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Recap / Blackadder S 1 E 6 The Black Seal

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Edmund has had the last of his titles relinquished, no longer is he Duke of Edinburgh. Annoyed that he is even further from power, Edmund, Warden of the Royal Privvies, decides to seek out the most psychopathic murderers in England. On the way he meets a Morris dancer to be his replacement for Baldrick.

He gathers his party: Sir Wilfred Death, Three-Fingered Pete, Guy de Glastonbury, Sean - the Irish Bastard, Friar Bellows, and Jack Large. They agree to call themselves "The Black Seal," and all agree to attack the castle when Blackadder sends them a signal, of something black.


Whilst camping out, the Morris dancer reveals himself to be Edmund's long-time rival, Philip of Burgundy, also known as the Hawk. He imprisons Blackadder, leaving him to die, along with Mad Gerald (Rik Mayall). 12 Months Later, Gerald is showing Blackadder his companions; Mr Rat and Mr Key. Edmund escapes and takes six black carrier pigeons, and sends them out. He heads to take the castle before the Hawk.

The Seal arrive at the castle, and are met with the Hawk, who after learning how evil the Hawk is, they decide to join him, and kill Edmund. They tie him up to a torture chair, and go ahead to kill the royal family. They see some maids (Percy and Baldrick in a Paper-Thin Disguise) who offer them goblets of wine, which were poisoned. The Seal and the Hawk all drop dead, but they are too late to rescue Edmund.


Edmund lay on his deathbed, surrounded by his family. King Richard calls him, finally using his name correctly, "Edmund." It is then revealed that Percy had accidentally poisoned the entire vat of wine, and as the court toasts the Black Adder, or "The Black Dagger", they all fall down, dying. Edmund wonders whether it was the wine that was poisoned, so he tests it on himself.

"No, seems perfectly alright to me. And now, at last, I shall be king of E-..."

