Welcome to Sanditon weekly, darlings — this one is going to be a bumpy ride so buckle up and maybe bring back the spiked tea. There’s a great deal to unpack with this episode, for it deals with perhaps some of the most human struggles to date. What does it mean to see ourselves through another’s perspective? Are we defined by the decisions we’ve made in the past or are we defined by the labels that are given to us? Or do we define ourselves with the choices we make every single day? It’s a never-ending struggle because even when you are certain of who you are and you’re proud of who you’ve become, outside opinions cannot always be ignored. Sometimes they should be, other times, they should be taken into consideration. However, I’ve yet to hear of a single human who’s mastered the art of not allowing another’s opinion to get to them, if they have, I’d like to meet them. And as we’ve gathered by now, the people in Sanditon don’t shy away from their opinions.
The season’s penultimate episode is a strong compilation of imperfections and the art of being a confidant. Sometimes, all a person really needs is just one other to believe in them, one person to see them as they truly are, for it is that very belief that inspires us daily. We aren’t meant to be alone — the connections we make throughout our lives intricately shape us into the people we become. The untitled episode — let’s deem it “Love and Friendship”, (An homage to another Austen novel, see what I did there?) leaves us with a lot to ponder on; human connections, and the various perceptions we have of ourselves.
Let’s start off with Georgiana, a woman whose race alone is an unjust reason the world has been cruel to her, but at the end of the day, her broken heart is a result of losing the one connection she felt was most impactful in her life. When we catch up with her this week, she’s visited by her least favorite person in the world, Sidney — a figure she isn’t quite ready to really see, but he’s kind to her, patient with her, and once again chooses to remind her of the fact that he knows he’s failed. He’s doing everything in his power to make amends as best he can, and it’s something he knows he needs to prove that he’s remorseful and cares with his actions as well in. At some point however, forgiving him is going to have to be something Georgiana chooses to do as well. Sidney could become the greatest guardian to ever exist, but if she doesn’t want to see it, she won’t, and that’s what’s so fascinating about human connections, most of the time it’s a choice. As much as some love is effortless, at the end of the day, we’re given the authority to choose whether we want to keep a person in our lives.
A choice that comes easy to someone like Arthur because as a figure who’s neglected more often than not, he doesn’t ever want to see another in similar circumstances. That’s why it makes all the sense in the world that he’d be the one to go after Georgiana and convince her to leave the house. She’s unkind at first, again, an understandable choice because she’s still grieving, but his choice to persist and approach her with kindness is what encourages her to feel more comfortable with him. Within the choice to put in effort, none of our relationships could be fortified, and Arthur’s choice to tirelessly put in this very effort with those around him is so telling of the goodness in his heart.
But while we’re on a topic of comfort, how unfortunate is it that people can live in darkness for so long that they become accustomed to that kind of lonely tragedy? The belief with complete certainty that it’s the best they can do and it’s what they’re deserving of. It is during episodes five and onward where Charlotte Spencer manages to make me cry multiple times throughout Esther’s scenes, and in this week especially, her performance is gut wrenching. Esther’s a woman whose opinions of herself have been tainted by the belief in Edward, his character, and the manipulation she’s lived through, thus, understandably mistaking his treatment as love — a deep engulfing compassion she hasn’t had nearly enough of in her life. When Clara confesses to everything she and Edward have done with the will followed by their choice to sleep together, Esther’s expressiveness reveals her broken spirit poignantly. And as soon as Clara gathers that she’s never slept with Edward, it breaks Esther further, for it authenticates what a pawn she’s been in Edward’s eyes all along. Clara’s treatment isn’t shocking, Esther isn’t even a little impacted by how she perceives her, but it’s the way Edward sees her that breaks her into pieces. It is Edward’s actions and loveless nature that have long haunt her.
This very brokenness is part of what makes Esther’s “goodbye” to Lady Denham so heart wrenching. She confesses to everything like a little girl needing guidance — it almost comes off like a prayer. She’s even transparent about her own feelings, which is so telling of her character because she doesn’t shy away from including herself in the equation. Spencer’s performance is thus that much more evocative in this moment because she’s never been more vulnerable — there’s nothing she’s holding back because she isn’t thinking of the response that’ll follow her venting, instead, she’s confessing simply to release it all. It might actually be one of the hardest scenes throughout the series to watch. Esther’s vulnerability, and the choice to be effectively honest is her way of coping because these are words she’ll likely never be able to say again. Spencer notably knocks it out of the park when she states: “I truly hope you find happiness in heaven because this earth has become a living hell.” Spencer’s performance is strongest here — the haunting expressiveness is so calamitous because though she admits to not loving Lady Denham, it’s clear that she also realizes, she was the only honest person in her life.
