Marilyn Whirlwind (played by Elaine Miles) is a heavyset Tlingit (Raven clan)[1] who works as a receptionist and nurse assistant for Joel Fleischman. She is noted for her silent, enigmatic manner, quietly profound wisdom, and utter unflappability.

For example, Joel, having spent most of the episode held captive by the misanthropic Adam's hypochondriac wife Eve, returns after days of absence, utterly disheveled, still wearing the shackles with which Eve had bound him, but his condition elicited no reaction from Marilyn whatsoever. When Joel expressed incredulity at this, Marilyn simply responds, "Your sterile sponges arrived."[2]


In the Pilot (1-1), Marilyn is already at Joel's office when he goes there for the first time. She has already assumed the role of receptionist without even asking to be hired for the job (which Joel tells her several time "there is no job").

For a time, Marilyn raises African blueneck ostriches but Maurice's attempts to market the ostriches' extremely large eggs eventually leads to a decrease in egg supply because, as Marilyn puts it, "You make them nervous".[3] She also tries breeding huskies.[4]

Love lifeEdit

Marilyn is briefly involved with the "flying man", Enrico Bellati, who works with a circus,[5] and their relationship is revisited and further develops in the fourth season.[6] Towards the end of the series, she develops a more permanent relationship with local Alaska Native, Ted.[7]


Marilyn experiences more things as the series progresses. She tries learning to drive from Chris but decides against it because she "would miss walking".[8] She moves out of her parents' house, only to buy it from them once they move out because they no longer need such a big place with Marilyn gone (and she has no luck finding a house she likes).[9] For a vacation, Marilyn leaves Cicely for the first time in her life and travels to Seattle, Washington by airplane.[10]


Marilyn likes to tell stories[11][12][13] and also has a skill for detective work, but avoids using it because she "doesn't want to judge people".[14]


In the fourth season, Marilyn is revealed to be an accomplished piano player[15] and plays at Shelly and Holling's weddings.[16][1] She also enjoys Native dancing[17] and Cajun dancing.[18]


"Spring Break" (2-5)

Ed: Somebody stole Dr. Fleischman's radio.
Marilyn: White people; they get crazy.

"Seoul Mates" (3-10)

Marilyn: A long time ago, the raven looked down from the sky and saw that the people of the world were living in darkness. The ball of light was kept hidden by a selfish, old chief. So, the raven turned himself into a spruce needle and floated on the river where the chief's daughter came for water. She drank the spruce needle. She became pregnant and gave birth to a boy, which was the raven in disguise. The baby cried and cried until the chief gave him the ball of light to play with. As soon as he had the light, the raven turned back into himself and carried the light into the sky. From then on, we no longer lived in darkness.

"Our Tribe" (3-12)

Marilyn: She says you look unhappy.
Joel: Who, me?
Marilyn: I told her you always look like that.

Marilyn: The richest man is the guy who has nothing.

"Thanksgiving" (4-8)

Marilyn: Death, like the white man, wasn't happy in his own land. He didn't think his kingdom was big enough. He wanted more. One night, when the good spirit was asleep, Death attacked the world. He killed a lot of people, and he took the Chief's prettiest daughter as his bride. She pretended to be a good wife, but one day she secretly fed him a pumpkin seed. The pumpkin grew and grew inside death. Finally, he exploded, and a million pumpkin seeds covered the earth.
Joel: I still don't get it.
Marilyn: A lot of people died, but a good thing came out of it, too.
Joel: What was that?
Marilyn:: It's the same with white people. They cleared the forest, they dug up the land, and they gave us the flu. But they also brought power tools and penicillin and Ben and Jerry's ice cream.

"Birds of a Feather" (5-6)

Marilyn: (to Joel's mom) The Eagle wasn't always the Eagle. The Eagle, before he became the Eagle, was Yucatangee, the Talker. Yucatangee talked and talked. It talked so much it heard only itself; not the river, not the wind, not even the Wolf. The Raven came and said "The Wolf is hungry. If you stop talking, you'll hear him. The wind too. And when you hear the wind, you'll fly.
Nadine Fleischman: So he stopped talking.
Marilyn: (nods) And became its nature, the Eagle. The Eagle soared, and its flight said all it needed to say.

"Bolt from the Blue" (5-14)

Marilyn: [There was] a warrior who had a fine stallion. Everyone said how lucky he was to have such a horse.
Marilyn: "Maybe", he said.
Marilyn: One day, the stallion ran off. The people said the warrior was unlucky.
Marilyn: "Maybe", he said.
Marilyn: The next day the stallion returned, leading a string of fine ponies. The people said it was very lucky.
Marilyn: "Maybe", the warrior said.
Marilyn: Later, the warrior's son was thrown from one of the ponies and broke his leg. The people said it was unlucky.
Marilyn: "Maybe", the warrior said.
Marilyn: The next week, the chief lead a war party against another tribe. Many young men were killed. But, because of his broken leg, the warrior's son was left behind, and so was spared.


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