Epic Episodes: “Goodbyeee” (Blackadder Goes Forth)

- -

The British comedy series Blackadder is indeed one of the most acclaimed and beloved shows to have emerged from the United Kingdom; with its excellent, witty and purely fun scripts from Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, to its formidable star making lead performances particularly from the great Rowan Atkinson, and its satirical commentary on English history, the series is a real jewel in the catalogue of intellectual humour.

Each season (or series) was set in a different period of history, but still season 4 caught audiences a bit off guard. The setting would be a British trench in 1917 at the height of the First World War (1914-1918). A sitcom set in a war zone? Though other shows like Hogan’s Heroes and M*A*S*H* did find critical and commercial success, feelings of apprehension would always remain around these sensitive subjects.

Blackadder Goes Forth Still 1

But Blackadder Goes Forth approached its subject matter not only with wonderful satire but with great commentary on the absurdity of armed conflict. The show never mocked the soldiers, medical personnel, victims or others affected, choosing to use its satirical bow and arrow on the men in charge. Its lampooning of Generals and other higher ups reaffirmed the notion that the soldiers were really “lions led by lambs”.  Though the whole season provided great laughs and clever critiques, it is the final episode Goodbyeee that remains one of the most emotionally poignant half of hours in television history, especially its final scene.


Captain Edmund Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson) spent the entire series trying to find ways to be sent out of the trench and avoid “going over the top”. In a last ditch effort he pretends to have gone mad by putting a pair of underpants on his head and sticking two pencils up his nose while muttering gibberish. The plan ultimately fails and our characters must now face the proverbial music, straight into almost certain death.


For a series largely comically written, the genius of “Blackadder Goes Forth” was its ability to meld its humour with very incisive bits on the meaning of war, the ineptitude of the commanders, and the colossal waste of life. There is a sense of great foreboding throughout the final episode particularly as we move ever closer to the ending. Suddenly the comedy ceases and there comes a realization that despite all the comic masking there can be no sugar-coating the hideous reality about to face these characters we have grown to care about.

Atkinson stated that he felt a knot in his stomach in the week leading up the episode’s filming, knowing that his and co-stars characters were going to die. As time and options have run out for Captain Blackadder, Lieutenant George (Hugh Laurie), Private Baldrick (Tony Robinson) and Captain Darling (Tim McInnerny) along with others, Blackadder Goes Forth ends in a most extraordinary way.

These protagonists were now not just satirical creations but humans with genuine feelings of fear and uncertainty, facing the unknown with great bravery. Statistics of casualties in any war may not always be moving because we often don’t know the names of those killed, but here the series brought the truth home. Those who have died could have been any one of us; your neighbor, friend, father, brother, sister etc.

And so our characters prepare to go over the top but before the whistle blows Captain Blackadder so tragically and eloquently leaves us with “Who would have noticed another mad-man around here? Good luck everyone.” With that they charge the enemy as the series’ theme is played melancholically on piano before fading into a field of poppies.

It is truly one of the saddest and emotionally rewarding finishes to a television series, and proof to skeptics that the producers/writers had their hearts in the right place. Blackadder in its entirety was a masterclass, yet Blackadder Goes Forth and its final episode were amongst the most comically and emotionally poignant of all. This combination of feelings is a showcase of great brilliance.

As another November 11th approaches, we must once again utter the phrase “Lest we Forget”; but not just on that day but every day. Thankfully through numerous works of art like Blackadder we are aided in our mission to commemorate those senselessly lost in the futility of all global conflict.

Michael Vecchio
Michael Vecchiohttp://beforethecyborgs.com
Michael Vecchio is a contributing writer for Before The Cyborgs. A graduate of the University of Alberta, he is a keen follower of events in the world of film, as well as politics and history. You can also hear him podcast about film and politics



In Appreciation Of: A Clockwork Orange

Kubrick’s startlingly clear vision of a deranged and frightening future remains one of his greatest cinematic achievements, and regardless of moral problems the film may have, it is an enchanting viewing experience like no other.

A Place Where Perfect Doesn’t Matter: Ah-Mer-Ah-Su’s Star

In addition to being an artifact of empowerment, this record is a sitting-on-the-stairs sort of honesty, a safe-keeping savvy of all the ways in which art can be a sort of communal celebration and preservation.

The Life Enigmatic With Wes Anderson: A Discovery of Style and Brilliance

On his 48th Birthday, We examine the filmmaking style of the brilliant yet enigmatic Wes Anderson. From Symmetry to Bill Murray to Colors and Futura.

Review: Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War is dubbed “the most ambitious crossover event of all time” on the surface but feels far more pedestrian when examined closer.

The Undertaker & A Legacy Of Wrestling Excellence

As Wrestlemania approaches, we look back at the legend of The Phenom, The Deadman, The Undertaker. One of the finest entertainers to grace the ring.

Related Articles

Heaven Is A Place on Earth: Filmstruck Is A Movie Lovers Dream

The best films in movie history all for less than $100 annually. It's time to give the Netflix of classic and indie films a try.

Trailer Talk: Fate of The Furious

The trailer for the newest instalment of the Fast and Furious Franchise "Fate of the Furious shows mastery of its craft but in doing so remains as divisive as ever

The Last Jedi Reintroduces Hope To Star Wars

Five Thoughts on Star Wars The Last Jedi, On the creation of hope, visual flair and mystery boxes