Gentleman Jack Recap: Season 1, Episode 5 ("Let's Have Another Look At Your Past Perfect")

This post continues my recapping of the TV show Gentleman Jack. For those not familiar:
Gentleman Jack is an eight-episode drama series from BAFTA-winning writer Sally Wainwright (To Walk Invisible, Happy Valley).

Set in 1832 West Yorkshire, England, Gentleman Jack is inspired by the true-story and coded journals of Anne Lister (played by Suranne Jones), and follows her attempt to revitalize her inherited home, Shibden Hall. Most notably for the time period, a part of Lister's plan is to help the fate of her own family by taking a wife.
The series is on HBO and runs Monday nights at 10 PM. (Note: Recaps will include spoilers for that episode.)

When we catch up with the gals, Anne is checking in on Ann after the big reveal from last episode. By "checking in on," I mean Anne is sitting at Ann's bedside watching her sleep in a manner that manages to not be creepy, and then when Ann wakes up, they immediately start kissing because no one on TV ever cares about morning breath. I'm not complaining, just to be clear. Anne and Ann should definitely kiss in the majority of their shared scenes.

Meanwhile, Ainsworth (ugh) is in town for his job interview to be the new town reverend or whatever. He's visiting with the Priestlys and, there, Mrs. Priestly invites him to visit Ann. Ann and Ainsworth subsequently do the 1800s rich-person version of texting, which is to basically send a servant between the two estates with a hand-written note. The upshot is that Ann declines his visit. Either 30 minutes or 6 hours later (it's hard to tell how fast this version of texting is), Ainsworth gives the Priestlys a sob story about how he thought Ann would surely take care of him if his wife died, and Mrs. Priestly assures him that "there's no one else" in Ann's life to stand in the way of that happening. UGH.

"But I'm a man! How dare she refuse me!"
Ainsworth then shows up at Ann's house even though she declined his visit, but then, we know he has boundary issues so that's no surprise. Nonetheless, he was shocked — shocked! — that Ann wouldn't just let him in her house anyway. When Ann's servant didn't let him in, Ainsworth literally stood there with his mouth agape and this look on his face like, "She said no? But, I'm a man! Tell her again that I'm a man!"

He eventually left, but not before leaving Ann a scrapbook and "a biographical account of himself" as a "gift." LMFAO! You know what to do with that, Ann: Dracarys.

Later that night, in bed, Anne asks Ann if she will take the sacrament with her and if they could swear oaths to each other "like a wedding," except not in front of people. Now, I know I've kind of joked in previous recaps about how quickly the relationship seems to be moving, but I actually find this proposal sweet.

It's also interesting because while today there's a pop understanding that the concept of same-sex marriage was invented only within the last few decades or so, we have historical evidence that some LGB people considered themselves capable of marrying those of the same sex much earlier, despite the lack of formal recognition of their unions and even if they only had private understanding of the nature of their relationships.

For years, we've endured opponents of same-sex marriage telling us that marriage for all people everywhere since time immemorial has been a union between one man and one woman for the primary purpose of procreation, but many of us have known that was always an ahistorical argument, for both same-sex and different-sex relationships (See also, 19th-century actor Charlotte Cushman, who during her life considered herself married to female partners.) It will never not be incredible to me the way queer people have, throughout history, carved out lives in societies constructed around cisgender heterosexuality and patriarchal gender norms. For this reason, and more, it's important to keep seeing these depictions in TV/film.

The next day, Anne helps Ann write a strongly-worded letter to Ainsworth, returning his stupid biography of himself and basically telling him to eat a shit sandwich, which is just one of the innumerable perks of being in a relationship with a writer, as my wife will tell you, but I might be biased.

The Anns then "text" the message to Ainsworth, and ugh a thing I noticed about Ainsworth is that whenever he's speaking he's also often lying. And, when he's lying he has this habit of delicately bringing his fingers to his mouth. I couldn't place it at first and then I realized it vaguely reminds me of Dr. Evil from Austin Powers, so let's go with that.

Anne then pops over to the Priestlys and Ainsworth is still there. They have a confrontation outside and Anne basically threatens to expose him as an "adulterer" and "fornicator" if he doesn't leave town. When Anne says she knows he raped Ann, he says Ann wanted it, which causes Anne to jab her fancy walking cane into his chest and say, "If you weren't so insignificant, I'd horsewhip you until you're black and blue." Ope, it's official, I stan Anne Lister.

Ainsworth actually does look petrified — mostly, I suspect, because he's worried about his precious reputation as a reverend and Anne probably could beat him up. He promptly returns to the Priestlys and tells them he doesn't think he wants to move to Halifax after all. Well, I should think not, sir.

Back at her estate, however, Ann finds out that Mrs. Priestly has been blabbing about the Anns' relationship and that two men were hanged recently for sodomy. Terrified, Ann breaks things off with Anne, calling their relationship "unnatural" and "queer," which is really the first time we hear her talk like that. Anne gets angry and storms home and, just for good measure I guess, gets beaten up by some thug who tells her to "leave Miss Walker alone." Poor Anne, this was not a great episode for her (I was also curious if this attack happened in real life, and saw that Anne Lister's diary transcriber posted a reference suggesting it happened differently).

Finally, in the guy-who-was-eaten-by-pigs storyline, the servant mom finds the dad's belt buckle in the pig sty and deduces that the son killed him. She's sort of like, "Meh, whatever" about it and they just start telling other people that he must've gone to America and people are like, "Okay, cool." I guess "it turns out Earl was a missing person who nobody missed at all."

Bits and Pieces:

During this episode, Mariam mentions that her and Anne's father, Jeremy Lister, was at the Boston Tea Party. Indeed, he was a Captain in the Revolutionary War, ahem, on the losing side.

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