By Kristin Battestella
If 1995’s Sharpe’s Gold had you doubting this British Napoleonic television series, think again. The seventh episode Sharpe’s Battle returns the war series to the proper action, betrayal, and romance.
After finding a massacred village, Major Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) challenges the vile French General Loupe (Oliver Cotton). Lord Wellington (Hugh Fraser) sends Sharpe and the raw Irish Royal Guard to a small outpost near French lines, but Irish noble Lord Kiely (Jason Durr), his lonely wife (Allie Byrne), and Irish-English tensions make the stay tough for Sharpe and Sergeant Harper (Daragh O’Malley). Horse Master General Runican (Ian McNiece) is of little help to Sharpe-and Partisan leader Juanita (Siri Neal) isn’t all she appears to be.
Multi-leveled storylines and ambiguous friends and foes are just a few of Sharpe’s Battle’s highlights. New writer Russell Lewis (who also wrote the newest Sharpe in 2006) remains true to Bernard Cornwell’s characters. Strangely, it’s almost as if Sharpe is not the focus of this episode. He’s the middle man between Kiely and his wife,
The Sharpe regulars are also back to themselves after those questionable turns in Sharpe’s Gold. O’Malley gives Harper a deeper touch when it comes to the Irish-English relations, and Sean Bean’s Sharpe is actually not the ladies man this time around. Onscreen we don’t always get to see Sharpe’s military shrewdness. Kudos also to the Chosen Men. Hangman, Harris, and Perkins receive their showcase here.
Although not nearly as hokey looking at Gold, Sharpe’s
ETA: Please see the comments below for our analysis of the Battle novel.