Who Pushed Captain Sawyer?

As was once said in "The Sound of Music", let's start from the very beginning; it's a very good place to start.  The following is a run down of some of the key scenes where we learn information (or don't) about what happened aboard Renown.  The arguments presented here are by no means exhaustive and may not even be logical, but I make no claims that they are either.

Key Scene One: Captain Down

What We Learn:  The Renown's captain takes a tumble while on a search for mutineers.  Said mutineers, by an unfortunate coincidence, happen to be Our Heroes.  A further unfortunate coincidence puts some of them at the scene of the possible crime.  We also see (after many minutes of screen capping) that there are only two things that touch Sawyer:  the hatch coaming and Hornblower's hand:

What Is Proven: The only people present at the time were Sawyer, Wellard, Kennedy and Hornblower.  Unless you're a freak who believes that Bush and Buckland had the collective brain power to mess with the space-time continuum, those four--and Mr. Newton's good friend, Gravity--are the only ones who could possibly be involved in what happened.

What Is NOT Proven: That any malicious act was committed.  The scene shows Kennedy leaning forward and gasping as Sawyer goes back, followed by a shot of Sawyer's feet as he falls backwards, then we see Hornblower reaching out and actually making contact with Sawyer's back and then we see Wellard.  We are not told whether the shots are meant to be a representation of what was going on simultaneously or chronologically.  If they are meant to be simultaneous then everyone present is suspect.  If the clips are meant to be chronological, then Hornblower's hand on Sawyer's back doesn't make any difference--Sawyer was already in the process of falling.  Besides, he could have very well been trying to prevent the fall.  (And--if we REALLY want to be sea lawyers--regardless of his intentions, Hornblower could have answered the question, "Did you push Captain Saywer?" with a very true, "NO," since from his angle he could have only pulled Captain Sawyer...) We don't see much of what Wellard does in this scene, but in a later flashback scene, we see him swatting at air, so we can assume that even if he was trying to push the captain, his efforts would have had no effect.  Archie might be backing the man up, but the reaction on his face when the captain goes backwards could indicate he was unaware of how close the opening was.  Clear as mud yet?  Let's continue...

Key Scene Two: Hobbs/Wellard Confrontation #1:

What We Learn:  Hobbs wants information on what went down in the hold (besides the Captain, that is) and he figures he's going to get more out of Mr. Midshipman Wellard than Lieutenants Hornblower or Kennedy.

What Is Proven: Hobbs doesn't think that the captain just 'fell'.

What Is NOT Proven:  That Wellard (or anyone else for that matter) did or did not do it.   If nothing else, Wellard's intimidated.  At one point he says, "How can I help you with that?  I wasn't there!"  Excuse me, Henry, but you were.  Having said that, though, being there and assaulting your captain are two different things entirely.  Chalk it up to the laudanum talking.

Key Scene Three: Bush and Hornblower:

What We Learn:  Mr. Bush is having his doubts about whether the captain just "fell", too.

What Is Proven:  That Horatio gets cranky when you don't believe what he tells you.

What Is NOT Proven: That Hornblower is guilty of anything.  Bush's suspicions and Hornblower's annoyance only indicate that Hornblower is annoyed by Bush's suspicions.  A man telling the truth would be as put out by what is being inferred by the question as would a man trying to cover something up.

Key Scene Four:  Attack on Ft. Samana:

What We Learn:  Sawyer is under the belief that he was pushed.

What Is Proven:  Sawyer knows that he fell.

What Is NOT Proven:  That Sawyer was actually pushed.  The man was firing a pistol at a cliff face from long range, for mercy's sake, to say nothing of slamming his head repeatedly against the sides of the ship.  Despite moments of seeming lucidity, his judgment just ain't all that.   The only thing of any certainty that a person CAN get from this scene is that Sawyer doesn't have all his oars in the water.

