After a first episode full of intrigue and bad dialogue and fissures in the Darcy marriage, we begin this week’s installment with Lizzy in a, well, a tizzy. She’s worried that Darcy doesn’t want anything to do with her anymore. She recollects all the awful things First Proposal Darcy said to her about her crazy family and their lower station and their impropriety, things that insulted her but were also sort of true. Jane is there, and offers words of wisdom (or wizzy?) but it cannot be helped: someone is NOT looking back on the past only as it gives her happiness, and her name is Elizabeth Darcy.
The mood descends further into the cellar when she and Darcy have a rather nasty fight — in front of these servants, no less! — about whether Georgiana should marry for love (Henry!) or stability (the Colonel!). This fight is sadly not witty. The real Lizzy and Darcy would be biting each other with deeply-felt, trenchant insults that had a sexual undertone, wouldn’t they? Un-witty Darcy won’t hear reason.
In other happenings, Louisa Bidwell admits that the baby is not her sister’s, but actually hers, and conceived with her dashing solider fiancee who suddenly cannot be found. Lizzy is suspicious.
Henry Alveston shows up and Georgiana sends him away, and then collapses to the floor in sobs. Elizabeth says “you don’t have to do this.” “I AM A DARCY,” says Georgiana. “I will marry the Colonel, a man I despise, because… Pemberley.”
Darcy sits stiffly at the inquest, which appears to be made up of drunk country bumpkins having a discussion of horses named Bettie and Millie. “This is ridiculous,” says he. Darcys do not have time for superfluous tales of horses. When called to the stand, he himself calls his accused brother in-law a “peaceable and affable man” (except for the attempted sister-seducing, slandering me to my future-wife, crashing my party and GETTING ACCUSED OF MURDER ON MY PROPERTY of course.) Saith the judge, “I suggest the jury retire, preferably not the bar.” Zing.
The Jury finds Wickham culpable to stand trial just as and Lizzy shows up with Louisa Bidwell, who promptly IDs Wickham as her baby-daddy. Everyone flips out. There’s more high drama in this sequence than in the entire Austen oeuvre.
Wickham swears to Darcy during one of their love-hate sessions in gaol that his skirt-chasing has naught to do with his alleged best-friendicide. He swears he’s going to America if he escapes the noose.
The plot unravels with some alacrity at present. It turns out Louisa was planned to give up the baby to the mysterious woman in the bonnet (mistaken for Mrs. Riley’s ghost), but simply couldn’t. Also, for some reason, Fitzwilliam was present at the cancelled baby-4-cash swap.
Back at the trial, everyone is wearing the most absurd-appearing wigs, and booing Wickham so heartily you almost feel bad for him. Darcy does a double take — it turns out the lady in the bonnet is actually Mrs. Younge, shady villainess from Pride and Prejudice. Right now she is the only thing from Pride and Prejudice that feels like it’s present in this screenplay.
Lady Catherine shows up in order to harangue Lizzy about the Darcy Family Honor, which at this point, as far as I’m concerned, can go hang with Wickham. However, this leads to a sequence that is my favorite part of the series: Lizzy sics her disgraced sister Lydia on Lady Catherine and thereby gets rid of her, via the means of communicable shame. Good move, Lizzy. Felicitations to you.
Mrs. Younge tells Darcy that she is actually Wickham’s sister. Huh? A witness for the prosecution, Mrs. Piggot, confesses that she was visiting the privy when she heard Wickham and Denny arguing. Everyone laughs quite heartily.
So basically, this is toilet humor. We have now descended from Jane Austen to toilet humor. And what of the Darcy Family Honor?
The unraveling of plot srands continues in the carriage as cousins Darcy and Fitzwilliam argue. Fitzwilliam was kind of the Keyser Söze of this entire inrigue, arranging all the failed baby handoffs and other schemes to get Wickham out of trouble. But was this interference due to cousinly concern, or self-interest? Turns out the latter; he didn’t want Georgiana’s “history with Wickham” to taint her reputation, and thereby his? Or something? “I will take her even if he hangs,” he assures Darcy. Who promptly kicks him out of the house forever with a scathing demand that his horse be prepared.
