Every season, the Drama After Dark team gathers ‘round the (virtual) conference room table to watch the latest and greatest in British dramas. This month, we’re trying something new and rediscovering a beloved series that GBH recently brought back to GBH Passport: Sense & Sensibility. As with some of Andrew Davies’ other work (lookin’ at you, Sanditon) this adaptation brings the steamy romantic heat that many other Austen adaptations lack. I’m here to recap the mini-series for first-time viewers and superfans alike. So grab your bonnets, and let’s get started!

Now if you thought that episode 2 ended on a spicy note, you'd better gird your loins: Colonel H&D is out here in the semi-darkness of, presumably, Jersey (where, if Hamilton is to be believed, and assuming the original version has the same vibes as New Jersey, everything is legal) for a duel. He doesn’t have pistols or musical backing, but he does have waves of righteous rage radiating off of him, as he grabs a sword to face: Dashing Stranger? Is this an overblown reaction to the breakup at the ball? Or are we about to finally find out why these two bros randomly hate each other? Only one way to find out: on with the show!

Gotta say, I DO love a sword fight, especially a vicious one in the predawn where a jerkface man loses. Unfortunately, Sensibility doesn’t get to see this go down; she’s too busy writing a very long letter and ignoring her sister’s offer of a listening ear/admonition to go back to sleep. This sleeplessness, plus the whole just-got-dumped thing, doesn't make her or Sense very interesting breakfast companions, leaving Dame Awesome to carry the conversation (and probably to start wondering if she made a mistake inviting these two on a London girls' trip).

Dame Awesome: Anyway, can’t believe you ran out before you had a chat with your boyfriend, especially after you drove us all nuts waiting for a letter from him last episode. Have some breakfast, you need to eat!
Sensibility: No thank you, I would rather wallow in semi-secret.
Foot the Footman: Did someone say waiting for a letter? Because guess what, I finally have a chance to bring you some post, Sensibility!

A woman runs goofily through a park

Foot the Footman: Cool cool cool, so not even a thank you. Whatever, man.
Dame Awesome: Well, hopefully he proposes soon; this whole thing has been crummy. Nothing’s wrong, right? Just a lover’s quarrel?
Sense: They’re not… look, I have to go check on her.

And a good thing too: Sensibility is having an awful time, and here’s why. D*ckhead Stranger, as he will now be called, claims that he never really liked her like that, and is in fact into someone else, and has been for some time. At the very least he does return her letters and the hair, which I hope she ceremonially burns as part of a chaos magic ritual to wreck his life.

Sense: Well, bright side, I guess: at least you weren’t engaged for a long time before he broke it off, that would be way worse.
Sensibility: We weren’t engaged!
Sense: WHAT? But he told you he loved you, right?
Sensibility: I mean not directly, but he acted like he did, and he made me think he felt the same way as I did and encouraged me. Can we get out of here? Now?
Sense: Look, we have to stick around for a bit or it’ll be super rude to Dame Awesome.

Speaking of whom, the lady herself enters with a fortifying drink, and some unfortunate news. Apparently, it’s now public knowledge that D*ckhead Stranger is marrying a very wealthy young lady.

A woman cries while eating ice cream

Later, Colonel H&D drops by, and Sensibility predictably hides in embarrassment. He’s pretty chill about it, and just asks Sense to deliver a message, and yeah, it’s juicy.

