Oliver Twist Recap: Part II

Previously on Oliver Twist: Oliver wanted more, and when he didn’t get it, he hit the road to London, where he hooked up with a gang of child thieves, made friends with a prostitute, and wound up living with some nice rich people before being kidnapped by said prostitute’s crazy boyfriend so he could help boyfriend rob houses. And then he got shot.

Bill runs through some misty field or park, carrying wounded Oliver over his shoulder as they’re pursued by authorities. Bill wades into a pond and manages to evade their potential captors, telling Oliver to be quiet or he’ll kill him. Such a charmer, our Bill.

Fagin waits at the Hall of Lost Boys until Dodger asks him why he’s sitting up and worrying. Dodge wonders why Fagin cares so much about Oliver (which is a bit of a mystery, honestly) and Fagin insists he doesn’t, he just wants some peace and quiet.

Nice Lady at the workhouse is dying and asking to speak to someone, but the young woman who adjusts her bedclothes doesn’t seem to care. Bumble, meanwhile, goes to try and get a booty call with Nasty Lady in Charge, whom he plies with a bit of sherry, not that she needs any encouragement. She’s practically whipping the girls out right in his face. She and Bumble flirt and he declares his love and proposes. Ok, well, yay. Thanks for jerking us away from the main action constantly to show us these people we really don’t give a crap about, show. I can see why this novel is pretty easy to boil down into feature-length movies—there’s a ton of fat that can be trimmed.

The villainous makeout session is happily interrupted by the young woman attending to Nice Lady, who FINALLY gets a name—Sally. Mean Lady—Mrs. Crawley—breaks away to hear what Sally has to say. Sally reminds her of Oliver’s mom and stupidly tells Mrs. Crawley about the letter Oliver’s mom gave her, which she never sent. Why not? Why do Dickens characters do most of the things they do? Their motives almost always seem murky to me. Because Sally’s a complete moron, she gives the letter to Mrs. Crawley and asks her to send it, which of course she won’t. Come on, Sally, surely you know this woman better than that. Crawley eyes the locket with the letter and won’t promise to send it, of course. Sally breathes her last.

Bill and Oliver make it home to Nancy, who’s all distressed to see Oliver hurt. She scolds Bill for letting Oliver get hurt and he reminds her that he could have just ditched the kid, so I guess we can all be grateful his altruistic side won out, because otherwise this would be a much shorter and more depressing series. Bill orders her to go fetch Fagin and she tries to put him off, but he yells at her to obey. He tells her to get Oliver out of there and she does.

Through the streets she goes, remarkably unbothered by anyone, considering she’s got a bloody kid in her arms.

Crawley returns to her room and tells Bumble that she’s found what that gentleman who came by was looking for. She sits down to write to him, but first, she’s going to read that letter.

Fagin, Nancy, and the boys are all gathered around Oliver, who’s been shot and isn’t doing so well. Fagin tells the kids to get to work and they all scatter, except for Dodger.

Rose and Mrs. B quietly discuss their plans to keep searching for Oliver, until Monks appears to interrupt and be creepy. He pokes around for info on Oliver, but Rose brushes it off.

Some maybe doctor picks birdshot out of Oliver and declares it a flesh wound, but says infection’s still a risk. He offers up some leeches too and Fagin tells him to go at it, do whatever he can, he’ll pay. The doctor asks for first refusal on the cadaver, in case Oliver dies, and Nancy snaps at him to get out. When he’s gone, Nancy tells Fagin she’ll nurse Oliver, and she asks him to go tell Bill.

Fagin finds Bill passed out, drunk, and because Bill can’t fight back, Fagin feels sufficiently brave to threaten him, because he’s just that mad that Oliver’s been hurt. Honestly, what is Fagin’s attachment to this kid? It seems to go beyond the financial motive—remember he bizarrely thinks someone will pay handsomely to get this kid back. Other versions of the story sometimes play Fagin up to be a pedophile, which is horrific, but makes all this make a bit more sense. Otherwise, he’s just obsessed with a random kid who doesn’t seem all that special, if we’re being honest.

