May 26, 2017

"England Needs Me"—In Defense of Marian

Today I'm here to defend one of the most famous heroines (or love interests, depending on which version of the story you read/watch) of all time. Maid Marian, or Lady Marian, as she is called in BBC's Robin Hood. (Yes, this post will be in defense of that version of her character. Sorry if you're not a fan.) (Actually, no I'm not! Because this post is for those who dislike her! Haha.)

*Spoilers for all of the RH seasons are below, read at your own risk. *
*Also, this post is very long.*

In the few years I've been a fan of BBC's Robin Hood, I've come to the conclusion that people either love or hate Marian. Or, to put it less strongly, they either think she's great or very annoying. (My brother falls into the latter category. He doesn't have very good taste. ) (Kidddiiiiing.) (:P)

*Takes a deep breath* Okay.

I'm going to address a few things I notice people usually complain about concerning Marian, and then list a few reasons why I think she's amazing.


She is so beautiful and amazing she was my fav on the show I cried when she dided. I meen I was balling!
Reasons People Give for Not Liking Marian:

1) Marian plays with the feelings of Robin and Guy
A frequent point of dislike I see people have for Marian is how she treats two of the prominent men in her life. They seem to think she encourages both Robin Hood and Guy of Gisbourne without having true feelings for either one. I've read complaints of how her attitude towards each of them seems to change with the wind, how she doesn't truly care for either of them, and how she leads both on simultaneously till her death by Guy's sword seems her just due.


Argh.

This argument annoys me, quite frankly. I'm not saying her every decision or action concerning Guy or even Robin was perfect. But it's not like Marian was some teenage high schooler, flirting just to kill time. She was a woman in a very dangerous position. She basically had the role of a spy. Can you imagine trying to balance the love of your life and a man who won't leave you alone all while under the tension of high-stakes espionage. UM, I can't.

First off, about Robin. I honestly don't quite understand what people mean by saying that she led him on. She loved him! And she married him. Does that define "leading someone on"?

this moment <3 <3 <3
Now, I will admit it takes them allll of season one to finally admit they have feelings for each other. But what's so unnatural about that? Slow-burn romances are better than "love at first sight", in my opinion, anyways.

During that time in season one, they clash a lot in opinion, despite Robin flirting with her every chance he can get.  But Marian refuses to encourage him. She wasn't ready for a romance again, not after her heart had been broken once already by Robin. This is why she kept her distance, and rebuffed his flirtatious attentions.

She didn't want to encourage him until she knew she could trust him again.


Then there's Guy. Look, I agree. She did encourage him and she did lead him on. I even get frustrated with her sometimes. But here's the thing: It's not like she wanted to do that to him, okay? I don't believe Marian obtained any enjoyment from the role she had to play for Guy. But, in her perspective at least, she had to do it. She couldn't see any other way of preserving her spot in the castle (which she needed in order to help spy for Robin), much less her own life or the life of her father.

Referring back to her role as a spy—Marian was in a very, very dangerous position. She was pulled from so many opposing sides—loyalty for both her father and for Robin created conflict more than once in her life. Add in the angle of maintaining the appearance of obedience to the Sheriff (and Guy) and she had a recipe for disaster in her hands. Marian handled it the best she could, and I think she did pretty well. I know I would have made many more mistakes! :P  So, unless you know you would have been able to juggle your role as a spy, your duty as a daughter, your love for an outlaw, and completely and politely refuse allllll the attentions of Sir Guy of Gisbourne (who can make your life a whole heck of a lot easier if you just pretend to maybe like him, FYI) then I don't think you have room to criticize Marian. :P

Basically, this is all I'm saying: MARIAN HAD A LOT ON HER SHOULDERS, EASE UP ON HER PLEASE, OKAY?? Thank you.


sorry, this is too funny not to include
Another word I would like to share with you before I move on to my next point. Marian did not love Guy like she loved Robin.
But did that mean she didn't care for him?
I don't believe so. Countless times Marian proved that she truly did want the best for Guy, and that she saw the potential for him to be a better man. She encouraged him, gave him advice, even scolded his wrong actions when she could. She presented him with a different view of things, a worldview untainted by the Sheriff's evil. She wanted him to become a hero. She pitied him and tried to help him, but in the end, he chose to go his own way.
ERMAHGERD! i watched this show and died at the end omg the sadness and cuteness and evil and uh!!

