Well hello, fellow historical drama devotees and welcome back to Gentleman Jack! Hey girl hey to Sally Wainwright fans! Not to mention the ladies-in-"menswear" buffs! I see you right up front, my saucy lesbian aficionados! I have been reading some interesting thoughts on Tumblr about Anne Lister (someone found one of my gif posts and it 'sploded); consensus is that while she wasn't an awesome person (elitist, ageist, etc), she is some type of representation and maybe it's a good thing we don't only see canonized versions of the fairer sex?
Let's find out what she gets up to this week!
We open with two disappointed-looking creatures about to visit Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle); they're both Rawsons but are not listed in IMDb so I shall call them Young Miss Delia and her Disappointed Auntie.
Disappointed Auntie is surprised/not surprised to see that Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) is visiting Miss Walker, a note must be made about clothing.
**The costuming is exquisite, lumpy bits and poufy everything with feathers on top as far as the eye can see. But still ugly. I know you CAN make a poufy mustard-coloured dress trimmed with too little lace, but does that mean you SHOULD? Ann wears this little pink gingham number made of approximately 75 yards of satin; it's adorable. Use moar GINGHAM!
A short standoff over whether Anne will be sent packing; Miss Delia and her Disappointed Auntie sit with a flounce of mustard pouf and the battle is on. Disappointed has an axe to grind about the shared visit to the Lake District with Ann's friend and cousin Catherine Rawson (Emma Paetz), Anne Lister is too focused on the dewy young Miss Delia.
A wink at us and we roll into sexy credits!
Groom John Booth (Thomas Howes aka the doomed footman from Downton Abbey) is working up his nerve to ask pregnant ladysmaid Eugenie Pierre (Albane Courtois) to marry him, but he's got some concerns. Footman Thomas Sowden (Tom Lewis - you see how this can get a bit confusing? There are only four names in England, one is Tom, Claire is another, Ann(e) clearly, you tell me the others) bucks him up, Eugenie'd be a fool to turn him down!
Let's go over the reasons Eugenie might not want to marry the affable John:
- They have never actually spoken to each other
- They don't speak the same language, literally, neither one understands what the other one is saying
- She's pregnant by another fella
- He's an illiterate chonk, which I can no longer recommend
- He's a good fifteen years older than her, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but still: a consideration
- He has three daughters and no idea if she wants to be a mum of four overnight
- THEY HAVE NEVER ACTUALLY SPOKEN TO EACH OTHER
But this is the 1800s when women were supposed to feel lucky if they found a protector/provider, and she's far from home, so maybe?
Step One of this totally reasonable marriage proposal requires enlisting the support of maid Elizabeth Cordingley (Rosie Cavaliero) as translator. Maid Rachel Hemingway (Jessica Baglow) is ready to bat cleanup if Eugenie says no.
Step Two is Eugenie accepting with a plain "oui". Mazel tov, kiddos!
Anne and Ann walk in the woods, discussing their future travel plans until they come across the chaumiere Anne had built. It's adorable!
It's time to talk about seeeexxxxx!! Wooooo!! Okay, sorry, about kissing, my bad, jumping the gun. Ann wants Anne to know that it was okay when Anne talked about kissing her, it doesn't frighten her. By that she means that she'd really like to be kissed, which Anne delays by closing shutters while Ann looks imploringly at her lips.
Anne kneels before Ann, the slow and aching dance with a new lover begins.
Finally they kiss
Just as I'm starting to feel a bit pervy, we cut to John and Eugenie announcing their engagement to Marian Lister (Gemma Whelan, awesome in this role and in The Moorside) who can't believe it. Could Marian tell Anne maybe...? (hahahah she calls her Caligula later)
Ann and Anne return from their walk refreshed and ready to make plans for the following day. Anne would like her new girlfriend to make a formal call to Shibden Hall to meet Anne's aunt, ooooohhh meeting the (kind of) parents! In return, Ann invites Anne to the house for a sleepover.
**I won't lie, I mostly focused on the fact that Ann is up against a door; if you didn't think of Caroline and Kate in Last Tango in Halifax: you haven't seen it or perhaps you're lying to yourself.
**What do you mean you haven't seen Last Tango in Halifax?? Get thee to Netflix!
Anne arrives home to find Marian in a tizzy, and while Marian's resting state is tizzy, this time it's because their Aunt Anne (Gemma Jones!) has taken a turn for the worse and nobody could find Anne.
Anne broaches the subject of Miss Walker gently with her aunt; she's thinking of Ann as a companion. FOR LIFE. Aunt Anne asks all the right questions; is Ann sure she's not going to get married? At 12 years Anne's junior, is she likely to be Anne's intellectual equal?
