Previously on “Pride and Prejudice”: Wickham told Elizabeth that Darcy had treated him very cruelly. Darcy proposed to Elizabeth, and got shot down. Elizabeth said that he was the last man on earth she could ever marry. We know what that means, don’t we, kiddies?
Credits. Cheerful theme music. Oh, boy, this one’s a dozy. Remember when I last said that? Well, this really is a dozy. Episode 4 is arguably the best of the miniseries. All the episodes have really great scenes–the first had Darcy nude, the second had Darcy dancing, the third had Darcy making violent love to Elizabeth--but this episode has all good scenes and no bad ones. Plus Darcy entering a wet-shirt contest. Who can argue with that?
This episode technically ends a few seconds before the last episode ended–Darcy walks out of the Humble Abode’s front door, and it closes behind him. Politely. Darcy makes extra-scowly non-expressions that could look angry if they were accompanied by angry music. However, the music is sad Love of Elizabeth Scorned music, so let’s assume that he’s really about to cry.
In the Parlor of Marital Discontent, Elizabeth cries from frustration.
As Darcy strides home, the Voice-Over of Elizabeth haunts him. Voice-Over Elizabeth repeats her lines for the benefit of the viewers who’ve forgotten his marriage proposal six minutes earlier. As he gets to Rosings Park, Voice-Over Elizabeth mentions Wickham, and Darcy growls, “Well, at least in that I may defend myself,” and shows his teeth. He’s ready to kick butt and take down names!
In the Parlor of Marital Discontent, Elizabeth gets similar treatment from Voice-Over Darcy. She needn’t worry, though, because her Voice-Over doppelganger is proving her mettle by needling Darcy for not acting “in a more gentleman-like manner.” Darcy stops walking and looks perturbed. Or, possibly, guilty. Or maybe sad. Or maybe even angry.
Ah, but he’s awoken the Beast of Rosings, who calls out, “Who’s there, Fitzwilliam?” Which is funny, because Fitzwilliam is Darcy’s first name, though it’s never mentioned in the mini-series. He and his cousin share the name because they’re cousins through Darcy’s matrilineal line, and Darcy was named after his mother’s maiden name. Got it? Anyway, the point is, Lady Catherine can’t just call out, “Hey, Fitzwilliam!” and expect to get the right nephew. That would be like calling out, “Hey, Karl!” at one of my family reunions. Or, “Hey, George Foreman!” at one of George Foreman’s family reunions.
Anyway, Lady C is all, “Is that my widdle neffy-poo?” Col. Fitzwilliam, grinning like an idiot, greets his cousin, ignoring his distressed non-expression. Darcy excuses himself, and starts upstairs. “Darcy, you’re unwell?” Col. Fitzwilliam asks. Darcy snaps. “Look, I’ve got some business to do. Why did you think I was going upstairs? To play Tetris? Lord knows I’m not the big mooch who never does anything around here, and I’d appreciate it if you’d keep those ridiculous sideburns out of my personal life! I don’t give a hoot what the old bat thinks, ’cause I’m about twice as rich as her and you put together, so you two can screw off! And learn how to keep a secret!” Then he stomps upstairs. Say good-bye to the befuddled mutton-chops, because that was his swan song.
Darcy’s Borrowed Boudoir. Ooh, sexy. There’s another weird camera angle that makes it look like the camera was sitting on the floor. Darcy thinks for a minute, then pulls out a sheet of paper and writes, the Voice-Over Darcy helpfully reading it aloud: “Be not alarmed, madam, on receiving this letter, that it contain any repetition of those sentiments, or renewal of those offers which were, this evening, so disgusting to you.” Bwa-ha-ha! He’s so bitter. After the first sentence, he hits a snag, and sits back, composing the next paragraph in his head. I can relate, because I do that all the time. He goes to look out the window, and the Flute of Flashback plays as he Voice-Overs about growing up with Wickham. The camera pulls back and back.
Flashback to two tousle-headed boys fishing by the lake. They must not have asked their mothers for permission, because both are wearing white pants, which is just not a good idea. There’s no indication which is Wickham and which is Darcy, but I bet Wickham is the more impulsive and wilder of the two, and Darcy is the more cautious. We cut away before Tiny George pushes Tiny Fitzwilliam in the lake and we learn for certain. Darcy Voice-Overs that his dad sent Wickham to Cambridge, and we flashforward to...
Darcy, in graduation robes, strolling down Hogwarts. No, wait, that’s Cambridge. It was used for the Harry Potter movie, though. He opens a green door somewhere, and comes upon--shocking!--Wickham lovin’ up some half-dressed lass in his lap. The lass runs off. Darcy slumps against the door and glares. Their tired looks betray that they’ve had this “Why can’t you knock/Well why can’t you find a room that isn’t mine” argument many times before.
