Gentleman Jack Recap, Part 3


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.

Ooooo, this was a fun episode! Most of the costumes were repeats, but we ended with a good sex scene and a murder, also, less coal talk, so I’m calling this a win.

Unfortunately, we don’t get to see Anne Lister busting into Ann Walker’s trip to the Lake District — we hear reports of it. Starting with Mrs. Rowsen and another daughter (not the one who went on the trip, IDK why), who visit Miss Walker.  Mom Rowden is surprised that Lister joined had joined the party. Cue Lister’s eyebrow waggle at the camera. What-ever!

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Seeing Lister among these ladies in their fashionable 1830s gowns reminds me of what costume designer Tom Pye said in our interview — he wanted to ‘make the straight people look daft’ in comparison to Lister’s simple black outfits. Totally works!

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Lavender stripes on the daughter, bright yellow tonal print on the mother.

Back to the Shibden servants, John’s going to propose to Eugénie, by proxy since he doesn’t speak any French and she doesn’t speak any English. He’s doing her a solid so she can pass the baby off as his. The other maid does the translation, and Eugénie just agrees, “Oui,” with a peck on the cheek, it’s done. More about that later…

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Lister and Walker are walking through the woods and come across a storybook cottage, which is apparently Lister’s love shack baaybeee. Walker gets back to the kissy talk from before the Lake District … OF COURSE she’s into it. Just needed to think about it a little, y’know.  Lister is divinely tender with her mwah

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Walker wears the pink plaid gown that we’ve seen in every episode a lot in this one.

Back to the servants. John asks Marian to ask her sister for permission for the deal, because it won’t go over well.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

A begrudgingly happy couple.

Lister and Walker go back to Walker’s house, where that first kiss seems to have sealed the deal. Lister asks Walker to pay a formal call on her aunt. Walker asks Lister over for dinner and then for a sleepover. Yaassss, girl, get it!

I guess it’s suddenly late, because when Lister returns to Shibden Hall, Marian is throwing a fit that it’s ‘past 10 o’clock,’ and the servants had to wait up (um, I’m on Anne’s side, they’re servants, that’s what they’re paid for, get over it, Marian). Marian also whines that their aunt has been sick, but really, it’s an upset stomach, not like she’s dying. Marian, take a fucking chill pill.

So Lister tells her aunt how she has a new girlfriend, a ‘companion for life.’ Aunty is the bestest and asks meaningful questions but isn’t disapproving on the whole. She’s just worried about small-town jerks being jerky to Lister.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

At breakfast, Marian chides Anne for reading at the table and for being late last night, still. Dad says ‘it was only 10 o’clock, NBD’ and tells a story about Anne playing cards with a bunch of rough fellas.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

The most casual Lister has been shown — in blue shirt sleeves & waistcoat, smoking, without her hair curled. She seems to indicate this was long ago.


Then there’s Marian rant about being ‘cheated out of what’s half hers’ and how she should get married a have a son who’ll have a greater claim to Shibden than Anne. Finally, she storms off to stay with friends. And good riddance!

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Same old plaid dress, but without lace covering up the intricate work on the front, so worth a look (even if the character is annoying AF).

Lister goes off to chat with her tenants, but finds this guy Sowden is drunk. She tells him to go home, he insults her, calling her a man. His son Thomas takes him back home.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

I’ve realized that Lister mostly wears short jackets, like this. Long coats are less common.

Back at Shibden, Christopher Rawson wants to make a deal about coal prices with Lister. This, btw, is the less posh, not quite as smart brother. They make a deal.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Same jacket on Lister, from the back, notice the short tails.

At Sowden’s pig farm, the drunkard is an asshole to Thomas, the younger kids, his wife, y’know, everyone. They fight. The older son ties him up and sticks him in the pig stye.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Much like the servant’s side plots, this is a bit tedious & nowhere near as interesting as Lister.

At Lister’s love shack, the tin roof is already rusted because Lister is canceling Walker’s formal call to her aunt because of her illness and ditto with the sleepover, so dinner only. sad trombone Even worse, Walker was sent an nasty anonymous letter about Lister!

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Walker hasn’t worn this pink gown with sheer over-sleeves since episode one.

