That cricket match alone calls for some spiked tea, darling readers. Welcome to another episode of Sanditon weekly where we’ve sadly made little progress, but the series is continuing to reiterate the importance of transparency in relationships. The significance of being open and honest with our beliefs is essentially the very thing that strengthens us as humans, too. It’s what allows situations to flow smoother as opposed to falling apart as drastically as they do in this episode, but for the sake of angsty television, it works in creating riveting, deliciously fun storytelling along with some heartbreaking arcs.
Humans having an aching desire to always want more — a desire to explore, to give in to their curiosities, and fundamentally, the right to live as they’d please. But along with those desires comes the necessary consideration regarding those around us, the understanding that we must treat people as we’d like to be treated and that in our honesty, we’re crossing bridges with far more nobility than deception. To kick things off let’s touch base with Georgiana and breaking down her character’s desire to see Otis beyond the restrictions against their relationship. Oh to be young and in love, I can’t say I don’t understand it. I also can’t say that I probably would’ve made different decisions – there’s something exciting about forbidden romances, it’s tropey goodness, but in reality, there’s a lot more to consider than our feelings along with the broken hearts we have. And as mentioned last week, choosing to keep Charlotte in the dark is the choice I don’t agree with, it’s where the importance of transparency comes in because if she’s willing to help as best as she can, she deserves to be in the loop with the decisions that are made. That’s why the decision to run off on her own when the decision was that Charlotte would accompany them is something that’s going to backfire in a number of ways. It’s not fair for what it basically leads to is Charlotte harboring guilt for stepping in Tom’s place during the Cricket match.
I hate the fact that the episode once again ends with Sidney raising his voice, but it’s merited. He not only cares deeply for Georgiana, but as we’ve learned, he’s not one to handle dire situations with delicacy or grace. (Someday? Maybe?) But of all the moments, this is one where he’s rage is undoubtedly valid, her whereabouts are entirely unknown and knowing what he knows, jumping to the worst possible conclusions are understandable, for London is an especially unsafe place for black women at this time.
However, what’s frustrating about this entire situation is the fact that for a moment there, Sidney was as we’d left off with him back in episode three, happy, awestruck, relaxed even. The tension in this episode between him and Charlotte is strong — there are frustrations interwoven with the underlying captivation they both hold for each other, and the shared glances were so compelling, goodness, they could cut deeper than a knife. But by the time the game begins, there are moments when he’s once again reminded of the fact that the woman in front of him is more than meets the eye — she’s eccentric, she’s bold, she’s resourceful, and she’s someone who continuously surprises him, meeting whatever challenge is ahead with full force and dignity. That’s why it’s so easy for Sidney to be as compelled as he is — he’s never known anyone like Charlotte, no one in Sanditon really has, and for someone like him who’s seen so much, it’s that much more enthralling.
Which then leads me to Stringer and the complete heartache this episode leaves me with because it’s not even a little hard to love him. It’s not hard to appreciate him. He’s genuinely so good and so kind, so beautifully transparent, how could Charlotte not choose him? There’s certainly something there because even our suave hero catches the banter, but the problem here isn’t in any of them as much as it’s the fact that someone like Charlotte would be far more uplifted in a relationship with a man who could challenge her. It saddens me to say this because it just sounds so off; how could someone who greatly appreciates her and accepts her for all that she is not uplift her entirely? But there’s a fire in Charlotte that demands a fire back, a palpable entity that’s her equal in more ways than meets the eye. Charlotte and Stringer both run on hearts of gold, and Stringer isn’t afraid to fight when it’s necessary, but the very spark that’s missing is the very thing that’s so hard to describe.
For those familiar with Little Women, I like to think of Charlotte as the perfect mix between Meg and Jo March — she’s both the caretaker and the free spirit. And if she were just a Meg, I feel as though her and Stringer would be perfect for each other, a complete match made in heaven. I wish it weren’t so, but alas. We’ll get into it more as the storylines progress, but for now, let’s focus on the precious banter and how adorably lovely both Rose Williams and Leo Suter’s smiles have been in this episode.
Someone literally needs to go yell transparency in Tom’s face, but something tells me even that won’t do the trick. The choice to walk off as dramatically as he does when the fight erupts over the “out call” … yikes. There are so few words for such a drastic decision, but someone needed to put that man in his place, and hearing Mary say she could have handled everything as long as he’d been honest with her, broke me. I don’t think there’s anything more heartbreaking than a person not confiding in their partner when making drastic decisions. It’s perhaps the most cowardly thing anyone can do because time and time again different situations have just proven that had honesty been the root of their decision making from the very beginning, none of the issues would have blown up as they did. Mary is a patient woman, she’s sincerely wise and incredibly kind, she’s not one to judge and she’s not one to misunderstand frequently — she would have borne the truth with dignity, but Tom’s inability to grasp this, to refuse to look at her as his equal, his partner, is simply put, heartbreaking. Here’s to hoping with that man. Here’s to hoping.