Miscellaneous Flashback Scenes from Retribution:

What We Learn:  Sawyer has recollections of his fall into the hold and these recollections involve Wellard, Hornblower and Kennedy.  The most consistent recollection, however, is that of a curly-headed shadow. 

What Is Proven:  Sawyer does remember parts of his fall accurately, such as the sequence of events and the parties who were present. 

What Is NOT Proven: That anything untoward happened.  Sawyer is an acknowledged loon.  While his 'visions' of the incident may be correct, his interpretations of them (i.e. that he was pushed) may not be.  

Key Scene Five:  Hobbs and Wellard Confrontation #2:

What We Learn:  Hobbs seems to suspect Wellard of pushing Sawyer down the hold, blaming the m'man's drugged state for any convenient 'memory loss' of his involvement in the incident.

What Is Proven:  Hobbs really gets a kick out of playing mind games with mids if he doesn't actually believe that Wellard was directly involved.

What Is NOT Proven:  That Wellard did it.  Newsflash:  Hobbs wasn't there.  He does not know.  While his information could have come from Captain Sawyer himself, Captain Sawyer probably isn't the most reliable source when it comes to making lucid judgments about others.

Key Scene Six:  Hornblower and Matthews:

What We Learn:  Away from the Renown, longtime shipmates Matthews and Hornblower have a vague discussion regarding the events aboard their current ship.  When told that the "captain relies upon the courtesy of his crew", the boatswain asks if, in the matter of Captain Sawyer, "we should look to our conscience there."  Hornblower replies with, "Yes, Matthews...even there."

What is Proven:  Even prospective/suspected mutineers can feel guilty about any actions they contemplated and/or took.  (Oh.  And another thing this scene proves is that Matthews is Da Man.  Most seamen would find themselves tied to a grating for saying the things that he came close to intimating to a superior officer.  Not our Matthews.  He simply gets a "Matthewwwwws..." mumbled at him and the matter drops at "Sorry, sir.")

What is NOT Proven:  That what either Hornblower or Matthews may be cogitating over is pushing Sawyer.   It is very possible that, given the events which followed and how far the captain has fallen (no pun intended) since, they are remorseful about the situation as a whole.  I hasten to add, too, that Horatio has a nasty habit of feeling guilty for no reason so any twinge of conscience on his part should be taken with a shaker of salt.

Key Scene Seven: Back to the Hold:

What We Learn:  Sawyer is not of the opinion that Wellard pushed him, but he is still of the opinion that he was pushed.  He's kind of shaky about tagging Archie with the crime since he mistakes him for a moment for Admiral DeBruys (sp?).  That pesky curly headed shadow gets in on the mix, too, but Sawyer doesn't mention it aloud.

What is Proven: Again, that Sawyer is off his rocker.  And that Hobbs is pretty much obsessed with finding out what happened--to the point that he's willing to risk traumatizing his beloved captain by taking him to the scene of his injury.  (Then again, maybe I'm misreading Hobbs's motives altogether.  Perhaps Gunner Hobbs just wanted to ogle the Spanish bathing beauties from a primo vantage point and having Sawyer along while asking the odd question about his fall was a convenient cover...)

What is NOT Proven:  That Wellard or Kennedy weren't involved (or, for that matter, that the owner of a certain shadow was...).  As is proven by his "Admiral DeBruys" mistake, Sawyer just doesn't have the mental faculties to say with any certainty what exactly happened that fateful night.

Key Scene Eight: Kennedy and Wellard:

What We Learn:  Wellard is pretty much of the opinion that he, Kennedy or Hornblower will be wearing a hempen necktie soon after they arrive in Kingston.  While he says he "has no fears on his account", he goes on to add, when pressed by a somewhat indignant Archie at the implications of this statement, that he "cannot tell who pushed the captain". 

