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 Sanditon and Charlotte is looking real sad. Why? Because she’s watching Lady D’s VERY still body. But don't panic, gentle reader:

A man says "I'm not dead yet!"

Per Dr. Fuchs, Lady D's condition is still very serious and she likely won’t last the night. Clara starts sobbing crocodile tears, Folgers Bro goes to “pay his respects” i.e. hover creepily by the bed hoping to get a last dig in, and Folgers Sister actually looks legit upset. The Parker family heads out, with Mary suggesting that they might want to postpone the regatta, given the situation. Tom's not into that plan: if Lady D dies, they'll be without an investor and fully bankrupt. This is obviously a bitter pill for Mom Parker to swallow, but she asked for honesty, so swallow she does.

Across town, Georgiana has also taken to her bed. Frankly, this is a huge mood and if anyone's earned a good wallow on this show, it's Georgiana. Governess doesn't agree, and lets Sidney in to visit against Georgiana's protests. He does the typical “helpful” friend thing of making a beeline to open the curtains (why do people do that?) and seems to actually be making an effort at being nice. Sidney tells Georgiana he knows he’s been a crap guardian, and wants to make it up to her, but Georgiana isn't having that, and responds with some lyrics from theater-nerd karaoke standard "The Confrontation" from Les Misérables specifically, "men like you can never change."

Hopefully Georgiana is ok with a visit from Charlotte, because she's on her way over there when she runs into Stringbean, who's pretty jazzed since he’s hardly seen her since she got back from London.

Charlotte, employing a classic brushoff: We should fix that, let’s get coffee sometime!
Stringbean, missing the memo: Great, I’m gonna schedule it!
Charlotte: Ok, whatever.
Stringbean’s best friend who’s standing right there:

A man gasps excitedly

Charlotte gets waylaid for a brief chat with Sidney on the way up to Georgiana's room. Sidney says she’ll probably be more popular with Georgiana (duh) and that he “might” wait for her downstairs if she doesn’t mind.

Stringbean’s friend from off screen, probably:

A judge says "Oooooooh! whilst banging his gavel repeatedly"

At Lady D’s, Clara and Esther have a chat. I'm sure it'll be completely civil and won't lead to a single shocking revelation!

Clara: Why is Folgers Bro taking SO long in there? Lady D doesn’t even talk any more.
Folgers Sister: He’s being respectful, you might want to consider it. Also I’m not gonna fight with you any more, there never was a will so this whole thing is done.
Clara: LOL, you thought! There sure was a will, but it was ridonkulous so we burned it, and Eddie and I agreed to go dutch on the cash.
Folgers Sister: Yeah right, he wouldn’t conspire with you.
Clara: Oh, he totally would, we’re… very close.
Folgers Sister: You're lying.
Clara, not subtle: Oh, we both were. On the big ‘ol snake floor. He was… eager. Your experience also?

Esther slaps her, but let's be real, Clara seems like the kind of person who was probably at least a little into that. True to form, she gets in one last dig about how the Folgers Siblings must've never actually gone all the way, which TBH seems like a win for Folgers Sister.

Back at Georgiana's place, Charlotte and Sidney talk it out.

Charlotte: You have to be patient with G; she’s heartbroken, and you know how much that sucks.
Sidney: Oof, yeah, I guess? But stuff gets better, even for the jaded like this moi.
Charlotte: LOL, you have emotions, nice.
Sidney: Don’t tell! I have a reputation!

Yes, this is very cute, but I'm missing my Georgiana and Charlotte BFF time!

A woman says "C'mon girls, sit down! We'll gossip!"

Back at Lady D’s, Folgers Sister is waiting in the lobby to beat Folgers Brother about the head and hind (at least I hope). He leaves Lady D’s room and tells Folgers Sister he thinks Lady D will kick it soon via an impression of Dr. Fuchs that would be funny if we weren't rapidly approaching Lady D's demise. Folgers Sister cold-shoulders him and heads in to pay her respects, since she's apparently the only one who gives a crap. Folgers Sister sits by Lady D and spills a whole party's worth of tea: no one cares about you, I feel bad that we only cared about your money, and I realized too late how crappy that was. It made you cruel and unpleasant and die unloved, and it made Folgers Bro, who I loved, into an asshat. He betrayed us both with CLARA, of all people, and then they boinked on the giant snake floor AND burned the will. I hope you find happiness in heaven, because it SUCKS down here.

