Sean Bean was at the top of his game in Masterpiece Theatre's Sharpe's Peril on PBS last night. The story picks up at the end of last week's Sharpe's Challenge with Richard Sharpe and Patrick Harper on their way home. When Sharpe is asked to take a stubborn young Frenchwoman to a hill station to await her fiance (who won her from her father during a card game we find out later), it seems like a simple enough task that will only delay them a day or two, but of course it is merely the beginning of another adventure in Imperial India.
A plot involving an opium crop leaves an entire troop of soliders and locals slaughtered. The story continues to play on themes of harshness and danger through the rest of the piece. The writers took a risk by allowing likable characters that the audience is emotionally invested in be killed off, but it gave a sense of realism to the story. It was brutal landscape to be in.
Sharpe has a very interesting journey as a character in this episode as well, going through a range of emotions and changes in his relationships with various characters. Most noticable was his relationship with Marie-Angelique played by Beatrice Rosen. It starts as the traditional hate-at-first-sight, both thinking the other to be repulsive, but they grow to respect and care for one another. Though it has a romantic undertone, the film never becomes a romance. It stays focused on the life of the solider and the socio-political conflicts of Imperialism. Ideas of comradery, betrayal, honor and other principals always underlie everything.