Farthing Watch – 2.01

Welcome back! A little later than planned, so let’s press on…

At the end of the last series we saw our heroes arrive safe and sound at White Deer Park. Everything seemed dreamy and idyllic – the magic stag welcomed them all, telling them they were all brilliant, the park seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see…but nothing ever goes right for this bunch, so what’s the catch? Well, evil blue foxes, but we’ll get to them.

So, a heroes’ welcome. Okay. I thought it was Badger doing the voiceover but then he calls it ‘our wildlife park’, so I’m guessing it was the Great White Stag? Bit weird. Sometimes it really doesn’t help that there are only four actors doing about forty-five voices.

The Great White Stag is telling them how they’ve all made history, and everyone is shouting ‘HOORAY!’. The White Deer Park lot are doing it too, so our over-excited friends are in good company. He tells them that they are all heroes of their species, and Adder takes a moment to throw shade on Mr Rabbit – ‘sssssssome heroessssss!’. Ha!

The WDP (that’s what I’m calling it from now on) animals seem a friendly bunch. The Stag tells them to go where they wish…CUT TO AN EVIL GORSE THICKET FULL OF EVIL BLUE FOXES! ‘As long as it’s not on my patch!’ warns their scarred leader. Making friends already, then. Classic Farthing Wood! I have never seen a blue fox, but apparently silver foxes can be sort-of blue and I suppose there could be a colony of them in a nature reserve…maybe.

Other animals are nicer. Whistler immediately gets himself a girlfriend in Speedy, who apparently just flew in from a 1940s screwball comedy.

Everybody laughs at Whistler, who seems rather overwhelmed. But he isn’t the only one getting attention – an incredibly annoying male weasel spots our Weasel and exclaims ‘OH YOU’RE GAWJUSSSS!’ and tries to leap on her. Weasel ducks out the way and her would-be paramour gets Owl instead. Owl is not amused.

 

‘I’m glad to say I am above such things’ says Owl. Weasel is still being chased, and her boyfriend does the CREEPIEST ‘come-hither’ face. More come-hithAAARGH. Weasel screams and runs off. Very sensible.

Kestrel thinks they are all mixing nicely, but it isn’t smooth sailing for everyone. Mrs Squirrel introduces herself to some red squirrels – ‘I’m sure we’ll be great friends!’. Their young son looks scared, asking ‘Mum, who’s that great big monster?’.

If it comes to it, we’re firmly on Team Red in this fight. Vole and his mother are being typically rude and obnoxious. ‘I don’t hold with all this fraternising!’ says Vole. ‘Neither do I!’ replies his mother, ‘Farthing Wood animals forever!’. There’s gratitude for you. Vole is the first to meet a blue fox.

Badger and Mole soon meet his mate, who tells them that they are trespassing on the territory of the blue foxes. ‘We have nothing so common as red foxes here…or at least we didn’t until your friends arrived’. The xenophobia angle is strong, and an interesting development on the refugee/dispossession theme from last year. Lady Blue tells Badger that he must apply to her mate for permission if he wishes to live there.

Meanwhile, Kestrel grabs herself a tasty mouse, only to discover that it was not the anonymous mouse she thought. ‘Oh you BEAST!’ screams Mr Field Mouse, ‘You’ve eaten my wife!’. ‘Oh Field Mouse, I’m so sorry, I didn’t realise!’ Kestrel apologises, shedding a tear. ‘Oh dear, how embarrassing, how very embarrassing!’. She is clearly horrified by what she has done. To be fair, we did not expect the oath-breaker to be her…

But don’t worry Kestrel! All these new animals mixing with the gang must make things very confusing. Poor Mr Field Mouse, though – all his children impaled by the Shrike and now his wife murdered by a dear friend.

Whistler’s new woman is being horribly patronising, talking about his disability and telling him how to fish properly – seriously, if she had lips she’d be demonstrating egg suction – but Whistler, ever the gentleman, rather than pecking her to death with his beak, just brings her a fish. Bless him.

Adder tries to nab one of those edible frogs, despite Toad’s protestation, but can’t manage to catch it. ‘Sssshuckssss!’ she sighs, claiming that thanks to the oath she is out of practice. This doesn’t quite ring true – what about the girly slaughter nights she had with Owl?

Weasel is still being chased by her man, who she describes as ‘measly’. Weirdly he likes this, and plants a sloppy kiss on her face. Well, it’s one sort of strategy…

Owl suggests that Weasel sing to scare him off, but Measley (as he is now known and that is apparently how you spell it) loves her voice as much as the rest of her. Finally having an appreciate audience makes Weasel warm to him. He does seem to be a complete moron, so they probably are meant to be together. Good luck to them! Measley runs off when Scarface appears behind Weasel.

Adder has finally caught a frog, and swallowed it whole. Its friend is sobbing in Toad’s arms. What on earth did he expect, though, really? They aren’t the vegans of Farthing Wood!

Speedy thinks the oath is nonsense – ‘isn’t it a little bit silly if it means you actually starve?’ – and sides with Adder. The frogs feel like their home has been invaded, the red squirrels are ganging up on the grey squirrels (GO REDS!) and Kestrel is distraught about murdering Mrs Field Mouse. Owl finds the latter rather amusing.

With all these problems, the animals go off in search of Fox. Poor Fox – just as he and Vixen were settling down for a quiet life. ‘Fate made you their leader’ Vixen reminds him, ‘You can’t let them down. You’re not an ordinary fox and never will be’. ‘Our dream didn’t last long, did it?’ replies Fox, glumly.

Everything is going wrong. The Farthing Wood bunch and the WDP animals are not getting on. Also, Owl is absolutely loving bullying Kestrel about her recent murder. Fox goes to see the Stag to discuss the problems they’re having. They see him in a sort of stone circle. Great sense of style has the GWS. ‘After coming all this way, we cannot let you lose out,’ says the Stag, ‘Perhaps what’s needed is some land of your own’.

Oh yeah, tremendous idea! That sort of thing NEVER goes wrong. Oh but it gets even BETTER. The demands of the Farthing Wood gang (they need earth and water and trees and all the rest) means that the Stag is going to have to ask Scarface to give up some of his territory. ‘He isn’t going to like that’ observes the Stag. Well, no. It’s a catastrophically stupid idea, but they go ahead with it anyway and ‘Farthing Land’ is established. The rules are a bit non-sensical – they are not allowed to kill each other but equally not allowed to hunt on Scarface’s land…so I guess they will all die of starvation? That might be an issue anyway – Winter is coming. Adder is the first to fall asleep, following by many others.

Fox and Vixen, meanwhile, are walking in the chill night. ‘I hope White Deer Park turns out to be alright. Suppose…’ wonders Fox. ‘Never mind “suppose”. Come on, let’s go hunting!’ answers Vixen. The foxes stare up at the giant Winter moon and that’s it for this week. It’s not an unhappy ending, but there is definitely the promise of all sorts of trouble to come. We wouldn’t want it any other way! See you next week for winter…

Wild Wisdom of the Week – Really not very much! Though a lot of the commentary on immigration is, sadly, very familiar in our post-Leave/Trump’s America world.

Deaths – Mrs Field Mouse – brutally murdered by someone she believed to be her friend. How could Kestrel be so monstrous? Hahaha just joking, poor Kestrel!

Other musings – Some of the animation in this episode looks gorgeous. I don’t know if anything changed behind the scenes between series…

Scarface is an ‘orrible blighter, you can see it straight off.

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