Colonel H&D: So remember when I told you Sensibility reminded me of someone I used to know, and everyone got that Gotye song stuck in our head for the rest of the episode?
Sense: Yes, and now I have it stuck in my head again, but go on.
Colonel H&D: Well, we were childhood friends/relations. I’m gonna dance around this because technically it’s inappropriate for me to tell you, but we were in love. Alas, it was not to be: my mean dad married her off to my older brother, who didn’t even like her all that much, and proceeded to cheat on her and then divorce her. This was while I was off being part of the military, which we’re all going to pretend isn’t deeply problematic and part of a blood-soaked colonialist hegemony that’s still in place centuries later! Anyway, I came back, and tracked her down, only to find her dying in a poor house. And she had a child, whom I adopted.
Sense: So you’re also a single dad? I’m into it! How old is your kid?
Colonel H&D, weirdly furious: SHE IS FIFTEEN. Anyway, I let her go stay with family friends in Bath, and she disappeared. The first news I heard of her was when we were supposed to go on that dumb picnic.
Sense: Oh my god, so that’s why you ran off, of course!
Colonel H&D: She’d been abandoned by the man who seduced her… and got her pregnant.
Me, dawning comprehension: OH NO.
Colonel H&D: Oh yes. D*ckhead Stranger.

A woman screws up her face in rage

Colonel H&D: Anyway, you’ll know how to best explain this to Sensibility… and how much she should know about this.
Sensibility, finding all of this out later:

A woman says "it's possible i'm still in shock. I'm going to go to my room and process what just happened."

Back at DashCottage, BabyDash is working on her history lessons while MomDash writes a letter to the older DashSiblings suggesting that they might want to kick it in London a bit longer.

BabyDash: Why, because if Sensibility comes back here everything will remind her of her ex?
MomDash: Exactly. Now back to your studies.
BabyDash: I’d rather talk about how much D*ckhead Stranger lives up to his new recap name though!
MomDash: Kiddo, you have no idea.
BabyDash: Well if I were a dude I would stab him, and that’s a BabyDash guarantee. I wish I was a man; even the version of feminism we have now really isn’t cutting it vis a vis my rights, ya know?
MomDash: No comment. But you’re not wrong!

Back in London, the away team has another visitor, and unfortunately, it’s boring Cousin John/Ginger Mycroft Holmes, or as I call him, Macbeth.

Macbeth: So, I heard that Colonel H&D hangs out here all the time.
Sense: Yeah, he hangs out with us.
Macbeth, somehow patronizing and trying to be nice at the same time: Well what are you waiting for, Sense? Lock that nonsense down, I know you have it in you! Poor Sensibility though, she’s destined to be a spinster now.

A man gestures in confusion and disgust

Macbeth, unfazed: Oh, also, you should forget about Ferrars-o Rocher, my mom is dead set on him marrying this gal Miss Morton; she’s got all that salt money you know. Anyway, you should totally go for Colonel H&D, and I’ve got the perfect place for you to do it! You’re all invited to a dinner party at our place, and you’ll get to meet my mom as an added bonus!
Sense, reacting to this news:

A woman says "I just couldn't be happier." with a tone that suggests she could indeed be happier

Anyway, might as well go to this weird free dinner, so the whole crew heads over, where they run into none other than the sisters Steele, who have apparently been invited to stay at the house for some reason.

Chill Steele, the minute she can get Sense alone: UGH please feel bad for me, I’m stressed: everything is riding on the person we’re about to see.
Sense, understandably freaking out: Wait, Ferrars-o Rocher is here??
Chill Steele: Oh, no, he’s not here because he just straight up can’t control his emotions around me.

Marcia Brady sarcastically says "Sure, Jan."

Chill Steele: Anyway, I meant his mom: the Final Boss.

Dinner is… weird. There are, I kid you not, pastries covered in gold foil, and two of the most unpleasant people we’ve encountered so far in the series (i.e. the other Ferrars siblings), and that’s before we even clap eyes on our new enemy, the Final Boss.

Final Boss: So I heard that D*ckhead Stranger got married and skipped town, and that one of you is sad about that.
Snooty Ferrars: Well there were a lot of girls trying to lock him down, but he was smart enough to hold out for someone rich!
Final Boss: Too right.
Sensibility, to Sense:

A woman says "this is the bad place!"

