Miniseries in 6 eps, 1 hour each.
After the opening credits, Lydia and Kitty run up Longbourn Lane into the house, as the Music of Great Agitation plays. The music turns very Gone With the Wind as the girls tell Elizabeth and Jane that Charlotte Lucas has agreed to marry Mr. Collins. “Charlotte!” Elizabeth exclaims. “Engaged to Mr Collins! Impossible.” She will eat her words later. Eat them, I say!
Lucas Lodge. While Mr Collins chats with his future father-in-law, Charlotte and Elizabeth have tea. “But why should you be surprised, my dear Lizzy?” Charlotte says passive-aggressively. “Do you think it incredible that Mr Collins should be able to procure any woman’s good opinion, because he was not so happy as to succeed with you?” Elizabeth tries to turn her remark into something other than the disapproval that it is, but Charlotte knows what she’s thinking. “I’m not romantic, you know,” she says, in the understatement of the year. “I ask only for a comfortable home. And, considering Mr Collins’s character and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.” And that chance, by her own estimate, isn’t great. Mr Collins says something stupid.
Longbourne. Elizabeth fusses that it was a “humiliating spectacle,” and she still can’t believe her best friend is marrying Mr Collins. Jane tries to temper her, pointing out that Mr Collins does have a nice income, and, though he’s no Michelangelo, he is respectable. “He is not vicious,” she says, which is probably the very least thing we can ask for in a marriage partner. Elizabeth says that Jane would never marry someone like Collins for her security, and Jane replies, “No, but Lizzy, not everyone is the same.” Elizabeth will really regret this conversation later. Elizabeth teases Jane about Bingley, but she’s jinxed her; the maid brings in a letter from Miss Bingley. Jane opens it and turns white. “She writes that the whole party will have left Netherfield by now for London, and without any intention of coming back again.” Aw, even Mr Darcy? Will I have to wait a whole episode to see him again?
As Miss Bingley voice-overs her letter, we see the Bingleys packing up from Netherfield. Bingley and Darcy ride horseback, Darcy flanking Bingley like a prison guard. “I do not pretend to regret anything I shall leave in Hertfordshire, my dearest friend, except your society,” Miss Bingley writes, which is a dig at Elizabeth. There’s a really ridiculous shot of Darcy and his sister–who looks like an albino Darcy–that was filmed from an extremely low angle, so that they tower over the camera like great snooty giants. Miss Darcy acts pretty nearly the way Wickham described her, and lets Bingley kiss her on the hand. Miss Bingley’s letter hopes that Georgiana Darcy will become Georgiana Bingley, and Miss Bingley, Mrs Hurst, and Mr Darcy (kinda) beam.
Jane finishes the letter. “Caroline Bingley is convinced that her brother is indifferent to me, and she means most kindly to put me on my guard!” she says. “Oh, Lizzy, can there be any other opinion on the subject?” Elizabeth very much believes there can be. “Miss Bingley sees that her brother is in love with you, and she wants him to marry Miss Darcy!” Elizabeth cries. Jane decides the best she can hope for is that Miss Bingley is mistaken, and Elizabeth predicts that Bingley will be back within two weeks.
Meryton. Lydia, Kitty, and Elizabeth are walking towards town, and Lydia jokes about Mr Collins reading Charlotte sermons before they go to bed. Ugh. ["Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwww!
Elizabeth mentions the Netherfield Ball of Snobbery, and Wickham begins to lie about why he missed it, then admits that he was avoiding Darcy. Elizabeth commends him for this, because he avoided embarrassing Bingley, “[a]nd through him, your sister,” Wickham adds. Elizabeth looks at him sharply, then agrees. Wickham mentions Mr Collins becoming engaged to Charlotte Lucas, and asks if Mr Collins hadn’t set his sights on someone else. Elizabeth coyly admits he had, but that everything worked out “to everybody’s satisfaction.” “And relief!” Wickham adds. Elizabeth doubletakes, then invites him home to meet her parents.
