Ok, if I’m being honest here, it felt like there was kind of a lot of filler here. There’s always at least one episode like this: the one that feels reeeeeaaaally stretched out. Yeah, a couple of things of note happen, but for the most part, it’s an hour of, well, filler.
But, like I said, a few things did happen.
With Ann Walker now off to Scotland, Anne’s pushing ahead with her plans to travel, mostly as a distraction. She hires the groom recommended by her friend Mariana. His name is Thomas, because all the names on this show apparently need to repeat. First Thomas Sowden, now this guy.
Speaking of Thomas Sowden, he presents himself to Mr Washington and asks for his daughter’s hand. Washington points out that the pair are very young (18 and 16! Yikes!) but Thomas S says that’s no problem, and anyway, Anne prefers her tenants to be married because then they’ll be more settled. How’d that work for your father, lad?
Washington is clearly caught off balance by this, but he’s ok with it. His wife, on the other hand, thinks the Sowdens are beneath them and is not on board. So, Anne asks her aunt and sister to swing by the Washington place and sing young Thomas’s praises, in the hopes of bringing the woman around. It works, and the happy young couple get the parents’ blessing. Happy day!
Back with Anne: Marian comes rushing home from town very upset, because when she went to the Rawson bank Christopher Rawson went full asshole on her and not only told her all about how Mr Abbott is set to marry some richer girl, but also that he (Rawson) holds the deeds to Shibden. He finishes by joking that he’d marry Marian himself, but only to score the Shibden coal. He does this, by the way, right in front of everyone, completely humiliating Marian and scaring the hell out of her.
Anne reassures her sister that the Rawsons do not, in fact, have the deeds She shows her the actual deed, just to prove it. But that makes the whole scene kind of bizarre. Anne figures Rawson’s trying to find out how much they’re worth, but he’s chosen a rather cruel way to do it. Marian’s a mess, and Anne gives some lip service to her sister’s feelings without actually seeming to care much at all. It’s one of Anne’s failings that she’s so uncaring and dismissive of Marian, whom we’ve seen to be a very level-headed (most of the time) and capable woman who’s had to live her whole life in the shadow of the favourite child. Anne cares more about the happiness of one of her tenants than the feelings of her own flesh and blood.
Anyway, Anne brings Christopher to Shibden and plies him with alcohol to try and get him to admit that he’s stealing her coal. Though he seems to get drunk remarkably quickly, he continues to deny that he’s stealing from her.
Anne takes some council from Washington and her other adviser and decides to go ahead and sink her own pit after all. And she puts Shibden up as collateral for the loan necessary to do it. Without telling anyone. Marian is going to hit. the. roof when she hears about this.
Anne hits the road and swings by York, so she can meet with the doctor who saw Ann Walker a few episodes ago. He tells her that Ann’s nervous condition requires support and tenderness in order to improve, two things she’s very unlikely to find up in Scotland.
And then this scene gets a bit interesting, because Anne and the doctor begin to talk quite frankly about Anne’s relationship with Mariana. It’s clear Mariana’s brother not only knows the true nature of said relationship, but he’s obviously completely cool with it.
Now, that’s interesting because, when you consider that, and consider Anne’s family’s support for her relationships and the very laid-back attitude they have towards it, as well as what seems to be a fairly strong network of well-connected friends, Anne’s speech last week about feeling alone and ostracised starts to feel a bit odd. I’m not saying she wasn’t sincere, but we’ve seen very little evidence of this. There have been a couple of comments and rumours, and there was Eliza’s freakout, but even that seemed to kind of blow over quickly and had no social repercussions for Anne (in fact, Anne visited Eliza and her husband a few times after that and there was very little awkwardness). I’m not saying we need to see Anne getting spat on in the street, but it seems somewhat unlikely that absolutely everyone would be this chill with these relationships.
Anyway, back to the story: Anne’s next stop is Mariana’s place. Mariana and her husband have just had news of the tragic death of Charles’s nephew and heir. So many tragic deaths and maimings of young people, right? Charles leaves to go attend the funeral, and Mariana leaves to go to London with Anne.
And this is the pretty filler-y part of the episode, because what follows is scene after scene of Anne and Mariana bickering about their relationship and it gets really tiresome really quickly. Mariana’s kind of pissed off that Anne’s planning to marry Ann, because apparently the two of them had some sort of deal worked out where they’d get together after Charles died. At least, that’s what Mariana thought, but Anne (understandably) wasn’t interested in just sitting around and waiting for her on-off girlfriend’s husband to die.
In London, Anne receives a dinner invitation that really excites her. She puts on a low-cut dress (!!) and has Eugenie do her hair all stylish and heads out. She also gets a chance to visit Vere, who’s just had a baby girl (named Anne–hee!) The two of them have a really nice, uncomplicated visit, so it seems that whole thing is now water under the bridge.
Up in Scotland, things are going poorly for Ann. She’s mournfully sketching Anne and staring out of the windows. Her in-laws have not, in fact, tried to get her any medical help whatsoever. Instead, they’re trying to foist her onto some relative who needs her money. Her sister promises to protect her, but doesn’t seem to be doing such a hot job of it.
Ann, despairing and clearly spiralling downward, accidentally breaks a glass, and then uses the broken shards to cut her wrist. Yikes, honey!
Down in London, Anne seems to sense that something’s… off. She starts to tell Thomas and Eugenie (who don’t get on, because he refuses to flirt with her) to prepare for a trip to Scotland, but she stops herself and instead tells them they’re leaving for Paris. Right. Now.
And so we’re left wondering if Anne will step in to pull Ann out of her spiral, or what.