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.
Omg, the episodes are getting more intense as the story continues! Just expect me to swear incessantly in every recap from now on (I mean, that’s pretty much Frock Flicks…). Also, a reminder that I’m mostly screencapping for costumes due to limited time.
Picking up the next morning, Lister is comforting Walker, who has pains in her side again. You could say her illness is psychosomatic because she tends to feel worse when she’s under stress, but also, as someone who’s dealt with chronic migraines, stress is a HUGE trigger for pain. It’s can be a chicken-and-the-egg situation.
Walker is worried about Lister confronting Mr. Ainsworth, and Lister is having NONE of it. She’s gonna defend her honey, a-fucking-men! Then Lister slyly asks to borrow money to sink her coal pit. Walker is all NBD.
Mr. Ainsworth is visiting the Priestlys, full of crocodile tears over his dead wife. FUCK THIS GUY. Mrs. Priestly tells him that Miss Walker was upset by his wife’s death, and she’s clearly pushing a meeting.
There’s an exchange of notes back and forth between Miss Walker and Mr. Ainsworth. As an aside, I love how that was totally a thing in the 19th century, especially in England — notes and letters went around town, and even the country, multiple times with one day! It’s mentioned in so many novels and biographies of the period. Sure, this was slower than texting today, so maybe compare with email, because it was definitely faster than the 21st-century postal service.
Anyway, Ainsworth writes asking to visit, but Walker nopes right out of that. Back at the Priestlys, he feigns being sooo upset. FUCK THIS GUY.
He even has the NERVE to trot out the “joke” that Mrs. Ainsworth suggested Miss Walker should take care of him when his wife was dead. FUCK THIS GUY.
Ainsworth asks if there’s ‘someone else’ in Walker’s romantic life, and Mrs. Priestly is super fast to say ‘noooooo!’
Lister is charming Walker’s friend, Harriet Parkhill with talk about art because, like all proper ladies of the time, Miss Parkhill does a bit of drawing.
While the three ladies are amusing themselves, Mr. Ainsworth just up and tries to visit, even though he knows he’s unwanted. FUCK THAT GUY. Miss Walker tells her footman to tell Ainsworth to GTFO. YAAASS GIRL!!! But he drops off a scrapbook and fucking ‘biographical account’ of himself. FUCK THAT GUY.
Upstairs, Lister is rubbing a soothing balm (TM) on Walker’s back. Walker gets down on herself again, and Lister bucks her up. Waker asks Lister to dispose of some things Ainsworth gave to her — a ring and a Bible inscribed with gross BS.
Later, in bed, Lister talks about a ‘more formal tie’ between them — taking the sacrament together and exchanging rings (which is something that they really did). Walker says, ‘like a wedding?’ It would be private, but yes, that’s the idea. They agree to it.
At breakfast with the Priestlys, Ainsworth receives his shit back ‘unopened.’ HAH. With a note to sent all future correspondence via Shibden Hall. HAH. But Mrs. Priestly says she should go chat with Walker.
Miss Lister arrives! OH YEAH. Ostensibly, she’s here for some business about getting the Hardcastle boy into Mrs. Priestly’s day school. Plus she hints broadly that Mr. Rawson was the cause of the accident that injured the Hardcastle boy. That’s all. La la la…
Mr. Ainsworth runs after Lister and bumbles about being ‘over familiar’ with Miss Walker. Lister is not having it. His excuse is being under the influence of opium due to a toothache. FUCK THAT GUY. Lister says right out, he’ll be exposed as an adulterer and fornicator who inflicted himself on a young girl repeatedly. YES! He tries to say she wanted it, and it takes all of Lister’s restraint not to tear him to shreds. YES YES YES!!!
Some coal talk. Whew. I need a cool down after the intensity of that last scene. Then we’re back at Shibden, where Marian tells Ann that Mr. John Abbot is coming to tea tomorrow and asks, hopefully, if Ann will be there. Answer is no, sad trombone. Lister has business to attend to — she writes to a jeweler, and then goes to the bank to make a withdrawal. Dawwwww.
