Hi there and welcome back to Gentleman Jack, the exciting imagining of Anne Lister's life as recorded in her journals. I'm digging our jaunty landowner, I have a feeling she's about to mix some business with pleasure with an Ann without an "e". Join me as we romp across the 1800s with our land swashbuckler, the inestimable Anne Lister!
We open with Anne Lister (Suranne Jones from Doctor Foster! And Scott and Bailey! Doctor Who I hear as well) striding confidently up to the Walker castle/mansion/reeeeelybighouse. Her walk is in a class of its own, it's as though she's hearing music we can't, an aggressive but musical march.
She gains entrance and is escorted to an already bewitchingly nervous Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle from Happy Valley! And Bodyguard!) who has no idea what she's in for. She does remember meeting Anne previously, however, which is more than can be said for Anne.
AnnW is an orphan, it seems AnneL paid her respects when AnnW's mother died (I will have to sort something out about names, this sounds like a badly written medical study), a happenstance remembered in great detail by the adorably flustered young Ann.
Anne swears she recalls everything, but maybe just remind her about the part where you ran after her, Ann? Ann is embarrassed in the retelling but Anne's memory is only of her animation, nothing silly about it.
Anne stops circling the room like a tomcat; they sit to appraise each other.
Chitchat turns dark almost immediately, an abbreviated discussion about whether or not Ann wants children turns to Anne gleefully explaining she once dissected a baby. In Paris, of course.
It's not better that it was a dead baby, Anne, there's no good way to discuss dissecting a baby! Thank you for not showing us that in the flashback of her tutelage in France. Anne wanted to be a doctor but was precluded by her sex, so she did her learning on her kitchen table with a French doctor.
Woo we're on to Anne waxing ecstatic about the human brain, she's fascinated by it. There isn't anything it can't do!
Anne's got amazing force of personality and is what we would now call "charismatic" and "intellectually curious". Back in the 1800s, that was known as "crazy" if you had a uterus.
It's Gossip O'Clock at the servant's cottage; groom John Booth (Thomas Howes) was previously unaware that Anne's lady's maid Eugenie (Albane Courtois) is in the family way. Rachel Hemingway (Jessica Baglow) thinks it's funny but Elizabeth Cordingley (Rosie Cavaliero from Unforgotten Series 2!) is all nerves. The father of the prospective baby is dead, poor George the former groom was shot out of a tree. Hmm, will John step up?
Visiting continues with Anne and Ann, we're on to why Ann hates the doctor and can't fire him. Anne looks as though she's imagining sipping on her like a tall, frosted drink on a hot day.
*That LIP BITE
Ah but now we're on to family history! Ann is related to most of the county, including the Rawsons, who Anne will be taking on in short order re: coal. Back to Ann's issue with switching doctors, everyone is used to thinking of her as an invalid and they all feel far too comfortable interfering. Anne's "you don't look in-valid" alllllmost leads to a kiss (I fink? It looked CLOSE), the bell rings and the moment is lost. Or is it? Anne's been there for four hours already!
Anne will pop round tomorrow, Ann is visibly excited. Now all she has to do is understand, Anne explains to us, is what she feels for Anne is love. Not admiration or fondness, but rather the whole delicious enchilada.
Anne is stopped by Samuel Washington (Joe Armstrong) along the path; he's been researching the coal business after Anne asked about what to do with her own coal pits.
AHHHHHHHH and it's George Costigan who'll be helping us understand!! Whooooooo! I love George Costigan, I have an awful crush on him as he was fantastic in Happy Valley Series 1. He's not listed in IMDb so I don't know his character name and we'll just call him George.
Anne listens to what George has to say, but she doesn't accept his fatalistic view of catching the Rawsons stealing her coal.
Water will be the problem, she'll have to watch for that in the mine. Some more complicated business strategizing ensues, Samuel will be doing more research.
It's time to meet these Rawson blokes, first up is dapper Christopher (Vincent Franklin from Bodyguard) and then hapless Jeremiah (Shaun Dooley from Broadchurch series 2 and Cuffs!). They have indeed been stealing Anne's coal, Jeremiah is about crying in panic. They've got to buy the land so she doesn't find out how much less there is than expected.
Anne swings round the Hardcastle farm, William (Joel Morris) catches her up to speed but she'd like to see his wife, fanks. The kiddo who fell off the wall is healing, young Thomas Sowden (Tom Lewis) is helping while sporting a shiner from his dad.
