Things are hotting up and beginning to go at a pace as plot themes continue and develop.
One important Austen aspect I think Andrew Davis does highlight and portrays in this series is the power and strength of women subverting the male patriarchy. Charlotte continues to be feisty. Georgiana continues to be rebellious and Esther Denham and Clara Brereton continue to be wicked. Lady Denham with her wealth is enabled to boss everybody.
Charlotte continues to act as a go between, between Georgiana and Otis. She brings a letter for Georgiana. As a guise to allow Georgiana to read the letter in the vicinity of Mrs Griffiths Charlotte reads out loud from Mary Brunton’s book , “Self Control.” A witty 18th century type of joke there. Ha! Ha!
Lady Denham continues to be a match maker for her neice Esther. She has actually been writing letters to Lord Babington in Esthers name.Esther is mortified and seething with anger of course. A meeting between Lord Babington is arranged, Lord Babington proposes. Who would have thought? Esther turns him down.He is far too dissolute for her, poor man She really is in love with her ,”brother,” Edward. A passionate full on kiss later on proves incontrovertibly the truth of the matter to us the viewer.
THE CRICKET MATCH
. An annual Sanditon cricket match between the Workers and The Gentlemen is a crowd puller and a positive advert for the town. Tom is desperate for it to go ahead but there is the problem of the building workers actually turning up. They will constitute one of the teams and they have not been paid their wages. Also an equally desperate Young Mr Stringer , the captain of the workers team, needs money for materials and equipment to actually build Sanditon. Tom Parker is really in a mess and it seems to be getting worse for him.
CHARLOTTE PLAYS CRICKET
All of Sanditon turns out on the beach to watch the match. Lady Denham, Clara, Esther, Georgiana and Charlotte and many more are spectators. The gentlemen team wait for the workers team to arrive. Tom Parker, to assure their participation, promises them their wages. The workers arrive but Stringer loudly proclaims the workers grievances about no pay and Lady Denham and Mrs Parker, who have both been kept in the dark about the dire financial situation now know all. What will happen next?
The game begins. The Workers are all out for 86 runs. The Gentlemen go into bat and are doing well. It looks an even game. One of the gentlemen can’t take his turn batting and Charlotte offers to take his place. Shock horror. This is a gentlemen’s game after all. Charlotte is unperturbed and tells how she often played cricket with her brothers and sisters. She goes into bat and hits the final runs for the Genltemen’s team to win. Another knock at the patriarchy. Hurray!!!Mr Stringers lenient bowling and chivalry may have had something to do with it though.
MISS LAMBE'S ESCAPE
While everybody has been distracted by the cricket., Georgiana has escaped and run off to the town where she thinks she is going to meet Otis. Otis is not there but she is bundled into a coach and driven off. Charlotte is horror struck. She and Sydney have another shouting match, this is becoming a regular theme in this series. Charlotte, the feisty individual she is, decides to go off to London…..is that where Georgiana has been taken... on her own to find Georgiana. End of episode. This is turning into a lively version of Miss Marple or even Poirotte. We shall see. Everything is up in the air. Phew. Exciting.
SYDNEY PLAYS MR DARCY
Think European noire films from the 40s. Think Grahame Greens ,”Third Man,” starring Orson Wells filmed in black and white. Charlotte arrives in London at night time, alighting in the dark and dingy narrow foul smelling streets with shifty dangerous characters at every turn, in every doorway and alleyway. “I don’t know where I am?” She begins to wander aimlessly looking for the address she has for Otis, a hopeless endeavor it would seem. She is out of her depth. A man grabs her from behind and we imagine all sorts terrible things are about to happen when a tall, burly shaded character in black intervenes and brutally punches her assailant. There, suddenly is Sydney standing next to her ready to fight off all attackers. I must admit I have been remiss in this area of Sydneys abilities as a pugilist. In the first episode I failed to inform you that Sydney takes part in a boxing bout for the entertainment of an audience. He savagely beets up and cuts his opponent. So Sydney has history in the art of fighting. It must have been a miracle that Sydney should have been there at the very moment Charlotte was about to lose, even her life, perhaps. But this is an Andrew Davies story of course.