Lady Denham’s money had become a cancer to the family, a burden they had chased without realizing the darkness it possessed, but after such a betrayal, the transparency in her treatment is the only real thing Esther’s ever known. Lady Denham has never hidden her feelings, she’s never tamed her opinions, and up until this moment, she was the only one who hadn’t lied to her. I wanted so much more out of Esther’s confrontation with Edward, but I also understand why it didn’t happen — there’s nothing left to be said here, nothing left to be done for she’s seen his true colors. And thus, nothing is greater than Lady Denham’s recovery and being 110% done with excuse the language, Edward and Clara’s shit. “You feeble parasites.” Oof, what an insult. She disowns Edward and shuns them both of the house, but not before loudly stating that: “I should be laying a new floor in my drawing room, the old one was has been indelibly stained.” Standing ovation for this moment. I’d redo my floors, too. Esther is now her only remaining heir, which seems fitting because despite how deeply flawed their relationship has been, they’ve both been honest with one another. Esther was never in it for the money. In truth, and I don’t understand why, she would’ve taken Edward, as he is, even without an inheritance.
She would have chosen Edward because she loved him, truly and deeply, which makes the second confrontation that much more painful because she illuminates this very fact in a moment of complete sincerity he doesn’t deserve. His belief that she was playing Lady Denham, that it’s all about them is proof of him being a parasite. It’s hard to get rid of those things. And when Esther finally confesses that there is no us, there is no future — she’s finally through with him. “I loved you.” Past tense. And that’s the tea, now get him out of my face.
But as we see, leaches and parasites don’t leave right away, he insults Esther in front of Babington, which despite his denial, we know he still cares deeply. And it’s this very moment that evokes the courage in him to go see her once more. It’s all so riveting because while Edward thinks he’s ruining Esther in front of Babington, it instead serves as further proof to him of how much he’s broken her. He sees through Edward’s lies as he always has because he’s chosen to see beyond Esther’s stoic demeanor. I lost it at Babington coming to see Esther, pushing aside guards not as a man who’s pursuing her, but as someone who cares completely for her. He wants her to know that he’s there and she screams about him knowing nothing. [Anyone else get major Jon Snow and Ygritte (Game of Thrones) vibes in this moment? The spunky read head and the kind eyed dark-haired man? So many emotions.]
Babington has chosen to really see Esther, he’s chosen to understand that the tough exterior isn’t a game, but it’s a woman masking colossal pain, and despite how she’s treated him, he’s chosen to forgive. He understands that Edward abused his power over her, and the way he spoke of her only confirmed the fact. So when he tells her that he came with no expectations? Cue the tears. His only hope is that she’s at last free from his influence. This has nothing to do with love or infatuation, but simply put, Babington wants to make her a promise that he is not going to allow her brother to make a victim out of her. This is as sincere as it gets — a man sitting before a woman, promising that when he tells her he’ll be there, he will, and that’s what he fortifies by offering her his handkerchief. It makes for such an exquisite moment because Esther finally stops crying, and for the first time, truly understands that there’s someone in this world who cares for her profoundly, without expecting anything in return from her. Nothing she’ll say or do will change how Babington perceives her because he’s chosen to see her as she really is and he’s decided that no matter what, he’s going to care for her. And I just … have a lot of feelings about these two.
There are some cases where we could be right about the instinctual beliefs we have about another person, but there are also times where the beliefs we once steadfastly carried could change for the better. And that’ll imaginably be the case for Esther — once she’s freed from the grip Edward had her, she’ll be able to see Babington for the light he truly is in her life. But ultimately, it will come down to a choice: the decision to be brave enough to give love one more chance. In a similar sense, Charlotte and Sidney needed to choose to see the other person as they really are as opposed to the beliefs they’d taken on based off unfair judgements and rash assumptions.
