The Woman in White: Secrets and Confessions

Now that Laura’s out of the asylum, Sir Percival is LOSING IT. He goes to Fosco’s and freaks out about how they’re going to be found out and all their nefarious dealings will come to light. Fosco, of course, is totally chill and tells Percival that ANNE has escaped from the asylum (officially) and that his wife, as far as everyone knows, is dead. And who’s going to believe a madwoman and her hysterical sister and some nobody like Walter anyway?

Percival continues to fret about Nash and his questions and how close he might be getting to the truth. Fosco gently urges his friend to unburden himself of this secret that’s clearly eating away at him, but instead Percival flees into the night. He’s observed by Nash, who’s now apparently taken to stalking.

Nash wraps up all his questioning and tells Walter that there are threads there, but nothing definitive enough to bring any sort of charges or use as leverage to get everyone involved to admit that Laura is, in fact, Laura. Walter gets frustrated and yells, because this strain is severely wearing on all of them. Poor Walter’s just trying to help his girlfriend get her life back, though it’s up in the air whether she even wants to go on living at all.

Nash, Walter, and Marian put their heads together and conclude they must get to the bottom of Percival’s secret. Walter goes to visit Anne’s mother, who takes the news that her child is dead quite calmly. She knows the secret, but won’t say what it is, only hinting that there was something up with Sir Percival’s mother. That perhaps she wasn’t from as grand a background as she was said to be (or something of that nature).

Walter reports back and Marian says she only knows that Percival’s mother was Lady Celia Glyde, nothing more. They start digging into her, and Marian finds out where Lady Celia was married.

Walter pays the place a visit. It’s a tiny, rather crappy looking church out in the middle of nowhere. The clerk lets him in, noting that the lock on the door is super fiddly. They pull up marriage records and find an entry for Percival’s parents, but the clerk notes that it’s a bit odd, because the entry seems to be very awkwardly jammed onto the page. What they’re looking at is only a copy of the records, so they grab the originals (which are kept in the same place, which makes the copies kind of pointless, no? And why not just look at the original to begin with?) Bizarrely, the marriage doesn’t appear at all in the original records. Why the hell go through the effort of just altering a copy and not bother with the original as well? This is the part of the story that makes no sense.

The clerk’s eyes get big and he says the only explanation for this is illegitimacy. Presumably, a marriage was faked so the offspring would be able to inherit. Or the marriage took place later and was backdated, it’s not clear.

All the same…

I have so many questions here. I’m so confused. Was Lady Celia not really a ‘lady’ in the titled sense? Did the Glydes just make that up? No way would they have been able to get away with that: there aren’t that many aristocrats in Britain whose daughters are entitled to the ‘Lady’ monniker, so the circles the family moved in would have known this was a lie. And a stupid one, at that. Why make up a title that can be easily proven to be fake? And to what purpose? She’d gain a title just by marrying a baronet.

So, let’s just say that Lady Celia was, in fact, a Lady. That would mean she was at least the daughter of an Earl. Let’s say she had a pre-marital affair with Glyde and got pregnant. There’s no way in hell an Earl, or anyone higher up in the ranks, would have risked having an unwed, pregnant daughter, especially if her partner was unmarried himself. Those two would have been hustled to a chapel faster than you can say, ‘scandal and disgrace’ and made to marry. Which means that any child she bore would have been considered legitimate, even if it showed up only a few months later (Hey! Babies totally look full-term after only five months’ gestation, right?). So, they wouldn’t have had to go through this really sloppy fake marriage or marriage backdating, or whatever the hell went on here. And if Glyde intended to marry her anyway, then why not just, you know, MARRY HER? Before the baby was born! Was he away at war or something? That is seriously the only plausible explanation for all this confusing nonsense. That he couldn’t get home for whatever reason until after the kid was born, and then they faked a pre-birth marriage so Percival could be considered the legitimate heir. But even that seems implausible–high-ranking noblemen and their families lived fairly publicly, and it would have been very difficult for them to cover this whole mess up. Someone else would have known about this. Several someones, really. And if they didn’t know for sure, there’d have been strong suspicions that would have dogged Sir Percival for his whole life and been fairly well known in society. Which means it wouldn’t have been much of a secret at all. Certainly not a secret that would be this difficult to find out.

This whole matter is so ludicrous I actually find it distracting.