I don't believe Marian is in any way responsible for Guy's destructive decisions (especially his murder of her, or his subsequent downward spiral in season three).
Did her actions influence his? Yes. 
Was she responsible for them? No.

We (Marian and Guy) are all responsible before God for our own actions. Not those of others.
(I know that Christianity isn't really a theme in RH, and what little there is can be pretty un-Christian, but my point still stands. :P)

(gif) - Marian: "Thank you, Sir Guy."
awwwwww his smile *cries*

2)Marian is argumentative
I think a lot of people get fed up with Robin and Marian's constant bickering relationship in season one. Now, personally, I love couples that bicker before admitting their feelings for one another. But that's just me, and not everyone has to share that opinion. (Bickering in a relationship is different, though. I only mean couples who bicker before they're in a ship. Just to clarify. I don't think bickering married couples are cute.)

I agree that Marian can be somewhat impatient and stubborn and uncooperative when interacting with Robin in season one. But I think there's a reason for her behavior that we can all relate to.

She wants recognition. For years she had been helping the people of England as the Nightwatchman, bringing food to the poor in the cover of night. Then Robin comes along. Overnight he earns hero-worship for his open defiance of the Sheriff and gains a reputation for "stealing from the rich to give to the poor." Suddenly the Nightwatchman isn't such a big deal anymore.
can we talk about this scene?!?!
I think Marian becomes jealous. Plain and simple. He stole her show, so to speak, and her anger and frustration at this is poured out on him in season one. Not to mention she's still hurt by how he abandoned her during their betrothal and went to seek glory in the Holy Land.

Marian bitterly resents one of Robin's own flaws—his love for glory—and her flaw of resentment becomes evident because of it.

But this is what I love about BBC, guys!! These characters are so real, with incredibly relatable flaws and struggles. Haven't we all resented someone who took credit for our work or gained more recognition for something we'd been doing long before they ever came along? I know I have.

In some ways, Robin and Marian are such polar opposites that it's inevitable they should clash sometimes. He's cocky. She's reserved. He openly flouts the local law. She tries to work within the system. He likes to plan things (or half plan things...). She likes to plunge in, head first.

*flails*

But at the end of the day, their primary goal is the same: save England. And that's why they work so well together.

3) Marian is prideful
This one isn't so much something I've heard people complain about Marian, but it's something I've noticed myself.

I think Marian struggles with pride. Maybe her pride is the root of all her struggles. And I can relate with this because pride is something I definitely struggle with as well.

Marian's pride is wounded when Robin leaves her for the Holy Land.
Her pride is wounded when he returns and steals glory for work she'd been doing.
When others think her talents and capabilities are limited because she's a woman.
When her father won't stand openly against the Sheriff.
When Robin points out when she's wrong and she knows she's wrong.

You know the episode where Marian joins Robin's gang with the forest? Her pride is at 110% in that episode. She can't let her guard down enough to submit to Robin's authority, admit she can be wrong, and let others see how much she is hurting inside.

Deep inside, I think Marian harbors a lot of fear, a lot of hurt, and a lot of self-doubt. She covers it up with a fierce exterior, allowing her pride to hide her from those who want to help her—and love her—the most.


Reasons I think Marian is a true heroine:

1)Marian is lion hearted
If you can't agree that Marian shows incredible courage time and again, then I must beg a question—have you even seen this show?? Marian risks her life over and over again in order to help the people of England. She openly fights the Sheriff's men as the Nightwatchman, and is constantly in conflict with the Sheriff over matters concerning the people of Nottingham. And when King Richard is about to be killed she puts herself in front of him, right in the path of Guy of Gisbourne's sword.