Longbourn. The officers, who were apparently a great success, leave. Mrs Bennet is easily as flirtatious as Lydia. [Eeeeeeeeeeew!-Susanna]
In the Longbourn Lounge, Mrs Bennet admits to being charmed by George Wickham. Mr Bennet was less impressed by his long tale of woe and injustice at the hands of Mr Darcy. Elizabeth, indignant, sticks up for her not-boyfriend, claiming that Darcy has been very, very cruel towards him. “Well, I daresay he has, Lizzy, though Darcy may turn out to be no more of a black-hearted villain than your average rich man who is used to his own way,” Mr Bennet replies. Elizabeth is sticking with her Beelzebub theory. Mary expounds. Mrs Bennet babbles and is cold to Elizabeth, still angry at her for turning down Mr Collins. She mentions Bingley; somehow Elizabeth has missed the news that Bingley is definitely staying the winter in town. Perhaps she was too busy flirting with Wickham. Do I sound bitter? Well, this is the only example of self-centeredness from Elizabeth. This next exchange is a mix of foreshadowing, irony, and more irony, so you’d better hear all of it.
Mr. Bennet: Oh, come now, Jane, take comfort. Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love now and then. When is your turn to come, Lizzy? You can hardly bear to be long out-done by Jane, and here are officers enough in Meryton to disappoint all the young ladies in the country. Let Wickham be your man. He’s a pleasant fellow, he’ll jilt you credibly.
Elizabeth: Thank you, sir, but a less agreeable man would satisfy me. We must not all expect Jane’s good fortune.
Mr. Bennet: True. It is a comfort to think that whatever of that kind may befall you, you have an affectionate mother who will always make the most of it.
Jane very sadly leaves, and Elizabeth follows. Mrs Bennet exclaims that she can’t bear to think of having to obey Charlotte Lucas. Mr Bennet comforts her by reminding her that he might out-live her. Mrs Bennet cries. Scene.
Jane’s Boudoir. Jane tells Elizabeth that she will get over Bingley, and everything will be normal again. The future tense was never so sad. Jane proves herself still in love when she says the best thing is that she has nothing to blame Bingley for. Elizabeth is moved, and calls Jane “angelic.” “There are few people whom I really love,” Elizabeth says, “and even fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more I am dissatisfied with it.” Jennifer Ehle plays this very seriously. Elizabeth suddenly suggests Jane visit their Cheapside relatives, and the Imperial March blares. No, wait, I had two things playing at once. Talk about juxtaposition. Jane suspects Elizabeth has an ulterior motive for sending her to London, but Elizabeth coyly won’t talk.
Longbourne Lane. The Gardiners arrive and the plot comes to screeching halt. Mr Gardiner, Mrs Gardiner, and a bunch of kids spill out of the carriage. I like the Gardiners, but every time they appear the pace s-l-o-o-o-w-s down. Mrs Bennet has a gem of a line (“No one knows what I suffer with my nerves, but then I never complain!”) but otherwise I’m boycotting the recap.
Christmas party with the Philips. Blah blah blah. Elizabeth introduces Wickham to Mrs Gardiner. Both of them are from Derbyshire, it seems, and they both dive into minutiae about the county, and Darcy’s estate Pemberley, which is apparently Heaven on Earth. Strange, then, that its landlord is the devil. There’s some character interaction with the Bennet girls, and Elizabeth and Wickham dance, but since all this is a total retread of a stuff we’ve already seen, I’m still boycotting this. Mr Bennet calls his daughters the silliest girls in England again, which just proves my point.
Aha, plot! I spot you, you sly thing. You’re disguised as a red-haired girl dancing with Wickham. Charlotte does her part to speed things along by inviting Elizabeth to visit Mr Collins’s Humble Abode. Maria Lucas is even more helpful, asking about the red-haired girl, and learning that she is one Mary King. Maria: “She’s not very pretty, is she?” (Bull. There’s nothing wrong with her.) Charlotte: “Beauty is not the only virtue, Maria. She is just inherited a fortune of ten thousand pounds, I understand.” Mrs. Gardiner: “Now that is a definite virtue.”
You see how easy I am to please? Just add a little plot, and I’m back to transcribing the dialogue word for word!