Bill’s dog starts barking, so Fagin goes to kick him, and that gets Bill out of his bed in a second, as it should. Fagin tells Bill Nancy’s with Oliver and Bill says fine, and now Fagin should probably get the hell out. Fagin’s only too happy to do so, and he’s roughly manhandled out into the street by Bill, who tells him he’s nothing and he’ll always be nothing.

Rose and Mrs. B are on the hunt, unaware they’re being stalked by Monks, who questions some street urchin once the two ladies are done with him.

Said urchin reports back to Fagin about two ladies asking about Oliver. He tells Fagin he didn’t tell them anything and Fagin calls him a good boy. Nancy’s upstairs, tending feverish Oliver. Dodger tries to get her to come downstairs and hang out with the others, but Nancy, like everyone else, is so utterly taken by Oliver she can’t seem to leave his side. Honestly, what exactly is it about Oliver that makes all these people so totally attached to him? He’s a nice enough kid and all, but it never made much sense to me that these pretty hardened types would be falling all over themselves over him in particular.

Dodger goes back downstairs, where one of the other kids foolishly ribs him over not being Nancy’s favorite anymore, which just pisses Dodger off, naturally.

Rose gets home and arrives for dinner a tad late. Brownlowe (BL from now on) asks her how her day was and she says she got everything she needed. BL thinks that’s a bit odd, because Monks went to all the shops she was supposed to be visiting and she wasn’t there at all. BL doesn’t seem to find it bizarre or creepy at all that his grandson is apparently stalking his ward. BL asks Mrs. B to explain and Rose says Mrs. B is not to blame. She says they’ve been trying to find Oliver. BL can’t believe she’s doing that, after the kid stole from them and ran away. He insists he know where she is all the time and Rose tells him that keeping her so close will not bring her dead sister back. BL says he’s doing everything he can to bring Agnes and her child home and Rose rather bluntly tells him Agnes is dead, because she wouldn’t have stayed away so long if she were still alive. He refuses to believe it, but Rose knows better, and furthermore, she’s not going to stop looking for Oliver. Monks, hunched over his soup, leers at Rose as she speaks. He looks totally turned on and it’s really repellent.

Rose gets mad and leaves, and Monks follows her to the sitting room. She apologizes for her outburst and he starts to come on to her, proposing by way of reminding her that, when BL dies, the house and everything in it will belong to him. Well, him and that missing child of Agnes’s, of course, as Rose points out. Monks gets touchy feely and Rose is not on board with it at all. He tells her she’ll consider his proposal and he’ll tell BL that she’s calmed down. And then he leaves, creepily.

On his way out, Monks helps himself to a letter a maid’s bringing in, addressed to the “Young Master”.

Oliver’s doing a bit better under Nancy’s care, and she tucks him in before going to look for Fagin. She finds him in a crowded and rowdy public house, where he slips through the crowd and through a door at the far end. She puts an eye to a crack in the door and sees Fagin talking to Monks, who asks him why Oliver’s not dead yet. Fagin says they have to be careful, because neither of them wants to be hanged for murder. Monks gets mad, smashes a few things, and tells Fagin he’s heading to Mudfog and he wants the kid dead by the time he gets back. Both men leave, neither noticing Nancy hiding behind the door.

Nancy gets home and is immediately attacked by Bill, who screams and asks who she’s been with. She insists she’s been at Fagin’s taking care of Oliver and she’d never leave him. He gets scary, practically choking her to death, and tells her he’ll kill her if she ever does anything to betray him.

Mudfog. The kids are getting their swill, and Bumble’s getting a letter that says Monks will be there that night. Crawley tells him to let her do all the talking.

Nancy’s getting ready to go see how Oliver is when Bill pulls her back down onto the bed and asks her why she’s so attached to the kid. She says she just likes him. Bill muses that if he’d been the one to get shot, she’d be looking after him instead. That’s true, Bill. Why don’t you go get shot and see how it works out for you? He lets her go, and before she does, she asks if he loves her. He evades answering and tells her not to stay out too late.

Monks prepares to leave and BL apologizes for forcing him to spend so much time looking for Agnes. Monks tells him the search is probably useless anyway, because even if she came back, she’d probably just run away again. But he’ll keep looking anyway. He hugs BL, looks up at Rose, standing on the stairs, smiles scarily at her, and leaves. Rose flees back upstairs.