But before we get into that, let’s talk about the woman of every hour, Lady Susan. Lady Susan is a woman who’s listened intently to Charlotte then made the decision that she’s a woman worth fighting for. One of the richest, most esteemed women in London comes to a small resort town to finish a conversation with Charlotte. Can our heroine be any cooler? Cut to Eliza coming in, not sure why Sidney invited her, but we’re not down with this, and neither is Lady Susan. (But on a serious note, the kindness Charlotte’s awakened in Sidney is being extended further towards others, too. It’s not just about treating the one you love right, it’s about treating everyone right. She’s inspired this nobility out of him that’s being extended towards others as it should be.) That said, there could not be a more unfit couple as Eliza and Sidney would be. (Plus, Sidney can barely even look at Charlotte with Eliza there which is soul crushing.) Before Lady Susan’s arrival, we have a brief moment where Sidney’s past and present collide. The difference in Charlotte playing with the kids and Eliza clearly being uncomfortable in their presence is enough to prove how unfit she is to be Sidney’s partner in life. Sidney wants to be a father, his behavior with the kids is so natural, so warm, and fully open. He’d do anything to be blessed with the kind of life his brother has. The man’s nieces and nephews mean everything to him, and the way they love Charlotte is crucial, too. It’s such a small moment, but it’s vital that we see it to know just how kindred Charlotte and Sidney really are. They both not only love children, but they’re great with them — there’s an innocence in them when around the kids, which illuminates the kindredness in their hearts gorgeously. The reality is, not everyone wants children, and that’s entirely reasonable, it’s valid, but the people who do, the people who are fueled by child’s love, they deserve the chance to be parents. And judging by her body language, children aren’t a part of the future Eliza sees for herself.
Susan asks about Sidney, Charlotte denies it and says she isn’t in love, but the captain of this ship knows denial when she sees it. (There’s a lot of denial in this episode.) And she also knows about Eliza, vouching to Charlotte that they’ll find even her weakness because all humans have it. She then wants to introduce her to people in her circle, which so fascinating because it’s not only a showcase of her character, but it boldly reveals just how much she values Charlotte and their friendship. She isn’t a woman that judges based on class or wealth, but heart. (And there’s a smirk to tell us just when she’s learned she’s seeing a corrupt heart.) Once she learns that Charlotte is Eliza’s Achilleas heel, she makes it her mission to dissect the situation as intently as possible. bringing up the prospect of marriage only to shun Eliza’s belief that Charlotte should just settle for someone in her village. And here’s the thing, while judgement isn’t something any of us should pass, the prominent theme we discussed in episode four, Lady Susan’s means of getting to the bottom of situations and understanding people is based solely off of behavior, and most importantly, the treatment of other people. Thereby, upon learning that Eliza perceives Charlotte as nothing but a farmer’s daughter, she’s able to understand that she’s a woman money has corrupted. A woman who’s guilty of passing unfair judgements herself, which prompts the world’s greatest smirk to exist.
GIVE HER ALL THE AWARDS. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. THIS IS AN EMMY WINNING SMIRK RIGHT HERE. (I rarely ever go caps lock in my reviews, folks. So let it be known, it’s big when I do. I just couldn’t not.)
This is such a difficult moment to watch because it’s so easy to see how flustered Sidney actually is in the presence of both women. He doesn’t know how to be or what to say, and despite his good intensions, not being careful with his words results in embarrassing Charlotte. But, let’s rewind for a second. He waits for her after both their visits to Georgiana. He still can’t look at her. And he needs her to help balance the boat. (Insert, “sure, Jan”.gif.) It’s riveting to see this in an episode like this because the two of them on a boat, a object representing the importance of balance, intricately reveals just how fitted they are for one another. They discuss Heraclitus: “A man cannot step into the same river twice. He is not the same man and it is not the same river.” I wish this wasn’t such an obvious representation of his relationship with Eliza because I would’ve liked to do a bit more work analyzing. C’mon Sanditon, work with me here. It’s almost hilarious how obvious he is in this moment, prior to the marriage conversation before because he’s essentially screaming to her that he doesn’t want to be with Eliza without actually saying the words out loud. “Why is it that when I finally have a chance at happiness, I cannot accept the fact. I had convinced myself that I was destined to be alone. I was ill suited for matrimony.” So dramatic, my dude – just propose to her right then and there. Regardless, Charlotte states that she doesn’t believe anyone is ill suited and reiterates that it’s a question of compatibility.
