Welcome back to the end of our summer stay in Sanditon, Season 2. Now that you know the secret behind Colbourne, and the true character of Lennox, episode six is going to take you down an emotional and bumpy road with little resolution. However, not all is lost, because as the credits roll at the end, we know that season three has already been filmed, and somewhere lurking in those scenes is a happy ever after for Charlotte and Alexander. As Jane Austen said of her stories, “My characters shall have, after a little trouble, all that they desire.” I have absolutely no doubt that will be true.
As a reminder, episode six has aired on PBS Passport for paying members on April 17, 2022, and will air for the general public on Masterpiece PBS April 24, 2022. The spoiler alert is below! Read at your own risk if you have not yet seen the episode.
Episode six begins with the arrival of Sidney’s trunk from Antigua. As Justin Young, the writer said months ago, they endeavored to honor Sidney to the very end. He has kept that promise, but what you are about to see is both painful and shocking for the fictional characters, as well as for you, the audience. Before we open that trunk, though, we are in the bedroom with Charlotte, Georgiana, and Alison.
Alison admits that she is a woeful judge of character, having heard from Charlotte that Colonel Lennox stole Colbourne’s wife. As the ladies talk amongst themselves, Charlotte states that Colbourne, “is not at all the man that I’ve been led to believe.” No kissing and telling in this scene, as Charlotte keeps to herself the passionate moment from the evening before.
Poor Esther is drugged to the hilt, and Dr. Fuchs and everyone else is convinced poor Esther has lost all senses, while Edward sits there with a smug look on his face. Edward agrees with Dr. Fuchs, that it’s time to lock her up in an institution. Edward tells Clara that his work is almost done and that she will be in an asylum, to which Clara appears distraught. More to come.
Captain Fraser has arrived to visit Alison. She thinks he may be proposing, but declares he considers her a friend. Instead of words of love, he gives her a book of poems. There are so many men who can’t express their real feelings. They are everywhere in fiction and real life. What is to be done with the male species? Naturally, she’s brokenhearted.
Charles Lockhart has finished the portrait, and Georgiana is very pleased with the result. He has convinced her to run away with him.
Charlotte returns to Colbourne’s estate to find him outdoors playing fetch with his dog. The man wears Regency-era clothing with perfection, and she smiles warmly at him, revealing her growing affections. He greets her and suggests that they take a turn about the grounds. (Love that Regency-era phrase – turn about the room, turn about the grounds, etc.) Charlotte gazes at him with a questioning look, no doubt wondering if she is about to receive a proposal of marriage. They walk to a shaded area, and Colbourne apologizes, saying he said too much about the past and begs that she never speak of it. His statement reveals the lingering shame and desire to protect Lucy’s reputation. Charlotte assures him that she will not. She then confesses to him the following words, “I too have known heartache and betrayal,” and admits she has sworn off love and marriage because of it but realizes that she cannot hide herself away. With an adoring gaze in Colbourne’s direction, I believe it’s her way of affirming her growing affection.
Okay, let’s pause here. Take a deep breath. I know from social media there has been an uproar about the word “betrayal” that Charlotte uses here to describe her heartbreak with Sidney. Yes, she said she understood the reasons he married Eliza. Yes, she said she didn’t think too badly of him. Yes, she encouraged him to keep his side of the bargain and make his wife happy. In the mind of some fans, “betrayal” is a harsh description. However, Charlotte is conveying to Colbourne her deepest hurt to meet him on the same level. Lennox stole his wife; Eliza stole Sidney, using her money as leverage.
It makes you wonder why Justin Young chose that word. If you look at how Charlotte has processed the past nine months since she said goodbye to Sidney, it’s obvious that the experience left her cynical when it comes to love. Merriam-Webster defines this aspect of the word betrayal as, “The violation of a person’s trust or confidence.” It quickly brings to mind Georgiana’s warning to Charlotte in season one. “You cannot trust him.” Perhaps in the past nine months, Charlotte has tried to make sense of it all, and today as she stands before Colbourne she confesses that she has experienced that violation of a person’s trust, as Colbourne did when it came to his wife’s unfaithfulness.
The confession leads to a rather swooping passionate kiss between the two of them, and I’m certain it would have continued and perhaps ended in a proposal had not Mrs. Wheatley arrived in a tizzy to interrupt the liplock. She declares that Leonora has gone missing. Oh, Leo! Bad timing! Mrs. Wheatley looks a bit shocked at the scene but non-judgmental. I cannot help but think she’s happy about Colbourne’s affections toward Charlotte.
