Built to Rec

So Wrong It’s Right: 7 Reasons to Ship C.B. Strike’s Cormoran/Robin

CB Strike posterRelationship: Cormoran/Robin
Fandom: C.B. Strike (2017- )
Where to Watch: Cinemax (U.S.)
Time Investment: 7 (one-hour) episodes and counting
Recommended for: Hopeless romantics with all the patience of a saint–but none of the scruples

Note: This article contains spoilers for the first three seasons of C.B. Strike.

Let’s just get this out of the way now: Shipping private investigator Cormoran Strike and his assistant-turned-partner Robin Ellacott is wrong. You should know that going in. Not only does Robin begin her crime-solving career as Strike’s employee, but she’s engaged. To another man. That she’s been committed to since university. And that’s not all, not by a long shot. Because Strike’s in no position to be falling in love with anyone either, given that he’s just ended a toxic on-again, off-again relationship and is suffering from PTSD after a roadside bomb in Afghanistan took his leg and changed his life forever. Plus, he’s dead broke, sleeps on a camp bed in his office, and drinks too much. He’s a hot mess. Truly, the first season of Cinemax’s C.B. Strike (based on the book series by Robert Galbraith, a.k.a. J.K. Rowling) may as well come with a warning label: “Abandon all hope, ye who ship here.” And yet…

And yet, if shipping Cormoran and Robin is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Despite all the obstacles between them, and all the reasons they shouldn’t work, the two of them just…fit. To show you what I mean, here are 7 reasons I can’t help but root for a Robin/Cormoran end game, morals be damned, in C.B. Strike:

They’re drowning in UST…

If the show’s producers wanted to present Strike and Robin as two colleagues with a Strictly Professional Relationship and Absolutely No Sexual Tension, they really screwed up by casting Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger. Sure, the show’s stars were destined to be gorgeous, and one would hope they’d be interesting to watch on screen together. But there’s chemistry and then there’s CHEMISTRY, and these actors definitely have the latter. Their eyes soften as soon as their gazes meet, and the camera catches them smiling and generally lingering over each other far longer than is platonic. There’s no way this sexy dynamic was an accident, which is what gives me the tiniest flicker of hope that the idea of future romance is not completely out of the realm of possibility, major obstacles and Rowling’s fondness for torturing fans aside.

…And pining in plain sight

Try as he might, Strike cannot fully hide his attraction to Robin, which is hinted at pretty early in the show but which becomes hard to ignore when he nearly swallows his tongue at seeing her in a poison green gown for a case. Plus, what kind of boss buys his assistant a dress for a job well done, or kisses her hand before offering her a partnership, or can’t seem to stand looking at her engagement ring? Not that the brooding is all one-sided. For someone who’s engaged, Robin is pretty free with heated looks toward her boss too, like after he wraps his coat around her while they’re doing recon at a fancy outdoor party. While they are both in complete denial about any romantic feelings for each other, the rest of the world isn’t blind. Strike’s sister and closest friends inquire about the state of their relationship, and Robin’s fiance and parents give her a lot of side-eye about him. Matthew and Strike’s immediate dislike of each other says it all.

They’re 100% devoted to…the work (But also each other!)

Like tends to recognize like, and Robin immediately recognizes a kindred spirit in her boss, even if it takes him a bit longer to catch up. While romance couldn’t be further from their minds as they track down the bad guys, their pure passion for and dedication to investigative work pushes them closer with every episode. Foreplay? Obviously! Their growing codependency and the way the work spills into their personal lives is most definitely unhealthy in reality, but it sure makes for good TV. The two make a formidable team, and they know it, striding down London streets in matching trench coats like the sexy badasses they are. 🔥🔥

Honesty is their policy (mostly)

For better or worse, right or wrong, Robin and Strike can confess things to each other that they cannot seem to entrust to the other important people in their life. Did Matthew know how much his fiancee craved investigative work before she began temping? He did not. Have Strike’s sister and friends ever gotten him to open up about the end of his relationship with Charlotte? Yeah, right. With Matthew, Robin has to guard her words and mentally calculate how much shop talk is too much before he’ll get huffy and jealous, whereas when she’s with Strike, she knows he’s right there with her, thinking about murder an inappropriate amount. Instead of judgment, there’s only understanding. And while Cormoran is used to his nosy sister and friends hounding him about his relationships and quality of life, Robin’s unobtrusive manner seems to disarm him; he knows she won’t pressure him to bare his soul to her, which is maybe why he’s voluntarily revealed pieces of himself here and there. The one notable exception to their standard operating procedure? You guessed it: Admitting any non-platonic feelings they may be harboring for each other.

They take care of each other

Packets of sandwiches that appear as if by magic, a shoulder to (literally) lean on after a night of too much drinking, an offer of a hotel room after a particularly bad argument at home, a gentle but firm escort away from a gruesome sight… These little tokens of friendship add up to something that goes far beyond professional courtesy. When you add in the fact that Robin doesn’t pity Strike for his leg and that he doesn’t treat her any differently after she tells him she was sexually assaulted in college, well, you begin to understand how deep their understanding of each other runs and what a perfect foundation this would make for a romantic partnership as well. Now, does any of this justify hoping to see your two favorites get into dangerous situations just to watch them leap to each other’s defense at the risk of their own lives, or cradle each other in the traumatic aftermath? No, of course not, that’s bad bad bad–yet here we are. They just bring the angst and hurt/comfort so WELL!

They live to surprise and delight each other

Could one of your colleagues draw a smile out of you like the one Robin puts on Strike’s face when he realizes she’s an expert driver totally comfortable off-roading when need be? And would you ever look at your partner the way Robin looks at Strike when he promises to sign her up for a surveillance class? Not bloody likely. Yet these two take an almost obscene amount of pleasure in peeling back each other’s layers like onions, making the rest of us feel like dirty voyeurs watching something intimate unfold. NOT THAT WE MIND.

They bring out the best in each other

Strike doesn’t have his shit together, not even close, but for Robin, he tries. He keeps her on staff when he can’t afford her, he shows up to meet Matthew despite wanting to be anywhere else, and he refers to her proudly as his partner even after she goes rogue and ends up jeopardizing a case (but also kinda saves the day). In short, Robin BRINGS HIM TO LIFE. Like the Evanescence song, yeah. And Robin is inspired by Strike in a different but equally important way. With him, she does stuff she probably never dreamed she’d get to do after leaving school following her attack: She fends off murderers and chases down bad guys. She stands up for herself and confidently pursues what she wants, for what may well be the first time. She becomes the master of her own fate again.


In conclusion, these boneheads belong together, and I hope they figure that out sooner rather than later out of consideration for my poor heart, and I don’t care if all this makes me a bad person. Bye, Matthew!

New to the show? Catch the first seven episodes on Cinemax On Demand (U.S.) and keep your eyes peeled for new episodes based on the latest Cormoran Strike novel, Lethal White, which are currently in production with stars Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger set to return.


P.S. This fandom may be small, but it is quality. Here are some of the fanworks you need in your life:


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