Wait, Darcy and Wickham were roommates? Their mothers must’ve thought that up. “It’ll be so cute! And you can help him with all his hard papers, and he can help you meet new people!” And you just know Wickham was a lousy roommate–always leaving wet towels on the bathroom floor, never going to the supermarket, trying to sneak in at four in the morning with a bottle of booze in one hand the night before Darcy has an important examination. And then the excuses, the borrowing of money (just a fiver! Pay you back tomorrow!) that never reappears, the dishes that sit in the sink for months at a time, the embarrassing moments (like this one) when you come home for a beer and some football on the telly and discover your roommate has a “friend” over. Not that I’d know this from personal experience!
Voice-Over Darcy explains, “My own excellent father died five years ago.” Well, he couldn’t’ve been that excellent if he liked Wickham better than his own son. He explains about Daddy Darcy wanting to give Wickham a family living, corroborating Wickham’s claims about it. We see Wickham, presumably in Darcy’s town house, passing the time in a foyer of some sort. A servant appears, and the Debaucher of Cambridge trots into Darcy’s office, while Voice-Over Darcy explains that they agreed that Wickham would make a lousy preacher, and he accepted three thousand pounds instead. Or that Darcy told him he’d make a lousy preacher and strongly suggested he take three thousand pounds instead. It’s a bit ambiguous. Non-Voice-Over Darcy writes him the three thousand pound check. So Darcy had him pick up the check personally, then made him wait outside in the hall while he (Darcy) re-sharpened all the pencils on his desk and rearranged his family photo collection? Darcy’s screwing with him. No doubt pay-back for the wet towels.
Darcy Voice-Overs that Wickham was going to “study the law,” which Darcy believes is a euphemism for “have sex and get drunk.” So Darcy knew that Wickham was going to waste the money, but gives it to him anyway? Darcy the Enabler hands over the dough, and Wickham says, “Thank you.” Darcy fiddles with his pinky ring, and wears an non-expression that plainly says, “The words sound so good, so right, but–-if I believe them–-the hurting begins again!” Wickham adds, “I’m most exceedingly obliged,” so we know he hates him. I think-–and I am being totally serious–-that Wickham hates Darcy because Darcy is the only one he knows who doesn’t like him. He looks like he’s about to pull a McLean, and sing, “Everybody loves me, baby / What’s the matter with you?”
As Darcy Voice-Overs that he thought he’d seen the last of the Debaucher of Cambridge. Wickham, leaving the office, kisses Georgiana Darcy on the hand. The music and Georgiana’s heart flutter.
We cut back to Darcy in his room (he’s now taken off his jacket), writing his letter in cramped, perfectionist handwriting, which is a huge shout-out to the novel. (The text of the letter on screen is from the book, not matching the voice-over we’ve been hearing.) Darcy, still composing in his head, says he wishes he could forget the next time he saw Wickham. Darcy’s been co-guardian of Georgiana with Col Fitzwilliam since the death of his father, and about a year ago, he let her take a summer holiday at Ramsgate with her governess, Mrs Younge, “in whose character we were most unhappily deceived.”
Cut to Georgiana admiring some breathtaking location work, at a one of those non-beaches where the water comes right up to rocky cliffs. I don’t know what you’d call them. Wickham arrives, gives Mrs Younge the Nod of Conspiracy as he greets his little girlfriend. “She was persuaded to believe herself in love,” Darcy voice-overs, “and to consent to an elopement.”
However, before such happy happenings could happen, Kaptain Killjoy unexpectedly shows up, wearing a realllly tall top-hat. He gets one of the most unpleasant shocks of his life when he looks down the miniature White Cliffs of Dover, and sees Wickham fondling his sister. Well, with his hand on her upper arm. Georgiana beams at the sight of her brother (proving she either didn’t know she was doing anything wrong, or is really really good at getting out of trouble) and hugs Darcy, while he stares at Wickham over her head. Wickham and Mrs Younge are so busted.
“You may imagine what I felt and how I acted,” Darcy voice-overs, as we see Georgiana standing sadly outside Darcy’s Ramsgate office. “Mr Wickham left the place immediately,” says Voice-Over Darcy, as Wickham ... ah ... leaves the place immediately. Oh boy, Darcy dressed him down without raising his voice enough to carry into the next room? That’s scarier than Sam fighting the huge spider in Return of the King. If I was locked in a room with a very angry, whispering Darcy, I’d wimp out worse than Wickham. Georgiana has tears in her eyes, because her brother is so scarily angry, and her boyfriend is a fortune-hunter who barely glanced at her. I’m surprised that Darcy managed to convince the fifteen-year-old Georgiana that her boyfriend was just after her money. Darcy calls his sister with his usual stoic expression, and they embrace (awkwardly–-Colin Firth is careful not to muss her hairstyle). Darcy ends his narrative by noting, “His secondary motive must have been to revenge himself on me. Had he succeeded, his revenge would have been complete indeed.” You see? It all goes back to their frat days. They’re always trying to one-up each other. “This, madam, is a faithful narrative of all my doings with Mr Wickham.”
In his guest bedroom, Darcy finishes writing and leans back, exhausted. That’s me the night before I have a paper due. On the soundtrack, what sounds like a person screams in pain; apparently, it’s a birdcall of some kind, but I like to think that, among the many splendors of Rosings Park, a torture chamber is hidden in some convenient cellar, no doubt for those who do not know what’s best for them, and have to be shown the hard way by Her Ladyship. Darcy rests his eyes, and then goes back to work. That’s me too.