Tom, Arthur, and Mary open the trunk and begin to go through Sidney’s possessions. He finds his brother’s signet ring, and Arthur states, “He’d want you to have it.” Tom slips it on his finger with emotion. They come across his playing cards, and Tom confesses that he could never beat Sidney at cards. Afterward, they discover a letter from Sidney addressed to Tom Parker. Tom reads it aloud. Sidney asks Tom to bear no guilt for Sidney’s part in saving Tom from ruin. Arthur and Mary are choking with emotion. He encourages Tom to honor his memory by holding fast to his vision for Sanditon. Now, comes the shocker, that he asks Tom to protect Georgiana from the man who is seeking to claim her fortune.
Well, perhaps it’s time for a sip of wine. Take a deep breath, and continue reading.
He’s a man without scruples. His name is Charles Lockhart! And the next scene he has Georgiana pushed against a wall, kissing her passionately. Oh, dear. He has convinced her to run away with him! Thank goodness, as she’s about to run off with Lockhart, Tom, Mary, and Arthur arrive in the nick of time to tell her the dastardly news of Lockhart’s scheme.
Colbourne, Charlotte, and Mrs. Wheatley are running around looking for Leonora to no avail. When they find Augusta sitting on the stairs, she confesses that Leo has gone off to see Colonel Lennox because of what she heard her uncle and Miss Heywood talking about the evening before. We next see Leonora marching into camp, dressed in the old uniform, saying that she wishes to speak with Colonel Lennox.
Before that scene comes about, Lady Denham, Mr. Hankins, Clara, Edward, and Esther are sitting at the table just before the wedding. When Esther is about to take another drink laced with laudanum, Clara can no longer handle Edward’s deception. She has a change of heart, and as Esther goes to pick up the glass in response to Edward making a toast about their upcoming nuptials, she places her hand over the rim, preventing Esther from drinking. A second later, in a rage, Clara stands up, throws the glass on the floor, and starts to declare Edward’s dastardly plan to drive Esther to madness. Clara is redeemed here, doing the right thing. Edward denies it, of course, but the scene is quite satisfying on many levels as the truth is revealed. Lady Denham is outraged at the two of them for their continued duplicity. However, Esther shields Clara from her wrath, declaring that she was a victim of Edward’s schemes, just like herself.
Leonora is now in Lennox’s tent. She’s brought with her the toy soldiers that she plays with and has placed them on the tabletop. Lennox questions if her parents know where she is, to which Leo replies,” I do not have parents. My mother is dead.” After saying, I’m sorry to hear that, Leo declares that her mother died not long after she was born. “I never knew her, but you did. Her name is Lucy Colbourne. I wanted to meet you to see if it’s true; that you are my real father.“
Lennox, completely undone, is barely able to speak when he asks how old she is. When he’s faced with the probability that he is her father, Colbourne and Charlotte enter the tent. Leonora presses for an answer, “Well, sir, are you?” Lennox hesitates but then declares he is not. He nods toward Colbourne, “That man is your father.” Colbourne says nothing, and retreats from the tent and kneels down in front of Leonora, attempting to explain that no matter what she heard the night before, he is her father and will endeavor to be a better one. They hug, and whether Leonora believes it or not, I think she’s wise enough to understand that Lennox has denied her, while Colbourne has acknowledged her with love. It’s a touching scene.
Charlotte takes Leonora home at his request to have another word with Lennox. He comes to thank him for sparing Leonora the truth, and Lennox agrees nothing good would have come of it. However, he doesn’t leave it there but takes advantage of the situation accusing Colbourne of being a poor husband to Lucy. “Miss Heywood is plainly in love with you. Can you trust yourself not to fail her as you failed Lucy?” he smugly taunts Colbourne. Well, thanks, Lennox! Just get in the last stabbing word into Colbourne’s back as he leaves, placing the seed of doubt to screw everything up. The strategist knows Colbourne’s weakness.
Charles Lockhart is waiting for Georgiana to arrive so he can spirit her away without anyone’s knowledge. She arrives, all right, with the Parker family in tow. Georgiana tells him she knows everything, and he confesses that he has fallen for her regardless of his claim on her inheritance. Goodbye, Mr. Lockhart. No doubt you will return in season three but for what purpose, we cannot tell.
