I’ve decided something: We’re going to wipe Sidney’s slate clean. It’s a new Sidney now. The old Sidney is dead. He died on the way to London, and this new Sidney is like when the Tenth Doctor on Doctor Who had that clone with none of his problems show up and get with Rose. The old Sidney passed the point of no return long ago. New Sidney has all the hallmarks we like in the 19th-Century Fictional Man: quiet amusement. Gruff protectiveness. Subtle sexual tension during period-appropriate dances. Let Old Sidney lie in a ditch somewhere; long live New Sidney.
So Lady Denham isn’t dead; they make that clear real quick. She is, however, dying. Like really, clearly dying, however much she denies it. She says her relations are clustered around the bed “like bloodhounds,” which is a weird comparison to make. Are bloodhounds known to cluster? Surely she means vultures? Maybe one shouldn’t judge a dying woman’s similes, but I definitely do. She’s drinking seawater and basically tells them she won’t give them the satisfaction of dying. I hope I’m not the only one who was reminded of the old woman in Jenna Maroney’s condo building. “My heart … it’s getting stronger every day.” The pertinent bit, though, is that she says her solicitor knows exactly where her will is, and she’s already settled where all her money is going. Edward and Clara are very concerned.
I’m gonna pause right here and argue for the pro-mercenary side. There are a few points to consider. (1) Lady Denham is racist, cruel, controlling, and generally terrible. (2) Edward, Esther, and Clara are all broke. (3) Tom should not be rewarded for being awful at managing money. (4) How many seaside resorts do we actually need in this world?
Esther says to Edward that “our aunt is grievously ill, and all you can think about is her fortune,” which would be a fair point if Lady Denham had ever said or done anything kind for any of them. DO I NEED TO BRING UP THE PINEAPPLE PARTY AGAIN. Just because someone is biologically related to you doesn’t mean you owe them anything. Lady Denham has wielded her power and fortune like a temperamental cudgel, and it’s a bad look and deserving of no loyalty. Does Edward suck? Yes! But he has nothing else to fall back on (that we know of), so of course he’s going to be more concerned about his financial security than about his cruel aunt dying.
Obviously, Edward and Clara go on a frantic search for the will and find it. Lady Denham leaves her entire fortune to Sanditon “and the foundation of a donkey stud in my name.” I really want to highlight the latter, because Edward whizzes right by it, and it is a majestic codicil. Attention must be paid. He and Clara agree to burn the will and make a blackmail-fueled (by Clara) deal to split the fortune, which they seal by banging it out on the tile floor. This is Sanditon; that’s just what you do. At first, I thought Clara was just really turned on by money. She probably still is, but as a bonus, she now blackmails Edward into giving her even more money by threatening to tell Esther they had sex. Edward is stunned that AGAIN Clara is not into his sexual wiles, but instead has manipulated him. This literally happened like four episodes ago, Edward. Come on.
Okay, but Charlotte is in London. Georgiana is in London. Otis is in London. SIDNEY is in London. (Eventually Tom is, too, but no one really cares about Tom.) Charlotte’s solo quest to the bad CGI slums of London leads to her discovering that Otis has his mail delivered to a tavern in a slum, and no one knows where he or Georgiana are. Then she gets assaulted in an alley, which is a dark, dark turn until, of course, a mysterious stranger saves her (spoiler: it’s Sidney). This whole business with Otis seems complex, but it boils down to the following: Otis has gambling debts, and the person he owes tricked Georgiana into coming to London, then abducted her, intending to sell her to a caricature of a dissolute member of the bourgeoisie so that man can acquire her heiress wealth. This entire plot is ridiculous; it is RIDICULOUS. I liked this episode a lot overall, what with the rise of New Sidney, but good lord, there is a carriage chase in the middle of the country, and they don’t even try to dignify it by making it happen at night, or even dusk. Just grown men yelling at their carriage drivers to go faster in full daylight. What’s the plan, guys? Wait for the other guy’s horses to tire out?
They get Georgiana back, saving her from marital enslavement and most likely sexual assault. Sidney “allows” Otis to say good-bye to her. Georgiana has been having a real damn terrible time of it. I hope something good finally happens to her soon.
By the way, that disgusting guy who tried to buy her, and who yells at Sidney, “You owe me £1,800”? That’s about £158,000 today, or $205,000. And while we’re on exchange rates, that means when Sidney tells Tom he will lend him £3,000, that’s around £260,000, which means Sidney is hella rich.
So, New Sidney and Charlotte. They’re cute. Fine. I’ll accept this Hail Mary attempt at romance with *looks at watch* two episodes left in the series. Sidney apologizes. He’s charming. He actually seems to like her. He tells her not to doubt herself, which, if this were that Old Sidney who’s currently dead in a ditch, I’d say, “Dude, you’ve spent the last five episodes telling her she sucks, and, as a contributor to her insecurities, you cannot now be like, ‘Get some confidence, lady.’” But since it’s New Sidney, wow, what a sweet moment.
Just to hammer home that these two kids are into each other for sure, the episode delivers my favorite moment aside from that donkey-stud thing. Look, I am a sucker for an author’s characters showing up peripherally in their other works. It gets me every time. When this woman at the masked ball who’s reading a book alone in a room tells Charlotte her name is Susan, I freaked out. For anyone watching this show who somehow isn’t familiar with the entire Austen oeuvre, an early work of hers is Lady Susan, recently made into the Kate Beckinsale film Love & Friendship. Lady Susan is pretty morally bankrupt, and therefore very fun to watch. It’s DELIGHTFUL that she’s there. Her entire purpose is to tell Charlotte she’s in love with Sidney, which is an embarrassing cliché sort of moment, but whatever — it’s Lady Susan. She is allowed.
We end by learning that Sidney is talking to the woman who threw him over for a richer man, and made Old Sidney a withered and angry husk of a human being. But her husband is dead, so??? We shall see what the future holds for Sidney and Charlotte.
Questions for Next Time
• Will Clara and Edward succeed in taking the money away from the donkey stud?
• What are the chances Clara marries Edward for his fortune, poisons him immediately, and moves to the French Riviera? (Like 90 percent?)
• What if they even just did something like give Georgiana a puppy? That’d be nice, right? Or would they immediately have some unspeakable tragedy befall the puppy, because Georgiana can’t have nice things?
• Will anyone ever find Old Sidney in that ditch? RIP Old Sidney.