Every season, the Drama After Dark team gathers ‘round the conference room table to watch the latest and greatest in British dramas, often courtesy of our friends in MASTERPIECE. And let me tell you, 2020 is already off to a great start as far as we’re concerned, because we get to enjoy their newest offering: Sanditon. The show is based on Jane Austen’s unfinished final manuscript, and stars a whole host of truly charming and attractive actors. So, in the grand tradition of media writers, I’m here to recap the season as it happens just in case you, dear reader, miss an episode and haven’t yet been able to catch up on WGBH Passport.

We’re back in our favorite seaside destination just in time to see the trades back at work building Tom Parker's personal Tower of Babel. Sidney wakes up on a table in Cheers: Sanditon looking sexily disheveled, and like all people suffering from a misguided hangover, is not thrilled about the nearby construction. In the tradition of bros the world over, Crowe and Babs show up to make fun of Sidney's struggling self.

Babs: Wow, Sidney, you look like CRAP.
Crowe: I bet that's what Charlotte said when she saw him swimming.

Woman says "Ha ha ya burnt!"

Meanwhile, back at the Parker house, Charlotte is once again getting distracted by the portraits of Sidney. Mom Parker asks if Charlotte had a fun walk, and Charlotte, brilliantly skirting the truth, tells her she went to gather some shells. Did anything impressive catch her eye? THAT question prompts Charlotte to enter a fugue state flashback to Sidney's whole... situation. Let's just say that said flashback gives us a more unobstructed view than we got at the end of episode 2. Charlotte, snapping out of her reverie, tells Mom Parker that she didn't see anything and that she "came back empty-handed." I hope someone gives the writer of this episode a raise for that line alone.

Having escaped with her innuendos unnoticed, Charlotte heads off to sort through papers in the study when Sidney and Tom walk in. Like any normal person would, Charlotte panic-hides under the table, but gets spotted by Tom almost immediately. She pulls the "Oh, I found the paper I was looking for!" trick, which, credit where credit is due, works pretty well. Tom keeps haranguing Sidney for not bringing enough people to town, and Sidney, caught between a rock (older brother) and a hard place (awkward crush) decides to peace out of town and head back to London.

The specter of naked Sidney thus exorcised (for now) Charlotte and Mom Parker head to the beach for a walk. Mom Parker is kind of annoyed with Tom; he won't chill out about Sanditon and he won't let anyone help him unless they trick him into it. Hmm, I wonder if this unintentional advice will help Charlotte later on in this very episode? They get back to the house just in time to see Tom leaving to bring something back that he's convinced will help fix Sanditon. Does he tell them where he's going? NOPE. Mom Parker is understandably not thrilled, but what can you do?

Across town, Georgiana and the interchangeable gals she runs with are making art by the shore while the priest pontificates on resisting temptation, Adam and Eve, and why young ladies should keep it in their pants and not ask too many questions. We look at the paintings: Tweedles Dum and Dee have done nice seascapes, but Georgiana has created something which is apparently so horrifying we can’t show it on screen. Governess pulls a reverse Draco Malfoy, i.e. "Your guardian will hear about this!"

Angry boy says "my father will hear about this!"

Back in town, Young Stringbean really needs to chat with Tom Parker, who's just left. Charlotte, ever helpful, tries to offer her services but gets shut down. Sidney is about to follow in Tom's footsteps and get the heck out of Sanditon, but gets called back at the last minute to deal with Georgiana's shenanigans. His bros have a predictably hilarious reaction.

Crowe: UGH this is almost as annoying to deal with as having a bastard, but without the, y'know, sex. Lame.
Babs: Speaking of sex, I'm gonna go see what Folgers Sister is up to. Toodles!

Babs is quickly becoming the most relatable character in this show; it's tough to argue with the hotness that is Folgers Sister. As expected, she shuts him down, because he's not rich enough and she's only interested in her brother. Unfortunately for him, he's apparently into being negged, and her continued disdain only fuels his flame, as it were. Bless.

Back at Unwanted Found Family Junction, Georgiana tells Sidney she’s bored AF and that’s why she’s painting what I have to assume are nudes. Their conversation goes pretty much as follows:

Sidney: I am also bored to tears here in Sanditon, but that's life, baby.
Georgiana: Lame, and also you look like you slept in a dumpster, what's wrong with you?
Sidney (hangover intensifying): UGH YOU’RE WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME; BYE.

Two grown adults get into a childish slap fight

Obviously, he runs into Charlotte, who's here to girl talk with Georgiana, on the way out. Georgiana, ready as always to talk smack about Sidney, asks Charlotte what she thinks of him. Charlotte tells her she thinks he's "confounding" which translates to "Ugh; I'm into him" in regency-speak.