Marian mentions John and Eugenie’s engagement to Aunt Lister, and Aunty questions whether Marian would ever get married herself. Marian says she’s ‘been invited to tea’ with a John Abbott twice at a mutual friend’s house. Because that’s what passes as a hot date for a spinster in the 1830s.

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Spicing up Marian’s look with a black capelet & a bonnet. Now GTFO!

Lister looks at the shitty anonymous letter, and Walker assures her that she doesn’t believe what it says. As she leaves, Lister questions the footman about that episode one carriage accident. Dun dun dun, he says the driver was Mr. Rawson!

Gentleman Jack (2019)

At the bank, both Rawson brothers (and the dog) discuss the coal deal with Lister, but Christopher got it confused, and his bro is kinda pissed.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Willie, the dog, is clearly running this business.

The letter reveals people are assholes (because we needed hard proof?).

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“A well wisher” — more like a homophobic small-minded twit.

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Burn, baby, burn

Putting out that trash, Lister still has a hot dinner date. As she gets dressed, she receives a note from the Rowdens saying the coal deal is fucked up, but she shoves it in a drawer. Ain’t nobody got time for that when love calls!

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Close-up shows an elegant weave in her cravat & velvet lapels on her coat.

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This is one of her few long coats, kind of an older, Regency style.

At dinner, they talk about traveling to Switzerland sooner rather than later. On the couch, Lister proposes living together, which Walker says “it’s like a marriage?” Walker waffles a little bit and postpones six months, calling it a ‘proposal’ until April 3, Lister’s birthday, saying “I think you have every reason to hope.”

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She wore this floral pink gown last episode, but adds a feathered hair ornament here.

Aunt Lister had sent John out to walk Ann back home, and John gets the house wrong, calling at the Mr. and Mrs. Priestly’s house first. This puts a bug in Mrs. Priestly’s ear about Lister and Walker…

Meanwhile, back on the couch, Lister is feeling up Walker, but can’t get past first base. Walker asks if she’s done this before, Anne says, “of course not” and looks at the camera. Walker asks, “What are you looking at?” I LOLed!

Gentleman Jack (2019)

But also, I think when Lister breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the camera, it is reminding us that this series is based on her diaries. It’s as if we are watching her memories come to life. We’re looking inside her head, much as we do when we read her diaries (and if you haven’t, I highly recommend reading them — there are several published versions that transcribe her coded diaries, plus biographies, even a tie-in book with this miniseries that includes portions of her diaries).

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Aunty has a new red-brown dress!

The next day, Aunt Lister tells Anne about Marian and her John Abbot. Apparently, he’s in trade, making carpets, which the snobby Anne looks down on, since the Listers are landed gentlefolk. Dad doesn’t care either way.

Last night’s visit has got Mrs. Priestly wondering if Miss Walker is ill. Maybe she’ll pop in. Wouldn’t want to be a busybody, but…

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She’s in a different blue-ish gown & so much lace.

Lister sees Thomas Sowden at work and reminds him that she needs to talk to Mr. Sowden. Thomas tries to take his dad’s place, but Lister reminds him that the tenancy is with dad. This is gonna get awkward.

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And here’s Lister’s long frock coat.

After attending to business, Lister goes to find Walker in quite a state — she’s feeling insecure about herself, getting down about not getting down. Don’t worry, honey! You’ve got till the end of this episode.

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Pink smocked gown with lace collar seen several times since first ep.

Ugh, back at the Sowden pig farm. Thomas tells mom that Lister wants to see dad. Mom takes the little kids into town so Thomas can set the crazyman loose. But instead, he slits dad’s throat and lets the pigs eat the carcass.

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Who’s a hungry piggy?

Mrs. Priestly goes to check in on Miss Walker but notices the blinds are down, so she calls up the footman to bust in…

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I don’t want to be a busybody, but I’ve got my busybody bonnet on.

Lister and Walker are GETTING IT ON. Walker says, “I love you.”

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Mrs. Priestly walks right in on them!  Walker says, “I wasn’t feeling well, and Miss Lister is taking care off me.” Mrs. Priestly exclaims, “Oh is that what you call it?” (and that’s the name of this episode). She storms out. Walker giggles and says to Lister “shall we go upstairs?” And they continue in bed :)

Gentleman Jack (2019)



Was it good for you too? Tune in for episode 4 next Monday!


