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North & South, 3/4

Between all the Industrial Revolution and James Bond of the Olympic Opening Ceremony, I was feeling a little obligated. Which is good, because this is not the easiest hour of television to get through. I tell you, I'm ready for the happy ending now. And (in the same spirit) I went overbudget on words and pictures. After all the high action and romance of the previous episode, this one settles right down into its quiet nadir of interpersonal relationships and loss. Which would be why most of the pics are of expressions. I tried to get a few more of the gorgeous wide shots in there, which may be why I went overbudget. OH WELL.

North & South, 1/4
North & South, 2/4

Brace yourselves, everyone. Theme for this week? ROCKS FALL, EVERYBODY DIES. Or, I don’t know, “consequences”, I guess.

Yup, pigs. Because why not.

Thornton strides angrily home in pace with the turbulent music, and Mr Bell passes by, catches sight of his perturbation and makes one of his astute Deductions.

But we settle down with a gentle interlude with Margaret and Bessy, who's evidently feeling a little better this morning, enough to tease Margaret over a gift of a scrap of lace or handkerchief or something. But that doesn't last either because Margaret asks after Nicholas in the wake of the breaking of the strike, and Bessy breaks down with worry over what he and his anger might lead him to do in retaliation.

Mrs Thornton's still conflicted because Margaret has refused Thornton – glad to still be the most important woman in her son's life, and full of hatred for any woman who does not love her son the way she ought, the way he loves her. And that he should “love her more than ever” for her refusal! That's got to be the fierce independence of Margaret talking; she is quite Northern in spirit and Thornton, made of the same stuff, cannot help but admire it, even though it causes him pain. It probably helped that, apart from his mother's encouragement, he pretty much knew what to expect going in – Margaret has never misrepresented herself to him.

Seriously, this guy. And I love that these two are such friends; this story puts high value on genuine friendship between people of profound difference, and these two qualify in temperament, if not culture or social standing. Mr Bell’s sincere affection for Hale is one thing that keeps him from being really quite a bit of a bastard, given his shit-stirring inclinations.

Thornton’s gift of fresh fruit for Mrs Hale’s “low spirits” (DYING, most likely of consumption or something) provokes discussion among the Hales of his consideration, his generosity, his attentiveness, much to Margaret's discomfort, who would very much NOT like to visit and convey her family's thanks. Mr Bell, who was evidently on his way to visit the Hales when he passed Thornton, puts the finishing touches to his deductions and asks the clueless Mr Hale about it.

“Good Lord, no. Certainly not.... Well, I suppose it's possible on his side. But for Margaret it's quite out of the question. She's never liked him, poor fellow. Oh, I pray he doesn't get his hopes up.”

Well, at least he knows his daughter somewhat, even if he's trailing along quite a ways behind. Mr Bell, meanwhile, is right on the cutting edge with his secretly amused little smile.

Oh, bloody hell, back to Boucher, begging for mercy from a furious Nicholas. Bessy's trying to keep a lid on things, and one can only imagine what would happen if Nicholas knew Margaret was the woman Boucher threw the stone at. He spits contempt at the ruined man and ends up shouting the promise to turn him in to the police – as good as damning Boucher's family if they weren't damned already.

Take heart, kids, at least she's still making a habit of looking back at him, even if he probably doesn't notice this time. There's not a lot else to cling to, this episode, but she does do it twice, so that's something.

And Mr Bell is being cheerfully himself, somehow managing to assemble Thornton, Margaret, Miss Latimer and her father all together on the sidewalk just for the awkwardness of it. Thornton stalks off, having no time whatsoever for Mr Bell's meddling fun, while Margaret calls him out on it and he apologises handsomely, making the point that his behaviour doesn't mean he doesn't care about her and her family. AND takes the opportunity of securing her promise that if they are ever in trouble, she will turn to him for help. Mr Bell works many angles, ladies and gentlemen.

Thornton's avoiding his lessons with Hale, oh, sweetie. And Margaret is making excuses for him! It HAS been a busy week.

And Hale has found her secret out ... she's written to Frederick! Because her mother – his wife – is DYING. And the danger to Fred is basically absolute if he comes home and is found out. But it's too late – the letter's gone, and that's that. There's some discussion about how very absolute this is, that there is, in this situation, no hope for a fair trial or anything other than a traitor's death. Wheeeeeeeee the doom'n'gloom continues.

