very least. Of course this only decreases their differences with the nobility and the gentry.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "So presumably you won't be needing the unicorn tonight?".


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