Percival has chosen this moment to make his way to the church himself. He steals the clerk’s keys (somehow), and then, in a moment of complete lunacy, sets the church records on fire. While he’s still in the building. 

Of course, that pesky lock has jammed behind him, so he can’t get out. Despite the valiant efforts of Walter, Percival burns to death.

Walter goes back to Laura and reports that she’s now a widow. Her first action is to declare that she forgives Sir Percival for all he’s done. Wow, that’s extremely generous. Nash is so overwhelmed by this display of goodness that he decides to make peace with his daughter, who had the audacity to marry some guy he didn’t like and has been subsequently cut out of her father’s life ever since. Jesus, Nash, that was… harsh.

Walter goes back to Mrs Catherick to tell her that Percival’s dead and he knows the secret. He guesses that she figured it out because her husband used to be the church clerk and she looked at the records. Was that something she just did recreationally or did she go snooping through them on the off chance she’d find something a bit odd?

Mrs C decides there’s no use keeping more secrets, so she tells Walter that Anne was not Sir Percival’s daughter, as we’d been led to believe, but the child of Laura’s father, which makes much more sense. The two of them had an affair, Anne was the result, and Sir Percival later used his knowledge of this to blackmail his buddy into giving him Laura to ensure his silence.

Worst. Dad. Ever.

Ok, maybe not ever, but this is fairly close to Game of Thrones-level bad parenting.

Seriously: the man handed his daughter off to a monster in order to protect his reputation after he died.

The good news is: with Marian’s and Walter’s care and love, Laura’s starting to come back around. She’s not going up on rooftops and considering jumping anymore, thankfully, and once Percival’s out of the way, she and Walter even agree to give their relationship another go. It’s sweet! I teared up and everything!

But there’s still the matter of proving that Laura is Laura and not the body in her grave. For that, they need Fosco to play ball.

Once again, they all put their heads together and determine what they know about this man. Well, he’s Sicilian and had to leave his country for some reason. Thankfully, in this version of the world, all Italians come from Sicily, which is roughly the size of a city block, so they also all know each other!

Remember Pesca? Walter’s Italian friend from way back in episode one, who put Walter up for the tutoring job in the first place? He’s Sicilian too! Walter takes him to the opera, where he knows Fosco is also in attendance, and has him examine the crowd. When Pesca sees Fosco, their eyes lock and there is A Moment. But not that kind of Moment, more of an ‘Inigo Montoya finally seeing the man with six fingers on one hand’ moment.

Walter asks Pesca what’s up, but Pesca won’t say… for about three seconds. Walter asks again and Pesca says that he and the Count were part of a secret underground resistance that was found out because Fosco betrayed them. They ALL had to flee the country, and now he’d really like to get his hands on Fosco. Walter asks for ten minutes alone with the man first.

He goes to see Fosco and reveals all he knows. He tells Fosco that he won’t sic Pesca on him if he just writes out a full confession. Which Fosco does! That was kind of easy.

All Fosco wants is to be able to flee England for safety elsewhere. But as soon as Walter leaves, Pesca approaches Fosco on the street and tells him he’s not going anywhere. So much for that deal. Fosco realises the game is up and merely requests that this not be done right in front of his wife. He bids the Creepy Countess farewell, and as she drives away, Pesca slits Fosco’s throat right there on the street, in a very nice part of London. Good thing absolutely nobody happened to be out and about to witness that, right?

Apparently blissfully unaware that his friend is a murderer (or not caring), Walter heads off to Limmeridge with Marian and Laura so they can finally get Laura’s uncle to admit to who she is. He does, and then his manservant, who’s played no role whatsoever in the goings-on thus far, steps forward and starts yelling at Fairlie to apologise for everything he’s put these people through. Hey, good on you, man. Who are you, again? A browbeaten Fairlie sulkily apologises and agrees to Laura’s and Walter’s marriage, though he refuses to attend. I think they probably prefer it that way.

Once married, Walter and Laura take up residence at Limmeridge with Walter’s mother, whom I’m sure Fairlie was just delighted to have living under his roof, considering how he feels about Walter. They’re all happily relaxing in the garden, reading a letter from Marian, who has apparently gone off to explore the Middle East. I’ll leave aside how unlikely it is that a young Englishwoman would be travelling alone through that part of the world at that time and merely say: that makes me long for some sort of spinoff. Anyone else?

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