Previously on Great Expectations: Pip almost helped a convict escape, then got drafted to play with a miserable little girl being fostered by the local nutjob. After he grew up, he received a sudden inheritance from a mysterious benefactor and was sent off to London.
Pip arrives in London and it’s all noisy and busy and he’s wide-eyed and country boy-esque. He’s dropped off at the Inns of Court so he can meet with Jaggers. He asks someone where the office is and the guy goes off his nut and starts screaming about how he was there first. Jaggers arrives, surrounded by a crowd of pleading people, and Mr. Me First offers to pay him double if he’ll take his brother’s case. Jaggers is already on the others side of that, so he gestures for Pip to follow him inside.
His office, where he’s divested of his court garments, is creepily decorated with a cast of a dead man’s head. Jaggers explains that Pip, like other boys he’s looking after, will present himself at the office every Friday for his allowance until he comes of age. After that, he gets his whole fortune and can do with it as he likes. Furthermore, Pip’s going to be rooming with Herbert Pocket, which is not something he’s keen on, considering how his last meeting with Pocket went. But those are the arrangements. Jaggers’s right-hand man, Wemmick, gives Pip the first installment of his allowance once Jaggers is gone and explains that the head is that of a man who was hanged for his crimes. His last wish was that Jaggers keep some remembrance of him, and Jaggers sure did. Pip rightly thinks that’s kind of awful.
Pip is shown to his new lodgings, where he oddly has to bribe the watchman to get into his own apartment, which seems a bit harsh. Pip seems pleased with what he sees—it’s a pretty cool old building, though dark. Clearly Tudor or Elizabethan. As Pip steps in, he’s met by a very friendly Herbert, whom very keen-eyed viewers may recognize as the same actor who played Viserys Targaryen, the jerk who was so memorably crowned on Game of Thrones. He’s a lot less douchy here. He apologizes for being a jerk years ago and says he totally deserved to have Pip punch him in the face. He adds that he understands if Pip’s uncomfortable sharing rooms with him. Pip explains that it’s just Herbert knew him from the old days, and he doesn’t want those days following him to London. Herbert earnestly says he feels the same. He’s a different man now—his family’s cut him off for being in love with a young lady they don’t approve of, so he’s trying hard to make his way in the world on his own. The two agree to start over.
Herbert takes Pip to Finch’s, a gentleman’s club, to begin Pip’s training in the art of being a gentleman. That starts with ordering some wine, of course. Over the course of their conversation, Herbert reveals he, too, believes Havisham is Pip’s benefactor.
Further lessons include waltzing, which Pip sucks at for a while, but Herbert’s a good sport. Pip starts spending his money on all kinds of useless crap and new furniture and clothes, practicing penmanship, and finally mastering the waltz. He and Herbert are soon besties, and Pip’s confidently ordering his own wine and sending bottles over to people he wants to impress. Herbert’s starting to worry about Pip’s spending and all their partying, which isn’t improving his employment or marital prospects.
One afternoon, while Herbert and Pip are at Finch’s, Joe shows up, seriously pissed off that Pip hasn’t been in touch, and shoves his way in. Herbert greets him politely but Pip’s clearly mortified. Joe accuses him of being hard to find, but then goes on to say that he went to Jaggers who gave him Pip’s address, where they said he might be at the club. That doesn’t seem that hard at all, Joe. Pip takes Joe back to his rooms so they can talk away from his hoity-toity friends. Joe observes that Pip looks and talks differently now, and he dresses him down for failing to send any word home to say he’s safe and happy. Joe lays the guilt on thick, saying the forge and house are empty without him, and his sister lives for his letters. I don’t think doing his hateful sister favors is going to win Pip over, Joe. Joe notices that Pip refuses to really look at him and realizes he’s ashamed of his home and family. Pip doesn’t deny it, but since Joe’s the nicest man on earth, he embraces the kid before he leaves. Later, Pip tries to write a letter home, but he only gets through the greeting before he crumples up the paper and gives up.
Pip arrives at Jaggers’s for his allowance and finds Herbert there waiting for his fiancée, Clara, whom he happily introduces to Pip. They’re joining Wemmick for their usual chess night. Pip’s noticeably put out to be excluded from chess nights over in Wolworth. Wemmick arrives and cheerfully tells them there are sausages and a rhubarb pie with rhubarb from his own garden waiting for them. Mmm, rhubarb pie. Off they go, leaving Pip to Jaggers.
Pip goes in and finds Jaggers a bit annoyed that his previous appointment’s ditched on him. As soon as Pip joins him in his office, Jaggers lectures him about his spending, which is getting a bit out of hand. He warns Pip to be more prudent. Pip defends himself by saying his benefactor clearly wants him to improve himself, so his spending is reasonable. Jaggers sharply tells him to reign it in, and then his previous appointment, Mr. Drummele, shows up, completely unapologetic. Remember how I mentioned that Herbert’s not a jerk in this? That’s because this guy soaked up the entire douchebag allowance for this entire production. You can tell right away. He’s got dickheadedness just oozing out of his pores. You hate him on sight.
Jaggers dismisses Pip and Drummele asks him who he is. Pip introduces himself and Drummele clearly thinks his name’s sort of hilarious. As he goes to leave, Pip returns for a forgotten glove and overhears Jaggers scolding Drummele for behaving in some unseemly manner. Pip eavesdrops until he’s caught by Jaggers’s housekeeper.
