Hooten & The Lady: 1.05 Ethiopia
A bit of a change of starting point for this episode: Instead of Lady Alex instigating it, Ella's been kidnapped. Jessica Hynes has been criminally underused in HATL so far, her comedy chops well proven in Space and Shaun of the Dead. And what do these fierce kidnappers want to trade Ella for? A spoon. Specifically the Sabean Spoon which Lady Alex has to steal from the British Museum and deliver as ransom. But this episode isn't about lifting the spoon from the museum, no heist episode this. It's into the desert they go.
The Sabean Spoon, part of a pair of remaining artefacts from a time and a place consigned to myth: The legendary Sheba, home of the biblical queen who visited King Solomon. And it's King Solomon's Mines, Sir H. Rider Haggard's tale of Allan Quatermain, that acts as the inspiration for this episode. Finding the genre roots of each episode isn't necessary, but it's a fun aspect. Writer Tony Jordan knows this genre well, and it shows, even down to a nod to the Map Room scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark
While the solving of the mystery of Sheba's treasure is interesting enough, this episode does fall down a bit in terms of the rest of the plot. There's almost more about the camels in this episode than there is about the ill-fated kidnappers. Kidnappers who spend the longest time staring at each other in a stand-off while the adventurers exposition. There are of course nods to the marriage subplot, but it feels phoned in this time. The pace is just a little off, compared to previous episodes, like they just weren't quite sure how to end it.
There was more of Jessica Hynes in terms of screen time, but it's a shame more couldn't have been made of her. Even Hooten and Alex's witty banter is diminished and feels a little thin. We can but hope that this is just a small blip and that everything will return to form when they head to Russia next week.