A woman mists herself with a spray bottle

Tom Parker is back and visiting Lady D. The surprise Sanditon-saving thing he went to go get? It's a doctor! Lady D is enraged, because in a delightful plot point that I swear is also in the book, she has healing dairy donkeys which she refers to as Milch Asses (and no, she’s not talking about the Tall White Butts from episode 1). Lady D is convinced that the combination of the magical waters of Sanditon and the Milch of the Asses are all that's needed to cure people. Nevertheless, the doctor, much like Santa Claus, is still coming to town. His name is Doctor Fuchs, and he's unctuous, German, and in Tom's mind, a mega superstar.

Charlotte, trying her best to help Young Stringbean, is out looking for Tom and of course runs into Sidney again.

Charlotte: If you want to be such a loner, go somewhere private!
Sidney: Well you see I TRIED that, but you seem to have had me LoJacked.

The uncomfortable silence that follows is broken by Tom Parker, who insists that everyone hie to Lady D's house to see Dr. Fuchs do his thing. On the way over, Arthur and Dianna Parker continue to delight with their extensive list of made up ailments. Luckily (?) for them, Dr. Fuchs has the cure: mud, and parasitic worms.

Folgers Sister: These worms are gross, let's call that one Clara.
Me, has more in common with Babs than I'd like to admit:

A man dreamily gazes at someone off camera

Folgers Brother uses this opportunity to ingratiate himself with Lady D by pointing out his knowledge of her hatred of doctors. She's not that impressed, and neither is Clara when Folgers Brother pulls her aside to gloat about how he and Folgers Sister are going to win the competition for Lady D's money. Clara, who's a much better schemer than Folgers Brother, reminds him of their woods sexcapades. He pretends he's over it but you know what?

A man says "I don't believe you."

Folgers Sister is, as usual, more successful in her plan, which is to remind Lady D that Clara is drafting off of Lady D's money and should probably go away. Lady D thinks Dr. Fuchs should probably go away, but before she can kick him out, he hooks everyone with the promise of an exciting health machine he's invented. What could it be? Everyone gathers round and he unveils: a shower. Literally. Someone will have to try it out, and seeing her chance to one up Folgers Sister, Clara volunteers.

Back in town, things at the construction site are not going well. Skilled laborers (including Stringbean's dad, Elder Stringbean) are having to do grunt work because there isn't enough money to pay more workers. Young Stringbean is about one day away from pulling a Norma Rae.

At Lady D's, Clara uses the shower changing room to her full advantage, taking of her dress to scandalously show off her... upper back? Folgers Brother is, of course, all about it. Clara is clearly enjoying the shower (obviously; showers are great) when she notices the hot water tank. Clearly Clara is not messing around, because she proceeds to burn the crap out of her arm on the tank ON PURPOSE. This has the intended effect of a) getting Lady D back on her side and b) giving Clara a chance to swoon and be carried off by Folgers Brother. Lady D, given her opportunity, kicks the doctor out immediately; Tom is very sad, as are Arthur and Diana, who were hoping Dr. Fuchs would fix their many issues.

The Folgers Siblings, having had enough excitement for the day, head home. Folgers Sister is pissed at Folgers Brother for helping Clara, but he points out that it wouldn't look good to not help her.

Folgers Sister: Oh my god, dude, everyone knows she did it on purpose.
Folgers Brother (wrong): No one is THAT sneaky.
Folgers Sister:

Man sings "wrong wrong wrong wrong"

Charlotte goes to talk to Young Stringbean. She’s got a note from Tom Parker, but it's clear that whatever the note has to offer is not good enough. Despite Stringbean's disappointment, he and Charlotte have a nice chat where they both agree that building the town is fun. Stringbean tells her that he'd like to build his own town someday, but that his dad isn't into it; Elder Stringbean doesn't want him to have ideas above his station. Charlotte encourages him: ambition is good! They're having a cute moment when tragedy strikes: the Elder Stringbean, who's trying to do too much, falls off a ladder. Charlotte springs into action, as does Sidney, who happens to be loitering nearby. Charlotte, who knows her stuff, is attempting to make a tourniquet with her petticoat but can't get it to rip. Thankfully, Sidney is there to help. I know it’s an emergency but I wish he’d ripped it with his teeth.