The next morning. Or, possibly, the same afternoon, pre-sunset. Darcy looks disheveled enough to have gotten no sleep. He splashes water on his face and flashes his chest hair. Somebody with this production has a wet Colin fetish, and I’d like to know who. He snuffs out his candle, and the letter is finished. So, I guess the candle shows he spent the whole night composing the letter? If so, he writes really slowly. No doubt if he made a spelling mistake, he’d recopy the entire page.
Humble Abode. The Collinses and Maria eat breakfast. Lizzy, who might have had a sleepless night of her own, declines any food, and goes to take a walk.
Environs. Elizabeth does her thang. The secretly-tomboyish thang. Need I explain? She promptly catches sight of the coat I want. My friend amaranthev said, “She wouldn’t run into him all the time if she’d watch where she’s going!” Which is true. Elizabeth tries to sneak away, but he sees her and gives her the letter. “Be careful; it may cause flashbacks.” (Darcy had to hand-deliver the letter, because it was improper for unrelated men and women to correspond, unless they were engaged. That’s also why Jane couldn’t just visit Bingley; she had to go through his sister.) That ordeal over for him, he bows and exits.
Elizabeth reads the letter, and Darcy voice-overs, “This, madam, is a faithful narrative of all my doings with Mr Wickham,” so, we’re supposed to realize she’s finished that part of the letter. It’s a bit disorienting. At first I thought she skipped the first half of the letter. Darcy’s voice-over suggests she ask the off-screen Col. F for corroboration. Elizabeth remembers Wickham avoided meeting Darcy. And, I could add, the doubts of her sister, her friend, Bingley, Miss Bingley, and her father, besides the fishy inconsistencies between Wickham saying he wouldn’t hide from Darcy, and then hiding, Wickham breaking up with Elizabeth in order to pursue Mary King, and Wickham saying he wouldn’t mar Darcy’s reputation and then doing so.
Darcy’s letter moves on to Sore Subject #2, his alleged break-up of Jane and Bingley. Again he admits doing it, and doesn’t see anything wrong with it. Elizabeth is too angry for words, and stomps off through the woods. The Voice-Over continues the letter, however, so has she read its entirety and is remembering it? Is she psychically reading it? Will she read it later, and the Voice-Over is a flash-forward? Whatever. Flashback to the Ball of Snobbery, as the Voice explains that it wasn’t until the dance that Darcy thought that Bingley had those extra-special, warm-snuggly feelings of love. Darcy thought it necessary, for some reason, to observe the two of them to determine if the snugglies were mutual, and saw that Jane didn’t seem to be that attached to Bingley. “The serenity of her countenance convinced me that her heart was not likely to be easily touched.” “Insufferable presumption!” Elizabeth exclaims, and I’ve got to agree with her there. “I did not believe her to be indifferent because I wish it; I believed it on impartial judgment,” Darcy Voice-Overs. “Oh yes, very impartial,” Elizabeth spits. Still talking to the voices in her head, I see.
She stomps back to the Humble Abode, where she meets Maria Lucas, all teasing because the gentlemen came to call. Elizabeth is ambiguous at having missed Darcy, who “went away directly,” but Col F waited for her for a while. Elizabeth brushes past Maria, who, confused at Lizzy’s attitude, points out that they probably won’t get to see them again, and Elizabeth snaps, “I daresay we shall be able to bear the deprivation,” and locks herself in the Borrowed Boudoir.
Elizabeth takes out the letter again, and opens to page two, to re-read the offending passage: “As to my objections to the marriage, the situation of your family, though objectionable [and which he spent a good deal of his marriage proposal complaining about], was nothing in comparison with the total want of propriety so frequently betrayed by your mother, your younger sisters, and even occasionally, your father.” Elizabeth flashes back to the Parade of Humiliations, and the sad music of He May Have a Point plays. But honestly, who’s the more embarrassing in-law, Mrs Bennet or Mr Hurst? How are the Bingley sisters less objectionable than the Bennet girls? You know the saying, “There’s one in every family”? Well, in Jane Austen, there’s two in every family, and I mean that everybody is either foolish, embarrassing, or mean, except for the few exceptional men and women in her stories who learn from their mistakes, and grow. There’s Elizabeth and Jane in the Bennet family, Bingley in his family, and Georgiana and, yes, Darcy. Everybody else is not worth bothering about (with the possible exceptions of Charlotte, Maria, and Col. Fitzwilliam–but we don’t know them well enough to judge).
The next scene is absolutely hilarious, filmed from Bingley’s point of view. Miss Bingley, Mrs Hurst, and Darcy, all towering over the camera, sit Bingley down and give him a good talking-to about his affection for Jane, like he’s a naughty two-year-old who they caught in his mother’s make-up. Darcy says it wasn’t hard to convince Bingley that Jane didn’t like him, because Bingley has no spine and is incapable of standing up to anyone. Elizabeth calls Darcy a “hateful man!” again. “There is but one conduct in the affair on which I do not reflect with satisfaction,” Darcy voice-overs. “Really, astonish me,” Elizabeth replies, and you can’t get that on a t-shirt. A shame. “That is, that I concealed from him your sister’s being in town.”