Snowy Longbourn. There’s a nice shot from outside the house, which peers through the windows to reveal Mr Bennet keeping the books, Lydia, Kitty, and Mrs Bennet complaining about Wickham trying to snag Mary King, and Elizabeth reading a letter by daylight. Everybody is wearing a shawl, by the way, which is cute and funny.
The letter is from Jane on Gracechurch Street in London, which, by the way, is near Cheapside but not actually in it. Three weeks ago, she writes, she went to call on Miss Bingley. There is a perfectly framed shot of Jane arriving at the grand, symmetrical home. She describes Miss Bingley as being “out of spirits,” and wonders how both the letters she sent to her got lost in the mail. Elizabeth rolls her eyes and looks like she would like the honor of kicking Miss Bingley’s skinny behind to Scotland. The Bingley sisters promise to call on her in a couple of days.
“I waited at home every morning for three weeks,” Jane reports. Aww. Miss Bingley, finally, appears in Gracechurch Street, but, as Jane put it, “I have been entirely deceived in Miss Bingley’s regard for me. She made is very evident that she took no pleasure in seeing me.” Miss Bingley glares at the little Gardiner children, who sit on the couch with their mom. “When I asked after her brother, she made is clear that he knows of my being in town, but is much engaged at present with Mr Darcy and his sister. I must conclude, then, that Mr Bingley now no longer cares for me.” I always want to cry here. Miss Bingley’s behavior is unpardonable, no matter how you look at it. The cut to Elizabeth taking a cheerful stroll is too abrupt.
Longbourne. Wickham has come to see Elizabeth, because he’s marrying Mary King. I am beyond caring. They not-break up from their not-relationship. What. Ever.
Reading Room of Refuge. “Well, Lizzy, on pleasure bent again,” says Mr Bennet. Elizabeth’s traveling clothes are adorable: she has a green greatcoat and a red checkered scarf, very Christmasy and complimentary to her skintone. Mr Bennet jokes about Elizabeth going to visit the Collinses in Kent, but you can tell he’s going to miss her.
While they drive towards their destination, Sir William points out the land belonging to Rosings Park to his daughter Maria. “Your sister has made a fortunate alliance!” he says, then realizes he might have offended Lizzy. He hasn’t, but, awkward! Never marry the best friend of the women who turned you down, for courtesy’s sake.
The Humble Abode. Mr Collins greets them all with deference, pausing an infinitesimal second before Elizabeth. Elizabeth and the new Mrs Collins warmly greet each other, while Maria Lucas bounces up and down with excitement. The actress who plays Maria did an amazing job, taking a nothing part and making it a scene-stealer.
Inside the Humble Abode, Mr Collins shows them the place, describing the staircase as just right for him: not to steep, not to shallow. But it’s nothing compared with the staircases at Rosings–“I say staircases, because there are many.” And he’s also going on about the fireplace at Rosings, but I’ve never bothered to recap his nonsense. Elizabeth’s room is very nice, cozy and comfortable. Mr Collins asks her what she thinks of the closet. Elizabeth is flabbergasted, but Mr Collins opens the closet and shows her the shelves inside. “Lady Catherine suggested these shelves be fitted exactly as you see them there!” “Shelves in the closet! Happy thought indeed,” Elizabeth replies.
Mrs Collins takes Elizabeth to another room which had better have a name, because Elizabeth spends quite some time there. They watch the Lucases and Mr Collins futz around in the garden and try not to get stung by Mr Collins’s bees. Mrs Collins–well, Charlotte, you know, I don’t know why I’m calling her Mrs Collins–gives Elizabeth details of her days. Mr Collins spends much of his time tending his garden, or walking to Rosings. Elizabeth notes the exercise must be beneficial. And when he is in the house, he stays in his library and watches the road to Rosings Park. “And you prefer to sit in this parlor?” Elizabeth asks. Yes! It is the Parlor of Marital Discontent! Ignoring my nomenclatural skills, Charlotte says she is quite content. Both she and Elizabeth have been smiling through this scene, as though they are enjoying an inside joke, though what I can’t imagine.