Balance, like the boat — that’s what they do for one another, that’s what they are. Not two sides of a whole, but complete beings that’ll help one another grow for the better. Two people who aren’t entirely alike in a lot of ways, but where important matters concerned, they relate completely. He needs her to stay grounded and she needs him to fly. They challenge each other in a way love should to balance out the good, the bad, and the ugly that all humans possess. They can both be too intense at times, too headstrong, and too opinionated, but having the other’s love and respect is the fundamental puzzle piece in strengthening them as individuals as much as a couple. His vigor upholds her resourcefulness and her softness touches on his brokenness with care. They are two whole beings coming together through their jagged edges and creating a work of art that grows more valuable with time and care.
Also, let’s just get this out there: there’s literally no reason for Charlotte to row. He’s the one who’s going to be participating in the races, he’s the one in need of practice, there’s absolutely no reason for her to be involved when she didn’t even ask. Are you tired, my dude? Because you don’t look like you’d be with those arms. I’m just saying. It’s a dramatic way of finding excuses to touch her. “Keep your back straight.” Okay Sidney, we see you. We see you, sir. You’re fooling no one but yourself with these boyish charms. Lord knows where this moment would’ve gone, he’d probably confess to everything if Eliza didn’t ruin the moment by calling out to him.
And now finally cut to Sidney realizing he embarrassed Charlotte, the choice to run after her downright had my heart palpitating. “Is that all I am to you. A source of amusement.” To which he replies: “Of course not you’re … forgive me.” But it’s his speechlessness when she asks in sheer frustration what he wants from her that floors me. Everything. He wants everything. His expression changes so drastically here, you could see the words escape him through Theo James’ breathless state. Rose Williams, much like Charlotte Spencer breaks me so much in this episode because even without the tears in her eyes, you can pinpoint the exact moments where the words pierce Charlotte (Heywood) to her bones. It gets to her because Eliza’s words and Sidney’s thoughtless responses, touch on the very concerns she had last week about not fitting in with high society. It touches on her insecurities about being in Sanditon, especially in Sidney’s eyes because his opinion means something to her. She values it. Though she knows she’s educated and resourceful, it isn’t hard to feel left out in this circle. It isn’t hard to feel as though she doesn’t belong because Eliza is going out of her way to remind her of the fact that she’s nothing but a little girl.
And that’s why Lady Susan promising she’ll return is so important because she’s a crucial part of Charlotte’s life now. There’s no part of Susan that sees Charlotte as anything but incredible — she trusts her, she can confide in her, and she believes in her greatly. She values her as she is and as someone with her rank, it’s important for Charlotte to understand that the race is not yet run. She’s found a lifelong friend in Susan who’ll never dismiss her but continuously encourage her. It’s connections like this that are so impactful because while some will go out of their way to bring others down, women like Lady Susan will go out of their way, (Actually physically go out of their way.) to ensure someone like Charlotte knows she shouldn’t lose heart. “When it comes to love, there’s no such thing as a foregone conclusion.”
The final moment in this episode is as impactful as it is for a number of reasons, but primarily because it’s a result of a series of outcries. Whether it’s watching his words actually break her, Eliza wanting him back, or Stringer confirming that “it’s not the prize he was after”, Sidney Parker finally pulls himself together and chooses to bare himself entirely. He’s just a boy standing in front of a girl asking her to love him. He tells her that Eliza has left. But finally. “On reflection I realized I would rather be here. I am a great deal less than perfect; you’ve made me all too aware of that. But for whatever it’s worth, I believe I am my best self, my truest self, when I’m with you.” Let’s just sit with this for a moment. Take it in. Cry about it. Maybe drink some tea, take a bite out of a scone. Cry some more.
Theo James’ embodiment of Sidney is never not fascinating to watch, and the sincerity in this moment is especially stunning: he’s carrying the weight of a thousand promises on his shoulder but through his eyes, revealing that he’s never been more sincere or nervous. It all comes from the fact that Sidney knows he’s screwed up. He knows he’s failed. He knows he’s made countless errors in judgement and he’s often chosen the wrong words, but this wasn’t a rash decision, this was the most important, carefully crafted confession he’s ever made. This is it for him — she is his choice. The reputation he has to uphold isn’t that of an unfeeling man, but rather one who’s learning, growing, and doing everything in his power to ensure that the woman standing in front of him knows she’s had a colossal impact on his being. It takes great strength to be this transparent about our feelings when we don’t know how the person in front of us will react. It’s bravery at its finest and it’s a bravery she’s brought back into his life because to give love one more try after it’s broken you requires tremendous vulnerability.