Nancy passes the boys as they’re leaving Fagin’s, ignoring Dodger completely, which seems a little mean. Fagin reports that Oliver had a good night, and up she goes to see him and clean his wounds. To distract him, she asks him to tell her about the house he was staying in. She asks what the house looked like and gets details like a blue door and a knocker shaped like a lion. She finishes patching him up and promises to be back soon.

Nancy goes to some man who writes letters for the illiterate and has him write something up.

Back home, Fagin talks to himself, as he is wont to do, and talks about returning Oliver to whatever rich people want him.

Nancy finds the house with the blue door and lion knocker and slips the note underneath the door. Inside, Rose apologizes to BL for being mean and asks permission to keep looking for Oliver. He doesn’t want to keep up the hunt but promises to talk it over with Monks when he returns. Oh, I’m sure he’ll be totally on board with it. He goes on to say that Monks is very fond of her. Rose says he spoke to her about marriage and BL’s all excited by the idea. Poor Rose looks like she’s about to start panicking.

Mrs. B comes in with Nancy’s letter and hands it to BL, who reads it.

Monks arrives at the workhouse and Crawley immediately prepares to put the screws to him.

Nancy goes back to Fagin’s and wakes Oliver so she can give him a knife. She tells him urgently that if anyone comes after him, he’s to stab them as many times as he can. Oliver’s kind of freaked out by this, as any reasonable human would be. She promises she’s going to get him out of there and back to where there are books and lion doorknockers and whatnot. On her way out, Fagin catches her and asks if she’s ok, if she’s having Bill issues. She says that not everything’s about Bill, and she’s not in his pocket anymore before leaving. Dodger observes that she’s changed and Fagin agrees. They discuss whether she has someone else to take care of her, and that’s what she meant about not being in Bill’s pocket anymore. Fagin realizes she’s the only one who can keep Bill under control, so it won’t be good for anyone if she leaves him. He sends Dodger out to follow her and see where she goes.

Rose and BL are walking the streets, looking for Oliver, doubtless led by Nancy’s letter. Nancy emerges from the shadows, scared to death. Ok, if she’s so terrified (rightly) of meeting these people, why didn’t she just put the information she had about Oliver’s whereabouts in the letter she sent them? That would have given her a lot more deniability than she has now.

Workhouse. Crawley asks Monks how much he’ll give them for the locket and letter. He passes a single coin to Bumble and Crawley tells him that’s not enough. Monks says the items are of sentimental value only and tries to shame Crawley, but Crawley has no shame and knows just what the letter says, to wit: Agnes fell in love with a married man who already had a kid, got herself knocked up, and took off to give birth to Oliver, who is, as it turns out, Monks’s half-brother, if you hadn’t already figured that out. He’s not keen to share his inheritance with little Ollie. Crawley demands 40 guineas for the letter, or she sends it to Brownlowe. She won’t even give in when Monks grabs Bumble and threatens to pull his face off.

Nancy’s still with BL and Rose, telling them they have to help Oliver, because there are some who want him dead. This shocks them, because they think this is just some little street urchin we’re talking about and they have no idea we’re deep in Dickensian Contrivanceland, in which people manage to find random relatives they didn’t even know they had. Nancy tells them Fagin’s been ordered to do this on behalf of a man named Monks who, from his description, they realize is BL’s grandson. Grandpa insists this can’t be true and calls Nancy a liar, even though she has no reason to lie.

Back at the workhouse, Monks calmly threatens to kill both Bumble and Crawley, saying he could get away with it, because he’s a gentleman. Crawley finally hands the letter over and Monks tosses some coins on the ground, which Crawley scrambles for.

BL refuses to listen to Nancy anymore, but Rose remains behind and Nancy tells her Monks has gone to Mudfog. Rose recognizes the name from the list BL gave Monks to search for Agnes. Nancy tells Rose where to find Fagin’s and Rose thanks her, promising to help Nancy if she ever needs a friend. After everyone departs, Dodger emerges from his shadowy hiding place, having heard everything, of course.

Bumble bitches and moans about Crawley refusing to be all sympathetic when Monks was threatening him. Because he’s a moron and a guy, she manipulates him easily into being back in love with him by putting his hand on her boob.

Dodger dashes through the streets as Nancy returns home to Bill’s. He seems to be absent, so she helps herself to some bracing gin and takes a seat by the fire.

