Gentleman Jack Recap, Part 6


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.

Last Thursday, HBO and the BBC announced that Gentleman Jack has been renewed for a second season. While I adore this show and will happily watch more, I’m a little unsure about what would actually happen in another season. The narrative and pacing so far has really set this up to conclude the most important drama of the later part of Lister’s life within these eight episodes. Since writer/director/producer Sally Wainwright would have had to have known a second series was possible when she created this one, I’d have preferred she started earlier in Lister’s story. Compare with The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister (2010), which covers events from about 1816 to 1832, although only in 92 minutes. This earlier film is able to introduce more of Lister’s past lovers and establish the growth of her character in a way that Gentleman Jack doesn’t.

One critique posed of the new series is that it shows Lister as fully confident of herself and invulnerable, and I think the reason for that is this shows her at age 40 after she’s been through a zillion heartbreaks and resolved on what she wants in her life (also, age 40, you’re more confident, amirite?). While a shorter production, Secret Diaries does a more complete job of showing Lister being vulnerable and overcoming the odds to find happiness. She grows, changes, and achieves that sense of resolve throughout the story.

If Wainwright knew she had 16 episodes to tell Lister’s life, why not start earlier in season one? Why not show Marianna Belcombe Lawton breaking Lister’s heart so horribly that she takes to all-black clothing? And introduce  Isabella ‘Tib’ Norcliffe and even Miss Browne, who was a stronger flirtation in the diaries than the movie had time for. Lister’s relationship with Ann Walker was like the final reward for a complicated and frustrating life, so showing more of these earlier events would give a stronger sense of how amazing and accomplished she was.

Ah well, season two won’t begin filming until 2020 and I’d guess we won’t see it on TV for another year after that. So we’ll have a lot of time to guess what’s in it! Now, on to this week’s ep…



Ann returns home after the attack. Mr. Abbot is still visiting (and droning on, boring the family), so she heads to the kitchen for help from a servant, then up to her room. She’s badly hurt, but she plays it off and says she’ll tend to her own wounds.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

I noticed these curling tongs on Anne’s dressing table. Great detail, since that’s how, of course, she has her hair styled.

A package arrived while she was out — the ring. sigh Gutting.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

I predict this style will become the model for lesbian engagement rings from now on.

Next morning, she tells her aunt and Dad that the wounds are from falling off a wall, where she was walking when it was dark. Aunt Lister asks after Miss Walker, and Ann feels sick. Marian follows her, suspicious about the injuries and chiding her sister about being present when Mr. Abbot visits next with his mother. Not exactly a sisterly commiseration there, Marian! Sheesh.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Lister goes and writes “Mary” aka Marianna Lawton, her old flame who visited for dinner and a quickie in episode one and was also seen reading a letter from Ann in episode four. Lister asks for recommendations for a groom (since her last one died previous to the series start; remember, he was the guy who knocked up Eugénie) — it’s not clear why Marianna would be the best source of recs, but then it’s not like there’s Yelp in the 1830s with a category for Horse Servants where you’d look up “Grooms” closest to Halifax.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Looks like she’s wearing the same yellow dress from episode 4 under that red print coat.

Marianna writes back with the name of a guy who’ll manage Lister’s carriage when traveling abroad. And she asks if Anne (or “Fred” as she calls her old lover) will be traveling with Miss Walker because she mentioned Walker twice as ‘my friend’ in letters. That’s apparently Lister’s code for ‘ladies I fuck.’

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Interesting how rich & dark red her parlor is compared to Miss Walker’s pastel yellow & pink home. Marianna’s place is more adult? More sexual?

Aunt Lister tells Anne says she found Mr. Abbot abrasive and a know-it-all. But it would be a great comfort to know both her girls are settled. Alas, Anne admits it may be off between her and Miss Walker. Aunt asks who she’ll travel with, and Anne says she’ll go alone. Aunt says “do people do that, ladies?” which isn’t exactly the title of the episode (“Do Ladies Do That?”), but it’s close.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

In the business world, Lister tells Mr. Washington that sinking the coal pit is on hold. Talks with Jeremiah Rawson are back on.

Mr. Washington’s daughter, Suzannah, talks with Thomas Sowden in the road — did I call this as a romantic setup or what? She comments, ‘what you been feeding that pig on?’ ‘All sorts.’ LOL

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Appropriate fabric, that’s the best I can say.

Walker has a nightmare about her and Lister being publicly hung for being gay.

Gentleman Jack (2019)


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But Lister is still there & supportive!

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Despite the fucking nosy bigoted Mrs. Priestleys of the world.

She wakes up a wreck. Folks, that’s what the patriarchy and toxic heterosexuality can do to people :(

Meanwhile, Jeremiah Rawson tries to negotiate with Lister, insinuating that he and his brother know her circumstances have changed. Fucker. Lister admits to her dad that she was beaten up and suspects the Rawsons had it done. She also tells him that they were responsible for running the Hardcastles off the road.

Lister is called over to Walker’s place by Miss Catherine Rawson. She’s replaced Harriet Parkhill as Walker’s attendant, and last we saw Rawson was when she and Walker went to the Lake District in episode 2.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Miss Rawson wore this pink dress in ep 2, but now it’s without lace, much more subdued.