Colbourne, rather than returning straight home, takes a ride on the beach with his horse for one purpose only. To consider his future, Charlotte, and whether he believes that he can be a good father and husband to them both. The outcome of that fateful ride is tainted by Lennox’s planted seed of doubt. Perhaps he thinks that he can be the father that Leonora needs, but fears he will repeat the past by not being a good husband to Charlotte. He loves her, of that I am sure. However, erroneously he believes he needs to protect her should he repeat his past failures and thus makes a painful decision. Yes, we know Justin Young did this for one purpose. To torture fans and use it as a path to season three that begs resolution. Nevertheless, what is about to transpire is difficult to accept, let alone watch.
Arthur and Tom arrive at the militia’s camp with Sidney’s cards in hand and challenge Lennox to a game. In a rather tense moment between the two, Lennox loses the hundred pounds that Tom owns. After their triumph, Tom returns to Sanditon and pays the shopkeepers what they are owed. It’s nice to think that it was Sidney’s cards that gave Tom the victory over Lennox. Nice touch by the writers. Sidney’s spirit lingers through the card game to bring Tom to victory.
The next few scenes are the joyous proposal that Alison receives from Captain Fraser, who has given up his commission! The remainder of the officers have left for India. Clara has disappeared and left the baby for Esther, leaving a note that she was not meant to be a mother saying Esther will be the mother he deserves.
Charlotte is back at the estate, finding a miracle of miracles. Colbourne is outdoors having breakfast with Leonora and Augusta. He asks for a word in private with Charlotte, and by the look on her face, she wonders if this is the moment he is about to propose. They enter his office, and Colbourne’s demeanor has changed back to that of employer, as he apologizes and confesses shame for having taken advantage of Charlotte, letting his emotions get the better of him. With a shaky voice, he tells her that her position has become untenable and will tell the children it has come to its natural conclusion. Hurt, Charlotte leaves crying. Augusta calls after her, but she does not answer. His housekeeper tells him “you will regret this,” and he says it’s best for her sake. A touching moment between Mrs. Wheatley and Colbourne occurs, as she places her hand upon him and begs him not to lock himself away again. The pain on his face is heartbreaking. We will certainly need to dissect all of his character traits after this season ends to peel more layers back on this complex man who thinks he’s protecting the love of his life by letting her go.
Augusta confronts her uncle as he is about to leave on horseback, to which he replies there are things she doesn’t understand. However, Augusta, will hear none of it and declares that it was Charlotte that brought light into the house and almost restored him to a human being again. Her anger, causes Colbourne to pause, as Augusta demands that he go to her and beg she returns for Leonora and her sake, if not for his. Colbourne speeds off with his horse to the Parkers.
Now giving us a break from that emotional scene, we see that Esther has left with the baby to return to Babington, and Edward returns to his aunt, with his tail between his legs. Stripped of rank, no longer in the militia, the man needs shelter and tells Lady Denham that he has decided to accept her offer of reform and whatever that entails. Nothing like the need for clothes, food, and a roof over your head to make you beg. Who knows what Edward will be up to in season three!
Charlotte is with Mary and Georgiana, telling them that she has decided to return home. Tom interrupts to let her know that Mr. Colbourne is here to see her. They meet alone in an adjacent room, and Colbourne tells her that he’s been thinking about their conversation. Augusta is furious with him, and he’s come to ask that Charlotte returns as his governess. Charlotte presses him whether he’s only there because Augusta has asked him to come, and he affirms that the house feels empty already without her presence. He takes a step toward her, and says, “And I’m here to ask you…” but Charlotte abruptly cuts him off telling Colbourne she is resolved to leave Sanditon. Charlotte replies, “I mistook what I was feeling for a certain kind of affection. But I realize now I could never feel such tenderness for a man who showed me so little respect.“
Colbourne stands stiff, hurt, and unyielding, unable to answer her declaration. He swallows hard and appears utterly heartbroken. Charlotte says she will miss the girls a great deal but cannot be his governess if that is what he came to ask. “Thank you for making your feelings so clear,” he chokes out. He bows his head, turns, and leaves. Charlotte bursts into tears, and Colbourne hesitates at the door of Trafalgar House, making you wonder if he hears her crying. In any event, he believes she does not want him, and leaves.
Let us pause here to recuperate, as I’m sure there is much wailing amongst viewers. Our hearts are torn again, but I dare say season three has already been filmed so we are in no danger of cancellation like we experienced with season one.
Two months later….says the screen, and we are at the wedding of Alison and Fraser, which is a happy occasion. Interspersed with scenes of the wedding, are scenes at Colbourne’s estate of furniture being covered and shutters being closed. Colbourne, Augusta, and Leonora walk toward the carriage, about to leave his estate. “How long will we be gone?” asks Leonora. “I cannot say,” Colbourne replies. “We’ve been confined here too long. We need a change, all of us.” He looks at his housekeeper, who nods goodbye, and the carriage pulls away.