Lizzy’s Borrowed Boudoir. She hears a sudden commotion, and Maria Lucas appears. “There is such a sight to be seen!” she exclaims while twirling around adorably.
Elizabeth and Maria run down to the window, and Elizabeth is disappointed. “I thought at least the pigs had got into the garden,” she says. Close guess! The de Bourghs have got in the driveway. Elizabeth misidentifies Anne de Bourgh’s governess as Lady Catherine, but Maria corrects her. Elizabeth pronounces Miss de Bourgh to be “abominably rude to keep Charlotte out of doors in all this wind.” (Mr Collins appears to be giving Anne de Bourgh some honeycomb, and he looks hilarious in his bee-keeper’s outfit.) Maria comments on how frail Anne looks, and Elizabeth confuses her by saying, “I like her appearance. She looks sickly and cross. Yes, she will do very well. She’ll make him a proper wife.” Yay, Darcy! He improves things even when he’s just mentioned in passing.
The Grand Estate of Rosings Park. Impressive music plays. Mr Collins recites trivia about the windows. He notices Elizabeth messing with her pretty red bonnet with her matching red gloves, and assures her, “[Lady Catherine] will not think the worst of you for being simply dressed. She likes to have the distinction of rank preserved.” You can get that on a t-shirt, you know. I’d wear it.
Inside Rosings Park, We hear Lady Catherine giving Charlotte detailed instructions as we slowly pan across a couch containing Ailing Anne, her Colorless Caretaker, Chivalrous Charlotte, and Cowering Collins, before landing on the Lady herself, sitting on a chair that may well be a throne.
Lady Catherine sets her sights on Elizabeth; pronouncing her a “genteel, pretty sort of girl.” She asks to confirm that the Bennet’s estate is entailed on Mr Collins, and when she talks over his reply, he muzzles himself. No, really, he claps his hand over his mouth. I think Lady Catherine is a good influence on him. The Lady grills Elizabeth about her family; upon learning all her younger sisters are “out,” she repeats, “What, all five out at once?” The camera would have you believe this is very important as it zooms dramatically into Lady C’s face. Lady C. asks how old Lydia is. Elizabeth says fifteen, but adds that though Lydia is young, it’s not really fair on the younger members of the family, to prevent their coming out before the older ones manage to marry. Everyone stares at Elizabeth’s presumption to disagree with the Lady. Elizabeth asks Sir William for support, but he is in a pre-verbal state. “Upon my word, you give your opinion very decidedly for so young a person,” Lady C says. “Pray, what is your age?” “With three younger sisters grown up, Your Ladyship can hardly expect me to own it,” Elizabeth replies, smiling. Maria and Mr Collins panic, but Charlotte smiles. Lady C says that Elizabeth can’t be older than twenty, and Elizabeth admits to being so. Lady C says something quite random about a grateful underling to Mrs Collins, then gives Elizabeth That Look as the Clock of Plot Development chimes. And not The Look that Darcy gives Elizabeth. That Look that Mrs Bennet gave Elizabeth that time. That Look. That Look of Death.
Rosings Environs. Charlotte, Maria and Elizabeth are walking. Elizabeth shows her secretly tomboyish side by admiring the woods. “Lizzy, we have been here three weeks, and already we have dined at Rosings Park six times!” Maria expositions. Mr Collins runs up, and I think his regiment of exercise has been beneficial. He is in all haste, because guess who is coming to the Humble Abode? No, not Ashton Kutcher–not Sidney Poitier either, but Darcy! Yay! And a cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam. “Even now, they are hard upon my heels, make haste!” Collins yells. Maria takes him seriously and runs. The more lady-like ladies walk at moderato. Charlotte thanks Elizabeth for irresistibly attracting Darcy to her, but Elizabeth sets her straight, telling her that their feelings are entirely mutual–they hate each other.