OTIS IN THE UNDERWORLD
The address for Otis is an inn near the docks. He uses the premises merely to pick up his post occasionally. Otis does not live here. Sydney and Charlotte enquire about Georgina. The only possible place is a brothel. Charlotte in her innocence enters with Sydney who is well known by the madam. Oh dear me. Its getting worse. It appears he is a client. Charlotte strangely does not appear too perturbed by this revelation. I thought she would have been. It seems Georgina has been sold to a wealthy gentleman who, when we see him, bears some resemblance to portraits of the Prince Regent. He wants to marry Georgiana for her inheritance. Otis turns out to be a gambler deep in debt to this unsavory character.
We begin to understand some of Sydney’s behaviour towards Otis and Georgiana.
In Antigua Georgiana’s father, who was dieing, an old friend of Sydney’s has entrusted Georgiana to his care until she becomes of age to claim her inheritance. Sydney thinks of Otis as a predator only wanting to marry Georgina to get her fortune, a husband takes over the wealth of his wife, to pay off his debts and to have a fund to fuel his gambling habits. They find Otis eventually and he denies this version of things and feels hard done by. He loves Georgina.
ESCAPE AND RESCUE
The three find the house of the gentleman who has bought and paid for Georgiana and discovers they have eloped to Gretna Green, a place across the Scottish boarders where a license to marry is unnecessary. That reminds me of Wickham and Lydia but we have no time to make connections. Things are moving at a pace. They have already left a few hours previously. Georgina and Sydney take a carriage to intercept them. A carriage chase ensues at a speed, all of the blistering pace of perhaps 20 miles an hour, when the going is good. The excitement builds and the coaches pull level. Their drivers whip the horses into faster and faster motion. Sydney times his jump and leaps on to the driving seat of the escaping carriage. A sharp elbow to the chin of the driver renders him unconscious. Sydney halts the carriage and retrieves Georgina. The portly, slavering, kidnapper calls, “ What about my £1800? Actually that is a considerable amount of money. Georgina is returned to Sanditon safely, intact and unsullied, I think.
SYDNEY HELPS HIS BROTHER TOM.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, sorry Sanditon, things are not going well.Tom thinks he has hit rock bottom. He can’t pay his workers. There is no more money for materials and he despairs that he has lost the trust of his dear wife. He looks and we feel his deep depression. Sydney is informed about this situation in a conversation between the two brothers and Sydney offers £3000 of his own money. Tom is humbled and grateful. He has been saved, for now. He has got to repair the relationship with his wife though. I have had my suspicions about Sydney’s wealth. He obviously has made money in his West Indian adventures although he declares to Charlotte that he deplores slavery and does not condone it. So how has he got his wealth? Another episode will reveal more. There are only two to go.
LADY DENHAMS WILL
At the end of the last episode Lady Denham appeared to be dieing or was she dead? No, she is still alive, bedridden and weakening and declares in a feint voice. “ I am well. There is nothing wrong with me. I shall recover.” Are we to believe her? Lord Edward begins a frantic search for Lady Denhams will, searching day and night. He leaves nothing unturned. His sister Esther thinks even with the possession of the will they can’t persuade Lady Denham to change it.
CLARA BRERETON ON TOP.
Just when his searching proves fruitless Clara appears, holding between her thumb and forefinger, the will. She had possession of it all along. Lord Edward promise that she can have one fifth of the proceeds of the will. They destroy the will burning it on the fire. With the will gone Lord Edward will be the natural recipient if there is no other evidence. Clara at first agrees to this arrangement. However, she has other ideas. More in keeping with the brothel in London, we wonder further about Clara’s past, she skillfully seduces him., Taking charge she climbs on top of Lord Edward’s ,”manhood,” as she prostrates him on the floor and ,”rides,” him to their mutual, gasping, heavy breathing climaxes.( My goodness this sounds like a slutty novel. Ha! Ha!) Clara then ups the stakes and demands a quarter of the will. Why? How? Because she will tell Esther what has just occurred and also, I suppose, if she becomes pregnant that will be another factor to help Lord Edward keep his word. I can’t help thinking that the wily old Lady Denham will have more than one copy of her will. Surely her solicitor will have a copy ? But we shall see. So, would you like to know what was written in the will? Of course you would. Clara and Edward read it before destroying it. The bulk of the inheritance was for the development of Sanditon. The rest, well, to a donkey sanctuary. I do not jest.