Granted, I don't think Marian knew Guy would kill her—the thought probably never occurred to her—but it was still a daring thing to run out in front of a man holding a sword, intent on murder. And she died because of that choice.

Even when dying, Marian was brave. All her dreams were being sacrificed in that moment—dreams of a future with Robin, of seeing England become a safer, better place—but she didn't dwell on it. Instead she smiled and reminded Robin that they had yet to finish their marriage vows.

That's courage, if you ask me.


2) Marian is selfless
Marian exhibits an amazing degree of selflessness in the course of the show.  I mean, first there's the tiny fact that she puts herself in danger 24/7 in order to help those who are less fortunate. But besides that, she risks and sacrifices all sorts of things on a day to day basis. Remember her title? She's Lady Marian. She could live a life free from cares and worries. She could live in relative luxury if she only turned a blind eye to the Sheriff's doings and kept herself to her own concerns.

But she doesn't. And she pays for it throughout the show. Her hair is cut as a punishment for helping feed the poor. Her home is burnt down. She's kept under castle (house) arrest. Her father is thrown in jail.

And yet she keeps doing what she knows is right, regardless of the consequences to herself. 

Most of the instances mentioned above are punishments Marian underwent, not exactly sacrifices. But do you remember when she goes back to the castle after her engagement to Robin?  She did that because she could help Robin better in the castle than in the forest. She knew she could better protect him there, and even though she wanted to stay with him, she chose to go back.

Last, but not least, she gave up her life in order to save the king who could save the people of England.




3) Marian cares for others
Maybe point is too similar to the above, but I think it's worth mentioning anyhow. Marian cares for the less fortunate, guys. Giving her life for England aside, she cares for people on a day to day basis. She never allows herself to feel it is her due as Lady Marian to have more than others, and she does everything in her power to help the poor.  She goes into a quarantine zone of the city in order to bring food and medicine to the sick, brings bread to people trapped by the Sheriff, helps Robin rescue a little boy the Sheriff held hostage, and rushes to fight the Sheriff's men attacking the villagers of Clun.

You can't deny Marian cares for others deeply. And that, above anything else I mentioned, makes her a heroine worth emulating.


All specific arguments aside, here are my thoughts:
 Yes,  Marian made mistakes. She had flaws and weaknesses and messed up more than once. Many times, in fact. But isn't that what makes a character relatable and well-crafted?
Not the absence of flaws—but the courage to rise up and change and keep moving on in a better direction.

I don't know about you, but characters like that are some of my favorites, and BBC's Robin Hood is full of characters just like that.

Olivia, our lovely blog party hostess, wrote a REALLY good defense of Marian awhile back. Here's the link. As of now, I can't remember at all what she said, though I plan to read it as soon as I finish this post. ;) So rest assured, Olivia, that if we end up saying a lot of the same things, I promise I didn't steal it from your post! :D

The truth? The truth is, this country is being choked to death. The truth is, honest people are being forced to lie and cheat and steal.
that quote entirely sums up a lot of the stories of BBC Robin Hood, imo

21 comments:

  1. Such a brilliant post, and you've backed up your points so well. I like Marian (although Djaq's always been my favourite of the series heroines) and I totally agree with everything you've said. Great post!

    Amy @ A Magical World Of Words

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  2. *cries* You are so right! Marian is such a heroine! I agree with EVERYTHING you say here. <3 <3

    I agree that Marian didn't want Guy to be the "bad guy" any more. She wanted him to be a hero, not her hero, but a hero all the same. (That picture is too funny! "The dogs were my idea...") <3 <3 <3

    Marian was so brave, all she went through helping so many, she was just wonderful!!!

    I loved this post Natalie! <3

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    1. Thank you, MovieCritic!!

      Exactly! "Not her hero, but a hero all the same." << That. :)

      I'm so glad you enjoyed it!!

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  3. OKAY. THIS.

    [Have I started every comment on each of your posts for this week in caps? Probably. Will I continue to do so? Probably. (Also, super-long comment.)]

    OKAY BUT SERIOUSLY I HAVE LIKE NO WORDS.

    This is so good. Oh my word.