Man says "oh my god!" and bites his fist

Thankfully, Dr. Fuchs hasn't left yet, but even so the prognosis is dire: they'll need to set the leg, and there's a chance they might need to amputate. Sidney and Charlotte stay to help, and kick out Young Stringbean, because per Sidney, no one should see their dad in such pain. The leg is saved, and in his excitement Young Stringbean is a skosh overly familiar with Charlotte, but she says it's NBD. Sidney and Charlotte have a debrief:

Sidney: You did good today, kid! Better than I thought.
Charlotte: Because I’m a woman or because you thought I was frivolous?
Sidney: Fair point. I’m sorry.
Charlotte: Well I was mean to you too — I guess you're kinda helpful. But you should be nicer to Georgiana, she's lonely! Aw crap-dammit, now you're going to yell at me again.
Sidney: No, I asked — you’re right. Also, sorry you saw me naked, hope you weren't embarrassed about it.
Charlotte: Why would I be embarrassed? I was wearing clothes.

They both close talk and pretend they’re not thinking about the other one naked, but they're not fooling ANYONE.

Back at Lady D’s house, Clara is milking all the sympathy she can get. It’s not working on Folgers Sister, who implies that Clara is faking. Lady D, completely taken in by Clara's lies, tells Folgers Sister to stop being a jerk, so she has to read a book to Clara to make nice until Lady D leaves and they can trash talk in private:

Folgers Sister: You did this to yourself, right?
Clara: Prove it. You can’t get rid of me, and also your brother is REALLY easy to seduce, did you know?

Folgers Sister hauls off and digs her nails into the burn and Clara doesn’t even flinch. It's basically this gif; Clara and Folgers Sister are the dude, and normal human people are the other two.

Two women cover their mouths in horror, while a man grins

Elder Stringbean gets discharged from Dr. Fuch's, and Younger Stringbean, understandably furious, gives Tom a piece of his mind for not running everything properly. Basically, if the doctor hadn't been there, Elder Stringbean might have died, and even as is he was badly injured for no reason. Tom, feeling bad and emboldened by this knowledge, heads back to argue with Lady D about the benefits of having an actual medical professional around. She's not feeling it after having been "witness to Clara's immolation" but Tom finally puts his foot down.

Having won his doctor battle, Tom catches up with Young Stringbean, who, a victim of class structure, tries to apologize for being right. Tom, however, stops him: Tom was the one at fault, and the accident has made him realize that this work site is not OSHA-compliant. The verdict: Stringbean shall have more staff! Tom heads home, were he tells Mom Parker everything is ok, but obviously he's full of it. Lady D is pissed at him, and it's not clear if he actually has the cash to pay the additional workers he promised Young Stringbean.

At Folgers manor, Folgers Sister breaks the news to Folgers Brother that Clara is indeed a worthy opponent. Game having recognized game, the siblings chastely hold hands (it's still weird).

Back in the land of healthy family dynamics, Charlotte is playing with the Parker kids. They’re having a play naval battle with Uncle Sidney. He’s trying to make the game historically accurate (lol) and Charlotte suggest that perhaps we could rewrite history if it’s disagreeable. I love the metaphor but also worry about her education. Based on the game, Charlotte comes up with a great idea. They pitch it to Tom, who immediately runs off to tell Mom Parker, like so:

Tom: MARY I HAD A GREAT IDEA! Let’s have a regatta!
Sidney: Um, it was Charlotte's idea, dude.
Charlotte: No biggie.
Tom: No no, credit where it’s due — Charlotte prompted me come up with the idea!

A woman rolls her eyes

Tom is still a bit bummed. He’s running out of cash. He asks Sidney for help, and despite the second thoughts he's having, Sidney agrees to try. Arm-twisting complete, Tom gathers everyone for a nice evening walk on the beach. Mom Parker gently tells Tom he should actually be around for the family a bit more. It’s cute. Also cute is the nice moment between Sidney and Charlotte, where he asks her to keep an eye on Georgiana because he trusts her now. The tide is turning — literally AND figuratively!

Before Sidney can skip town again, he has a chat with Georgiana where they both agree that they've been acting rude to each other and agree to do better. That handled, and Sidney farewelled, Georgiana heads over to her desk and pulls out a half written letter and, hidden in her cleavage, a tiny photo of a cute boy! Will we ever meet this mystery hunk? Find out next week!

Episode 1 Recap: The Hamptons of Old Timey England
Episode 2 Recap: This Pineapple's The Bomb
Episode 3 Recap: Y'all Need OSHA
Episode 4 Recap: (Third) Wheelin' and Dealin'
Episode 5 Recap: Baseball, But Make it Fraught with Sexual Tension
Episode 6 Recap: Ballin' on a Budget
Episode 7 Recap: Something's Regatta Give
Episode 8 Recap: Great Balls of Fire