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.
Well, here it is, the last episode! My worst fear that we’d get some awful cliffhanger does NOT happen, thankfully, but I have a quibble with the exact way the last scenes played out. But to get there, we saw some spiffy new costumes and a few characters show their better sides. Let’s have at it!
Aunt Lister has received a letter from Anne, written while en route to Copenhagen. Anne is accompanying Madame de Hage’s young niece, Miss Sophie Ferrall.
Sophie is rather perceptive — she can tell Anne has a broken heart and asks is it over a he or a she. Anne is noncommittal.
Back at Lister’s coal pit, a dead horse/mule means they’re going over budget. Mr. Washington wonders if they should contact Miss Lister?
She has arrived in Copenhagen and is met by Lady Harriet De Hagemann (is this Vere’s relation?) and plans to stay through spring and then continue on to Russia.
Anne receives some letters … but not from Miss Walker. It’s been four weeks since she heard from Elizabeth Walker, Ann’s sister.
In Scotland, Ann doesn’t look so good.
Her sister asks Capt. Sutherland if there’s been a letter from Miss Lister, but the dude says newp. Is he diverting the mail? He ‘worries that it’s unhealthy,’ Ann’s obsession with Lister. FUCK THIS GUY.
Elizabeth sticks up for Lister, saying she was the first to visit the Walker sisters when their mother died. But Walker’s shitty husband pushes the idea that Ann will happier via marriage and babies with his cousin. Elizabeth makes pointed comment about having babies not being a cure for what ails ya.
At a fancy dinner in Copenhagen, Lister is having a gay old time, and everyone says she should be presented at court.
Marian reads a letter to her Aunt from Anne, saying ‘Countess Blücher has adopted Lister.’ Aunty is coughing and under a blanket, she’s not feeling so great … Lister wrote another letter, this one all business, to Mr. Washington, which he reads to Dad. Sounds like Anne is maybe kinda sorta asking for more money to work on the coal pit.
Back in Scotland, Walker is giving up again and burns her drawing of Lister. Girl, please!
In Copenhagen, Lister is super excited — she just visited the royal court and curtseyed to the wrong person! So she tells Countess Blücher and a finely dressed friend.
In the Danish court itself, Anne is lookin’ good and seems all confident, but young Queen Marie of Denmark is disarmingly direct.
She asks Anne about turmoil and machinery in England’s north, saying “we must embrace the future.” Conservative Anne is flustered, and even more so when the queen asks why Anne wears black. Lister spills the story of a ‘broken engagement’ in 1816 that caused her to wear black (without saying who or a gender).
The queen again talks of the future and invites Lister to the royal birthday ball where everyone will be in white.
Cut to Lister in a white ballgown, clomping around purposefully and not elegantly. But, damn lady, those feathers!
Lister hits on Sophie asking her to dance, and they do an aggressively frisky dance.
Back in Scotland, Walker is moping, surrounded by squalling infants. She asks her sister if Elizabeth likes being a mother, no really. ‘It’s a lot of work. It’s like having your brains sucked out your…’ HAH.
Ann goes wishy-washy again, about marrying a man and doing what everyone else wants and not what she wants. Elizabeth dishes the dirt on that MacKensie dude saying he’s penniless, abusive, and a waste of space. Elizabeth IS a good sister and confesses that Lister did write and that Ann should GTFO because Capt. Sutherland wants to force Ann to marry. Ann should go find Lister because “sometimes good friendships are better than marriage.”
Ann writes to the Priestlys for help, and they’re kind interested in doing what’s right, but they kinda want to put shit off and they’re still worried about Lister FFS.
Aunt Lister has another letter from Anne saying she’s off to more travels. Marian listens, along with the doctor, DUN DUN DUNNNNN. Doc says Aunt’s health is going downhill fast and writes to Lister for Marian.
Sowden pig farm. CrazyDad’s bro just shows up for no good reason — ‘cept to blow holes in their cover story, ‘natch.
The Priestlys arrive in Scotland — Mr. Priestly and Ann argue about who’ll deal with Capt. Sutherland, lol. “It’s my decision!” Ann declares. You go, girl, finally!
Ann also demands to see Dr. Belcome in York. The Priestlys tell her that Lister plans to travel more abroad, and they’re glad this business with her is over. HAH.
Lister is on a ship home. REUNION HAPPENING IN 3… 2…
Side note: I’m amused that the Priestlys are playing the alphabet game in the carriage home, y’know, like on any road trip.
Llister arrives home at Shibden, and Eugenie barfs at the door — NOT pregnant this time, actually sea and travel-sick. Aunty is so glad to see Anne she gets out of bed. The doctor is shocked, Marian is surprised, but whatever, this was a narrative means to an end (that said, her aunt dies in 1836, and it’s been a year or so elapsed time? hard to tell exactly).
Dad asks where are the deeds to Shibden. He tells her about the problems with the coal pit works so far, and they’ll need more money.
Walker arrives home, she’s pleased about that at least. She thinks things over for about a minute and head out again.
Carriage arrives at Shibden. It’s Miss Walker and only the kitchen maid is available. Walker talks to Marian and Dad and discovers that Lister has come home.
Off at the coal pit, Mr. Washington explains the problems and how money will fix ’em. It’s always money. Anne and her thwarted ambitions in every arena of life come to a head right here — she screams in frustration.
Then Miss Walker shows up at the coal pit! Ann finally understands her sister’s marriage — Sutherland married her for money, and she’s miserable. Ann Walker doesn’t want that.
Walker: “If you asked me to marry you again, I wouldn’t say no.”
Lister: “But would you say yes?”
Lister: “Would you say yes and stick to it and mean it?”
Cut to some wedding cart — oh it’s the Washington family and the Sowden family, I DON’T CARE YOU’RE NOT MY LESBIANS FUCK OFF GO BACK TO LISTER AND WALKER.
Lister and Walker go to York to exchange rings and take the sacrament together. But I don’t fucking need the mirrored wedding scenes between the hets and the queers to make it look ‘right and proper’ or some such bullshit. Just give me Lister and Walker, FFS.
Yes, back at the Sowden wedding, the uncle mentions to Mr. Washington that he didn’t know shit about his bro going to America. Saw that coming a billion miles away, DON’T CARE.
In York, Lister and Walker discuss moving in to Shibden and telling everyone. And cutely bickering, “Are you still talking?” Lister says to her (the title of this episode and the last words for the series!).
Dawwww! I love a happy ending! <3 <3 <3
Season 2 starts filming in 2020 — check our Upcoming Movies page for an air date when we know more.