About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

34 Responses

  1. Roxana

    I can understand Anne Walker wanting time to think. However strong her feelings for Anne Lister moving in with her is a big step, especially as it would mean effectively coming out. Walker is also financially secure but she might care about talk.

  2. KayHay

    I love the sibling scrapping–Marian’s a hoot. Yara Greyjoy, is that you?! in frilly curls and pretty plaids? Mr SOWden, pig farmer. Perfect, and a fitting demise. But he should have just been suffocated rather than cut. Now I’m worried about that nice son (even if he is a murderer–dad would have killed them all).That close-up of Anne’s dress clothes–gorgeous. Is that blackwork on her shirt collar?

    • Roxana

      Marian isn’t wrong. Unless Daddy writes a will dictating otherwise she is co-heiress to his estate. But if she’s smart she’ll shut up and let Anne manage it because Anne’s obviously got a head for business. Marian can get married if she likes but I pity the man who takes on Anne. Interesting how their father is willing to be side lined. Is he weak in the head or does he just have a justified respect for his elder daughter’s good business head and an acceptance of her sexuality?

      • Lady Hermina De Pagan

        Dad has nothing to do with the estate. Anne inherits it from an Aunt and Uncle in her own right as her brother died and there was not other living male heirs. Miriam’s scheme is to marry and have her husband try to take over the estate as Anne spends most of her time out of the area

        • Roxana

          Oh, I see. Yes that explains everything. Anne is of age so Dad has no legal leverage. I still pity any man who tries to overcome Anne Lister. If it came to Anne by will rather than simply as next of kin Marian has no rights at all. Obviously she resents the fact.

        • Trystan L. Bass

          Yep, & this was historically true. Also, Marian lived until 1882 (well after Anne’s death in 1840) but apparently never married.

      • Susan Pola Staples

        I believe it was established in episode 1 that Anne was left the property by Her uncle. So Marian would not be a co-heir.
        And dad is out of it for that reason.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      “Sow-den” I know, hah!

      Lister’s shirt collar, I don’t think it’s blackwork in the Elizabethan sense (altho’ we haven’t gotten enough of a view). I think just the top edge is worked in black.

  3. Susan Pola Staples

    I am watching the episode tonight.
    But I’m wondering if there’s a way to ship Marian off to Westeros and see how long she survives. She’s so annoying.

    Which Mr Rawson – smart or dumb?

    I’m definitely going to find a copy of her diary.

      • Susan Pola Staples

        I meant in the carriage accident that started episode 1

        • Trystan L. Bass

          Ah yes, I think that’s probably Smart Rawson – in his first scene arriving at the bank (w/the dog), he’s driven in a carriage, & someone comments that he’s not driving his gig. He shoos them off with something about it being broken down or being no good.

          • Susan Pola Staples

            Makes sense. And explains whyas magistrate, he’s doing nothing, rien, Nada.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Oh & the diary edition I have is ‘I Know My Own Heart: The Diaries of Anne Lister, 1791-1840’ edited by by Helena Whitbread.

      • Susan Pola Staples

        Thanks I’ll try to get it thru ILL at my library.

  4. Andrea

    Uh, I just can’t get into things like this. I don’t mind same-sex love stories, but for me to get emotionally involved, it’s gotta be hot & sexy. Two average looking middle aged women ain’t it. Sorry, not sorry.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Well that’s judgey & not in an entertaining way. I hope average-looking opposite-gender ppl having sex turns you off just as much (tho’ I feel sorry not sorry about your own lovelife). Oh & way to be ageist while you’re at it.

    • Heidilea

      Damn, bro, who peed in your coffee? Most of us are average, and I don’t think 30 and 40 count as “middle aged” (the ages of the actresses playing Miss Walker and Anne Lister respectively).

      Was it Emily Post who said “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all”? I’m going to add if it’s not constructive, keep it to yourself.

    • Roxana

      As a straight female girl on girl does nothing for me. But I can empathize with the emotions involved.
      Anne Lister is tired of being left. She wants a settled, permanent relationship – and why shouldn’t she?
      Anne Walker is in love for the first time in her life and it’s with another woman. Naturally she’s going to need some time to adjust to this startling discovery and decide what to do about it. Accepting Lister is going to take a certain amount of courage.