Anyway. Things are just beginning to look up for Tom Parker and Sanditon. Lord Babington, who is now appearing to be quite a good sort and not the dissolute type everybody thinks he is, arranges a ball in London for all the glitterati to promote a sailing regatta Tom wants to hold off the coast at Sanditon. Tom thinks this regatta will be the highlight of the year and draw many more people to Sanditon. The ball goes ahead and Charlotte reluctantly attends. Sydney has changed his mind about Charlotte and shows her a lot of attention. Is this the beginnings of love? Charlotte is told that it is love she is feeling when she meets a mysterious, sophisticated, lady ensconced in the green house at the back of the ballroom. Who is she? Charlotte reveals her thoughts and mixed up feelings and the lady tells her she is in love. Sydney arrives to take Charlotte back to the dance floor. But a twist at the end reveals that a past love of Sydney’s, Eliza, who married another man for money instead of Sydney is attending the ball. She is now widowed. Sydney shows her attention and is obviously distracted by her. We finish this episode, the camera on the face of Charlotte, distraught and not knowing what on earth is going on.
Yes, this is getting quite good. But, as I have said before its definitely not Jane Austen.
JUST STRAIGHTFORWARD NASTINESS
If you have every watched,” The Adam’s Family,” an American horror, comedy film and TV series about a family made up of ghosts and monsters you can imagine the beginning of this episode, the penultimate episode to Sanditon. In a darkened room, Lady Denham is laid out like a corpse, surrounded by her supposedly grieving family, Edward Denham, Esther Denham and Clara Brereton, all looking suitably somber. Lady Denham is not yet dead but we assume the moment is nigh. Esther is left on her own with the dying Lady Denham and as she lies there. Esther pours her poisonous heart out into the ear of Lady Denham telling her as she dies about their scheming plans to take her wealth. She speaks about the burning of her will and the sexual passion enacted on her ballroom floor between Clara and Edward. Esther is venomous and sneering in her recount. There is not a flicker of consciousness from the apparently unconscious Lady Denham. The viewer can’t help thinking that all this ire surely cannot go to waste in this dramatic episode. There is the overriding feeling that Lady Denham will suddenly sit up straight and make us all leap out of our seats screaming. Was she conscious enough to take in the bile and nastiness that poured out of Esther into her ear though?
SYDNEY GOES SWIMMING AGAIN
It is the early morning. A mist clears over the calm sea. In the far distance, onto the pristine, flat, yellow sands, beneath a pale blue morning sky emerges a far off naked Sydney fresh form his early morning sea bathing. Then suddenly the camera turns to a shot of his slender hairy wet legs as he apparently dries off his upper half with a towel, out of view. All erotic thoughts are annulled. Good sex is about being aflame with passion. Here we just have wet hairy legs. Nice!.Theo James, who plays Sydney Parker, permanently has a furrowed look of concerned anguish, and confusion on his face. This facial expression has not altered for the whole seven episodes so far and I doubt, with that expression apparently frozen on his face , it ever will.
LADY DENHAM SHOCKS THEM ALL
Charlotte visits Georgiana at Mrs Griffiths lodgings. Georgiana seems to be recovering but is in a sulk. Will she be reunited with Otis? Not during this episode anyway.
Clara, Edward and Esther are profoundly shocked to their very ,”foundations,” by the sudden news that lady Denham has made a full recovery. Dr Fox is delighted. What is more she was ,”compos mentis,” all through Esther’s vituperative speech about the hatred for her and the awful things they plotted against her while she apparently lay unconscious. She knows all the nasty intrigues that have been going on. After the lack of eroticism in the scene with Sydney’s hairy legs earlier, Lady Denham gives eroticism another great kick in ,”the behind.”. She is disgusted at the thought of Clara and Edward having sex on her ballroom floor and declares that she will have to have the ballroom resurfaced. A real ,”cold shower,” on the ardour of Edward and Clara. Lady Denham proceeds to pack Clara off back to her family never to return and then proceeds to kick Edward out too, never to return. She appears to want to retain Esther for some nefarious reason, perhaps, enticing her with the thought that she alone remains to inherit her fortune. But, that is not what the original will said! I don’t know. Lady Denham has obviously got something up her sleeve yet.
