For those who plan to watch the show, please note there are spoilers for series one in the post and comments that follow…
I’m a bit late in the game on this one, but to be fair Robin Hood aired in the States quite a bit later than it originally played in the UK. I intended to watch it from the beginning, but BBCAmerica’s so far away from the channels I usually flip through that I tend to forget it’s there. I missed the first three episodes, but watching the subsequent episodes helped fill the gaps. They had me at Richard Armitage, for what I think are obvious reasons, but I found myself pleasantly surprised in other regards.
One of those surprises is Marian. Now, I’m the first to admit I don’t know that much about the Robin Hood legend so I don’t know what her role has been, historically speaking. I’m just guessing that she’s always been a bit of a damsel, but one with strength and will of her own. This version of Marian certainly has that.
It would appear at first glance that Marian’s role is the unfortunate middle position in a love triangle between Robin and baddie Sir Guy of Gisborne. And she is that. You all know how I feel about love triangles – they rarely work for me. But the love triangle in Robin Hood isn’t quite as lame as most. The reason? It’s not really woman-in-middle-choosing-between-men. Marian loves Robin, but he’s an outlaw and being with him would mean ruination for her family and those dependent upon it. Marian does not love Guy, and does not like the attention he gives her, but he’s in a position of power and could protect her family and those dependent upon it. Her choice, then, is not her own romantic fate but a more practical, real one.
She makes it. She chooses to accept a marriage proposal from Guy (while Robin’s hiding right outside her window, ouch), with a caveat that she won’t wed him until the king returns. This, of course, is complicated by the Sheriff bringing in a fake king to root out those who’d undermine him (including Marian’s father). Marian is resigned to marrying Guy, and in fact makes it to the altar with every intention of going through with it. She tells herself that he’s got “qualities” and isn’t all bad. (This is when, naturally, she finds out just how bad Guy is, that he’s pretty much lied to her from day one. I think she knew this, but wanted to not believe it. And, tra la, Robin rides into town and carries her off.)
On a somewhat separate note, another thing I like about Marian is her role as Nightwatchman. Nightwatchman is a local hero, known for the same thing Robin Hood is – helping the poor. No one outside of her sphere knows it’s her, as she wears a mask. As Nightwatchman, Marian shows physical as well as mental strength.
In Robin Hood’s predominantly male cast of characters, Marian holds her own. (So does Djaq, but that’s another post.)