This espisode will air on PBS Masterpiece March 27, 2022. It is already available to watch on PBS Passport for paying members.
We are back again in Sanditon to recap the second episode of season two, which begins with Charlotte walking on the beach, heading for her new job as a governess. Colonel Lennox trots by on his white horse, greets Charlotte, and wishes her good luck. Before he rides away to join the other men, he tells Charlotte that she can expect an invitation.
The mystery continues about Sidney’s purpose for being in Antigua. Arthur walks arm and arm with Georgiana as he conveys that the agent only knows that he was there on her behalf. No purpose was revealed for that visit, so the mystery continues. Georgiana tells Arthur that she will write herself to pursue the matter.
Charlotte arrives at the Colbourne estate and knocks on the front door. No one answers, so she walks around to the back and enters through the servant’s quarters. Greeted by Colbourne’s housekeeper, Mrs. Wheatley, Charlotte is told she’s late and was expected at nine o’clock. Advised she’ll receive her wages at the end of the month, she’s also informed that the household is making wagers that she won’t last a week in her new position. Mrs. Wheatley has placed a bet in her favor of a shilling, and Charlotte assures her that her money is safe.
Colbourne bursts onto the scene to greet Charlotte and declares he will introduce her to her new charges. With a warning, “brace yourself,” and Charlotte’s wide eyes, they climb the stairs. As they enter a room with two desks, he stands before them and introduces Charlotte as their new governess. Augusta, his niece, and Leonora his daughter are not too keen upon her arrival. “I trust you will show Miss Heywood more courtesy than you afforded her predecessor,” he barks. Colbourne is cold and unyielding in his opinion that they need to be taught to be young ladies. After he declares their faults to Charlotte, he says, “Good luck,” slams the door, and departs. At this point, the audience wishes Charlotte good luck as well.
Poor Georgiana is faced with another suitor, as Mary walks behind her as her chaperone. After one whisper in his ear, the man storms off declaring that she is, “a disgrace.” Poor Mary then tries to counsel Georgiana on why she should marry. After all, with her wealth, she is vulnerable and needs a man for protection. Mary, as we can see, holds to the old way of thinking that a woman must marry for protection, rather than pursuing independence.
Lovely Rosie Graham, who plays Alison is a joy to watch as her face lights up running down the stairs of the Parker household because she sees a soldier approaching in uniform. She declares her excitement, runs out the door, sees Captain Fraser instead of Captain Carter, and says, “Oh, it’s you.” Her palpable disappointment is greeted by Captain Fraser handing over an invitation to dine with the Colonel and his company. Alison is far too eager and sends her regards to Captain Carter via Fraser. The poor man is being used, and he knows it.
Now, brace yourself, because Augusta, as you will soon discover, is a thorn in Charlotte’s grief. She is the Regency-era teenage bully, if you will, intent on hurting Charlotte and degrading her to such a point that she hopes Charlotte will leave. No doubt it was a tactic used on the other governesses she endured. Charlotte, of course, is astonished at the bitterness of this young lady, who becomes a challenge to reach emotionally. In one of her snarky moments, as the three do embroidery, Augusta gives Charlotte her creation. It says, Charlotte Heywood – Spinster. Alas, Charlotte is much too kind to react to such cruelty, but the pain is evident on her face. Be forewarned the behavior continues for many scenes as Augusta attempts to undermine Charlotte in her new role.
Jack, the snake, sees Esther shopping and approaches her to give his speech about how reformed he is. Esther, of course, doesn’t believe a word. In another scene, Esther is in church, thinking that God has taken against her. Our Reverend certainly doesn’t help, as he wants to know when the children will arrive and states, “The fruit of the womb is God’s reward.” Great, use the good book to stab poor Esther in the heart. However, we soon learn that the Reverend’s sister has insight and empathy.
Tom puts down another one of Arthur’s ideas, while he, on the other hand, spouts his own idea off to Colonel Lennox as they take a tour of the town. Oh, Tom, single visioned Tom. Will the man ever change?