In voiceover, Havisham invites Pip back to Satis House to escort Estella back to London and so Havisham can look him over. Pip takes a carriage back and notes that Orlick is now working the gate at Satis House, looking ragged, hollow-eyed, and wraithlike. He’s like a walking cadaver—it’s totally creepy.
Inside, Pip looks over the dusty collectables for a while, until Havisham comes in and says he looks very handsome. She’s briefly surprised that he didn’t want to see his own family, but then she realizes—and approves of the fact—that what was fit company for him before isn’t fit for him now. Jesus, lady, it’s his family! Not that I would expect her to have any healthy concept of that. She turns to present Estella, and it’s treated like Estella’s arrival is a big reveal, but we already saw her all grown up, and, well, to be honest, the casting of Estella is a bit of a problem for me here.
Now, don’t get me wrong—the actress who plays her is lovely, but something went kind of wrong. I don’t know if it’s the hair and makeup, or the costuming, or the lighting (for sure that stupid hairstyle with a bunch of dark curls just dumped on the top of her head isn’t doing her any favors), but the 25-year-old actress looks like she’s in her mid- to late-30’s, a fact that becomes really apparent in later scenes when she’s with other young ladies. That’s not a good thing. The problem might also be that they cast a very pretty (not handsome, in my mind—pretty) young man to play Pip. He’s prettier than she is, and looks much younger, when in the book he and Estella are only a year or two apart in age. Estella’s supposed to be incredibly lovely, because if she’s not, then there’s not much reason for Pip or anyone else to totally fall for her as soon as they see her, because her personality sucks. Thanks to Havisham, she’s a frigid, calculating bitch. Who wants that, if they’re not blinded by beauty? So, in my opinion, Estella’s pretty badly miscast, which throws a lot of the production off.
So, we see Estella, and Pip’s struck by her, but she just looks sullen. Havisham thinks they look awesome together. Estella has a creepy piercing look, like she wants to suck Pip’s blood or something.
Later, Estella coldly bids Havisham farewell. Havisham orders her to respond to all letters promptly. Before he goes, Pip warns Havisham that her new gatekeeper isn’t trustworthy, and she should get rid of him forthwith. She promises to do so. Wow, that was kind of a dick move, Pip. You’ve now deprived this man of his job twice. I know he wasn’t nice to you when you were a kid, but you don’t have much reason to do this to him now. It seems so petty. Estella seems to be taking all this in, and I get the feeling she doesn’t like what she’s hearing.
Pip and Estella take the carriage back to London together, making slightly stilted conversation. She reminds him she warned him once to leave and never come back and he tells her his circumstances have changed. When asks, she explains she’s being handed over to a Mrs. Brandley, who will be her chaperone. She softens a bit and tells him she’s glad there’ll be at least one familiar face in London, and she hopes they’ll see each other often.
Herbert finds Pip at the club and tells him his employment situation is looking rather hopeless. And then he cutely apologizes for not being so perky. Pip orders up some champagne and tells Herbert he’s in love with Estella. Herbert’s face falls and he rather gently tries to tell Pip that Estella, having been raised in the creepiest house in Britain by the creepiest woman ever, might not be the best choice of mate. Pip’s got the wrong end of the stick and thinks Havisham has just been keeping her dead fiancé’s memory alive all these years, which he thinks is romantic. Uh, Pip, have you seen the inside of that house? There’s nothing romantic about psychotic obsession. Even Queen Victoria would say that Havisham was taking things a bit far, and she had people laying out clothes and shaving water for Prince Albert every single day for the rest of her life. That was a good 40 years after the guy died. Herbert sets him straight: said fiancé didn’t die, he jilted her on her wedding day, after having conned her out of a bunch of cash. See, that doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. If the guy had half a brain, he’d have married her, gotten control of all her cash and property, and taken off with it. Or had her committed or something—it wasn’t difficult for men to do at that time, sadly, and I doubt in Havisham’s case it would have totally been a lie, because the woman’s clearly got stability issues. To just grab some cash and run seems rather short-sighted.
Not long after the jilting, Havisham adopted Estella, allegedly from family friends, though nobody knows who those friends would be. Pip accuses him of being a snob and disapproving because nobody knows about Estella’s background but of course that’s not the case at all. He just thinks Satis and all it produces is poisonous. Pip insists Herbert’s wrong and he’s going to marry Estella.
Oh, great, the douchebag has arrived. Drummele strolls over to them and greets Herbert, who looks down and seems uncomfortable. Turns out the two of them were at school together, and I’ll bet you anything Drummele was a huge bully and Herbert a target. You can tell by Herbert’s demeanor—it speaks volumes. He quickly makes his escape and Drummele takes over his seat and the champagne. He makes fun of Herbert for a minute before asking Pip where he went to school. Pip covers well and says he was schooled privately. Drummele smiles smarmily and says he likes meeting new people.
Pip arrives home to find Herbert asleep on a desk covered in letters, presumably from or to prospective employers.
The next day, Pip intercepts Wemmick on his way into the office and tries to butter him up a bit so he can chat with him, but Wemmick puts him off and tells him to make an appointment with the clerks.
