What you are about to read is the end of a journey. It started with the release of Sanditon Season 1 by ITV in the UK and became a canceled show before it hit the shores of the USA. Beloved by fans, they campaigned to bring it back, eventually being picked up by PBS Masterpiece, giving us Seasons 2 and 3. It’s a story that took Charlotte Heywood from a “broken fairytale” on the windy cliffs overlooking Sanditon to eventually finding love again. The producers, directors, writers, cast, and crew picked up the pieces of her broken heart and weaved together a tale ending in a lifetime of fulfillment. I’ve always believed the story was about Charlotte’s journey, as Jane Austen had intended when she wrote the first eleven chapters before her death. When Jane died, the Parker family, the town of Sanditon, the Denhams, Miss Lambe, and other characters were frozen in time. Thank goodness for the creativity of Andrew Davies, Justin Young, and many other cowriters who resurrected these characters, gave them life, and continued what Jane could not complete.
Episode six is bittersweet because this is the last episode and season of our beloved Sanditon and the characters we have grown to love. It’s a glorious and fitting conclusion that will tug at your heartstrings for years to come.
Take a seat, grab your tissues, and buckle up for a lovely view of the windy cliffs overlooking Sanditon for the last time – the most fashionable destination on the south coast of England.
The episode opens with Charlotte laying her head on Mary’s bedside, having slept there, keeping watch. Tom is pacing the floor in the parlor. Arthur and Georgiana sit quietly, their faces etched with concern. Reverend Hankins and his sister arrive to offer prayers. Dr. Fuchs greets them and says what is required is nothing less than a miracle.
Georgiana’s mother sits at a table, holding English bank notes. They were given to her by the Dowager Duchess in an attempt to bribe her to disappear.
Samuel and Lady Susan are walking the beach in the early morning hours. Their relationship is deepening, and they kiss.
Tom is in the bedroom, along with Georgiana and Arthur. Georgiana is lying in bed next to Mary. Arthur sits in a chair nearby. Charlotte listens to Tom, confessing his preoccupation about securing the “wretched” hotel and his neglect of Mary. He didn’t read her proposals or take the time to hear her thoughts about the old town. The guilt is burdening his soul. Tom wishes he could hear her now, to put it right, and Charlotte suggests they go to the old town together, and she will explain Mary’s thoughts. Feeling helpless, they leave, but not before he kisses Mary and asks Georgiana and Arthur to keep watch. Tom and Charlotte visit Mrs. Filkins, and he offers her his help in any way. She takes a wooden cross necklace off and asks that she give it to Mrs. Parker and tell her they are praying for her recovery.
Rowleigh and Lady Denham are in church, listening to Reverend Hankins go over the wedding ceremony. Lady Denham complains about all the fuss, and Rowleigh says perhaps we should elope. Edward walks by, and Rowleigh makes a slur about his elopement not working out. Edward sarcastically thanks him for the reminder that he will soon be without a home and a penny to his name when they wed. Reverend Hankins pours salt in his wounds by saying, “As you sow, Sir Edward, so shall you reap.”
Alexander, Mrs. Wheatley, Samuel, and Leo are looking out the window at Augusta standing outdoors alone. “She will not eat. She will not sleep,” Mrs. Wheatley remarks. Leo replies, “I shall never fall in love. It seems a beastly business.” Colbourne replies, “It is, Leo. Avoid it if you can.” Leo and Mrs. Wheatley leave the brothers alone as they gaze out the window. Colbourne asks what he should say to Augusta to reassure her. Samuel has no idea, because he was once the cause of creating such heartache in his youth. He confesses that his thoughts are turning toward marriage, and those days are long behind him. Colbourne is glad for his brother and states he believes that they are not meant to walk this life alone. Leo and Augusta need a mother, but Samuel said he thought he’d abandoned hope of Miss Heywood. Colbourne snaps back, “I’m not thinking of her.” Samuel realizes he speaking of Lydia and walks away without a further word.
The Dowager Duchess tells her son and daughter that the dinner last night was peculiar, referring to the so-called mother-in-law. Harry isn’t pleased with his mother’s comments, telling Lydia to count herself lucky Colbourne’s parents are dead so they won’t have to endure his mother’s judgment.
Tom returns to Mary’s side and places the wooden cross in her hand. He admits he should have ignored Mr. Pryce and listened to her from the start. He tells Mary he would give everything up if only God would spare her from death. She opens her eyes and looks at him, and says weakly, “Tom.” He sobs in her arms.