Charlotte is busy with Leonora collecting mollusks for examination, placing them in a jar. As the three of them sit next to a brook, Leonora talks about never knowing her mother and that her father doesn’t like them mentioning her name. Augusta sits there with an evil eye, plotting how she can use the slightest thing to rid herself of Charlotte. “You can’t miss what you never had,” Leonora declares in regards to her mother. They return to the house, having a short interaction with Colbourne as Lenora shows him her catch and declares they are malacologists. Afterward, he challenges Charlotte’s choice of activity, which he doesn’t believe will create a young lady out of his daughter. Naturally, Charlotte has a word in response.
In a heartwarming scene, Lockhart sketches Arthur as he naps on the beach. When he awakes, the artist praises Arthur in his looks and manner, and Arthur finds a moment to feel appreciated as a person. Later you will hear his own deep hurts about how no one really sees him for who he is.
Now comes the evening! Rather than giving you a minute-by-minute blow of the interactions of everyone in attendance, let me say that it’s a beautiful scene from the dining room to the dance floor. There is an interaction between Charlotte and Lennox, Alison and Carter, Georgiana and Arthur. It appears that Arthur is matchmaking with Lockhart and Georgiana. In an absolutely shocking display, Lockhart quickly makes an enemy of everyone there at the dinner table.
In a scene that will make your stomach tighten, you’ll see Lennox tempt Tom to the gambling table. Arthur, of course, is against the activity, but you know Tom. Let me just say that you may think luck is with him this time, but the next, it is not. Oh, Tom, Tom, Tom. What shall we do with you? The way that Lennox urges him into this activity does have a smell of no good behind it. Why do I think he knows Tom is a fool? Lennox gives the orders; Tom obeys, unable to refuse anything the Colonel suggests. This relationship will end in no good. I can feel it.
As the evening comes to a close, Charlotte says goodbye to Lennox at the door. She happens to mention her new employer’s name, and Lennox’s face changes. Charlotte notices the reaction and asks if he knows the man, but Lennox says he only knows him by reputation. As Charlotte leaves, his eyes turn dark, and his jaw clenches in a show of anger and disdain.
Charlotte attempts the next day to share more personally about her own life in hopes of drawing closer to Augusta. The opportunity presents itself when her charge degrades her about never having been in love. Charlotte then tells her she has known love, but circumstances kept them apart, and now he is dead. Augusta acts remorseful as she shares a bit more about her life with her parents, but with hidden motives. In another attempt to rid herself of Charlotte, she takes her to the drawing-room and urges her to play the piano which is kept locked. She hands her the key, and Charlotte sits down unaware of Augusta’s ulterior motives to get her in trouble with Colbourne.
The scene is reminiscent of the Song of Music in some sense, where Colbourne is off in his study thoughtfully looking out the window and hears the sound of the piano which has been kept silent. He arrives in the doorway and sees Charlotte playing, and says, “stop.” His voice is not angry but pained, and then turns to Augusta and blames her for setting up the scene knowing it was meant to hurt him. Charlotte, however, says it’s her fault, taking the blame. The sparks fly afterward between Charlotte and Colbourne. As forthright as ever, Charlotte tells Colbourne off in a display of frustration and anger over the household she calls a mausoleum. Later, in an entertaining scene between Colbourne and his housekeeper, he ends up paying Mrs. Wheatley a shilling, having lost the bet.
In the last scene, brace yourselves. Clara has returned. Here arrives the “scandal” of Season 2.
As the new characters are revealed in more depth, I’ll be writing a short analysis of each of them after posting on Episode 3, which I have seen already. You can expect to learn more about Colbourne and Lennox in the next episode, as well as others.
I hope you enjoy this episode! The scenes, though sometimes short, are packed with emotion for each character. Justin Young is taking the audience on a journey, and I for one am very happy to be walking through season two step by step, savoring each line and movement.