Do the English know how little Americans understand cricket? Every time I see it on screen, I stare in bewilderment as my mind cycles through the same so … this is like, baseball but also croquet thoughts that would surely earn the scorn of any British citizen with the ability to read minds. I know they hit a ball with a paddle and I think there are maybe wickets involved, but they seem different than croquet wickets, so maybe there is zero croquet involved after all.
Anyway, there’s a cricket match in Sanditon between the richies and the poors, which affords Charlotte and Sidney a chance to look at each other a bit. The main point of the cricket match is to deliver a message to Tom Parker (the message is “pay your workers and stop being an asshole”), but it’s also to have Charlotte play opposite Sidney. This is all boring. I was a little “are you being anachronistically feminist, Sanditon?” when Charlotte volunteered to replace Tom on the team, so I looked up the history of women’s cricket, and right at the top is mention of a match between women in 1745, so. I absolve the episode of my hasty judgment.
Elsewhere in the episode, Georgiana runs away with Otis Molyneux, Charlotte gets in a carriage to London by herself to go get Georgiana, Lady Denham probably dies, and Esther almost finds happiness, only to throw it in the garbage because her (step) brother tells her to. Esther is certainly going through it lately. Last episode, she discovered her brother is not quite as into her as she is into him, so she began encouraging the very enamored Lord Babington. Not heavily encouraging, but occasionally smiling at him, which I guess for Esther counts as heavily encouraging. If Esther were a ’90s teen, she would be at Hot Topic every Saturday, but since she’s an early-1800s teen, she must make do with frequent sullenness and ornate candelabras in dark rooms. The rooms she and Edward stay in resemble some gothic French boudoir, and everyone just accepts this choice of lodging, which is hilarious because it is So Much and basically screams Lord Byron (who ALSO slept with his sister).
Another reason for Esther’s choice to bestow smiles on Lord Babington is that Lady Denham has told him that Esther is excited to see him at the cricket match on Saturday. You know, the one everyone’s excited about and that the episode revolves around. The one we are all very interested in. Lady Denham says “Smile. No, don’t smile, you’ll confuse him,” which is the first time I’ve liked Lady Denham since her racist pineapple party. She knows that Lord Babington wants nothing more than for Esther to step on his throat. He likes her for who she is, and it’s refreshing because our other current romantic options are Otis Molyneux (who, again, seems suspect because otherwise Sidney has no hope of redemption) or the aforementioned Sidney, who moments prior to Babington running into Esther is again so rude to Charlotte that it transformed my note-taking into all-caps invective.
Babington and Esther leave the cricket match and are suddenly on a horse ride by a lake? Apparently far away from the beach? It’s very The Bachelor, where dates are exclusively horse rides and beaches (and helicopter rides, but that’s not an option that’s open to Sanditon). It seems scandalous that they’re here by themselves next to a giant but weirdly silent waterfall. “I’ve never met anyone else who can give a compliment in such a way as it might also be an insult,” says Babington, who is super into being negged. “I’m all at sea,” he says. Because they’re by the seaside! Then he very suddenly proposes.
I mean. Okay, we know it can’t be smooth sailing for these two, because Edward is right there being all plotty and evil. When Esther tells him Babington proposed, he kisses her to make a point and then she breaks up with Babington, kind of like in Moulin Rouge where Satine is actually super into Christian, but she has to make him believe she doesn’t care and OH, the angst. But here she says she couldn’t contemplate a proposal from someone as shallow as he is. She points out that he shallowly proposed on a whim, which is legit.
I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain why this is better than the Sidney-Charlotte dynamic, but I’m going to do it anyway. Babington has never put Esther down. Esther has never screamed in Babington’s face. Babington does not look annoyed every time he sees Esther. Esther has slowly grown to like Babington, after a series of cold put-downs that he clearly enjoyed (as opposed to Sidney’s series of rude dismissals that clearly hurt and confused Charlotte). Babington and Esther are a perfect example of an initially antagonistic relationship developing into affection, which means the creators of Sanditon know how to do it. They know how to do it! So why have they set up Sidney and Charlotte like this? Did we talk about how he rage-screams at her again in this episode when he finds out she helped Georgiana escape to see Otis? LOVE.
But anyway! Charlotte’s off to London. Lady Denham is clearly dying. At the end of the episode, she either dies or passes out in her chair. With three episodes left, this leaves the Iron Throne, aka her fortune, potentially up for grabs to Clara, Esther, Edward, or a mysterious fourth party. We’ll see!
Questions for Next Time
• Is Otis in fact suspect, or is Sidney wrong about everything?
• Does Handsome Stringer own any good hats, or are absolutely all of them ridiculous?
• Will the series end with the stunning twist that this whole story was in fact about Mrs. Griffiths and the reverend?