Tom, meanwhile, frantically plans for the regatta. The agenda? Sandcastle competition, break for lunch, fisherman’s boat race, gentlemen's amateur rowing. Honestly, sounds like a pretty fun day, if only some people would show up! Tom’s actually pretty subdued, for Tom. I’m gonna be honest, this is not my favorite look on him. Bring back my golden retriever goofball! The kids let us know that Uncle Sidney is here, and he’s brought a pretty lady. Who could it be!?

A woman rolls her eyes

Charlotte is all bummed out, because obviously it’s the ex, and this doesn’t bode well for her newly recognized feels. Also bummed out? Sidney, who gives Charlotte a very sullen look across the room. I’m not into this: please don’t keep two ladies on the hook, Sidney! Charlotte might be doing the same thing with Sidney and Stringbean, but she’s NOT AWARE OF IT. Be better, dude.

The writers apparently know they need to make this behaviour up to me because we smash cut to another nude bathing scene, featuring Mr. Abs himself. Alas, we don’t get quite as good of a lookyloo as last time, but you take what you can get in these trying times!

Oliver Twist says "Please sir... I want some more?"

Back at Lady D’s, the Folgers Siblings wait around for Lady D to die. Folgers Bro, still a total clown, says if he’d known it would take this long he’d have gone to sleep in his bed, and Folgers Sister, who’s done with his crap, says maybe he’d be more comfy on the floor (Stringbean's friend, offscreen somewhere: ooooh!). He doesn’t have time to process that comment, because Dr. Fuchs runs in to let everyone know that Lady D has taken a turn for the better — her fever broke, and she might recover yet!

Out in town, the family Parker is out for a stroll. Tom is a little worried that more people aren’t here, but Mom Parker, who seems to be back on team Parker (to be fair, what’s her alternative?) says maybe they’re all down by the river already (in a van, presumably). Statler and Waldorf make their way to the race.

Babs: Huh, maybe we should’ve practiced for this thing?
Crowe: LOL nah: practicing is cheating, and let's be real, I’m never not hungover enough to practice. Also, why are you looking around, Folgers Sister is not into you!
Babs: Noooooo I know, I’m not into her anymore.

A man says "You know, like a liar."

Down at the beach, we finally get some input from Sidney’s ex, Whatsherface, who I don't completely hate on sight.

Whatsherface: The last regatta I went to had Arab stallions, the one before that nice boats, but nothing beats a sandcastle competition!
Sidney: Yeah, and this one is extra dope because look at the cool thing my nephew made with this cute girl I’m into! Wait, did I say that out loud?

The ladies side eye each other hard, and Whatsherface delivers a very catty but frankly FAIR “Yes, nice sandcastle work, CHILDREN” before they scoot off to look at Tom’s bathing machines. She obviously knows that Charlotte’s A Thing for Sidney and does a little digging about it, while Sidney pretends he doesn't know what she's talking about. She’s not dumb, I’ll give her that.

Did you think I forgot about my favorite Parker, Arthur? I did not. He's going to join the boat race because there's a Parker brothers rowing team and he is, in fact, a Parker brother. Diana is predictably worried about this, but for once she might be right given that Arthur is apparently prone to water-based motion sickness. A fancy carriage has arrived, and guess who is in it? It's Lady mother-freakin' Susan! It's about time; we needed someone whose wittiness isn’t completely predicated on being a jerk. Arthur and Diana are positively gleeful, which is the only acceptable response to a Susan sighting (say that ten times fast).

At the seaside, Tom's handing out ribbons to the kiddos for their beach creations when Arthur and Diana run up and inform him that Susan is near. Tom immediately gets so flustered he can’t remember who’s won the sandcastle thing, and runs off with his siblings and Charlotte to go make sure Susan is having fun. Because Arthur and Diana called her by her actual fancy lady name, Charlotte hasn’t yet realized that she’s already befriended this Legend Status Broad, who, we find out, has been hooking up with the Prince Regent. Dang, Susan, get it girl! Tom tries to give her the Sanditon pitch, but Susan, hilarious as ever, literally shushes him, says him she doesn’t give a FIG about the sea, and is here to hang out with Charlotte. Tom is flabbergasted, but hey, that’s life!