Tom Parker is proceeding with plans for the regatta. The regatta is to be a skiff race with rowers on a local river. Anybody who lives or has visited the South Coast of England knows that a regatta is a race between sailing boats but I suppose that would be too cumbersome and slow an event for a TV series. Andrew Davies transposes the regatta to a rowing race on a river instead. Lady Worcester, the mysterious lady with the advice about love Charlotte met at the London Ball arrives in Sanditon with all her wealthy aristocratic followers. Tom Parker thinks it is to attend the regatta but Lady Worcester has come to see Charlotte. Of course the regatta benefits form her attendance and the attendance of her friends.
ELIZA CAMPION IN SEARCH OF SYDNEY
Eliza Campion is among the visitors and she is in Sanditon to continue and further her relationship with Sydney. Charlotte feels rejected and in emotional turmoil. Charlotte and Sydney have their moments and Sydney’s look of pained confusion does sterling work. Eliza of course commandeers most of his attention. She is beginning to see Charlotte as an adversary in Sydney’s affections. Sydney is just confused.
At the regatta Charlotte performs her job as Mr Parkers’ accountant. She collects the takings and records the receipts, while Lady Worcester, Eliza Campion and all the other members of Sanditon society watch Mr Stringer and his boat win the regatta in a close finish with the Parker brothers boat. Charlotte has a moment or two with Mr Stringer who is obviously in love with her, unawares to Charlotte. The last episode will bring that situation to a conclusion. It has to.
LADY DENHAM SAYS A FEW THINGS.
Lady Denham, has some of the best lines in this episode. She gives a heartfelt speech to her nephew and nieces explaining the corruption and misery money brings and lambasts the three of them using that brilliant word to describe their behaviour as, venality.
SIR EDWARD IS AT A LOSS
Sir Edward is seen wandering the streets of Sanditon staggering about drunk. He puts on a cheerful face to Esther when he brazenly announces, “We have won. It’s all ours.” He thinks Esther,as the only apparent heir will include him in whatever she gets. He is mistaken of course. Esther rejects him. He has broken her heart and treated her abominably and she has now had her eyes opened to Edwards atrocious treatment of her. She completely rejects and so Edward, that nasty snake in the grass, that pompous, vain, revolting character is laid low. Hurrah!! You feel like shouting.
WHAT ABOUT ESTHER DENHAM?
But what has Lady Denham really in store for Esther? Maybe she has a cruel come down prepared for her part in all the subterfuge. There is some positive hope for her. Lord Babbington who at first always appeared as a ,”playboy,” and good time person has developed into a truly kind and caring person especially towards Esther. He loves her and professes that he can only imagine the terrible acts and injustices her brother has brought to her. He has not given up on Esther. He approaches her again to marry him again. By the look on Esther’s face, a look of doubtful hope she may be changing her ideas towards him. Again, the last episode will reveal all.
LADY WORCESTER RETURNS TO LONDON
Lady Worcester returns to London announcing she will return with a friend. Tom Parker can only assume her friend is The Prince Regent. However, I personally think Lady Worcester is far too much a sane, kind, intelligent and thoughtful person for an alliance with that profligate. I will be disappointed in her if it is him. Surely not. I wonder who she means though? And why is she so interested in Charlotte? We will see. This is getting interesting. To be truthful this series of episodes has been interesting for some time.
The episode ends with Eliza Campion returning to London apparently with Sydney and we are left with Charltote, a bereft, heart broken, expression on her face. Suddenly Sydney appears. He looks at Charlotte.
“I am only my truest self when I am with you.”
End of episode. Role credits. Blimey! Is that good or not?
A WALK ON THE SANDS
Well, we are here, Episode 8 and we think everything is going to be resolved or , maybe not. Jane Austen would bring things to a gentle close and give our character’s hope and we as the readers would give our good wishes, in our hearts, for everybody’s future. But, what of Andrew Davies in this imagining of Sanditon?
The episode starts with a loan Charlotte Heywood walking along the wide flat yellow sands of Sanditon beach, a calm flat sea in the background and a benign blue sky above. WE almost wish we could enjoy the walk with her, but this is a contemplative moment for Charlotte and I would not wish to break her calm solitude.