  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Sir Wilfred Death, by virtue of his knighthood, and Guy de Glastonbury, by virtue of his politesse.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: After initially assembling the Black Seal, Edmund proudly announces his plan is for he and his new minions to break into the castle, dispose of the guards, seize the throne and... exile King Richard, the Queen and Harry. The others are rather let down by this, and Edmund reluctantly agrees to kill his family.
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  • Ask a Stupid Question...: An early hint of the future Blackadder wit is seen when Prince Edmund trots out the castle gate on his horse.
    Old Man/Retired Morris Dancer: Going on a journey, my lord?
    Prince Edmund: No, I thought I'd stand around here all day and talk to you.
  • Big Bad: Phillip The Hawk becomes the undisputed leader of the Black Seal as he is the evilest and most ambitious one, effortlessly replacing Edmund.
  • Black Knight: Sir Wilfred Death, if his "sir" is a genuine Knight title.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The first series ends with everyone but Percy and Baldrick getting killed.
  • Call-Back: At the end of the episode Baldrick disguises himself as a maid using the dress from his "Bearded Woman" costume in Born to be King.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Black Seal.
    "May good thrive!"
  • Carnival of Killers: Unusually used. Its the ''protagonist'' who assembles a team of the biggest bastards in all of England (including himself, naturally) to carry out a fiendish plan. They all turn on him in favor of an even BIGGER bastard by the end of the episode.
  • Character as Himself: Mad Gerald is billed as "Himself." It's Rik Mayall, presumably playing one of Flasheart's ancestors that he'd rather not talk about...
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Edmund has a hard enough time keeping the Black Seal in check, but when they realise that The Hawk is the biggest bastard of them all, they turn on Edmund in an instant.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Edmund escapes his cell with Mad Gerald's key, Gerald's only response is for him to "close the bloody door!" rather than escape.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: The Hawk's punishment for Edmund exiling him to France? Lock him in a room filled with snails. (It's not made clear if the snails are meant to eat him, or serve as food. Either way, it's treated as horrific.) Also, Mad Gerald.
  • Dirty Old Monk: Do not entrust Friar Bellows with your daughter's chastity.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: The Black Seal for Edmund. To be precise they aren't wilier than him, but their toughness, sadism and cruelty faaaar outclass Edmund's so they easily overshadow and overrule him.
  • Dramatic Unmask: Subverted - an old and unkempt man Edmund has been travelling with transforms, apparently by magic, into a tall, striking nobleman with fine clothes and powerful-looking facial hair, asking if Edmund recognises him. Edmund does not. The man then reaches up and removes two fake-looking bushy eyebrows, revealing... two completely identical bushy eyebrows. Edmund immediately recognises him as Philip of Burgundy... The HAWK!
  • The Dreaded: Excluding Sir Wilfred, the others are terrified of Jack Large. Horses whinny in terror at the mere mention of his name.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Not exactly standards, but the rest of the crew is scared when Sir Wilfred suggest taking Jack as the Sixth member, because his notoriety precedes him. Subverted once they meet him though, they find him an okay fella and get along fine and it turns to Arson, Murder, and Admiration.
  • Evil Is One Big, Happy Family: The Black Seal get along well with each other (excluding Edmund) despite (or because of) being a bunch of Card Carrying Villains.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Edmund vs. Philip "The Hawk" of Burgundy.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Edmund accidentally points out that "The Hawk" is more evil than him, prompting his cohorts to switch sides due to his impressive resume.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Guy de Glastonbury is perfectly polite and charming when holding up travellers for their money and their life.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Phillip The Hawk has never been mentioned until Edmund mentions him as being his greatest adversary. Seconds later he appears in person, and immediately takes over as the bad guy.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Three-Fingered Pete sports a large scar across his cheek and, true to his name, is missing two fingers.
  • Groin Attack: Edmund is punished by being strapped into a torture chair which will simultaneously cut his hands and feet off as well as attack his balls with a drill.
  • The Highwayman: Guy de Glastonbury is one of these, though he prefers to kill the people afterward; as he puts it "Your money and your life".
  • Historical In-Joke:
    • Philip of Burgundy locks Prince Edmund in a jail cell with a bunch of snails, and Edmund is absolutely terrified for some reason. There are actually a number of medieval manuscripts that have knights battling snails illustrated in them. It's something of a mystery because no scholar is sure about what it means, whether symbolic, or a joke ("look at the silly knight battling something as harmless as a snail"), or perhaps just a medieval meme with no central origin.
    • Edmund's naming of the midget Jack Large, 'Large Jack' is an inversion of Robin Hood naming the giant John Little 'Little John.' Of course, unlike Little John, Jack Large not only does not get the joke, he takes offense.
  • Hot-Blooded: Jack Large, a singularly vicious brawler manages to be even more hot-blooded than the rest of them.
  • Hypocritical Humour: Friar Bellows, a supposed minister, gets so fed up with everyone else's hot-blooded attitudes interrupting Blackadder's attempts to explain what's what that he takes the Lord's name in vain to get them to shut up.
  • Immune to Drugs / Made of Iron: It takes two cups of lethal poison to kill Sean The Irish Bastard.
    Sean: It has a bit of a sting in it's tail!
  • Ironic Nickname: Edmund tries call Jack Large "Large Jack" (a sort of reverse Little John) but Jack reacted with fury on how it was about his height (or lack thereof.)
  • Jerkass: Sean the Irish Bastard gets his name not from the nature of his parentage, but because he's a real bastard. He steals from the blind.
  • Kill 'Em All: The survivors of a rather large cast this season are Percy and Baldrick.
  • Latex Perfection: Phillip "The Hawk" somehow disguises himself as a tiny old Morris dancer, but when he removes his disguise Edmund still doesn't recognise him until he removes his fake bushy eyebrows.