Back at the wedding, Charlotte is talking with Mary, Arthur, Tom, and Georgiana, when Ralph Starling comes to her side. She introduces him, and he asks if they have heard their happy news. Charlotte announces, “Ralph and I are to be married.” Georgiana’s mouth gaps open, the Parkers stare at her in disbelief, and Charlotte looks at them, knowing full well she’s not doing the right thing. No doubt having given up love again and feeling a burden to her parents, she’s settling for farmer Ralph. Charlotte! You cannot settle, because we love Alexander Colbourne, and we know that you do too!
Well, let’s be honest, Justin Young is evoking the cliffhanger here to torture our emotions. I think he knows by now that if Colbourne and Charlotte are not the end game, he will be hounded endlessly by disgruntled fans. From what I heard, Andrew Davies was the head writer for episode six.
Let’s just keep these words in our thoughts and hearts as we wait for season three to air.
My characters shall have, after a little trouble, all that they desire.Jane Austen
While we wait, let’s look into group therapy rates, because we’re all going to need it!
In closing, however, I must say that PBS Masterpiece has given fans a wonderful gift of six episodes to continue Sanditon from season one. Although we would have liked more episodes to flesh out some of these scenes, I will say that they have done a stellar job in production, casting, and storytelling to keep us hungry for more. Once again, they have allowed us to fall in love with wonderful characters (both goodies and baddies as Rose Williams indicated). Everyone – writers, cast, crew, designers, directors, and producers, are worthy of our praise and heartfelt thank you. Naturally, we cannot wait to see what is in store for season three.
While we wait, come back again, as I start down the long path of dissecting our new characters and unpacking their baggage. You might enjoy my post, Unpacking Episode 6 – What the Heck Just Happened?
Loved your summary of episode 6 and agree Charlotte and Colbourne will be endgame. Why else would they have had us fall in love with Leo and Augusta and Mrs. Wheatley and the man himself. Did you know Andrew Davies wrote episode 6? Of course he did! Bravo!
I have to make a confession. If Charlotte had ended up with Leo Suter’s character from Season One, I would have been satisfied. Otherwise, I have never really cared for any of Charlotte’s other love interests and that include Sidney Parker and Alexander Colbourne.
Brilliant summary, cannot believe we have to wait another year AAHHH! Although in the final scene for Charlotte & Colbourne I didn’t think he actually says the word “Governess” aka he wants her to be his Governess?? Charlotte implies it by his mention of Augusta and Colbourne’s lack of eloquence on what he really want from Charlotte “the house misses you” 🤦♀️😆??
Just found you site! Thank you so much for all the detail in your episode recaps. You’re a wonderful writer. !
Thank you for your detailed summary. You have a talent in writing. I could see the summary/story unfolding as an episode in my mind. ❤
Thank you for your detailed recap. I love it. It’s amusing and entertaining.
My hunch is that more than happened between Charlotte and Colbourne than we yet know… I think we are going to get some flashbacks of her memories at his house when they returned after the ball and find out more… I wonder if she has discovered she is pregnant and Ralph has come to her rescue even though he knows Charlotte doesn’t love him…
Very greatful for your talented writing skills. You are soul saviour!! Insights of objective recaping. My deep respect for you.
Indeed, lots of joy being a fan of Miss Jane Austen’s books and the dramatisation as well. Sanditon is very special. Charlotte was ahead of that period. Love her !! Augusta and Leonora idem dito! Mr Colbourne needs a supporting bear hug. Thanks !!!
~ A huge lover of westerns, I just finished watching Seasons1 and 2 of 1883 and await Season 3 next year. In looking for something to fill the void, I found Sanditon on my computer, decided to watch Season 1 and enjoyed it. I love English period dramas; Sanditon and its cast resonated with me. In addition to the plots, what captured my attention were the dance scenes/music in Seasons 1 and 2. Hope I’m not reading too much into it, the dance scenes were intimate without either dancer saying a word (rather, they spoke with their eyes). Colbourne needs therapy to deal with his emotions and his past. Charlotte’s heart has been broken too many times. I still say that she and young Stringer (played by Leo Suter) would have been a great pair. Sadly, young Stringer didn’t have the chutzpah to tell her how he really felt, so he lost out on his blessings. Had Jane Austen finished writing Sanditon, how would she have arrived at the conclusion of her book? ~