DRAMA IS AFOOT. After the romance-filled escapades of the previous episode, the writers cracked their knuckles and said, “time to ruffle some bonnets.” And they did a great job! I am on tenterhooks for season three. They were kind enough, however, to also wrap up some plots, so let’s look into those.
Remember how in the last episode, I was all “ROMANCE” and talking about how Georgiana and Charles Lockhart were kissing and hurray for love, etc.? WELL, I take all that back. Except for my suspicions about him pushing too much for her to leave for the continent with him! Those were well-founded. Sidney’s trunk arrives from Antigua, and Tom, Mary, and Arthur discover a letter where Sidney says not to trust a man named Charles Lockhart. GASP. I am all about trying to guess twists, and I am ashamed to say I did not see this coming at all. Probably because Georgiana was just tricked last season!! But it turns out Charles is the man who was trying to get her inheritance through the court system and was being really racist about it.
The Parker bunch tells Georgiana, and she confronts Charles about it. He does that whole “it started out that way, but …” and she is having none of it. Well done, Georgiana; he sucks. At least she has Arthur. And Charlotte. And the Parkers. And maybe the Hankinses, but she doesn’t seem too into them. But if I were Georgiana, I would still feel so alone in all this, especially after this whole two-men-betraying-me thing and being the only Black person in Sanditon. It turns out, though, that Sidney’s trunk also contains the information that Georgiana’s mother is very likely alive! She left Georgiana a cowrie necklace to remember her. Since the story was that she died when Georgiana was a baby, this is a huge surprise, and now Georgiana maybe has a family of her own!
Arthur apologizes to Georgiana for encouraging Lockhart when she was unsure about him. She says they were both taken in by him, which is very kind of her. Georgiana says she might stay in Sanditon, but she does want to find her mother. What if Georgiana and Arthur did a spinoff called Antigua where the basic premise is her finding her mother, but the show gets really into colonialism and enslavement and the sugar trade, and maybe Arthur can find some nice young man to date?
We zoom through Alison and Fraser’s storyline. They started mutually flirting in the last episode, but in this one, Alison is full-on in love with Fraser. I guess this is set up by how quickly she was prepared to marry Captain Carter, but take a moment, Alison! Everyone in Sanditon is very, “I have just met you and I love you.” They exchange some glances at a ball, look soulfully into each other’s eyes twice, and then someone proposes.
These two are real ships in the night, but only in the sense that the ships miss each other and then double back in ten minutes and get married. Fraser comes to the Parkers to say goodbye to Alison, and instead of proposing, he says he considers her a friend and gives her a present that’s clearly a book, but makes her promise not to open it until she’s back in her farming community. When Alison sadly relates this to Charlotte and Georgiana, they are great friends and make her open the present. It’s poetry! And it has one of the poems Carter wrote her because Fraser was the poet the whole time. Alison does the “run to the airport gate” romantic trope, like Debbie did for Ruth in GLOW, only her run to the airport gate is taking a carriage to the army encampment. But everyone has left! Not only left, but left for India. Alison can’t take a carriage there!
She returns to the Parkers, defeated, and who is there but Fraser! Who would have suspected? (I mean, most people, but that is fine!) He has resigned from the army, which is great because they were all a bunch of snozzcumbers, and he proposes to Alison! Fraser is going to be a farmer. Alison is okay with this, despite saying she will never marry a farmer. I mean, I said I’d never marry a Pisces, and look where I am now. All Pisces’d up in the marital department.
The Esther-is-mad storyline has been resolved, thank God. The number of times I need to see women dragged off and put in an asylum is zero. We’ve done that storyline! How about no more of it, ever? After some intense guilt on Clara’s part, she spills all the beans on the morning of her wedding when the whole group is breakfasting in that really beautiful greenhouse tea room of Lady Denham’s. The whole group consists of Clara, Edward, Lady Denham, Esther, and Mr. Hankins, who is supposed to perform the ceremony. Clara tells them that Edward has been drugging Esther. She totally claims her own complicity; she tells Esther about the letters from Babington, and just well done, Clara! Lady Denham wants them both thrown out, and Esther stops her and says that Clara deserves no punishment. LADIES SUPPORTING LADIES. When, y’know, they’re trying. Not just whenever.