I guess Pip gets his appointment and meets with Wemmick in a prison, where Wemmick’s cutting a deal with a condemned prisoner to take said prisoner’s chickens off his hands so they can join his flock at Wolworth and be looked after. Pip thinks this is kind of abhorrent but Wemmick tells him the guy won’t need them anymore. He asks Pip what he wants and Pip explains that Herbert can’t find a job, mostly because he doesn’t have the money to buy into a firm. Wow, is that really how it worked back then? That sucks. Pip does have the money, though, and he wants Wemmick to arrange for Herbert to get the job, secretly at Pip’s expense. Wemmick advises against giving away his portable property, but Pip insists, so Wemmick finds some shipping company to take Herbert on. This rather nice move on Pip’s part seems to make Wemmick thaw a bit towards him.
Pip heads to Richmond to spend the evening with Estella, her chaperone, and the chaperone’s friend and two young daughters. And next to the daughters, Estella looks much, much older. Just sayin’. Estella whines that she’s sick of being looked at all the time. Then go back to the countryside, honey. Or fake an illness. Stop going out in public. I hate it when people complain about how much of a burden being desirable is. Pip reassures her that no lady can hold a candle to her. They take a walk across the room and some guy throws himself in front of her and melodramatically tells Estella he’s called several times but she never seems to be available. Yeah, man, she’s just not that into you. Take a hint. Why would you be so obsessed by someone who treats you so poorly? She coldly tells him he’s making a spectacle of himself and continues her walk with Pip. The other guests gossip, and Estella’s chaperone tells Pip he needs to go and flirt with the other young ladies. He demurs, but she bluntly tells him this is a market, and all the stock must be assessed. That’s a pretty crude statement for a woman of her class and time to make to a young man she barely knows. Drummele wanders in and bows to Pip, who bows back and explains to the hostess that they’re friends. She awkwardly launches into a whole lot of exposition, talking about how Drummele’s going to be a baronet and is all well bred, etc. as Drummele goes over to kiss Estella’s hand. Pip hurries over to intercede and Drummele drawls that he and Pip seem to be seeing the same tailor. Indeed, they’re almost dressed identically. Pip asks if they can chat later and Drummele agrees, suggesting they go to his “other club” instead of Finch’s.
The “other club” is a high-class brothel. While they wait for the girls to show up, Pip flat-out lies that there’s been an “understanding” between himself and Estella for years, and he’d hate to see Drummele get attached and then be disappointed. Oh, Pip, you poor, naïve idiot. Like Drummele’s the type to ever get attached to anyone or anything. I’ll bet he kicks puppies and kittens. Seriously, that’s how thick this guy’s jerkass aura is.
The girls come in, and Pip gets super uncomfortable, because he had no idea what type of place this is. Drummele checks them out and picks two. Pip looks away and excuses himself. Drummele calls him out on his virginity and starts to get mean, telling Pip he should just copy what he does, because that what Pip does all the time, isn’t it? He says he knows what Pip is—not one of “them”. Whatever. Pip gets out of there and stalks down the street, but he stops when he hears someone following him. He turns but doesn’t see anyone there.
On a pleasant afternoon, Pip’s having a picnic with Estella in the park while her chaperone snoozes. He asks her how well she knows Drummele and she tells him not to worry his pretty little head about Drummele, because he won’t get a moment’s joy from her. I don’t think anyone will get a moment’s joy from you, Estella. Pip tells her Drummele’s not what he says he is and she melodramatically says that none of them are. He asks her if she remembers anything about her life before she was adopted and she tells him she’s not sure.
Suddenly, Estella rises, throws off her gloves, hat, shoes, and stockings, hikes up her skirt to well above mid-thigh and wades out into the water of the pond or whatever they’re sitting next to. Pip follows her in, and they stare at each other for a second, then he reaches out and gently touches her face and throat and they kiss. Meh. It’s no Mr. Darcy diving into the lake near Pemberley. In fact, it’s kind of pointless and totally period inappropriate for her to be running around showing off her legs. This isn’t Dickens by way of The Only Way is Essex. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be.
Estella remembers herself, pulls away, and hurries out of the water, leaving Pip to stroke his own lips and probably wonder if that was all some kind of dream.
Later, Pip and Clara (who played Mary Boleyn in The Tudors, and is soon to be seen in that Julian Fellowes Titanic miniseries) observe Herbert at work. She quietly tells Pip she knows he was the one who helped Herbert get the job, and she thanks him for being such a good friend.
Pip and Estella go to visit Havisham, who’s acting even crazier than usual, because apparently Estella hasn’t been including enough detail in her letters. She drags Estella off to pick her brain, barking for someone to give Pip whatever he wants.
Pip cools his heels in the collection room, fixating on a moldy corner, where the wallpaper’s begun to peel off the wall. Havisham and Estella burst out of a nearby room and Estella makes for the stairs, telling Havisham shortly she’s told her everything and now she’s tired and wants to rest. Havisham keeps begging for details, asking if “he” weeps and wondering how Estella can be so cold to her. How do you think, Havisham? She can’t turn her emotions off for some people and not others, it doesn’t work that way. Estella essentially says as much and Havisham follows her up the stairs, shrieking childishly, as always.
Later, Pip finds Estella playing the piano. He watches her for a while, then asks where Havisham is. Estella tells him she retired early. He asks about the argument and she says Havisham wants Estella to love her, but Estella can’t, because she’s heartless. Pip reassures her that’s not true, but let’s face it, it is.
As Pip prepares to leave, he tells Havisham he’ll be of age soon. Estella comes down the stairs and tells Havisham she’ll write and keep her abreast of her progress. Havisham calls her cold again, and Estella leans in and says she’s what Havisham created, and if she created a weapon, she can’t complain when she gets hurt too. Havisham seems to cry, or something—I don’t know, she’s acting really weird in this scene, not looking at anyone or anything—and Pip bows and leaves.
