Anybody who's been following my blog for any length of time knows I'm a big fan of Richard Armitage, and that I've been enjoying the new BBC version of Robin Hood. However, I have some problems with the way they're portraying the character RA plays, Sir Guy, and I think I've got a clue as to why.
As reported on the Armitage Army website, a news release from the BBC about Season Two calls Sir Guy "sadistic but redeemable."
Here's the thing. For an evil character to be redeemable, I think a few things have to be in place. First, there has to be an understandable reason for his badness, something so people can say, "Yeah, I get why he'd be angry and not sympathetic to others, so he could be vicious and even cruel."
He can even be self-centered in his resentment and cruelty.
However, there must be more than that. There has to be the seed of goodness still buried there. He has to have something that makes it believable that he could change -- and it has be within him.
What? Can't "the love of a good woman" change him?
I say no. For that redemption to be believable, there must be something already there - some sympathy for his victims and remorse and the idea that the character himself, deep down, secretly yearns to change. In other words, he knows he's being evil, but hates himself for it and really wants to be good. The love he feels for a woman can be the catalyst for the change, but the desire and need to change must already be there -- buried really, really deep, perhaps, but there -- for it work for me.
However, if a man is sadistic, he takes pleasure in inflicting pain. There is no sympathy for his victims, no remorse, no wanting to change.
I'd be tempted to say they don't really mean sadistic as much as vicious, cruel and (deep down) frustrated -- except for that episode where Sir Guy abandoned his son, a helpless infant, in the woods.
If they'd had the sheriff do it and Guy simply taking the (obviously loony) sheriff's word that his son had been sent elsewhere? Or have him not particularly care what happened to the mother and child, or (even better, from my point of view) desperately trying to get them out of Nottingham before Marion finds out, he'd be a lousy father and a cad, but there'd still be the possibility of redemption. But abandoning a helpless infant in the woods? That's really a bridge too far.
If they truly want Sir Guy to be redeemable, he can't be as evil as they sometimes make him. They go too far, and that makes it too hard to believe he could be redeemed by his love for Marion, or anything else.
I recently read another article about the show, quoting the executive producer, Foz Allen, who is well aware of the appeal of Richard Armitage: "Richard Armitage is fantastically charismatic and sexy...” However, he also said, "Anybody under 30 is absolutely in love with Robin Hood, anybody over 30 is in love with Guy of Gisborne.”
This would be news to my definitely under-thirty daughter. She was the one who "found" Richard Armitage, not me, and I'm pretty sure she's not the only under-thirty woman who finds him appealing.
If she was, I'd despair of the younger generation.