It should be noted that Anne is not a kid-person.
Alice Hardcastle (Natalie Gavin) has no idea how to handle Anne in her small house (well, Anne's small house), everything feels upside down clearly. She holds Anne's hat and cane while Anne checks on young Henry (Dexter Hughes) in a ruthlessly efficient way. She asks him what he thinks (first words to him - her bedside manner lacks a certain something) to be asked if she's a man.
His parents forget how to breathe while they wait for Anne to answer..."well...that's a question, and you are not the first person to ask it."
Ah I was all prepared to roll with Anne and her confidence but a memory of being mistaken for a man in France has her discomfited and as close to unnerved as we've seen. She's a "lady. Woman. Lady woman."
*If you like, I will share a picture of myself as a young teenager when people would ask me all the time if I was a boy. It happened most of my childhood, as I was raised by someone gloriously unconventional, but the picture I'm thinking of was probably the zenith. It's an uncomfortable feeling to never be the standard, you know? However much love you have for yourself, it can be unsettling to be reminded unexpectedly.
Well that got maudlin for a minute, didn't it? Onward!
Anne has a lovely chat with young Henry after that; she talks about her brother who taught her to swordfight (after a fashion). Anne's gift is that she treats everyone the same, with intelligence and openness, she doesn't treat Henry the least like a child.
The brusqueness takes a bit getting used to!
Anne studies her family, she clearly finds dad Jeremy (Timothy West) and Marian (Gemma Whelan) lacking.
She has some ideas about how to improve the grounds, make it more like parkland. Marian calls it an "old farm"; Anne is incensed.
Anne's gone to visit Ann Walker again, who is kneedeep in a dilemma involving family with their hands out. "What you need, Miss Walker, is a well-worded letter."
Don't we all!
All Ann needs is a little confidence; but maybe not the holiday she has planned coming up shortly. She didn't plan it, exactly, but she'll be away for three weeks. Anne cannot bear it, it's extremely taxing watching her contort in emotional agony listening to Ann twitter on about her trip with Catherine Rawson (Emma Paetz).
She snaps a paperknife in half, cutting herself but also establishing herself as more important than Catherine. They hold her wounded hand as she asks Ann to go on a trip to Switzerland with her in the Spring, then Rome. Ann burbles on as Anne sizes up her chances with the impressionable Miss Walker. She will have to be delicate, but there's a chance there.
John the groom is back at the servant's cottage, this time with a fistful of roses and hat in hand. I figured he wanted a crack at the beautiful young Eugenie, he's making his move with the help of Elizabeth's tortured French.
Hahahaha, sorry, this was too cute.
Anne and Ann are cuddled up on the settee again, so much lip-biting!
A scandalous story about masturbatory aids, only in France! Only in Paris! That's why people go there! But not for Anne.
*Cut to Anne studying the inside of a naked woman's thighs very closely
Has Ann ever kissed anyone? The question delivered with not a hint of the innocence it suggests flummoxes our Ann. Anne draws ever closer, hypnotizing her prey with silken words and the heady proximity of the full force of her charisma.
Anne drops pretense but maintains eye contact and touch as she makes her move on the unsure young miss.
Anne will not be taking advantage of her effect, she pulls back and allows Ann the space to breathe and think about what she wants. She takes her leave as Ann caresses the napkin covered in Anne's blood, erm, okay.
Anne is in great spirits after, might they not be happy?
She pops round to see her great fan Eliza Priestly (Amelia Bullmore) for a chat about Ann and her "weakness", perhaps all Ann needs is a great friend, someone a little older with some sense. Anne and I know just the person!
*I will say that Ann's naivete concerns me, she's putty in the hands of wily seducer Anne Lister who's already expressed an admiration for Ann's great wealth. I suppose it's nothing new, however, just that our dashing Lothario is a lady. Woman. Ladywoman.
Anne returns home to find she's missed a visit from Jeremiah Rawson, awww. Marian shouts up the stairs at Anne as she races up to her room to get to her locked trunk. Upstairs is a letter from her former lover Vere Hobart (Jodhi May), Anne is furious, dismayed and devastated. "Too old for this."
John the groom asks his three girls if they'd like a new mum? They laugh at the thought, who'd have him?
*Well I would have, but I'm off illiterate chonks at the moment, so sorry.
