“Ralph and I are to be married.” The last words of season two haunt us. Here we go with episode one of season three, reminding us that Charlotte has made a knee-jerk choice because Colbourne talked about how the house missed her rather than telling her HE missed her. It’s time to deal with the consequences of undeclared affections. Below are snippets from the first episode but not all scenes.
The episode begins with the bouncing carriage ride with Charlotte and Ralph traveling to Sanditon. She’s back on those cliffs again, where all sorts of things seem to happen to this young lady. As the sea comes into view, she declares to Ralph, “Look, Ralph, any moment now, you’ll catch a glimpse of the sea.” His only response is to smile and remark that he hopes to make a good impression. Oh, Ralph, you have no idea what’s about to transpire.
Next we see Georgiana with a white feather quill signing her name, Georgiana Lambe, as the beneficiary of her father’s inheritance. She’s now one and twenty – that’s Regency speak for twenty-one.
Charlotte and Ralph arrive, receiving hugs from Georgiana and the Parkers. Ralph’s gawdawful green hat and tattered clothing speak volumes.
Dr. Fuchs is giving hydrotherapy water punishment to Edward Denham to change his behavior. Talk about the wet white shirt scene! As two men pump the machine, the footman points a hose at Edward and douses him (in what we hope was warm water during filming for Jack Fox’s sake). Lady Denham giggles as she watches her nephew receiving crude water treatment for the insane.
A barouche travels down the main street (it’s the mark of the rich and their barouche!), carrying the Montrose family. That’s the Dowager Duchess with her son, the Duke of Buckinghamshire, and her daughter Lydia. They are fleeing Bath because of a scandal. Apparently, the late duke gambled all their money away, leaving them bankrupt. Naturally, like any good Regency-era mother, the Dowager Duchess needs her children to marry well to save them from destitution. She’s looking forward to what Sanditon has to offer! Later, she tells her son about Miss Lambe and her 100,000 pounds. He’s directed to pursue her, which doesn’t get off to an easy start.
After the water incident, Edward kneels in church, repenting in dust and ashes. Well, not literally, just saying the words. Has the despicable Edward found redemption and been born again? Only time will tell.
Surprise! Dr. Fuchs has eyes for Miss Hankins! However, Reverend Hankins argues with Dr. Fuchs that it’s his religious instruction reforming Edward rather than his hydrotherapy techniques. Definite animosity brewing.
It’s evening now and back at the Parker house. Tom, Mary, Arthur, Charlotte, and Ralph are playing a game of snapdragon. Charlotte excels at snatching those raisins while Ralph sucks at it. What’s the game? Read more about this Regency parlor game. Afterward, Tom boasts, as only Tom can, about Sanditon’s success and the aristocracy visiting. He throws out that they await the arrival of Charlotte’s old friend, “Lady Susan de Clemente.” What? Wait a minute. I thought she was Lady Susan Worcester in season one. Did the editors miss that minor point, or did something happen between Worcester and her current name of Lady Susan de Clemente? We know she was the Prince Regent’s mistress, but later on in season three, she mentions to Samuel Colbourne that she had been married. Pushing that discrepancy aside . . .
Well, Ralph is gobsmacked about Charlotte rubbing elbows with such influential people, and when Tom mentions Charlotte met Lady Susan while in London, his jaw drops. Apparently, Charlotte doesn’t tell Ralph everything, as we come to find out. We also discover that Ralph reads no poetry, as Tom spouts off a quote and asks for his opinion. Oh, Ralph, you are so out of your comfort zone.
Lord Montrose has been out all evening and sneaks home early in the morning with disheveled hair and an open collar. Naturally, his mother has few choice words to say about his behavior, creating more scandal. She reminds him of his responsibility to marry and make heirs. Later in the episode, Georgiana passes by a bathing machine and sees him exit one, having spent time with a man. Embarrassed at having been discovered, he scoots down the beach realizing his secret propensity for male companionship has been revealed. Nothing like coming to Sanditon to escape scandal and then creating another scandal.
Charlotte and Georgiana have a heart-to-heart talk. Charlotte’s back to declaring it’s a foregone conclusion that she marry Ralph. When queried if she loves Ralph, she uses the word “fond” and reminds Georgiana she doesn’t have an inheritance to live upon.
Take a deep breath now because a carriage is returning to Heyrick Park, and inside is Colbourne, Leo, and Augusta. Colbourne has his arm around Leo, and they exchange smiles. Mrs. Wheatley and the staff are busy preparing the house for their return and then wait outdoors for the carriage to arrive. It’s so good to see Colbourne. He’s relaxed. He smiles. He’s home after traveling to Bath, where Charlotte thinks he remains. I must admit, my heart was awfully giddy when I saw him.
Enters one of our most beloved characters from season one – Lady Susan. Charlotte meets her by the gazebo, and they go for a stroll together. She’s thrilled for Charlotte, having learned she is engaged but didn’t quite expect this would be the life she would have choosen for herself – that of a farmer’s wife. Charlotte attempts to defend herself by saying if it was good enough for my parents why not me? Oh, Charlotte, we all know that you were born for greatness – not for mucking out pigs.