Her walk takes her back to the centre of Sanditon town with passersby, carriages trundling along and Tom and Sydney Parker, standing in the street, contemplating Sanditon’s progress. A self-satisfied moment with some hope for the somewhat, at times, harassed Tom Parker. Tom is his ebullient self on greeting Charlotte but Sydney and Charlotte look coyly at each other, both holding the memories of their last meeting and what was said between them.
The scene changes to Charlotte visiting Georgiana in her rooms and the two talk about Otis and other matters when Sydney reappears to check up on his wayward ward. Charlotte and Sydney have a moment or two to talk and they both have Sydneys words to Charlotte in their minds, “ I only feel my true self when I am with you.” We can sense the chemistry. They are evidently beginning to arouse strong emotions in each other.
Mr Stringer announces to his father that he has received a letter informing him that a London architect will take him on as an apprentice. A choleric Old Mr Stringer is not impressed but Young Mr Stringer stands firm in ambitions.
LADY DENHAM AND ESTHER DENHAM
Lady Denham has turned into a tyrant towards Esther giving her orders and making demands of her.”Play the pianoforte for me.” “ Lady Denham you know I can’t play very well.” “Play it, and sing while you are at it.” This is getting nasty. The old bat!! Suddenly Lord Babbington arrives and wants to pay his respects to Esther. Esther declines but Lady Denham makes her go for a carriage ride with Lord Babbington. The carriage ride begins with a frosty atmosphere. As they ride along the beach Lord Babington suggest Esther takes the reins.Some sort of symbolism for what is about to occur I think. She takes over driving the horses and they race at breakneck speed across the sands. Esther shows joy and glee on her face and begins to enjoy herself. Lady Denham reveals her past love life to Esther and how she lost her great love, Tolly because she wasn’t socially acceptable. All of a sudden the viewr begins to feel sympathy for Lady Denham as indeed by the thoughtful look on Esthers face, Esther does too. Esther is changing her view of Lord Babbington. When he proposes again they have a discussion about her liberty. Will she still be able to make her own decisions? Will she be a kept woman? Lord Babbington reassures that he loves her because of her independent spirit and wouldn’t want her any other way. This is a discussion about the role and influence of women in a marriage. Some great 18th century social commentary. Esther, under the circumstances agrees to marrying Lord Babbington and they kiss, Hurray!. A good kiss, but, not as good as what is to come!! Wait for it now.
A WALK ALONG THE CLIFFS
We next see Sydney and Charlotte taking a cliff top walk. Charlotte purportedly is on her way to get a fitting for the dress she will wear at Sanditons summer ball. We think, great, another ball. We need one of those to complete this series. However as they walk Sydney realizes they are going away from the town but Charlotte doesn’t mind. She has that giddy look of love.They stand. They look into each others eyes. Their hearts are pounding. Our hearts are pounding. They both admit to not sleeping for thinking about what Sydney has said about Chalrotte making him feel his true self. They pause. They look into each others eyes some more. The camera gets a close up of their two faces getting closer and closer . They pause. They look. We look. Their lips are almost touching. Then!! The climax. They kiss. WOW!!! Elation all round.
THE SUMMER BALL
I feel exhausted writing this. Now, you must be aware, Sydney has not yet asked Charlotte to marry him. So let’s hold on a bit longer.
Charlotte and Mrs Parker arrive at the ball together. Charlotte can talk intimately with Mrs Parker. “How do you know when you are in love?” asks Charlotte. “With Mr Parker I just knew. You just know when you are.” The ball scene is a glittering and bright affair with chandeliers and candles. Tom Parker announces to the gathered throng, “ Let joy be unconfined.”
THE STRINGERS, FATHER AND SON ARGUE
Meanwhile Young Mr Stringer is getting ready for the ball but argues with his sick father about things like ambitons, improving yourself in society, his hopes for Charlotte Heywood. Young Mr Stringer is in love with her obviously and his coming apprenticeship. Old Mr Stringer is against all this ambition.They part on angry terms as Young Mr Parker goes to the ball. Left on his own, in a candle lit room, Old Mr Parker has an apparent heart attack falling onto the lit candles knocking them over. We can guess the consequences. The scene moves to the ball.