Humble Abode, The Parlor of Marital Discontent. Colonel Fitzwilliam is played by a very lucky young man, because he, despite the stiff competition offered by Wickham, Denny, Darcy, and various others, has been awarded the Bridget Jones Award for Man Who Most Needs to Rethink the Length of His Sideburns. Mutton-chops, I tell you, mutton-chops! The unfortunately hairy-faced man says that he is pleased to finally meet Elizabeth. “I’ve heard much of you, and none of the praise has been exaggerated, I assure you,” he says. I’d love to know how and under what circumstances Darcy told Col. Fitzwilliam about Elizabeth. Was it just on the walk to the Humble Abode? “Yeah, she’s this great girl I met last summer, really interesting, has no connections or breeding or fortune, so you’ll love her.” Or was it just a general conversation? “I met this hot chick last fall.” Or has Darcy been talking about Elizabeth nonstop since leaving Hertfordshire?
“Mr Darcy is my severest critic,” Elizabeth replies. The man himself is seated on the sofa, totally giving Elizabeth The Look. Col. Fitzwilliam asks Elizabeth to relieve some of the boredom inspired by Rosings Park. Apparently Lady C is as rude to her nephews as she is to everybody else, and as for Darcy, he “speaks hardly a word when he comes into Kent, though he’s lively enough in other places.” Yeah. Right. What other places? How lively? Cite your source, Col. F, and then I’ll listen. Col. F has apparently heard from Darcy that Elizabeth plays and sings, but Elizabeth again disclaims any talent. Darcy is still staring, and it is remotely possible that Mr Collins is having a one-sided conversation with him. Nobody knows for sure, because Mr Collins is a waste of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. Elizabeth finally asks Col F what’s wrong with her, that Darcy stares; Darcy gets up from the couch and abandons Mr Collins without so much as a glance. He stops in front of Elizabeth, with a grave non-expression; she looks back, waiting. “I hope that your family is in good health,” he says, the non-expression softening a bit with a saucy grin near the end. Elizabeth thanks him. He looks like that’s the end of his deep and meaningful communications. Col. Fitzwilliam is enjoying the show. Elizabeth hesitates, then with a smile asks if Darcy has seen Jane in town. Darcy’s nonexpression loses even more expression; he half-lies that he hasn’t and walks over to the window. “Mr Darcy and I, you see, are not the best of friends,” concludes Elizabeth.
I know what you’re thinking. I’m linking too much. I’m going into too much detail. Well, it’s Darcy, dammit, and I haven’t seen him in a very, very long time, so I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.
Anyway, Col. Fitzwilliam pretends to be surprised. “I always believe in first impressions,” says Elizabeth–“First Impressions” was the original title of “Pride and Prejudice,” and I like it much better– “and his good opinion, once lost, is lost forever.” Darcy turns around, like, hey, you took that quote out of context! Elizabeth smirks, and finishes, “So you see it is a hopeless case, is it not, Colonel Fitzwilliam?” Col. F: “Just get a room, you two. Sheesh.”
Environs. Elizabeth is on one of her secretly tomboyish walks, and see, I didn’t link there. Be grateful. Darcy on a horse–yum–appears and stares at her. I don’t know anything about horses, but this particular horse is beautiful. Elizabeth stands still, and uses body language that clearly says, okay, we’ve seen each other, we’ve acknowledged each other, we’ve done enough to be considered members of polite society, just GO AWAY. Now! Darcy, for once, takes the hint.