At Lady D’s, Clara and Folgers Bro run in to tell her how happy they are that she’s well again and that they’re very happy that Dr. Fuchs saved her.

A woman excitedly walks through a door

Lady D, always on brand, tells them Dr. Fuchs didn’t have anything to do with it; it was the ASS MILCH. Then she delivers this absolutely incredible series of burns:

Lady D: Dry your eyes, kiddos, dying sucked and I’m not doing it again. And guess what, you dinguses: I know you burned my will, and that you boinked on my awesome snake floor.

Of course, the aforementioned dinguses immediately turn on each other, which only confirms what Lady D already knew. Evidence in hand, she tells them they’re not to darken her doorstep again and that Folgers Bro is disowned, Clara is on the next coach back to London, and she's replacing the floor in the drawing room because all the Clorox in the world can’t fix what they did. Oh and Folgers Sister, welcome to the big leagues: you’re Lady D's last remaining heir.

Susan and Charlotte walk in the park, and Susan recaps the situation as she understands it: Lady D is on her deathbed, Georgianna is eating ice cream and wallowing, and Charlotte hasn’t told Sidney she’s into him yet.

Charlotte: Uhhhh, I’m not actually into him!
Susan: Don’t lie, kid, I know the truth.
Charlotte: Even if I WAS into him, he’s spoken for now.
Susan: Ugh, I know about Whatsherface. She’s LOADED and hot; a strong opponent. But we can find the chink in her armor.

Is Susan a witch? Because Whatsherface is right behind them, summoned as if by magic so Susan can start finding said weaknesses. Charlotte, meanwhile, sees Stringbean across the park and runs over to say hi. It turns out that this is a great time for that "coffee" because Charlotte needs to go set up for the race, and he can walk her there.

Meanwhile, the Brothers Parker take the time when they should be prepping for the race to do some gossiping.

Tom: Sidney, you seem happy, and I know why! It’s Whatsherface, soon to be renamed Mrs. Parker when you get marrieeeeed!
Sidney: Woah, pump the breaks!
Tom: Uh, why? You’ve been into her forever and she’s a catch and a half.
Sidney: I have indeed been on the hook for her for a long time, so it’s hard to believe this will work out.
Arthur: Dude, all I knew about you for a while is that you literally went on a multi-year bender on the other side of the planet because she broke your heart. I'm not sure you SHOULD trust her.


A woman says "you're doing amazing, sweetie."

Everyone in Sanditon apparently thought "Regatta who? I'd rather talk about feelings!" because Stringbean and Charlotte are doing the same thing.

Stringbean: Looks like the race is going to be a success thanks to you!
Charlotte: Yeah, I’ve been using it as a distraction.
Stringbean: From whaaaaat?
Charlotte: Uh, hard to say.
Stringbean: I might be able to help, we might share the same thoughts.
Charlotte, thinking about Sidney naked on the beach: I doubt it? You’re sensible enough to not have a pointless crush.
Stringbean, barreling towards a misunderstanding: Why say pointless, your feelings might be returned!
Charlotte, unintentionally ruining Stringbean's life: I thought maybe for a second, but now I know I was wrong. But whatevs I’m fine! You were right, you are a good listener.

Across town, Georgiana's attempts to deal with her breakup in peace are not going to plan.

A crying woman brandishes a wine glass and says "I just wanted to listen to Taylor Swift alone."

Gross Priest is praying at her, and she's not into it. In fact, she’d rather be crucified that listen to his BS. Before Gross Priest has a chance to really digest that blasphemy, Arthur pops in, and says he really needs Georgiana’s help with something relating to the regatta. He didn't think this plan through that well, because when Gross Priest asks what Arthur needs Georgiana to help with, he says the duck race. Weirdly, that works, allowing Arthur to break Georgiana out of the house. Once they're out, she’s ready to get rid of him, but he makes the excellent point that now that she's out they might as well have some fun, and maybe even track down some cake. If you wondered, reader, I don't ship them romantic styles, but I absolutely 100% friend ship it!

Down by the regatta, Charlotte is going around telling all the dudes to get ready to race in an hour, including Sidney who mentions that he hasn't rowed in a while, so she takes pity on him and helps hand his oars into the boat.