    Wow, I knew people disliked her "goings-on" with Guy, but I hadn't heard complaints regarding Robin! Um. What. Why on earth do -- *sigh*. Whatever. You never know what'll make different people tick. ;-P

    Honestly, Natalie, I love how you did this post. You handled all the arguments really, REALLY well. I hadn't thought of some of these things, like her desire for recognition and her pride. Ouch. One does not like admitting that Marian has flaws, particularly those flaws, but you're right.

    This post is just so well-written and well-constructed, girl. I give you zee parts I particularly enjoyed (WHO AM I KIDDING, ALL OF IT):

    "I honestly don't quite understand what people mean by saying that she led him on. She loved him! And she married him. Does that define "leading someone on"?" (THANK YOU.)

    "She didn't want to encourage him until she knew she could trust him again." (OH MY GOODNESS. I hadn't even thought of this this way. My feelings *sob*.)

    "So, unless you know you would have been able to juggle your role as a spy, your duty as a daughter, your love for an outlaw, and completely and politely refuse allllll the attentions of Sir Guy of Gisbourne (who can make your life a whole heck of a lot easier if you just pretend to maybe like him, FYI) then I don't think you have room to criticize Marian. :P" HA. BURRRRRRRN. TAKE THAT, YOU CRITICS.

    "Did her actions influence his? Yes.
    Was she responsible for them? No." Yes. *nods*

    (Also, I love how you pointed out that Marian DID care for Guy. Just not like Robin. But she still "wanted him to become a hero." *sobs again*)

    "Deep inside, I think Marian harbors a lot of fear, a lot of hurt, and a lot of self-doubt. She covers it up with a fierce exterior, allowing her pride to hide her from those who want to help her—and love her—the most." STOP MAKING ME CRY. (The collage under that point, though . . . )

    AWWWWWW, SHUCKS. You're way too kind!! Thank you sooooo much for the shout-out to my post! *blushes profusely* But, for real, your post was amaaaaaaazing. And you pointed out how part of why Marian is so great is because she DOES have flaws. I didn't do that. So I think the award goes to you. ;)

    THIS POST IS AMAZING AND I LOVE YOU AND I'M GLAD WE SHARE THIS FANDOM. :) <3

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    1. P.S. "Did I ever tell you I lift weights?" << HA. That picture is gold. I have pilfered it. ;)

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    2. You weren't kidding when you said super long comment. :D (But that's okay because IT'S SUCH A GOOD COMMENT AND ALWAYS LOVE LONG ONES FROM YOU!) (And haha, caps are always good, too. ;))

      Awwwwwwwww. Really?? I'm so glad you think so because honestly, this post gave me SO much trouble. It was difficult organizing my thoughts/opinions on Marian into a "defense" sort of post. I'M SO GLAD YOU LOVE IT.

      Very true. I mean, I GET it that some people may not think Robin and Marian's relationship is as cute as we think it is, but to say she led him on...? I guess I'd need to talk to someone who thinks that in order to understand WHY they do.

      D'awwwwww. *blushes* And yes, I agree. That was sort of hard to focus on Marian's faults--as it is to focus on the faults of ANY character I love. It definitely helped me see her in a different light and to understand her character even more.

      About Marian not being able to trust Robin yet--I hadn't realized that before, either!! It was only as I was writing this post that I did. It's amazing how much you discover about a character when you write a defense post on them!

      HAHAHA. I laughed aloud at that. Especially the "BURRRRNRRRRN." XD

      *sobs with you*

      I'M SORRRRRYYY. (I knoooow. I thought that was a good place to put it. :P)

      THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. *huge hug* Honestly, I can't express how happy this comment made me. I'm sooooooooo glad you loved it. <333

      And awwww, of course!! AND NO, YOUR POST IS AMAZING. When I read it again I realized that though we pointed out some similar things, we both brought up different topics (like, you mentioned the feminist angle to her character). So I think we get equal awards. ;) It's amazing how much there can be to say about just one character!