Walker is kind of crazed after her nightmares and she’s been hearing voices. She acts desperate to see Lister, more scared than anything.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

At Shibden Hall, Aunt and Dad receive a note saying Anne won’t be home for the night. In the kitchen, now Eugénie is flirting with Walker’s servant, right in front of the guy who would have married her to cover for her pregnancy. HOW RUDE.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

That night in Walker’s bedroom, she’s hearing things and thinks the voices or spirits or whatever are threatening Lister. Catherine wakes up as well, and the two women comfort Walker in the middle of the night.

At breakfast, Lister suggests taking Walker to Dr. Belcombe in York again. But she asks Miss Rawson not to tell the extended family out of fear that they’ll try to have Walker put away. Rawson is impressed by Lister’s show of genuine care and friendship for Walker and admits she’d heard nasty rumors (in ep 2, she’d told Ann she heard Lister ‘couldn’t be trusted around women’), and now she apologizes.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Rawson’s dark green dress fits the serious scene.

Walker’s sister, Elizabeth, and brother-in-law receive a letter about Ann’s condition. The husband suggests bringing Ann to Scotland, and DUDE, it’s so obvious that Elizabeth is overwhelmed with a newborn and two little kids, that she can’t take care of her presumed-crazy sister too. Then this fucking brother-in-law says, hey, I could get your sister, plus bring my mom to visit. OMG, nobody needs that right now. Fucking men.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Btw, they mention that the kid laying down has measles. So why bring sickly Walker there? This is a pre-vaccine era, FFS! (Unlike now, so get all your vaccinations, ppl!)

Mr. John Abbott is back at Shibden Hall, boring the shit out of all and sundry. Bonus, his mom is there, looking dumpy and seeming dull. Anne is not going to want Marian married into that family!

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Lots of plaid on boring folks.

Miss Suzannah Washington and the Young Pig Farmer Dad-Killer are making cute in the forest. Whatevs.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Season 2 is going to be all about them, isn’t it? Zzzzzzz….

Marian informs Anne about something with the access road, filling in the pit, what’s on Shibden land vs. Rawson land.

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Marian gives an exasperated look directly at the camera.

Lister’s coal biz is getting kinda fucked.

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It’s another bad night for Miss Walker.

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Fucking Walker’s brother-in-law writes that he’s coming down to ‘collect’ her. Catherine Rawson talks up the good side of the Scotland trip, Lister seems resigned to this course of action, Walker is not thrilled by the idea. She wants to travel with Lister in spring. Lister says she’ll go alone. Catherine asks “do ladies do that?” — OK, there’s the proper episode title!

Gentleman Jack (2019)

This is kind of a hideous floral, but it’s very period.

Lister offers Walker the ring. Her third proposal. Walker finally says, ‘I can’t’.  ARE Y’ALL SOBBING WITH ME?!?!?

Gentleman Jack (2019)

She writes to Marianna to say that she’ll be traveling abroad alone, but hey, if you wanna meet up with me somewhere, that’s cool. STILL SOBBING.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

She’s got those rich, bright colors, now an orange damask. Also, she has two dogs (noted for Kendra).

Breakfast at Shibden. Marian hasn’t heard from Mr. Abbott in nearly three weeks, and she blames Anne’s absence at his visits as the reason for his dropping her.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Aunt Lister says Anne’s been ill — she’s wrapped in a blanket & holds a hankie.

Walker sends a note full of regret as she’s about to be taken away to Scotland. JFC, way to toy with Lister’s affections! But, of course, Lister heads over. At Walker’s home, her brother-in-law, Capt. Sutherland is in charge, there with his mother (wtf?) and Miss Rawson.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Sutherland wears a purple coat & a red print waistcoat, quite posh.

Walker insists that Lister stay for the night, because y’know, she needs some lovin’ before leavin’.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

But Lister kind of breaks down in bed, about how she tries to rise above the everyday hurts of being so different and so out in a world that does not want her to be. CRYING AGAIN. Then, before she leaves, Walker gives Lister a gift — an inscribed Bible. Because that’s how they rolled back in the day.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Mumsy Sutherland asks Lister if she knew of any love affairs that Walker had going on. Because two years ago, her nephew Sir Alexander McKinsey had proposed, but oh he’s inept with money and has family to support, so y’know, even though Walker said no, it’d be useful for him to make this kind of match. Lister tells off the old biddy because fuck that fortune-hunting noise.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

When she leaves, Walker wears the little gondola pin that Lister gave her before Walker went to the Lake District. It’s a symbol that they’ll be thinking of each other while they’re apart and that they hope to be soon reunited.

Gentleman Jack (2019)



Well where is this going?!? We’ll see when episode 7 airs 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.”

25 Responses

  1. pmhermes

    I would never presume to correct you as I have thoroughly enjoyed these recaps, but I have a similar item to the one on Lister’s dressing table and it is a glove stretcher.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      I have two antique curling irons that look like hers, & given that there was a hair-dressing scene, it made sense. Perhaps the various tools are just similar?