Oh, Mary. *cuddles her up forever and ever*

Margaret finds she can't unburden herself in a letter to her shallow and silly cousin (not as bad as Fanny, but still), and takes herself off to talk to Bessy instead. The door opens onto Mary's tearful face, and OH GUESS WHAT, first one down for this episode. Bessy is stretched out, serene and pale, holding the scrap of lace to her heart. *sobs*

Also, Mary’s been sitting there in the dark room alone with her dead sister, crying, until Margaret happened by. *sobs*


... And now Boucher limps past, scorned by all. Hi Boucher, glad to see you in the Episode of Doom, I’m sure that’ll go well for you.

Margaret basically spends the entire episode defending and explaining Thornton to people who ignorantly and/or willfully misunderstand him. (Including later deliberately labelling him a gentleman when her brother voices her own old prejudices, which is so \o/ I can't even.) And, in between understanding him, being misunderstood by him, the inverse of the first episode. So that works out nice and symmetrically, and probably makes it fair to say that this is the episode where she actually falls in love with him back.

Look, I’m sorry for Nicholas and all, and it should be clear by now that I have something of a crush on the bull-headed, flawed, tenacious, working-class-hero man, and I’m glad he’s getting some kind of solace through talking to Margaret and Mr Hale, but I keep thinking about Mary. She’s so ignored. At least Margaret was hugging her for a while, that’s something I suppose.

Anyway. Margaret is defending Thornton’s decision not to prosecute Boucher’s violence to Nicholas. The development of understanding – of grasping the consequences of actions and reactions, being able to read that correctly – is progressing nicely. Nicholas has a bit further to go, even if it weren’t all bound up in grief at this point, but there’s still progress.

Another way we know we have further to go is Thornton sees Margaret warmly farewelling Nicholas from her door (Thornton was finally coming to read with Hale, we assume) and immediately assumes, in some way or other, that he’s not welcome or doesn’t want to be welcome at this home. To be fair, he’s still suffering accutely from unrequited love, rejection, and all the rest, not to mention Nicholas is the most obvious face of the union that may have put his own business beyond recovery, so. Difficult all around, really. Thornton hasn’t had the initial culture-shock to humble him in his understandings (just Margaret’s spirited intellectual challenge, so far) in order to develop a deeper and broader grasp of his own reality, so now it is his turn for assumptions that are at best incomplete and at worst quite wrong.

Look, everyone, it’s London! They can afford COLOUR there! Also light! (And exotic displays from all around the Empire, which was probably more impressive for people before the Internet.)

Blah blah, Mrs Hale is dying, Fred’s been written to and now she’s anxious about it. Woman –! Anyhow. She sends Margaret off to visit Queen Vic’s Great Exhibition in London with her Aunt Shaw and Cousin Edith and HELLOOO CAPTAIN AWKWARDPANTS. You’re not Mr Bell, but you’ll do. You know what? They should pair the spares and hook him up with Miss Latimer. She seems a nice girl, and unlikely to go rogue and start thinking for herself; she’s been “finished” in ... Switzerland, was it?

“Margaret has always had a mind of her own, Henry Cpt Awkwardpants.” Yes, sorry about that.

But that’s okay, because IT’S MR THORNTON! The man who is unreasonably, uncontrollably, passionately drawn to Margaret’s independence and inquisitiveness and honest opinions. Margaret spots him at the exhibition talking about the strike, and is likewise drawn to his compassionate, reasoned discourse on the subject, and THESE TWO. Thornton spots her, and, in bitterly quoting her earlier misunderstanding of him, now misunderstands her, deftly summing up their dynamic at the moment.

Miss Hale here knows the depths we men in Milton have fallen to. How we masters only strive to grind our workers into the ground.
I certainly do not think that. As Mr Thornton could tell you, if he would know me at all.
I’ve presumed to know you once before, and have been mistaken.

But that last line as he follows after her, it's not quite accusatory – it holds an openness to know better, almost to hope.... Which doesn't stand a chance in the face of little sisters showing up.

HI FANNY and Miss Latimer (perhaps if you had a mind of your own, they’d give you a line of dialogue). Ah, Fanny. In London at last! I’ma just bask for a bit, m’kay? Seriously, Henry, go for that one there, she’s just like Margaret, only docile. Also, there's a stone wang over your shoulder. HOW ARE YOU SO AWKWARD.

This man gives like the best death glares I’ve ever seen. And he spends the entire episode doing it. Also! This time Margaret not only looks back after him as he walks away, but actually calls after him – with a message for her mother, no less. Oh yes, Thornton has good reason to hope. Henry, not so much, although hes doing his best to make Thornton believe otherwise.

“Henry! Do you know Mr Thornton?” AAAAAWWWKWARD.

