Previously on Dr Thorne: Mary found out that she’s the illegitimate child of her uncle’s murdered brother, which she figures puts her out of the running to be the wife of Frank Gresham. Frank’s parents need him to marry money and refuse to ever shut up about it, which might make Mary rather attractive in the end, because the incredibly rich Sir Roger Scatcherd has unwittingly made her his heir, after his dissolute son.
Sir Roger takes a walk through the town, apparently for the first time in a while, and it seems that word of his plans to run for election have gotten out, because people immediately begin hitting him up for favours.
Moffatt, meanwhile, has brought all the folk from Courcy with him to do some door-to-door canvassing ahead of his speeches. Thorne comes by and Frank introduces him to Martha, who asks after his charming niece. She, herself, is fairly charming.
Time for the speeches. Moffatt is nervous as hell, ‘trembling like jelly,’ in Frank’s words. Roger takes to the hustings first and immediately starts beating the ‘man of the people’ drum, which plays well with the crowd. One of them actually yells ‘you’re one of us!’ in case we weren’t clear on that.
It’s Moffatt’s turn. He starts babbling about being a reformer, which nobody there cares about. Off to the side, Augusta snips that he should have spent more time charming the voters. Martha counters that he should have spent more money charming the voters.
Moffatt’s campaign manager urges him to just start sucking up to the crowd, but Moffatt can’t even manage that and gets pelted with eggs as a reward, as if these people would waste perfectly good eggs in that manner. There’s a reason people used to throw rotting food. Roger laughs, and then falls to the ground in a fit.
Gresham goes to Thorne’s that evening and is greeted by Mary, who tells him he’s had to go tend to Sir Roger. Gresham, who seems like a decent guy, tells her how sorry he is that his wife had to go and be such a bitch to her. He goes on to say that his daughter, Beatrice, is barely speaking to her parents because of it. This allows Mary to change the subject to Beatrice’s engagement to Mr Oriel. What? When did that happen? Gresham agrees that it’s a quick turnaround but Beatrice is headstrong, so it’s all going ahead.
The housekeeper comes in and tells Mary there’s been a message from Boxall informing them of Sir Roger’s ill health and calling for supplies. Mary prepares to deliver them.
Roger’s in bed, being tended by Thorne. Mary arrives with the requested supplies and Thorne immediately asks her why she’s come. How else were the supplies supposed to get there? Mary explains that she wanted to be there for Lady S, who must be in great distress with all that’s happening. Thorne reluctantly puts her to work.
Roger watches the interaction between the two from his bed, and as Mary leaves asks if that’s Thorne’s niece, whom he’s never seen before despite having lived in this area for his entire life. The hell? How long has he been confined to this house?
At Courcy, some of the men commiserate over Moffatt having lost by four votes. They already had the vote? What did they do, have a show of hands? Moffatt says that he doesn’t plan to run again, then goes to sit with Martha. Lady de C grabs Frank and tells him he has to propose to Martha that evening, because she leaves in the morning.
Moffatt tells Martha that the Greshams are after them both entirely for their bank balances and suggests the two of them get together instead. She laughs and seems to find this a joke, or maybe she really is laughing at Moffatt, which would be fair, and then proves she knows what’s going on by saying Moffatt wants the social prestige the Greshams offer just as much as they want his money. She, on the other hand, couldn’t care less about such things. Probably because she’s American, and what do Americans care for titles? It’s not like American heiresses started marrying them left and right starting around this period.
Roger’s son, Louis, arrives and stumbles into his father’s room, clearly drunk, while Mary’s feeding Roger some soup. Lady S joyfully greets her son, who practically shoves her away before offering his dad some booze, because that’s the type of person Louis is. He and his dad share a bottle, Roger commenting it can’t make much difference now. Louis ogles Mary in a really creepy manner and asks her to stay on to nurse. I shudder just watching him. Mary, keeping her attention on Sir Roger, agrees.
