Gentleman Jack Recap: Season 1, Episode 7 ("Why've You Brought That?")

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 available on HBO and is currently running on BBC One on Sundays. (Note: Recaps will include spoilers for that episode.)

[Content Note: The end of this recap contains a reference to self-harm depicted in this episode.]

In the penultimate episode of Season 1, we meet up with Anne while she's planning for her trip abroad. She has hired a "groom" named Thomas to travel with her and I'm briefly very confused about that before I remember this is the 1800s England. Anne is very matter-of-fact with Thomas, and barely gives him a passing glance, but Marian has thoughts and feelings about the package he's brought along, so to speak.

Is that a giant thermometer in your pants, or?
Also, sidenote: I just realized that I had to look up whether Anne's sister's name was "Marian" or "Mariam." It's Marian, but I think I've called her Mariam sometimes, and maybe even Miriam. I'm usually better about these sorts of details, but hey there's a lot going on in the world right now, the show also has a Mary, and the show and the book The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister (which I'm also reading right now, Lesbian Achievement Unlocked!) also has a Mariana. (Because 99% of women in 1800s England were named some version of Ann or Mary?)

ANYway, a bit later, Anne has an interaction with one of the Rawson brothers and they engage in witty repartee about the coal beds. (I do enjoy some Anne Lister retorts, but I'm just going to be frank here: less coal beds, more Anns-together beds). But I digress; the past few episodes have had some talk about Anne sinking her own coal pits, and I don't really get it. Isn't sinking the pits a bad thing? Or, would it be good because it would prevent the Rawsons from stealing her coal? Would the coal float to the top if it's flooded? Whatever. The point is that Anne needs a large sum of money, which she doesn't have, in order to "sink the pits." So, she contemplates taking out a loan with the deed to Shibden as collateral. Yikes.

Anne then leaves for her trip to Europe and oh by the way, she picks up her ex, Mariana, to bring along. Well well well. "Handsome Anne seduced them well" indeed.

During the trip, Anne tells Mariana that Ann Walker declined her marriage proposal. Mariana is now married to a man, but she gets jealous because she had always planned on going back to Anne when her husband died. (Wut? Can I just reiterate how terrible life must have been for queer women in the 1800s, and these are even queer women who are well-off.) So, that sets the tone for their trip.

The next morning, Anne and Mariana get in the carriage together and for whatever reason Anne has brought a giant thermometer. Yes, a giant thermometer. It's kind of absurd, and funny, especially as Anne keeps trying to read/examine it while she and Mariana are bickering about their relationship. At one point Mariana angrily asks why she's brought it and Anne says, "Yes, I'm a bit odd! I like to have my thermometer with me on holiday. It's not illegal!"

The whole thing is so fucking funny and random, but also sort of not random because it's Anne Lister and of course she'd want to accurately track the weather on holiday.

"It's not illegal!"
Mariana keeps acting pissy about Anne having proposed to Ann, so Anne outright asks Mariana if she'll move into Shibden with her. Mariana, of course, won't leave her husband, and says no. I sort of feel bad for Mariana, because she's clearly in a bad marriage, but in addition to wanting to have her cake and eat it too, I noticed that when she and Anne are together she continually suggests that other people see Anne as ridiculous.

For instance, when she finds out Anne is going to party later, Mariana says, "Do you ever worry that they see you as some sort of novelty act? A clever court jester. An entertaining freak." It's like she tries to undercut Anne's self-esteem to make it seem like she, Mariana, is the only one who truly accepts her and that everyone else is close-minded and dangerous. The insults mostly roll off Anne's back, but it's a good illustration of how closeted relationships can sometimes be emotionally abusive in part because they are isolated and lack outside perspective.

Ann, meanwhile, is in Scotland with her sister and brother-in-law. The plan had originally been for Ann to receive treatment, but the sketchy brother-in-law never followed through on that and is instead trying to have Ann married off to one of his relatives. In case you're wondering if Ann is interested in marrying this, or any, man, her chief form of recreation in Scotland seems to be "sitting sadly in her bedroom all day drawing pictures of Anne Lister."

Ann's sister actually seems nice, and like she's going to look out for Ann. We'll see. At the end of the episode, however, Ann is sitting in front of mirror and she accidentally cuts her hand on broken glass. When her sister walks in later, it seems like Ann has then deliberately cut herself even more.

Nooooo, why oh why can't the Anns just get back to together and go live in the secret lesbian cottage where it's safe?

Bits and Pieces:

In happier news, the dog actor in Gentleman Jack is named Rhodry and seems like a very good and scruffy boy.

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