I’m getting concerned. Not about any abatement of the heady volcano of drama and emotion that comprises the seaside resort of Sanditon, no. I’m concerned that we are really truly stuck with Sidney as Charlotte’s main love interest. I’ve tried to keep an open mind. I keep thinking, “Well, maybe he’ll suddenly apologize for being a condescending dick with a childlike inability to control his temper,” but I am foiled at every turn by his own behavior.
Since the narrative seems to be turning toward Sidney relenting in his constant irritation at the very sight of Charlotte, I have to assume Otis Molyneux is shady. He certainly doesn’t SEEM shady, except for the boat-stealing that happens this episode, but Sidney doesn’t trust him, and if he doesn’t trust him and he’s proved wrong, that just makes him even more of an ass. But he doesn’t tell Charlotte why he doesn’t trust Otis. He just screams at her in the street. You know. Like love interests do.
The romanticizing of cruelty and bad behavior is deeply disturbing, and something I hoped we’d moved past as a culture. I don’t care if he is sometimes nice to Charlotte; selective niceness is a method by which people gain license to continue behaving abusively. Charlotte should steer clear of him and spend her time with someone who doesn’t scream at her when she disagrees with him.
To sum up, I won’t be speaking of Sidney Parker’s abs anymore. And the possibility of shipping him with Charlotte is now closed, boarded up, and chained off like a haunted house of petty arguments and thirsty stares.
Elsewhere in Sanditon! Events turn darker as Tom Parker seems less affable than ever before, refusing to deliver the machinery and workers he promised after last week’s accident, and instead buying an obscenely expensive necklace for his wife. TOM. I hurl the Tyra Banks “we were all rooting for you — how dare you” GIF at you. A fictional town of villains is more interesting than a fictional town of perfectly pleasant people, though, so I accept this Tom revelation, so long as he leans into it and becomes the Machiavelli of Sanditon.
The real drama this episode lies in Georgiana-Otis and Esther-Edward. The man Georgiana was writing to last time pops up! His name is Otis Molyneux, and they’re going to have a clandestine picnic, with Charlotte third-wheeling it all the way. Georgiana’s governess-like figure, Mrs. Griffiths, is 100 percent aghast at the idea of a picnic, calling it “an invitation to licentiousness,” but Georgiana lies and says Mr. and Mrs. Parker will be joining them, so they’re golden for their ungodly picnic experience.
They of course meet Otis in an almost unnaturally beautiful forest setting that would be conducive to romance if Charlotte weren’t sitting five feet away, staring at them. Otis says, oh, so we’re going to go off together by ourselves now, and Charlotte’s says, nope, because she promised Sidney she’d watch Georgiana. Charlotte has a thankless task here, which I relate to as the self-appointed monitor of my romantically involved eighth grade schoolmates on our class trip. No one appreciates thrilling adherence to the rules. No one except authority figures like Sidney, which is definitely why Charlotte’s doing it.
Georgiana and Otis are very cute, but I don’t trust him. He proposes to her, and she says she can’t marry without Sidney’s consent. Side note: If you’re interested in Otis’s mention of the Sons of Africa, they were an 18th-century abolitionist group in Britain. Britain abolished the international slave trade in 1807 everywhere but India. According to the linked article, they continued their work after 1807, but I can find no mention of them beyond the 18th century. Regardless, Georgiana tells Charlotte to ask Sidney about his time in Antigua. This is later what Charlotte hurls at Sidney when he tells Otis he will never see Georgiana again. She accuses him of having his fortune “tainted with the stain of slavery,” and he viciously shouts at her. Charlotte tells Georgiana she will help her, and a letter to Otis wings its way to London at the end of the episode.
But what’s going on with our Flowers in the Attic pairing, Esther and Edward? Esther owned this episode, IMHO. After having Edward relace her corset in an overly sensual way and getting caught by Clara, they are summoned to Lady Denham’s, who orders them to wed without delay. Sir Edward casually mentions Lord Babington being into Esther (note: he totally is; it is my favorite), and Esther immediately dismisses the idea. Because she’s only into Edward.
Okay, but let’s get into Clara and Esther, who have such a beautiful cobras-squaring-off dynamic this episode. Clara corrals Esther into turning pages for her while she plays the piano, and they have one of those metaphoric conversations about musical tempo where Clara uses tempo terminology to indicate that Esther likes to bang her (step)brother. When Esther storms out, Clara follows her. There is a heavy vibe that they’re going to make out, mostly because they’re both emotionally riled up and there’s a perfectly good tree right there. The women of this show have a habit of speaking to each other with their faces only five inches apart, and I’m fooled into thinking there will be makeouts every single time. Clara ends up offering Esther helpful advice: namely, that Edward is not going to stick around. This bears fruit when, after brooding by a candelabra and some gothic curtains, Esther asks Edward to run away and he turns her down. HE CARES FOR NONE BUT MAMMON, ESTHER.
Questions For Next Time
• Can I love good-tempered, easily collapsible Arthur Parker more? (The answer is no.)
• Will Handsome Stringer and his ambition, kindness, calm, and common interest with and admiration of Charlotte win the day? Hahahaha I think we know the answer to that.
• Is Tom Parker’s motto “Build town, do crimes”? And by crimes, I definitely mean “spend all the money he does not have”?