Previously on Dr Thorne: Mary and Frank totally loved each other, but because of her illegitimacy Mary decided she wasn’t worthy of him. He disagreed, proposed, and was accepted.
Louis sends Thorne word that he’s coming back to the neighbourhood because he wants to cast an eye over Greshamsbury. When she hears of it, Mary confirms that he can’t do anything without her uncle’s say-so. Louis can’t, yet, but once he turns 30 in a few weeks he can do what he wants. Wait, Louis is nearly 30? That would mean he would have been 10 when his father was sent to prison. He not only doesn’t remember that his father was absent from his life from the age of 10 to 20, but he doesn’t remember why his father was locked up (after an incident that certainly would have been notorious in a small village like this one)? Come on, we can ignore some things, but this is a bit much.
Mary and Thorne worry about what Louis will do once he’s of age, but they’re fairly powerless. All they can do is have Thorne try and talk the boy out of anything rash, and in the meantime, warn Gresham.
He goes up to the house to do just that, but before he gets started he throws some shade on the family for their treatment of Mary. He then warns Gresham that Louis is on his way back, probably to kick the Greshams out of their home, unless they can find a way to appeal to his better nature. Gresham reluctantly agrees to invite Louis to dinner one night, with Thorne accompanying.
The following week, Frank unexpectedly turns up, surprising Mary. He’s only in town to make a showing at the dinner for Louis and wishes Mary could be there, but the two of them agree that would only pull focus. He asks if she’s started to make wedding plans yet and she says they’re all secret, but they’ll come to fruition after he’s taken his exams.
Arabella’s fully playing the martyr, whining about all the sacrifices she’s had to make. Mortimer, the lawyer, advises she play nice with Louis.
They’re joined on the terrace by Gresham and Frank, just as the dressing gong rings. Augusta makes eyes at Mortimer for a bit before going in to dress.
Louis is taking forever to get ready and is running so far behind Thorne goes up to fetch him (Louis is staying at the Thorne home despite the fact his own home is in the same neighbourhood, unless I’ve totally misunderstood that). He comes stumbling down, drunk as ever, in case we didn’t get the message that he’s a terrible alcoholic. Thorne hands over a letter from Arabella, inviting him to the dinner he’s already accepted the invitation to. What? Louis drains his glass and asks where Mary is. Thorne reluctantly directs him to the drawing room.
Louis goes in to see her and she can’t help but look a little alarmed. She asks where her uncle is and hears he’s gone upstairs to change for the dinner. He left her alone with Louis? Stupid. Louis tells Mary he’s thought about her a lot and is in love with her and asks if she’d reconsider her refusal. She starts to tell him that things have changed since then, and not to his benefit, but thankfully Thorne comes in, having changed in record time, to take Louis away. Mary urges Louis not to do anything stupid with the Greshams. Louis makes no promises.
Louis, flask in hand (Jesus, we GET IT!) gets out of the carriage at Greshamsbury and staggers into the drawing room, trailed by Thorne. Arabella’s horrified by him, but Gresham politely greets Louis and profusely thanks Thorne for bringing this about. Thorne sidles up to Arabella and introduces Louis, who just manages not to faceplant when he bows to her. He mocks the family’s lack of funds, which has kept them away from the London Season, then makes his way over to the Oriels. Patience awkwardly asks him if he hunts and he’s like, ‘Oh, I hunt the birds, if you know what I mean!’ and she gives her brother a desperate ‘Keep it away!’ look.
Louis moves on to offending Augusta and Beatrice and straight-up accuses Augusta of planning to pursue him. Wow, this is some really efficient insulting he’s doing here. He only arrived about a minute ago and I’m pretty sure even the footmen hate him now.
Louis, of course, continues to be an embarrassment over dinner. Lady Arabella struggles not to smash a plate over his head. After the meal, when it’s just the men around the table, Louis drapes himself over Oriel and tells him about how much money Gresham owes him. Oriel, mortified, excuses himself. He’s so horrible Thorne finally snaps at him to hold his tongue, which just upsets Louis. Gresham suggests they go join the ladies, but Thorne says that Louis certainly can’t join the ladies in this state, he’s going home. He apologises profusely for Louis but Gresham’s really nice about it, because he’s nice about everything.