He’s returning soon enough, though, but to the forge this time, because his sister’s finally shuffled off the mortal coil. He and Joe greet the mourners at the gravesite, and while Joe says his last goodbyes, Pip goes to one side to talk to his jerky uncle, who tells him she’d been sinking fast, and this is a bit of a relief, because now Joe can start working again. Seems he’d been unable to take care of the missus and do the blacksmithing. Pip’s surprised to hear this, though he might have been better informed if he bothered to write every once in a while. Uncle says he arranged the wake, and there was such a demand to see Pip and his pretty clothes, that the guy actually sold tickets to his own niece’s wake. Pip disgustedly points this out to the man, who refuses to be repentant, because he’s gross.
Joe and Pip return to the house, Joe seeming a little stunned by what’s happened. He explains he tried to keep up the house but wasn’t as good at housekeeping as his wife. Pip tells him he was great and nobody could have done more. Joe gently urges him to go to the wake but Pip’s not interested in his uncle’s freakshow. Joe tries to get him to spend the night, but Pip says he has to go back to London to take Estella to a ball. Geez, Pip, come up with a better excuse than that! The man just lost his wife and could really use his family around—lie that you need to help a friend or something. Or skip the stupid ball and be a human being, I know you have it in you! What a dick move. Joe turns from him in disappointment and Pip can’t even bring himself to put a hand to the man’s shoulder to comfort him.
He doesn’t skip the ball, either. In the very next scene he’s waltzing around with Estella while Drummele looks on pissily. Once the dance ends, Drummele goes to claim Estella, who can’t refuse, and off she goes to dance with him. Pip joins her chaperone on the sidelines, and the chaperone seems much more pleased by the sight of Estella dancing with Drummele than she was with the sight of Estella with Pip. She does, however, tell Pip he’d better move fast, because Drummele is very taken with Estella (for some reason) and he’s used to getting what he wants.
Once the dance ends, Pip wanders into a neighboring room, where Drummele joins him and tries to suss out what Pip did before he got his money. Estella looks on from a distance, along with her chaperone. Drummele tells Pip that something about both him and Estella doesn’t smell quite right, but at least she doesn’t “curdle the milk.” See, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I can understand him figuring Pip was a recent addition to this rather closed-off world, but Estella’s spent virtually her whole life in it. She was schooled at the right places, taught to act the right way from very early childhood, so there’s absolutely no reason he should think she didn’t belong in high society. It’s not as if there’s some kind of built-in radar that aristocrats have that can detect when someone’s parents aren’t titled. At least, I’m pretty sure there isn’t.
Estella intervenes and asks Pip to see her to her carriage, because she wants to go home. As they walk away, Pip thanks her for rescuing him. She tells him the Season will be over soon and Drummele will go back to his estate and Pip will never have to see him again.
Herbert and Clara have finally gotten married, and the happy couple, Pip, Clara’s dad, and Wemmick are celebrating modestly. Herbert proposes a toast to everyone and announces that he’s heading to Cairo to set up a new office for the company he works for. Pip looks sad to be losing his friend. Later, he and Wemmick wave the Pockets off and Wemmick reminds him that he comes of age the following day, so his life can begin in earnest. Pip looks a bit pleased by that.
Later, Pip’s asleep in his rooms—with candles lit, which seems a bit dangerous. Someone comes in and looks at him for a bit, then moves around the room creepily until Pip wakes up, sees him, and grabs a poker and tells him to get the hell out. The intruder turns and reveals himself to be Magwitch, the convict Pip helped all those years ago. Magwitch reassures him he means Pip no harm, and he’s brought something for him. He upends a sack and pours out a whole lot of money, happily telling Pip that it’s his promised fortune. Because Magwitch, not Havisham, is Pip’s benefactor. Pip drops the poker in slow-motion horror.
A little later, Magwitch and Pip sit looking at all the cash carpeting the room. Magwitch marvels at its beauty and makes Pip take a wad of it in his hands, but Pip looks like he’s about to throw up and is still having trouble wrapping his head around the fact that Havisham’s not his benefactor. Magwitch can’t figure out why this kid’s being such an ungrateful little snot.
Both hear a key in the door, and Magwitch draws a knife and grabs poor Herbert as soon as he walks in. Herbert, though terrified, is incredibly—and almost hilariously—polite to the man holding a knife to his throat. Pip begs Magwitch to let Herbert go and Magwitch does.
Herbert gets Magwitch settled in his old room, and Magwitch thanks him and apologizes for what happened before. Herbert—still politely—asks Magwitch how long he plans to stay in London and Magwitch says he’s home for good. Herbert smiles until he’s out of the room, then he informs Pip they’ve got a major problem on their hands. Pip’s more concerned with what Herbert’s doing home—turns out Clara’s dad drank so much he forgot they were married and ran Herbert off on his wedding night. Poor Herbert really can’t catch a break, can he? Herbert returns to the subject of Magwitch, who’s in serious danger, having returned to London with a life sentence hanging over his head. Pip densely and selfishly prefers to dwell on the whole “who’s your benefactor?” question and insists it can’t be Magwitch. Herbert tells Pip this guy clearly is his benefactor and they need to figure out what to do next. Pip, still not seeing the big picture here, claims this is some hoax and claims he can prove it.
Pip heads out into the night, unknowingly passing by Orlick on the way, who watches him go menacingly.
