Gentleman Jack Recap, Part 4


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.

Wow, this was an episode! I did not see that ending coming. If you haven’t watched it yet, STOP READING NOW because I am no-holds barred here. A few new very pretty costumes, mostly not on the main characters though.


We start with Mrs. Priestly telling the Mister what she saw in regards to Ann and Anne getting it on last ep. He says “don’t ask, don’t tell” because it’ll bite them in the butt. Ooops. She already did. To a lot of people. That’s how she rolls.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

She wore this yellow plaid dress the first time we saw her in ep 1.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Quite a stylin’ robe at breakfast. And, omg, I just realized that Mr. Priestly is played by the 5th Doctor Who & Tristan from All Creatures Great & Small, Peter Davison!

Then Mr. and Mrs. Priestly go chat with Anne’s Aunt Walker. That’s how we learn that Lister has taken Walker off to York to see a doctor. Aunty says, “She’ll have her in Paris before we know it.” Apparently that’s this episode’s code for “getting laid” because another character will say it later. Funny, but on The Graham Norton Show last week, Suranne Jones, who plays Lister, said that “wintering in Rome” was code in Lister’s diary for “getting laid.” So continental either way!

Gentleman Jack (2019)

There’s that stunning velvet dagged capelet again! Also, nice how the couple’s outfits coordinate in color.

Off in York, the ladies will be seeing the doctor, maybe later, because right now it’s sexytimes in the hotel, aww yessss.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

“Nervous hysteria” is Dr. Belcombe’s diagnosis, due to “sadness” in Miss Walker’s life. His prescription is more Miss Lister and perhaps a trip abroad. To Paris or Rome? Nobody says, but that’s what I’m thinking now.

Btw, Dr. Belcombe is brother to Marianne — Lister’s married ex-lover who visited for a quick fuck in episode one. But we only get a brief scene of her reading the letter of her trip to York. There’s no “old GF meets the new GF” drama. Yet?

Gentleman Jack (2019)

There are a lot of yellow dresses in this episode, watch for it.

On the way out, Lister quizzes Walker’s carriage footman about the accident in episode one. The guy doesn’t want to blame Mr. Rawson, but it’s totally Mr. Rawson. Also, Eugenie is “travel sick” again, suuuuuure.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Meanwhile, Anne gets a new screaming pink dress.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Had to try & capture some of the details like all the little knife pleats in the skirts. These are beautifully constructed costumes.

There’s a digression to Thomas Sowden, but it’s boring so I’m not screencapping. Just assume that at some point, folks are gonna find out his dad is dead and pig-shit is gonna hit the fan.

Back at home, Miss Walker giddily tells her aunt that she’s getting laid SUPER HEALTHY now, according to the doctor. She and Lister talk about travel plans. Aunt Walker bursts their bubble with a letter about an old friend’s death.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Over at Shibden, Marian’s returned, and Aunt Lister admits to blabbing about John Abbot. They debate his class level a smidge, until Dad reminds everyone that the Listers are descended from trade too.

But in the Shibden kitchen, it’s revealed that Eugenie’s had a miscarriage, sad girl! She says the marriage is off, naturally.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Another scene not worth screencapping — the Sowden mom and kids think crazydad just up and left because Thomas ain’t telling anyone he did the deed.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Lister is concerned at Walker’s extreme reaction over her friend, Mrs. Ainsworth’s, death. Walker explains they were close — “not close like we are.” She’s not telling the whole story. The next morning, Lister tries to go about business as usual and suggests paying a call to Mr. and Mrs. Priestly so it doesn’t look like they have something to hide.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Yeah, this is awkward. They make banal chit-chat with Mr. & Mrs. Priestly, but Walker is like a zombie.

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Another yellow dress…

Lister returns to Shibden, where Marian first makes a date to go into into town together, and then Mr. Rawson has to talk obligatory coal stuff with her. Sorry, I got it wrong before — this is Jeremiah Rawson, he’s the dumb brother; Christopher is the smart, mean one! Before the coal stuff, Lister starts up talk of gig shopping to collect info about the carriage accident. At some point, she’s going to get Christopher Rawson for maiming that boy, even though Rawson is a magistrate.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Marian and Anne take a walk into town, yay, sisterhood! Marian is going to make drawers because she has a new pattern with an improved gusset (!) and offers to make some for Anne.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

I love her business suit. But yes, she can be a self-centered elitist!

Lister talks about inviting Miss Walker to live at Shibden, and Marian is cool with it. Then Marian brings up Mr. Abbot, and Anne slaps him down as “a man who makes rugs.” OUCH.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Marian’s brown on brown ensemble is boring but it gets the job done.

Lister arrives at the coal pit, where a little boy has been banged up because this is well before child labor laws. She’s mildly concerned about it, but y’know, more interested in her own coal, yay capitalism. Though after all the talk about how they prefer the little boys working in the pit because they’re small, it’s a wonder 6-foot-tall Lister can even walk down there.