The Greshams gossip a little bit, so we can get some exposition: Lady de C is coming for a visit, and Louis has gone to Boxall Hill before returning to London.
Beatrice and Augusta are dispatched to fetch Lady de C and Alexandrina. Sounds like Lady de C has some plans for Frank.
Lady Scatcherd goes to Throne and wails that her son’s got it into his head to hate the Greshams and to sue them for the money they owe the day after his birthday.
Thorne reports to Gresham, telling him that he thinks Frank’s love of Mary is prompting at least some of this. Both Thorne and Gresham take some blame for this: Thorne for allowing her to stay at Boxall after Roger died, and Gresham for making things so uncomfortable for Mary in the village that staying at Boxall for a while seemed appealing. Frank comes wandering in and gets the short version of all this. He decides the best thing to do is to call on Louis and try to reason with him. Good luck with that, Frank. Thorne doesn’t share his optimism in the matter but agrees to go along.
The daughters of the house and the Oriels talk about the relationship between Frank and Mary and wonder if there’s any way to bring Arabella around. Augusta suggests Mortimer might have a word with her, since she seems to listen to him.
Lady de C and Arabella have decided to double-team poor Mary. They all sit down and ask if she’s engaged to Frank. Mary confirms it. They start guilting her, telling her that the marriage would be degrading and would force Frank to throw away his future. Has this not already been addressed by Mary? Has she not already considered it? I guess—strangely—not, because it starts to look like they’re getting through to her.
Frank arrives at Boxall with Thorne and tells Louis he can’t bear to be the cause of his family’s ruin. Louis slurs that his father’s debts are to blame for this. Frank says he knows very well this has to do with Mary and doesn’t see why this should cause them to be enemies. Lady S tries to mediate between her two boys, but Louis has moved right into ‘angry drunk’ territory and starts yelling at everyone for looking down on him. Frank quietly says that he and Mary have known each other for years and have history on their side. Louis rails against Frank’s pity and then calls for his horse. His mother tries to stop him from going out, because he’s in no fit state to walk, let alone ride, but he roughly shoves her to the ground and stomps out.
He gallops away and, predictably, falls off.
Augusta excitedly tells Alexandrina that Mortimer’s proposed. Oh, heavens, Augusta, don’t tell her that, she’ll probably try to put the moves on him like she did with Moffatt. Alexandrina can barely even pretend to look pleased. Augusta goes on to excuse his lowly status as a solicitor by saying he plans to go into Parliament. The idea of being a political wife excites her, so of course Alexandrina has to crap all over it and tell Augusta that Lord de Courcy will never be able to receive him as an equal. Poor Augusta starts to look uncertain. I guess we’re supposed to dislike her for being so easily persuaded, but if you look at things from the point of view of an upper class Victorian girl, it all makes sense. Marrying Mortimer would have been a serious step down for her–stepping down an entire class level, really, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that some of her relatives would shun him. Alexandrina is basically telling Augusta that she’d be cut off from her own family if this marriage goes through. I think that would give most people reason to pause.
Thorne tells Frank that there’s no hope for Louis. Frank’s sorry to hear it, because he’s a nice guy, like his dad. Thorne goes to tend to Louis, who’s an absolute mess, what with having a punctured lung and all. Louis begs Thorne to tell Mary he didn’t mean to be offensive to her. That’s a little sad. Louis dies, in the bed so recently vacated by his father.
Thorne takes Louis’s grieving mother to his home, where she can be tended by Mary. Well, I guess she’s supposed to be grieving. She sounds creepily cheery, to be honest. Thorne settles her by the fire and breaks the news that Mary is now the heir to Roger’s fortune. She actually weeps with joy, even though this all came about because of her son’s tragic death. For heaven’s sake, lady!