Frank sits down with Martha and admits his aunt is intent on him marrying her. He admits he likes Martha a lot more than he thought he would, but she says she’s a little old for him and he’s in love with someone else, so it’s a no-go all around. She advises he tell his aunt he proposed and she refused. She urges him not to propose to anyone other than Mary. He worries about letting his family down, but she tells him it’s not his job to keep his family in luxury at the cost of his own happiness. She tells him to make what he can of his life, for himself and Mary.
Lady de C comes over and tells Martha they hope to continue to see a great deal of her. Martha shrugs that it’s a shame that’s not possible, then bids them both good night. Once she’s gone, Frank tells his aunt that there will be no marriage. She stomps off and he sits down by the fire, smiling happily. I hope this isn’t the last we see of Martha.
Roger calls Thorne to his bedside and brings up the will again, telling Throne that he’s added a codicil to the will explaining that only Thorne knows the name of Anne’s eldest child. Mary comes in with some blankets and busies herself at the far side of the room. Roger murmurs that he wishes he could have met his niece once before he died. Thorne looks rather torn, but then agrees to grant Roger’s wish and tells him that Mary is Anne’s daughter. Roger is astonished and calls her over. She asks what he needs her to and he says she can cheer him with her lovely face, as she already has done. She cheerfully says it’s a shame that every patient can’t be mended so easily. He gestures for her to come to his side and thanks Thorne for bringing an angel into the house who’ll make it easier for him to face what’s to come. Thorne gently tells Roger to get some sleep.
Louis comes oiling into his father’s bedroom the next morning to find Thorne, Mary, and Lady S asleep in chairs. He smarms that this is a sleeping beauty scene, then claps for everyone to wake up, because he’s a repulsive little shit. Thorne rouses and goes to check his patient, finding that Roger’s passed away in his sleep. Lady S comes over and begins to weep. Mary stands by solemnly while Louis just picks up a book or a paper or something and plunks down in a chair to read it. What the hell is wrong with him?
Thorne sends Mary and Lady S away and has a word with Louis, telling him that Roger left Louis in his charge and he can look on Thorne as a sort of surrogate dad. Louis’s is like, ‘yeah, don’t worry about that. Freedom!’ Thorne, trying to hide his disgust, asks if Louis will stick around for his mother’s sake, but god forbid Louis actually consider another human being. He’s off to London just after the funeral, so any money he’s due can be sent there. Honestly, good riddance.
Frank finds his sister, Augusta, weeping over a letter. Moffatt’s dumped her by the 19th century equivalent of an email. Frank is horrified, and it is a pretty shitty thing to do after the dates had been set. At that time, the scandal of it would have rendered Augusta damaged goods pretty much forever.
Frank storms out of the house to confront Moffatt, only to find Martha in her carriage out front, but no Moffatt. His cousin tells Frank that Moffatt left early. Martha urges Frank to let the man go, because Augusta’s better off without him. Yes, I’m sure she’ll love being the impoverished spinster sister forever dependent on her brother, probably living as an unwanted, ghastly companion in his house forever. Such was the fate of ladies like her, and it was not a good one.
Beatrice returns home from wherever the heck she was. Apparently she was at the Oriels’ for tea, and Mary was there as well, which annoys Arabella. Hang on, Arabella: you can’t expect everyone in the neighbourhood to shun Mary just because you don’t want your son to marry her. And didn’t you want ‘the intimacy’ between your two families to remain intact, despite your terrible treatment of Mary? Make up your mind, woman!
Arabella asks if Mary talked about Frank and hears she did, but the two of them are not in contact. As soon as Beatrice is out of the room, Arabella spitefully calls Mary a little minx. Come again? How so? She’s not in contact with Frank! Heavens!
Arabella goes to see Thorne and to mess things up further, because despite what she thinks, she’s terrible at managing these relationships. She tells him about Mary having the audacity to go to tea with Beatrice and Miss Oriel and now thinks it’s a poor idea for Beatrice and Mary to spend time together. Oh, for God’s sake. Why is she so upset about this? Does she think that Beatrice, once married, will enable Frank and Mary to continue their relationship? I guess so, because otherwise this is just bizarre. Thorne actually laughs at her ridiculousness, tells her to leave Mary the hell alone, and to talk to Frank about this, if she really wants them to remain apart, because Thorne will have nothing more to do with this.