Sense: YUP.
Colonel H&D, changing the subject: So is Ferrars-o Rocher coming tonight?
Final Boss: LOL, no! He’s staying with the salt barons. You probably know them? They’re super rich and distinguished, and the daughter is super duper eligible.
Cousin Bird Murder: Hey, Snooty Ferrars, do you like the country? You should come visit sometime!
Snooty Ferrars, flirting with Chill Steele: The only thing I like about the country is the people.
Loudmouth Steele, loudly: Yeah, country people are great! Your brother definitely agrees, right, sis?
Chill Steele: Be. Cool. How would I know that, we’re barely acquainted!
Sensibility, nothing to lose and spoiling for a fight: Well *I* heard him say he was happiest hanging out with us at our country home.

It turns out that THAT is a dinner ender, so mission accomplished, I guess! Unfortunately for Sense, the nightmare continues, with accidental frenemy Chill Steele dropping by to visit and gush about how great it is that Final Boss likes her.

Sense: Yeah, but… what about the Salt Heiress? Didn’t Final Boss basically say that Ferrars-o Rocher would marry her?
Chill Steele: UGH don’t go being reasonable on me! I don’t care what the rumors say, he promised me!

Before Sense can continue to try and talk sense into Chill Steele, the maid announces Ferrars-o Rocher, who's here RIGHT NOW.


A man yells "oh my god! ok, it's happening." as other office workers mill around in panic

Ferrars-o Rocher, not paying attention to his surroundings: Sense, we have to talk, and I’m going to hold your hand while we do it.

A man grooves while eating popcorn

Sense: DUDE. Please look over my shoulder and notice the other person in the room with us!
Ferrars-o Rocher: OH. HI. Um, hope you’re all well? And how is Sensibility, I heard she got publicly rejected!
Sense: Oh, she’s ok. She’ll be super excited to see you, and I’m definitely not just saying that so I have an excuse to leave the room!
Sensibility, foiling her sister’s plan by appearing: OMG, hey dude! I heard you were here, why did you miss dinner last night?
Ferrars-o Rocher, unintentionally hilarious: I was otherwise engaged.
Sensibility: LOL — who cares about engagements when you can hang out with cool people?
Chill Steele, getting shady: Well maybe YOU think that men don’t honor their engagements because of your… previous friendships?
Sensibility, rising above it: Whatever; it must have been a big deal, because Ferrars-o Rocher always does what he says he will.
Ferrars-o Rocher, jumping on that opening: I sure do! Speaking of which, must run, gotta meet my mean sister, bye!
Chill Steele: What a coincidence, I too am expected at your sister’s house, you can walk me!
Ferrars-o Rocher:

An animated dog sits in a burning room and says "this is fine."

Well if you thought THAT interaction was awkward, it’s about to get worse. Lady Macbeth, Final Boss, and Loudmouth Steele are hanging out. Truly, I can’t fathom a worse sewing circle, but it is at least entertaining. Exhibit A:

Loudmouth Steele: Gee, I wonder where Chill Steele is! She never tells me anything. Anyway, your brother is coming tonight right?
Lady Macbeth: Sure is! You probably haven’t seen him in years.
Loudmouth Steele, loudly: Oh, we see him all the time — he visits often!
Lady Macbeth, sensing blood in the water: And why would he do that?
Loudmouth Steele, human disaster: He comes to see my sister, duh!

A woman laughs and then her face falls and she says "oh, this is bad."

Lady Macbeth, absolutely terrifying: Tell me what you mean by that. Immediately.
Loudmouth Steele: Um. They’re engaged? For the last four years?

All hell breaks loose, just in time for the man himself to return and face the wrath of the Final Boss.

Ferrars-o Rocher: Soooo. Yeah, it’s true, we’re engaged. All good?
Final Boss: No! If you go through with this you’re cut off. And Chill Steele? You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.
Ferrars-o Rocher: If you kick her out, I’m leaving too.
Final Boss:

A woman says "get out of my sight you miserable has-been."

Well, obviously Chill Steele/Ferrars-o Rocher isn’t my OTP. But I do very much have to give him credit for standing up for her, that was the decent thing to do. And apparently the news travels fast, because over at Dame Awesome’s house, Sensibility checks in on her sister.

