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Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Robin Hood Week: In Defense of BBC's Guy of Gisbourne

Sir Guy of Gisbourne from BBC's TV series Robin Hood. This is a good creepy picture of him too. :P :)

I really agonized over how to write this post.  I mean, even though Guy has a huge base of very loyal fangirls (and I do mean huge), he's still a murderer and I really didn't want to excuse that.  I hope that I keep the fine balance between fangirling and censure...  But I really do like Guy, and as a few of my friends don't (*cough*Petie*cough*), I felt the need to write this post.  Note: I'm not going to be even mentioning the book Guy of Gisbourne because he's really crude and awful and mean, with absolutely no redeeming qualities.  BBC's, or rather Richard Armitage's portrayal is so much better.  Oh, and there'll be lots of spoilers for the show, so if you haven't watched it, proceed with caution.

So, first I want to get the list of all (or some) of the bad things he's done out of the way, so that I can focus on defending him (although once I get through the list, I may not want to defend him any more).  For one, he's murdered several people.  Which is not exactly conducive to making people like him.  He also uses emotional - and physical - blackmail on several people, including Marian, and he fathered a child out of wedlock and then left the baby to die in the forest.  Hate that.  So, yeah, he's not exactly the nicest guy (no pun intended) around.  Oh, and he tried to murder the king several times.  Ouch.


The sheriff is worse.  You've got to admit it - the sheriff is one of the meanest, cruelest villains in BBC TV show history, and I think we sometimes tend to forget that because he's so funny.  In a mean sort of way.  But I'm not here to bash the sheriff, I'm here to defend Guy.  Moving on...

I don't think that Guy is really, truly evil at heart (unlike the sheriff).  I know it's so cliched to have the bad guy have a miserable childhood and that's part of what makes him so bad, but I believe it's partly true in Guy's case.  I mean, his father was a leper who was ostracized from the village as soon as it was found out, his mom was going to marry a man that Guy pretty much hated, and he blamed himself for his mother's death throughout the years.

The one thing that sticks out to me whenever I watch Bad Blood is that when Robin shot the arrow that made the firewheel fall down, but everyone thought it was Guy, he didn't accuse Robin, he didn't give what really happened away, and they were going to hang him.  He could've probably saved his life, had he told what really happened, but he chose not to (what makes it even more heroic and brave and wonderful is that Robin was a total brat when he was little).  That was one of his finest moments.

Fast-forward several years.  Guy has taken over Robin's lands (twice!), did all the bad things I listed in the second paragraph (and more) and keeps trying to make Marian marry him (try saying that five times fast), all the while chasing his two mortal enemies - Robin Hood and The Nightwatchman.  Now, in my opinion, most of his best moments in season 1 and 2 come about when he's around Marian.  I think she truly did make him a better person.  His courageous moments, like staying with Marian/the peasants even when the castle is about to be destroyed, or helping Allan save Marian's life, are all connected to Marian (obviously).  So why does he kill her in the season 2 finale?

GAH.Before I continue, let me say that it was totally wrong of him to kill Marian (or anyone, for that matter), and I'm not excusing his behavior in any way, shape or form.  But.  There are a few things I want to say about that scene.  First of all, I can't get over how stupid Marian was.  I mean, she runs out to him, and blocks him from killing the king (which is totally fine), but then she says "I'd rather die than be with you.  I'm going to marry Robin Hood.  I love Robin Hood."  And then he stabs her.  Um, Marian, that was kind of the wrong place, wrong time, wrong person to confess your love to.  And I think that Guy stabbing her was more a reflex action than anything else.  What I mean is, when you're angry, you do things that ordinarily you wouldn't do - he was angry, he had a sword, and...yeah.  Not a good thing all around.  And he was so close to crying afterwards...the whole reflex thing certainly doesn't make his actions any better, but they do explain them a bit more (interesting tidbit of trivia: when Richard Armitage found out that his character was going to kill Marian, he had nightmares about it, up until the actual filming of the scene).