What is Proven:  Henry not only seems convinced that the captain was pushed, he seems quite certain that he himself was not involved in the pushing.  He also seems rather determined to make sure that his two lieutenant pals don't swing for what he implies they have done.  (Which begs the question: If he is so concerned about saving their necks from the noose, couldn't he have gone to the trouble of having this rather dangerous conversation out of the hearing of the two marines who are present at the hatchway...?)

What is NOT Proven:  That Hornblower or Kennedy did anything and that Wellard is completely innocent.  Wellard has been giving conflicting statements throughout the movies of his involvement.  He really needs to lay off the laudanum (or the writers need to do a better job of proofreading themselves).  Archie's pretty quick to question Wellard's implications--but that could be attributed to the presence of the two marines nearby.  Interestingly enough, when Wellard talks about the captain being pushed, Kennedy makes no move to deny such a thing despite the fact that the "party line" has been that the captain fell.  The fact that he doesn't bring that distinction to Wellard's attention, of course, could be more indicative of the presence of the marines (i.e. purveyors of potentially damning court testimony) than of the actual veracity of the statement itself, but the lack of any sort of correction may be significant if one would wish to make it so.

Key Scene Nine: Shan't Sleep...:

What We Learn:  Captain Sawyer believes that he remembers who pushed him...the curly-headed shadow (or the owner thereof...)

What is Proven:  The writers are pushing HARD for us to believe that Hornblower was the culprit.  If you'd missed it before, the whole shadow fading to the image of Hornblower in the cot is a pretty good indicator.

What is NOT Proven:  That Sawyer really knows who pushed him or that Hornblower is the pusher or, for that matter, that Sawyer was pushed at all.  Yes, a confirmed madman remembers a shadow.  'Tain't exactly hard evidence.


Key Scene Ten:  Brave Lad?:

What We Learn:  A few things, really.  Wellard is now prepared to implicate the two men he claims to want to protect to his captain with the words "I will not see them hang...either of them."  Captain Sawyer also tells him, in what appears to be a very lucid manner, that he remembers who pushed him.  Wellard, supposedly, willingly conveys this information to Hobbs with his dying breath. 

What is Proven:  For a guy who's all about saving the men who have been so good to him, Wellard's got a pretty clumsy (and, I might add, ineffectual) way of going about it.  Had the Spanish not come in and finished Sawyer off, Kennedy and Hornblower would have been dangling at the yardarm come Kingston thanks to Wellard's seeming confirmation that one or the other of them was involved in the injuring of the Renown's captain.  

What is NOT Proven:  Kennedy or Hornblower did anything.  As stated before, Wellard's been pretty shaky with his statements prior to this, it's possible (though, I wouldn't go so far as to say probable) that Wellard implies that the other two did it because he wants to redirect suspicion away from his own opium-sedated self.  If he knows that the captain just fell, on the other hand, he really did a bang-up job of making sure that the words he chose were delightfully misleading.  Another thing that is not proven is that ANY information passed between Wellard and Hobbs.  Sawyer no sooner says "I know who pushed me" than the Spaniards burst in and fire on the poor captain and aspiring officer.  There didn't seem to be any time in which Sawyer COULD say who pushed him.  Of course, the assumption is that Wellard KNOWS who pushed the captain, regardless of whether or not the captain remembers.  We see Hobbs lean down, we see him react to something that Wellard says, but we don't have a clue about WHAT has been said.  For all we know, Wellard told Hobbs "Bite me."

Key Scene Eleven: You Speak of Mr. Hornblower...:

What We Learn: Buckland decides that the truth must come out to the court, going so far (in an unprecedented flash of backbone) as to blaspheme at Commodore Pellew when Sir Edward makes an attempt to hush him up.  The truth, as Renown's acting-captain/first lieutenant sees it is that Lieutenant Horatio Hornblower shoved the unfortunate Sawyer down the hatch.

What is Proven: Buckland is a spineless wretch only out to save his own butt.  So much for 'brothers in arms'...

What is NOT Proven:  That Hornblower was guilty of anything.  Buckland WAS NOT there.  His information could only come from the rumor mills.