Rosings. Elizabeth is playing the piano, about as well as I could sight-read a hymn in tenth grade, when I hadn’t had lessons for two years. So, not very well. She covers her mistakes well, though. Lady C’s review: “You will never play really well, Miss Bennet, unless you practice more!” I have to agree. But who cares how well she can play? Darcy is sandwiched on a couch with Maria and Charlotte, and abruptly stands and walks over to the piano, while his aunt says, “There are few people in England, I suppose, who have more true enjoyment in music than myself, or a better taste. And, if I had ever learnt, I should be a true proficient!” I hate to say it, but I think that Jane Austen went a bit overboard there. Elizabeth begins playing again as Darcy arrives at the piano and finds the best angle for applying The Look. “Do you mean to frighten me, Mr Darcy, by coming in all this state to hear me?” Elizabeth joshes, adding “My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me!” Darcy replies with a basic definition of sarcasm: “I know you find great enjoyment in professing opinions which are not your own.” Thank you, Captain Obvious. Elizabeth: Be nice or I’ll reveal the shocking secrets of your misdeeds in Hertfordshire! Darcy: Bring. It. On! Colonel Fitzwilliam: I have got to hear this. “First time (sic) I ever saw Mr Darcy was at a ball, where he danced only four dances, though gentlemen were scarce, and more than one lady was in want of a partner.” She’s kicked Darcy where it hurts; he displays some bizarre body language, lilting his head to one side and scowling at the floor. I see he’s still wearing the pinky ring. Darcy invents this comeback: “I fear I am ill-qualified to recommend myself to strangers,” and adds a saucy little grin, thinking, Ha! If she agrees with me, I’m off the hook. If she disagrees, I’m qualified! Colin Firth displayed nearly his entire range of facial non-expressions in that one shot, by the way.
Elizabeth calls him on his answer; “I am ...” he hesitates, blinks. “I have not that talent which some possess of conversing easily with strangers.” Elizabeth either doesn’t notice or deliberately ignores his sincerity. She attempts to apply the smackdown by comparing her lack of skill on the piano with his lack of social skills; she can’t play very well, because she never took the trouble of practicing. Instead of being offended, Darcy non-smiles, and says, “You’re perfectly right.” I agree. Darcy could improve himself. Then he adds, “You’ve employed your time much better. No one admitted to the privilege of hearing you could think anything wanting. We neither of us perform to strangers.” Wha? Darcy, I love you to bits, but that makes no sense. Oddly catchy, though. The best I can figure is, it’s the affection talking. Lady C ruins the moment by saying loudly, “What are you talking of? What are you telling Miss Bennet? I must have my share in the conversation.” (You can also get that on a t-shirt!) Darcy rolls his eyes and looks annoyed.
Parlor of Marital Discontent. Elizabeth is writing a letter to Jane, wherein she notes the lack of chemistry between Anne de Bourgh and Darcy. No kidding. I forgot to mention that Miss de Bourgh was in the same room as Darcy during the previous scene. Wonder why. Elizabeth says that Lady C is set on becoming Darcy’s mother-in-law. Oh yeah? What are you talking about, Elizabeth? The marriage thing never came up!
Elizabeth hears the doorbell ring, and quickly hides her letter under the blotting paper, which is a huge shout-out to the way Jane Austen used to compose her novels. She checks her hair, and the maid lets in–Mr Darcy. Elizabeth is surprised, though I don’t know who she expected. She explains that Maria, Charlotte, and Mr Collins aren’t at home. “I would not wish to intrude upon your privacy,” says Darcy. Liar. Elizabeth sits down and says she was just writing a letter. Darcy: “Oh.” He keeps standing. Elizabeth silently wonders if he’s going to stand the entire visit; he belatedly takes the hint and sits. There is a limited number of ways to sit while wearing period pants and not looks like a doofus. Darcy employs Way #3: legs crossed, hat, gloves, and cane on knee. He looks like he could be casually posing for a portrait. Except for the listless stare at nothing. Elizabeth asks after the Bingleys; do they have plans to return to Netherfield? Darcy doubts it. “If he means to be there but little, it would be better for the neighborhood that he should give up the place entirely,” Elizabeth says stupidly. I’m pretty sure Bingley didn’t rent the house for the neighborhood’s sake, Elizabeth. Darcy thinks he might. The conversation peters out, and there is a perfect shot of the two of them avoiding eye contact.