THE BALL AND SOME REPERCUSSIONS
Now things move along. Georgiana confronts her guardian Sydney over his intentions about Charlotte. She doesn’t like Sydney and berates him to Charlotte. This is not foreboding well it seems. Young Mr Stringer dances with Charlotte but she admits to him she is in love with Sydney. He actually takes it very gracefully. They talk about his future plans and apprenticeship and Charltote is very supportive and encouraging. So that little problem is over.Lady Denham and Esther arrive at the ball. Lord Babbington spies Esther and admits his love for her to his friendsa. HE is obviously besotted. They dance together. Everything is going swimmingly untl Sir Edward gatecrashes amongst shouting and remonstrating. He reveals his love for his,”sister,” and pleads for her to come with him. The whole assembled ball are aghast. They now know about their incestuous relationship. Sydney bundles Sir Edward out of the ballroom to who knows where. Esther looks pleadingly at Lord Babbington. He reiterates his undying love and pronounces he doesn’t care about her past. All is well. The ball continues. Lady Denham when asked about this revelation merely replies she has no opinion about it.
Sydney manages to dance with Charlotte and they of course have a balcony scene looking down on the assembled dancers. No betrothal yet. We are kept on edge. When will they say the words?
An alarm goes up. Sanditon is aflame. The fire begun by Old Mr Stringer knocking over candles has spread. A whole terrace of houses is aflame. Buckets of water. Chains of people and an 18th century fire engine pulled by Sydney and the other men of the town arrives. They douse the flames but the terrace is destroyed. Tom and Sydney stand amongst the debris the following morning. Arthur,and Diana come to their sides. The Parkers resolve to rebuild Sanditon to an even better standard. The insurance will cover the money. AGH!! The insurance. Tom has not got round to insuring the buildings of Sanditon. Diana pledges her endowment and so does Arthur. They are unselfish for all their irritating quirks but then Sydney enquires how much debt needs to be repaid. £80, 000. “Cor blimey governor!!” I’m speechless. Gloom and doom hovers over the group.
DECISIONS ARE MADE
We are nearly at the end now, I assure you. Arthur and Diana return to London. Arthur vowing to be a bachelor for the rest of his life, to the relief somewhat of his sister. Dr Fuchs has taken up residence in Harley Street. They intend to visit him. often. Sydney and Tom request a weeks leeway from Lady Denham who demands that her investment be returned.Sydney goes off once more on a quest for finances. Charlotte is left wondering what is going to happen. Sydney returns. He has acquired the necessary investment to cover Tom’s costs. All is cheerfulness. Sydney and Charlotte are left to talk. Sydney looks grave. Charlotte, “ What’s wrong Sydney?” Sydney reveals he has asked Eliza Campion to marry him. She will provide the money to save Sanditon. OH, MY, God!!! Charlotte is devastated. Sydney looks a broken man.
We do have a joyous wedding though. Lord Babbington and Esther Denham marry to great celebrations. And the assembled throng look exceedingly happy including Charlotte , Sydney and Eliza who has arrived back in Sanditon to claim Sydney. I suppose they are being happy for the newly married couple.
THE END OR NOT THE END? THAT IS THE QUESTION.
Charlotte decides to return home to her family at Willingden. And at the end we see her riding in a coach across the cliff tops. But wait, suddenly Sydney rides up and stops the coach. Charlotte and Sydney talk and he professes his undying love but he must marry Eliza. Charlotte is heart broken as she travels on. We are heartbroken for her and Sydney is a mess. The END.
So many strands unfinished. Georgiana and Otis, what happens between those two? What will happen eventually between Charlotte and Sydney? Surely Eliza must die in some horrible circumstances to leave Sydney eventually free? Will Sanditon be rebuilt? Will Tom Parker eventually get a settled life? Will Mr Stringer become the greatest architect ever known? What will happen to Lady Denham? And, what of the dastardly Sir Edward and Clara Brereton? I can see her running a brothel in Covent Garden but that’s just my opinion. And whatever happened to Lady Worcester who befriended Charlotte and promised to return? So many things. Yes, I know, there must be a second series. .Andrew Davies can’t leave us like that. Can he?