To touch on our final heroine, it is from this moment where Esther goes from a riveting character to one I sincerely care for and find myself fervently rooting for. Also, just thank God for Lady Denham and her dramatic comments in this episode, which once again provided us with the necessary comic relief. The choice not to carry a single item then make a dramatic comment about how she can’t carry everything and Clara, who’s already holding everything needs to wrestle with another object? Yes please. But also, getting involved in Esther’s relationship with Babington and basically setting up a date. Raise your hand if your great aunt or grandma would do this, too.
Babington’s admiration for Esther and what he says to Crowe when he states that he’s infatuated with Esther’s being as opposed to the chase is so captivating — it’s her shortness, the authenticity in Esther refusing to change herself. He’s enamored by her wit not because she’s playing a game, but because he knows very well that she isn’t. There’s no part of her that isn’t authentic, no part of her that’s trying to be something she isn’t. And it’s that very transparency he’s in awe of because judging by the life it seems Babington leads, he’s probably not surrounded by people who are as transparent. There’s a high chance people have shown interest solely for his money but even that’s something Esther isn’t intrigued by. Whatever it is, it’s him, the way he makes her feel despite not showing it, there’s something pulling her towards him and it’s so riveting to watch. The scenery behind them as they’re taking the walk after the game is so stunning. The perfect place for a proposal, which he doesn’t shy away from and one that takes her by surprise. It’s such a stunning moment because she’s genuinely happy here, he’s getting to her, and Charlotte Spencer’s performance is so nuanced, she’s touching on a myriad of emotions with meticulous subtly because even Esther doesn’t understand what’s happening. The laughter. Be still my heart. He’s so intrigued by her ability to compliment and insult him at the same time. I was a goner after this. And then he says he’s all at sea and goodness, what a line. What a profoundly evocative sentiment. Mark Stanley’s delivery of this line is hauntingly raw.
But this very vulnerability and the transparency in Babington’s approach is terrifying because, for the first time, someone sees her for all that she is and still wants her deeply. The things he’s saying to her and the promises he’s making, no one else has ever done that, which is where the plethora of feelings are coming from. It’s understandable that she wouldn’t know how to react because all she’s ever known were “maybes”. People have looked to her and refused to see beyond the stoic exterior whereas Babington sees all that along with the heart that she doesn’t expose to anyone else. And the choice to take her as she is, to appreciate her no matter what is the very thing that she needs after all the pain that she’s endured. Her expression when he calls her extraordinary breaks me — there’s so much disbelief and sadness in her eyes, again, kudos to Spencer for bringing these moments to the surface with such organic ease. It’s in this moment where it becomes evident that no one’s said such words to her and meant it with the appreciation and sincerity in which Babington does. And it’s what makes the aftermath so haunting.
One of the saddest lines throughout the entirety of this series is: “He makes me laugh.” It’s one of the most beautiful things she says, for the weight it carries is profound and so achingly potent. Esther isn’t someone who laughs genuinely or often even. From the moment we’re introduced to her, it’s all eye rolling and frustrations, it’s knowing that she’s in love with someone who doesn’t reciprocate the feelings, and it’s understanding that there’s great pain in her heart. That’s why when she says those words to Edward, it’s gut wrenching because we see how moved she already is by the touch Babington’s already had on her life. His transparency and goodness towards her is awakening the parts of her she’d long tucked away. Thereby, it’s so crushing to see such a moment ruined with Edward kissing her knowing full well he has rejected her, he’ll break her further, and he has no ounce of real respect for her.
It’s easy to fall into traps like the one Esther is in when it feels there’s a glimmer of hope toward the very thing you feel as though you want most. It’s real and it’s human. It’s easy to understand why she then rejects Babington’s proposal because susceptibility is terrifying and giving in to the unfamiliar is often a greater risk than falling back to what we’ve always known. Also, it’s just really damn easy to dislike Edward with a fire in our souls right about now, and certainly even more so than before.
Lady Denham’s fall is about to set things astray in Sanditon and true colors are bound to be released. The episode showcases a prodigious amount of transparency for characters like Esther and holds back a lot for other characters, but as we near the final three episodes of the first season, we can hold on to the belief that we’ll at least find ourselves watching some very big reveals take place. We’ll begin to see these characters break down walls and climb the necessary ladders to find the clarity they need, all while finding means of acting on sincerity as opposed to deceit for the more admirable ones. Nothing good comes easy, no one ever really makes good decisions as quickly as we’d like, and the road less traveled by is always going be the terrifying one to take. It takes great bravery to be vulnerable and open thus, when that time comes, on a show like Sanditon those moments of strength are going to feel earned and organic.
- Someone please ask me why I’m currently listening to Elton John’s “Rocket Man” and drowning in my tears thinking of Esther and Babington. It doesn’t even really work for them, but here we are.
- Edward straight up offends me at this point. Just looking at him annoys me. (Kudos to Jack Fox for making him so detestable. I imagine he’s a lovely guy, but his character, oof.)
- “He’s coming. Sit straight. Smile. No don’t smile. It’ll confuse him.” I’m DONE. Lady Denham is ridiculous. I can’t. What a line.
What are your thoughts on Sanditon’s fifth episode? Is there anything you’d like me discuss further? Let us know in the comments below and I’ll happily do so as long as they don’t spoil future episodes too much.