Everyone loves a good phallic showdown, right? Men who hate each other and will show their competitive nature with a pointy object is right up Sanditon‘s alley, eh? It’s fun to watch men show off their skills at a garden party, huh? 🙂 What about giving a woman a chance to make her mark?
That’s what Colonel Lennox claimed he was doing when he offered Charlotte the bow and arrow, and she met the challenge by hitting the bullseye without a problem when she was shooting on behalf of Lennox. Woo-hoo, Charlotte! Also, her “this is not the first time I have used the bow” is a superb response to a mansplainer.
But…when Colbourne asks her to shoot on his behalf we see that she is thrust into this tug-of-war between two sourpuss enemies, and we should know that this will not end well. When I was watching this scene I thought that maybe Charlotte would shoot as well on behalf of Colbourne as she did with Lennox. But she flubbed the shot. Yes, it went way off the mark. Why? Because she felt comfortable shooting on behalf of Lennox, whom she doesn’t really care for, and nervous shooting on behalf of Colbourne, whom she secretly adores. Although, no one likes it when he tries to tell her what to do after the competition is over. She tells him he doesn’t own her, and she’s right!
There are other notable things from episode 4 that I’m not going to say much about but want to spend a hot second on:
- Clara + Esther + baby + nursing scene: all the feels there.
- Captain Carter = a Wickham/Willoughby who is just a conventional phony playboy who can’t swim. He also looks like he should be in a boy band rather than the military.
- Leo hugging Augusta wearing her mother’s dress is like hugging the mother Leo never knew. Also: all the feels.
- Women wearing corsets that are so tight they pass out (re: Augusta at the garden party) = wtf
Yet again, the element of this episode that intrigued me most was Georgiana’s plotline. The beginning of the episode reveals why Sidney was in Antigua: he was there to speak on behalf of Georgiana’s inheritance. (I sure have said on behalf of a lot in the blog post!) A relative (?) of the deceased Mr. Lambe apparently claims that she is “unfit” to receive the inheritance because of her “maternity”–suggesting that the daughter of an enslaved woman is not worthy of the inheritance. He even “questioned [her] moral character” and her mother’s.
Why? Because of her mother’s class/status? Because of her mother’s and her skin colors? What would morals have to do with any of this? Hell, we don’t even know if Georgiana’s mother was in a consensual relationship with Mr. Lambe. If history tells us anything, the answer would be no, or possibly suggest a coercive relationship.
Regardless, Sidney’s “efforts” affected the case against Georgiana, and the unknown person of interest did not win his suit. This is all well and good, but Georgiana brings up an interesting point: if this (still unknown to us) relative thinks her unworthy of the inheritance, there might be more who believe the same and try their case. Here we see Georgiana having to see herself through the Lambes’ eyes, but more than that she cannot escape being seen as a Black woman, despite her biraciality, who is the daughter of a deceased enslaved woman (and of course also a dead white planter/enslaver). She cannot escape, it seems, the prejudice against women of color, who are deemed immoral without any knowledge of the their character. Racism through and through.
But this episode also introduces a really interesting moment when Mary Parker says to Georgiana, “You must prove them wrong in how you live your life, in how you conduct yourself,” and Georgiana is like, whoa, what are you claiming? Is Mary really suggesting that Georgiana can somehow affect the way they see her? “You are suggesting the fault lies with me?” she asks, and “Were I white and a man, who would question my legitimacy?” What she is saying here is that a white, male, illegitimate heir would not experience such prejudice.
The viewer needs to hit pause and think more on what Mary is insinuating without consciously realizing it. The ‘they think you’re bad, so you must be extra good’ lesson might not sound problematic if it weren’t coming from a white woman and spoken to a young woman of color who just explained the racial prejudice she has endured. Mary is trying to help with her a “don’t flame the fire” suggestion, but it just feels like Mary is getting at something that we are all seeing in viewing the show: Georgiana wants to live her life her way, and Mary is saying no you can’t do that. Get in line, Mary is implying. Find some boring, rich, landed white guy to marry and all will be well. Well, not for Georgiana, dammit!
You see, Mary doesn’t want Georgiana to marry some artist, but clearly the series is pushing these two together, even though Georgiana still dreams about love lost (Otis Molyneux, who introduced her to the sugar boycott).
