Ok, I’m just going to come out and say it: Julian Fellowes has to stop bragging about his own projects. Now, don’t get me wrong—I like him (or, rather, I’ve liked some of his work) but I think he’s getting a little high on himself post-Downton Abbey, and now he keeps talking about how his next project is going to be awesomer than anything that ever came before, and then it really doesn’t deliver. Case in point: I seem to recall reading about how Vera Bates was going to be this fascinating, complex character. Nothing could have been further from the truth. She was such a cartoon I’m surprised she didn’t start twirling a moustache. With his latest project, Titanic, he kept bragging about how this was going to be soooo much better than anything that came before. Certainly much better than the Cameron film (which, to be fair, is pretty to look at but awful to listen to) or a Night to Remember (which I took umbrage at, because that’s still my favorite Titanic film). Oh, no, these would pale in comparison with his work, which would be the only one to show all the different people on board. First: no it’s not. Not by a long shot. Second: it’s not good. At least, the bits I’ve seen aren’t. The characters are poorly drawn and even more poorly developed, and the storytelling technique—moving back and forth to tell the story from different people’s perspectives—is a bit confusing at times, unnecessarily repetitive, and makes certain characters just seem completely insane.
But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at it together.
Southampton. A man bikes past the ship, moored at the docks. Elsewhere, another man arrives at the rather drab rooms inhabited by his wife and kids and proudly hands over some tickets. “Steerage?” the wife reads, clearly disappointed. Geez, lady, do you have no concept of your own socioeconomic situation? Because you’re not exactly living in a palace, here. The husband reassures her it won’t be so bad.
An officer—Lightoller—polishes his boots and brushes down his uniform.
Two men dash through a warehouse, open a door, and gaze out at the ship at night.
And now we’re in jail, where a lady of the night, if you will, is let into a cell with some of her compatriots and a super uptight young lady, who does not take well to being talked to by a prostitute. Fortunately, the young lady’s daddy arrives just then to get her out of there. The policeman escorting him steps way beyond the bounds of what was considered appropriate for a man in his position at this time and gives everyone lip about how “Lady Georgiana Grex” gets let out while the others don’t. Maybe it’s because she can make bail? No, it’s because daddy knows someone important, something he’s sure to remind this guy of, and the policeman gets right in his face, which, no. No, no, no. This is only the first time of many I’ll be saying that regarding a character’s actions. There are anachronistic behaviors all over the place. Oh, and Georgiana’s basically a stupider Sybil and got herself arrested picketing for the right to vote.
At the White Star offices, Thomas Andrews is pedeconferencing with Bruce Ismay about the lifeboats, whinily asking why they can’t have more. Ismay answers that they have what the law requires, plus some extras, and he doesn’t want to go terrifying the ladies with safety devices left in plain sight. You know how boats can make women panic. The two men run into Georgiana’s father, the Earl of Manton, who’s going to be joining the voyage, along with his wife and daughter. Because heaven knows there were no suffragettes in America. Ismay apologizes that he can’t put Georgiana closer to her parents, but I’m sure she won’t have a problem with it. Manton asks Ismay to see what he can do and Ismay promises to do so.
Sailing day. A maid and valet watch as a truck is loaded with their employers’ trunks. The valet asks the maid if she’s excited and she just turns her back on him. Nice.
The boat train from London Waterloo to Southampton wends its way through the countryside, carrying the Mantons, who are now a complete family with the addition of Geraldine Somerville as the mother, Louisa (interestingly, that was her character’s name in Gosford Park as well. Either that’s a bit of an in-joke or Julian Fellowes needs to branch out with the names.) They’re in the dining car, Georgiana looking sullen. Manton looks up and notices a lawyer he knows, John Batley, who’s traveling with his wife, played by Maria Doyle Kennedy. Manton greets the Batleys politely, introduces his wife and daughter, and engages in some small talk. It takes her about a minute to reveal Mrs. B’s a completely passive aggressive bitch, and Louisa’s kind of a snob. As the Batleys are Irish, Manton comments it’s too bad they won’t have a chance to go ashore in Queenstown the next day. He mentions his wife’s Irish, and she gives him some serious dagger eyes, though the Batleys don’t seem to notice. Manton asks if they’ll be at the divine service on Sunday (correctly guessing that the Batleys aren’t traveling first class, in which case they shouldn’t be on this train at all, because first class passengers had their own boat train, while second and third class arrived together.) Batley says they will be, and Manton then invites them to tea on Sunday afternoon. His wife quickly intercedes and says she’s pretty sure that’s not allowed, but her husband’s determined.
The Batleys arrive at the ship, and when she looks up at it, Mrs. Batley deigns to smile.
Irish dad from the beginning tracks down his family dockside and his wife swiftly lays into him, asking where he’s been. He grabs their luggage and briskly tells her not to dawdle. Ok, so much for the warmth of their earlier scene.
The two Italian guys board, come down the second class staircase, and one of them asks a stewardess where the crew goes. She gives him directions and warns him not to use those stairs again.
Irish family, meanwhile, is following dad through the warren of passageways down below. Mom asks what cabin numbers the tickets say and he just shortly tells her he knows where he’s going.
Italian crewmen squeeze past the family and split up, with the older one giving the younger one some last-minute instructions. Older one reports to the boiler rooms, where he’s yelled at for being late, but also gets a name: Sandrini. Younger one’s a dining steward in first class. Pretty cushy, that.
The ship sets sail. As usual, there’s no mention of Titanic’s near-collision with New York in the harbor. Everybody always leaves that out.
Georgiana arrives in her parents’ cabin just in time to hear her mother chide her father for calling her Irish. Actually, Geraldine Somerville is the daughter of an Irish nobleman. Another inside joke? Manton tells her she is Irish. “No I’m not, not in that way,” she says. True—Anglo Irish was pretty heavy on the Anglo.
Manton tells his wife she could have been a bit friendlier to the Batleys and she asks him why she should be, and why go through this tea? He tells her Batley works for him and Louisa says his payment for that should be enough. She also notes that Captain Smith will be joining their table for dinner that night. Georgiana says she needs to go and change but her parents say that nobody changes on the first night out. Bullshit. These people never wasted an opportunity to dress for dinner. I’m taking this as a sign they were too cheap to get extra costumes, a guess that’s fairly well proven later on when these ladies are wearing the same exact outfits they’re wearing now. What the hell was in all those trunks they were packing?
Manton’s valet and Louisa’s maid arrive in the servants’ hall and immediately run into an American valet who’s a complete asshole. That’s really his only distinguishing characteristic. Valet has no name, but maid’s Miss Watson. She’s immediately recognized by the Countess of Rothes’s maid, and there are a few moments of name dropping between them. They move away together and Valet goes to say hi to a French-looking maid, who’s with Madame Aubart, mistress to Benjamin Guggenheim. Watson does not approve of that at all. Aubart was a bit of a scandal all over the ship. Valet pulls Watson aside and advises she just get along with these people—they only have to be together a week, after all. Unfortunately the stick up her ass is way too rigid to allow any such thing.
A chipmonk-y stewardess—the same one who ran into the Italian boys earlier—comes in and invites everyone to take their places for dinner. Watson asks the English servants to share a table and Asshole American sneers that being an American isn’t catching. No, but you’re deeply unpleasant, so I don’t blame anyone for finding an excuse not to sit near you.
The Mantons arrive for dinner in a set that couldn’t look less like the actual first class reception room if they’d tried. #SetDecorationFail. Captain Smith introduces the family to the Astors—John Jacob and his new wife, Madeline, who was less than half his age but not nearly the heinous bitch his first wife was. They took off for Europe for an extended honeymoon to let the scandal of his divorce and remarriage die down, but they were coming back on Titanic because Madeline was pregnant. Smith also introduces Dorothy Gibson, an early film star, who in turn introduces her mother. Finally, the Wideners—mother, father, and son Harry—are presented. Well, this is an eclectic bunch. New York society, London society, Philadelphia society, and…actress? Oh, and there are a couple of last-minutes: Mr. and Mrs. Rushton. Mrs. R. is played by Celia Imrie, who I usually like, but the fake Scottish accent she puts on here and the incredibly stilted way she gives her opening lines are kind of a put off. She apologizes for being late—she just had to go and visit her little darling doggie in the kennels. She compares herself to William Wilberforce as she demands freedom for the dogs (because being in a kennel for a few days is just like slavery!) and I sort of love Louisa a little bit for looking at this woman like she’s a moron instead of politely laughing like everyone else. As everyone heads in, Astor commiserates with her, because his dog (Airedale Kitty) was locked up too.