Now, up until this point, Guy has been a pretty complex character.  One minute, he's perfectly 'loving and gentle and good' and the next he's ranting about how Robin's escaped his grasp yet again, and how he's going to get him this time.  But if I thought he was complex and changeable in the first two seasons, my view on that was more firmly cemented by the time I finished season 3.  At the beginning of the last season, he has this horrid long, greasy hair, he doesn't look out for himself one bit and he's completely eaten up with guilt over Marian's death (as well he should be).  I really, really didn't like him at first.  But then when Isabella came on the scene, and he didn't like her and neither did I, I began to like him a bit more.  And by the time episode nine came up, I was firmly back in the league of Guy fangirls.

I always like using quotes in my posts, especially ones like these, as I believe it adds a little something to the post.  Petie's probably going to kill me for using one of her quotes in a post defending Guy, but I thought it was a good one, so I'm including it anyway.
I like him. Not in the way that I usually like characters, but he's actually a good character in season three. He's finally his own person. He's broken free of the Sheriff's hold on him, and even though he loses his ever-lovin' mind, he emerges a better person. And I actually like his hair because it fits him and kind of makes the "new" Guy.
Poor Guy...I really do love the way she puts things...anyway, the bit about his breaking free from the sheriff is an excellent point.  I mean, he basically kills him (again, not a good thing, but it really shows that he has broken free).  Another thing I want to bring up is his relationship with Meg (I almost typed Lucie, for some reason...that's what comes of listening to the A Tale Of Two Cities musical while I write this).  For one, she sees him for what he really is (like Marian, but more so), and she loves him anyway.  I think that kind of love is the reason that when she died, Guy didn't sink into depression like he did with Marian's death (the fact that he didn't murder Meg probably had something do with it as well), but instead, he made a fresh start.

I really love how he changes after Meg's death (didn't appreciate her death, she should've lived, but the effects of her death were amazing...that sounds weird, but anyway).  He's working together with Robin and the gang and it really is epic.  Of course, it's an uneasy truce - at least on the rest of the gang's part - but they still get along, after a fashion.  So, he redeems himself and BBC kills him off a few episodes later.  Brilliant.  His death scene was really, really heartwrenching.  It wasn't as bad as Robin's (nothing is as bad as Robin's death scene) but it still made me cry.  WHY DOES BBC HAVE TO DO SUCH THINGS??????  The series should have continued with Guy becoming a strong part of the gang and all of them fighting against injustice.

*le sigh*

Anyway, that's my defense of Guy.  And I really am horrible at closing off posts, so I'll just end it here and be done with it.

The End.

What's your opinion of Guy?  Do you view him as a villain, or just misunderstood?


Miss Jane Bennet said...

Ummmm...I really can't decide what I think about Guy. On the one hand, he's a murderer, he's cruel and takes pleasure in other people's pain...but on the other hand, he redeems himself. I like redeemed characters a lot because they're usually so complex, and that's the thing with Guy.
OH OH OH. Guy kills Marian??? Ohhhhh, dear. You know, they should really just call that show "How To Kill People Off At the Worst Possible Times." It's accurate. ;)
Great post! I'm really still not sure about him; I think I'll have to watch the whole series before I make up my mind. However, I'm kind of leaning towards the League of Guy at the moment...we'll see. :)

The Reader said...

I agree with everything that you have pointed out!! While he is a murderer and all that, I found that as I was watching there was this hope that ran through me saying He will redeem himself. I almost gave up at the end of season 2 but I just couldn't! And really you have to feel bad for him as every girl he hass ever loved, loved someone else and/or died. His death was the most beautiful death I have ever seen.

Jennifer said...

I'm with everyone else - mixed feelings towards Guy. I did really hate how Marian yanked him around with hope of her love for him.
The third season really did see the best of him. Still I want to watch "North and South" to see Richard Armitage have a happy ending.

Caroline L. said...

I am a firm Guy of Gisborne fangirl, since Richard was the reason I started Robin Hood in the first place. Not a fan of all the evil things he does, but I love how Richard Armitage made him SO deep and layered (seriously amazes me everytime I watch the show), and how Guy evolves from a callous, evil side-kick of the Sheriff in the Season 1, to the finally possessing some loyalty and compassion in Season 3. So, all that to say, I REALLY enjoyed reading what you had to say. ;]

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