Darcy says something about the room, and segues into Charlotte. “Mr Collins appears extremely fortunate in his choice of wife,” says Darcy, perhaps thinking of when Collins intended to marry Elizabeth. Elizabeth agrees, adding that, from a prudential standpoint, Charlotte is fortunate as well. She almost sounds like she’s hinting something, though what I have no idea. Darcy looks ... pleased, maybe? Or saucy? Well, the non-expression looks less scowling than usual. Anyway, he says it’s lucky Charlotte is living close to her family. Fifty miles! says Elizabeth. Exactly, fifty miles, very close. Elizabeth begins generalizing on the downside of living too close to home. “Yes, exactly,” Darcy says, earnestly. “You would not wish to be always near Longbourn, I think.” Elizabeth stares at him. They are no longer having the same conversation. Darcy catches her change of expression, and gets up to leave. With a non-expression that can only be described as friendly, he send regards to the absent Collins family, and then stops Elizabeth from getting up. Elizabeth wears a look that says, what was that all about? I wonder too. He is wearing his green coat, and seems dressier than usual. Whatever.
Environs. Elizabeth, doing her thang, meets Col. Fitzwilliam in the park. Col. Fitzwilliam loses his one dramatic scene here, where he tells Elizabeth he can’t afford to consider marrying her. The actor who plays Col. Fitzwilliam no doubt makes an angry telephone call to his agent. We see Elizabeth and Col. F in a long shot filmed with a long lens; in other words, the background of Rosings is blurred. Very artsy. Elizabeth asks Col. F if he knows Bingley; he says he knows that Bingley is a great friend of Darcy. “Mr Darcy is uncommonly kind to Mr Bingley, and takes a prodigious deal of care of him,” Elizabeth snarks. Col. F agrees that Darcy takes care of Bingley. “I understand that he congratulates himself on having lately saved Mr Bingley the inconvenience of a most imprudent marriage,” he gossips. And that, Mutton-Chops, is the last time Darcy will ever tell you anything important. Elizabeth, perturbed, asked for details, but Col. F only knows that “there was some very strong objections to the lady.” Elizabeth angrily asks what right Darcy had to be involved. No right, Elizabeth. It’s not like he’s Bingley’s dad. She tries to laugh it off, though. “Perhaps there was not much affection in the case.” “But if that were the case, it would lessen the honor of my cousin’s triumph very sadly!” Col. Fitzwilliam jests. Elizabeth bites back tears. He notices she’s unwell in another beautiful blurry-background shot, and takes her home to nurse her “headache.”
The Humble Abode. Charlotte makes it plain she’d rather stay home with Elizabeth that visit Lady Catherine, and there’s some very natural married-people squabbling and manipulation between Charlotte and Mr. Collins. Elizabeth is left by herself.
Oh, boy. No, wait. You’ll see. This one’s a dozy. Elizabeth is in the Parlor of Marital Discontent, re-reading her letters from Jane, perhaps looking for evidence of a conspiracy. She hears the bell, and is rearranging herself when Darcy appears. He says something about her headache as he brushes past her. He’s both ruder and not as well-dressed as at his last visit. Where’s the green coat? Elizabeth remembers to ask him to sit down, as she does so, but he ignores her. He lurks near the fireplace, seeming agitated, paces, sits down, stands up again, and faces her. He always seems about speak, but nothing comes out. You are watching, boys and girls, a furious battle between Darcy’s id, ego, and superego. I’m sure his libido is involved as well. Finally the id wins; he steps forward, and says, “In vain I have struggled, it will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
The screams (oh, shut up, you screamed too) tend to drown out the next several lines or so, but Andrew Davies had to write Darcy’s proposal from very few hints in the book. (Jane Austen always skips the embarrassing bits.) I think he did a good job, so I’m transcribing it in its entirety.
“In declaring thus, I am fully aware that I will be going expressly against the wishes of my family, my friends, and I hardly need add, my own better judgment. The relative situation of our families is such that any alliance between us must be regarded as a highly reprehensible connection. Indeed, as a rational man I cannot but regard it as a such myself, but it cannot be helped. Almost from the earliest moments of our acquaintance, I have come to feel for you (deep breath) a passionate .... admiration and regard ... which despite all my struggles has overcome every rational objection, and I beg you, most fervently, to relieve my suffering, and consent to be my wife.”