We flashback to–aww! So sad!–-Jane leaving the Bingleys’s town house. This time we see Darcy lurking in an upstairs balcony, wearing a non-expression of ambiguity. Darcy voice-overs that he had second thoughts (and I dearly hope that Elizabeth’s behavior has caused him third, and fourth thoughts about what an asshole he’s being). But he isn’t offering a apology. “Insufferable!” Elizabeth sputters--her new favorite word. I have to say it’s very big of Darcy not to blame it all on Miss Bingley, who probably (at the least) made the decision to keep Jane away from Bingley in London. The Collinses call her, and she has to abandon her letter for a little Rosings slumming.
Rosings Lane. Mr Collins is counting the number of times the party has been invited to Rosings (I imagine the number has increased under the duel influences of Darcy wanting to see Elizabeth and Lady C wanting to find out what was wrong with her). Elizabeth is too preoccupied with Darcy to pay attention. Mr Collins is sad that they have to go. “Indeed, I hardly know how I shall bear the loss of Lady Catherine’s company,” Elizabeth says angrily. (Substitute “Darcy” for “Lady Catherine”.) Mr Collins, of course, misses the sarcasm.
Inside, her Ladyship is lamenting her nephew’s departures. “They were such fine young men, and so particularly attached to me. They were excessively sorry to have to go, but so they always are. The dear colonel rallied his spirits tolerably, but Darcy seemed to feel it most acutely. His attachment to Rosings certainly increases.” Elizabeth smiles, mentally substituting “me” and “Rosings” with “Elizabeth Bennet.” Lady C notices Elizabeth’s quietness, interprets it as sadness for leaving Rosings, and tells her to stay longer. Elizabeth assertively declines. Mr Collins muzzles himself again. Lady C is disturbed by Maria and Elizabeth traveling by themselves, but Elizabeth explains that they’ll be met by one her uncle’s servants, though I can’t tell if she means Mr Philips or Mr Gardiner. “He keeps a manservant, does he?” Lady C says, thoughtlessly–almost all tradesmen had servants then. She tells Elizabeth to use the de Bourgh name to get better service. Mr Collins talks again, and has to muzzle himself when Lady C interrupts to be vexed. “I am quite put out!”
My favorite throw-away moment. Elizabeth, wearing her traveling clothes, is surprised to see Maria re-packing her trunk. Maria explains that she felt she had to re-pack her trunk per Lady C’s instructions. “Maria, this is your trunk, these are your gowns, you may arrange them in any way you wish,” Elizabeth says, smiling, then adds in a conspiratorial whisper, “Lady Catherine will never know.” Maria looks terrified. I’d want Elizabeth to be my big sister’s best friend. She teaches important life lessons.
Outside the Humble Abode, Charlotte is bustling around, loading the carriages, as Maria and Mr Collins make their good-byes. Aww. Mr Collins is much more attentive to Maria than any of my relatives were to me when I was her age. Of course, I was the second of nine kids. And I was basically Mary, without the piano. Mr Collins steps aside with Elizabeth for their final confrontation. They chat about Rosings, then Mr Collins mentions his marriage, and almost brings up his rejected proposal to Elizabeth. She kindly wishes him well, and he returns the favor, hoping she will be as happy with her partner as he is with Charlotte. “My dear Charlotte and I have but one mind and one way of thinking. We seem to have been designed for each other!” He gives Charlotte a flirtatious hand-wave. She looks at him blankly. Hee.
The post-carriage carries. I wonder if anybody’s considered doing Pride and Prejudice as a Western? When the new high-falutin’ dude Charles shows up in town to visit his rich pardner, cattle mogul Darcy, sparks fly between him and lovely Jane, the local schoolteacher. Darcy and Charles’s snooty relatives convince him to give the mitten to the simple farmer’s daughter. Meanwhile, friction runs high between Darcy and the independent-minded waitress at the local saloon. The cattle mogul (I could type that a million times--cattle mogul cattle mogul) has a powerful hankering for her, but she doesn’t care a continental for him; she’s got it for a hard-case cowboy named George Wickham. Then Wickham and Darcy can have a punchout in the saloon over Lizzie’s honor. This would be freakin’ hilarious.
Anyway, Maria gushes over all that has happened. In the carriage also is a sleeping woman, and a very annoyed man. I wonder if he’s the manservant; if he is, he needs to lose the attitude. “Oh, how much I shall have to tell,” Maria sighs. “How much I shall have to conceal,” Elizabeth stage-mutters. She looks out the window, and--aaargh! Darcy appears in her window, emotionlessly repeating his “admire and love you” line. Then the carriage is crushed by a huge cheese anvil.