Augusta, Leo, and Colbourne are sitting down for tea and cakes, discussing Colbourne’s attempt to find Augusta a match. Mrs. Wheatley is quietly standing by listening to the conversation. When Leo asks why Augusta must get married, he replies it’s for security and position because that’s how society works. You have to love Leo. “If marriage is so important, Father, why don’t you find a wife?” Hmm, that discussion doesn’t go very far afterward.
After Lady Susan and Charlotte exchange a few words with the Dowager Duchess at the promenade, Leo runs up toward Charlotte. Surprised at seeing Leo, she exclaims, “I thought you were in Bath?” I can feel her stomach knot at the thought of seeing you-know-who. Charlotte introduces Lady Susan to her former charges. Leo asks why Charlotte left so suddenly and didn’t even say goodbye. Clearly perplexed, Charlotte says she wanted to, but it was difficult, and she regretted the manner of her leaving.
Now comes Rowleigh Pryce, a potential investor in the further development of Sanditon, meeting with Tom Parker. Short-tempered, grumpy, and a former acquaintance of Lady Denham mentioned in season one. He’s another interesting addition to the show.
Lady Denham and Edward are shopping in town, and so are Augusta, Leo, and Mrs. Wheatley. It’s the meet-cute (first encounter between two characters, leading to the development of a romantic relationship) between Edward and Augusta as they bump into one another and packages are strewn on the ground. Edward apologizes. Augusta has a few choice words. Where are the writers going with this encounter? Stay tuned.
Back at Heyrick Park, Leo runs into the parlor, declaring, “You’ll never guess who has returned to Sanditon.” When he hears it’s Charlotte, Colbourne’s straight-faced painful look tells it all. Later, when Augusta, Leo, and Mrs. Wheatley talk in the kitchen, Augusta declares it’s obvious they are in love. The only thing to do is force them to acknowledge their feelings for one another. A few scenes later, Augusta runs into Charlotte and Georgiana at the beach and obtains an invitation to attend Georgiana’s birthday party. While listening to the discussion, Charlotte appears distraught at the prospect of seeing Colbourne again. You have to give Augusta credit for that smooth move!
Lady Denham is about to meet the mysterious investor for the proposed hotel at the Parker’s home. When the doorbell rings and she hears the man’s name, a very comical scene arrives as she suddenly feigns illness, runs out of the servant’s entrance, and disappears.
Charlotte and Mary are off to the “old town” of Sanditon, where the poorer population lives to bring food provisions. They visit Mary’s former maid, Mrs. Filkins, who is married. She lives in a small single-room dwelling with five children. When Mary tells Mrs. Filkins that Charlotte is about to be married, she replies, “Oh, congratulations, miss. Before you know it, you’ll be just like me.” Charlotte’s smile quickly fades as the realization of her potential future with Ralph sets in.
Augusta and Leo return home and announce they have procured an invitation to Miss Lambe’s party. Colbourne isn’t too happy and wishes they would have conferred with him beforehand. When they tell him that Miss Heywood will be there, that look of angst returns to his face.
Georgiana and Lord Montrose come to an arrangement whereby they decide to fake a relationship for appearance’s sake.
It’s birthday party time! First, it’s an awkward time between Lady Susan and Ralph Starling after she compliments Charlotte on how beautiful she looks. Ralph doesn’t seem to think Charlotte will have “use for such finery in Willingden.” Nice going, Ralph. Just put Charlotte in her place so that she can forget about fine clothes when she becomes a farmer’s wife.
Everyone arrives, spouting comments, from Lady Denham, the Parkers,and the Montrose family. Lady Susan has pulled Charlotte away from Ralph for a turn about the room, thank goodness. Soon afterward, Colbourne and Augusta arrive. Take a deep breath because as Colbourne glances around the room, your emotions will stir when his eyes meet Charlotte’s. They have seen each other again. Lady Susan observes with interest as he and Augusta approach. After introductions, Augusta pulls Lady Susan away for a chat, leaving Colbourne and Charlotte alone. As soon as Colbourne says he hoped they might have a chance to speak, the Dowager Duchess interrupts! (By episode six, you’ll want to gag her too.) She pushes for an introduction between her daughter and Colbourne.
The party ensues with various discussions, and Colbourne never gets the chance to speak his heart to Charlotte. Of course, they exchange glances across the crowded room. Ralph interrupts another moment just as he’s about to tell her of his feelings, and then the truth is revealed by Charlotte that she is engaged. Devastated by the announcement, Colbourne is momentarily lost for words but does the gentlemanly thing and wishes them the best. Charlotte and Colbourne interact again during a dance when partners are exchanged and come face-to-face. She wishes him luck in finding a new governess; he wishes her a happy marriage. The painful exchange is etched across Colbourne’s countenance. He’s dying inside, and so will you.
Many other conversations and exchanges occur between guests not covered in this recap. However, the last scene is the climax when Charles Lockhart walks in and yells, “STOP THE MUSIC.” The musicians obey, and Lockhart strolls in with a cane and hat, insisting he speaks with Miss Lambe. Georgiana leaves to have a private conversation, and Charlotte follows. He serves her a writ, declaring that he is the rightful heir to her father’s fortune, and advises her to get a lawyer. Having done his evil deed, he smugly strolls off, leaving Georgiana stunned.
The drama continues.
Come back for the recap of episode two!