BL and Rose return home and BL can’t believe Rose would believe such a woman, because his beloved grandson would never do something so vile as assume a false name (oddly, he doesn’t mention the far more vile act of trying to have a 10-year-old murdered, so I guess we know BL’s priorities are way out of whack. Rose gently says that the man BL knows isn’t the same one she knows. And how. He calls her a liar and wonders why a wealthy man would want a child dead. Rose realizes Oliver is Agnes’s kid, because that’s the only thing that makes sense. She begs BL to go to Fagin’s, if only to prove Nancy right or wrong. She even goes so far as to promise to marry Monks if Nancy turns out to be lying. Damn, girl. That’s some conviction.

Dodger returns to Fagin’s and tells him Nancy’s gone and informed on them, not realizing that Bill’s there too. Nice going, Dodg. Bill leaves, angry, despite Fagin trying to talk him down and insist that there must be some mistake here.

Bill returns home and Nancy realizes something’s wrong right away when he bolts the door. She tries to explain herself, desperately telling him she never mentioned him at all, but he grabs her by the hair and savagely beats her.

Dodger sits around Fagin’s long enough to let Nancy get good and beaten, then goes after her, despite Fagin telling him he’ll just get a thrashing himself.

At Bill’s, he tells Nancy to get up, because the beating wasn’t that bad, but apparently it was bad enough to kill her, which he slowly realizes.

Rose stands pensively by a window, looking out, while BL looks at a picture of her and Agnes.

Fagin packs up all his loot, rousing some of the boys. Bill bursts in, punches Fagin in the face, and grabs Oliver, bundling him out the door. Unsurprisingly, Oliver fails to stab him to death with the knife Nancy gave him earlier.

Dodger finds Nancy’s body on the ground and wipes away a tear or two, then sits with her.

Bill dashes through the streets while Fagin packs up and policemen descend on his lair, accompanied by BL. They all get there before Fagin can escape.

Bill, the dog, and Oliver are hiking through the countryside by now, Bill yelling at Oliver to keep moving.

Fagin insists to the police that Oliver was all safe and tucked up in bed and he doesn’t know where he is now. He says Monks wanted him dead, not Fagin, and tells them Bill took him. BL tells the police to search the whole city. Fagin tries to defend himself, but the police are so unforgiving they even decide to kill his pet crow. Well, that seems a bit extreme.

Dodger covers Nancy with a blanket, tells her to sleep tight, and runs and hides when he hears the police arrive and find the body.

Bill and co. are still out in the woods. Oliver asks if he’s going to kill him and Bill tells Oliver he’s his protection and he’s to speak up in Bill’s defense when asked. Oliver’s smart enough to realize Bill’s trying to get an alibi for Nancy’s death. And then even the dog decides he’s had enough of this psycho and takes off. Bill starts seeing Nancy sitting in the woods and looks a bit freaked out. Oliver tries to run but Bill catches him easily.

Monks, meanwhile, is on the road in his giant, evil black carriage, smiling now he’s got the letter and the locket.

Mrs. B and Rose doze on the sofa until BL gets home and tells her about Nancy’s death. Rose weeps and he comforts her.

Bill’s still hallucinating Nancy in the woods like he’s turned into Macbeth or something, so he asks Oliver to sing to distract him. The terrified kid complies.

Dodger returns to Fagin’s and is told Fagin’s been taken by the police and one of the more unpleasant boys has taken over as leader. Dodger doesn’t really care.

Monks arrives home, unawares, to find BL, Rose, and a couple of policemen gathered in the drawing room, waiting for him. He’s got some ‘splainin to do. BL asks how things were at Mudfog and Monks stupidly says he knows of no such place even though a) BL already knows he sent Monks there and b) they could easily just ask the carriage driver where he took Monks if they really wanted to know. But BL doesn’t even bother with that, instead demanding Monks hand over the evidence of Oliver’s parentage. The police set upon him, discovering the letter and the locket, but then Monks manages to toss the letter into the fire. My husband wonders why nobody in these stories ever seems to know how to throw a kidney punch when one is needed, and you know what? I wonder that too. Rose manages to pluck the letter out of the fire and hands it to BL, along with a page Monks tore out of the parish registry that lists Agnes’s death and the birth and christening of Oliver. Rose reads the letter aloud, in which Agnes begs BL for forgiveness and asks that he take care of Oliver. BL asks Monks what he has to say for himself and Monks claims the letter’s a forgery, like anyone in their right mind would go through so much effort to acquire a forgery. Rose screams at him, calling him a liar, and sets on him, throwing fists, until Mrs. B pulls her off.