      • Debbie Farthing

        I think curling irons would have wooden handles or you couldn’t hold them. They look really similar but what’s on the table are glove stretchers.

  2. Meredith Bohn

    I was puzzled by the attack as it certainly makes sense that the Rawsons were behind it, they certainly seem like the type to use this tactic…BUT the the attacker warned her off Miss Walker?! I don’t know that the Rawsons are clever enough to misdirect like that? Wondering if someone else is behind it….
    I really felt for Anne when she was walking back and expressing that every time she thought she was coping with rejection and that Ann was too timid….she was drawn right back in!! very real….

    • Trystan L. Bass

      I wonder if she was just telling her dad that — or maybe trying to convince herself that, to avoid the idea of homophobia? IDK. While, at first, the attack seemed connected to Lister’s affair with Walker, it could also be that the Rawsons suspected she was getting money from Walker for a new coal pit (which their mom hinted at, however crudely). So a mix of both perhaps.

      And oh she’s so torn up about Walker! Just heart-wrenching.

    • Rikibeth

      I’m thinking the measles wouldn’t be a concern for Ann’s health just because she’d already have had them in childhood…as it was almost impossible to avoid them.

  3. Roxana

    Poor Ann, I don’t blame her for being terrified to the point of nightmares. Being with Anne openly is a huge deal that will change her whole life forever and Ann is not a woman accustomed to taking chances. But as Anne pointed out Lesbianism is not a criminal offense though male homosexuality is – which is kind of interesting in itself – and anyway I think they stopped hanging gays at about this time. You recall Oscar Wilde served a prison sentence instead.
    Is that a black pearl ring?
    According to wikipedia, after their marriage Anne and Ann did a lot of traveling on the continent including mountain climbing for Anne. You could get a few good plots out of that. And the arguments about money mentioned in comments on the last episode.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      The laws against homosexual acts are very contradictory & arbitrary, alas.

      When she ordered the ring, Lister said what kind of gems it was, but dang, I can’t remember now!

        • Roxana

          Interesting choice. Was onyx a fashionable stone at the time or did it have some meaning for Anne?

          • Lady Hermina DePagan

            Onyx was believed to be a symbol of strength, calm, and stability in the regency. Diamonds meant pure love and fidelity. It was common in the period to have hidden meanings or secret messages based on the stones used in a wedding/engagement ring.
            You can almost see that Ann was trying to protect Anne by the careful choice of ring she wanted her to wear. That is absolutely beautiful.

  4. jvs

    Starting the series in her later years was likely purposeful by Wainwright, showing the final love interest in Anne’s life (with the best outcome Anne could have had, given the crap choice she had with either married women or women on their way to marriage). While there were many other trysts she had, Mariana Belcombe Lawton was, seemingly the love of Anne’s life. Bravo to her for not settling for second best. Wainwright shows her highly principled views, when she gives that speech in the previous episode (not wanting to take Walker’s money nor be with her if Walker were to marry a man for appearance sake.) Miss Walker was a prudent choice from an intellectual standpoint for Anne, but Wainwright shows the evolution of her flirtation changing into love–falling for her more deeply–than she thought she would… What is it about lesbians and being cray cray?! I have to say it’s an irritation in modern life too.
    BTW, The dream sequence was amazeballs! I’m not crying you are…

      • Theresa

        I love your recaps. I spent the weekend reading 2 Anne Lister biographies! They did extensive traveling after their marriage. I’d love to see that in season 2.

    • Roxana

      It’s unfair to call Ann cray-cray. She is suffering from PTSD and faced with a fairly devestating choice. Everybody can’t be as self aware, strong minded and courageous as Anne. She is exceptional regardless of sexual preference.

  5. Lillian

    Mumsy Sutherland’s outfit makes me super happy for some reason. It’s like every “old biddy” outfit combined into one!

  6. Roxana

    Am I the only straight viewer who thinks Anne Lister is looking better and better as a prospective mate? Tender, supportive and unbelievably patient. Not to mention good looking with a snappy dress sense.

    • Susan Pola Staples

      No, you’re not. Anne Lister is a wonderful choice for a spouse. I’m straight and feel the same. I cried along with Anne in these scenes. So poignant and at times full of hope.

      It looks like Miss Catherine Rawson is someone who thinks for herself. Not like Miss Rampant Homophobic spy or Nosy Gossip Neighbor.

      I’m wondering if the Edinburgh MD treatment will have to do with a hysterectomy bc he’ll diagnose she’s oversexed, etc.

      • Roxana

        I interpret Miss Rawson’s attitude as ‘I don’t know how I feel about your sexuality but I can see you are a good and caring person, not a predator.’
        Did they do hysterectomies that long ago?

        • Susan Pola Staples

          1830s not sure but I do know that they were done during the late Victorian Era as well as drugging women senselessly.

          Any Frock Flicks fans with more medical knowledge, please feel free to comment.

  7. Myra Edwards.

    When will you do the next installment of The Duchess Deep Dive?

  8. Lily

    Maybe the 2nd season will go back in time to show more about Mariana Lawson and Tib… even if it’s as flashbacks. We shall see!