Pip heads to Havisham’s, where he’s quite surprised to see Drummele, who calls the place a mausoleum and rather bluntly informs Pip that he’s marrying Estella. This has been quite the day for backhanding Pip, hasn’t it? Not that it couldn’t happen to a better person, at this point. You have to admit, Pip’s been kind of a douche most of the time since he came into his cash. Drummele dicks around for a bit, like he does, and acts like an asshole, and I try and figure out exactly why Estella’s marrying this guy at all. She’s never seemed to like him, she doesn’t need the money—is it just to get away from Havisham? Because there are plenty of other less horrifying men out there who could serve the same purpose. I guess this’ll be one of those things that’ll always bug me about the story.
Pip runs to Havisham’s room, where he finds Estella and Jaggers. Pip desperately tells Estella not to marry the guy, and she claims she warned Pip, although she totally didn’t. Sounding a little crazy, Pip tells her she’s supposed to marry him. Oh, is she now, Pip? And who decided that? She essentially says the same and Havisham smiles happily up at her cruel little protégé. Pip immediately proposes and tells her he loves her and Estella coldly tells him he’s supposed to—everyone is. Why? What’s there to love? She tells him she doesn’t love back because she has no heart. I’d believe that. Pip reminds her of their kiss and she tells him that was just practice, just like their childhood playtime. He was just a training tool. Even Havisham looks a tiny bit ashamed by that. Pip cries. Jaggers looks bored. Estella leaves and Havisham paints a horrible picture of living with a broken heart, day after day after day. Pip begs her to stop this, because Drummele’s cruel and arrogant, but Havisham insists he’s perfect. For what? Havisham says Estella will break the man by giving him a joyless life, which I feel like he has already. I mean, the man never seems happy at all, and he sows misery whenever he can. Maybe he is perfect for Estella. Pip says Drummele won’t give a crap if his wife doesn’t love him, but Havisham’s mind is made up, because she’s crazy. And then she tells Pip she never would have let him marry her prize. He says she knew he thought she was his benefactor, like she cares. She’s a bored crazy lady who you know enjoys playing mind games, Pip, how is any of this surprising to you? Remember how she pulled the rug out from under you with that whole apprenticeship deal?
She disappears into another room and Jaggers asks if Pip’s heard from Magwitch in New South Wales. Pip says he actually got the news in person, and Jaggers is not happy at all to hear that Magwitch is in London. He tells Pip not to breathe a word of it and not to speak of it with him again.
Pip arrives back in London and is immediately intercepted by Wemmick, who drags him off to the hiding place Herbert found for Magwitch. Herbert is the best friend ever. While Pip’s off whining and stomping his feet and being a child who can’t have his toy at Havisham’s Herbert’s putting his own reputation (and possibly his freedom from incarceration) on the line to hide Magwitch. And yet Pip still only thinks of himself for a while, thinking Herbert’s found a hiding place for him from Magwitch. I long for Wemmick to haul off and slap Pip but he doesn’t, just tells him that if Magwitch is found, it’ll be pretty bad, and there are lots of eyes on the ports right now, so they have to work out a plan to smuggle the guy out of the country. Pip’s not keen on helping Magwitch, even though this guy’s done quite a lot for him, but Wemmick shuts him up and takes him into the gloomy room where Magwitch is stashed.
Herbert’s already there, and Wemmick wastes no time launching into an explanation of how this is gonna go. He tells Magwitch they’re going to all work together to find a ship they can get him out of the country on and try and draw attention away from his whereabouts however they can. Magwitch wonders who would bother to put a price on his head after all these years and Wemmick tells him a man named Denby, who belongs to Pip’s club, has put a £1000 bounty on him. Yikes! Magwitch doesn’t know any Denby, but when Pip mentions the guy has a scar just under his eye Magwitch realizes this is Compyson, the guy he tried to kill on the marshes way back in the beginning. And he’s pissed to realize he’s still running around. Wemmick urges him not to go after the guy, because he’ll be found and hanged. Magwitch, much as he hates this guy, isn’t in England for him, so he tells Wemmick and Herbert to make their plans and promises to lay low. He tells Pip he’s sorry, that this isn’t how he planned it, and Pip sullenly tells the man who’s given him everything that he should have stayed in New South Wales. Ungrateful little shit.
Wemmick follows Pip out of the room and urges him to accept Magwitch’s money, however distasteful he might find it. Pip snits that he doesn’t want anything from him. Well, nothing he hasn’t already taken, I guess. I don’t see him returning his clothes and things. Wemmick reminds him that he still owes that shipping company Herbert works for a lot of money and he needs cash to pay them off. That’s how this works. Pip says he’ll find it somehow without Magwitch’s help.
Herbert and Pip sit in front of the fire in their rooms and Herbert wonders if this Compyson could be the same man who conned Havisham all those years ago. And now we’re starting to move into Dickens Contrivance Territory. Hang on, because it gets absurdly bumpy from here. They wonder what could be between Compyson and Magwitch but Pip doesn’t care. He thinks Magwitch is evil, but Herbert thinks the guy’s changed, as people often do. It’s called growth, Pip. Pip, still unable to focus on anyone other than himself, tells Herbert about Estella and Drummele and Herbert says he’s sorry, and then manages to bring it back around by telling Pip that he traveled quite a distance to find out he’s not wanted, just like Magwitch just did. He tells Pip they need to see this thing through. I love Herbert. Can the story be about him from now on?