BL takes Monks downstairs, and Monks is still creepily calm, considering the corner he’s backed into. BL asks about the locket and Monks claims it was stolen from Agnes’s body. BL lets him lie a bit more, then punches him in the cheek, tells him he’s been lying this whole time, and informs him he knows the whole story. Monks maintains his innocence, until BL brings up Oliver’s name and Monks calls the kid a maggot who’ll eat through what’s rightfully his. BL’s triumphant that Monks has finally shown his true colors and he disowns him right then and there. He orders Monks to take a ship and go to the Indies, and to never set foot in England again. Monks tries desperately to talk his way out of this but his grandfather’s done with him. Monks finally leaves, and despite the fact that he conspired to have a child killed, nobody arrests him. It was easy to get away with things in Victorian London if you were well dressed, wasn’t it?

Dodger goes to see Fagin in jail, and all Fagin can do is bitch that they feed him crusts soaked in bacon fat. Least of your problems right now, Fagin. Dodger tells him that other kid’s taken over the gang and there’s nothing for him to fence, and furthermore, Nancy’s dead. Fagin cries about his bird. Fagin urges Dodger to go find Oliver, because he can get them money.

Bill and Oliver are back in London, for some reason, I guess because we’re back in Contrivanceland and Bill’s gone insane. Ghost Nancy’s still following him around, and when Bill goes off his head and starts shouting at people to stop staring at him, Oliver manages to slip away through the crowd and escape. Bill thinks he’s gone down into the sewers and follows him down there. Ew, Victorian sewers. He runs like a man possessed, which I guess he is.

Oliver, meanwhile, is still topside and is somehow found by Dodger, who begs him for help for Fagin, but Oliver, well, dodges him and keeps running.

Fagin’s taken in front of a judge—the same one who was so eager to hang Oliver earlier—and the jury finds him guilty of dealing in stolen goods and conspiring to murder a kid. The judge gives him a chance to plea for clemency, which I believe is more than he gave Oliver. Fagin claims he never meant to hurt anyone and he wishes for mercy. The judge demands he renounce his faith and take Christ as his savior to be saved. Fagin says he can’t do that, so he gets to die. How…nice. I kind of wonder what Dickens was going for here—was he commenting on the cruelty and unfairness of the Victorian court system, prejudices faced by non-Christians, or saying that non-Christians deserved to be hanged for refusing to accept Christ? Discuss.

Bill’s still tramping through the sewers and looking tortured. He starts to hear Nancy sing and he hears her tell him she won’t ever leave him. He starts to undo his scarf and I think we can all see where this is going.

Oliver arrives back at BL’s house, where Rose answers the door and embraces him, calling out that Oliver’s back. BL and Mrs. B appear and everyone’s happy and relieved.

Bill hangs himself in the sewers. So, that’s done.

Seems the whole neighborhood’s turned out for Fagin’s hanging, and they’re all pretty eager to see him die, even though, as criminals go, he doesn’t seem like he was all that bad. He spots Dodger in the crowd and smiles, but Dodger can’t watch and goes to hide and cover his ears until the deed’s done. Dodger’s discovered by Bill’s dog and they walk off together.

Oliver, all cleaned up, goes to church with his family, where they light candles for Agnes and Nancy.

Bumble and Crawley are married. They clink glasses, and then she starts to abuse him. Why do we care about these people again? Let’s move on.

Oliver and Rose play the piano on Christmas—so I guess this was some kind of Christmas special, because the holiday always needs to get shoehorned into those. So, Oliver takes his place as a little gentleman and Dodger…gets to be the next Bill Sykes? They kind of left that flapping in the wind, didn’t they?

One thought on “Oliver Twist Recap: Part II

  1. Well done – I have just watched Oliver Twist with my Grandaughter then read your version – excellent made me laugh out loud

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