Despite Esther’s forgiveness, Clara steals away, leaving baby George for Esther to raise. I am unsure how I feel about this! Clara seems to say that she loves George very much but is not cut out to be a mother. This is fair if that is her actual feeling, as opposed to just being like, well, Esther has much more money than I do. My dream for them was that Esther would find a cottage for them on Lord Babington’s estate and they would raise George together. I guess that could happen in season three.
Edward deserves nothing, so I will only mention that Colonel Lennox tears off his epaulets in a fit of rage, which is kind of funny. “You are not fit to wear these shoulder adornments,” he says (in my head).
On to Charlotte and Alex! Last we saw them they were very improperly, but with much chemistry, making out in his house. Charlotte tells Georgiana and Alison about how much Lennox sucks and how Mr. Colbourne is actually good, and they feel rightfully upset with themselves for how much they pushed Charlotte at Lennox. Yes! Good! Now we’re all #TeamHeybourne (the internet told me this is their ship name).
Charlotte goes to Alex’s estate and he is hugging his dog because now that they’ve made out, he is a complete delight of a person. I get it, sir. Love those emotionally reserved but also sincere women. Alex walks up to Charlotte in his billowing shirtsleeves in front of his enormous house and asks her to take a turn about the grounds. This is one of TWO proposal fake-outs from him in this episode. Three if you count Fraser’s. They walk under a tree (a romantic tree) and he apologizes for saying too much the previous night about his tragic backstory. She says it is fine, for she too has a tragic backstory. Charlotte basically says I wasn’t pro-marriage, but now I’m definitely up for it should anyone ask; I’m just mentioning that fact at random. Then Alex just grabs her and kisses her. So overcome is he at her marital availability! Except the housekeeper interrupts because they can’t find Leo.
Leo, who heard all about their parentage while eavesdropping, went to the army camp to ask Lennox if he’s their father. Alex catches up, and in front of him, Lennox lies and says no, he is not Leo’s father, but Alex is. This is nice! This is basically the only nice thing Lennox does in the whole series. Then he ruins it by telling Alex that Charlotte is in love with Alex, but that he’ll ruin it like he ruined things with his first wife. And then Alex listens to this! This is why friends are important. You can say, okay, so Lennox said this thing to me about my first marriage, and your friends will say, WHAT? You listened to Lennox? And then they will tell you how great you are and how much you and Charlotte deserve each other, and if you find yourself being worried about old habits, maybe you can find a nice therapist, or, in Regency times … I don’t know, a wise old stablehand.
Because Alex doesn’t have friends, he canters his horse on the beach, looking out at the wide expanse, tormented by his feelings. If you look up Romanticism, this is the first image to pop up, and that is Alex in this moment. He goes home and stamps all over Charlotte’s heart by saying he has taken advantage of his position over her, and it was deeply inappropriate. Here’s the thing — it’s kind of true?? I feel like shows frequently fail to address power imbalances like this, so I’m extremely torn at this moment between being like “YEAH,” but also they clearly very much want to bang, and he seems to have no real scruples about proposing to her even though she’s a governess. He just doesn’t want to because of his tragic backstory.
Charlotte asks if all she is to him is a member of his staff, and he offers her six months’ wages and pretty much fires her. She storms out. Alex. ALEX. Okay, but also, I love this. They can’t just immediately get together! You have to have the brief getting together, and it’s awesome, and there is kissing, and then they are pulled apart by something, and then they yearn from afar, and then they finally get back together for real. I realize I’m really leaning on season three here, but it’s all I have. Because the next thing we know, it’s two months later, and we’re at Alison and Fraser’s wedding, and Charlotte introduces the Parkers to … HER FIANCÉ, RALPH. Dun dun dun!
This season was a joy, and I’m so glad they completely turned things around from season one. I hope there is just so much yearning next season, which ends in all the kissing.