Mary comes down and tells Lady S her room is ready. She goes to bed and Mary tells her uncle they have to do what they can for her ladyship. She then tells him about Lady de C and Arabella’s visit and says she’s been persuaded to give Frank up. She’s even told him already. Wait, why were we denied that scene? Oh, right, Julian Fellowes wrote this and he does that ALL THE DAMN TIME. Oh, a potentially interesting and highly emotional scene that finally ties down an endlessly wavering plotline? Nah, who needs to see that? Let’s have another scene of a woman being a bitch to another woman for absolutely no reason whatsoever!
Frank apparently refused to accept Mary’s refusal, but she’s sure that’ll pass and he’ll go on to marry someone else. Thorne doubts that and, instead of telling Mary what’s happened to change her life in such a massive way, he just urges her to go to bed, presumably to cry herself to sleep. This seems bizarrely cruel.
Thorne goes to Greshamsbury and Gresham wonders what’ll become of them now Louis’s dead. Thorne tells him about the ladies’ visit to Mary and asks Gresham if he’d be ok with the marriage going forward if the money wasn’t an issue. Gresham says he would. Thorne tells him about Mary’s inheritance—before he’s even told Mary, mind, which doesn’t seem right at all—and Gresham smiles joyfully, then urges Thorne to go tell Arabella. Heh.
He’s only too happy to do so and rushes into the adjoining room, where Arabella’s relaxing with Lady de C. He starts by telling the ladies that Mary has given Frank up. They happily thank him for the news. Thorne spectacularly milks it, saying he’s sad that they won’t marry, because he would have liked Greshamsbury to be saved.
We cut to the front hall of the house, where Arabella’s shrieks echo while her husband laughs uproariously. Thorne comes out of the room with a wicked smile
Thorne FINALLY tells Mary about her inheritance. About time! She can’t quite believe it and laughs delightedly. Thorne does too, which is kind of adorable.
Arabella, of course, wastes no time coming to suck up, accompanied by Frank and Gresham. Mary, of course, forgives all but can’t resist playing Arabella a little bit, telling her that she and Frank broke it off, at her insistence. Frank joins in on the teasing, and Arabella blusters around for a little while until her husband steers her out so Frank and Mary can have some time alone together. Of course, they get back together.
Big! Fancy! Wedding! Arabella can’t gush enough over the bride, and neither can the de Courcys. And they’re patting themselves on the back because Alexandrina’s gotten herself engaged…to Mortimer. What? The music makes it seem like we should find this entertaining, but mostly I just feel extremely sorry for Augusta, who’s definitely going to be a spinster for life now, and that will just suck for her. What a horrible bitch Alexandrina is. I kind of want there to be some sequel to this were she gets a comeuppance. Also, how did she bring that about so quickly? I mean, she’s not exactly a stunner, I’m afraid.
Oh, hey, Martha’s at the wedding! How nice to see her again. Thorne goes to stand with her and says he hopes she’s not sorry to have missed her chance with Frank. She reassures him she’s not at all. They get a little flirty, which is a teensy bit creepy when you consider Thorne’s old enough to be her father. But, hey, it was the Victorian period and that sort of thing wasn’t wholly unusual. They watch couples take to the dance floor and she comments that there are a number of happy endings here. Yeah, except for Augusta! Am I supposed to hate her or something? Because I don’t. Sure, she was going to marry Moffatt for mercenary reasons, but that was very common then, and it’s the message her own family would have drilled into her from the get-go, so it’s hardly surprising. I’m just…ugh.
Thorne and Martha dance. That helps a little. The end.
Well, that was pretty terrible. Sorry to be harsh, but it was. There was a lot of sloppiness in the writing, which I found irritating, most of the characters weren’t terribly interesting, the costumes were just ok and the awful fake flowers that were all over everything annoyed the hell out of me, for some reason. Maybe it’s just that this entire thing annoyed the hell out of me.
Ok, maybe not everything. I rather liked Tom Hollander as Dr Thorne, he was sweet and understated and mostly just seemed like he was tired of dealing with all these spoiled people and their pettiness, but he kept doing it because he had to. And I guess our two lovers were sweet, though not particularly memorable. And Alison Brie was delightful, I wish we’d gotten more of her. Otherwise, though? Eh. If I want a Trollope adaptation, I’ll go watch The Pallisers or The Way We Live Now. There’s probably a reason why this story is not one many people know of.