Scene Breakdown: Samuel shows Georgiana the Truth About Trials in ‘Sanditon’ 3×02

Samuel prepares Georgiana for trial in Sanditon 3x02
©Courtesy of Joss Barratt

A good trial lawyer prepares the client for the worst their adversary could throw at them, and unfortunately, in inheritance disputes, the worst can be pretty vile. Mix into the presumed heiress’s family history an enslaver and a vanished enslaved woman, and the depths of venality are boundless. In Sanditon 3×02 (written by Andrea Gibb), Georgiana Lambe experiences both the ordeal of trial prep and the trauma of society’s racism when her would-be lawyer, Samuel Colbourne, demonstrates what attacks Charles Lockhart’s lawyers might launch in the battle for her fortune.

Crystal Clarke plays the scene with carefully restrained emotion, while Liam Garrigan portrays the haughty detachment a lawyer would bring to such a mock confrontation. Together, their performances create a holding space for the brutality of the words. This container allows viewers to be horrified without feeling emotionally stuck when the episode moves forward.

Georgiana first meets Samuel Colbourne when he and his brother, Alexander, stride into the sitting room at Trafalgar House. They interrupt her act of self-advocacy, announcing Samuel as her lawyer. After some pushback and questioning from Georgiana and Mary Parker, Samuel invites Georgiana to a meeting at Heyrick Park, supposedly to show Georgiana what he can do. What is meant as a pitch to represent her instead turns into a demonstration of the perils of moving forward with the trial.

Georgiana Lambe seated confidently in Sanditon 3x02

The scene in Sanditon 3×02 opens with Georgiana seated confidently facing a standing Samuel, her chin and eyes upturned to meet his stare. As Samuel asks his first question — “You live alone. Is this to allow for… ‘guests?'” — the camera shifts to him looking down at Georgiana with his hands clasped behind his back, a show of authority. Georgiana can barely finish the question “What are you implying?” before Samuel jumps in smugly to accuse her of evading the question: “I think you know exactly what I’m implying.” He gives a slight nod and deliberately keeps his mouth open on the final syllable, allowing the words and ugly suggestion to hang in the air. Georgiana meets his gaze with a glare and clinched jaw, and her deep breaths show her rising anger.

After an interlude, Samuel’s provocations continue. The scene in Sanditon 3×02 picks up with him inquiring suspiciously about Georgiana’s marital status. Georgiana offers a justification characteristic of the clever remarks Sanditon viewers have come to expect from her: “Because I have yet to find someone worthy of me.” Samuel, however, barely allows the response to land before pressing the point that Georgiana has “had several romantic interludes.” We finally see both Georgiana and Samuel in the same frame. This angle allows a better view of the narrow distance between them as well as Samuel’s self-assured posture and physically dominant position. As Samuel’s accusations escalate, both actors combine bodily restraint with rising voices, indignant tones, and emphatic head gestures. Garrigan maintains his hands clasped behind his back while Samuel questions Georgiana’s purity (“several romantic interludes with several men”) and her inability to prove it (“how are we to know?”). Clarke sits almost impassively, showing Georgiana’s indignation by raising her tone and nodding sharply on the word “I” as she defends the integrity of her word: “Because I am saying it.”

Samuel interrogating Georgiana in Sanditon 3x02

At this point in Sanditon 3×02, the framing alternates on almost every line, and I’m reminded of Augusta Markham‘s line from 2×02“You must learn to parry if you are to survive in this household.” Samuel thrusts, saying Georgiana has “a reputation … for rabble-rousing” because she is “vocal in her condemnation of slavery.” Georgiana parries by owning her anti-slavery activism. Samuel once again escalates the attack. He punctuates this assault by releasing his right hand to point a finger at Georgiana as he speaks: “It is because your father wooed your mother that you are here.” He slows the pace to make sure each word hits its mark. We see Georgiana reeling mentally as she breaks off eye contact and appears to search for words. Before she can speak, Samuel attacks again, and Georgiana fixes her eyes on him. The view also shifts to him, and we discover Samuel gesturing with his fingers pinched to his thumb as if holding up a precious truth — “You are the very product of slavery, Miss Lambe.” Samuel opens his hand in a magician’s “poof” gesture to emphasize the claim that Georgiana would not exist without slavery.

We do not know exactly what Georgiana is thinking as she listens to these atrocious assaults from a man she met only a few hours earlier who’s supposed to be on her side. When the scene briefly shifts to her, she blinks deliberately, sets her jaw, cocks her head but holds her tongue. Samuel continues. In a firm, accusatory voice, he begins his next question with a brutal phrase: “Did your father’s slave….” Georgiana uses her voice and speaks forcefully and with dignity to reject this degrading label: “My mother’s name is Agnes!” Clarke’s expression conveys all the disgust and barely contained rage Georgiana must feel. Undeterred, Samuel persists with a question implying Agnes intentionally seduced her enslaver. In response, Georgiana shouts, “No!” but Samuel speaks over her, calling Agnes “a woman of such low morals.” A close-up allows us to see the micro-movements of her jaw, cheek, and eye muscles as Georgiana spits out the word “Stop!” But Samuel sustains his onslaught. A close-up of him reveals a ferocious expression as he barks out his final and ugliest accusation: that Agnes got pregnant deliberately “to trap a decent man.” The verbal combat finally ends as Georgiana shouts: “That’s enough!” — the final words we hear from her in the scene.

Samuel lowers himself down to talk to Georgiana in Sanditon

Despite Georgiana’s combative stare, it is clear that Samuel relents voluntarily. He raises his hands, palms towards Georgiana, as a sign of goodwill. In a final wide shot, we see Samuel move toward Georgiana. His voice softens, and his hands move into a comforting gesture, reaching toward her without threatening to make contact. Georgiana nevertheless recoils from even the hint of contact. As he apologizes, Samuel lowers himself so that Georgiana is now looking down at him. Georgiana’s anger and fear are concealed, just barely, as Samuel explains: “You must be prepared for these humiliations.” Georgiana maintains her composure and unflinching eye contact, but she is holding her jaw and appears to be barely breathing. Samuel continues explaining that Lockhart likely has compelling evidence, and he and his lawyer will be merciless. A tear appears in the corner of Georgiana’s eye, a reminder of earlier Sanditon scenes where Georgiana’s pain has surfaced. Samuel concludes, saying, “It will take every ounce of strength and character you have to endure it.”

As if to hold the space for as long as she needs, Samuel maintains his crouched position until Georgiana breaks eye contact. Once she cuts her eyes away and down, he stands slowly and backs away. Georgiana is finally left alone to tend to the open wounds that Samuel’s words certainly inflicted. The suspenseful music and her searching eyes leave viewers to wonder whether Georgiana might now have some fear of “the truth,” whatever that may be.

Sanditon is streaming on PBS.

Leave a Reply