Good morning, how is your week? Better with Gentleman Jack on our screens, I'd wager a thruppence! I am thoroughly enjoying this take on our first modern lesbian Anne Lister; if you need any backstory I can totally hook you up. My girl @Ceridwyn2 on Twitter and awesomesauce AnnaBanana @fancashire have been schooling me on Anne Lister history, you should totally follow them! Ceridwyn2 has the BEST Tumblr! Okay, to the show!
We open with a groggy Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle from Happy Valley and Bodyguard!) being tended to by a solicitous Anne Lister (Suranne Jones). Well, "tended".
Ann agrees to go downstairs (at 10:22 am no less), just a quick, useless but picturesque cleaning of one side of her neck first.
*I'm obsessed with watching Anne's reflection in Ann's mirror. Also with Ann's buttery drawing room walls.
Oh and can Anne borrow some money to sink some coal pits? Sure, take most of Ann's yearly allowance, she's only going to buy more pink gingham!
*I love her pink gingham dresses; that is not a euphemism.
We ended last episode with the sharing of a secret; Ann had previously been interfered with by Thomas Ainsworth (Brendan Patricks - hey, is he the friend of the dishy guy who died in Lady Mary's bed on Downton Abbey???), who was a husband of a friend of hers. Said friend just died and is being buried right after the grieving widower coerces Ann into marrying him. There are so many things wrong with all of that, but I have no fear that our Anne Lister will set this arsehole straight. Lookit these eyes!
Thomas Ainsworth visits the Priestlys, Eliza (Amelia Bullmore) and William (Peter Davison) giving all kind of ridiculous reasons for his unseemly haste in speeding down to see Ann literally before his first wife is underground. WOULD MRS. AINSWORTH HAVE WANTED IT, THOMAS? Would she?? Eliza is only too happy to encourage Thomas to stay.
Ann makes her way downstairs to find a letter from Thomas, she sends one back to explain that she's too unwell to receive any visitors (Anne's not really a visitor any more, more like a "Companion" (that's also how they spelled "Lesbian" back in the day)). He cries. Literally cries at the table, the manipulative bastage.
He carefully brings up his dead wife's desire for Ann to "take care of Thomas", perhaps it would be honoring Mrs. Ainsworth to pursue a relationship WHILE HIS WIFE'S BODY IS STILL WARM.
Eliza encourages him, that's just not on. William and I watch in dismay.
It's a cozy day over at Ann's house, Anne holding forth for Ann and Harriet Parkhill (Elle McAlpine - totally guessing if that's who she is, although you'd think the eyebrows would be a dead giveaway) about science and religion and the juxtaposition therein. I love watching Anne talk about science or her curiosity, she glows and her animation is enthralling Miss Parkhill and me both.
A door ring stops them all.
It's Thomas, of course, he's stopped by with a scrapbook and A BIOGRAPHICAL ACCOUNT OF HIMSELF; pushing in the door to ask if Ann will see him. Ann is upset, she sent him that letter *that morning* saying he should bugger off. Anne laughs a little watching Ann be so direct.
He's dispatched, confused and here I have to wonder.
Did he think Ann wanted to mess around with him in corners when she clearly wanted to get away? Is he thinking this is a continuation of some type of affair they had?
Harriet Parkhill can fark right off with her excitement over a possible proposal from the Reverend Thomas Ainsworth. Anne and Ann head upstairs to regroup.
It's a lovely shot but I feel just a tiny bit sad that it's always Anne tending to her lover and not the other way around. I mean, Anne looks very happy.
Ann asks Anne to spend the night, can she also dispose of some things that Thomas gave her? It's some love notes about "resting on" Ann, yerk. Anne calls Thomas a wretch and we're off to bed!
Anne asked Ann earlier on to be her Companion (see note above), it would be "as good as a marriage." Ann wasn't sure how to answer with this whole Thomas Ainsworth sludge hanging over her (not your fault!) now Anne's wondering? BUT. Anne wants to marry her lovely lady! Only 300 years before it became legal in most places. But, like, not one where a cake is ordered from a progressive bakery, rather it will be treated as a "private matter" and "private understanding" but yeah: totally a wedding with oaths and sacrament and the works.