Sense: Look, is it ideal? No. But am I over it? Yes!
Sensibility: Damn, if you’re over it, you might not actually have loved him that much huh?
Sense: W O W. Dude, I have been suffering. Alone. And coaching a girl I barely like through her feelings for my boyfriend. Yes, I’ve kept it close to the vest, but I am wretchedly upset.

All that out in the open, it’s time to leave town! Dame Awesome’s daughter had her baby, and obviously she’s eager to get back there. The Galshwoods will be escorted by Colonel H&D, who doubles down on being the best by offering to give Ferrars-o Rocher a living. Ferrars-o Rocher is understandably flummoxed by this, given that he barely knows Colonel H&D. Apparently, the Colonel is supporting Ferrars-o Rocher because he’s heard so much good stuff about the kid from the various Dashwoods.

Ferrars-o Rocher, when Sense tells him the news: Look, I’m super grateful to you. I have never been able to tell you some of the unsaid things that are between us, and that’s even more impossible now. Why don’t you hate me?
Sense: You’ve never lied to me. Once I found out about your engagement it all made more sense. And honestly I’d think less of you if you’d acted differently.
Ferrars-o Rocher:

A man looks longingly into the distance


A woman wistfully stares into the distance; pining


A woman looks on in sad confusion

EVERYTHING LEFT UNSAID, the Galshwoods head over to Dame Awesome’s daughter and plank son-in-law’s house. They politely greet the baby (a completely pointless endeavour, given that he’s a newborn) while Colonel H&D looks on, clearly thinking about his sad almost-grandchild. Also thinking about the almost-grandchild is Sensibility, who’s this close to burning her bra and renouncing men entirely, which…

Meryl Streep yells "yes!" and points

Always a fan of ill-conceived day hikes, Sensibility heads outside to pull a Natasha Bedingfield and feel the rain on her skin. But as we discussed in the first recap, it’s not a great idea to randomly disappear into a rainstorm when you have flimsy clothing, flimsy ankles, and can catch a chill at any moment. Thankfully, Colonel H&D is on the case! He gallops into the rain, scoops her up, and brings her back for some regency era hypothermia treatment. The real measure of how freaked out he is is that he even starts undressing her (for medical reasons) before he remembers a) the year and b) that they aren’t actually in a fan fic. Sense takes over, and when Sensibility is feeling a bit better, she asks to speak to him. But she doesn’t do anything, she just holds his hand.

Unfortunately, she’s not out of the woods yet: Sensibility develops a nasty fever and congested lungs. There’s not much the doctor can do: they just have to wait for her to recover. Sense, holding it together as much as possible, asks Colonel H&D to send someone to fetch their mom, and being a DIY sort, he races off to pick her up himself. Given everything that’s going on this year, the scene that follows, in which Sense sits by her sister’s bedside, is particularly hard to watch, even though we all know Sensibility will recover. Be kind to yourselves if you need to skip it, and also, please wear a mask.

Sometime later, a maid tells Sense that there’s a guy here to visit. Who could it be? Unfortunately, the worst possible option: D*ckhead Stranger.

Sense: Go away, I don’t have time for you.
D*ckhead Stranger: Please, let me apologize and ask for forgiveness.
Sense: Um, no? You’re not welcome here.
D*ckhead Stranger: I have to say this anyway. Look, when I first met her, I was being selfish, but I really did love her, and I was going to marry her. But then something happened. My aunt found out about a thing from my past.
Sense: Oh, statutory rape and abandonment? That thing?
D*ckhead Stranger: Yeah, and I’m also gonna slutshame the kid, because I’m the worst! Anyway, my aunt found out and disowned me.
Sense: So you became a gold digger?
D*ckhead Stranger: What else was I supposed to do?
Sense: Well first of all, you could have apologized to the child you seduced and then told my sister the truth.
D*ckhead Stranger: You can’t know my pain! I have to live with a rich lady I hate!
Sense: Wow, so you’re horrible to all women, huh?
D*ckhead Stranger: Don’t feel bad for my wife, she knew what she was getting into and she’s ok with it. Do you feel bad for me now?
Sense: Nope! Sensibility doesn’t love you anymore and I am delighted. You’re disgusting.