At dinner, Harry’s sitting next to Georgiana and talking about some antique books he’s bought recently. His mother watches approvingly and comments that usually Harry’s pretty shy. SPOILER ALERT: I wouldn’t get too attached, Georgiana. By the way, this set? Much better. Captain Smith comments to his seatmate, Lady Duff Gordon (sister of racy novelist Elinor Glyn) that it must have been difficult for her, opening her own business. She acts horrified to have that brought up, which is strange, because she was quite open and proud of it. Her shop was frequented by the best society and royalty, and she actually pioneered the catwalk runway show. Captain Smith catches sight of the waiter—it’s our Italian friend—and asks what his name is. He says it’s Paolo Sandrini. Captain Smith seems oddly displeased to have this guy serving them and comments he didn’t think there were any Italian stewards in this dining room (probably true—though there were Italian waiters in the a la carte restaurant). Still, what an odd little moment—what does it matter if the guy’s Italian? Sandrini goes to serve Georgiana, and when she thanks him, he winks at her. Because he’s Italian, you know, and all Italians flirt with all pretty ladies.
Dinner has finished in the servants’ hall. Valet asks Watson if she wants to play a card game or something but she demurs, saying she prefers to read. While she’s engrossed in her book, he comes up behind her and snatches it out of her hand, like a complete douche, and sees it’s a copy of Aesop’s Fables. She calmly asks for it back, but he’s in a fratboy mood tonight and holds it out of her reach, which gives Asshole American a chance to snatch it and toss it around the room for a little while before he meanly reads the inscription inside, which is a rather sweet message from Watson’s father, who apparently gave her the book when she was younger. Watson’s totally freaked out trying to get her book back and to stop being humiliated. The stewardess tries to intercede, and Asshole throws it to someone else, who finally gives it back to Valet. After all the horseplay, the book that evidently meant a lot to Watson’s been damaged. Valet tries to apologize for his “bit of fun” but dude, get a hobby or something. Learn solitaire, if you’re so bored. Jackass. He offers to mend the book, but Watson’s not only upset, she’s embarrassed and she just takes it back and leaves without a word.
Post-dinner, the first class passengers gather in the reception room, where Georgiana asks the band to play Autumn. Harry asks G for the pleasure of a dance and she tells him he doesn’t know if it’ll be a pleasure. Jesus, girl, he’s just being polite. Important lesson: being a liberated, modern woman does not = acting like a bitch to perfectly nice people. Just dance with the poor boy. She does, and it’s fine, though she says she hates this sort of thing and also warns him not to flirt with her, because she’s not his type at all. Aren’t we presumptuous? She adds that he’s not her type, because her type are all rebels and freedom fighters and whatever. God, she is such a teenager. Which is right, judging by her age, but it still kind of makes me want to shake and slap her.
The Mantons sidle up to Ismay and thank him for scoring Georgiana’s cabin. They also meet Thomas Andrews and Mr. Guggenheim, though everyone pointedly ignores Mme. Aubart, who’s standing right next to Guggenheim. Guggenheim introduces her, and there’s a long, awkward moment before Aubart excuses herself to go to bed.
The kids kick it up a notch, and Jack Thayer cuts in on Georgiana and Harry. Louisa watches her daughter enjoying herself and wonders aloud what’s wrong with her. Huh? Is she supposed to be sullen the whole trip? Ismay, meanwhile, is explaining the Aubart situation to Manton, who acts all shocked to hear of such a thing as a mistress. Oh, please. Louisa excuses herself in disgust and her husband follows her as she wonders what they’re going to do with Georgiana. Mrs. R comes rushing over and says how much she sympathizes, because it’s so hard to keep the young under one’s tyrannical thumb, isn’t it? She knows all about Georgiana’s mix up with the suffragettes, which gets Louisa’s hackles up. She neatly insults Mrs. R and leaves.
Stewardess is moving through second class, asking if anyone wants beds turned down. She’s called into the Batleys’ room, where Mrs. B is bitching about this tea. So, don’t go. Simple solution. She also yells at her husband for agreeing to go to an Anglican service while he mildly responds, and she bitches and bitches and bitches and finally snips that he let them choke the life out of his dreams, and now he’s acting like Manton’s lapdog. Wow, she could give Louisa a run for her money in the bitch stakes.
Watson and Valet are turning down the bed and Watson’s pissed about the book being damaged. He apologizes, but before they can continue, the Mantons arrive, Louisa complaining about their table. She figures Dorothy and her mother were basically prostitutes before Dorothy hit the big time, as her husband quietly says he rather liked them. Of course you did—you’re Earl St. NiceGuy, our resident benevolent aristocrat. Basically Lord Grantham with a different name. Oh, and the valet’s name is Barnes (another name that was used in Gosford, for a valet, no less). Considering he seems to have a bit of a crush on the maid, I don’t know why they didn’t give him a limp and have done with it. Let’s face it—we’ve seen most of these characters before. Louisa’s a younger, less hilarious Violet, Asshole’s another less compelling Thomas, and Mrs. Batley’s basically just a slightly less insane Vera Bates.
The kids are still up and dancing, and Jack’s now with Dorothy Gibson. His mom calls him to bed, totally humiliating him and leaving Dorothy partnerless in the middle of the dance. Fortunately, Lightoller’s there to step in. Another Hell, No moment. No way would an officer, or any member of the crew, just join in and start partying with passengers like that. Big no-no. There was, as we’re seeing a little, a very strict class structure at the time, and though we may sneer at it now, it was very much in place then. This just wouldn’t happen.
We fast forward to April 14, so I guess we’re not bothering too much with plot, relationship, or character development since we’ve just moved ahead to the day of the disaster. Manton finds Lightoller on the promenade deck and asks for directions to second class. Head up to the boat deck and go in through the second-class entrance, Manton. Not that hard—it’s the next deck up. But, instead, Lightoller gives him some fairly complicated instructions that nevertheless leads him directly to the Batleys, who are waiting for him.
Louisa, meanwhile, goes to the reception room or something to score a table, but the only one she finds is already occupied by Aubart. Louisa stands there awkwardly until Aubart offers to leave, an offer Louisa readily accepts. I know this is supposed to enhance her bitchery, but to be fair, she had a social position to maintain—it was her one and only job—and she simply couldn’t be seen sitting down to tea with a woman with this sort of reputation. The Batleys would have been bad enough. Also to be fair, she doesn’t seem to take any great pleasure in this moment.
Manton arrives with the Batleys, and though Mr. B is nice, Mrs. B is letting her passive aggressive flag fly. She argues with Manton about the Irish Home Rule Bill and Batley has to smooth things over by sucking up a bit and selling out his home island. To cover the awkwardness, Manton asks his wife what they’re doing that night and she tells him they’re joining the dinner party Harry’s parents are throwing. I was a bit wrong earlier, by the way—only Georgiana’s wearing the same dress that she boarded in, which still feels odd and like a moment the production went cheap when it shouldn’t have. Harry asks G if she would like to take a walk before dinner, and off they go. The Batleys rise and Mr. B thanks them for the delightful tea. Mrs. B can barely spit out her agreement with his sentiment, nor can she look her hosts in the eye. Seriously, lady, if you feel this strongly why did you go? Nothing was stopping you from staying in your cabin or whatever. Manton asks if they can find their way back alone and she acidly says that nobody stops you from going back into second class. Well, uh, thanks for that delightful ending.
On deck, Georgiana and Harry are having a little debate about class snobbery when Georgiana spots Mrs. R coming their way. They also run into the Allison family (not that they’re introduced properly—and not to ruin everything, but I wouldn’t get too attached to them either). G admires the baby in his pram and the uptight nanny tells her not to touch him. G steps back and Mrs. Allison apologizes for her nanny’s rudeness.
Manton and Louisa are getting ready for dinner, and Manton’s bemoaning the fact that Philadelphia’s so far away. Lord, Manton, it’s a shipboard romance, they’re not getting married. His wife debates the merits of a brooch and then they leave.