Anne marches into the Rawson place of business the next morning; she wants to know what Christopher Rawson is doing about the driver who caused the accident wounding Henry Hardcastle, since he's magistrate and all.
An interesting dance follows, lots of personal space intrusions, lowered then raised voices; it's like the first round of a boxing match when the fighters are just touching gloves to suss out weaknesses.
Christopher would do better to not show his contempt so clearly.
Ann waits at her house for the enigmatic Anne while her annoying friend Catherine prattles away in the background. Catherine asks about books, Anne's name is invoked and the shittalking commences.
Apparently Anne Lister is not to be trusted in the company of women. Ann is vexed at the vagueness of the complaint, "does she bite them?"
Also, she's "like a man" *meaningful point towards the bottom of her skirt*.
Ann's had enough of this; she knows the reason people don't like her great friend Anne. It's because she's different, she's unusual and follows her own path instead of conforming to society like everyone else. Catherine's never even met Anne, yet she has all these opinions. Ann suggests she make up her own mind, perhaps. "So she's never tried...to..touch you?" Don't be absurd!
*See, that's the thing. Every time you talk about how disgusting or weird it is to love or lust after someone of the same gender, you might be reinforcing to another person that what is natural to them is deviant or odd or something to be hidden. And thus the homophobic wheel goes around.
Anne isn't on her way to the Walker residence to meet Catherine the lemming, first she stops at home to explain her terms very clearly to Jeremiah Rawson. She's prepared, direct, informed and unwilling to sell her coal for less than market value, which she minces no words in explaining to Mr. Rawson. He'll need to discuss with his brother.
*English money in the 1800s sounds like a nightmare; what the Sam Hill is a ha'penny? And a shilling? Where does pence fit in? Don't answer that, I'm sure I've already forgotten.
The threat of mining her own pits is what brings his chin up, that will seem like a shot across the bow to his much more assertive brother Christopher.
Christopher knew Anne would chew Jeremiah up and spit him out; he's got gossip to share.
Um duh. Related: screw you and every other creepy old guy who thinks that's a lever to use on anyone while getting off on it at the same time.
Christopher thinks Anne's bluffing, perhaps they should just gird their loins and bide their time.
Anne is visiting Ann once more; they look at Ann's paintings and pretend they're not going to talk about what happened the last time we saw them together.
*I'm going to keep track of how many times they alllllmost kiss - we're up to eleventy thousand plus one. Sorry, plus two.
No time for that today, Ann's off on her (dreaded) holiday with Catherine, who finally meets Anne that she has so much to say about.
Anne and her righthand man Samuel Washington (Joe Armstrong) meet with another buyer who doesn't like her coal price per acre either, but after some mugging about he's willing to deal. Anne already told the Rawsons they had first refusal, so even though absolutely everyone in town knows they're stealing her coal, she's honouring her word to them.
After the buyer leaves, Anne advises Washington to look further into the coat of sinking her own pits; she's starting to see that's the path forward. The Rawsons think she'll need a bunch of money for that, let's see how that rolls.
Anne is going to London for Vere Hobart's wedding; that takes a strength of will I would not possess. She thinks it will look poor to not go, she checks in on her Aunt (Gemma Jones) and heads out forthwith.
The hats in church are something else...I thought Anne had on a cheeky little military cap but it turned out to be topped with an entire ostrich dyed black.
We only watch Anne's face during the ceremony, starting with her craning around to see her love then bereft with sadness when she does spy Vere. She endures.
Anne and Vere have a tense and fraught conversation after the ceremony; Anne's dressed head to toe in black, a tradition she tells us started when her "friend" Mrs. Lawton married a "charmless buffoon" sixteen years previous. Anne is able to wish her former lover well, Vere reciprocates by stating that she was very fond of Anne, but she's just "not like that."
Anne has been left for men for at least 16 years; that's a sobering thought.
Anne races home, literally, running into the house she's staying at to tell a startled Eugenie that they're headed to the lake district.
In case I wasn't clear above; Ann Walker has just left for the lake district. Perhaps Anne's own talk to Vere of living life to the fullest and pursuing happiness inspired her own self to waste no more time alone. We're out.
I'm not sure how I ever thought Anne was abrasive, perhaps I need to rewatch the first episode. Now she appears almost entirely made of warmth. Rather like a warmed molasses spreading across the delicate Ann Walker's throat. Until next time!