We learned some things this week! Apparently Sidney is Miss Lambe’s guardian, which just brings up a whole extra host of questions. How? Does he know her parents, or something? You usually didn’t make some total stranger the guardian of your child, particularly when that child is worth a huge fortune. So, what’s the deal there?
Also, the creepy Denham siblings aren’t really siblings. They’re step-siblings, which means this show has now gone full Cruel Intentions on us. I did not expect that.
It’s the day after the ball, and Charlotte seems a bit chastened after the (unwarranted) bruising she received from Sidney. She asks Tom if she can help him out in any way, and this ends up with him taking her to a nearby building site, so she can see how the town is being built and fancied up. She stuns the architect with her knowledge of building materials and sight lines. The architect’s like:
Sidney appears as well, and Charlotte again tries to apologise to him, and once again he’s a dick to her, so she’s basically like, fine, whatever. Good for you, honey.
Lady D decides that Miss Lambe and her huge fortune would be very good for Sir Edward, with his crumbling house and lack of funds. Edward and Esther are kind of ‘eh’ on the idea, because what they really want to do is ruin Clara so they can step into the void she leaves behind and become Lady D’s favourites.
This is why Edward was in the garden with Clara, but when she hears that Clara, uh, gave him a hand, Esther completely freaks out and tells him he may have ruined their prospects. How? I mean, wouldn’t he have ruined them just as well by seducing Clara?
It’s worth noting that Edward claimed Clara was ‘no novice’. We’ll get back to that. Esther decides to see to Clara herself. But first she lets her hair down and puts on a dressing gown so she can receive Lady D and one of Sidney’s well-connected friends which makes me roll my eyes so hard I give myself a headache.
Lady D is planning a luncheon party, complete with a very exotic pineapple centrepiece, sent all the way from London. She’s planning said luncheon in honour of Miss Lambe, but Miss Lambe isn’t having it. She locks herself in her room and refuses to come out, because she’s sure she’s just something exotic for everyone to stare at. Sidney steps in and lays down the law, so off to lunch she goes.
She’s late, and when she does show up she puts on a heavy accent. Lady D foists her off on Sir Edward and sweeps into the dining room.
As everyone files in, Esther grabs Clara and basically calls her a whore. Clara says she learned these things from a man even more depraved than Sir Edward, when Clara was too young ‘to learn a prick from a pencil.’ Yeah, that’s totally the kind of language ladies of this class raised in the countryside used casually. Clara says that she and Esther shouldn’t be enemies, and Esther gets right in her face and hisses that they can’t be otherwise, since they’re competing for the same thing. Way to show your whole hand, Esther. Idiot.
Charlotte, of course, is sat next to Sidney, but when he tries to engage her in conversation she awesomely shuts him down and tells him she’s not going to set herself up for another unearned tongue lashing. And also? He might want to learn some basic manners.
Things get tense at this lunch almost immediately. Miss Lambe refuses to be impressed by the pineapple, which leads to some pointed words from Lady D. She is also quite unimpressed by Sir Edward, who, to be fair, isn’t trying terribly hard.
Apparently uninterested in keeping up even a bare pretense here, Lady D asks Miss Lambe what her views on matrimony are. ‘An heiress with £100,000 must be in want of a husband.’ Sigh.
Miss Lambe responds that she’s not interested in being any man’s property, which gives Lady D an opening to go full racist asshole and smilingly bring up the fact that Miss Lambe’s mother was a slave, so she shouldn’t have any issues with being owned, right?
Miss Lambe manages not to cram that pineapple right down Lady D’s throat and replies that being used to a thing and liking it are two different things.
Lady D sniffs that Miss Lambe is very opinionated, and then calls on Charlotte to give her opinion. Oh, great. Charlotte just can’t win with these people. She replies rather diplomatically that Miss Lambe is right to value her independence, just as Lady D does.