Mary has been staying at Boxall for weeks now, presumably supporting Lady S, who certainly can’t rely on her own child, who did take off for London, as promised. Lady S now tells Mary that it’s been lovely having her there, but it’s probably time for her to start getting back to her actual life. While they discuss the matter, Louis comes riding up the drive, stops to drink and pour scorn on the horse Mary’s about to ride, acts creepy, and introduces Mary to Joe, his new manservant. Mary basically tells him to get lost and looks a bit disgusted by him.
Frank goes to see Thorne and tells him he really wants to pay court to Mary. Thorne says that Frank’s a good guy, but he does have a certain obligation to his family, and to Greshamsbury. He urges Frank to consider his parents. Frank says he has, and it’s made no difference. So, Thorne pulls out the big guns and starts telling him Mary’s whole history.
A lawyer, Mortimer, has been dispatched to Greshamsbury by Lord de Courcy and he’s barely through the door before Augusta starts desperately batting her eyes in his direction. He’s somehow there to help save the place, but unless he can discover a gold mine underneath the drawing room, I’m not sure how that’s possible. Still, Augusta takes him for a walk in the gardens while they wait for her father to resurface from wherever he is.
Thorne goes to see Lady S and asks if Louis is still drinking too much, urging her to try and do something about that.
Lady S: And what, pray tell, makes you think I have even the slightest bit of influence with my son?
Honestly, Thorne, you’ve seen this family dynamic first hand. Lady S can no more make Louis stop drinking than she could make his father go sober. She tells Thorne that the person with the most influence over Louis right now is Mary. Louis’s interest in Mary clearly bothers Lady S, who’s perhaps not as clueless as she seems.
Mary’s out riding, with Louis walking at her side and complimenting her horsemanship. He tells her he’s an excellent judge of both horsemanship and women, like Mary’s going to find that at all charming.
Inside, Louis immediately starts drinking and sits down with Thorne to find out what’s up with these loans to Greshamsbury. He’s discovered the Greshams are in debt to him to the tune of about £90,000 and asks Thorne what would happen if he just called in the loans. Well, he’d own the place, but Thorne observes it’s a little large for a bachelor pad. Louis smiles smarmily and asks what Thorne would think about him getting married. Thorne says that sounds like a splendid idea Louis floats the idea of marrying Mary. Thorne tries not to throw up at the thought and suggests Louis hold off on proposing for at least a little while longer. He stops short of telling Louis to stay the hell away from his niece and simply advises caution.
Mortimer meets with Gresham and says he’s going to look into the estate and see if there are any sources of income they haven’t tapped yet. He brings up Thorne, saying that he’s heard he’s a man of honour, and Arabella bitchily says that’s a matter of opinion. Jesus, Arabella, stop ruining things! Mortimer hints that Louis’s drinking may catch up with him sooner rather than later, and Arabella further horribly says he doesn’t drink quite heavily enough to die on the schedule they need. Mortimer couldn’t possibly look more horrified by this woman.
Frank comes in and tells his parents he has some business to discuss with them. Mortimer excuses himself.
Arabella and Gresham: He’s hoping to advise us on how to save the estate we’ve stupidly run deeply into debt!
Frank: Yeah, about that…
As Mortimer prepares to leave, Augusta catches him and he invites her to accompany him on a walk and tell him a little more about the estate. She can’t go get her coat fast enough.
Frank has told his parents he intends to go to Boxall immediately and propose to Mary. Arabella whines that Mary has done everything in her power to ensnare Frank, and he snaps that she’s wronged Mary cruelly. Arabella looks shocked and wounded by this completely correct assessment and calls him a wicked boy for abandoning his family like this. He tells her he’s starting to hate this place for the restraints it’s putting on his happiness, so she drama queens that he’s going to see them forced out to beg for their bread by the roadside. Her husband says it’s not quite come to that. She swirls out like a spoiled child.