*I'm going out on a limb here and say there are very few people who are Anne's intellectual equal, let alone one that she also wants to inhale like a particularly fragrant blossom.
Oh and Ann has 2500 pounds a year too, ooooh. Anne thinks this companionship would be ideal and her aunt agrees that it would be; if she was a man.
Aunt Anne worries that they'll attack her niece; "this is Halifax. They don't mince words." Anne vows "they can't touch me" but I'm worried that she's gone too far into it too quickly.
Anne and her sister Marian fight at the breakfast table, Marian has a bee in her bonnet about Anne stealing away half of her inheritance (Anne was left the Lister fortune and lands by her uncle James who knew a head for business when he saw it) and vows to marry and birth an heir solely to unseat Anne. Marian is off to stay with the Dysons, right NOW!
The funniest part was the servants listening from the next room.
Also: good luck with that whole "birthing a son" on purpose thing; whole legends have been written about unfortunately placed women unable to produce an heir on command.
Anne marches over to check on her land and finds a drunk Sam Sowden (Anthony Flanagan) at 9:30 in the morning. She dismisses him, he meekly acquiesces and leaves with his tail between his legs. Hahah just kidding, he decides the best way to handle being sent home for drunkenness is to call his landlady a fella and ask to see her c***.
Anne will be reviewing his tenancy agreement the following day; sober up and pop round for a chat. None of that sinks into Sam's inebriated melon; he's brought home and violently attacks every single person in proximity; finally subdued by his son Thomas.
Jeremiah Rawson (Shaun Dooley whom I thought I remembered from Cuffs, but NO! He was the errant husband Dave who went walkabout on Ordinary Lies series one! It was driving me mental trying to think where I knew him from!) has popped into Shibden Hall to see Anne again; he's entertained by Jeremy Lister (Timothy West) until her return.
An extremely brief meeting later, Jeremiah is sent packing with specific instructions for their upcoming lease agreement; Anne wants to include a provision that she's able to visit their pits.
He barely said a word; he couldn't understand why she is so difficult to deal with, he was sure she would be easier.
Oooh the elegant chaumiere is a slam pad for our lovely duo; Anne and Ann waste no time getting down to the business of kissing and discussing future plans to kiss all night. Unfortunately, with Marian off husband/sperminator-seeking in Market Wheating; Anne will not be able to have a sleepover with Ann just yet. They just need to let the dust settle.
But there's another thing...Ann's received a letter. About Anne.
We'll not find out any more ugly gossip about Anne just yet, first we find out that Marian wasn't just blowing smoke when she said she was going to get married. A certain John Abbot has twice been at tea while Marian was over at Dr. Kenny's. TWICE. She's practically pregnant already! A quick rundown of John's financial resume and Marian is off!
The letter Ann received was anonymous and poisonous in nature; Anne is quietly dismayed but reassured by Ann's faith in her.
*Is it creepy to include this many kissing gifs? It's just so lovely
Anne takes her leave, but not before asking Ann's footman James (Saul Marron) about the accident we opened with. There was a gig (?) coming through that tossed two other carriages aside, one carrying Ann, the other filled with Hardcastles, the youngest of which lost a leg in the accident. Ooh and James did indeed see who was driving the jerk gig, it was Christopher Rawson (Vincent Frankin).
Just last week we met Christopher, he assured Anne that as town magistrate he was carefully pursuing any leads as to who had caused such a tragic accident.
Oh hai Christopher, what are you doing at the law office ready to sign papers for Anne's coal? But it seems the papers aren't to their liking yet, Christopher questions whether Anne really means to make this deal? Or is she a bunch of *insert gendered insult here*?
Anne burns the anonymous letter; it's the same thing that Catherine Rawson said about her, that she can't be trusted in the company of other women. Hm. I'd say women are in excellent hands in her company, personally.
Sam Sowden wakes up tied to a chair with a sore head; when he gets free they are in so much troubbbbble. Seriously, though, he's a brute.
Anne is all nerves at her dinner with Ann.
She's popping the question! This is a very marital episode. What's the 1800s version of The Knot? Because for sure it would counsel against leading with: "if you're sure you never ever want to get married or have any hope of any children ever."
Because however intriguing Anne is, those are two big stumbling blocks that Ann isn't quite prepared to leap over just yet. Anne is devastated, until she realises that Ann is treating this suggestion quite seriously, like the proposal it is. She asks for six months to make sure, that's much more reasonable than agreeing to marry someone you haven't even spoken with.
Anne is radiant in relief.
Until April 3, Anne's birthday!