      *SQUEALS* THANK YOU AGAIN, DEAR FRIEND!!! I LOVE YOU TONS, TOO. And YES! I'm SO happy you're my fangirl-partner for this show. <3

      PS. It's hysterical!!! Pilfer away. ;D

      PPS. Again, this comment made my day. <3

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  4. Great post! I loved Marian in the first series especially - she was smart and brave, and she didn't put up with any of Robin's nonsense. I felt a bit bad for Guy series 2, but as much I wish she could have 'saved' him, he was the enemy and like you say, she was basically a spy and had to do what she could to survive. :)

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    1. Thank you, Catherine! I really appreciate your comment! (And haha: "didn't put up with any of Robin's nonsense." Love that. :D)

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  5. *long sigh*

    WHY are we so judgmental towards fictional characters? Like, why do we think it's okay?? It's frightening to think about how easily we slip into saying, "Oh, I'm sure I could have done better in his/her shoes," and in reality it's like um, no, actually I wouldn't have done half as well, let alone better. We're all human, and yet somehow, we expect our fictional heroes and heroines to be more than human--and that just isn't the way this works.

    I'm not saying I'm better than anyone else when it comes to this stuff either . . . I can be WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY too judgmental towards fictional characters sometimes . . . but I'm trying to get better at it.

    Great post :-)

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    1. Well said, Jessica! I admit that I can DETEST some fictional characters (mostly villains). And, since they're not real, I don't have to feel guilty for doing so. :P Sometimes it can be fun to have healthy debates about fictional characters, but HEALTHY is the key word, though. If people can't be kind about their opinions, or make someone feel bad for thinking a certain way about a character, that's just wrong. (I'm not saying anyone I've come across acts that way about Marian or any other RH character, though.)

      Thanks so much!!! <3

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  6. Okay.

    So, as you probably know by now, I have not seen this show, but I just thought I'd say how much I enjoyed this AND all your other BBC Robin Hood posts. I'm getting really obsessed with this show, vicariously. :) It's fun. I feel like I've gotten to know the characters pretty well, actually. (Not that I don't still RAVENOUSLY want to watch the show - I TOTALLY DO!!)

    Aaaaanyway. I've been reading all of them and enjoying them so much!

    This post was lovely but something that really jumped out at me (and I got kind of a little excited about...) was how beautiful the woman who plays Marian is. Which is funny, I think, because she is not... traditional-looking??? She isn't... how you would DESCRIBE beautiful because her features aren't... perfect or regular... her jaw is decided and square, her chin is large, her cheekbones are high, her mouth is upturned and she has kind of a snub nose - BUT SHE IS SO STINKIN GORGEOUS and I just love that! I love it when it's the UNIQUE AND TOTALLY UNUSUAL faces that are the moooost beautiful. I think... it shows all of us that we don't have to look a CERTAIN way or meet a CERTAIN standard... we don't have to look like SOMEONE ELSE or everybody else to be beautiful. Unique is veeeeerrrry lovely!!! (Told you that was gonna be random and heartfelt. I don't know why - I just really liked that.)

    Also... I THINK I SHIP GUY AND MARIAN?????????

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    1. Awww, thank you!!! I'm super glad you enjoyed it, even though you haven't seen the show yet. :D (BUT YES. SEE IT SOON.)

      I totally agree! Honestly, Marian is one of the prettiest heroines, in my opinion. AND YES. She's so beautiful and yet not at alllll traditionally beautiful. Which makes her all the more striking, in my opinion. A lot of actresses deemed "beautiful" nowadays can look a LOT alike. It gets boring. :P (Same for the guys, for that matter.)

      110% agree. Unique is totally beautiful. And I love what you said about it showing that we don't all have to look a certain way or meet a certain standard to be beautiful. :)

      Weeelllll...lots of people do. ;) There are moments that even I almost ship them, but I'll forever be a Rarian fan. <3

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    2. I know. I'm dying with my need for this show. *crosses fingers tightly*

      Doesn't it??? Striking is the PERFECT word!! And yes!!!!! It's get so boring when they are all 1) blonde, 2) leggy, 3) super skinny, and 4) have large eyes and all their other features are tiny. We shouldn't all have to fit in that box! I AGREE. Guys are getting boring, too. ;D

      He's just so cute... trying to impress her... d'awwwww...