Ah and they kiss after, I felt that in my toes.
Ann sends everything back to Thomas' dismay with a note that all correspondence will be now directed through Anne Lister at Shibden Hall. Hahahaha - also, all the previous letters are with Anne.
Oh hai, Anne, you've come 'round to meet Thomas!
Eliza gives Thomas the heads-up about the importance of Anne's family, then Hurricane Anne blows in and Thomas is terrified. Anne isn't there to just direct angry glances at Thomas, though, she asks Eliza to give schoolspace to young Henry Hardcastle who lost a leg in a carriage accident caused (most likely) by magistrate and coal baron Christopher Rawson (Vincent Franklin). She can't prove it, but she's telling everyone anyway, so! One more staredown!
*I did wonder if she was implying that Thomas killed his wife?
Thomas chases after Anne, who's having zero of his shenanigans today. She's bracingly direct with Thomas, suggesting he does not accept any church post offered. Oh and about the letter, he can explain that! See, he had a toothache and his wife had just died and there was some Opium.
Is this like when you take Ambien and tweet racist things? Similar? Same ballpark?
Anne lays out what will happen now with Ann; he will not contact her further or Anne will expose him as an adulterer and a fornicator.
*The weight Anne gives each of those words bestows them a gravity unmatched by anything else we've seen. It's breathtaking.
Thomas presses his luck; Anne and I are certain that Ann did not "wanted it more than I did." Anne's eyes go extraordinarily blacker.
She physically threatens him and sends him on his way with a "you're going to hell and WE'RE NOT" (paraphrased), my god Suranne Jones needs all the awards for this role.
She does an old school Walk/Talk with Samuel Washington (Joe Armstrong), time to sink some coal pits! Then home to Shibden Hall to break her sister Marian's (Gemma Whelan - hard to believe how much better I like her here than in Game of Thrones. Must less incesty) heart with her disinterest in her love life. Marian's had tea with John Abbot TWICE and now he's coming to Shibden Hall!
*He's in rugs *snobby shudder*
Anne unlocks her secret trunk and orders her wedding ring, awww.
Unlucky news at the Sowden farm, the son Thomas (Tom Lewis) murdered his abusive dad Sam (Anthony Flanagan) and fed him to pigs but it looks as though the belt buckle survived. It's found by matriarch Mary (Lucy Black), it's not likely she believes he's run off to America any longer.
Over at Ann's house, Harriet tries to talk her into considering Mr. Ainsworth's proposal while I walk around in circles pointing emphatically and spouting gibberish at the top of my lungs. Anne protests that she's in love with someone else and oh yay, Mrs. Priestly's come for a visit to suggest the same, even going as far as to explain that Anne Lister is "unnatural."
*There is a special place in the afterlife for people that insert themselves in the concerns of others when they have no skin in the game. Right next to those that support their friends until they judge them for things that have nothing to do with them. There's no seat cushion either, bastages.
Mary confronts her son Tom with the Belt Buckle of Doom, just as they get to the nitty gritty, William Hardcastle (Joel Morris) breaks the mood with a request for labour. Ohhh and Mary confirms Sam's story about his dad, yay!
Thomas whines to the Priestlys; Ann doesn't wuv him so he's gonna take his bat and ball and go home, no church position for him! Across town, Harriet worries for Ann's mortal soul and I start to feel stabby again.
*Do NOT get me started on religion. That counts as fair warning!
At Shibden Hall, Anne receives a most unwelcome letter from Ann, who does not want to marry her just yet as her conscience is worrying her. Anne is undaunted, sending back a happy missive and heading out first thing to dine with Ann and Harrier Parkhill who looks as though she swallowed a whole frog backwards.
Ann is pale and upset (although lovely in pink gingham), she thinks she should take Mr. Ainsworth. She doesn't want to see Anne any more. Harriet repeated verbatim what Eliza Priestly told her, including the hanging of two men for unnatural acts.
Anne's like me: I'll need to see sources, please! Fanks
Anne wants to know what's been said; did Ann tell Harriet?
Ohhh that's not a good thing. That sets Anne and I back on our ears. Rather die?
