Consider this your spoiler warning for the latest serving of our favourite period drama


And just like that, we’re at the halfway point of the second season of Gentleman Jack, with only four episodes left. This season continues to be based on the real Anne Lister’s diaries and the focus so far has been exploring the newlyweds relationship as they try to set up a life together. And oh boy, have there been some obstacles along the way already. From the season’s debut, we saw a lot of foreshadowing of things to come. In the second episode, we saw the lovers share a not-so-secret kiss. By the end of week three, I questioned who Anne Lister’s heart belongs to and despite the rocky road, this episode did give me an answer. 

Something that often comes up when people talk about Anne Lister’s legacy is that she wasn’t a likeable person, and that’s totally okay. Yes, she was ahead of her time and inspires many to “rise above it” and live authentically with their head held high. But she could also be manipulative, break hearts and cared a great deal about money and status. This latest serving of our favourite period drama offers up a much needed nuanced exploration of not just Anne Lister but Mariana Lawton as well. 

In episode four, we pick back up exactly where we left off last week. With Anne Lister glancing at her ex-lover, Mariana, who has just told her that it’s clear she doesn’t love Ann Walker. It seems, at first, that Anne will remain loyal to her wife, revealing her wedding ring to Mariana. When Mariana tries to win Anne back, she’s met with: “I won’t do that to Adney, she deserves better, she trusts me, that’s why she let me come here… I took an oath and I shan’t break it.” 

As the episode continues, both Anne and the viewers become more concerned about both Mariana’s health and state of mind. Much of her letters to “Freddy” have implied that she has been struggling physically. When Mariana is probed over what’s wrong she says it’s “some inner-ear thing”, that she’s not eating or sleeping properly and that she’s low and struggling with “niggling anxiety”. 

Over the episode we get to see more depth to Mariana as the two women hash out the past and Mariana explains her side of the story. We also get to see Mariana open up to Anne about what life has truly been like living with her creepy husband Charles. Anne continues to remain faithful to her wife until Mariana says the words: “Why not? Can we not have one last kiss in this life before we turn to dust?” After the two sleep together, Anne immediately feels guilty. But will she reveal her betrayal to Ann? 

Meanwhile, back in Shibden, Anne’s younger sister, Marian, pays another visit to elderly Ms Walker. She’s determined to ease the tensions between the family and whilst this meeting goes better than the previous one, which was much colder, things are still far from better. Ann Walker is also paid a visit by James Ingham, an old friend who Walker’s relatives wish to see her marry. As the pair reminisce about the past, James reveals his intentions. Ann gets him to confess that Mr Priestly was the one who suggested it and she declines his proposal: “It would be a no, I’m afraid, I’m really very happy where I am.” When she presses him for what else her cousin had to say, he informs her that her relatives believe she doesn’t quite know what she’s gotten herself into. We see a more assertive Ann respond: “I’m really very happy here, my cousin needs to understand that.”

When the newlyweds are reunited, Anne promises her wife that she will never leave again and the two share an intimate love scene where Anne professes her love to Ann. In our April cover story, when addressing how the show approaches onscreen intimacy and what this can tell us about the characters, Suranne Jones said:  “Anne Lister normally keeps her clothes on, because she didn’t like to be feminised. There’s a beautiful moment where we said, ‘Maybe this is the moment where they share each other in a different way.’”

It certainly was powerful to see this scene on screen. It makes me believe that, despite the betrayal, Anne’s heart does belong to Miss Walker. Yes, the two women are drastically different and Anne shares more in common with Mariana, but with Ann we get to see a more vulnerable Anne. I was reminded of what Sophie had to say on the two Ann(e)s in our April interview: “They are a fascinating couple because every time you think they’re totally wrong for each other, something happens and you go, ‘Are they maybe totally perfect for each other?’”

Earlier in the episode, Anne shuts down the possibility of her infidelity happening again and tells Mariana: “I show Adney all my letters, so be careful what you put.” It doesn’t seem like Mariana cares as her response is: “I’m not the other woman, she is.” Could this comment have planted a mischievous seed into Mariana’s mind when it comes to future letters?

What did fans have to say about the episode?


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