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Then Lister goes straight from the pit to her lawyer to plot about the Rawson’s stealing her coal and getting them to pay for it.

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She does take a bath, and that’s when she gets an urgent note from Walker and heads over.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Walker is again mopey, now because she got a letter from Mr. Ainsworth, widower of her friend, and she thinks he wants to propose. But she won’t show Lister the letter. Lister posits that this is Walker’s chance to fulfill her societal destiny. Walker breaks down and says she’s been in love with Lister since she first saw her at age 16.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

They apparently have make-up sex because they’re next seen in bed, but then Walker says that Mrs. Ainsworth was much older than her husband and there’d previously been joking that when she died, Walker would “take care of” him via marriage. Obvs, Lister is freaked out by this.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Looks like she’s wearing a masculine-ish undershirt with feminine-ish drawers (also referencing the conversation with Marian re: drawers). This is more apparent when she stands up.

So she pushes up her proposal from six months to two days from now. Walker asks if they could still be friends if she did marry the guy. Lister is angry, and who could blame her: “How could we go back to common friendship now?”

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Cut to a diary voiceover while writing, “a pretty scene we’ve had…” For a miniseries based on a 4-million-word diary, the show has not much used the trope of voiceovers for writing. I don’t know how I feel about this because yes, it’s overused, but also, this is based on diaries so I’d kind of like to get more of Lister’s own words in here. Hmm.

And now for something completely different: At home with the Rawsons!

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Mrs. Rawson is chewing out Christopher for not being able to deal with Lister. But she admires Lister because she’s so smart and “most women are dull and stupid” (that’s the title of this week’s episode).

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She gossips about Lister and Walker, saying they’ll be ‘going to Paris’ (nudge nudge, wink wink), plus she makes a crude joke about dipping into Miss Walker’s purse.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

These are the Rawson sisters, one of whom visited the Lake District with Anne Walker, the other called at her house afterwards. And another yellow dress.

I get the feeling the Rawsons are nouveau riche. Their clothes and house are super flashy, the matriarch has a vulgar mouth, and the sons are thieves. They’re also cousins to the Walkers, who we know are not as established and land-rich a family as the Listers.

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Haven’t seen this lady in white before. Is she Jeremiah Rawson’s wife?

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These are Mr. & Mrs. Strickland Rawson. Fun couple, eh? And yet another yellow dress.

Ah, there’s Ann, digging in the street, taking out her frustrations as she waits for her lover to decide on her proposal. She talks with John about Eugenie and learns the wedding is off. Lister had figured out the pregnancy though. They have a cute moment reflecting about love. As he says, “It’s very rare that both parties feel that way about each other.”

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I keep forgetting to mention — Ann always sits ‘like a man’ with her knees apart. Even on Walker’s fancy settees. You can tell under her skirt in every scene.

Not screencapping but FYI, at the Sowden farm, they get a letter from Lister via Mr. Washington’s wife and daughter (are we setting up a romance between the daughter and Thomas? otherwise, why do we even see these characters?). The result is that Thomas can take up tenancy of the farm if crazydad doesn’t show up for 2 months.

Back at Shibden, Lister tells Dad she wants to sink a new coal pit. She needs cash though — maybe she can borrow money from Miss Walker? She asks Dad how he feels about Walker moving in. He’s cool with it. Just like Marian, he says, essentially, ‘it’s good for you to be settled down.’ I don’t think it’s too weird for the family to be so chill with Lister and her same-sex love affairs. She’s been like this her whole life, it’s nothing new. The ‘settled-down’ aspect makes sense because that’s best for the household. It’s practical.

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Well, here comes a fruit basket and a letter from Miss Walker. She says she can’t make up her mind about Lister’s proposal. She puts two letters in a purse and lets Ann draw one out. Lister goes to her and flips her shit. It’s “like a raffle ticket!”

Walker cries, “If I accepted him it would be out of duty…” Lister begs for the full story…

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Anne admits that she had been “indiscreet” with Ainsworth. She “didn’t know how to say no.” He had “intimate knowledge” of her. Lister asks what exactly — kissing? touching? “connected”? “Yes, once,” Walker says through tears. He inflicted himself on Walker!







Are you enraged too? What the hell is going to happen in episode 5 airing 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.”

26 Responses

  1. Susan Pola Staples

    Forget the pigs, I’d go full out Targaryan Mad and a)remove his manly parts, b) tie him up and c) pour army ants on him while my pet dragon incinerates the bastard. (this is after both Ser Brienne and Arya deal with him)

    I feel that this reveal was the root of Miss Walker’s health issues, her timidity and her extreme shyness.

    I love the nouveau riche Rawson ladies clothes. So beautiful, especially the white one, but more in keeping with London and court. Totally out of place here. Opinion: should make Rawson be added to the Mad Targaryan treatment? Remember Vlad The Impaler impaled thieves.