Charlotte speaks to Georgiana about Tom’s love for Mary, and attempts to persuade her again to marry for love as well. She replies that just because Charlotte called off her wedding doesn’t mean she should call her wedding off.
Lady Susan is walking the promenade alone when a soldier on horseback approaches and hands her a letter. She looks at it with trepidation in her eyes.
Georgiana leaves to go see her mother and tell her the news that the fever has broken. Upon her arrival, she calls out for her mother but doesn’t find her.
Charlotte sits at Mary’s bedside, telling her about the broken engagement, which Mary says must have taken great courage. With guilt, Charlotte says she cannot bear the pain she’s caused Ralph but admits she couldn’t live a lie. She couldn’t make a promise before God when she was in love with someone else. Mary knows it’s Mr. Colbourne because of how she looks at him. “Does he know that you are no longer to be married?” Not yet. Mary wants to know why she is sitting there with her, and Charlotte smiles.
Reverend Hankins and his sister run into Dr. Fuchs, and Miss Hankins praises his ministrations in helping Mrs. Parker. Reverend Hankins is outraged because she’s giving him credit for a miracle.
Samuel and Lady Susan are in the tea room, and he’s struggling to find the right words. He asks her if she thinks it’s strange, too, how circumstances brought them together. They both had given up on love and marriage, and Samuel says he now must renounce that vow. Lady Susan stops him from speaking further. She thinks they have been caught up in the moment. Samuel is devastated as she announces that she is expected back in London. He says he will call on her there, but she thinks not. Lady Susan declares she will think of him with “great fondness,” and Samuel replies, “As will I, my lady.” Lady Susan is stifling the tears as she looks at Samuel’s heartbroken countenance.
Tom informs Mr. Pryce that he is withdrawing immediately from the deal. He won’t participate in the cruel scheme – the old town must remain. Rowleigh, clearly upset, says he cannot, but Tom says he should have listened to his wife long ago.
Charlotte arrives at Heyrick Park to discuss something with Mr. Colbourne. Alexander, however, is out riding this morning. Leo runs up and greets her, as well as Samuel. He tells her that Lady Susan will leave Sanditon and is expected back in London. He could not change her mind. Mrs. Wheatley asks if she can pass a message on to Mr. Colbourne, but Charlotte says she’d rather deliver it herself.
Mary is well enough now and visiting Georgiana with Charlotte, who is upset that her mother has left. Mary says to give her the benefit of the doubt, but now Georgiana doubts she is her mother. Angry, she declares she will have no need of her anyway since she will soon be a duchess.
Charlotte and Lady Susan are walking the beach, and Lady Susan tells her a “certain friend” has decided he requires her company, and she cannot say no. She’s happy, though, that Charlotte will be happy. Charlotte says she plans to speak to Mr. Colbourne at Lady Denhamn’s wedding and hopes his feelings haven’t altered. Oh, dear girl, you have his eternal love!
Lady Lydia is walking with Georgiana and giving her advice to keep her distance from her mother because her life will not be her own. She admits that she has ways to stay autonomous and shares a secret with Georgiana that she has recently formed an engagement. No names are mentioned, but Georgiana assumes it’s Colbourne. She tells Charlotte what Lydia has said. Distraught, Charlotte believes she has missed her chance.
Everyone gathers at the church for Lady Denham’s wedding. Colbourne sees Charlotte and tells Mary he’s happy to see her recovering. Tom wants to discuss his plans with Mr. Colbourne for the old town, but he clarifies it was Mary’s plans, and he would be glad to discuss them. The Dowager remarks about how quaint the chapel is, but it isn’t grand enough for her son’s wedding. She asks Colbourne if he has a chapel on his estate, but he says no. Lydia says perhaps he should build one, and he replies he’ll consider it if the occasion demands. Charlotte is uncomfortable and devastated and walks away from the conversation.