Meryton. Elizabeth and Maria climb out of the carriage, and are greeted by Lydia, who waves at them from a second-story window. Inside the inn (for which I take the building), Lydia mocks her sisters at their surprise in seeing her. Elizabeth takes off her pretty green and red traveling ensemble. Lydia shows them the lunch she and Kitty have set up for them. “Cold ham and pork and salads and every good thing. And we mean to treat you all. Oh, but you must lend us the money, we spent all ours.” Lydia shows them her new hat; Kitty and Elizabeth decide it’s ugly. Lydia says that it wasn’t the ugliest in the shop, and adds, “Well, it doesn’t signify what anyone wears, for the Regiment will leave Meryton and will be at Brighton for the whole summer.” Kitty explains that Mr Bennet refuses to take the family to Brighton. Elizabeth is now firmly anti-military, and is glad that they’re not going to Brighton. Lydia suggests that she’ll change her mind when she hears some very particular news. Elizabeth sends away the cute waiter, who’s been blatantly eavesdropping. Lydia flashes some cleavage as she explains that Wickham has broken his engagement with Mary King. Oh, we’ve been so anxiously awaiting news of Mary King and Wickham! Haven’t we? You remember her. The girl dancing with Wickham? The one who was supposed to be ugly but wasn’t? The rich one? The redhead? Anyway, Lydia pronounces Wickham “safe.” “Perhaps we should say Mary King is safe,” Elizabeth grumps. Maria asks if they were serious, and Lydia calls Mary King a “nasty, freckled little thing. Don’t look at me like that, Lizzie! I know you think as ill of her as I do.” Lydia says they will be so merry together in the carriage, triggering an ironic segue to Lydia and Kitty trying to kill each other.
Lizzy’s Boudoir. Jane is exclaiming over Elizabeth and Darcy’s hot lovemaking in the Parlor of Marital Discontent in the Humble Abode. Elizabeth is still steamed over the proposal, and isn’t up to saying “Poor Mr. Darcy!” She’s sure that Darcy’s “other feelings” will squelch his crush on her; she earnestly asks if Jane thought that Elizabeth should have accepted, and Jane quickly reassures her. Jane also excuses her for defending Wickham, though Jane tries to find some sort of excuse for Wickham and Darcy’s behavior. Elizabeth laughs. “You’ll never be able to make them both good; there is just enough merit between them to make one good sort of man.” She votes for Darcy. She complains that Wickham seems good and is bad, and Darcy seems bad and is good. “Till that moment [when I read the letter] I never knew myself,” Elizabeth says, recalling her earlier “The more I see of the world, the more I am dissatisfied with it.” For some reason, both lines irk me. Elizabeth sisterly hugs Jane, and then they try to decide if they should spill the beans regarding Wickham. Elizabeth frets that she hasn’t been “authorized” by Darcy to tell anyone about his sister, so they decide not. Anyway, Wickham will soon be taking his boring ass to Brighton. Jane theorizes that Wickham is trying to turn his life around.
Longbourn Dining. Lydia appeals to Elizabeth, trying to convince her father to take them to Brighton. Elizabeth, still firmly anti-military, says she’s glad that the soldiers are leaving. When Mrs Bennet objects, Elizabeth says, “If one poor company of militia can cause such havoc in our family, what would a whole camp full of soldiers do?” Lydia (reverently): “A whole camp full of soldiers.” Mrs Bennet unhelpfully reminisces about her two-day crying stint when her girlhood soldiers disappeared. “I thought I should break my heart!” Lydia (resentfully): “Well, I’m sure I shall break mine.” Kitty (quickly): “And I!” Mary needlessly offers her opinion, while giving her little sister the stink-eye: “I should infinitely prefer a book.”
Kitty: [Colonel Forster’s Child Bride] says she plans to go sea-bathing.
Lydia: I’m sure I should love to go sea-bathing!
Mrs Bennet: A little sea-bathing would set me up forever.
Mr Bennet: And yet I am unmoved.
He laconically welcomes his two oldest daughters home, and retreats to the Reading Room of Refuge. Lydia cries.
Longbourn garden. Bingley and Jane update: Jane still loves Bingley. She’s still determined to get over him. This isn’t so much an update as a retread. Scene.
Mrs Bennet wonders out to mutilate some flowers, and complains about Bingley not seeing Jane in London. She chops a bit too violently at the flowers as she rants about Bingley. “Well, my comfort is she will die of a broken heart and then he’ll be sorry for what he’s done,” she finishes. Then she begins complaining about the Collinses inheriting Longbourn. Suddenly, Kitty and Lydia interrupt the doldrums. “[Colonel Forster’s Child Bride] has invited me, as her particular friend, to go with her to Brighton!” Lydia says. Mrs Bennet and Lydia are ecstatic. Kitty is less so. “Is in not fair, Lizzie? [Colonel Forster’s Child Bride] should have asked me as well as Lydia! I may not be her ‘particular friend,’ but I have just as much right to be asked as she has. And more too, for I am two years older!” Lydia laughs in her face. Kitty runs inside to cry. Lydia decides to buy her a souvenir. “Lyddie, before you crow too loud over your sister, remember that papa has not given you permission to go, nor is he like to,” Elizabeth buzzkills. Lydia predicts that she’ll get permission, and she and her mother giggle over clothes.