His best self. His truest self. He is everything he’s ever wanted to be because of the way Charlotte’s chosen to see him. She’s chosen to forgive him. She’s chosen to be honest with him. She’s chosen to really understand him. She’s believed in his ability to be better, his ability to care more. Upon learning the truth that he’s endured great pain, she’s shown him patience, love, and kindness even when he didn’t deserve it. Those very choices she’s made have given him the security to open his heart again, to risk everything one more time because the woman standing before him is worth it all. She’s worth whatever comes along with loving her because she’s shown him more kindness than any other soul ever has. She’s endured his scolding and cruelty with more grace than he’s ever deserved, which is something he fully understands. What she’s awakened in him, what she’s seen in him, it’s the parts of his being even Eliza was oblivious, too.
My favorite part of this moment is: “that is all.” What is with Austen men (and even women) making grand confessions then running away? Do you want to … I don’t know, maybe wait two seconds to see how she’ll respond? What has you in such a hurry, sir? Where are you going? You gonna go to the bar and think about how she could have responded? Imagine it? You could’ve just, you know stayed … to hear her out. I have so many questions. So many questions.
Human beings are so incredibly complicated. There’s not a lot we require, but I feel it’s safe to assume that all any of us ever want is to be accepted and understood. We want to be loved and appreciated as we are. We want to be forgiven. We want room to grow. And most importantly, we just want to feel as though we belong. That’s why this episode of Sanditon is so lovely because it’s so human. It touches on a theme frequent in Austen’s novels which is the differences in class and how noble characters often find themselves looking beyond it. It’s an episode that reminds us of the fact that if we believe in someone, it’s vital that we tell them. If we care for someone, they deserve to know.
- I’m so glad Mary calls out Tom on Sanditon being the only thing on his mind upon learning Lady Denham might not make it through the night.
- Tom finally having a moment of transparency with Mary. Damn right she’s his strength and inspiration.
- Stringer and Charlotte’s walk, another sweet moment but one that clearly showcases the absence of the spark I’m always going off about.
- GET THE REVEREND OUT OF THIS TOWN.
- Does Crowe care about anything other than booze? Have we ever seen this man sober? Should we worry?
- “My strategy revolves around not drowning.” Same Arthur. Same.
- Esther slapping Clara, as she deserves. I’m not a violent person but I wish she got the chance to punch Edward, too.
- Eliza calling Charlotte “a sweet little thing” as if it’s not supposed to be insulting. And? Your point, ma’am? Ugh. Nothing drives me more mad than women looking down at other women passive aggressively. I rather you be rude and straight up then passive aggressive.
- Tom wants Sidney to try again with Eliza because Tom is an oblivious nincompoop. It’s not that easy. Arthur admires his spirit of forgiveness, but states that he wouldn’t be able to trust her again if it were him. Because Arthur is smart and not a nincompoop like Tom.
- Eliza regrets what she did to Sidney – much shock. When she says she never lost hope that they’d be reunited? As if she’s not the one who chose a wealthier man over him? She’s talking as if some unfortunate tragic circumstances tore them apart – uh you chose this, honey.
- Clara states that she had nothing to lose whereas Edward is alone and unloved. And in the end, through all this Clara will be okay. Do we even care if Edward won’t be? Here’s the thing with Edward, if he was willing to change and grow, I’d be open it, but he has absolutely no interest in growth; therefore, we have no time to care.
What are your thoughts on Sanditon’s seventh 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.
Gissane (pronounced Geese-enny) or, as people often call her, "Goose," is a Christ fan above all and a romance enthusiast who's taken her Master's degree in English and love for essays into writing lengthy analyses about pop culture.
She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Marvelous Geeks Media and the co-host of Lady Geeks' Society Podcast. She drinks too much coffee, wants to live in a forest, and cries a lot because of her favorite characters. She's a member of The Cherry Picks and can also be found writing features for Looper.