Anne is angry (busybodies are the fucking worst), she counsels Ann to stay the course and continue their completely blameless friendship. They are respectable women!
Anne's got some facts for her timid ladyfriend; what men do together is illegal. What they do is (currently) not a criminal offense, so.
But. What if while you're a lady you do some stuff that fellas d okay, never mind. That's great news, though!
AND, if what they do would be criminal, then Anne would put her own neck in a noose.
Ah that was glorious! Suranne Jones wrings every little bit of complexity possible out of our complicated Anne Lister, who wants loveisloveisloveislove as we all do. That monologue was directly from her encoded diary.
Anne is pleading now, doesn't Ann feel the same way? A small shake of Ann's head and a frown has me worrying again. Anne begs Ann to not let everyone else drive them apart, but Ann is on a different path altogether.
She asks if she could marry Thomas for appearance and have Anne as a side piece, which is a hard sell to anyone, especially one who's asked you to marry them. Anne is gloriously afire in defending their relationship, rallying and reupping her proposal, suggesting they go visit with Harriet then leaving to attend to some business.
By that I mean she ogles some petticoated ladybottoms as she orders her wedding bible.
The news of Anne sinking her coal pits via Ann's money has reached the ears of the Rawsons, Jeremiah (Shaun Dooley) wants to pay Anne for the coal they've been stealing but Christopher has sabotage on his mind.
Anne triumphantly hands over the fancy prayer book she got for Ann, what's this irritation when Ann asks after the bible and stuff given to her by Thomas Ainsworth?
Anne's hiding out at Crow's Nest trying to charm Harriet, as John Abbot's at Shibden Hall. We know what Anne thinks of her ancestral 400-year-old home, turns out Mr. Abbot wants to tear it down. So that's it for him, I'm afraid. He gets in some shots at Aunt Anne Lister (Gemma Jones)'s health before Anne's dad Jeremy (Timothy West) tries to salvage the conversation. John is very much trade.
Anne desperately tries to get Ann and Harriet to engage in any kind of activity.
That made me laugh for no good reason. Perhaps they could do something else!
Anne's taken all of Harriet's rudeness that she can, she suggests if Harriet thinks two is company, she herself should leave.
An unexpected battle follows, Ann's already made up her mind to restore herself to respectability by taking Mr. Ainsworth and what they do is "repugnant."
Thank god Anne stands up for herself, for every time Ann attacks their lovemaking and love itself as immoral and shameful, she's directly dismissing Anne and her desire for a settled life with the one she loves.
It's about time Anne pointed out that her feelings matter too; I think it's a testament to the depth of Anne's affection for her partner that she's ignored how one directional their relationship is.
Ann really has made up her mind, she's even come up with a silver lining for Anne: she will still lend her the money so she can sink her pits. Anne draws back in horrified fascination; she would never take that, or (another) lover married to someone else! Who does she think Anne is?? Well, of course, she doesn't know, she's only thought of herself so far, how she feels when the full force of Anne's personality bathes her in warmth.
*The grief and horror perfectly wrought by Suranne Jones is heartwreching.
Anne strides home, telling us all the reasons she doesn't want Ann to be her wife (she's definitely too insipid, poorly and nervy for me - okay not really, but she's certainly not the most stalwart stump in the bunch) anyway, so there! A man steps out of an alcove, asking if she's going home? Then hits her with a stick.
He beats her up (I absolutely thought of Hannah Gadsby then, which froze my brain) then warns her to leave Miss Walker alone and leaves. She did get in some licks, it must be said, but chose to throw away his stick when she gained it, so what the sam hill is going on there? Ah we're out to a bloody-nosed Anne glaring at our screen.
Well. That was rather a lot.
I am shocked at how much loathing Ann is openly displaying towards their canoodling; is that projection after having being checked, hard, by her "friends"? Anne and I had no idea she felt like that, how can she? They look so happy together. It's most likely the sheer terror that comes with being expelled from polite society, or the threat thereof.
On a completely unimportant note I think it's really interesting that Anne is so religiously inclined. Typically your scientific types are atheist, at least for the most part, the fact that she sees science as a way to celebrate the creator is intriguing. Until next time! Cheers