The Reading Room of Refuge. Elizabeth is reading her dad the riot act for letting Lydia go to Brighton. Mr Bennet is concerned at Elizabeth’s seriousness, but doesn’t change his mind. Elizabeth begs him to consider the inconvenience that Lydia’s behavior has already caused. “What, has she frightened away some of your lovers?” Mr Bennet says. Elizabeth blanches. Mr Bennet claims that anybody who can’t put up with Lydia is not worth her while, and he has a point. Elizabeth half-lies that Lydia hasn’t caused her any “injuries,” but that the family’s respectability is at risk. Elizabeth sees nothing but doom–-doom!–-in Lydia’s future. And Kitty’s! And then the rest of the family will be doomed as well!
Mr Bennet sits her down, and encourages her. “Wherever you and Jane are known, you must be respected and valued, and you will not appear to any less advantage for having a couple, or I may say, three very silly sisters.” Unless Mr Darcy is involved. Mr Bennet tells her to look at the bright side of Brighton: Lydia will get officers out of her system, Colonel Forster can look after her, and she doesn’t have any money so she’s unlikely to be preyed upon.
Where the heck are we? In the Longbourn parlor? Anyway, it’s chockful of soldiers. Colonel Forster and Mrs Bennet chat. Colonel Forster describes his Child Bride and Lydia as “thick as thieves.” Colonel Forster’s Child Bride looks extra-disturbing in this scene. Wickham excuses himself from the conversation to make sexy eyes at Elizabeth. I find him more interesting when he’s evil. “There’s one lady I should be very loathe to part from,” he says. Elizabeth expositions that she’s going on holiday with the Gardiners. They talk about Rosings, and the off-screen Col. F, who is by now running up an expensive long-distance bill chewing out his agent. Elizabeth says that “Mr Darcy improves on closer acquaintance.” Wickham blinks about six times and raises both eyebrows. He tries to figure out what she means. “Has he acquired a touch of civility in his address? for I dare not hope he has improved in essentials.” Man, mocking Darcy has lost its fun. Elizabeth explains that Mr Darcy hasn’t changed; she simply thinks better of him now that she understands him. This simple concept (Darcy doesn’t really change) has been beyond the pale of many, many critics. I will not name them here. Colonel Forster’s Child Bride rescues Wickham by seductively grabbing his arm. “Wickham? Wickham? [dramatic pause] Come here.” Still very disturbing. “Yes; go, go!” Elizabeth melodramas to herself. “I would not wish you back again.”
Longbourn Lane. Lydia, looking dashing in her new clothes, is leaving. Mrs Bennet is sad. Lydia offers to write daily letters and “make [them] wild with envy.” Kitty cries. Mary says something needless. And away she goes! She’s doomed, I tell you, doomed! The sun bothers the actresses, so it must have been filmed early in the morning. Mr Bennet comforts Kitty by saying that she’ll get over it in about two years, and retreats to the Reading Room of Refuge.
The Gardiners arrive and the plot comes to a screeching halt. Oh, wait, actually it doesn’t, because they get right to the point. A change of schedule will prevent them from visiting the lakes, so instead they get to tour Derbyshire! Home of Mrs Gardiner and the former Prince of Darkness! Elizabeth is supportive, and suddenly Pride and Prejudice becomes Travelogue: Derbyshire, the Wild and Untamed Beauty of the Peaks.
Cut to said wild and untamed beauties. Elizabeth wants to visit Mrs Gardiner’s home town, Lambton. Mrs Gardiner is happy, because Pemberley is less than five miles away. Elizabeth’s sphincter clinches. Or so I imagine. Mrs Gardiner half-bitterly expositions that she never knew any of the Darcys (how convenient).
This is Darcy. See Darcy. See Darcy fence. See Darcy rehearse Hamlet. See Darcy risk losing an eye by fencing with no protection. Darcy is stupid. The guy he’s fencing with–-who looks more like Polonius than Horatio–-loses. Darcy, who’s wearing a very attractive loose blouse, abruptly leans against a column. He expositions he’s going home, and won’t be back for two weeks. He shakes hands with Polonius and they part. Darcy, sweaty and forlorn, has a sudden attack of post-proposal depression. “I shall conquer this,” he melodramas. “I shall!”
The Wild and Untamed Beauty of the Peaks. Elizabeth is rock climbing. Mrs Gardiner, sounding like my mom, warns her to be careful. Elizabeth takes in the landscape and breathes, “Beautiful!” Not. This is very wimpy landscape. I know, I’m American, and expect everything to be Grand Canyon-sized, but Derbyshire doesn’t rock my socks.
Lambton Inn. The Gardiners and Elizabeth get their dinner from a serving maid named Hannah. Hannah rocks my socks. She’s great. So is her accent. “I think I should be happy to stay my whole life in Derbyshire,” Elizabeth anvils. Mrs Gardiner proposes they visit Pemberley. She reminds Elizabeth that “the associations are not all unpleasant. Wickham passed all his youth there, you know.” Mr Gardiner names some other estates that they’ve visited, and they begin to grill Hannah for details. Apparently she’s the person to ask, as her “youngest brother is an undergardener there,” so she has an insider’s scoop. Elizabeth asks if the owner will be there, and, when answered in the negative, can’t wait to see it.
