Robin and Much, Will You Tolerate This? (1x01)
I ship it so hard.
How can you not?
I’ve recently started a rewatch of BBC’s Robin Hood and I noticed some things about the character of Robin, in particular as the role he fulfills as the main character who is the official hero of the story, which I found really intriguing. I love how in the first few episodes they really delve into Robin’s personality, motives, flaws, etc. to the point where they even outright discuss some of these things in the form of other characters’ psychoanalyzing him. It’s definitely a direct approach, especially considering how often it happens in the first three episodes, instead of letting viewers naturally pick up on it due to Robin’s behavior and put in other characters’ analysis of him throughout the series and not so focused in the beginning, which makes it a very different way of setting up his character. I’m speaking here specifically of how Marian, Much, and the Sheriff all discuss how they perceive Robin’s personality and motives (not necessarily saying they are right or wrong in their perception) such as his quest for glory, attention, his need to feel loved and admired, his desire to act as a martyr, etc. all contributing to his reasons for why he decides to become a hero. They won’t believe him when he says that he’s simply doing what he’s doing because he cares about the people he’s helping and whenever he acts snarky and pompous, as he often does, it’s viewed as proof that he’s not being entirely truthful about his reasons. The question then is how close to the mark are they in their character analysis.
Personally, I think Robin truly does care about the people that he’s helping and that is the main reason why he chooses to act as a hero. However, I also think that he is vain, he cares about the way other people see him and what they think of him, he wants the glory, and he wants to be loved. I like that Robin’s snarky and a bit full of himself, most of the time it’s actually really amusing and adorable, although sometimes it can be a bit frustrating. I like that he has these character flaws and that they are laid out right in the beginning of the show (but I think they might have gone a bit overboard with it being mentioned so often and so early on).
I’m going to make some comparisons to other shows with hero stories here because I feel like there’s interesting comparisons to be made between the way Robin’s character is shown here in contrast to many other hero’s stories. I started watching the show when it first came on when I was sixteen and up until that point, the shows/fandoms that I was most obsessed with were Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and Angel), Charmed, and Smallville (as well as a few other things which all have a different setup and are not traditional hero stories). All of those shows have a main character or characters who choose to become heroes (it’s arguable though that Buffy and the Charmed Ones didn’t have much of a choice because it was their “destiny”/they were “chosen”, but they certainly didn’t have to accept their destinies, do good instead of evil with their abilities, or make the sacrifices that they did and they chose to anyways), but unlike with Robin Hood, none of them are shown having this same character flaw and in most cases are almost the exact opposite, which made it really different for me when I watched this show. With the other shows, the characters mostly go out of their way to avoid getting credit, thanks, or glory for the heroic acts, actively try to do their good deeds secretly, and even when they become martyrs for their cause they do it privately just like anything else and simply sacrifice themselves to do the right thing without anyone ever acknowledging their sacrifice. Buffy tries to hide that she is the slayer from everyone outside of her small group in comparison to Robin in the second episode not wanting “to go unseen”, risks her life daily and is willing to sacrifice to do what’s right without any glory whatsoever, etc. The sisters in Charmed hide their identities and abilities from almost everyone as well and actively avoid taking credit for the good deeds that they risk their lives doing. In Smallville, Clark too does the same thing (in other versions of Superman, Clark at least gets credit and glory as “Superman” but not “Clark Kent,” however here he tries not to get credit or glory at all).
In many ways then, Marian as the Nightwatchman and as a spy is far more similar to the traditional hero characters from other heroic tales that I was used to than Robin was. Spoiler for season 2 finale: Especially considering that later Marian dies while protecting the king and we don’t really see anyone back in England ever realizing that she’d been helping them secretly for years or that she died for the cause. While Robin makes more sacrifices to help people than Marian does, considering he willingly walks away from his home, lands, titles, money, etc. and lives in the woods and more often directly risks his life with physical fighting in the open, the way she chooses to be a hero is in a way more “selfless” because she doesn’t really get anything out of it. She doesn’t stick around to look at the happy faces of people she’s helped, she doesn’t get thanked, she doesn’t get glory, she not only isn’t loved by many (although I think she is still well liked by a lot of the people who actually knew her) but she’s probably even viewed by some of the villagers as just another spoiled noble who has serious connections to the people they hate the most (Guy), nobody will remember her for her heroic deeds or mourn her as a hero, she will not become a legend (in the show, obviously the real world character is), etc. She purposely keeps her heroic deeds as secret as possible and does them simply because it’s the right thing to do. For years before Robin came back and discovered her secret, absolutely no one besides herself knew what she was doing, but she still did it anyways.
I know there are plenty of heroes out there that don’t fit the mold that I grew up with, but to me, the way Robin’s character was presented and his flaws was a completely new thing. (Which upon thinking about it for a while, I realized it may have to do with the era of the origin of the character. Characters like Robin fit an older ancient/medieval role where they are well known and loved by everyone whereas modern heroes tend to be the “secret identity” type and of course Robin Hood is originally a medieval legend. And it’s not entirely the same situation with Robin Hood having no supernatural elements like the other shows, but a political aspect to it.) Heroes are usually supposed to be people that are selfless and looked up to as examples of excellent moral behavior. Robin on the other hand is a more flawed hero. He’s someone who can still be looked up to, makes great sacrifices, and does great deeds, but he doesn’t do them without any ulterior motives and therefore, in some ways, is a lot more relatable than many other hero characters I can think of. We can relate to him easier than we can some of the others because he isn’t perfect and he wants to be viewed as a hero, much like most of us do. (This is not saying that those other characters are perfect in their role as a hero or that this is his only flaw; certainly self-righteousness is a major one that Robin, Buffy, and Clark all have in common, in my personal opinion anyway.) I think it’s a very unique and cool idea to outright show this aspect of his personality from the get-go. It helps to make him a more realistic character that feels more “human” than “legend.”
why did this beautiful programme ever end?
Watching Robin Hood and remembering how much I loved this guy!
I just happened to notice Guy in the background enjoying Robin and Co fighting amongst themselves. He’s just like JOLLY GOOD SHOW LADS.
Let us all take a moment to grasp the reality that a defenseless, leather-clad Richard is bound to a motherfucking tree.