Gentleman Jack (2019) is set in 1832 Halifax, West Yorkshire, and based on the diaries of Anne Lister (1791-1840), a landowner and industrialist who wrote extensively of her daily life and her same-sex love affairs. It’s airing on HBO in the U.S. and the BBC in the U.K. Check out our interview with the series costume designer Tom Pye. Read all our series recaps here.
Episode two gets right down into it, building up Anne Lister and Ann Walker’s love affair, also more coal drama. There’s another autopsy, a more explicit, if briefer, sex scene, and a couple new dresses…
The first thing Anne Lister says to Ann Walker is: “I was just passing” — the title of last week’s episode.
They start talking about Walker’s sister and her three children, both derisively referring to motherhood, then Lister volunteering, “I dissected a baby once.” She’s kinda freaking Walker out with a lot of anatomy talk — might want to pace yourself, Lister.
After a quick scene of the Shibden servants gossiping in the kitchen, Lister continues to chat up Miss Walker. As she tells the TV audience, “the nature of what Miss Walker feels for me is love!”
But first, Lister has to talk with Mr. Washington about coal. It’s the pits, har har.
We meet nefarious land/coal-owner Jeremiah Rawson, who brings his dog to work (apparently, it’s not just for tech companies). He and his brother Christopher yap about coal.
Lister visits her tenants, the Hardcastles, where she acts like a doctor to the injured boy. The kid asks if she’s a man, and she muses, “Well, that’s a question, and you’re not the first one to ask it.”
Back at Shibden Hall, over a meal, Lister tells her family of her plans to improve the estate. They’re not impressed — but when are they, the ingrates.
Lister and Walker take a turn about the garden. Walker has been getting harassed by a cousin for money, so Lister encourages her to write a strongly worded letter. Back in the house, they talk about a trip to the Lake District that Walker is about to take. Lister snaps a letter opener, cutting her hand, which Walker is sweetly attentive to. Lister invites her travel abroad in the spring.
In the Shibden kitchen again, the groom John decides to hit on Eugénie, since she basically needs someone to marry her and cover up the pregnancy.
Back to Walker’s house, where Lister is telling her about glory holes in Paris, but “I just went there to study anatomy” (and that’s the name of this episode). Flashback to Lister in bed performing cunnilingus on a blonde lady. Here on the couch, Lister finally says, “I think you’re a little bit in love with me.” Walker is surprised but pleased but not sure but you know it’s gonna happen. It’s rather sweet and charming.
Next, Lister visits Mrs. Priestly, who’s saying Miss Walker has this “weakness in her spine, I think it’s menstrual.” Questionable diagnoses aside, Priestly recommends Lister as a wise choice of friend for Walker. Nudge nudge wink wink.
Marian’s back in her first plaid gown, and still haranguing Lister, now about muddy boots at the dinner table. Anne doesn’t give a shit about her crabby sister because she got a wedding invite from her old lover Miss Vere Hobart.
John the groom has three little girls already. What’s Eugénie gonna think about that?
Lister is off to chat with Mr. Rawson about the Hardcastle accident (since the other Rawson is a local magistrate) and, of course, coal.
Miss Walker is listlessly packing for a trip to the Lake District, and her friend Catherine Rawson is all bonnets and ribbons, and btw, y’know Lister can’t be trusted around other women. Ann: “What does she bite them?” Walker basically tells her friend to sod off.
Lister has another big coal talk, now with maths, blah blah blah.
Likewise, the Rawson brothers are off at their office, drinking and yammering about Lister, noting “she likes the ladies,” but they’re more concerned with her coal.
Lister visits Walker again before her Lake District trip. Walker is kinda like ‘I don’t really want to go now, I’ll miss you, boo-hoo.’ Lister says she’s going to a wedding in London that she doesn’t really want to go to either, so it’s like they’re even.
Miss Rawson comes in to say let’s hit the road for the Lake District. As Lister leaves she says something about seeing a man, so Rawson makes an astonished face to Walker, who’s like, ‘see? NBD!’
Lister sorts more coal stuff, then tells Eugénie to pack her trunk for London. Bam, we’re in a church, tons of fancy-dressed people, it’s wedding time.
Lister is wearing a SUPER TALL black hat with black beading and the most AM-AY-ZING ostrich feathers, it is faaaaaabulous.
After the wedding Lister run back, ditches the hat (yikes!) and tells Eugénie, “We’re going to the Lake District!”
Looks like we’re off to the lakes in episode 3, airing next Monday!