Farthing Watch – 2.02

Last Week – Oof, a lot happened! Our animals were welcomed into White Deer Park (WDP) but QUICKLY outstayed their welcome in the eyes of a number of animals (and those pesky blue foxes never wanted them in the first place). Some animals, though, fared rather well: Weasel got a boyfriend who is (unbelievably) even more annoying than she is, while Whistler got himself a stuck up bird (badum). The Farthing Wooders got their own patch of turf, ‘Farthing Land’, but things are looking decidedly rocky. And winter was fast approaching…

As the title suggests, winter is upon us! Well, pretty much. Owl and Kestrel are getting hungry, until a delicious mouse runs past. Owl goes for it, but it yells at her to remember the oath. ‘That was no Farthing Wood mouse’ says Kestrel (who, if you recall, didn’t seem to be able to tell the difference last week!) as the mouse laughs at them from the safety of a burrow. We did point out how ludicrous it is to uphold the oath…

Whistler is ice fishing with Speedy, who is still an insufferable know-it-all. This episode her school-marmly lecturing is even getting to Whistler, who seems very content with his head plunged into the freezing water where he can barely hear her.

‘My old bones are telling me we’re in for a hard winter’ says Badger. The warden has been putting out hay for the deer, suggesting that he also foresees hungry days ahead. Fox and Vixen are hoping that all the animals will look out for each other, but Owl thinks this will only endanger the stronger amongst them.

Toad pops in to say goodbye before he turns in for winter. ‘Bye Toad’ says Vixen, ‘See you in the spring!’. ‘We hope…’ finished Owl, upbeat as ever. Toad can’t bed down immediately, though, as Weasel and Measley are caterwauling (weaselwauling?). Toad, quite understandably, lobs rocks at them. Bravo Toad.

The snow falls and everybody finds it hard going. Their salvation comes at the beak of Speedy, who knows where to find a bunch of crayfish. We won’t ask whether these are endangered UK native white-clawed crayfish – let’s just agree that they are nasty, invasive and American reds. Everybody munches on them and feels better, even Owl (whose serving of crayfish comes with a fat side of humble pie and pride).

Not everybody is welcome at the feast, though. Weasel sends Measley packing, telling him he isn’t Farthing Wood. Bloody hell, Weasel! I thought they were getting on so well…

Snooty, almost certainly evil blue foxes Scarface and Lady Blue are spying on Fox and Vixen. ‘I would hate to see our cubs mixing with theirs, wouldn’t you?’ says Lady Blue. Once again, the anti-immigrant theme is strong, but this is also some serious foreshadowing of the plot of this series.

Vixen points out that they will all starve if they stick to their allotted piece of land, but Fox doesn’t want to cause trouble. ‘See’ growls Scarface, ‘No spunk’. Stop sniggering back there, it was a more innocent time!

Vixen confronts the blue foxes anyway, trying to be as polite as possible. Scarface is having none of it, and departs with a growl. ‘There’s on thing you have to learn, my dear’ smarms Lady Blue, ‘My mate is the law around here’. The GWS, it would appear, is only a benevolent figurehead. Scarface holds the power. Great. They really know how to pick their spots, our gang.

Badger can’t get to sleep (unsurprising really, given that he is sleeping with his snout poking out of his set instead of, oh, I don’t know, sleeping in it like any sane badger?!). He has never seen a ‘hwinter’ like this. Weasel antagonises Scarface and nicks his nuts. It’s a powder keg is WDP. A powder keg!

Mole is off searching for Badger, who has fallen into a ditch, while Weasel is trying to flog her nuts to the squirrels. So…she’s a spiv now? Bloody hell, it’s like she’s in a competition with herself for how monstrous she can become!

A park ranger finds Badger buried in snow, while Mole tells Fox that he’s missing. Fox calls a meeting, and they check out his set. Hare doesn’t care (and I’m a poet and never realised!) – he claims that they aren’t bound by the oath anymore. They should have left Hare behind somewhere. Like in a game pie. He does weirdly change his tune with a bit of persuasion, though, and agrees to look for Badger. Kestrel also signs up (of course she does, lovely dependable Kestrel!).

The squirrels realise that Weasel actually sold them their own nuts, and chuck her out their tree. The animals can’t find Badger, so Owl proclaims him dead. Moley refuses to believe it. As we saw earlier, Badger has actually been rescued by the warden, who has bandaged him up and is keeping him nice and warm and well-fed in his house. Wait, hang on, what? IN HIS HOUSE? What lunatic brings a badger into their house? A badger that will bite and not let go until it hears your bones snap? A totally wild, potentially tuberculosis-riddled badger?! I have badgers in my garden and they are cool beasts, but I would not invite one into my living room. I suppose this is done to show how these humans are nice humans, but still…

The GWS provides a gigantic pile of hay for the hay-eaters. I’d dearly love to know how he transported it…does he have a Great White Tractor?

OH! The warden has a cat! I love cats. A posh cat. Badger isn’t happy about being bandaged up and is a bit terrified at the idea of being a prisoner in a brick and glass box, but him and cat do bond over their dislike of dogs – ‘disgusting, fawning creatures!’ says cat, with a hiss.

The warden comes in and actually goes to stroke Badger! He is literally batshit cray. Badger and Cat (he’s Cat now) argue about domestication versus life in the wild, and Badger tries to take himself off home. Cat tells him the warden won’t like that, and so Badger tells him his life story.

Badger suggests that Cat tell his friends he’s alright. ‘I lick your back, you lick mine?’ asks Cat, licking him. Cats in this series are often a bit pervy…Cat finds Moley and tells him badger is safe, which makes Moley tearfully happy. Cat is on his way home when Mole calls him back…only for Kestrel, thinking Cat was trying to eat Mole, to zoom in and attack him. ‘No, Kestrel, no!’ screams Mole. ‘The cat’s a friend!’. It seems like it might be a bit too late, though, as her claws are buried into the poor kit’s flesh. ‘Oh not again!’ cries Kestrel. I am starting to feel that we should have a new category below – Kestrel’s Awkward Murder of the Week?

Okay, Cat isn’t dead…at least not yet. As Vixen rushes over he stands, bitches about the oath and then collapses again. We cut straight to the credits then – the first time a non-Farthing Wood animal (and a domesticated animal at that) gets a cliffhanger. I hope Cat will be alright, I rather like him!

Join us next week to see who Kestrel ruthlessly slaughters this time…


Wild Wisdom of the Week – ‘When it comes to survival, it is the fittest who emerge triumphant’ – Darwinism from Owl

‘We go against nature at our peril!’ Owl

‘Inscrutable…’ It’s all about the context of this one – Cat says it to Mole, and it’s great!

Deaths – Loads of crayfish (hopefully invaders and not our poor rare native species)

Other musings – In what we might regard as FORESHADOWWWIIIING, they make it very clear that Moley adores Badger, and also note that Badger is getting older. Animals don’t live forever…