Over at your favorite pig farm (not mine), eeewwwwww, Mom Snowden finds crazydad’s belt buckle in the pig stye.
Misses Parkhill and Walker are doing standard-issue girl-talk, and Parkhill thinks marrying Mr. Ainsworth is a good idea. Walker says, well, maybe she’s in love with someone else…
And, as if on cue, Mrs. Priestly sneaks in. Ugh, what part of “no visitors” do you people not understand?!? That sends Walker off for a lie down, so Miss Parkhill is left alone to get a vicious download about Miss Lister and the evils of homosexuality circa 1832 from that fucking busybody.
Snowden farm: Mom confronts Thomas about WTF happened to crazydad. Apparently the buckle was a family heirloom. They’re interrupted by the Hardcastle guy, and I hope this is the end of the storyline.
Mr. Ainsworth got Lister’s message alright. He tells the Priestlys he’s backing down from both hooking up with Miss Walker and a church position in town. Buh-bye and good riddance.
However, Miss Parkhill is now freaked out by what Mrs. Priestly told her, so she squeals at Walker: “I think you’re in the worst kind of danger in this world and the next.” Fuuuuuuuck.
Lister gets a note from Walker. She can’t accept a ring right now, she can’t travel right now, she doesn’t say why. Lister writes back and calls first thing in the morning. Parkhill is stuck in a homophobic freak out and leaves the breakfast table.
Walker thinks she should marry Mr. Ainsworth. People are making assumptions about her and Lister, and oh yeah, she heard that two men were recently hanged for homosexuality. Lister explains it’s only illegal for men, not women. But she also says: “If it were a criminal offense, then I would have to put my neck in the noose because I only love the fairer sex, and these feelings haven’t deviated since childhood.”
Walker suggests marrying a man for appearances sake, but that’s exactly what’s happened to Lister before and she is LIVID. That would make her a liar and a cheat. She passionately tells Walker how much she wants her as her own wife, in a way that’s so tender & beautiful, I want to marry her (& I’m pretty damn burnt on the idea of marriage right now). Walker seems to accept Lister’s second proposal.
Feeling on top of the world again, Lister buys a Book of Common Prayer, after a bit of flirting with some ladies, as you do.
A little catching up with the Rawson brothers, and the dog. They talk about stealing Lister’s coal and repeat their mom’s dirty joke about Lister’s hands in Miss Walker’s purse as she gets money for her coal pit.
In Walker’s bedroom, Lister gives the Anne the book, but Walker randomly mentions the crap Mr. Ainsworth gave her. I have a bad feeling about this…
Over at Shibden Hall, Mr. Abbot has come for tea. And he’s talking of knocking down Shibden ‘for the land.’
Then he calls Aunt Lister elderly and ill. Way to make an impression, huh?
Dad asks him about New Zealand and Australia because Abbot has property there, but he’s never been and hates travel. Then he says he’s heard stories about Ann Lister. Gawd, Marian sure can pick a loser.
The trio of Walker, Parkhill, and Lister has turned sour, but Lister is trying to make the best of things. Every activity she suggests is shot down, until Miss Parkhill comes right out and says ‘you don’t have to be here.’ Lister was warned, but nevertheless, she persists. “Let’s have another look at your past perfect,” she says of Parkhill’s art, thus saying the name of this episode. But it doesn’t go anywhere well.
Walker is wilting, thinking she should have kept everything secret. She returns to the idea of marring Mr. Ainsworth because it’d be easier. ‘But I’ll still lend you the money,’ which is utterly insulting to Lister.
She stalks out, trying to resolve to be done with this woman.
GODDAMIT WHO THE FUCK JUST ATTACKED LISTER?!?!!?!?
Wow. I feel put through the wringer again. Episode 6 airs next Monday!