Ugh, just, the tension between Thornton and Margaret. JUST KISS ALREADY. Oh this whole exchange. It’s so – intimate, yet strained, yet hopeless, yet longing, yet veiled, yet obvious, yet public.... *flail* And HELL YEAH, MARGARET, YOU TELL HENRY WHERE TO GO. (Genteelly, of course.)

Back in Milton, an interview between the mothers – Mrs Hale asking Mrs Thornton to keep a kind eye on Margaret, who will have no motherly figure once she’s dead. Yeah, this will work out GREAT. And yet, even Mrs Thornton with all her pragmatic hard-headedness, cannot deny the dying request of a fellow mother. She will “counsel her as I would my own daughter.” Because Margaret and Fanny, cut from the same cloth, there. Anyhoo.

Look look! Smiling! It can and does happen!

Margaret returns to find her mother much worse, but who’s that at the door? Frederick! Aw, just the relief and the trust and the love between these two siblings, so different from Thornton and Fanny, is so delightful. And Hale crying manly tears at his long-lost son’s return. Awwwwwww.

O hai Mr Thornton, you can’t come in with your books and generous gifts of fruit for my dying mother, because, uh, because reasons. Paynoattention to the youthful male laughter inside. No, wait! It’s not what it looks like! You ARE welcome, it’s not about, you know, us, it’s – you just – can’t come in – wait! Oh, crud.

Mary is now working for the Hales – trusted to come and go where Thornton isn't.

Now Mrs Hale, surrounded by family and love, breathes her last, as each member (including Dixon) break into quiet tears; and another shot of the graveyard pans to reveal Boucher stumbling through it, dishevelled, a ruined man on every level.

Seriously, smack the punk. I bet Dixon has a mean left hook.

Wait, who’s this, with a suspiciously low-bred sounding accent, recognising Dixon from down South? Who’s this “young Leonards” person, being impertinent about Dixon’s marriage status (LAY THE SMACK DOWN, DIXON!) and dropping a threatening mention of Fred? UH OH. LIE BETTER, DIXON.

Actually, Fred, it’s probably better that you make your exit from this episode standing up, so go now. NOW WHILE YOU STILL CAN. I know it’s your mother’s funeral, but your whole family is telling you to go. Court-martial is not your friend. Stop being stroppy and go back to your Spanish fiancée breathing, thank you. Also, Margaret has the idea of getting Henry (who’s a lawyer, even better) to investigate ways to clear Fred’s name. Hale keeps his eyes on the ball and insists that regardless, Fred has to vamoose.

Trains! Still catalysts for trouble!

So he sneaks away in the dead of night the way he snuck in, and because this episode doesn’t have enough contrived drama already, Thornton sees Margaret hugging a man on the station platform. And leaps to more assumptions like a champion (although to be fair, circumstances really aren’t helping here) and strops off.

Wait, Leonards is at the station too? Awesome! He grapples with Fred and tumbles down some stairs for his trouble, and limps away as Margaret practically shoves Fred onto the departing train. *drama* *heartwrenching permanent goodbye*

Boucher’s rocking in a sad and creepy way next to a purple-dye-filled stream. Just so you know.

There’s a claustrophobic mood to the episode, too; even when the spaces open out, they’re bounded by the recurring motif of arches, a subdued, austerely beautiful backdrop to the mortality theme.

This is the first time that Thornton and Nicholas are in the same place for the same reason, and it’s because of their connection with the Hales; symbolically, at least, the progression toward mutual understanding keeps ticking over quietly in the background.

Mrs Hale’s funeral is attended by a mere handful of people – Mr Bell, Nicholas and Mary – and Thornton, who Margaret doesn’t so much as notice, it seems.

It’s not exactly necessary, but I couldn’t resist including this shot. His faaaaaaace. Thornton doesn’t deign to duke it out with the sly cattiness of the likes of Awkwardpants and Mr Bell, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what they’re doing. And who knows, if it hadn’t been for the death of his father and the subsequent refining fire of his hardships, he might have turned out just like them. Fanny certainly doesn’t miss the mark.

Mr Bell, of course, wastes no opportunity to get a little poke or two in with Thornton, who is now reduced to asking after Margaret and Hale, and offering his help, through Mr Bell; he has lost his first-hand knowledge (because he is being humbled in his understandings). And Mr Bell even works the Captain Awkwardpants angle; “I’m surprised Lennox didn’t turn up, though. – Henry Lennox. Closely connected to the family; he’s a lawyer. From what I hear, he takes an interest. But you can be sure I’ll let you know ... if your help is needed.” *burn*

Remember Thornton is a local magistrate? Well, he is. And a police inspector informs him that a body was found near the station two nights ago. (Another dead! It barely rates headlines at this point.) It’s Leonards. Who died.

