By Will Barber Taylor
Lady Alex gets a lead on an ancient scroll rumoured to have been written by the Buddha himself and enlists Hooten’s help in finding it in the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. But when the source – a sweet elderly Bhutanese woman – poisons Hooten, it becomes a race against time for Lady Alex to save his life.
The fourth episode of Hooten opens in a typical style with Hooten (Michael Landes) being offered a job by Alex to find the location of an ancient text written by Buddha. Using the implied treasure to get out of his sticky situation, Hooten decides that he’d rather try and barter his way out resulting in the company of an unwelcome new friend, Hidalgo (Antonio De La Cruz Yanes) on his mission with Alex.
Episode Four has some great location shots but this doesn’t work entirely well with the overall tone of the episode. Previous episodes have focussed on a rather jaunty action adventure with some slapstick comedy and some good drama to sustain them. Episode Four spends a great deal of time with Michael Landes’ Hooten near to death as a result of poison given to him by an elderly villager who wants to use the threat of death as a bargaining chip to make sure Hooten and Alex return. The trouble with this is that it results in the episode’s tone becoming much more depressive and less in keeping with the upbeat drama the series has previously been.
Equally problematic is that a good chunk of the episode is merely taken up by getting to the location of the scroll meaning it feels more like a long slog than a zippy and zany adventure. However, the episode does provide us with some good dramatic moments at the end when Hooten reveals something about his past. This is beautifully well done, with Landes being particularly emotional.
Though Landes and Lovibond are not their usual upbeat selves for a lot of the episode they still have some great moments; Hooten’s near death in the Buddha’s temple is one example and their banter over the phone when Hooten is being held hostage by Alphonso (Ferran Auso) is great as well. However, the highlight of the episode is Joanna Scanlan’s Holly McQuin. She is bubbly, enthusiastic character and Scanlan perfectly portrays her devotion to find the Buddha’s scroll.
Overall, whilst the fourth episode isn’t the best of the series it certainly is enjoyable. Hopefully Episode Five will return to the upbeat action adventure series that we have all enjoyed.