Lady Denham is still at her home, staring out the window. Edward smiles and says your guests await, and wait they do. Meanwhile, Rowleigh paces back and forth in front of the altar. Samuel and Charlotte enter the chapel and see Lady Susan sitting by herself. She encourages him not to let her leave, but he thinks it’s a lost cause. Charlotte says, “Even if it is the King….” and Samuel is stunned that it is the King who summoned her. He doesn’t sit with Laday Susan but sits next to Augusta, who asks Charlotte to sit beside her. She agrees, and Colbourne sits next to Charlotte. It’s another uncomfortable seating arrangement. After moments of silence, he states that he’s pleased to see Mrs. Parker recovering and adds that Mrs. Wheatley said Charlotte wanted to talk to him about something. She hesitates, not telling him about her broken engagement, but only that she came to say her last goodbye.
Edward approaches and tells Rowleigh the news that Lady Denham has had a change of heart.
Miss Hankins has a stern word with her brother afterward and is off to find Dr. Fuchs. Later on, a few scenes later, Reverend Hankins tells his sister he thinks they should invite Dr. Fuchs for afternoon tea. Naturally, Miss Hankins is grateful that her brother is changing his mind.
Samuel catches Lady Susan leaving the church, asking why she didn’t tell him the truth that “he” summoned her. Samuel yells as she walks away that he doesn’t deserve her, treating her disrespectfully, to be dropped or picked up at his whim. Samuel confesses that he cannot offer her much, but he loves her and will be faithful and constant. His confession of love is beautiful, but she does not see it that way. She says, “I’m sorry,” and walks away.
Meantime, Rowleigh bursts through the door and confronts Lady Denham. He’s humiliated! She realized she could not leave behind her home or Sanditon – it’s her life.
Charlotte conveys the contents of a letter received from her father to the Parkers, stating that he’s greatly disappointed. Allison is relieved that she’s not to marry Ralph. Charlotte has decided to go to Ireland to be with her sister. Arthur asks what she plans to do, and she explains that she has always dreamed of a school and will look for a teaching position. Tom reiterates she is more than welcome to stay with them. Mary was hoping she’d stay to help her with plans for the old town. Charlotte says it’s time for her to start anew.
Georgiana is having a fitting for her wedding dress with a seamstress with the Dowager Duchess and Lydia. Suddenly, Georgiana’s mother enters her apartment, asking to talk with her daughter alone. Georgiana tells her she thought she had vanished, but she said she left a note on the table. Georgiana finds it buried under other papers. She opens it to see the English bank notes that the Dowager Duchess attempted to bribe her with to leave.
Tom and Mary visit Mrs. Filkins, along with Charlotte, to tell her their plans for the old town. She mentions a school and Charlotte questions what she means. She learns that Mr. Colbourne has invested in improving the living conditions of the old town, and he specifically stated that there was to be a school for boys and girls to attend. It was vital to him that every young woman be learned as well as accomplished. Charlotte is beside herself over his generosity.
Georgiana is standing by the Montrose family in the tea room, wanting to know the meaning of what the Dowager Duchess had done. Lord Montrose is shocked — offering her money to leave her own daughter. Georgiana leaves and Lord Montrose follows, stating his mother’s actions are indefensible. He fears their wedding is a mistake, and Georgiana agrees. He tells her she deserves to be loved, and Georgiana tells him he does too.
Tom Parker and Mary are telling Lady Denham about the old town plans. Charlotte is there as well. She balks at the ideas saying they are to be a resort – not a charity. Tom announces that Mr. Colbourne has offered half of the money needed to proceed with the investment. After more discussion, she agrees to match Mr. Colbourne’s offer. “I won’t be made to look a miser by him,” she spouts.
Georgiana apologizes for doubting her mother. She wants to give her father’s fortune to her to use it for good, but her mother refuses, saying she’s capable of doing the same and that Otis could help her. When in London, she had spoken to him and learned of their history, and now she only wants Georgiana to find happiness.
Edward is in the parlor with Lady Denham. He’s returned the wedding presents and offers his condolences on the outcome. He’s happy to stay with her as long as need be. She laughs, “Good Lord, oh, what a hideous thought!” She announces she has something different in mind for Edward. He shifts uncomfortably, no doubt wondering what she has planned next.
Georgiana is at the Parkers, announcing that she and her mother are leaving for London to see Otis. She asks about Charlotte’s plans, and she tells her tomorrow she leaves for Ireland. This is a farewell between friends. Georgiana sighs.
Back at Heyrick Park, Samuel is alone in the parlor, gazing down at the fire when Mrs. Wheatley announces a visitor. He turns around to see Lady Susan standing in the doorway. He thought she was on her way to London, and she was halfway there, until she realized she left something behind she didn’t want to live without. They kiss in a warm embrace. (Who would have believed this outcome that Lady Susan would one day be Charlotte’s sister-in-law?)