Lady D then decides to go after Charlotte, for some reason, and accuses her of only being in Sanditon to find a rich husband. Charlotte laughs at the very idea and says that’s not it at all, she’s here to enjoy herself. She’s not interested in marriage, and if she were, she’d only want to marry for love. Of course she would. To not do so would make marriage a kind of slavery.
And, once again, Lady D has a nice opening to be a bitch. She laughs that it can be an escape from slavery, as it was for Miss Lambe’s mother: ‘a pretty young negress’ who caught her master’s eye. Ugh. Yeah, let’s ignore all the implications of sexual exploitation there.
Lady Denham then goes ahead and asks Miss Lambe if she’d be willing to marry Edward. Miss Lambe responds that they aren’t suited. Arthur applauds her boldness, which seems somewhat out of character for him. He then goes to cut up the precious pineapple, only to find it’s rotten at the core, and full of maggots.
The lunch ends in a shambles. Everyone is sent home except for Tom, who is made to stay back so Lady D can complain to him about his brother, Miss Lambe, and Charlotte, none of whom are people directly under his control. She finishes up by threatening to pull her whole investment, which definitely gets his attention.
When she hears about this threat, Charlotte immediately takes all the blame and goes to her ladyship to apologise personally. Lady D’s had some time to cool down, though, and accepts Charlotte’s apology. She also tells her she won’t be taking her money back. So, that’s good.
She also laughs about how Charlotte can’t seem to help but speak her mind all the time, but I’m not sure what she’s basing that on. She offered her (very gentle, very diplomatic) opinion at lunch when she was forced to, but she’s not exactly Lizzy Bennett speaking up whenever she feels like it, saying things that others tend to find quite controversial. This is just some poor writing, honestly.
Here we are again: Lady D prods Charlotte into telling her her thoughts on Lady D’s behaviour at the lunch. Charlotte hesitantly says she feels Lady D was impolite to Miss Lambe, which is a very nice way of putting it. Lady D can’t believe Miss Lambe isn’t falling all over herself with gratitude at having had a luncheon thrown in her honour, as if that luncheon wasn’t an opportunity to humiliate and belittle and humble her, throw her at some wretched poor relation, and spew racist bile.
Miss Lambe is done with Sanditon and tries to flee to London, but she’s like Queen Elizabeth in that she never has cash about her person. She tries to convince the stagecoach driver to take her to London, where her banker can pay him, but she just gets laughed away, and then rather brutally manhandled up the street.
She goes out to the cliffs to cry, and there Charlotte finds her, on her way home from Lady D’s. Charlotte comforts her, and now the two are well on the way to becoming besties. They stop by the beach to wade in the water for a little while, until Miss Lambe’s teacher finds her and hustles her away.
Meanwhile, Sidney’s hanging out at the inn with his friends, who make some lewd comments about the ladies. Of course, as soon as they mention Charlotte Sidney gets all crazy, because he looooooves her and some writers continue to labour under this ridiculous notion of “he’s only mean to you because he likes you!”
Tom arrives to have a word with his brother. Apparently Sidney’s job is to find tenants for the fancy new houses Tom’s building in Sanditon. Apparently Sidney stands to profit quite a bit from this endeavour, provided it’s a success, and yet he seems to be making absolutely no effort to make it a success. Ok. Tom admits he’s a bit stressed about everything and Sidney basically tells him to just relax, he’ll get this done. He then heads off to blow off some steam.
He does that by going for a nude swim. Unfortunately, Charlotte accidentally comes across him while searching for seashells after Miss Lambe has been taken home.
Mortified, Charlotte turns away, while Sidney just… stands there and proceeds to have a whole conversation with her. The hell? Forget this not being period appropriate (which it definitely is NOT), this isn’t even something most normal people would do nowadays. Put yourself in either of these people’s position. You’re butt naked and someone you hardly know, whom you don’t really get on with all that well, finds you? You accidentally see someone you don’t know very well, but don’t quite get along with, naked? Would you just have a chat? Hell no! One of you would be scrambling for clothes or something to cover yourself with, and the other would probably be trying to get out of there.
Charlotte finally does find her feet and runs.