Key Scene Twelve: A Leader of Men:

What We Learn:  Hobbs, if he could give any testimony one way or the other, refuses to give it--in a rather dramatic way, I might add, as he recites the very words Hornblower used to him at the scene of Sawyer's death.  Hmmmm...

What is Proven:  Buckland is a PATHETIC gambling man.

What is NOT Proven:  That Hobbs is covering for Hornblower because Hornblower was guilty of pushing Sawyer.  Hobbs (for the second or third time) was not present when the captain fell.  Regardless of what people may or may not have told him, he can give nothing more than second-hand testimony.  Now, depending upon what you think he knows, that second-hand testimony could be pretty damaging--and the way in which the writers have presented it to us indicates that they would like us to think that such testimony would be damaging to Mr. Hornblower in particular.  Having said that, Hobbs could simply be telling the court what he knows (i.e. NOTHING) while communicating his support to Horatio in this witch hunt.

Key Scene Thirteen: I Wish You the Very Best:

What We Learn:  Dr. Clive seems to have had a change of heart since his testimony.  We also find that Hornblower is unusually closed-mouth about his testimony when questioned about it by his friend.

What is Proven:  If we're looking for a nice clean confession or denial from Hornblower, we're out of luck.

What is NOT Proven:  That Hornblower is guilty of anything more than keeping his own counsel.  Kennedy's question: "When they ask you, 'Did you push Captain Sawyer into the hold...?' " seems to be more "How are you going to get out of this one, H'ratio?" than it is "Did you push Captain Sawyer?".  Kennedy, after all, WAS there and WOULD know.  The writers decide not to make it easier for the audience by having Archie back off when Hornblower pointedly returns the question with, "Are you asking me that question now?"  Since the court seems to be looking for a scapegoat, any testimony that Hornblower gave in which he says that he did not push Sawyer would probably be met with skepticism at best--even if such testimony was the absolute truth.  And since we know that Hornblower has a misplaced guilt complex of massive proportions, it's probably not wildly unreasonable to think that there is a chance that an innocent Hornblower would confess to simply resolve the court martial and get his shipmates off the hook.  On the other hand, the man is pretty darn cagey about the whole thing.  There's nothing terribly irrational about a person getting strong 'guilty' vibes from all of Horatio's sidestepping.

Key Scene Fourteen: I alone...:

What We Learn:  Archie confesses to pushing Captain Sawyer down into the hold--and, significantly, he adds that he alone did it.  "Justice" is swift, the court martial is closed and Archie is dragged away as a guilty man.

What is Proven:  HA!  You'd think something WAS proven, wouldn't you?  Okay...something was proven:  Buckland is so in touch with his feminine side that he doesn't even make the attempt to hold back the tears in court...

What is NOT Proven:  Oddly enough, that Kennedy did it.  Hobbs looks as though he's been hit by a truck--odd expression for a man if the confession was no surprise.  There are cries of "No, Mr. Kennedy," in the courtroom and Horatio certainly doesn't look pleased despite the encouraging little half-smile he gets from his friend (then again, who would?).  But, as far as the court is concerned, there's your answer: Archie pushed Sawyer.  If you're satisfied with that, I'm happy that you've found the peace that only the knowledge of the answer of the "Who Pushed Sawyer?" question will bring, but you'll have to forgive me for saying that--in this scary fangirl's opinion--you're wrong.

Key Scene Fifteen:  Buckland the Lush:

Okay, okay...so it's not really a "key scene" in determining who pushed Sawyer.  However, it's always bothered me that the person who's calling to Buckland from the other side of the door seems to alternate between calling him "Mr. Butler" and "Mr. Buttland" and since this is my opportunity to make an issue of it, I am.

Wow, feels better to get that off my chest.  I appreciate your indulgence.  Now, back to the whole Sawyer thing...