I have become particularly fond of Miss Hankins and especially her reaction to Lockhart’s drawings in his studio. This Miss Bates-like character cracks me up with her oh I can look at nude drawings because Adam and Eve were naked before the fall, and that was all a part of God’s “true vision of us.” LMAO. But there’s more to this than a good laugh. We are watching Lockhart looking at Georgiana (clothed, I should add) and seeing her as if she were nude–not sexually, but in her “true” state for who she is. A part of her problem in the sketching scene is that she is not being true to herself. She stands rigidly, unsmilingly. She seems downright uncomfortable. As if the clothes, the posture represent a social facade put on to play a part.
When Lockhart says, “I’m not asking you to bear your skin…but to bear your soul,” I really feel that he sees the external (clothes, skin, skin color, etc.) as a sign of person, but not the person. When he says soul it might make us think of religion, but that’s not what he means either. He’s talking about essence–what makes you you. But he offends her (and decorum) when he says that she is offering up a “Miss Lambe” when he really wants to see “Georgiana.” We know that men were not supposed to refer to women with their ‘Christian’ names (first names) unless they were intimate with each other. (We actually see this in another couple in the show: Allison and Will, her captain.) But I don’t think even that is what bothers Georgiana when she says, “You will address me as Miss Lambe.” She is bothered by actually being seen by Charles Lockhart. Everyone else sees a Miss Lambe. He sees beyond it.
Probably the funniest line in the episode is when Lockhart says she is so stiff that he might as well be drawing Lady Denham! Comparing the two is the ultimate burn. When he says he is looking for “passion,” “emotion,” and “honesty” (Lady D isn’t too keen on those three things) and asks her to tell him something true about herself, something like a childhood memory that makes her feel happy, we know that that’s not gonna work. “Talk of your father, your mother” leads to “they are both dead.” A dead end indeed. “What did you dream of last night?” actually sparks something–and it’s precisely what eventually gives way to her opening up about how she has locked her heart. But he doesn’t call it a heart that is locked. He refers to her wearing a mask, and he says her mask has slipped when she shows real emotion in response to his question. It’s a really clever scene.
Let us not overlook the sugary garden party scene with its multitiered cake and Lady Denham’s insistence that Georgiana enjoy the cake. Again the lovely Miss Hankins thinks Lady D forgot the sugar boycott. As if? Georgiana, and everyone else, knows better.
And good lord when Lady D said “pineapple,” I almost died! She reminded everyone, including the viewer of the wretched scene from season 1 with cutting into the rotten pineapple–a poignant symbol of so many things, but first and foremost racism. This cake is the new Sanditon pineapple.
It’s wonderful when everyone follows Georgiana and the Hankins’ lead and refuses to eat that cake. Lady D is so Marie Antoinette (let them eat cake) and everyone else is so guillotiney in this scene! 😀
Lady D can’t believe that Arthur won’t cut the cake–that no one will cut the cake–and offend the hostess “for the sake of this absurd sugar boycott.” As she asks when will “we” (meaning she and white English nobility) hear the end of it (the boycott?), Georgiana reminds her “when every last slave is freed.” This conversation dovetails nicely with episode 3, for Lady D refers to Georgiana as the richest woman in Sanditon in this scene (something Georgiana said to her in the previous episode), and Georgiana refers to herself as someone who is the “beneficiary of the very trade” she wants to boycott (which Lady D said in the previous episode).
As Georgiana says, she “cannot change the past,” but she can “speak for those who cannot.” She reminds everyone at the party that they are complicit in the “evil trade” (human trafficking) as well. Georgiana lays down the guilt trip (and rightly so) as she reminds the English men and women around her of all the men and women on the plantations who have no choice but to harvest the sugar for it to be exported to places like England. So if everyone wants to eat cake at this damn party after this, they will show themselves to be assholes, no doubt. As everyone handed back their plates, and Georgiana gave Lockhart a “that’s right” look and he smiled (and Esther laughed) I smiled.
The true love story of this season is Georgiana Lambe and Charles Lockhart. The almost kiss between them is so sweet, but interrupted, alas.
Finally, three things:
- I’m concerned that Augusta is gonna run off with Lennox (who reminded us/her that she looks like her mother, who was a twin to Lucy Colbourne)
- Lockhart’s jacket at the garden party. OMG.
- It was deja vu to watch the Sanditoners play croquet after watching Bridgerton, season 2, amirite? And when Fraser comes out of the water with a wet shirt: very Anthony Bridgerton and Mr. Darcy.