Well, that’s almost as bad as Mr Collins’s proposal. Elizabeth sits through it white-lipped and shocked. “In such cases as these, I believe the established mode is to express a sense of obligation,” she says. Well, she’d know. “But I cannot.” She lets Darcy take it in before continuing, “I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly. I’m sorry to cause pain to anyone, but it was most unconsciously done, and I hope will be of short duration.” Darcy forces himself to wait a moment before reacting. He turns back to the mantelpiece to get some privacy, but there’s a mirror there reflecting him, poor guy. I really don’t know how I’m going to handle the rest of this scene. Buckle up, folks, we’re in for a bumpy proposal aftermath.
“And this is all the reply I’m to expect,” Darcy says, finally. “I might wonder why, with so little effort at civility I am rejected.” I think she was as polite as she could be, Darcy. “And I might wonder why,” Elizabeth shoots back, “with so evident a design to offend and insult me, you chose to tell me that you like me against your will! Against your reason! And even against your character!” Darcy is still non-reacting. He’s sort of pre-reaction right now, the worst will come later. “I have every reason in the world to think ill of you,” Elizabeth continues. “Do you think any consideration would tempt me to accept a man who’s been the means of ruining the happiness of a most beloved sister? Can you deny that you have done it?” Darcy shakes his head, rocks on his heels, and finally tosses out, “I have no wish to deny it! I did everything in my power to separate my friend from your sister, and I rejoice in my success!” Then he adds, “Towards him I have been kinder than towards myself.” Ooh, burn. Elizabeth ignores the dig and plows on into the Wickham affair. “You take an eager interest in that gentleman’s concerns!” Darcy explodes, and the oh-so-sexy voice is even sexier when he’s angry. Oh, boy. Elizabeth says something about Wickham’s “misfortunes,” and Darcy snarls, “His misfortunes, yes, his misfortunes have been great indeed!” Elizabeth pretty much confirms Darcy’s suspicion that she’s a bit too attached to Wickham by babbling about him for a while, ending with the words “contempt and ridicule!” Darcy is incredulous.
“And this is your opinion of me,” he says, finally realizing it after several months and one marriage offer. “My faults, by this calculation, are heavy indeed,” he continues, in a “Oh, who’da thunk it?” voice. At this point he subtly picks up his hat, out of frame, so don’t mistakenly believe, like I did, that he left his hat in the Parlor of Marital Discontent. Darcy stops halfway to the door, saying superciliously, “But perhaps these offenses might have been overlooked, had not your pride been hurt by the honest confession of the scruples which had long prevented my forming any serious design on you.” Yes, Darcy, it took you forever to propose and you almost didn’t. “Had I concealed my struggles and flattered you!” Darcy says, making it sound like compliments from a suitor is the pettiest thing to insist on. “But disguise of every sort is my abhorrence,” he says, which explains why he doesn’t like Miss Bingley. “Nor am I ashamed of the feelings I related, they were natural and just!” The oh-so-sexy-and-angry voice! “Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections?” Elizabeth has had enough and jumps out of her chair, facing away from him. “To congratulate myself on the hope of relations whose condition in life is so decidedly below my own?” Darcy snarls in the height of anger. With ice in her voice, Elizabeth replies, “You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy. The mode of your declaration merely spared me any concern I might have felt on refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner.” Darcy blinks at this, but Elizabeth doesn’t notice, and continues her rant. “You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would’ve tempted me to accept it. From the very beginning, your manners impressed me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain for the feelings of others. I had not known you a month before I felt you were the last man in the world whom I could ever marry.”
“You have said quite enough, madam,” says Darcy in a very calm voice that makes it clear he’s about to start crying. “I perfectly comprehend your feelings, and now have only to be ashamed of what my own have been. Please forgive me for having taken up your time, and, ah, except my best wishes for your health and happiness.” He bows and leaves, still calm. Elizabeth listens to the doors open and close, and when the front door closes behind Darcy, she exhales. Man, I was disappointed by that. The doors, I mean. In the novel, the description made it clear that he ran out of the house, slamming. We get a polite little door closing. Oh, well, let it go.
Next ep: Darcy tries to win the love of Elizabeth! Again! By wetting down his white t-shirt! And I’ll be darned if it doesn’t work!
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