South Riding: Bad Romance

Previously on South Riding: Lydia’s mom died, and she had to leave school to take care of her siblings. Sarah almost seduced Robert, but he was too overcome with guilt over making his wife crazy to seal the deal.

The morning after the affair that wasn’t, Sarah comes tripping down the stairs to the front desk of the hotel and asks them to ring Robert’s room. They inform her he checked out early that morning. She asks if there are any messages. There aren’t. Honestly, what did she expect? Does he seem like the type to leave love notes around hotels?

Sarah drives to Mrs. B’s house, and Mrs. B’s pretty confused, because it’s Christmas Eve and she knows Sarah’s supposed to be with her sister’s family in Manchester. Sarah says she changed her mind. Probably because she wore and therefore essentially ruined her sister’s gift.

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South Riding: So Sorry

Previously on South Riding: Sarah Burton showed up and got the job of new headmistress at the school. She wasn’t in town five minutes before butting heads with Robert, a local landowner with plenty of problems. Also, the town’s trying to clean up their slums, and some hellfire and brimstone-preaching type is being blackmailed by the local prostitute.

Sarah wanders the school and finds Lydia in one of the classrooms, bent over a book. She asks Lydia what she’s doing there and Lydia explains she’s doing her homework, because it’s too loud and crowded at home. Sarah invites her to her office and hands her a new coat to replace the one she’s wearing, which is too small. She also offers to let Lydia study in her office and suggests the girl could try for Oxford someday. The teacher who was being pushed around by her class last week shows up and asks for a word, so Sarah sends Lydia away. The teacher closes the door after her and says there’s a problem with Midge.

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South Riding: The Schoolmarm Cometh

Laura Linney starts off telling us all about how the deaths of so many men in the First World War left lots of women with nobody to marry (as one would imagine), and the author of the novel this is based on was one such woman. Write what you know.

As a man gallops a horse along a beach and through the countryside, a young woman in bright red sits on a train, smoking and writing in a journal. She hops off the train at a station and hauls ass to wherever she’s going, leaping onto a moving bus and everything. Meanwhile, the horseman dismounts (presumably at home) and Isobel Crawley calls ladies in to an interview. Red Dress finally arrives at the interview spot, and soon our unnamed horseman arrives as well. Isobel (that’s what I’m calling her until she gets a real name) ribs him for arriving just in time for the finish.

Red Dress (and I must ask—is a scarlet red dress really appropriate attire for a job interview? As a schoolteacher?) is in for her interview with a panel of mostly men, plus Isobel. One of them notes her empire experience—she taught in the Transvaal before going to London. Isobel informs her that this isn’t a fancy school, like they have in London, and Red Dress (oh, hell, her name’s Sarah Burton) counters that if one has high expectations, the girls will rise to meet them. Some will. Isobel’s not sure Sarah knows what she’s in for, in this far northern town, but Sarah zings them all by saying she does, actually, because she grew up nearby. Horseman doesn’t seen so keen on her, so now we know they’re totally going to hook up by the end of this. We’ve all seen this situation before. He’s totally the Mr. Darcy of this film.

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