No, of course not. Somehow, Orlick manages to get hold of the keys to Pip’s place and breaks in while nobody’s home. He picks some food off a plate and pokes around, trying on some of Pip’s clothes and being kinda gross.
Pip, meanwhile, goes to Magwitch’s hideaway and manages not to be such a jerk this time. He asks Magwitch what the deal is between him and Compyson, guessing that there was some criminal arrangement between the two that went sour. Magwitch says they were in on something together, but apparently it wasn’t the Havisham scam. Pip asks why Magwitch focused on him—is it really just because he stole a file for him once? Nope, it was because of the pie slice that Pip grabbed for him. Pip had actually forgotten all about it. Magwitch read that as Pip being an actual caring person. Pip then kinda proves him wrong by putting his abandonment of his own family on Magwitch’s shoulders. Sorry, Pip, but Magwitch didn’t make you act like an uncaring jerk to Joe and your sister, that’s all on you. Grow up and take some damn responsibility already. Magwitch says as much, bless him, and the two men face off for a second, then Magwitch sort of smiles and says they both made messes of everything.
Estella’s in her wedding dress, heading to the chapel with her chaperone, who’s smiling happily. Estella gets cold feet and starts freaking out, but her chaperone fiercely tells her to compose herself, lowers the veil over her face, and tells her she looks just lovely. It’s actually a fairly sinister moment.
The clock strikes 12 as Pip watches in Wemmick’s office. Pip rather desperately says there’s a chance Jaggers may have raised an objection to the marriage, but why would he? Wemmick tells him that’s very, very unlikely. Then, like a good man, he goes to dig up some brandy. While he’s gone, Jaggers and his housekeeper, Molly, come in, she weeping and he telling her he said she shouldn’t have gone. She cries that he’s not the master of her and can’t tell her where to go. She whispers that he promised “she” would be taken care of and Jaggers tells her it’s beyond his control. She looks sad and leaves. Jaggers finally turns and sees Pip standing there, then whirls around and follows Molly out.
Satis House. Havisham’s writing a letter to Estella, but just as she finishes it, the housekeeper hands her a bundle of letters that Estella’s sent back. Looks like someone’s been cut off. She starts to weep.
At her new home in the country, Estella watches out the window as her husband beats a beautiful horse for no reason at all. Just in case we weren’t sure that Drummele wasn’t a good guy. Thanks for the subtlety!
In London, Herbert informs Pip and Wemmick that there’s not a single ship leaving whose captain he feels he can trust, so they’re stuck with Magwitch for a while. And Herbert’s leaving for Cairo soon, so time’s a-ticking. He regretfully says he wishes he had better news before leaving. Wemmick sighs and says again that Pip needs to accept his inheritance and pay off this shipping company already. Pip, who’s gone and found his conscience at the worst possible moment, tells Wemmick that he can’t accept the money because Magwitch wants Pip to be a son to him, and he can’t be that, so taking the cash would be deceiving him. I don’t recall Magwitch ever making that kind of a demand on Pip, but ok, we’ll go with it. Pip says he’ll sell all his stuff, but it was all bought on credit, so that won’t do any good at all.
Compyson’s chilling at his club at night when one of the footmen comes over and tells him there’s someone who wants to talk to him. Compyson goes outside and finds Orlick on the steps. Orlick—weirdly talking like Smeagol—tells him Magwitch has come back, but he doesn’t quite know where he is yet. He’ll find out, though. Compyson tells him to hop to it.
Pip returns to Satis House, which he finds in even more disarray than usual. Even the housekeeper’s gone now. He finds Havisham and worries a bit about her living alone. She seems to be cracking up at an even faster rate than before, but she’s sufficiently with it to realize that Pip’s come to ask her for money. He redirects the conversation by asking if she’s heard from Estella. She pauses and then says Estella left her, after all she’s done for the girl. Pip insists that he and Estella were made for each other—really, Pip? How do you figure?—and says the house could have been full of life and love and kids and rainbows and ponies and whatever. Like two people as utterly broken as Havisham and Estella could have made this fantasy happy home he’s created in his head. Not without some serious psychological help, which wasn’t available at the time. Havisham almost collapses, and Pip darts forward to help her, but she brushes him off and says she wants him to go. She agrees to give him money, if he’ll just leave, and he agrees. She writes out the check for Herbert’s job but doesn’t care what it’s for. She just hands it over to Pip, who thanks her before turning to leave. She says she knows she hurt him, and that she wanted to hurt him and everyone, but now she wants forgiveness. Pip gives it, readily, then leaves.
Once he’s gone, Havisham puts on her wedding veil, picks up her mummified bouquet, collects Estella’s letters, and stands at the hearth, lighting them on fire and dropping them at her feet. Eventually, her dress catches on fire and she…just stands there as she burns to death. Oh, come on. There’s no way, no matter how insane or composed you are, that you can just stand perfectly still while burning to death. It’s agony. Your body reacts no matter what. She’d be writhing in pain at the very least, and probably screaming a lot too, and also instinctively trying to put the fire out. She does none of these things, just stands there in a big old fireball until she finally drops to the floor, dead. Pip, walking away from the house, must smell the smoke or something, because he turns, looks back, and starts to run back. Farewell, Havisham. Your little girl voice really did get pretty irritating after a while. Sorry, but it did.