Presumably after dinner, G and Harry are walking the deck again. He notices she’s chilly and gallantly puts his jacket over her shoulders. “Won’t you get cold?” she asks, as the bile starts to rise in my throat and I anticipate an obnoxiously hokey response. “Not if you’re near me,” he answers. HURL! Come on, Julian, I know you can write good dialogue! Did James Cameron help you out with this or something? She makes small talk about how calm the sea is and Harry goes all wise sage on her, advising her to pick her battles and really devote herself to causes, instead of just using them as a way to annoy her parents. Is that what she was doing? It might have been nice for us to be able to determine that for ourselves. But, I guess that would have taken time better spent watching Louisa discuss jewelry. They get a bit flirty, and Harry leans in and kisses her. I imagine it’d be cute, if we had seen this relationship develop at all.
Louisa’s in the smoking room, for some reason, looking away in horror as Dorothy delightedly wins a hand of cards. History fail. Women were not permitted in the smoking room. It was a purely male bastion. They had their own room—the very pretty reading and writing room. This was where the men gathered to drink, smoke, and gamble and get away from their wives.
Louisa returns to her cabin and hands her jewelry to Watson, who offers to take them to the purser’s. Louisa tells her there was a major queue at the purser’s, so she’ll just hang onto the jewelry and Watson can hand them in in the morning. Watson gets a bit squirrely and says she doesn’t mind but Louisa insists, so Watson hands the jewels back. What was that about?
Dorothy’s kicking the men’s asses at cards.
In the bridge, the phone rings with the warning of an iceberg ahead. Murdoch, the officer on duty, orders hard to starboard, but it’s no good. As he shovels far below, Sandrini’s shocked to see seawater start to pour into the boiler room.
Up on deck, Batley watches as the iceberg passes.
Glasses rattle in the smoking room and everyone pauses, wondering what happened.
Andrews goes tearing down the stairs belowdecks, where he meets Smith, who tells him about the collision.
Louisa’s fast asleep, while her husband writes in the adjoining room. He pauses and wakes her to listen to absolutely nothing. The engines have stopped. He goes out into the hallway and finds people running about with lifebelts already. He intercepts Lightoller, who tells him there’s an emergency and he has to get his family up to the boat deck. Were they not going cabin-by-cabin to warn people of this? What if he hadn’t come out into the hall? Strange.
Manton wakes the ladies and is soon joined by the servants. Louisa’s understandably confused by all this, and also confused by the appearance of her brooch in her jewelry roll, because she says she wasn’t wearing it the night before. She wasn’t? I could have sworn I saw her wearing one. G joins her parents, already in her coat and lifejacket.
Stewards are finally waking everyone, in a rather brusque manner I find unlikely for first class. They reach the Allisons’ room and the parents spring out of bed and start getting themselves and the kids ready.
By the time the Mantons get to the hallway, it’s packed with people. Manton offers to take them all up through second class, even though it would probably be way faster for them to take the far less cramped first class grand staircase and elevators than it would to take the narrower second class stairs. Clearly, they didn’t have the budget to build the grand staircase, which seems pretty lame to me. I mean, it’s one of the ship’s most defining and well-known architectural touches. Even those traveling Titanic exhibits can throw one together, so why can’t this movie do it? Also: why is the purser’s office in second class? I ask that now because when the Mantons reach the second class stair, there’s a huge crowd outside the office right at its base, as people scramble to get their jewels and things. An officer orders the purser to shut it down and Louisa mildly observes that it was lucky she happened to keep her best jewels out.
Mrs. Batley comes flying out of absolutely nowhere to start screaming like a crazy woman at Louisa, calling her a patronizing bitch. True, but—what the hell? Did she hit her head or something? Also, bitter bitches shouldn’t be throwing stones, Mrs. B. You haven’t exactly been sunshine and rainbows, now, have you? Louisa’s as confused as I am in the face of this twisted-faced, spitting vitriol, which includes some choice words for Manton about his “dirty little secret in Dulwich.” Batley finally manages to shut his wife up, as Louisa goes pale and shocked. The Batleys disappear into the crowd and the Mantons head topside.
Far below, that Irish family (remember them?) wait to be allowed up top. One of the daughters freaks out about not being able to swim, and mom manages to calm her down just as dad rejoins the group, having done some recon. He tells them they’re getting the boats out, and they say there’s no danger. “They’re lying,” he adds melodramatically. Well, thanks, dad, why don’t you say that a little louder? I don’t think your panicky kid heard you. Moron.
Manton and the ladies emerge onto the boat deck and Manton takes the point position of ‘guy who points out the officers’ faults’ and observes that the boats are leaving half full.
Mr. R is propelling his wife through the crowd, even as she screeches she won’t leave without the dog. He rather callously tells her the dog’s probably drowned by now anyway, and she freaks out as she’s bundled towards the boat. Mrs. Allison shows up and tries to hand Lorraine to her maid, telling her she’ll get on a boat when she finds Alice and the baby. Lorraine won’t let go of her mom, and instead of just prying her little fingers off her neck and making sure at least one of her kids is ok, Mrs. Allison gives up and steps back.
OK, the whole Allison story’s being told in a rather disjointed way, so for those interested, here’s what happened: The Allisons were a Montreal family traveling with their two kids, Lorraine, who was 2, and Trevor, who was a baby. They hired a nanny in London in a hurry—Alice Cleaver—and when the ship hit the iceberg, Alice freaked out, grabbed the baby, and ran, getting in the first lifeboat she saw. The Allisons didn’t want to leave without knowing their son was safe, so they spent the night running from deck to deck looking for him. Lorraine was actually the only child in first class not to survive.
Distress rockets are fired, women squeal, and Jack Thayer is prevented from getting in a boat with his mom. Mme Aubart and Madeline Astor are helped into a boat. Astor asks to go with his wife, because of her ‘delicate condition’ but he’s refused entry. Instead, he slips off his gloves and tosses them down to her.
The Mantons, meanwhile, have migrated down to A deck, where the band’s playing. G stops and asks them to play Autumn again and the comply. The family heads up to the boat deck and G notices the Allisons’ nanny in one of the lifeboats being lowered. Dorothy and her mom—who’s holding onto a bottle of scotch or something—get into a nearby boat and Manton tries to herd his wife and daughter that way. Louisa stops and screeches that she won’t get into a boat with a “drunken prostitute” which seems a bit much. Georgiana suddenly completely loses her head and panics, saying she can’t leave alone, and she flees back to her daddy.
One deck down, Guggenheim and Asshole American, who’s apparently his valet, stroll along and discuss their plans: Guggenheim plans to change into something more “gentlemanly” and then wait on events. Seems like as sound a plan as any in the circumstances.
Harry comes tearing through the crowd and manages to find G. He says there are more boats up front being loaded. He’s going to go wave his mom off, and then come find G, but he hopes she’s nowhere to be found, because if that’s the case, he’ll know that she’s safe. HURL! She begs him to stay alive.
Manton asks Lightoller why the boats aren’t being filled, and Lightoller tells him the plan is to lower the boats partially filled and then people can just jump into the freezing water and swim out to them later. Seriously, that was their actual plan. They were afraid the boats would buckle under the weight of a full complement of people. That’s why one boat ended up being lowered with twelve people on board, more than half of them crew. Manton, who’s suddenly become an expert in the number of people the boats can actually hold, tells Lightoller he’s wrong, and hundreds of people will die because of him. I always get annoyed by this stock character—the (usually civilian) person who lectures the crew about how wrong they are in what is clearly a Hindsight is 20/20 situation. We can look back and scoff at how stupid they were now, but in truth, lifeboats did sometimes buckle, and they didn’t really know how thoroughly tested they’d been. After all, Titanic’s sea trials had been a little rushed. They were also using some new types of davits and things that they were unfamiliar with. So yeah, they made mistakes, but they were acting in what they thought was the best interest of everyone on board. The audience stand-in character who sneers at the crew like they magically know better is annoying.
The boat is lowered and Harry and his dad wave off his mom. The woman sitting next to Mrs. W cheerfully introduces herself as Lady Rothes, like this is really the time, and Mrs. W, looking sick, hollowly says her son can’t swim.
Harry finds G on A deck, and she throws herself into his arms as he sadly says he hoped she’d gone. Of course she hasn’t, Harry, we need one more vomit-inducing star-crossed love’s young dream scene. Plus, at this point, she and her family are almost too dumb to live. Harry tells G and her parents that there’s a collapsible being lowered up top. Up they go, and Manton tells Louisa to get in the boat. She takes this particular moment to tell him she’s known all along about his dirty little secret in hiding, and furthermore, she wants to stay behind with him. Come again? You’ve just confirmed your husband was cheating on you, and you want to remain behind to die horribly with him? I take it back, this woman is now actually too dumb to live. Who would do that? Why? G’s all teary and scared, begging her mom to go with her. Harry kisses her and helps her into a boat while she cries for her mommy. Manton takes his wife’s hands and asks her to live—live, dammit!—for him. She looks conflicted as we end part one.
