When I said Sanditon is like an Austenian Game of Thrones, I was MOSTLY joking, but it turns out that’s exactly what it is. Lady Denham’s fortune is the Iron Throne, and her impoverished relations will fight each other to the death for it. Or at the very least, cuttingly name a parasitic worm after each other. (I am 98 percent sure that parasite is a leech, but we strive for nothing if not accuracy in this recap, and the word leech was never spoken.)
As someone who didn’t watch Game of Thrones but read the first three books before giving up due to a certain author’s refusal to finish the series, is there a parallel for a character losing it over someone who’s only very grumpy and rude to them? It’s Tormund and Brienne, isn’t it? Right, so we left Tormund-Charlotte having just witnessed a very naked Sidney Parker in the roaring surf of Sanditon. Now she’s thirsting after his portrait, and when she tells Mrs. Parker she went down to the beach the other day and Mrs. Parker asks “anything impressive catch your eye?,” she has a FLASHBACK, but one we haven’t seen before. Okay, look: I am very gay and marrying a woman this year, and I still backtracked and paused when Charlotte flashes to Sidney coming out of the water looking extremely ripped. It’s all very impressive.
The main points of this episode are:
Charlotte and Sidney reach a flirting stage.
Clara reveals she is in fact terrifying and therefore I love her.
Georgiana has a Secret Romance.
Lord Babington wants nothing more than for Esther to step on him.
Then something about how Tom Parker is afraid of going broke and is not taking care of his workers (until later he does). Also there is a SHOWER.
The main things I cared about were Clara, Esther, and the historical veracity of the shower. In this episode, the dark hints about Clara’s past come forward in a compelling but omg-what-are-you kind of way. Esther is trying to get her kicked out of Lady Denham’s to ensure her own and Sir Edward’s place in the will. Clara knows this is happening, so when newcomer Dr. Fuchs’s hydrotherapeutic shower bath is offered up for volunteers, she gets in, presses her arm against the copper boiler, and gets extremely badly burned without making a single sound. You know. Like terrifying people do.
As an invalid, her place in the household is again assured, and Esther visits her and offers to read aloud. As a side note for those with the same brain as mine, what she’s reading is John Polidori’s “The Vampyre,” which is a HILARIOUS choice. This wasn’t published until 1819, but I’m sure the show creators couldn’t resist, and I do not fault them for it. Or maybe Austen was setting her story a couple years in the future; we don’t know. Polidori is famously known as Byron’s physician, and his short story “The Vampyre” is based on an idea by Byron written during the famous stay at the Swiss villa where Mary Shelley wrote the initial story of Frankenstein. Polidori appears with Byron and Shelley in a very fun episode of Drunk History.
Anyway, okay, so Clara’s like, Lady Denham’s gone so you can drop the act. Esther DIGS HER FINGERS INTO THE EXTREMELY BAD BURN. Clara says “you have no idea what I endured before I came here and you have no idea what I’m prepared to do to ensure I stay.” OMG. Clara. Clara is my favorite. CLARAAAAA. CLARA WAS A DARK HORSE. I watched this scene multiple times. Clara continues: “So you would do well to crawl away. And take your poor silly brother with you. If you don’t want me to ruin him.” Esther’s like, you’re gonna mess up, and I will be WAITING. What a great show.
But back to the shower. What’s up with it? Why is it there in Regency England? I saw some harrumphing on the internet about a shower being out of place in a period drama, so I am here to say there was an “English Regency Shower” hanging around circa 1810, and we’re later than that, so there we are. This shower is truth in television. Dr. Fuchs, the expert in hydrotherapy, seems like a kind man who is good at his job. Sorry you wandered into the incestuous shitstorm soap opera that is Sanditon, doctor. Either start being very rude to people you’re in love with, or come up with some shady backstory or money troubles; otherwise there is no place here for you. Sanditon: When You’re Here, You’re Definitely Avoiding Problems from Somewhere Else.
We know Charlotte isn’t going to end up with Young Stringer, because he’s handsome and ambitious and polite and respects her talent. Nope, she is definitely going to wind up with the guy who says “I must admit, I should never have expected you to be so … capable.” Sidney admits dismissing her as a woman and because he thought she was frivolous. He does say “forgive me,” so I guess that’s fine, but then Charlotte says she is equally guilty of dismissing him?? He asks what he has done to deserve such condemnation. ARE YOU KIDDING ME, BRO? WHAT. Maybe EVERY single interaction you’ve had with her, including just now when you negged her for responding extremely well to a crisis?
I’m worried the screenwriters aren’t getting that the reason we love Pride and Prejudice’s Mr. Darcy and North and South’s Mr. Thornton isn’t their stiffness/rudeness with their eventual love interest, but because that happens basically once and then the power is entirely in the hands of the love interest while their stoic gentlemen pine from afar. I’m waiting to see if the balance of power shifts in Charlotte’s favor, or if Sidney will remain someone who begrudgingly sees some shred of worth in this woman he keeps looking annoyed to run into.
Questions For Next Time
• Will Lord Babington get stepped on by Esther, and will he immediately marry her for it?
• Who is Georgiana’s handsome locket man?
• Is there going to be a Red Wedding in Sanditon, and how surprised should we act when we find out it was definitely orchestrated by Clara?