The Gardiners and Elizabeth ride through the Pemberly grounds. And ride. And ride some more. And some more still. “Shall we reach the house itself before dark, do you think?” Elizabeth snarks. This reminds me of a great joke about an East Tennessean who meets a Texan in a bar ... oh, yeah, the recap. Mrs Gardiner dramatically points out Pemberley. Elizabeth gasps. The Pemberley reveal never fails to crack me up. First of all, it’s obvious that Elizabeth and the others were filmed in a completely different location. Secondly, Pemberly looks like it was filmed through an orange filter, or that the scene is supposed to be at sunset, because the house looks really golden. Thirdly, they had to film the mansion from a strange angle to hide its asymmetry. Fourthly, they had to climb a tree, apparently, to get this particular camera angle, and some other angles will make it apparent to you (if you’re really anal retentive). But it does look rather impressive, so it was all worth it, I suppose.
Mrs Gardiner says, “I think one would be willing to put up with a good deal to be mistress of Pemberley.” Mr Gardiner, maybe a little more sensitive to his niece’s feelings, replies, “The mistress of Pemberley will have to put up with a good deal, from what I hear.” Mrs Gardiner says that they’ll probably never know her. Elizabeth isn’t paying them any attention; her heart has been captured by Pemberley. Continued teasing about Darcy.
The Insides of Pemberley. The housekeeper, played by an actress who’d make a good evil witch or evil substitute teacher, shows them Darcy’s mom’s writing room. Pemberley’s Insides don’t really feel lived-in; perhaps they’re missing that woman’s touch, but they look more like a museum dedicated to the Darcies. That’s probably because these scenes were filmed in a museum. The Gardiners see another antiseptic room. The housekeeper encourages Elizabeth to check out the view. We see Elizabeth looking, and a reverse angle shot meant to fool us that the Insides and Outsides of Pemberley match up. Elizabeth marvels that she could’ve been the Empress of Pemberley now. The housekeeper shows them the piano that Darcy bought Georgiana, mentioning that Darcy will be arriving tomorrow with a large party of friends. Georgiana’s portrait is propped up in a chair; I guess the owners of the location refused to let them hang it up. Assholes! Mr Gardiner pronounces her very handsome, and I’ve got to disagree. The housekeeper waxes long on Georgiana’s musical talent.
Mrs Gardiner calls Elizabeth over to a portrait she’s found of Wickham. The housekeeper characterizes Wickham as “very wild.” The little colored pencil drawing isn’t a very good. With much more enthusiasm, she points out a drawing of Darcy. This is a very good drawing. It doesn’t much resemble Colin Firth, but it does look like Colin Firth as Darcy. In fact, it looks more like Darcy than Colin Firth as Darcy looks like Darcy. When I first saw it, I got goosebumps because it looked exactly the way I imagined Darcy–right down to the sardonic look in his eyes. Mrs Gardiner asks Elizabeth how accurate it is, and the housekeeper practically melts like a pat of buttter upon hearing that she knows her boss. Elizabeth fudges that she knows Darcy “a little,” and agrees that he’s good-looking. The housekeeper praises Darcy to the skies, and adds, wisely, that “they that are good-natured when they are children, are good-natured when they grow up.” I notice that the portraits are displayed in a completely unnatural-looking display case. Assholes! “Some people call him proud, but I fancy that’s only because he don’t rattle away like other young men do,” the housekeeper ends. Mrs Gardiner is surprised at this view of Darcy.
Outsides of Pemberley. Darcy rides up. I bet he hates having extensive grounds when he comes home from a long trip. Which reminds me of the joke about the Texan ... oh, right, the recap. Darcy takes a moment, then rides up to one of his ponds. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he decided to take a swim.
Inside, the housekeeper shows them a very museum-like portrait gallery. It looks like the assholes wouldn’t let them hang up Darcy’s portrait either. It’s an incredibly bad picture. It looks nothing like Colin Firth, Colin Firth as Darcy, or Darcy. It doesn’t even look human. Outside, Darcy loses the coat, then the cravatte, then the vest.
Inside, Elizabeth stares at the creepy portrait.
Outside, Darcy stands up by the pond. At this point, when I first saw this episode, I was hiding my face in horror, sure Darcy would take it all off and then run into Elizabeth starkers. But, no, he dives in with his pants and shirt on. Weirdo.
Elizabeth, having been magically transported from the portrait gallery, is wandering around the grounds. Darcy, carrying his clothes, hat, and riding crop, tells a servant to take his horse to the stables, and marches on alone. We all know where this is headed, don’t we, kids? And, yes, Darcy’s shirt is wet. And it’s white. And you can see his nipples. If you look really, really closely. At this point my sister began complaining that the shirt wasn’t nearly wet enough.
Darcy walks toward the house. Elizabeth walks away from the house. Suspension builds. Then–yes, they meet! The music of Great Revelation plays. “Mr Darcy!” Elizabeth exclaims. “Miss Bennet!” Darcy says. The ladies of Britain cheer.