We head to Belfast in late March 1912. A bunch of protesters or striking workers yell abuse at men walking into the Harland and Wolff shipyards to work on Titanic, which is moored at the dock, being fitted out. Bizarrely, there’s smoke coming out of her smokestacks, even though her boilers shouldn’t be lit, since she’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Inside, that Irish dad with the lousy attitude is working on the lighting in the first class dining room as Andrews and Lord Pirrie, chairman of Harland and Wolff, come walking in. Pirrie bitches about the slow pace of the work and asks who’s in charge. Andrews gives the man’s name and Pirrie immediately notes the guy’s Catholic. He can tell that by the name? And what does it matter anyway? You’re in Ireland, Pirrie; I’m sure you’ve run into at least a few Catholics. Andrews says the electrician’s their best guy and Pirrie pretends like he’s not totally prejudiced by saying he hires Catholics all the time—people make fun of him for it! He’s like that person who cracks a racist joke and then says they’re not racist because they have one black friend, isn’t he?
Pirrie’s worried the wiring won’t be done in time for the ship’s sea trials in ten days. The two men approach Irish dad—Maloney, the electrician—and ask him how it’s going. He admits it’s a bit slow because the system’s really complex. Pirrie leaves to meet someone and Andrews asks Maloney if there’s anything they can do to speed things along. Maloney uses this as an opening to talk politics and mention the Home Rule Bill, which was introduced into Parliament the day after Titanic set sail, though presumably people knew about it before then. Maloney complains about being an engineer who can only get a job with a screwdriver because there’s no work for Catholics. Come again? In Belfast? They were a significant portion of the population! There were tens of thousands of them! Maloney doesn’t seem to realize this and thinks there’s no future for a Catholic in Belfast. He wants to move his family to America, but they can’t afford the tickets. Andrews brings the conversation back to the matter at hand—how can we move the work along? Maloney says he knows some guys who are much better than the crew he’s got now.
Andrews is meeting with Pirrie and Ismay and apparently he’s brought up the lack of lifeboats situation. I think we know Titanic didn’t have enough lifeboats, folks. No need to keep mentioning it. If you didn’t know that going into this, then historically speaking, you really missed the boat (so to speak). Andrews says he thinks they’re cutting corners, what with their iron rivets instead of steel and unwillingness to extend the watertight bulkheads to the top of the ship (which was not a cost-cutting measure—they didn’t want to make the first class cabins smaller by installing thicker walls). Basically, this whole scene exists to slam it through our skulls that this ship is in peril, which we already know, having seen part one (and, hopefully, not being totally ignorant of history). Ismay thinks Andrews is just raising objections so he has something to point to “if and when his design is found wanting.” If and when? Did Ismay just basically say something bad was going to happen?
Pirrie and Andrews see Ismay off and Andrews insults Ismay for a second before Pirrie tells him to just get the work done in time for the trials. Andrews goes and finds Maloney and tells him to hire whomever he likes, and as a bonus, he’ll get free third class tickets for himself and his whole family to go to America. Maloney gets all pissed at the idea of traveling third class. Listen, O’HighandMighty—he’s doing you a solid here. You couldn’t even afford third class tickets on your own, so take them and be grateful. What did he expect, first class? Maloney reluctantly agrees to this actually really generous offer. Andrews says there’s no room for all the Maloneys to bunk together, but he’ll make sure he and his sons and the wife and the girls get to stick together at least.
Pre-trials, Captain Smith has tea with a couple of his officers and asks if there’s anything he should know before they start the trials. The original second officer, Blair, mentions there’s trouble finding storage space, so he’s been stashing things kind of randomly. I only mention that because a lot of people think that’s why nobody could find binoculars for the lookouts in the crow’s nest. Murdoch asks if they’re taking precautions against the anarchists and Smith just seems kind of confused, but he says there are firearms aboard. Good to know. Guns are usually useful against bombs. Also, this is the first time I’ve heard so many mentions of politics in a miniseries or movie devoted to the Titanic, and it’s not that I don’t think it’s realistic that people would be mentioning these issues, but they do seem to be going out of their way to jam them into as many conversations as possible, which gets tiresome really fast. Stop showing your work, show. Especially since you get so many facts related to the actual ship wrong.
Maloney takes the tickets home to the wife, who turns up her nose at them too. Geez, this family. She tensely asks how his plans are going for when they get to the States and he says they’re fine. She’s snippy about how Belfast hasn’t been so terrible but he says there’s no career for him there. She’s obviously not keen on leaving, but she manages to put on a happy face and tell him she’s sure he’ll have no trouble finding work stateside.
The day before sailing, Titanic’s in Southampton and Smith’s announcing a crew shakeup to his officers. Wilde is coming on board and chief officer, bumping Murdoch and Lightoller down a notch each and leaving Blair off the roster altogether. He’s going to feel soooo lucky in a few days. Also, while this did happen, I’m pretty sure it didn’t occur the very day before sailing. Cutting it a bit fine, aren’t they?
Sailing day. Mrs. M and her half-dozen kids (they’re Irish! They must have many, many redheaded children!) stand at the dockside, waiting for her husband, who’s already made his way onto the ship and is poking around. Mrs. M realizes one of the kids has disappeared, but fortunately he’s found by some handsome foreign dude, who returns him forthwith. He watches Mrs. M as she and the children move away. Meanwhile, Mr. M finds a cabin, looks around, steals the key from the door, and locks it behind him.
That perky stewardess from part one in second class, carrying some towels around. She runs into Murdoch and asks him if the ship’ll be full. He tells her first class will be, but there will be “some places” in second and third. Oh, come on. No, no, no! The ship sailed very under capacity—first class was actually only a third full, second class about half, and third class about 2/3. That’s fairly common knowledge, or at least very, very basic research. That’s such a stupid thing to get wrong. If you’re going to make that a line, get it right, at least. He asks her name and she says it’s Annie Desmond. I thought for sure she’d be Violet Jessop, who’s fairly famous for being a bit of an unlucky charm, having sailed on Olympic when it collided with the Hawke, Titanic when it sank, and Britannic when it foundered during the war. Oh well. She continues on her way and runs into those Italians we remember from part one.
The Maloneys are making their way through the ship, led by the Mister, who won’t tell the wife exactly which cabins they’ve been assigned. Maloney distracts some stewards who are wondering about the locked cabin door, then ushers his family inside said cabin.
Steward Sandrini reaches his own cabin, finds his uniform, and smiles, satisfied.
Maloney gets his family settled in, packed, as they are, with the “sweepings of the streets of the city.” Man, this guy’s an obnoxious asshole. The sweepings of the streets of the city? How about other families just like yours looking for a better life for themselves? What the hell makes you so much better than them? At least they could afford their own damn tickets, Maloney. His wife tells him not to be such a grump. Seriously.
Someone knocks on the door and he grabs a kid to use as an accessory before opening it to find a steward with the real occupants of the cabin. There’s some back and forth over whose cabin this is, and here’s the problem with this: men and women in third class were completely separated. Men-only cabins were in the bow, while women-only cabins were in the stern. Family cabins were in between. Since it’s only men standing outside the cabin, this is clearly a men-only room, so the steward would know he was lying just based on that.
Instead of mentioning any of that, the other guys get uncomfortable and finally talk the steward into scaring them up another room. Thankfully, steerage isn’t full! Mrs. M, who totally knows her husband’s lying, looks a bit horrified. You’d think she would have been suspicious after her husband had to distract the stewards just to get them into the room in the first place, but apparently not.
Sandrini’s helping to set tables in the dining room, wearing a jacket with waaay too long sleeves. Annie’s there, for some reason, and notes the poor fit. She offers to fix it for him and just so happens to have a needle and thread on her. She quickly bastes up the sleeves, so by the time he’s serving and winking at Georgiana later, the jacket fits just fine. Unfortunately, the maitre d’ notices the wink and chews Sandrini out for it, as he surely would have in real life. Sandrini seems a bit clueless as to why he’s in trouble, so I guess he’s new at this sort of work.
In the third class common room, Maloney’s having drinks with the handsome foreigner who found his kid earlier. Handsome foreigner’s also a bit evasive when asked why he’s going to America, saying he just wants a new start. Mrs. M watches them from a nearby table, where she’s sewing, I think. She drops a spool of thread and Foreigner returns it, finally getting a name—Peter. Mrs. M can barely even look at the guy. Mr. M asks her what her problem is and she says she’s fine, grabs her stuff, and gets the heck out of there.