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    3. :D :D

      Hahahaha, yes! I've noticed that a lot of British tv shows and movies have way more "ordinary" looking actors and actresses than American ones. I enjoy that a lot, it gets tiring seeing so many "perfect" looking people in film, especially when they're playing "ordinary" characters. :P

      Hahahaha. :D

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  7. Oh, this was a brilliant post! I never understand when people do not like Marian. Everyone has their own taste, of course, but how can you not like Marian!? As you said, she was so brave and smart and witty and stubborn. She totally deserves this post. What was one of the things I like in her that she always thinks of others.
    ''You keep fighting for me, Robin.'' were one of her last words. She knew Robin would be devastated after her death and insisted that he kept on fighting, for her if not for anyone else. He first did not, the only thing he wanted was revenge. But later on, with the help of Tuck, he raised from his loss and started fighting for England again,and for Marian, so that she wouldn't have died for nothing. The legend came back.
    I really loved this post, it was real good written.

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    1. Thank you so much, Ruth! I agree. :)

      I knnnooow. *sniff* It shows how much they truly understood one another and were a team. "So that she wouldn't have died for nothing. The legend came back." <<LOVE THAT! Great point.
      Thank you!!!

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  8. Another lovely post! I really enjoy "defense" posts, and this one was excellent! Of course as I've never seen the show I haven't much to add, but Marian sounds like a really complicated and well developed character. I can get really annoyed when characters make mistakes and do things I don't want them to do, but in some cases it really does add to the realism of it. And I can get over it a lot easier if I feel like they really do repent of their bad choices, and really are changing for the better.

    Anyway, just wanted to say, this was an excellent post, Natalie! And we must talk more about the characters in this show sometime. (Like maybe in a few days? ;))

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    1. Thanks, Miss March! Exactly! Characters that don't change are the worst. Especially if they do really horrid stuff. But character arcs where someone goes from "bad" to "good"....I love those. :)

      I'm so glad you commented even though you haven't seen the show....and heehee! Yes! I can't wait to hear your opinion on Marian when we watch this. :D (3 DAYS)

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  9. Ever since I read the title I knew I was going to enjoy reading this post. (I haven't had time to before now, but I'm finally here and eager to read and comment. :D) It's deliciously long! And I've never been a huge fan of this Marian because I found her a lot like a 'feminist' but I'm happy to have my mind changed. So let me read your argument. Methinks I'm going to be persuaded. ;D

    Haha, well, first of all, that Will gif. XD
    Okay, that first point does make sense. At first it seemed that Marian was sending mixed messages, about whether she loved him or not... and yes, your argument is very strong. She was in an incredibly hard position and she had to make a choice. Either way people would have found a fault with what she chose.

    AND OH MY THAT 'did i ever tell you i lift weights??!!' meme is HILARIOUS!!! HAHAHA. XD

    And yet again your argument is strong! (About her wanting recognition.) Now I think of it, I see that clearly. And that makes total sense. I'd definitely be jealous.

    And yeah, about pride. I think pride is definitely a flaw of hers and annoys other people (including myself) but yet again, I have the same issue. Which makes me realize how silly creatures we are to jump up and down and point out someone else's faults when we have the same issue!

    Yes, I think Marian did live her life well. So much so, I now want to re-watch the show and view Marian in a different light to how I did the first few times. Because I think I'm going to see something much better now.

    ~Miss Meg

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    1. Aww, really? I'm so glad!! :D

      Heehee. I do love that gif.

      "Either way people would have found a fault with what she chose." I think that's very true. Even in real life, that happens frequently. Sometimes choices mean disapproval from SOMEONE, even when you're trying your best to make the right decision.

      I'M SO GLAD YOU LOVED THAT. :D

      Thanks so much for your thoughts! I'm really really glad you enjoyed this post!! <3

      I hope you enjoy the show if/when you rewatch it!

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