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Witchsmeller Pursuivant
Witchsmeller Pursuivant

Title Card
The Black Adder, Episode 5
Written by Richard Curtis & Rowan Atkinson
additional dialogue by William Shakespeare
Directed by Martin Shardlow
Original airdate 13-7-1983
Episode chronology
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"The Queen of Spain's Beard" "The Black Seal"
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Witchsmeller Persuivant is the fifth episode of The Black Adder, the first series of Blackadder

Plot Edit

In 1495, the Black Plague is ravaging Europe, and infects King Richard IV rendering him more deranged than usual; when Prince Edmund comes to visit, the King nearly stabs him to death. Prince Harry summons the Privy Council, which includes Edmund and Percy. The Council agrees (over Edmund's objections) that the Plague is the result of witchcraft and summons The Witchsmeller Pursuivant.

In order to discover how to get rid of the Pursuivant, Edmund, Baldrick and Lord Percy go to a nearby village (where villagers comedically keep dying) and discover that mistress Scott(who could've provided them information) is dead along with his cat(mourned deeply by Lord Percy). Following Baldrick's idea of disguise, Edmund puts on a piece of cloth over his eye and claims to be Clever Jake(later messed up as Pete and Tom) and discovers that the Pursuivant burned mistress Scott and her cat along with a villagers(who appears in each episode) three friends. "Clever Tom" suggests that they dismiss the Witchsmeller (Pursuivant himself was present at this moment) calling him Old Big-Nose. Edmund and the others then return as the Pursuivant plots revenge. After returning to the castle, Edmund, Baldrick and Percy find the Pursuivant already there.

The Pursuivant suggests a test to discover the witches in their midst: he will place a dagger and a crucifix on a table, and blindfold the suspect — if he chooses the crucifix, he is innocent, but if he chooses the dagger, he is guilty. When Edmund is selected as the first suspect, the Witchsmeller blindfolds him and switches the two objects around; Edmund accidentally chooses the dagger and is condemned as a witch. Even Prince Harry turns against him.

As a courtesy, Edmund is granted a trial (a woman who watched his friends die in the beginning of the episode claims that "his hair proves it."). Lord Percy, acting as Edmund's defence (reluctantly after the Pursuivant says he could face burning himself) begins his defence, but after saying one word, the Pursuivant asks if Prince Harry can truly trust this man (Percy) who is obviously a witch ("His hair proves it"). Prince Harry agrees and dismisses Percy's defence. The Pursuivant then mounts a sham prosecution, attacking Edmund for having a cat named Bubbles ("short for Beezlebubbles!"). He asks Edmund what he feeds the cat, and when Edmund frustratedly replies "bloody milk!" the Pursuivant takes this literally, claiming that Edmund means a mixture of milk and blood. The Pursuivant asks Edmund if he fed his horse, Black Satin with carrots. When Edmund confirms this, the Pursuivant declares that carrots are the favourite food of Satan and even falsely recites the bible saying that the fruit which Adam and Eve ate were carrots. Baldrick then responds that carrots don't grow on trees. After asking how does he know so much about carrots, Baldrick too is declared a witch. The Pursuivant then summons Black Satin as a witness, and questions him as to whether he has committed "frenzied, naked and obscene satanic orgies" with Edmund - or "The Great Grumbledook" as the Pursuivant claims his real name to be. Edmund points out how stupid it is trying to question a horse, but then Black Satin neighs. The Pursuivant takes this to be the word "nay" and claims that the horse can indeed talk, and is granted a recess to further question him.

During the night, Edmund, Percy and Baldrick discuss an escape plan. The following day, Edmund's horse mysteriously dies, but not before leaving a signed confession. The prosecution then calls a peasant woman who claims to have given birth to Edmund's child — a poodle. The trio are found guilty and sentenced to burn at the stake. As response, Edmund claims he does have something to say and follows Baldrick's cunning plan. The entire trio then jump together and somehow fall down to the lower level of the castle. After finding two locked doors they accidentally go to Richard IV's quarters (the deranged King tries to kill the "bloody Turks") and have to be saved by the guards. Later, in jail, the only consolation Edmund receives is a doll from his mother who cryptically promises to "see what [she] can work out."

On the day of the execution, when already tied up to the stake, Baldrick suggests a new plan (OH, **** off Baldrick!!) When the pyre is lit, Edmund panics and drops the doll — which bears a striking resemblance to a hooded Witchsmeller Pursuivant — and the would-be executioner mysteriously burns to death(while talking to an unsuspecting Prince Harry), while the doll somehow absorbs all the flames. The accused witches are spared, believing it to be the result of Baldrick's plan. Baldrick himself is confused.

Meanwhile, a cured King Richard greets Queen Gertrude and daughter-in-law Leia asking about the commotion outside. The Queen assures him that everything will work out, and winks at the audience; sparks fly out of her eyes, implying that she is the real witch. Leia is the only witness to the incident.

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