    Great episode. This is so my favourite one yet as GOT is …

    • Trystan L. Bass

      “I feel that this reveal was the root of Miss Walker’s health issues, her timidity and her extreme shyness.”

      Exactly! Such good character development (certain other HBO shows could have learned from this). Everything makes sense now.

      • Susan Pola Staples

        And I liked the fact that Yara Greyjoy, err, Marian and Anne can get along and have sister moments.

    • Rita Amunrud-clark

      Does anyone else wonder how his older wife falls out of a carriage and dies?

      • Susan Pola Staples

        I’m betting on her being pushed out or drugged and tossed out by her druggie husband. All those hours of Law and Order and CSI have led me to this theory.

        Any other suspects?

  2. picasso Manu

    On behalf of all pigs, who are respectable and sensitive animals, I protest!
    Staked on an anthill? Gelded with manicure scissors?

  3. Roxana

    Thank goodness Anne and Anne finally got out of all those clothes. No wonder poor Anne Walker was frustrated!

    Peter Davidson can be hard to recognize these days. He has nearly snuck past me a time or two. Not that his older, heavier incarnation is unattractive in any way, just different.

    Poor Anne Walker! I was getting suppressed and put upon vibes from her but this is worse than I thought!

      • Roxana

        Dr. Belcomb doesn’t have the vocabulary but he seems to recognize PTSD when he sees it. He grasps that Anne Walker’s problems are rooted in Bad Things that have happened to her. I wonder if he guesses what kind of Bad Thing? How many women, and men too, were wandering through 1830sEngland with unaddressed sexual traumas? Too many would be my guess.

  4. Beth

    The screaming pink dress throws off a theory I’ve been working with. We see Ann Walker in pinks and blues, the occasional lavender or pink and blue plaid. I know that “pink = stereotypical ly girly” wasn’t a trope in period, but it’s seemed to me that the more “under Miss Lister’s spell” she’s been, the bluer her clothing.

    Even in this episode after the screaming pink dress, we’ve seen her in blue when she tells Anne Lister that she’s always felt repugnance at the thought of being with a man and that she always wanted Anne, and in lavender halfway between pink and blue when she “confesses” “her” indiscretion and is sure Anne will reject her.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      I’ve been trying to see if there’s a specific color theory but I think it’s more what’s flattering on the actress. Sophie Rundle looks really good in pale colors. The screaming pink is a change, & it looks OK because of that tone. I think the brightness is, at least at first, because she’s declared “healthy.”

      • Roxana

        That dress certainly is loud, and oddly assertive for Anne W. Anne L’s influence?

        • Sarah

          And in what world would AL want her babygirl in a loud magenta dress like that? No I think AL like her girls soft and pastelish. Soft in the light and soft in the dark. Soft but very much into Anne’s every “firm” move.
          UM HUMM

  5. Lillian

    Interesting. I like how they don’t gloss over the worse parts of the period like child labor and stuff. Although I do wish that we would get some other dress colors besides yellow and pink.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      The yellow, green, & blue like Mrs. Priestly & the Rawson ladies wear are very common in period fashion plates. I think that pastels that Miss Walker wears are mostly because they’re flattering on the actress & it emphasizes the character’s sweetness & vulnerability.

  6. Nono Ono

    I can’t believe you missed showing a screenshot of Anne Lister in her bath with her sexy, hairy armpits! And it’s Anne with an E in Lister and no E in Ann Walker.

    • Lady N

      I noticed her hairy pits and thought it was marvelously true to the period.

      • Sarah

        she grew her armpit hair for months endured raising her infant over her head showing all her underarm hair for 3 seconds of screen time. she needs to shoot wainwright for that little slip-up

  7. Zach

    It’s fun to see Lucy Briers (Mary in P+P 1995) as Mrs. Strickland Rawson– almost like seeing a future (though perhaps more fashionable) Mary ca. 1832

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Ahhh, interesting! I didn’t catch the actress’ name — IMDB hasn’t updated fully, & I didn’t have time to pause the credits on HBO Go.

  8. Harriet Leams

    Why are you so anti-Thomas Sowden? I love that storyline!

    • Trystan L. Bass

      It’s a distraction from the Lister story & weird to throw in this side plot in something that’s ostensibly based on Lister’s diaries.

  9. Lady N

    I am interested in Eugenie’s storyline. They are not delving very deep into her, but I am happy to see a woman of color represented. The actress is quite lovely and has an elegant bearing. Her moment with Ms. Cordingly was sweet and touching. I like the Sowden storyline, too. Ms. Sowden’s relief at the absence of her husband is pretty awesome. Also…DRACARYS to that Ainsworth fucker. So sad that Ann felt any kind of obligation to his raping ass. And. A reverend, no less. I honestly cried as she slowly revealed her story to Ms. Lister.

  10. Kath

    Late to the party because it took some time to get the show here in Germany.
    Minor hiccup, weren’t two of the Washington daughters visiting the Sowden’s pig farm? There are six of them and the elder one looked at bit young to have had six children.