The Shadow of the Tower (1972) s01e12 – The Fledgling

I really had no idea how far “Shadow” could drop, did I? I mean, The Fledgling manages to be the worst episode of the series (with only one left) and with Richard Warwick in it but nowhere near the worst part. Though, to be fair, Warwick is in a much reduced role compared to the last two episodes. Instead, Christopher Neame is the lead, playing the grown-up Earl of Warwick (who was in the first couple episodes). He’s been living in the Tower of London since Henry (James Maxwell) came to power and spends his life in his rooms, rarely getting to go outside, very little contact with anyone other than his keepers. Maxwell had promised to never kill him but Neame always thinks the order is coming.

This episode is about how and why the order finally comes. See, Maxwell wants to marry off his son (Jason Kemp) to the princess of Spain and the Spanish rulers demand he kill Warwick and Neame. The throne must be secured and the Spanish see those two guys as problems. Only Maxwell doesn’t want to kill them; they didn’t do anything after all. He doesn’t seem to remember promising not to kill Neame, but then Queen Norma West also doesn’t seem to remember she didn’t want Maxwell to kill him back in the first couple episodes either.

So Maxwell and his people come up with a plan. Convince Neame there’s a plot against him to try to get him to commit treason with Warwick (the actor who’s not playing the Earl of Warwick) so Maxwell can kill them both. Neame he just has to terrorize with innuendo but Warwick they throw man-meat Hayward Morse to inspire Warwick’s lust for multiple things, including treason.

Neame’s not great, but he’s at least trying with the part; his character’s been isolated for ten years, with all sorts of psychological issues no doubt. He’s sympathetic as all hell, which just makes it worse when Maxwell’s so callous about killing him.

Making Maxwell evil, with one episode to go, is a weird flex. It’s a disappointing episode to be sure.

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