Darcy: I, uh–
Elizabeth: I did not expect to see you–(here she notices the wet shirt and totally checks him out)–sir. We understood that all the family were from home, or we should never have presumed–
Darcy: I returned a day early. (He adopts bizarre body language for “awkward”: head tilted, brow furrowed, lips pouty. He looks like a shy two-year-old.) Excuse me, your parents are in good health?
Elizabeth: Ah, yes! They are very well, I thank you, sir.
Darcy: I’m glad to hear it. I, uh, how long have you been in this part of the country?
Elizabeth: But two days, sir.
Darcy (whose two functioning brain cells are screaming, “Get her address! Get her address!”): And where are you staying?
Elizabeth: At the inn at Lambton?
Darcy: Oh, yes, of course. (He hmms.) Well, I’m-I’m just arrived myself. (Grimaces like he knows what a dumb thing to say that was.) And your parents are in good health, and all your ... sisters ...
Elizabeth: (Laughs) Yes, they’re all in excellent health, sir.
Darcy (looks away, taps his riding crop against his chest): Excuse me. (He bows and flees)
The Gardiners arrive in time to check out Mr Darcy. Elizabeth, freaking out, says they have to leave right now. “What did he say?” asks the confused Mrs Gardiner. “Oh, nothing of consequence. He inquired after my parents–”
Quick cut to Darcy, having executed the world’s quickest costume change, running out his front door, no doubt leaving a trail of terrified servants in his wake. He run-walks as quickly as he can without losing his dignity, still buttoning his coat. He catches Elizabeth just in time, too; she’s two steps from getting in the carriage. Of course, had he missed her, he could call on her at the village inn, because he’s cannily got her address. Never underestimate the Darcy! Darcy, whose hair is still rather adorably disheveled, apologizes about their earlier meeting. She says they have to leave. “I hope you’re not displeased with Pemberley,” Darcy says, and she shyly admits she wasn’t. “Then you approve of it?” Darcy asks. Way to telegraph their relationship to the Gardiners, Darcy! Elizabeth does approve, though she can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t. “But your good opinion is rarely bestowed, and therefore more worth the earning,” Darcy says, grinning, so I don’t think he’s bitter. Darcy’s two functioning brain cells scream, “Too much talk! Delay her! Keep her here!” Darcy asks for introductions to her “friends,” and Elizabeth, delighted to have him meet her much-denigrated relatives, introduces them by saying, “Mrs Gardiner is my aunt,” which is strange because it’s Mr Gardiner who is her blood-relative, and says they live in Cheapside. Liar. Darcy doesn’t even seem to hear the Cheapside reference–I’d be surprised if he can hear anything over the pounding of adrenaline in his ears. Darcy and Mrs Gardiner exchange friendly minutiae about Lambton. Elizabeth stares at him, like, who are you and what have you done with Darcy? Hee. I’m glad no children or small animals got between Darcy and his determination to prove he can be “civil.” Darcy turns to Mr Gardiner, and pulling a subject randomly from the air, he asks, “Mr Gardiner, do you care for fishing?” Luckily, Mr Gardiner does. If he hadn’t, the conversation would’ve ended there. Then again, if Mr Gardiner had declared that he detested fishing, unless he was particularly acquainted with the fish, then Darcy would’ve gotten a taste of his own medicine, wouldn’t he? Darcy and Mr Gardiner exchange fishing trivia, and Darcy tells them to come out back to see his lake. Mrs Gardiner says in an undertone to Elizabeth that this Darcy seems very pleasant, not proud. “I’m as astonished as you are,” says Elizabeth, unastonished. She says meaningfully that she has no idea what made Darcy change, and Mrs Gardiner meaningfully replies, “Can you not?” Mrs Gardiner is already mentally planning the wedding.
Mrs Gardiner re-joins her husband, and Darcy and Elizabeth are left together. They begin speaking at the same time, and Darcy tells her to go ahead. Elizabeth tries again to explain that she definitely wasn’t poking around his house because she wanted to see him again. No, not at all! She was just in the neighborhood–and they said he wasn’t home–it wasn’t her idea anyway–they made her! Darcy tells her to relax, that he hadn’t planned on arriving til the next day. Darcy explains that Bingley and his sisters will be joining him at Pemberley. His sister is with them. Darcy and Elizabeth climb a little incline, their body language unconsciously mirroring each other–hands behind the back. Darcy awkwardly asks if he can introduce her to his sister, and Elizabeth would like that very much.
Darcy helps Elizabeth into the carriage. With his usual scowly non-expression, he says good-bye, and adds a sexy, haughty bow for Elizabeth. See? He’s the same as always; the only difference is he’s determined to get off his acquaintance with the Gardiners on the right foot. The carriage takes off; Darcy lingers and Elizabeth turns to give him a dopy look of love. The freeze-frame unfortunately catches Mr Gardiner while he’s making a silly face. Sorry, Tim Wylton! You’re still better off than Col. Fitzwilliam!
Are we done already? That went by quickly. I told you this was the best. I should get a trophy or something for all the links I made, though, so click away. Click, I say!
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