Becky and Miss Crawley head to London in Vanity Fair Episode 2

Vanity Fair Episode 2: Charmed, I’m Sure

Aside from running anachronistic carousels, PT Thackeray’s job also includes providing the previouslies in a rather frenetic fashion. It’s like he’s in fast-forward or something.

We left Becky, having failed to secure a rich, idiot for a husband, about to start her new job as governess for the Crawley family. So, before we begin, let’s meet another set of aristocratic Crawleys.

Sir Pitt Crawley, MP we’ve already met. He’s equal parts icky, miserly, and greedy. He’s been married twice. The first Lady Crawley was a fine lady who died, presumably of disappointment and despair, after giving birth to two sons. Sir Pitt has now moved on to…

The Second Lady Crawley. Unlike her predecessor, she has no fine family behind her. She’s an ironmonger’s daughter, which means she basically gets either ignored or insulted by her husband and his family. She’s a meek soul, mother to two daughters…

Violet and Rose. Becky’s new charges. They seem like nice enough kids. They’re particularly fond of their elder brother…

Rawdon Crawley. The second son of Sir Pitt and The First Lady Crawley. He’s quite dashing, a soldier, but with few prospects, being the second son and all. But it’s ok, because he’s quite handy at hustling George Osbourne (seems all the officers hang out at just one club in London) and he has reason to believe he’ll come into a handsome inheritance when his aunt dies.

That aunt, Miss Crawley, is middle-aged, rich as hell, loathes her brother Sir Pitt, and kind of enjoys how everyone at Queen’s Crawley fawns all over her when she visits. She does not enjoy the sermonising of

Bute Crawley, the eldest Crawley son, who’s a clergyman and one of those obnoxious clergymen who feels the need to preach constantly. He’s the sort of miserable tick you imagine never smiles. His wife,

Lady Jane Crawley, is just as bad. Pinch-faced and nasty, which isn’t quite how I remember her being in the novel or in any other iteration of this story I’ve seen, but like I said in the last recap, it’s been quite some time since I read the book, so maybe this adaptation has it more right with her than the others.

So, that’s the household Becky’s now part of. Becky kind of looks around on her first day and decides to basically charm the hell out of everyone, which is a solid plan. The girls are quickly won over, as is Lady C, just through Becky not being a jerk to her. Sir Pitt goes solidly Team Becky when Becky takes it upon herself to start getting his business affairs in better order, ensuring him a greater income.

Bute and Lady J are tougher nuts to crack, but it doesn’t seem like Becky’s hugely concerned with them anyway. Lady J, it turns out, went to Miss Pinkerton’s as well. What a coincidence! Seriously, is there only one finishing school for girls in all of London? I know there were far fewer girls’ schools in the early 19th century, but still, this kind of stretches credulity. Also, unless I misheard or misunderstood something in the first episode, I thought Becky’s father was the drawing teacher at Miss P’s for some time, and that Becky had basically been living there for a good portion of her life, so wouldn’t Lady Jane know her? Or at least know of her in some way? Or wouldn’t the name Sharp ring a bell? It’s just that it seems like she has no clue who Becky is, but if Becky had been living at the school for, say, a decade or so, her time there should have overlapped with Lady Jane’s. Lady J couldn’t be that much older than Becky.

But apparently Lady J doesn’t know Becky, so she goes off to the school to find out more about this young lady. And Miss P, for some reason, essentially tells her that Becky’s bad news. So, hold up, Miss Pinkerton is now admitting to a well-connected former pupil that she placed a terrible employee in her household? What an incredibly stupid thing to do!

And it doesn’t even matter. At least, not yet, because Lady J just sits on this information. Even though Miss Crawley is due a visit and everyone’s scrabbling to get her money and Becky almost immediately starts making friends with her. You’d think that, under those circumstances, she’d leap at the opportunity to discredit or get Becky out of the way somehow. Bute is certainly starting to sweat, but Lady J basically tells him to relax, because Rawdon will end up sleeping with Becky, ruining her reputation, and then they can just toss her out and never hear of her again. Yeah, Lady J is a pretty terrible person.

She’s very nearly right, though. Both Rawdon and Miss Crawley are falling under Becky’s particular spell. Miss Crawley even confides in Becky that she loves an unequal marriage and hopes Rawdon makes such a romantic match himself. This has big, flashing signs all over it screaming, ‘Don’t listen, Becky! What rich people say and what they mean IRL are two totally different things!’ You know, like when the Tories say they really want to benefit the people and make Britain stronger, while actually punishing and further impoverishing 99% of the population.

Sorry. Where was I? Right, Miss Crawley and her obviously BS position on rags-to-riches romances. It’s as obvious a lie as Becky’s claim to be related to the Montmorenceys, but nobody calls either of them out on these absurd claims. Easier just to let them ride, I guess. Rawdon seems to be taking his aunt’s words to heart, though, as he tells Becky he has no intention of seducing and then dumping her. Aww, bless, he respects her! How nice! Not that Becky would have been stupid enough to sleep with him anyway, but at least the threat’s no longer there.

We get this anguished declaration of… non-rape, I suppose, during a ball (a ball! Drink!) at which Miss Crawley is taken ill. Becky nurses her, per Miss C’s request, further solidifying their friendship. When the time comes for Miss Crawley to leave and head home to London (with Rawdon in tow, of course), she takes Becky with her, annoying the whole family. Becky leaves without so much as a second glance, and I get that she doesn’t actually care about these people or her two pupils, but that still seems a bit cruel and foolish considering it appears she’s hoping to become a more permanent member of this crew.

But Becky’s not the best at thinking more than a couple of steps ahead, so she just goes, driving off in Miss Crawley’s carriage as Madonna’s Material Girl plays over the departure and end credits, which is just jarring and odd. Look, I’m not one of those people who loses their mind when modern music is used in a period piece, but it has to be worked into the actual film or show in order to truly work, in my opinion. Otherwise it just feels strange and tacked on and kind of drags you out of the mood and time period. But, that’s just me.

In other news: things are going really badly for Amelia. George is being a terrible boyfriend, ignoring her letters, not writing, not visiting until Dobbin almost literally drags him to Amelia’s door and shoves him through it. Amelia’s in such distress over all this she doesn’t notice her dad’s looking really stressed. She definitely notices that George’s father starts behaving like a jerk towards her, though, despite George’s sister trying to play the peacemaker during a very uncomfortable family dinner. It finally comes out that Amelia’s father has been ruined, and that George’s father not only isn’t going to lift a finger to help him out, but is calling in all his loans, ensuring the family’s financial destruction. I mean, I know he’s a businessman and all, but geez, Mr Osbourne, that’s pretty cruel, no? So, even as things are looking up for Becky, they must assuredly are NOT looking rosy for Amelia. Poor girl.



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