Sandrini and Annie are chilling down on the first class promenade, which, no. That would never be considered acceptable. Sandrini tells her about the people at his table and says most of them were nice enough. She says her passengers are ok but the first class servants are dicks. She tells him about the Book Incident and observes that Barnes has a soft spot for Watson, which Watson doesn’t seem to realize. Annie goes to return to her actual job, telling Sandrini she’s not supposed to be in first class anyway. Then why was she in the first class dining room earlier? He follows her in, despite her telling him he’s not allowed. But he’s one of those Italians, you know, he plays fast and loose with the rules!
Sunday. Passengers from all classes gather in first class for divine service. Those there include Mrs. M, which is surprising. I guess her husband’s the Catholic and she’s Protestant, then? Peter joins her and whispers something in her ear, which we don’t hear. Whatever it is, it prompts her to move a couple of seats down from him. I’m sure this would pique my curiosity if I was invested in these characters just a little bit, but I’m really not.
The Batleys appear and Batley wonders if they’re allowed in, since they’re only second class passengers. Lightoller tells them everyone’s welcome, and then of course Mrs. B has to henpeck him for the use of the word “only.” This poor man can never do anything right, can he? Also, why is she there? Wasn’t she all pissed he was going to attend a Protestant service? I get the feeling she’s the type who does things like this purely so she’ll have a reason to complain. I hate people like that. Mrs. R watches them pass and complains about the mixed bunch at the service. What kind of super-exclusive church does she go to back home? Behind her, Louisa bitches about exactly the same thing, as well as the fact that half of them “look suspiciously like Catholics.”
After the service, the Batleys go to head back to second class, Mrs. B, of course, hissing “thank God that’s over.” Ugh, she really is the worst, isn’t she? Manton catches them up and reminds them of their tea plans, even as Louisa struggles to look gracious behind them.
Later, Annie helps Mrs. B get ready for dinner and asks her how first class was. Batley says it was lovely, and Mrs. B says she’s sure it will be “once the colors have settled down.” What the hell does that mean? Annie leaves and Mrs. B immediately starts laying into her husband for groveling during tea. Jesus, I haven’t wanted to see a character die so badly since, well, Vera Bates. Batley says he was just trying to be polite and thinks it was kind of Manton to invite them, but she sneers that Manton’s only nice to them because Batley knows about Manton’s illegitimate daughter, who’s tucked away in Dulwich.
Batley’s horrified she knows about that and realizes correctly that she found out by going through his papers. She laughs that of course she went through them. Yeah, what wife doesn’t put her husband’s whole damn career at risk like that? She’s even extra awful about this, commenting that most of them are pretty dull. So don’t read them, you crazy bitch! Mind your own damn business! Find a novel!
She asks him just what she should do with her time, tucked away in a boring house in a suburb of a city she hates. Find a hobby, woman! Preferably one that can’t destroy your husband’s career and livelihood! Plan a garden or something. And don’t expect me to feel sorry for you, being bored with your comfortable, middle-class life. Oh, you poor dear, being all taken care of in a suburb! You and Betty Draper can go sip cocktails and commiserate.
Unfortunately, Batley says none of this, and she sinks onto the sofa, gets quiet for a bit, and finally asks if Manton visits the kid. Batley tells her no, because he thinks it’ll just confuse her. How old is this kid? I’m guessing either she’s pretty young or Manton’s just pretending she is. Mrs. B sadly observes that he wouldn’t need to visit, since he has two healthy legitimate kids at home. And that’s getting to the real crux of her problem—she’s all depressed because she couldn’t have a kid. While that’s devastating for someone who really wants children, I don’t think it excuses her abhorrent, obnoxious, bitter behavior. Batley apologizes for not being able to give her a kid and she tells him it was probably her fault. He sits down next to her and earnestly asks her to tell him what she wants him to do to make her happy. She says she doesn’t want to have to suck up to Louisa ever again. Fair enough—just don’t go to tea next time. Say you have a headache or something, I don’t think Louisa will care. Batley agrees. She sniffles and asks him why he can’t understand that she needs her life to matter somehow. Well, maybe because it’s hard to hear you being earnest when all you seem to do is snark and complain. He tells her that her life has value to him and she holds his hand and cries a bit.
Lightoller comes down some stairs and finds Barnes with Watson. She’s holding a wooden box and looking a bit freaked out. Apparently Barnes had been looking for her. Lightoller asks what’s up and Barnes lies that she’s just a bit seasick. Lightoller expresses his sympathies and is on his way.
Mrs. Maloney is out on what appears to be the second-class promenade. It’s definitely not the third class deck area, which was the immediate aft end of the ship. Her husband finds her and she says she just needed a bit of air. He tells her they’ll have plenty of fresh air in America. Because that’s what New York is known for, right? She asks after the kids and he says they’re fine, they just want their mommy to bring them some tea. She goes back inside.
Up in first class, Mrs. R accosts Lightoller and demands he explain the company policy to her. To whit: why is Mme Aubart permitted in first class at all? He explains they can’t turn away people who can pay for a ticket. Mrs. R goes on to complain about Mrs. Brown, because we simply must pack in as many recognizable names as possible, whether it moves the plot along or not. Also, it’s a pervasive myth that Margaret (not Molly) Brown was disliked and looked down on by her fellow passengers. She was very well educated and generally got along with everyone.
In the bridge, Ismay is responding to the captain’s apparent proposal that they speed up a bit by explaining that White Star doesn’t race. Well, that’s an unusual take on it. Usually films show this the other way round: Ismay urging the captain to go faster. Ismay heads off to bed and the captain says he sees no problem pouring on a bit more steam, despite the fact that he had been receiving ice warnings all day long. Murdoch reminds him of that and the captain dismisses the concern, saying they’re well south of the ice fields. He goes to bed as well, leaving Murdoch in charge.
Batley’s getting a bit of air and peace out on deck, where he’s found by the captain, who asks how the tea was. Batley’s surprised the captain even recognizes him, since he never considered himself particularly memorable. He adds that he did, in fact, have fun, but when the captain asks if Mrs. B enjoyed herself, Mr. B says she never does. He then apologizes for speaking that way, but I think the captain gets it. He moves away and Batley starts to cry, probably realizing just how completely and utterly crappy his marriage is and how stuck in it he is. But then he’s distracted by the sight of a giant iceberg passing by the ship, which really must have been freaky as all hell for those who saw it. He watches, stunned, as it moves away.
Below, ice water starts to pour in, surprising Stoker Sandrini, who just backs against a wall instead of, perhaps, getting the hell out of the room now filling with water. But I get it—shock.
Andrews and Captain Smith make their inspection as the stokers work in waist-deep water to put out the fires. Andrews explains that the berg’s penetrated five compartments, so they’re screwed. Smith stands there, staring like an idiot.
One of the more junior officers wakes Lightoller, who leaps out of bed and starts getting ready.
The Batleys are getting ready, and even now she’s bitchy, saying she has to go get her jewels, because they’re all she has to show for the last 20 years. Oh, whatever. I’m so over her. Annie hands her a lifebelt and tells them to make their way to the second class section of the boat deck. She doesn’t explain exactly where that is, but Mrs. B sneers about how even their drowning has to be second class. As she sweeps out, Batley takes a moment to strap a lifejacket on Annie, which is nice of him.
Smith’s on the bridge, just staring out uselessly. One of the officers says they’ve made contact with Carpathia, but she’s a good four hours away. Smith wonders what the deal is with a ship he can see on the horizon (that’d be the Californian, which was apparently in Titanic’s vicinity the night of the sinking and utterly failed to do a damn thing. Like wake up their wireless operator or wonder why a giant ship might be firing rockets in the middle of the night.)
Lightoller strides into the bridge and says the boats are ready, but he needs orders to start loading. He explains his dumb plan to let the men swim out to the boats later, but Smith’s practically gone catatonic and can’t seem to give his permission to start loading and lowering. Lightoller just takes the man’s silence as acquiescence. Smith shakes himself out of his stupor just a little and wonders aloud if the boats were tested full in Belfast. Isn’t that the sort of thing the captain would know? Weren’t you there for the tests and trials? Or ask Andrews, surely he’d know, he knew everything about that ship, right down to the number of screws in the stateroom coathooks (three, which he considered too many).
