Ainsworth has arrived. He’s staying with the Priestleys. As in, Eliza, that meddling, gossipy relative of Ann Walker’s, and her husband. Those Priestleys.
Ainsworth wastes no time sending a note and a gift to Ann, who understandably kind of freaks out. But Anne talks her down and reassures her that she very much has her girlfriend’s back.
And then, things get a bit creepy. Anne dictates Ann’s reply to Ainsworth’s note. Part of the reply puts him on notice that all of Ann’s correspondence, coming and going, will henceforth be going through her dear friend, Anne. That’s…pretty controlling, Anne. It’s so odd that Ainsworth’s face registers about 110 on the WTF-o-Meter. He tries going to Ann’s house in person, only to be turned away by the servants. He seems baffled by this.
Later, Anne confronts him at the Priestleys’ and makes it clear that: 1. She knows what he did; 2. She will expose him if he doesn’t GTFO as soon as his business in the neighbourhood is done. He insists that the affair with Ann was totally consensual, and that, in fact, she wanted it more than he did. And honestly, the way this is being played by the actor makes it hard to tell if he’s being sincere. I mean, I don’t think Ann invented a rape story to cover up an affair. She’s just not duplicitous enough; it would violate everything we know about her character. I don’t anticipate a Keyser Soze moment at the end of the season. But Ainesworth seems so confused by her coldness to him, it makes you wonder if this man’s just a complete monster or if he read and experienced the situation with Ann very differently. I guess it doesn’t matter: Ann wants nothing at all to do with him, and that’s the end of it. Maybe. Oh, probably not.
Speaking of things coming back to haunt one: Mrs Sowden happens upon her husband’s belt buckle in the pigsty and knows immediately what happened. She confronts Thomas, who comes clean, so now the two of them get to cover up this murder. Which she seems willing to do, for very obvious reasons.
Back in rich people land, Marian has her suitor for tea and he is the. WORST. Like, so bad you can’t believe someone like this could ever exist. I’m actually sorry Anne wasn’t there to just run circles around this guy. Instead, it’s just Marian’s dad and aunt barely concealing their horror.
Speaking of visitors: a young friend has been dispatched to help Ann deal with her grief in the wake of Mrs Ainsworth’s death. At first, things are fine and she gets along just swimmingly with Anne. But Eliza, of course, can’t leave well enough alone and heads to Ann’s place to tell this friend exactly what the deal is with Anne Lister.
The friend freaks out and puts the literal fear of God in Ann, who’s already pretty fragile. The result is Ann putting the brakes on their relationship, just when Anne thought they were really getting somewhere (she essentially proposed marriage to Ann, earlier in the episode). There’s quite the fight, and a breakup and Anne angrily turns down Ann’s offer to loan her the money to sink a coal pit.
As if her day couldn’t get any worse, on her way home Anne’s attacked by some thug sent by Christopher Rawson to show her how ‘the big dogs’ play. Does he seriously send thugs to attempt to rape all of his business rivals? Anne manages to fight him off, and gives almost as good as she gets, but she’s pretty battered, both in body and spirit.