Before you watch, and perhaps while you read, you will need a box of tissues. Be forewarned, episode three of Sanditon is an emotional roller coaster.
The episode begins with Mary, Charlotte, and Georgiana traveling by coach to London to face Lockhart.
Alexander is reading an article in the newspaper, “West Indian Heiress Defends Her Fortune in the Chancery Court.” Leo is busy chatting, attempting to make sense of her uncle standing up in court to argue the case for Miss Lambe. Augusta isn’t paying attention. She’s daydreaming about you know who, and Colbourne asks if something is wrong — she acts like she’s barely present. Augusta responds that she’s just concerned for “poor Miss Lambe,” but we know what she’s really thinking about or who — it’s Edward Denham.
Mrs. Wheatley hands Colbourne the guest list for the shooting party, stating the invitations have gone out. He sighs at the thought of it, wishing he hadn’t agreed. However, it will bring more respectable young men in contact with Augusta for her to meet. Leo asks about Miss Heyword, and Alexander assumes she will return home after the trial. Leo and Augusta give each other a concerned side glance. Colbourne is keeping it together in front of his daughter and niece.
Lady Denham reads the article about Miss Lambe possibly losing her fortune, and in the next scene, the Dowager Duchess remarks with the newspaper in hand that it’s a disaster. Lord Montrose teases his mother that he will pursue her regardless of her fortune, causing her even more distress. Apparently, they have no sensitivity for her nerves. (Another Mrs. Bennett comparison.)
Arthur is worried sick about Georgiana and can’t eat or sleep.
Georgiana and Samuel arrive at the courthouse to be greeted by Lockhart’s attorney. He generously wants to settle out of court and will give Georgiana 5,000 pounds because, in all likelihood, she will lose. Samuel says, “Have you no shame?” and they walk away.
Leo and Alexander play cards and Augusta wants to take the air outdoors. When Leo asks if she can come along, Augusta declares she would prefer not since she wants to be alone with her thoughts—more deceit.
Mary, Georgiana, and Charlotte sit together, listening to Lockhart spew out lies about his close relationship with Georgiana’s father and how he revered him. He claims that his uncle never mentioned having a child and that he heard about an outrageous claim being made by his illegitimate daughter. As he continues spilling out more falsehoods, Georgiana remains shocked but controls any outbursts, as Samuel Colbourne advised. The lies continue as Lockhart twists everything to his advantage.
Augusta and Edward meet for a horseback ride, and she continues to question his sincerity. He says he’s a changed man, and Augusta asks him to prove it.
The courtroom dramatics continue with Samuel cross-examing Lockhart about his relationship with his uncle. He presents the last will and testament to the court, leaving everything to Georgiana. He accuses him of attempting to entrap Miss Lambe because his suit in Antigua failed. Then Lockhart’s attorney contests the will by calling Mr. Lambe’s physician, who testifies that he was not of sound mind when Georgiana’s father wrote it. Sidney Parker is mentioned as being appointed by her father as guardian, who Lockhart’s attorney calls, “A less than honorable man and without scruple.” They accuse Sidney and Georgiana of conspiring to cheat Mr. Lockhart out of his inheritance.
Arthur crosses paths with Lord Montrose at the beach, stating that he is upset that Georgiana faces ruin and he’s to blame. He tells Lord Montrose how beguiled he was by Lockhart, falling for his duplicity. He blames himself. Lord Montrose attempts to comfort Arthur.
Back at Tom’s London house, Georgiana, Mary, Charlotte, and Samuel gather together and talk about the trial. They are upset that her father and Sidney are not there to defend themselves from the accusations. A visitor arrives, and it’s Otis.
Tom talks to Lady Denham about the hotel’s location, which would destroy much of the old town. He wants her to disapprove, but she will not stand in Mr. Pryce’s way or his decisions about where to locate the hotel. Tom attempts to dissuade both of them to relocate the hotel because Mary is upset about the planned location and loss of housing for the poor.
Otis spends time alone with Georgiana, saying that when he heard about the trial, he had to come and offer his help. Georgiana, however, doesn’t see how he can be of assistance. He expresses how he will never forgive himself for what he put her through. He attempted to contact Sidney to pay back the money he gave him to pay off his debts, but his widow responded that he had died in Antigua. Otis, clearly still in love with her, says how he thinks of her daily, and Georgiana tells him she does too. She confesses that she fears what will become of her as a black woman with no money, but Otis encourages she can become who she is – free to choose her life.
Samuel, Mary, and Charlotte are in the parlor, and Charlotte asks if he knows how he will argue the case tomorrow. He admits he has no idea and that he has never argued a case of this magnitude before. He admits that he would not have taken the case unless his brother hadn’t paid him an urgent visit. They hadn’t spoken in ten years. Alexander insisted he take the case and said he would pay him even if they lost. Charlotte, aghast at his admission, says she thought he took it on for justice, but he tells her it’s Alexander she should credit, not him.
Alexander is reading a defamatory article about Miss Lambe and Sidney in the newspaper, which upsets Tom and Arthur in another scene. Colbourne asks Mrs. Wheatley if he was wrong in involving his brother, doubting his decision. She thinks Samuel is Georgiana’s only chance.
Mary, Georgiana, and Charlotte are waiting outside the courthouse, but there’s no sign of Mr. Colbourne. They fear he has given up and will not show up! Of course, at the last minute, he flies through the doorway just as everyone sits down in their seats. Miss Lambe takes the stand, and Samuel begins his questioning. He asks when her father died, which was the summer of 1816. Colbourne, however, states that he has learned that Dr. Hardiman, who gave false testimony, started his practice in London two years before. The man is also settled with gambling debts and has been promised remuneration for the false testimony.