In second class, Mrs. B tries to get her jewels, but then the purser’s office shuts down and Louisa happens by and makes her comment about how she’s glad she hadn’t checked her stuff in. That causes Mrs. B to totally loser her head and start screaming at Louisa, and it doesn’t make a whole lot more sense now than it did last hour. Really, I think Mrs. B’s just sort of crazy. And pissed that she can’t get her stuff. But Louisa’s WTF face is fairly priceless. Batley intervenes and asks her if she’s pleased now that she’s almost certainly sunk his job, if they survive. “Stop whining,” she snarls. Stop bitching, lady! And he’s not whining, he’s making a fairly good point. Think you hate the ‘burbs? Wait until you’re poor.
Belowdecks, stewards stand in front of a set of gates and tell the third class passengers to stay calm, because there’s no danger. For some reason that absolutely beggars belief, one of the stewards whispers to the other right in front of everybody that there’s quite a lot of danger, actually. Does nobody have a filter in this series? Maloney shouts at them to at least let the women and kids through. One of his daughters tells her mom she’s scared and Mrs. M comforts her. The stewards chat for a moment, then one of them tells the passengers to send the women with young children through and he’ll escort a group up on deck. Oh, yeah, like that’s not going to cause a huge crowd surge. And it does, of course, and then the stewards stem the tide just before Mrs. M and the kids get through. Mr. M asks to let his wife and kids through, and Peter backs him, but one of the stewards menacingly tells Peter to stand back. Peter grabs the guy and yells for the others to run, so Mrs. M and the children dash through the gate. Mr. M’s held back, though, and then the stewards re-lock the gate.
Upstairs, Dorothy’s pleading with her mother to come with her, but mom’s stubborn and won’t go anywhere. Lightoller shows up to help out and talks Mrs. Gibson into wearing a life vest and going out on deck and getting into a boat. Mrs. Gibson makes nary a peep when he talks to her. Lightoller grabs a bottle of brandy from a nearby bar and hands it to Dorothy, telling her that others on her boat may need it. She looks a bit freaked out.
On A deck, Annie and Steward Sandrini are helping to load a lifeboat. An officer shows up and asks if all these ladies are first class, because they’re only loading the first class ladies. That’s bullshit, they didn’t discriminate like that. This is only to give Steward Sandrini a chance to call the guy an asshole and to allow Murdoch to step in and tell the other officer to just load the damn boat already.
Batley and the missus arrive at the boat and Batley asks if he can go with her. Murdoch’s cool with it, but then the Maloney kids come running over and are loaded in instead. Someone knocks Mrs. M to the ground, and in the sudden chaos, Mrs. B gets knocked down too. Mr. B reacts like she just got curb stomped—he completely freaks out, even though she just kind of hurt her wrist a little. He helps her up and Manton, who’s just helped his wife and daughter into the boat, finds them. Batley sends him on his way and he and his wife go up to the boat deck, where they don’t see any boats nearby. Mrs. B plops down on a staircase, and a random dog comes running over to her. Batley apologizes for, well, everything, and she suddenly realizes that she’s spent 20 years being a horrible person to him. She says she used to be nice and wonders what happened to that woman. Batley takes the blame, telling her he made her go away, because he didn’t give her anything he promised. Jesus, what’d he promise her? A palace and jewels and a dozen kids? If he did, he’s an idiot. And she’s an idiot for ever thinking that was going to happen. She gets in one more jab about living in Croyden and they agree to not hate each other for the last few hours of their lives. She’s throwing in the towel pretty easily. They could at least look for some more lifeboats. He tells her that marrying her was the most exciting thing he’s ever done, and either he’s led the dullest life in existence, or he’s one of those people who thinks fighting all the time = excitement, which is a bit sad. He pulls her to her feet and tells her they should at least go down fighting. She smiles in agreement and they dash off through the crowd, eventually finding a group of passengers, officers, and sailors trying to launch one of the collapsibles. Manton’s among them, but it’s not looking too good, because the ocean’s already rushing up to the bridge.
Ok, I was watching the British version of this when I wrote the recap, so this part might be different in the states, but I’m pretty sure the previouslies showed a scene that wasn’t in any earlier episode: Ismay explaining that there are “quite a few Italians coming on board, and they’re excitable and politically unstable.” Wow. Way to paint an entire nation of people with an extremely broad, stereotypical brush there. Sadly, this episode will only enforce many of the dumber Italian stereotypes.
It’s…January 1911? Ok. The chyron tells us we’re looking at the Siege of Sidney Street, or, rather, its aftermath. The camera pans over the two men who died (because the building caught on fire and then-Home Secretary Winston Churchill wouldn’t let the fire brigade put it out) and—yep, they look pretty toasty. Churchill himself, who’s played by an actor who couldn’t look less like Churchill if he tried, is pissed that the ringleader, Peter the Painter, got away. I know that’s actually the name of the real ringleader in this, but it’s still hilariously stupid. Is that supposed to be menacing somehow? He tells the soldiers standing nearby to do whatever they have to do, just find him.
They do a crap job, because more than a year later, Peter’s ready to board the Titanic, after he returns Mrs. Maloney’s missing kid to her on the docks.
Back in 1912, Lightoller’s distracted from his job loading provisions by an argument nearby. A more junior officer—Lowe—is trying to send Stoker Sandrini on his way. Lightoller joins them and asks what the problem is. Stoker S explains that he’s leaving the ship in New York and was hoping his brother could travel with him as a steward. He just so happens to know that they’re one steward short. Lowe consults a list in his hand, and sure enough, one of the first class dining room stewards is MIA. Lowe points out that the saloon stewards are all English and Irish but Lightoller says there’s no rule saying an Italian can’t serve, so Steward Sandrini—Paolo—is in.
The brothers Sandrini board, as we’ve already seen twice, skirting the Maloney family. Wait, so this is sailing day? Stoker Sandrini really left it to the last second here, didn’t he? Also, how would Lowe have a list that shows a steward’s missing if he went missing so last minute? Did they take a head count earlier? Why am I even asking these questions?
Paolo worries the other steward might show after all, but his brother reassures him that won’t happen, because he got him good and drunk the night before, and by the time he wakes, they’ll be gone. Nice. Why couldn’t you have just tried to get your brother the job legitimately? There were Italian waiters aboard—they staffed the a la carte restaurant in first class. Whatever. Stoker S drops Paolo off at his cabin and tells him not to mess up.
Back at the Maloney cabin, we re-watch part of that scene where Mr. M scams the other guys out of their cabin so the family can stay together. This is a bit of a problem with this program—we end up spending so much time rewinding and rewatching bits we’ve already seen before that there’s no time to develop the many, many characters this thing is overstuffed with. So far, we’ve seen the ship start to sink twice and I have yet to care if a single person lives or dies. I’m just having trouble getting invested in these people when their personalities are so thin and their motivations so murky.
The daughter whines for a drink, so Mr. M takes her to find a “bottle of pop.” They had that in the UK back then? On their way, she tells him she’s nervous about all the water underneath them. He tells her he’d be worried if there wasn’t enough. Yes, that would be a bit of a problem.
Up in the dining room, Annie hems the sleeves on Paolo’s jacket and he asks her if this is her first trip to NY. Nope, she’s been with White Star for a while. He asks if she’s ever been tempted to stay in the states and she turns it around to asks if it’s his plan to stay. As we already know, it is, because America is the land of opportunity, you know. The head steward comes by and yells at Paolo for being “half dressed” and Annie defends him, saying he didn’t want to be improperly dressed when the passengers came aboard. Steward moves away, sneering, and Paolo thanks her. As she goes to leave, he asks if he’ll see her later. She says she’ll be in the servants’ dining room later, or maybe not. He chases her as she goes to the door and asks her name, in case he has to come stalking looking for her. She introduces herself and he does the same.
Later, Mrs. M listens in on her husband’s conversation with Peter as she sews nearby in the third class common room. Peter says he’s tried to change things, but now he’s done with all that. Mrs. M turns around and stares at the guy, then turns back and seems to quite deliberately knock the spool of thread off the table and into Peter’s path. Peter is introduced to her and she acts all weird. Does she already know this guy? As in, from before the journey? What’s her deal?
Paolo dashes into the empty servants’ dining room, where he finds Annie just about to leave to go do her actual job. He asks to walk her to the second class cabins via the boat deck and Annie asks him how that would lead to second class. Perhaps through the second-class entrance at the aft end of the deck? Didn’t anyone involved with this take a minute to look at a deck plan or anything? Seriously, that’s just sloppy and stupid. You can find them on the internet—Google is your friend!