Pip returns to London, where Magwitch sweetly treats the burns on his hands. He tells Magwitch he wishes he hadn’t come back for Pip’s sake, and he wishes Magwitch had his own family to give all this to, so he wouldn’t be putting his life in danger just for Pip. Well done on the maturing there, Pip! Magwitch launches into his sad story then: Compyson got his scar from Magwitch’s wife, whom he tried to rape. She slashed his face and got herself arrested for attempted murder. Oh, Victorian law systems! Rape’s cool, apparently, but fighting off your attacker? Not ladylike. Anyway, Magwitch came back from wherever he was during all this and found out his wife was in prison and their daughter was dead of a fever, so he tried to hunt down Compyson. Then, some time later, Compyson and Magwitch got tried for a crime they both did, but while Magwitch was ordered to be transported, Compyson was just considered a gentleman who fell in with the wrong crowd, so he got off with virtually nothing. Yeah, that’d piss me off too, after everything else that guy had done. Compyson was smart enough to know that Magwitch would try and kill him first chance he got, so he escaped from the prison ship and Magwitch followed. And that’s how he met Pip. Pip asks what happened to the wife and Magwitch tells him Jaggers was her lawyer, so she was spared, and because of that, Magwitch decided to make Jaggers Pip’s guardian. I wonder why Magwitch never made any attempt to reconnect with his wife? Maybe it was explained in the book—I don’t remember, it’s been years since I read it. That just occurred to me now. Magwitch goes on to say that he filled up the void in his heart with hard living, and then he decided to devote himself to sheep farming to build up a fortune for Pip. He talks about his daughter for a moment, and it’s clearly difficult for him—Ray Winstone really sells this particular moment, and then he happens to namedrop that his wife’s name was Molly. How many other Mollys do we know connected with Jaggers?
Pip’s next stop is Jaggers’s office, where he gets to “ah ha!” that Estella’s actually Magwitch’s daughter.
Remember how I brought up Dickens Contrivanceland earlier? Let’s recap this insanity for a second, shall we? Jaggers just so happened to be the lawyer for Miss Havisham and this random woman, Molly (which begs the question—did lawyers not specialize in those days? I’m genuinely asking, because it seems like Jaggers would be a criminal defense lawyer, but then he also handles Havisham’s estate and the estates of young men like Pip, so it seems like he’s kind of all over the place, law-wise). Molly’s married to Magwitch who just so happens to be arrested and sent to a prison ship right near the home where Jaggers has secretly placed Magwitch’s not-dead daughter to be raised by Jaggers’s other crazed client, Havisham, who was jilted by the very man Magwitch is trying to kill for trying to rape his wife, which is what got her sent to prison in the first place and got Estella placed with Havisham. Got that? Now, I get the Molly-Jaggers-Havisham connection—that makes sense. But the convenient placement of the prison ships, the Compyson-Havisham connection (which completes the slightly crazy Compyson-Havisham-Magwitch circle) and the fact that Pip, the same kid who just so happened to help Magwitch also just so happened to be the one selected by Havisham to be Estella’s childhood playmate…yeah, I’m not buying all of that. You almost have to assume there were fewer than 100 people in England at that time for this many paths to cross like this. In my mind, at least. But that’s kind of a Dickens thing, isn’t it? Like how in Oliver Twist the guy Oliver gets arrested for allegedly pickpocketing just so happens to be his long-lost grandfather. What are the odds of that? Very, very slim, let me tell you, even back then.
Ok, I’m done. Pip asks if Jaggers took Molly’s case because she was beautiful—Molly, by the way, is played by Susan Lynch, who seems to play all sorts of characters, from those supposed to be seriously ugly (A Royal Scandal) to those meant to be lovely (Ivanhoe), so your mileage my vary on this one. Pip goes on to accuse Jaggers of basically forcing Molly to be his mistress, which seems like a bit of a leap. Jaggers listens, stonefaced, and tells him that Molly came and stays of her own free will. Pip’s on a roll, though, and sneers that he realizes now why Jaggers wanted Magwitch kept away, because he was afraid all these secrets would be brought to light. Jaggers finally loses his temper and tells Pip he’s never seen these little kids left on their own after their parents die or go to prison, so it’s not really for him to judge what Jaggers did. He thought Estella would be well cared for, living with a wealthy woman, which was a fairly reasonable assumption at the time. I’m guessing the full extent of Havisham’s craziness wasn’t quite so apparent back then. Molly steps into the room and lurks in the doorway and Jaggers calms down and tells Pip that it would cause a lot of damage to a lot of people if they went about telling the truth now. Molly tells Pip it’s time for him to go, and Pip obeys.
Outside the office, Wemmick whispers to Pip that Herbert’s found a ship they can put Magwitch on. Pip figures Wemmick’s always known the whole, sordid story here and Wemmick basically admits it, then tells Pip to get Magwitch ready to leave by the following night.
Pip heads to the hideout, followed by Orlick, who smiles creepily as he watches.
Magwitch isn’t delighted to have to flee the country, but he brightsides that at least this time he won’t be chained. Pip asks to go with him, because he doesn’t feel like he can go home, after he acted so crappy to Joe. Magwitch welcomes the company.
Pip finally sits down to write a letter to Joe, telling him he’s going away for a while. As he writes, Orlick sneaks into his rooms with a hammer and tries to attack Pip, who manages to keep him at bay. Orlick snarls that he should have drowned Pip back when he first came to the forge, but now he’ll just crush Pip’s skull like he did Pip’s sister. Well, there’s one mystery solved. He monologues for a bit, explaining how he’ll get rid of Pip bit by bit, which is charming, and nobody will miss him, which is actually probably true, what with Herbert leaving the country. Pip finally manages to overpower Orlick, grabs a lantern and a bag, and leaves. That felt kind of anticlimactic.