The Hales visiting the Higginses; Nicholas isn’t working because all the mills have a new rule that workers aren’t allowed to fund the union or strikes, and it’s getting complicated, y’all. The union is discredited because of Boucher and the riot; but the union is the only power the workers have against the masters imposing anything they can get away with. And Boucher’s deterioration; Nicholas won’t work, but Boucher can’t, no one will employ him. “Even though they say he cried like a baby.” To Nicholas’s credit, there is pain and shame along with disgust in that line.

For some in this story, the humbling is a gradual revelation. For Nicholas, it is dealt in one thunderous blow, in the grotesque, drowned face of his neighbour and once-friend; it is perhaps the first time that he really, truly comprehends the consequences of the strike for someone other than Bess (who also foretold the strike would be her end).

Someone is being carried through the streets outside – it’s Boucher. Who died. Drowned himself in purple water. Nicholas is stricken, completely broken; Hale frozen; Boucher’s little son is bewildered, and in the crowd the only one with the spine to go tell Mrs Boucher is Margaret, and you guys, you guys, when Mrs Boucher starts wailing I just can’t. *ugly cries* *hold me*

Unlike the other funerals and deaths, it is a good choice to give these two poor down-trodden, near-helpless ones the freedom of the sky, even if the clouds hang glum above. It would be scarcely bearable, otherwise.

Only a few days after, Mrs Boucher followed her husband to Heaven, leaving their six children orphans. We buried them high above the city in the fresh air, their worldly struggle and cares over forever. How much harder now for those of us who are left behind to mourn.

And oh, Nicholas’s strong, steady, paternal hand holding Boucher’s son protectively to himself. Nicholas, you guys. NICHOLAS. *flails forever*

He is not convinced. LIE BETTER, MARGARET.

More uh oh, the police inspector has come to interview Margaret about the body. I really like this guy – Mason – he’s polite but straight-up competent. There’s going to be an inquest, and a witness has identified Margaret as being there and involved in the fight (just how many people were at the station late that night?); Fred isn’t safely out of the country yet, and Margaret lies her ass off.

This dude is awesome. And his little look when telling Margaret the investigation will not be pursued brilliantly illustrates how Thornton has compromised his own integrity in covering for Margaret as much as Margaret compromised hers for Fred. Not for understanding on Thornton's part, of course (this is not his episode for understanding), but for love. Just like Margaret. Seriously, THESE TWO.

And that lie travels straight to Thornton’s ear. Consequences. Also, *drama*. But oh, Thornton’s face. Margaret having lied, rather than Margaret being friends with Nicholas or Margaret embracing a man at the station late at night, is the kicker. That she should be duplicitous is something he never considered being in her nature, when it was their joint integrity that set them apart in each other's eyes, allowed them to respect one another and formed the foundation of whatever relationship they had. And yet he still tells his mother not to buy into gossip about her, and protects her by ordering Mason not to investigate further and taking full responsibility for it.... Which then travels straight to Margaret. *busted*



Thornton once more comes to read with Hale, and is finally admitted. Argh, this scene. Margaret tries to thank him, and he wants no part of it. She tries to explain, and you can see how hopeful he is for an explanation, to understand why she would lie, willing to believe her if she’ll only tell him. And she wants him to understand, but can’t explain without exposing Fred, and Thornton closes up completely.

“I have not the slightest wish to pry into the gentleman’s secrets. I’m only concerned as your father’s friend. I hope you realise that any foolish passion for you on my part is entirely over. I’m looking to the future.” BAM. Yet this reversal of status of the proposal scene does not seem to give him any solace; his dealing with Boucher (not prosecuting him) alone tells us he hasn’t a vindictive bone in his body. Meanwhile, it’s Margaret’s turn to be completely humbled by being unable to explain the correctness of her actions to someone who doesn’t understand the whole situation. YAY.

Just, ugh. *needs a lie-down*

North & South, 4/4


( 2 speakses — have a speak )
Nov. 16th, 2012 08:29 pm (UTC)
Where's 4/4? I LOVE your assessments!!!
More N&S, please!
Nov. 16th, 2012 10:40 pm (UTC)
Re: Where's 4/4? I LOVE your assessments!!!
I have chronic unfinishing disorder. But it's coming....
( 2 speakses — have a speak )

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