  • Laughing Mad: Edmund is trapped in a dungeon with an insane old man who laughs maniacally after Edmund asks if there's a way out. We are shown a cue card reading "Twelve Months Later". And the man is still laughing.
  • Legion of Doom: For the end of the first series, Blackadder gathers "the six most evil men in all England!" And then they promptly betray him when they learn from Edmund just how much of a big villain The Hawk / Philip of Burgundy is.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Edmund takes the gloves off on his plot to seize the throne after being stripped of his titles except for Lord of the Privvies for no real reason. He comes pretty close as well.
  • Magnificent Seven: Inverted, as Edmund gathers the six most evil men in England (plus himself) to take over the kingdom. And then they end up siding with Edmund's enemy, The Hawk / Philip of Burgundy.
  • Master of Disguise: Phillip of Burgundy seems able to magically transform into a much shorter old man.
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Percy manages to poison the entire royal family after mishearing Baldrick's instructions.
  • Mister Big: Jack Large, a in-joke regarding the famously huge "Little John".
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Black Seal, most notably Sir Wilfred Death.
  • Near-Villain Victory: Phillip's efforts actually do result in the death of the entire Plantagenet family... except only indirectly, thanks to Percy's stupidity, and it ends up being Henry Tudor who seizes the vacant throne.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Edmund actually comes close to gaining the throne... until his minions betray him, in a fit of cosmic irony.
  • Out of Focus: The entire main cast (barring only Edmund) take a backseat in this episode, appearing in the first scene and then not appearing again until a few minutes before the end.
  • Painting the Fourth Wall: When he reveals himself to Edmund, The Hawk briefly looks into the camera as he announces his name. In the next shot, however, we see that he was actually calling his horse, which appears next to Edmund.
  • Pet the Dog: Richard IV finally gets Edmund's name right... and then "corrects" himself when Edmund points it out.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Edmund puts up with quite a lot over the series, but being stripped of all his titles apart from Lord of the Privvies is what finally causes him to snap.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Edmund dismisses Percy. When Percy asks why:
    Edmund: Because, Percy, far from being a fit consort for a prince of the realm, you would bore the leggings off a village idiot. You ride a horse rather less well than another horse would. Your brain would make a grain of sand look large and ungainly. And the part of you that can't be mentioned, I am reliably informed by women around the court, wouldn't be worth mentioning even if it could be. If you put on a floppy hat and a furry cod-piece, you might just get by as a fool, but since you wouldn't know a joke if it got up and gave you a haircut, I doubt it. That is why you are dismissed.
  • The Red Baron: Jack Large is also known as "Unspeakably Violent Jack, the Bull-Buggering Beast Killer of No Fixed Abode".
  • Robotic Torture Device: The Hawk straps Edmund into one of these, which ends up cutting off his ears, his hands, grinding into his crotch, trepanning his skull and tickling his armpits.
    The Hawk: In precisely one minute, the spike will go up your nethers, the shears will cut off your ears, then these axes will chop off your hands... and I do not think we need to go into the attributes of the coddling grinder. Then these feathers will tickle you under whats left of your arms. And that is the amusing part.
  • Running Gag: A sound of a bottle being uncorked follows Sean the Irish Bastard wherever he goes.
  • Sedgwick Speech
  • Self-Made Orphan: Edmund's plea that the Hawk is a devious maniac doesn't work when he points out the man killed his own family. Five of the Black Seal already killed theirs. Except Sean the Irish Bastard (Friar Bellows killed them).
  • Sinister Minister: Friar Bellows has a lust for virgins and for murder (and he still has nothing on the Baby Eating Bishop Of Bath And Wells from II.)
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Edmund. Somehow, though, being surrounded by a gang of bloodthirsty, war-mongering, over-the-top For the Evulz, chaos-loving idiots makes him look like a smart Anti-Hero.
  • Tap on the Head: The Hawk knocks out Edmund with a mace on the head. Weird, since Edmund was wearing his hat that had a noticeable height far enough from his skull-cap to avoid an injury like that.
  • Tempting Fate: "The BLACK DAGGER! MAY HIS NAME LAST AS LONG AS OUR DYNASTY!" Cue the entire royal court dropping dead.
  • Time Skip: Edmund is trapped in a dungeon with an insane old man who laughs maniacally after Edmund asks if there's a way out. We are shown a cue card reading "Twelve Months Later". And the man is still laughing.
  • Token Minority: Sean the Irish Bastard.
  • To the Pain: Edmund's fate at the hands of The Hawk is particularly gruesome. His ears and hands are chopped off, a spike sent through his nethers, followed by the Coddling Grinder and then... he's tickled with feathers.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Edmund taste-tests the wine to see if it was poisoned, though to be fair to him, he's barely conscious after being tortured. Percy also counts too, for inadvertently poisoning the entire castle's vat of wine rather than just the goblets they prepared.
    • Sean The Irish Bastard as well. Having seen what the poisoned wine has done to the Black Seal and to himself, he drinks a second cup.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: If anything, the Friar knows how to to act like a good Samaritan in front of his God-fearing and yet gullible flock. It is easy for him to then backstab them.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Princess Leia is conspicuously absent from the final scenes (and the entire episode, for that matter). This makes some sense, however, since she would have been no more than around 13 or 14 years old during the episode's events; too young to drink and probably also too young to be gazing on her horribly-mutilated husband.
  • Weapon of Choice:
    • Cool Sword: Sir Wilfred Death
    • The Archer: Three-Fingered Pete is not restricted by the number of his fingers or by good sportsmanship.
    • Bow and Sword, in Accord: Guy de Glastonbury carries a small crossbow.
    • Chain Pain: Friar Bellows seems to use his rosary as a garroting weapon, given that he brandishes it when the others have drawn their weapons.
    • Knife Nut: Sean goes for sneak-attacks in shadowy narrows therefore he prefers something discreet and swift. Even though drinking makes him everything but.
    • Extremity Extremist: Jack, who favours his fists and his feet. And his head.


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