Death Comes to Pemberley – Episode 3
Goodness what a rogue Wickham is, abandoning his wife to link up with a fair servant maid in the woods. Even if the babbling Lydia would drive anyone to leave her company. Matthew Goode is well cast as the charmer who can remain so oblivious to the harm he causes, and still have the self-belief to curl his lip at those on whom his life depends.
The Woman in the Red Bonnet, Mrs Young, turns out to be at the centre of things. She is in the woods not for a tryst with a soldier of the local regiment, but to repair damage done after such trysts, which seem to have been the historical equivalent of going clubbing on Friday night.
And Colonel Fitzwilliam did tell some truth if not all of it: he did meet with “a certain lady”, who is in fact the sister of Wickham. Two siblings apparently both born with passion rather than prudence governing their actions – how very Austen. The Royal Shakespeare Company actress Mariah Gale gives a soulful performance as the mysterious Mrs Young, determining the fate of women and their babies for a fee.
But the Colonel’s involvement went beyond saving the honour of a fellow soldier… He wanted to spirit the child away to please both Wickham and himself, removing any “taint” from the Darcy family name and thus his own name as well – especially should he marry Georgiana. Eleanor Tomlinson is close to tears yet accepts his marriage proposal, while Tom Ward still manages to leave us in doubt about the Colonel’s true intentions.
By contrast Darcy and Elizabeth may be thought a rather dull pair – straightforward and worthy and supportive – their warm and comforting family ambience is a sound basis for a Christmas tale. Which becomes upset once more when Darcy discovers that his faith in Wickham and the Colonel has been mistaken. Matthew Rhys shows he is man enough to disavow them both, summoning a true sneer of contempt as he sends Colonel Fitzwilliam packing – and helped by his standing on the steps, looking down on him for once…
Anna Maxwell Martin’s Elizabeth belatedly puts two and two together: the terminally sick Will Bidwell is able to walk around the house, and has deteriorated since the murder, possibly from guilt…? Whatever the reason for now being “near the end”, Lewis Rainer contrives to give Will such a look of suffering, he retains all our sympathies, even though it’s the unfortunate Denny who has paid for trying to do the right thing by Louisa.
Everyone else appears to get what they want – so this tale does not quite embody the perfect moral lesson. The cad Wickham is given a deserved scare, but in his defence doesn’t badmouth Fitzwilliam or anyone else at his parochial and highly prejudged trial. He also gives a genuinely touching farewell speech to Lydia: “Choose the brightest, best memory of me, will you?”… sniff…
Then there’s the hanging itself, the second on TV this week. Here the hanging of a man of such beautiful gravitas as Wickham, who has not even committed the crime, always appears too improbable. But his palpable relief, and the horrible sound of the other prisoners falling, make this a powerful screen moment.
There are warmer scenes too. Trevor Eve shows that Hardcastle is not the nasty hanging judge his father was, and Penelope Keith delights as Lady Catherine de Burgh, ready to support the stricken honour of her nephew Darcy until rendered aghast by the entrance of Mrs Lydia Wickham. Even Darcy loosens his collar – only metaphorically speaking, of course – to talk of Wickham’s son having a future on his estate – seeing him as potential coachman. A son of Wickham as a servile coachman? Happily this is a time pre-dating Darwin’s clarification of the biology of inherited features.
Up until the last moments, Matthew Goode plays Wickham as highly strung and under duress. When he finally loosens up to “greet his public” arm in arm with the sassy Lydia (Jenna Coleman), he transforms into a more modern character, setting out to conquer America – as so many British actors have done.
From fiction to reality – Matthew Goode will be appearing in Series 5 of the award-winning US legal drama The Good Wife alongside Julianna Margulies. And we expect Matthew Rhys returning to our screens in Series 2 of the US “spies living among us” drama The Americans, sometime next year.Tagged in: Darcy, Death Comes to Pemberley, Jane Austen, Matthew Goode, Matthew Rhys, Pride and Prejudice
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