After an uncomfortable cross-examination by Lockhart’s attorney, the outcome comes in Georgiana’s favor. Her father’s will stands. Lockhart is boiling mad.
They gather for drinks at the Parker townhouse to celebrate the victory. Otis gives Georgiana his address on a paper slip and asks if she ever needs him to reach out. Charlotte thanks Samuel for what he has done, but he reiterates it’s Alexander she should thank. He confessed to Charlotte when his father died, he inherited the estate, but it was deeply in debt. He didn’t want the responsibility but wanted to choose his own path. Instead, Alexander shouldered the burden, which he believed cost him his marriage. He asks Charlotte about the apparent history between her and his brother, and she says that he released her from the position. Back at Heyrick Park, when he returns, the conversation comes up again with Alexander, and he says she decided to leave. Leo, Augusta, and Samuel exchange smirking glances.
Mary and Charlotte walk to the old town to visit again and start a deep conversation about having a purpose despite being a wife and mother. Charlotte fears that marriage may not be enough to find meaning in life. Mary assures her it’s normal to have doubts. During the visit, Mary learns they will put all the cottages down for the new hotel to be built.
Everyone has arrived at Heyrick Park, and the following few scenes are filled with coming guests and many chit-chats. Samuel and Lady Susan pair up and start to talk about what’s going on between Charlotte and Alexander, and they seem to have the same theory.
Alexander greets Charlotte, and she thanks him for helping Georgiana. He makes light of it, saying what type of man would he be if he didn’t? Charlotte expresses that she will forever be grateful. They gaze at each other with evident affection but are interrupted by the call of Samuel’s voice it’s time for the hunt.
Afterward, Lydia pulls Charlotte aside and announces that her mother is determined that she and Colbourne would be well-matched. Her impression of him is one of being “humorless and stern,” to which Charlotte chuckles and agrees he is reserved. But as Charlotte has learned since season two and now expresses in return, “there is a great deal more to him” than appears.
After the shoot, Colbourne approaches Tom and complains about their plans for the hotel, that it will destroy the last vestiges of the community that founded Sanditon. Mary raises her voice in total agreement with Alexander.
Edward and Augusta walk alone for a while. They banter with one another about him proving worthy of her and perhaps asking her uncle if they might court. She encourages Edward to do so.
Back at the house, Lydia plays with the dogs just outside the entrance, and Colbourne approaches and invites her indoors. Charlotte, Leo, and Augusta watch the exchange, as well as Samuel and Lady Susan. They don’t like it. It’s a travesty, according to Lady Susan. Samuel reminds her that Charlotte is to be married, but she returns with that great line, “She’s not married yet.”
Lord Montrose and Arthur are outdoors having refreshments. His Lordship begins a conversation about how most men enjoy pheasant while his preference is for grouse. He asks Arthur if he shares the same taste. Arthur’s face is something to behold that I cannot put into words here. It’s a realization about himself that shocks him to the core. He struggles with the answer, looking appalled at Lord Montrose’s meaning about his life preferences. Arthur cannot answer him, and the Duke rises and asks that he forget the conversation ever took place.
Georgiana comes indoors, and everyone glances at her with whispers. Charlotte tells her she’s ready to leave, and they do. Alexander announces that the gun of the day is Sir Edward Denham with 13 birds. He shakes his hand. Edward begs him to believe he is a changed man and asks for the honor of calling on his niece. In no uncertain terms, Alexander says he is the last person on earth that he would allow to court Augusta. The rejection clearly breaks Edward. Has he really changed? Is he falling in love with her? Well, you’ll have to come back to find out.
Everyone is returning home in the carriage. Charlotte and Georgiana talk. Tom and Mary fight. Samuel enters Alexander’s study and talks about what a good day it was. Alexander is standing before the fireplace, brooding as only he can brood, probably thinking that Charlotte will now be on her way home to Ralph. Samuel tells him he knows he’s hopelessly in love with Miss Heywood. Alexander responds that she is to be married, although he doesn’t admit it. Samuel replies with Lady Susan’s quip, “She is not married yet.” He leaves Alexander alone with his thoughts, and a few moments later, Colbourne storms out of the room.
Now take a deep breath. Take a sip of whatever drink is at hand. Make sure your box of tissues is nearby. The next few minutes will take you to ecstasy and then break you into pieces. Blame the writers. Blame the musical composers!
Charlotte is along the shoreline, strolling and holding the book that Ralph gave her. Alexander approaches on foot in the distance. The words he speaks next will go down in romantic history. He finally expresses his love. He cannot let her leave Sanditon. He devoutly admires her. He’s fought in vain to deny it, but he’s in love with her. Charlotte hears his confession, the music swells, and she rises to kiss him! She drops the book in her hand that Ralph had given her and instead grabs onto Alexander. It’s a beautiful moment of acknowledged love between the two of them, but then guilt drives her to pull away. She regrets the kiss. He regrets he didn’t tell her sooner. Regrets, regrets, regrets.
It’s too late! I’m am to be married. He begs her, “Stay. Make a life with me.” She can’t. She’s made a promise to Ralph and her parents. He shakes his head no and is devastated as she walks away. The episode ends.
It does take a while to get over this last scene. Frankly, I screamed when they kissed and then blubbered uncontrollably for a half hour. It’s so powerful.
Come back for episode four, and more drama is on the way!