Helpful reminder: this character, “Fitzwilliam” has absolutely nothing to do with Fitzwilliam as written by Jane Austen.
Once more, Mr. Darcy has recognized the error of his ways. He runs to his sister Georgiana and says: “Marry the person your heart cries out for. And when you have them, do not doubt them.” Lizzy, overhearing, gets all swoony (But of course, this has no logical end point. I mean if Lizzy never doubts Darcy and Darcy never doubts Lizzy, then wouldn’t they just still be fighting, but on opposite sides?) Anyway, I think what he’s trying to say is that real love is all about fucking up and misunderstandings and temporarily hating each other, but then having makeup sex…Wait, are they actually having makeup sex?
IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?
All signs point to yes.
OH MY GOD.
Well, that was quick … yet oddly satisfying? How was it for you, fellow viewers?
Onwards to post-coital cuddling and a chat between Lizzy and Darcy in bed. Nice. Very nice…unfortunately while in bed they make like detectives, and talk about the case. Couldn’t we get one tiny exchange of witty banter, screenwriters? One little verbal sally and rejoinder? No? No?
Apparently not. Darcy now has become convinced that Wickham is guilty, and therefore thinks Lizzy should break the news to Lydia about Wickhams’ wandering, err, eye. Darcy’s guide to Being an Awesome Husband: Insult wife horribly, apologize profoundly, get wife into bed, do your thang, then while you’re both basking in the afterglow, be sure to tell her to mozey on down the hall and inform her little sister that said sister’s beloved husband knocked up someone else and, oh yeah, is probably going to hang at dawn.
When Lizzy tries to broach the subject with Lydia, however, she’s rebuffed. “Wickham and I, we find our way through, we always have,” says optimistic Lydia, just before her husband is sentenced to death and his secret sister Mrs. Younge kills herself by walking in front of a carriage.
Once again, Death has come to Pemberley.
The future of the Darcy Family Honor and the integrity of Wickham’s neck are looking grimmer than ever. But… a breakthrough! Sleuth Lizzy goes back to the Bidwells to say goodbye to the dying son and cracks open the case. Turns out the son is ready to confess to hitting Denny, thinking he was sister-seducer Wickham. Denny then tumbled into a Gully and hit his head on old grandpa Darcy’s gravestone
Lizzy takes down his confession and runs with it. He signs the thing and promptly dies. Once again again, Death has come to Pemberley.
Not knowing salvation awaits (dramatic irony!) Lydia and Wickham say tearful goodbyes. RIP Lydia and Wickham as the narcissists we knew. Hello, Lydia and Wickham, who secretly have some sort of great consensual sadomasochistic marriage going on?
The fated hour draws nigh. Wickham is led to the gallows with a group of other guys and the noose is literally around his neck. Darcy looks miserable and even a last minute bro-down with the conciliatory magistrate (“I am not my father”) can’t lift his spirits. But then… heroine ex machina!
Lizzy shows up at the last minute, rushes up to the scaffolding (super-realistic, I’m sure) with confession in hand, and Wickham narrowly dodges the gallows while all the guys around him just, well… die. They die. A bunch of guys just died.
But never mind all that! Georgiana gets her Henry, Wickham and Lydia get to be insufferable, and all is well, The thunderstorms lift, the sun shines, Darcy and Lizzy make out in front of their extensive grounds which have somehow been Restored to Honor despite their cameo on the scaffold. Lizzy announces she’s pregnant. Which is great and all, but shouldn’t they all be in serious counseling for PTSD? They were standing right in front of multiple people getting executed and also a lady committing suicide by carriage. Just saying.
Well, we’re through. To paraphrase Austen, a woman who felt less might say more upon this occasion. My parting advice is to go urge you all to return to the text and read one single sentence of Pride and Prejudice, which I believe you fill find is worth an infinite number of middling sequels and spinoffs.