Sidney: Thanks. Anyway have you ever heard the saying "a man can’t step into the same river twice?”
Charlotte: Yeah, I've seen Disney’s problematic Pocahontas movie, and also have read Heraclitus, whom you’re actually quoting.
Sidney: Ugh right, I forgot you’re a hot nerd. Jump in my boat, I need you to “balance it”.

Sure Sid, sure. So now we’re rowing around just us two, which gives Sidney a chance to bring up Whatsherface. He's still having a hard time being happy with her because he thinks he's supposed to be alone. Charlotte disagrees; even a weirdo like Sidney should be able to find someone compatible. He then agrees with her while making significant eye contact. AND THEN, THEN GUYS: he decides to teach her to row. But not in the actually helpful way where he gives instructions, in the romcom way where he grabs her hands and then her torso to “illustrate” what’s happening.

A man screams and shakes his hands with excitement.

Whatsherface sees this "rowing lesson" just as much as I do. She’s a formidable opponent indeed, because she immediately calls Sidney's name so he knows she’s watching/is not completely clueless.

At Lady D’s, Folgers Brother runs in to congratulate Folgers Sister. To wit: She played everyone so well! Clara lost!

Folgers Sister: Slow your roll: my inheritance isn’t assured, and you’re disowned.
Folgers Brother: Well, SHE disowned me, but you can still give me money!
Folgers Sister: Seriously, that’s all you care about? There’s no us: you schemed with CLARA.
Folgers Brother: I had to, we would’ve been left with nothing!
Folgers Sister: I loved you, doofus! Bye!

And she walks away, exuding a powerful energy akin to this gif:

A woman says "If i had a mic right now, I'd drop it" and mimes dropping a mic.

Charlotte talks to Susan, and confirms that her new friend has a LOT of pull. Technically, she didn't even invite any of these people, they just kind of followed her. Charlotte thanks her for making the day a success, and Susan reiterates that she's not really into Sanditon or the Regatta, she's only into Charlotte. I can't figure out if that's because she thinks Charlotte's neat or because she's enjoying the impending smackdown between Charlotte and Whatsherface, but either way I'm enjoying myself. And speaking of Whatsherface, she's on her way over, with Sidney in tow.

Susan: Oh hey guys! We’re talking about marriage. What’s your opinion, Sidney?
Sid, sweating nervously: I have no authority on that.
Whatsherface: What about you, rival?
Charlotte, also sweating nervously: Uh, no point unless you have someone you’re into!
Whatsherface: Oh, surely some fellow peasant from your tiny hamlet has caught your eye?
Susan: Who said she should limit herself to fellow peasants??
Whatsherface, backtracking: Common background is good! She must find our fancy rich people chatting lame! Agree with me, Sidney.
Sidney: I mean, I think Charlotte would rather be off reading Heraclitus.
Whatsherface: Ooh, that was mean! Heraclitus won’t help her get married.
Charlotte, sick of people casting aspersions on Heraclitus' matchmaking skills: Welp, you’re right, a farmer's daughter who reads can never do well.

She storms off to cry in private. Sidney follows her and gives a halfhearted apology which only convinces Charlotte that he's not into her. She tells Sidney to stop stringing her along and leave her alone. And speaking of hoping a Parker brother will go away, Georgiana and Arthur are continuing their cake search.

Georgiana: You suck and I hate you for bringing me here, now everyone’s just looking at me and judging me for being ruined.
Arthur: To be fair, people have always stared at you. And you’re not ruined, you’re gonna be fine!
Georgiana: God, you’re the most annoying person ever.
Arthur, surprisingly upbeat: Ok! Thanks!

Folgers Brother drunkenly ambles up and lets Tom know that Lady D has pulled a Lazarus and returned from death's door. Tom, a normal person, is happy to hear this. Folgers Brother, a Certified Jerk, continues his drunken disaster tour of the regatta, moving on to Babs.

Folgers Brother: FYI, Babs, my sister is DELUDED. She’s talking crap about me in order to try and steal my inheritance. She’s dead to me. Good luck.

Babs and Crowe have another round of girl talk to process these "revelations."