Gresham quietly tells Frank that this is not a sensible choice, and furthermore, Mary’s birth makes her inappropriate. Frank says it makes no difference and accuses his father of being a hypocrite, since nobody questioned either Moffatt’s or Martha’s parentage. Well, no, Frank, probably because their origins were fairly well known. But I see your point. Gresham hears that Thorne advised prudence and told Frank he should really discuss this matter with his parents before he went to Mary. He sighs that he should have expected no less from such a decent man, then asks Frank how he means to support Mary. Frank plans to get this thing he’s heard of called a ‘job.’ Gresham suggests he finish his year at Cambridge, so he’ll have a better chance of getting one of these job things.
Mary helps Lady S pack up Roger’s clothes to give to the poor. Louis comes in and scolds them for being in his room. Mary explains what’s up and Louis harshly tells them to just burn the clothes for all he cares. He then sharply sends his mother away and because she has all the spine of a nervous jellyfish, she leaves. Mary tells Louis it’s not appropriate for them to be alone together. He says he wants them to be alone together for the rest of their lives, which sounds horrifying. She lies that she’s flattered, but that cannot be. He demands to know why not and she just says that she’s not free. He accuses her of having led him on and she just stands there and lets him have his tantrum.
Beatrice passes her mother’s room and hears Arabella weeping inside. Beatrice immediately realises what’s up, so Arabella doesn’t need to explain anything, she just says that Frank has fallen victim to Mary’s wiles. Beatrice kind of rolls her eyes and tells her mother to move on, already. Augusta declares she will not ‘quit the field’ quite yet.
Frank goes to Boxall and is immediately greeted by Lady S, who embraces him joyfully and kisses his ‘naughty little face’ as if he’s still a little boy and she still his nurse. He cheerfully allows it, because of course he does, but Louis comes out and scolds his mother for acting undignified. She reminds him that she used to be Frank’s nurse, while Louis’s father was ‘away.’ Bizarrely, Louis seems to have no memory of his father having been absent for ten years. Now, apparently in the novel Roger was only in prison for six months, which would make Louis’s forgetfulness here more understandable, but Jesus, Julian, if you’re going to change details like this, you have to change all the related details as well. Unless we’re supposed to think that Louis has actually pickled his brain into memory damage, there’s no way he’d have missed the fact his father was gone for his entire childhood.
Lady S goes back to praising Frank, and Louis, getting a curious look on his face, screams for her to stop. Frank politely explains that he’s there to see Mary and Lady S directs him out to where she’s gone riding. One Frank’s gone, Louis demands to know what he wants with her. Lady S merrily reports that the Greshams and the Thornes are old friends. Louis, drunk, as usual, declares he’ll make the Greshams more respectful of the Scatcherds, going forward.
Frank finds Mary outside and apologises for having been away for so long. She excuses it, saying she’s been trying to stay out of his path. At her request, he helps her off the horse and they have A Moment. He tells her that, despite all the time apart, his feelings haven’t changed. She starts to say that she’s not worthy of him, and he says he knows everything and doesn’t care. He says that if she tells him to go away and leave her in peace forever he will, but she can’t say she doesn’t love him. Because of that, he drops to his knee and proposes. She smiles happily and accepts.
Louis emerges onto the terrace and sees them embracing. He takes a swig from the tiniest little flask and stomps back inside.
Mary and Frank go inside to tell Lady S and wait in her sitting room for her to be fetched. While they wait, Mary tells Frank he must finish his degree, just as his father said.
Instead of Lady S, Louis and his manservant come in. Louis invites Frank to stay for dinner and Frank thanks him but politely declines, saying he has to get home. Louis asks if Mary will join them and she says she’s tired and needs to pack, so no. Louis staggers towards her and says he simply can’t allow that. Frank steps forward and warns him off. Louis switches tactics and says he’d like to know Greshamsbury better, since he has an interest in the place.
Lady S appears and Frank bids her, Mary, and Louis goodbye. Lady S tells Louis he frightened Frank off, then takes Mary upstairs so they can pack. Jon, the manservant, who’s clearly a nasty sort, tells Louis that Frank won’t be so proud when he’s been kicked out of his own home. No, he probably won’t.