Key Scene Sixteen:  Why?:

What We Learn:  Plenty.  Though none of it anything more than circumstantial.  Humor me if you will while I go through EXCRUCIATING analysis...

What is Proven: Archie didn't do it.  Why would I say that, do you ask?  Well, first of all, dramatically, it just wouldn't work.  In the real world, of course, drama as proof of guilt versus innocence is a non-issue, but we're talking fiction here.  Drama is everything.  For Archie to be innocent and to confess for the sake of his friend has a lot more impact than for him to be guilty and doing the honorable thing by confessing.  There are little tidbits in their conversation that make me think this as well.  For example...

  • "Why...?"  First of all, both Hornblower and Kennedy know who is guilty--if gravity wasn't the culprit.  If Mr. Kennedy was the perpetrator he confessed himself to be, wouldn't the logical answer to this question be, "Because I'm guilty, you twit"?

  • "Look at me...there isn't a gallows in the world that can touch me now..."  In other words, this is expediency, pure and simple.  The court wanted a scapegoat.  Hornblower needed a way out.  Kennedy was dying regardless.  Archie managed to get his friend out of a jam and, considering that he wouldn't be around for the fallout, did so at little personal cost to himself.

  • "Poor Horatio...So quick to give, so slow to accept the simplest gift."  Er, gift...?  If one is doing something that one should be expected to do (i.e. confessing to a crime one has actually committed--particularly when someone not guilty of that crime is being accused of it), then there is very little about that action that would be considered gift-like. 

  • "You've done the same for me and others besides a thousand times..."  What has he 'done the same', Arch...?  Perhaps...taking the blame for something which was really not his fault in an attempt to spare others from punishment...?  Just a hunch...

What is NOT Proven: That Horatio did it by default.  There's nothing in this conversation that indicates definitively that Hornblower committed any crime (nor is there anything that indicates definitively that he is INNOCENT of any crime).

Key Scene Seventeen: Promotion:

What We Learn:  Archie's good name, completely gone in the public eye thanks to his confession, has managed to secure Horatio his half-promotion to commander.  Pellew attempts to give Hornblower some solace as he mourns the loss of his friend by giving him guarded, but meaningful, thoughts on the recent court martial.

What is Proven: That Archie didn't do it and that Pellew seems to think that Hornblower did.  Again, the dialogue is key here...

  •  "Mr. Kennedy took a calculated risk when he pushed Captain Sawyer down the hold...for the good of the ship...and, in all likelihood, was right to do so."  I cannot...cannot...believe that anyone would miss that this little speech, despite the use of Mr. Kennedy's name, was aimed directly at Mr. Hornblower.  "Calculated risk", "for the good of the ship"...these are very Horatian concepts, phrases that Pellew would know would catch Hornblower's attention and offer him some sort of absolution.  And doesn't it work out nicely that we have a textbook bit of literary framing here, considering that we began these two episodes with Hornblower appealing to Pellew that the upheaval on board ship was "for the good of the service"...?

  • "You think Mr. Kennedy was telling the truth...?"  This is, without question, THE most convincing argument that Kennedy DID NOT push Sawyer down the hold.  Check out Horatio's smirk.  Listen to his disbelieving tone.  This line easily translates to, "You and I BOTH know Archie didn't do it, Sir Ed..."

  • "And went to his grave without the merit of his good name..."/"But you and I will not forget it..." If Pellew was convinced of Kennedy's guilt, he WOULD NOT say that he would always remember Kennedy's good name.  That's what you say of a person who has done something praiseworthy, not something you say of a justly sentenced mutineer.

What is NOT Proven:  That Hornblower was guilty, but it doesn't make a strong case for his innocence, either.  Pellew seems to think that someone pushed Sawyer and he further seems, with his veiled speeches, to think that his protégé had a hand in it.   The closest Hornblower comes to confessing to or denying anything is when he skeptically asks if Pellew really thinks Kennedy's testimony was legit.  Conclusion?  Raysh ain't tellin' one way or the other.