Peter reads in the common room, and then notices another guy rather creepily staring at him. Other guy asks if Peter’s traveling alone and Peter’s basically like, what’s it to you? Other guy shrugs that he was just making conversation and Peter returns to his book. OG grabs his wineglass, wanders over, and introduces himself as David Evans. “I’m on my own too,” he adds, in a tone that seriously made me say: “is this a pickup?”
Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. Evans can’t take a hint and keeps trying to get Peter to chat. He tells Peter he was in the Scots Guards (who were called out to Sidney Street, incidentally). This is a factoid Peter apparently knows and he asks why Evans was looking at him. Evans shrugs that Peter just seemed a bit familiar. “I’m not familiar, not to you,” Peter says in the most menacing, suspicious way he could manage. Well done there, Peter, this guy won’t be onto you at all now.
Later. Annie and Paolo are just relaxing on deck in first class, once again as we’ve already seen. Annie remembers that she has real work to do, unlike Paolo, apparently. He, of course, follows her like the little Italian puppydog he is as she heads up to the boat deck and briefly runs into Mrs. Allison and little Lorraine. She approaches a nearby door and asks a sailor randomly guarding it—against rogue stewardesses, I guess?—if she can go through. He gives her crap for being in first class and having to get to second class, which is absurd because it was entirely possible for the crew to get from one class to the other, and how would this guy know she wasn’t supposed to be in first class anyway? It’s not like she has Second Class Stewardess stamped on her forehead. This is just a totally lame excuse to let Paolo stand up for her, using dialogue so awful I won’t even repeat it here. Nevertheless, it makes the sailor step aside so Annie can get through the door. She thanks Paolo as she goes.
In second class, Annie goes into the Batleys’ room so we can relive the joys of Mrs. B endlessly bitching at her husband. Annie finally makes her escape, listening at the door and giggling a bit, though I don’t know what she finds so funny.
Sunday. A priest in full vestments who almost certainly wasn’t really aboard leads a Catholic service down in third class. Once it’s over, Mr. M suggests a walk on deck to Peter, who demurs in favor of going to first class for the Anglican service, because he’s curious about what’s up there. Mrs. M very obviously listens to what they’re saying, and then as soon as Peter goes she suddenly decides she wants to go up too, just to look around a bit. Her husband’s apparently in a good mood and teases her a bit about the lord smiting her. Their relationship runs all over the place, doesn’t it? He was so douchy when they were boarding and now he’s cute and chill. I guess we can put his jerkiness down to Scam Stress. He takes command of the kids and Mrs. M heads topside.
As we saw before, Peter takes a seat beside her, and then leans over and tells her not to be frightened by the strength of her feelings. She gets up and moves a few seats down. Feelings? Lust, more like. These two have barely said a dozen words to one another, as far as we’ve seen. Then again, since we keep skipping several days of the voyage, maybe they’ve spent hours and hours getting to know each other on a deep and personal level. We’ll never know.
Later, Annie’s up in the first class dining room again because apparently she has all kinds of time to just kick around there, and here we have a bit of a problem. First: see how easy it is for crew members to move between classes? Why couldn’t she do that earlier? And if she’s up in first class hanging around so much and nobody has a problem with it, then why was that sailor giving her shit for trying to go between classes (which, as a stewardess, she’d be doing all the time anyway as part of her job)? This show’s internal logic is so dumb it can’t even follow it.
Paolo tells her about the dinner party the Wideners are throwing and how Guggenheim and his mistress are the only ones not invited. Annie says she wishes she worked there, amongst all the ladies and gentlemen. Paolo asks her if she ever envies them and she says she doesn’t believe in envy. Is this chick for real? What is she, a My Little Pony? Come on, everyone’s envious at some point in their lives. It’s human.
But not Annie, because all she sees are rainbows and unicorns and cute Italian stewards who believe that in America, you can be whatever you want to be.
A steward walking down the deck finds Watson clutching a jewelry box, hovering near a door that apparently leads down to third class. She explains that there’s something wrong with the lock and she thought someone down in steerage could mend it. He advises her to call her steward and she starts acting as suspicious as possible as she desperately says she doesn’t want her boss to know about this. The steward unlocks the door and lets her below.
The brothers Sandrini are in their cabin, drinking (doesn’t Paolo have to work later?) and arguing in Italian. Seems Paolo has decided he’s hopelessly in love with Annie and his brother’s a bit more sensible and thinks this is just some shipboard crush, since they’ve only known each other for five days at this point. Paolo says it’s totally real, and his brother (who is definitely working later. In the boiler room. With very hot boilers and fire) takes a pull from the flask and says Paolo should tell her. Because that wouldn’t make him seem creepy at all. Paolo says he has nothing to offer her, but as Paolo leaves, his brother tells him to offer her his dreams. Because you can totally eat those—I hear they’re delicious.
Belowdecks, the steward and Watson come into the third class common room and call for a locksmith. Peter, the man of many talents, gets up and offers his services. Watson at this point is acting so nutsy and squirrely and weird I honestly thought she was going through drug withdrawal. Her hair’s coming out of its bun and she’s all shaky and wrapping her coat around herself in a strange way. She really seems more “junkie” than “nervous.”
She hands the case to Paolo, along with a piece of wire, and then keeps telling him to take the case over to the corner to work on it. It takes him all of a second and a half to open the case…by turning the key. She takes the box and mumbles that it was jammed before, which is so clearly all a big lie. As she heads topside, Paolo tucks that piece of wire into his pocket.
On the stairs, Watson runs into Barnes, who asks her what the heck she’s up to. She has a total breakdown and starts babbling about money and medicine and food and how her dad’s not feeling well, so she thought she’d solve all that by stealing one of Louisa’s brooches. Just a little one, she won’t even miss it! Barnes comforts her as Lightoller passes and asks if everything’s ok. Barnes covers for Watson and once the officer’s gone, he asks what Watson is doing in third class. She wanted someone else to handle the case so she could blame the theft on him. Woah. That’s pretty cold, lady. And calculating. Your histrionics now do nothing for me—you had to have been planning this for at least a little while.
Barnes is horrified that she would do such a thing, even though she says she figures they won’t notice the brooch is gone until they get back to London. Barnes doesn’t think it’s safe to just assume that and asks her where the brooch is now. She says it’s in her suitcase down in the hold. As she falls back into hysterics, he hugs her and hatches a plan. They’ll go down to the hold during dinner and get the brooch and slip it into the jewelry box before they send it back to the purser. How’re they going to get into the hold? We’ve already seen how hard it is just to get into third class. Despite what James Cameron would have you think, getting into the cargo areas of the ship from the passenger areas was no mean feat.
Annie’s back in the first class dining room, asking Paolo for something for Watson and Barnes to eat. She asks him to continue his rather rote America’s the Land of Opportunity copy from earlier. They talk about their dreams, and then Paolo asks her to marry him. Seriously? Come on. This is because he’s Italian, isn’t it? And those I-talians are all romantic and impulsive and passionate. What a total stereotype. And if you think I’m jumping to conclusions here, try imagining one of the English stewards doing this. I figured Julian Fellowes had fairly low opinions of Italians (if you want to know what I’m talking about, listen to the screenwriter’s commentary to Gosford Park) but this is a bit much.
Annie, to her credit, thinks this guy’s nuts, because they’ve only known each other a couple of days at this point and what normal person behaves like this? I mean, besides bad ethnic stereotypes? He insists he’s serious and this is one of those things you just know. She suggests they get to know each other a little first like normal people would and he tells her that’s no good, because they’ll part in New York and never see each other again. But you can write to each other, can’t you? And she’ll be coming back to New York, if she works the transatlantic routes. He urges her to take a chance on him. Dude, marriage is a hell of a “chance” to take on a near stranger. Chill. She excuses herself and hurries away, like a sane person.