Groom and prospective groom John Booth has been sent to fetch Anne from the Priestly residence where she's supposedly dining; except we know she's busy elsewhere. William Priestly (Peter Davison) and Eliza (Amelia Bullmore) are confused, but I'm too busy laughing at Eliza's popping her head around the edge of the door, looking like an exceedingly frilly bird. Now everyone is going to know that Anne's been at Ann's! And a LOT.
We've progressed to heavy petting at the Walker residence; which is too much for Ann. She's good with the kisses, but Anne's hands under four layers of petticoat is too much, even though that still means over six other layers of clothing. She asks for a slowdown; has Anne ever done this before?
*Dya think this was filmed before or after Fleabag???
John rings then, time for off to home! Anne is flabbergasted by the news of his upcoming marriage to Eugenie; she doesn't know if she can give her blessing.
*She's not wrong about love needing language and it being a legal agreement, but what's this shite about "giving her blessing"?
We're back to the Sowden farm and the increasingly angry patriarch; I don't care at all about this storyline but assume it will mean something eventually so it's recorded. THERE.
Anne's wormed the name of her sister's suitor out of their poor Aunt Anne, she'll soon set this right! Can't have Marian enjoying the attentions of someone who is in "trade" - said as though someone has an affliction of boils somewhere uncomfortable. Father Jeremy will be delivering the news.
**Honestly, she's an awful meddler when it comes to marriage and a raging classist, which is appropriate to the time she lived. We just expect women to be more reasoned in their approaches, don't we? But now we know her better.
Young Tom Sowden is back at work without his dad (still tied up in the pig pen), Anne thanks him for coming back and asks him to remind his dad to come see her about the tenancy agreement. Tom appeals to her mercy, but Anne kindly replies that his dad must absolutely respect her authority or their agreement will not work.
Ann's off to Whitecliff to see Ann, whom she finds crying on the floor. After the previous evening, she didn't think Anne would come back and she's devastated.
She's feeling unsure of herself; Anne is so clever and self-assured. She thought Anne wouldn't come back because Ann couldn't/didn't give her what she wanted.
*I totally cried. Cuppa break!
Anne is not in this for a quick fumble under 10 petticoats; she wants a relationship and she's willing to wait as long as that takes. Or until April 3, whichever comes first.
Anne gently kisses Ann all over her face, tender and lovingly.
Tom runs home to gather his dad, we're all worried that he won't make it out of there alive. Tom holds a knife to remove his restraints, ahhhh don't get stabbed, Tom!!!
Sam takes a run at him, but he's still attached to the chair so he ends up face down in pigshit and now I'm worried that Tom is going to stab his dad.
Tom slits his dad's throat instead.
Quick note on that scene: the scoring was allllllll Happy Valley, another excellent Sally Wainwright show.
Eliza Priestly's been wondering if perhaps Ann Walker's been sick, what with all those visits from Anne and all (her husband knows better); she pops over to not have the door answered and Ann's drawing room drapes closed in the middle of the day. Whatever could that mean?
It means Ann's about to go all the way for the very first time, an extremely hot scene involving any manner of hunching and "I love you"s as Eliza gains entrance to the house and walks into the bedroom without knocking.
Anne and Ann spring apart, no, don't adjust your clothing, ladies, too obvious! Eliza is fury herself; she has defended Anne for years! "Oh, is that what you call it?" She warns them that they are playing with fire, be aware of that! She stalks out, Anne is resolute, Ann flustered.
*Perhaps there's nothing to be defended against, how about that? HOW ABOUT THAT. How about if you base your friendship an admiration on something that actually has some relevance in your life, huh? I had high hopes for our Eliza, but she's a crappy friend and a worse ally.
Instead of the devastation expected by Anne, Ann catches a case of the giggles; shall they go upstairs? YES! More kissing up against a door; I shall dub that The Wainwright, then they're on the bed and there's no stopping this time, petticoats be damned.
Pigs take care of the rest of Sam Sowden as Anne and Ann stare into each other's eyes in sated glory. Okay, one sated anyway. We're out!
We can't complain about lack of kissing this time, can we? I do wonder about the much more experienced Anne seducing our innocent Miss Walker, but it's not as though she invented age-gap romance, she just made it a whole lot sexier.
I can't guess what the point of the Sowden storyline is, perhaps it's more of a It Actually Happened, TTM, These Are Diaries, Duh instead of a plot device to lead us to Something Meaningful.
Really enjoying this excellent show; Anne Lister could have turned into a caricature in the wrong hands but Sally Wainwright and Suranne Jones have gently wrought all of Anne's conflicting personality traits. Her tender yet obstinate nature, her care for everyone BUT her sister, her controlling and dynamic forceful personality that won't be buried. Until next time! Cheers