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Death Comes to Pemberley – Episode 2

Lina Talbot

Spopemberley 300x169 Death Comes to Pemberley – Episode 2iler alert: this review assumes you have already watched the second episode of this three-part series.

It’s a much more solid episode today as Matthew Rhys’ Darcy is racked by worries of a scandal dishonouring his family name, that might have repercussions for the future chances of his sister Georgiana in marriage and in life. While Wickham must face his unpopularity at a trial by jury, and though he would never show it, should be pretty scared by now.

And yet he holds something over Colonel Fitzwilliam. They are in league, and while Darcy knows that the Colonel gave money to Wickham, the true purpose has probably been concealed. So far Wickham is not spilling the beans, which is surprisingly honourable of him. Whereas Tom Ward’s unpleasant Colonel is supposedly the man of honour according to magistrate Hardcastle – honour being in Regency times something acquired through birth. Elizabeth (Anna Maxwell Martin) certainly does not trust him, which may stem from the time of her engagement, when a younger version of himself roundly derides her and her family.

While the three men try to hold their lines in the main battlefield, Hardcastle and Elizabeth are finding different routes around them. The presence of the Woman in Red Bonnet is mentioned, and though confirmed by Elizabeth, is ignored by Sir Selwyn “Hang ‘em high” Hardcastle, who knows that women only know worthless things… For me, Trevor Eve still makes a too grandfatherly and reasonable impression in this role.

Elizabeth discovers that her servant girl, Louisa Bidwell (Nichola Burley), has had a baby by a soldier calling himself Freddy de Lancey, while Hardcastle finds these initials carved into a tree trunk, “F D-Y” – and nearby a conveniently sized rock with blood spatter. The location is suspiciously close to the Bidwell cottage.

In this tangled skein of threads, the viewer is privy to the knowledge that Colonel Fitzwilliam indeed met the Woman in Red Bonnet – and to the connection between the location of the bloody rock and the forsaken young Bidwell. We are left wondering if Woman in Red Bonnet was having an affair with the honourable Colonel, or whether Freddy de Lancey really is her brother, and had an affair with Louisa Bidwell. Definitely something to get one’s teeth into, thanks to PD James. Freddy cannot be Denny, killed in yesterday’s episode, since Louisa recognised him, Freddy, at the inquest hearing. Which still doesn’t prove Denny’s death is unrelated to possible Bidwell revenge, but…

Witty exchanges and satirical action are too abundant to describe, but Jenna Coleman’s Lydia should be mentioned for mortifying Darcy at the church service, Hardcastle for interrogating with such pained endurance those ill-equipped to answer, and of course Mr and Mrs Bennet – “What foresight, Mrs Bennet,” declares a pitch-perfect Kevin Eldon as Dr Belcher, studying her long list of symptoms from the previous night.

But all this is a mere introduction to the fabulous final 10 minutes at the inquest. Both farce and grim drama, with great showmanship from Matthew Goode as Wickham, it leaves us on the brink of a chasm as he is not only led off to face his fate before a judge, but appears to have been identified as “Freddy” by Louisa Bidwell. We are hooked with a double whammy, and will all be coming back for more.

Darcy and Elizabeth’s behaviour, which I deemed somewhat wet in the opening episode, becomes much more spirited now they’re both busy trying to save Wickham – with its associated conflicts – and disagreeing on the choice of Georgiana’s future partner. James Norton plays a convincingly smitten suitor, Henry Alveston, while Eleanor Tomlinson as Georgiana is permitted to show just a glimpse of her true feelings for him.

Will Colonel Fitzwilliam Darcy prove to be the villain of the piece? Having the same name as the hero is suggestive… Tom Ward certainly plays an ambiguous, two-faced character, but with the station in life to afford to be brusque and put himself first. Either he gets Wickham off or he has a plan B… and where does Captain Denny’s death fit into this? I speculate no more… but will be on tenterhooks tomorrow.

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