Okay, next scene, sit down. You may have trouble believing what is about to happen.
Lady Denham takes Edward to church, and he is befuddled why she has brought him there. She confesses that she was disappointed when he ran off with Miss Markham, and even though he had the chance to ruin her, he did not. He urged her to marry Mr. Pryce against his best interests, and he’s been remarkably kind to her. She reiterates their deal that once she found evidence he had reformed, she would offer him a living. The living she offers is that of a clergyman. Edward wants to know if she’s taken leave of her senses!! Apparently not, because later in another scene, he’s standing in the back of the church, wearing clergyman garments! Is he really redeemed? What do you think?
Lady Susan and Samuel are taking a morning walk on the beach, discussing how they feel miserable for not bringing Charlotte and Alexander together. Lady Susan says she wished Alexander wasn’t marrying Lady Lydia. Samuel is clearly confused about her statement. What? (the scene cuts here)
Arthur and Lord Montrose have a moment together and are back as “friends” again.
Georgiana arrives in London with her mother and seeks out Otis. She tells him she’s no longer engaged, and her mother has led her back to him. In later scenes, just before another wedding, Otis and Georgiana marry. (Insert happy squeals! She gets to be with the man she loves. Is Sidney rolling over in his grave at that one? Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
Samuel and Lady Susan burst through the Heyrick Park front door, screaming, “Xander! Xander!” Augusta tells them he’s at stables, and he charges Leo to run to her father and deliver a message. Leo runs up to yelling, “Papa, Papa!” “What is it Leo?”
Charlotte says her goodbyes to the Parker family and climbs in the carriage. It’s another heartwrenching goodbye. Charlotte has resigned herself to Ireland to forge a new life there. She waves goodbye with tears in her eyes.
Okay, I’m going to cry again. Those darn cliffs! That terrible place where Charlotte’s heart was once broken gives way to a scene where Alexander is there, on Hannibal, waiting to stop the carriage. When it stops, Charlotte emerges and sees him in the distance, dismounting and walking toward her. “Mr. Colbourne!” she cries out. “You didn’t tell me you called off your wedding,” he yells back. Charlotte thinks it’s of no consequence because he’s engaged to Lydia Montrose. Ah, there you are mistaken, Charlotte! He explains she has been secretly defying her mother and is engaged to another. It’s him she is to marry, not Colbourne.
Charlotte stutters, looking at him in disbelief. “I’m at liberty to marry whomsoever I choose,” Alexander declares. “As, it seems are you.” He approaches Charlotte, and her eyes well with tears as he declares his love for her and that his affections have not wavered. They have only grown deeper, and he cannot “imagine how fathomless they will be once they have shared a lifetime together.” Another romantic kiss ensues as the music swells.
Now the wedding you’ve been waiting for comes on screen. Everyone is there — all the characters who have shared in Charlotte’s journey. Only pictures can do it justice because our favorite couple are now husband and wife. Afterward, outdoors it’s filmed in slow-motion and so beautiful as flower petals are thrown in their path.
If you’re not weeping enough by this time, you’ll weep even more as the scene after the wedding is so endearing. To me, it was like a nod to the fans, a glimpse one more time of the characters the Sanditon Sisterhood fought to save. The cast is in a room together, awaiting the bride and groom. When Alexander and Charlotte arrive, Charlotte walks around with a beaming smile greeting everyone. It’s such a touching scene, shot in slow motion, not meant to rush the audience but to give us a last look at the wonderful characters that brought us Sanditon – Tom, Mary, Arthur, the Parker children, the Hankins, Lady Denham, Edward, Rowleigh, Lady Susan, Samuel, Leonora, Augusta, Mrs. Wheatley, Georgiana, Otis, and Lord Montrose. It’s so touching and so beautiful. She returns to Alexander’s side, the camera is now behind them, and you see everyone raise a glass to the happy couple, and I’d like to think to us too.
The writers could have ended it here with the wedding scenes, but they gave the audience a peek into the future one year later. Charlotte now has a school. The couple has a baby. Leonora has a mother. Augusta has an aunt. And their life together is very dear, indeed.
Thanks for letting me write these recaps for you! When I get time, I’ll start dissecting some of my favorite scenes from Sanditon Season 3.
Until tomorrow, then. ❤️