A woman says "you can die slowly, cut into a thousand pieces."

Soon, a way better visitor arrives: MomDash! She’s elated to hear that her daughter is out of the woods, and ready to trash talk D*ckhead Stranger. Sensibility, on the other hand, is pretty much over it! Yes, he was the worst, but she’s ready to move on, and has totally come around on Colonel H&D. Is it because he’s a sadboi who never got over his first love? Because he came out to rescue her in the rain, which apparently revs her engine? Because he’s got a piano tuner and a greenhouse pumping out off-season fruits? Who can say! Love, or at least growing regard, is in the air.

While all of THAT is happening, Sense gets some bad news: a Mrs. Ferrars sends her regards, via their servant Thomas. Does he mean the Final Boss, being weirdly nice? No: it’s the arist formerly known as Chill Steele, who’s been married for about a week and is pretty happy!

Sensibility, witnessing this convo:

A man makes a face that says "yikes"

Sense: Cool cool cool - thanks for the update, I guess! Don’t worry, Sensibility, I’ll be ok. See, I’m doing some watercolors and stuff!

Marcia Brady sarcastically says "Sure, Jan."

Later that night, Sensibility casually drops a massive info bomb: Colonel H&D proposed, and she said yes.

Sensibility: Don’t be mad!
Sense: Whaaat? Why would I be mad?
Sensibility: Because I was a snotty jerk to you earlier, and I feel bad being happy when you’re sad.
Sense: Look, I don’t know why no one believes me, but I’m fine! Also, side note, you know you don’t have to marry him just because he’s helpful right?
Sensibility: Ok, you’re not gonna believe this, but I’m not? I love him?
Sense: Well in that case, I’m so happy for you, let’s celebrate!

Later, BabyDash is interrupted in her kid chores by the sound of a rider approaching. Who is this mysterious gent on horseback? Why it’s Ferrars-o Rocher, and she makes sure to tell everyone as quickly as possible, prompting the regency equivalent of a record scratch as the rest of the family literally drops everything they’re doing to pretend they were just sitting around in the parlor doing nothing.

MomDash: Oh, hello. We didn’t see you there! Can I wish you happiness?
Ferrars-o Rocher: Um, yes?
MomDash: I hope you’re happy with Mrs. Ferrars?
Ferrars-o Rocher: Loaded question, but yeah, happy enough?
Sense: Well, is she here?
Ferrars-o Rocher: No? My mother is in town. Why are you guys asking about her, anyway?
Sense: No... I was asking about your wife!?
Ferrars-o Rocher: OH. I get it. You might not have heard: my BROTHER just got married. To Chill Steele. When my mom disowned me, so did Chill Steele.

A man blinks in confusion


A woman looks on in delighted intrigue


A man excitedly says "yes!"


A man screams and shakes his hands with excitement.
A person pushes together two friend's faces and says "NOW KISS."

Sense loses her damn mind and runs away (fair!). But Ferrars-o Rocher isn’t giving up that easily.

Ferrars-o Rocher: Look, I know you have every reason to turn me down, but after all of this time, I can’t leave without telling you that I have loved you since day one. I couldn’t tell you because I was engaged, and I know that confused and hurt you, so I’m being honest now. Can you forgive me? And will you marry me?

A man smiles and nods.

And so everyone who deserves to be happy gets to be happy! Sense and Sensibility both get to marry the men they love, and MomDash and BabyDash get to live in a home free from weeping, brooding, and pining: a win-win, and a classic Austen ending. Fret not, gentle reader: the recaps for this show are over, but I’ll be back covering MASTERPIECE’s upcoming show Road Kill next!

Episode 1 Recap: Our Devonian Cousin
Episode 2 Recap: London Calling