    • SamIam

      Anne Lister becomes increasingly hot to me as the series progresses (I just started binge watching which is why I’m so late to the comments).

      I’m quite enamored with her hands, how upfront she is, and how tender and understanding she is with Ann. And I’m rather straight.

      Suranne is amazing and I love her and these two are adorable and even sexy together.

  5. Kersten

    I think them being “average looking” is part of the point.

    But can I say how much I love how they’ve characterized Ann Walker? She IS beautiful, and interesting, as Anne Lister tells her, even if she isn’t Lister’s intellectual equal. And she is a full participant in their romance when in so, so, so many lesser shows (particularly hetero-oriented shows) she might have been just a love object with no individual personality. Lister herself is the more modern character from the viewing standpoint, but Ann Walker, while still being a woman of her time, doesn’t have her values down-graded or laughed at in the writing. So many historical shows sneer at more “conventional” characters (who act more in accordance with the norms of their era), but this one mostly avoids that, especially with Ann Walker.

    Also, although we do see the initial financial attraction to Lister, she does develop a tender appreciation for Ann’s gifts, which is how a man of her era and class would have approached marriage. To us it might look mercenary, but to a person in 1832, the financial and class position of potential mates MATTERED.

    This show is a little uneven but I LOVE their love!

    • Trystan L. Bass

      YES! It’s a beautifully written relationship, esp. from Walker’s POV. Lister is on the hunt for a companion, she’s tired of ladies who ditch her for men, she knows what she wants. But Walker is open, curious, & truly falls in love with Lister, without coercion, but from seeing the appeal of the relationship. They’re both getting something out of it equally. It’s quite lovely.

  6. LisaS

    Honestly not feeling the disapproval of Marian’s concern for the servants’ up at late hours. And Anne is just a soulless rentier (rentier and soulless perforce go naturally hand in hand) to whom Mlle. Guillotine would love to give a big juicy kiss.. alas the nation and period are rather wrong for the sort of thing.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Anne’s views were extremely common for her time & class; Marian’s the one out of step, esp. since she profits just as much from her status in the world. She may not run the estate like Anne, but she has everything she needs from it (& unlike Jane Austen & her heroines, no fear of homelessness).

      • LisaS

        Oh, I do understand how common her attitudes were. They brought us Uncle Karl, after all.

        • Roxana

          Personally I’ve always felt that ‘Uncle Karl’s’ ideology had a lot to do with resentment that he had to support his family. Or more charitably, frustration over his inability to do so.

    • A

      Keeping the servants up late wasn’t very kind, because they had to be up at the crack of dawn (and possibly had some other chores to do after they finished taking care of the mistress, losing even more sleep).
      They were not paid for overtime and they had their duties and plenty of them – the fact that they had to wait for their mistress returning late the night before would not be a good excuse for not doing them.
      Marian acts like a good mistress of the household – she’s trying to make sure there is a good schedule in place. Messing with it is inconsiderate.
      (I haven’t watched the show yet – just ging by the recaps)/

        • Roxana

          I’m pretty sure considerate mistresses existed in the early 19th c. It comes up in some early etiquette books. But insisting the servants need their sleep is also a way of criticizing one’s sister’s late hours.

        • A

          It seems to me more like division between traditional male and female roles. Anne is taking a male role in the household – dealing with tenants, coal, whatever. Marian takes the feminine role of managing the household – deals with servants, meals and stuff (unless she doesn’t and it went past me). So she’s more concerned with things running on schedule. which a good mistress was supposed to have in place, not as much to make sure servants get enough sleep, but more as simply the best way to make sure things get done.

  7. Sarah Walsh

    I kind of liked the 4th wall being broken at certain points – it makes Anne Lister very immediate, very close to the audience, and she has such a business-like, hard exterior that there has to be some way the viewer empathizes with her for the whole arc of the story to work. But it didn’t work as well for me when Marian broke the 4th wall, and especially when Ann Walker asked “Who are you talking to?”. Being invited into Anne Lister’s headspace is one thing, but having another character become aware of the “surveillance” aspect of the storytelling seemed…I don’t know, forced? Kind of silly?? I’m not sure what. But as I’m loving everything else about the show, that one little blip can be overlooked.