Herbert and Clara meet Pip and Magwitch by the river with a map and explain that he needs to get Magwitch to the London stone. Once he’s past that, he’s out of the London police’s jurisdiction and can’t be touched. At midnight, the ship will arrive and they can board. Pip embraces both Clara and Herbert and Herbert asks him to write to them so they’ll know he and Magwitch are safe. Aww. Pip and Magwitch climb into a rowboat and get on their way.
Estella’s sitting down to dinner, looking blank, while Drummele is still out beating that poor horse. Is this all he does? Finally, the horse gets fed up, and there’s the sound of a scuffle outside and someone screams. Estella goes to the window, then runs outside, where she finds her horrible husband lying lifeless in the drive, dead from a serious kick to the head. Well done, horse. Estella kneels beside him for a moment (and for the first time we can see some bruises on her shoulders, so I guess Drummele took a break from beating the horse long enough to beat his wife), then goes over to the horse and thanks it.
Pip and Magwitch row through the fog until they spot the stone. They make their way towards it, but then Magwitch realizes that’s not the stone at all, but another boat. Magwitch pulls out a knife and intuitively knows that this is Compyson coming. The other boat pulls up next to theirs, and sure enough, it’s Compyson with a collection of soldiers. Magwitch throws himself at Compyson and stabs him in the belly before both men go overboard. Compyson resurfaces, dead, and then the soldiers manage to pull Magwitch up. They beat him savagely, even as Pip begs them to stop.
In London, Pip gets all dressed up just before some debt collectors show up to reclaim the furniture and collectables Pip never paid for. Pip tells them to help themselves.
Pip’s next stop is the prison where Magwitch is being held. Pip bribes the jailor with some jewelry and Magwitch is moved to a slightly more comfortable room. Further bribes and Pip’s allowed to actually care for the man, who’s in a bad way and clearly dying.
Enraged, Pip returns home, accompanied by Wemmick and telling him there has to be some leniency for a dying man. Wemmick says the law’s the law and there’s nothing he can do about this. At his front door, the debt collector informs Pip there’s still a pound owing, and Pip shortly tells him he doesn’t have it.
Pip returns to the jail and tends Magwitch some more. Magwitch asks if he has the money and Pip lies that he does. Magwitch tells Pip they won’t be taking him to the gallows, as his breathing gets more labored. Pip takes his hand and tells Magwitch his daughter didn’t die at all. She was adopted by a rich lady, and she’s very much loved by Pip himself. With that, Magwitch breathes his last. Pip kisses the man’s hand, closes his eyes, weeps, and uses his last little bit of swag to pay off the man who buries him. Wemmick asks him where he’ll go and Pip figures he’ll hand himself in to the bailiff for his outstanding debt. Wemmick tells him that’s been paid—he wrote to Joe. And there’s a shilling left over. Wemmick hands it to Pip, shakes his hand, and wishes him good fortune. “Anything but that, Mr. Wemmick,” Pip says soberly.
Back to the forge Pip goes, to make his peace with Joe and return that extra shilling. He realizes Joe probably spent his life savings bailing Pip out and Pip knows he didn’t deserve it. Joe says nothing, just embraces the young man.
Some time later, Pip meets his uncle on the road and uncle douchily laments the fact that Pip will probably need to work for a living now. But he’s in a fairly good mood himself, because there’s someone living in Satis House and ordering groceries from him again, so all is well!
Having learned that Estella’s now a hugely rich widow, Pip hurries to Satis House, which is still quite a mess. Estella spots him from an upper window and comes down to meet him in the courtyard. He smiles, she looks like she’s about to cry, they stare for a bit, then join hands and stand there together in the rather cold light. I’m going to take that as a sign that they don’t necessarily live happily ever after, because someone as messed up as Estella would surely have problems forming functional, healthy relationships, right? It’s what she was trained for, after all, and that’s not something you can just turn on and off.
So, that’s Great Expectations. I wasn’t stoked when I heard about this, because like Jane Eyre and the Austen cannon, there have been far too many adaptations of this already, so more just seem like overkill. This doesn’t add anything, in my opinion. You’re just as well off watching one of the other versions. And honestly, I didn’t care for this Havisham, with her annoying little-girl voice and big, wondering eyes. It made her seem more like a perpetual child playing a creepy game of dress up than the damaged, crazed, calculating woman she always seemed like to me. Other than that, it wasn’t bad—the performances were ok, though none of them really blew me away. So really, for me, this was just kind of eh. I’ve seen it, and now I’m done with it. And I hope that next year, Masterpiece decides to take a little bit of a risk and maybe show us something we haven’t seen before. Enough with the Dickens and the Brontes and the Austens. They’re overdone, and there are plenty more good historical novels to choose from. Personally, I’m still holding out for The Shuttle, but I don’t have much hope, too obscure, probably. But I can dream, right?
2 thoughts on “Great Expectations: Part II”
I’ve always thought Susan Lynch’s looks are just on the cusp between beautiful and ugly. I guess it depends on the camera angle or the lighting.
And how she’s styled and made up. She played both the beautiful love interest in Ivanhoe and the loathed and unattractive Princess Caroline in A Royal Scandal. So she definitely does run the gamut, like you said!