"The Irish Crown Affair"
Original airdate: Week of February 6, 2000
by Michelle Erica Green

Irish Eyes Smile On Sydney

"The Irish Crown Affair" Plot Summary:

At the turn of the last millennium in Ireland, the English and Irish have just concluded a bloody battle. King Brian Boru prays with his subject Hugh O'Donnell, but an English soldier bursts in to stab him. The king asks his advisor Hugh O'Donnell to protect the crown from the enemy.

At Trinity, Sydney's former college roommate stops by her fencing class, where Claudia checks out the instructor's butt while the women greet one another. Molly needs Sydney's help: her internet acquaintance Sean Bolger discovered a piece of an ancient poem which holds clues to the location of the lost crown of the last King of Ireland, but Sean has disappeared after some unsettling violent incidents. Nigel takes a fancy to Molly and the three are quickly en route to Dublin, where they decide to start their search by investigating the O'Donnell clan, since the family was reportedly entrusted with the crown of Brian Boru. However, the O'Donnells have been labeled traitors since shortly after the king's death, for Liam O'Donnell swore allegiance to King Henry II of England.

Sydney goes to the flea market where the ancient poem was discovered, but is unable to find the fragment which might contain the missing final lines. Molly and Nigel find Sean hiding out in his apartment, then visit the O'Donnells, where the heir apparent pulls a gun on them. But Molly has made the acquaintance of an attractive young man repairing his car on the property, and later they run into him again at the local pub. He's Garrett O'Donnell, son of crotchety old Michael, but he has no interest in his family's history which has caused them all such grief. Frustrated, Nigel plays darts with Molly and nearly hits an Irishman, who challenges the "English pufter" until Garrett defends him. This is why he hates all things Gaelic: not only does he get ridiculed as a traitor, but he has to participate in silly Clan O'Donnell traditions like memorizing four lines of an ancient poem.

Unsurprisingly, the four lines Garrett had to memorize complete the poem found by Sean in the market. The lines tell the listener to go where Liam is sleeping, then let the singing stick lead. Liam O'Donnell is buried in the family mausoleum, so Garrett suggests that they sneak in while Dad drinks the afternoon away. Nigel sulks because it's obvious that Molly is attracted to the Irishman, but follows gamely as the group evades a mysterious follower and enters the ancient tomb. Eventually they find the ancient sarcophagus of Liam, holding a wind instrument. When Sydney plays an ancient battle hymn, the wall moves to reveal a thousand-year-old mural depicting Hugh O'Donnell kneeling not to King Henry II, but to Brian Boru wearing King Henry's armor.

Suddenly the trap door shuts, imprisoning the group inside. Sean panicks, but Sydney suggests using the lid of the sarcophagus to smash their way out. When the cover is moved, though, Liam's skeleton pops up, terrifying everyone...and dropping a note out of the coffin. The note indicates that Brian Boru's crown is hidden inside the head of a statue of Henry II, which is why the ancient O'Donnell knelt to it: he was paying tribute to his own king, not that of England.

The group travels to the local park where they find the statue of King Henry, but the head is much newer than the rest of the sculpture. Sydney remembers that Michael Collins sliced the heads off all the statues of Englishmen during his revolt, throwing them into the river. At the Irish History Museum, the group learns that all the heads were recovered and are in a storeroom. But as they spot the bust of Henry II, "Sean" pulls a gun and his cronies enter, taking Molly hostage. He's not really Sean, but posed as Molly's correspondent so he could use her to find the crown for an American buyer of immense wealth. He sneers that the group will be freed after he gets on a plane to the U.S., and ties them up.

But Sean stops to make the curator remove the crown from the sculpture's head, losing valuable time during which Sydney and Nigel get Garrett to knock an axe between them to cut their ropes. The relic hunters and their friends flee after Sean and his men, taking the crown from them in a battle with ancient staffs and spears borrowed from the museum collection. Sean shoots Garrett but misses; he goes home to tell his father they were never traitors, and cleans up the family crest.

While Sydney stays behind to put the crown in the museum, Molly teaches her class. Nigel prepares for a date with her, but when he arrives, he finds that Garrett has flown over from Ireland just to see her. The three awkwardly agree to have dinner en menage.


A charming episode visually reminiscent of the first half of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, "The Irish Crown Affair" also made references to The Thomas Crown Affair in the museum scenes. The history of Brian Boru and the O'Donnells was largely contrived, but since I'm neither Irish nor English and have no personal stake in the honor being defended, that didn't bother me (though I'm sure Irish viewers may feel otherwise). I have no idea whether the mausoleum was realistic for 1000 A.D. Ireland, but it looked just like the underground grave of the Crusader with the shield identifying the resting place of the Holy Grail from Indiana Jones, complete with nifty booby traps.

Nigel and Sydney had some delightful repartee as she tried to console him about his lack of luck with women, and Claudia seemed downright jealous about his date with Molly, who looks like Buffy the Vampire Slayer but can neither fight nor resist screaming about bugs. Garrett was adorable but not entirely convincing as the downtrodden son of a disgraced family. The best lines were Nigel's, first staring at Sean and noting that he lied in his Internet description of himself, then reacting to accusations of being a "pufter" with the argument that some of his best friends are gay, but he isn't. His awareness that Sydney's completely out of his league in every respect is rather charming, even when he tries to emulate her fighting skills and ends up making a fool of himself...which surprises no one, even himself.

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