Babs: Crowe, what did he mean? Folgers Sister’s not deluded.
Crowe: Focus up bro — we have to win this race, I bet money on us.

LOL, can't wait to see you lose some money, pal! Also girl talking? Stringbean and his friend, who asks how his “date” with Charlotte went. Stringbean doesn't want to talk about it, obviously, and tells his buddy to focus on the race because Stringbean does not intend to lose to Sidney twice in one day. And speaking of the race, it's finally time to get started. The Parker Boys are not feeling super confident but are at least committed to doing their best. Mom Parker wishes them luck (awww), while Charlotte somewhat spitefully ignores team Parker to wish Stringbean luck. Everyone lines up, with Crowe chugging booze whilst preparing to steer his boat, and with a shot from a literal cannon, they're off!

I sometimes spare a moment to feel bad for actors who have to do something physically challenging for a role, especially when they have to do multiple takes. This is one of those times: they all look like they’re suffering except Stringbean. When it looks like they're going to lose, Crowe deliberately crashes the Statler/Waldorf boat into someone else so they don’t come in last, much to Babs' chagrin. Charlotte and Mom Parker dash to the finish to watch, and run into Whatsherface, who makes sure to let Charlotte know that Whatsherface only enters competitions if she's sure she'll win.

A woman says "Bring it."

Diana is super jazzed because the Parker boat is now in the lead, but Stringbean and the boys are pulling ahead. Stringbean wasn't playing around when he said he wasn't going to lose to Sidney: the worker boat takes the day! Stringbean collects a hug from his papa, a trophy from Susan, and a congratulations from Sidney. Stringbean continues to not play around, and lets Sidney know that he's really hoping to win Charlotte's heart, but will settle for the crew trophy or whatever.

Her business concluded, Susan heads out, and Tom shoots his shot, telling her he hopes she'll come back for a longer visit next time.

Susan: You know what, I just might. And I have a… special friend who might also like to visit.
Tom: Oh YES bring him. ...or her? Crap I forgot to pretend I didn't know you were hooking up with the prince.
Susan: Lol you're cute. Anyway, Charlotte: don't give up hope!
Charlotte: Yeah, I’m gonna though.

A man says "Never give up... never surrender!"

Mom Parker, to Tom Parker: Great job with your regatta.
Tom: Thanks, but it was OUR regatta! You’re the best, Charlotte saved the day, and I shouldn’t have lied to you. And in the spirit of that, I’m gonna be honest, starting now: my whole body is broken from rowing. Please carry me home.

Sidney takes a stroll and runs into Whatsherface, who's been lurking around waiting for him.

Sidney: Oh, you're waiting for me?
Whatsherface: I’ve been waiting!

A dirty man says "Twelve years of it! In Azkaban!"

Across town, Folgers Brother's Drunken Disaster Tour of Sanditon continues apace as he runs into Clara. She tells him they never needed to be enemies, and wonders what's gonna happen to him now that he's disinherited.

Folgers Brother: Don’t worry about me, I’m a gentleman! I have a title, and you just have your luggage.
Clara: LOL, I had nothing to lose, but you lost everything and now no one loves you. I guess I’ll feel bad for you sometimes, and I know you’re gonna miss me.

And with that last laugh had, she leaves. I’ll miss you most of all, you shamelessly shady schemer you!

Back at the ranch, Folgers Sister is packing her things when Babs barges in, despite her telling the servants she wants to be alone. Babs reminds her that he's not over her, and after his weird conversation earlier with Folgers Brother, he now realizes that their relationship is controlling and abusive. Folgers Sister, feeling seen for maybe the first time ever, starts crying. Babs goes to comfort her, telling her he doesn't know what happened but hopes she'll be better off with Folgers Brother gone. He's just here to be her friend and offer her a nice clean hankie. THAT’S HOW YOU DO IT, FOLKS!

At the Parkers, Charlotte stares at the Sanditon model village when Sidney arrives to talk to her. Charlotte had expected that he would have headed back to London with Whatsherface, but no: Sidney is here in Sanditon to stay.

Sidney: I’d rather be here. I, uh, kinda suck, which you’ve told me, but FYI, you make me my best self. That’s all!

WHEW. That's a pretty good line, Sidney! Will he top it next week in the finale? We'll just have to wait to find out!

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