Mrs. M heads out onto the deck, and I notice her hair’s getting bigger and crazier as the episode progresses. Symbolic? Discuss. At this point it could practically be a flotation device. Peter approaches and asks if her husband has a job in New York. Nope, but she’s sure he’ll be ok. Well, not sure, mostly hopeful. She’s actually totally pessimistic about everything. She asks him what his plans are and he tells her he just wants to get out of Europe. It made him angry, and he doesn’t want to be angry. As the tension builds between them, she says she admires his fight. She insists she’s been happy—really!—but she’s never put herself in danger for something she believed in. Some would call that self-preservation. They draw closer and finally totally start making out, and then her husband runs out of nowhere and punches Peter twice in the face. His wife freaks and pulls him off, and Peter goes inside and Mr. M calls him a coward before turning his attention to his totally pissed off wife. He rather sweetly asks if the guy hurt her and she yells that he didn’t, he was just drunk and stole a kiss, and what did he expect, having jammed them into steerage anyway? What? WHAT? The hell does that have to do with anything? First off, I’m so sorry that the velvet-lined cabin with the diamond-encrusted door handles you seem to feel entitled to was already booked, princess. But let’s not forget that your family was so hard up you couldn’t even afford the tickets on your own in the first place, so chill the hell out already. Second, how does being in steerage excuse adulterous behavior? How is you losing control of yourself with some hot guy your husband’s fault? Take some damn responsibility, lady. Poor Mr. M looks like he doesn’t know what hit him, which makes sense.
Later, everyone’s in bed, but Paolo wakes when he realizes the engines have stopped. He hears the sound of steam being released somewhere, and the same noise wakes Mrs. M, who shakes her husband awake. He listens for a sec, then goes to explore.
Below, the stokers are trying to shut down the boilers as seawater pours in. A watertight door starts to close and several of them manage to escape under it into an adjoining room, which is also flooded with water. One of the stokers doesn’t think they’re getting out of this lousy situation.
Annie’s running around with lifebelts and finds Lightoller in a crowded hallway. He gives her some instructions and she confirms that the ship is, in fact, sinking, although I doubt they’d be having this conversation in front of passengers. They were really obsessed with not causing panic during this disaster, and many people didn’t realize the ship was truly going down until the bow submerged. Even then some thought a safety feature would magically kick in and save them all.
Annie tries to get people to put on their lifejackets. Paolo finds her and takes over, forcibly putting lifejackets on some of the women before dragging Annie topside.
In third class, the stewards have the passengers trapped and are reassuring them there’s no danger. David—the guy who’s totally on to Peter—suggests they just take the kids up, and one of the stewards is cool with that, but the other one is afraid of a rush.
Mr. M finds his family and tells them they’re getting the boats off and they’re all lying about there being no danger. He glances at the stewards and says they could just charge the guys. All she can seem to do is stand there gaping and staring at Peter. I want to slap her and remind her that she has six kids to worry about, at least one of whom is terrified of the water.
Up on deck, Lady Duff Gordon and her maid get into the boat. There’s nobody around to get in besides Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and some other men, so they get in, despite the officer’s protestations. Lady D G orders them to lower away, but Annie protests they can’t lower it with so few people. Paolo tries to get her into the boat but she won’t go, so they lower.
Ismay heads to B deck for some reason, where he finds a young officer holding back a crowd of probably scared, confused Italians. He explains they’re the waiters from the a la carte restaurant and Ismay sneers that of course they’d be acting like this. Those damned undisciplined Italians! He snaps at them to be quiet and tells the officer to handle this.
Up on deck, the nearly empty lifeboat is lowering when Manton steps in and orders them to stop, and they do, because apparently the crew answers to random passengers now. The actual officer in charge tells him they can’t just pull the boat back up, so off it goes.
Chaos in third class as a couple of kids are allowed topside. We get the rehash of Peter attacking the steward so Mrs. M and the kids can get up top, leaving Mr. M and Peter behind. Once they’re gone, Evans grabs Peter and tells him to follow. Peter idiotically asks if there’s another way up, as if this guy has any real reason to want to help him, seeing as how he was so friendly earlier and all. Peter follows him to a curiously empty corridor, where Evans puts him against a wall and says he was at the Siege of Sidney Street and knows who Peter is. Is this really the time? Also, all we really needed was that one line instead of that whole useless intro to explain Peter’s backstory. But God forbid we should have extra time to focus on our actual characters instead of trotting out Winston Churchill and blowing a nice chunk of the budget on dead body special effects.
Peter shoves the guy away, but Evans isn’t done. He catches up with him again and Evans gets all melodramatic, asking how many policemen Peter killed. Peter reminds him they’re on a sinking ship here, but Evans is nuts and doesn’t care. So Peter kills him. I think. He definitely leaves him unconscious on the floor, so he’s pretty much dead either way.
Mrs. M and the kids race through the first-class dining room, where they find Bess Allison just sitting around with her daughter, half catatonically talking about how she can’t find her other kid. Lady, GET OFF THE SHIP! Or at least get your other kid off. Stop sitting around! Instead of subscribing to the survival of the fittest idea and realizing she can’t do anything to help this sad but crazy woman, Mrs. M stops and stares at her. Fortunately, Mr. Allison arrives and hustles his wife and daughter away.
Back in third class, a young officer (Lowe, maybe? Although I’m pretty sure he was up top, loading and later manning a lifeboat, so maybe not) arrives and asks the steward where the Italian waiters went. Steward callously says they’re safely under lock and key, and it really is for the best to let them drown like caged, helpless animals. Jesus, they were more humane to the dogs on board (allegedly—it’s thought that someone actually went to the kennels and let all the dogs out because the thought of leaving them caged was too awful). The officer tells the guy not to forget to let them out, like that’s really gonna happen.
Stoker Sandrini and some others have somehow managed to make their way up high enough to come around to the other side of the barrier, where they argue with the stewards to let the women and children up. Steward ignores him. Peter, meanwhile, finds Mr. M in the crowd and tells him he knows a way up. He does? When did he find that? He seemed fairly clueless about other ways topside not five minutes ago. Mr. M’s not keen on following his wife’s seducer anywhere but Peter tells him there’s no time for this, they can go up, see Mrs. M and the kids safely off the ship, and then they can fight to the death. Mr. M’s cool with that. I just threw up again at the terrible dialogue.
Stoker Sandrini somehow manages to get the gate open, and as the crowd rushes the stairs, he’s bundled off to a tiny room where they’ve got all the Italian waiters locked up. They scream for help, but there’s nobody around to hear.
Up on deck, Manton gets his ladies to a boat and Louisa bitches about third class people being allowed on it, even though the lifeboats on Titanic were never segregated by class at all. I don’t think any ship did that. It’s not like you showed a ticket before you got in or anything, it was basically: do you have two X chromosomes? Ok, you’re good to go.
Mrs. M is sent sprawling to the deck and Manton helps her up, just in time for her husband to show up and get all indignant. How’d he find them all so quickly? Did Mrs. M just mosey her way up on deck? The officer tries to tell them the boat’s full, but Manton and Mr. M push through anyway, and when the officer tells Manton he’ll be leaving the kids, Manton responds “You will not!” with such a hilarious fierce face that I completely crack up every time. Which is a shame, because I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be a big dramatic moment, but it really, really isn’t. The kids get on board, along with Mrs. M, but then that one annoying kid who kept freaking out about the ship being on water climbs back on board. Welcome to the idiot brigade, kid. Mr. M runs off to find her.
Paolo and Annie, despite the fact that they’ve probably been on deck this whole time, seem surprised to discover all the lifeboats have launched, except for a couple of collapsibles forward. Annie spots Mrs. Allison and urges her to follow them to the boat. Mrs. Allison still won’t leave, so Annie asks to take Lorraine at least. Bess is apparently uninterested in saving at least one of her children’s lives, so she hangs onto the kid. I feel bad nominating her for the idiot brigade, since she actually existed and this really happened.
The collapsible is being loaded. Louisa refuses a seat. Ismay, who’s helping out, bundles Annie in, and I will say, it’s nice to see Ismay, for once, is being portrayed more true to life in this and not as the sniveling coward he’s usually presented as in movie adaptations. Well, except for that one awful moment with the waiters. Paolo goes over to the side of the lifeboat and reminds Annie that he never kissed her, so she tells him to kiss her in New York. Ok, that was kinda cute. He kisses the palm of her hand and steps back to ask a nearby stoker if he’s seen his brother. Stoker tells him he and some of the others were locked below. Paolo tears off to find him.
In a corridor filled with waist-deep water, he finds a steward—I think it’s the same douchebag steward who was guarding the third-class gate and locked the Italians up in the first place—and asks him where the Italians are. The steward tells him, but needlessly taunts him with the fact that the door’s locked and it’s gonna stay that way.
Paolo finds the right room, which is swiftly filling with water. Yikes. I can’t imagine how horrible it would be to die that way. He desperately tries the door which is, in fact, locked, and screams for help as the water continues to rise.