Every season, the GBH Drama staff sit down to watch the latest and greatest in British dramas. And now, after years of waiting, it is my great pleasure to finally be here recapping season 2 of Sanditon! Romance! Drama! Sea bathing! It's all coming together: let's go.

Well. It’s been a while! We left Sanditon just over two years ago, but due to the pandemic, it's felt a lot more like this:

An elderly woman says "it's been 84 years."

In case you need a small refresher, I’ve prepared the following extremely brief “previously on Sanditon” moment (please imagine me reading this to you in a soothing, Laura Linney-esque voice):

Charlotte Heywood, a small town girl living in a lonely world, stumbled upon Tom and Mary Parker, the creators of a would-be seaside health destination town called Sanditon. She followed them home and met Tom’s hot brooding brother Sidney, and Sidney’s dead bestie’s daughter, Georgiana Lambe, a fabulous heiress from Antigua who’s mostly interested in escaping her governess and not being gawked at by racist small-minded weirdos. Georgiana had a secret boyfriend, who she eventually broke up with after his gambling debts caused her to be kidnapped, and she was, and is, a damn delight. We also met the Denham family: Lady Denham, Tom’s rich mean patroness, and all the relatives who were vying to inherit her money: her niece and nephew who took after that one creepy Folgers ad a little too much Edward and Esther, and her poor relation Clara. Esther eventually grew a conscience and was rewarded with the money and a nice husband, while the other two got sent away in disgrace. Charlotte and Sidney started a typical enemies to lovers situation that eventually imploded after Sanditon burned down; because Tom neglected to get insurance, Sidney was forced to marry his wealthy widowed ex to save the day. After a tearful cliffside goodbye, they both left town… for good?

If you want/need more details, just rewatch season 1 or check out my recaps. But back to our current situation: our show opens somewhere decidedly more tropical than Sanditon, where a procession of mourners with dark umbrellas carry a casket through tall grass. Uh oh. Back in the UK, Charlotte breaks it down at a town dance, having the time of her life, so I guess maybe she’s starting to move on from ol’ leather pants Sidney. Which is probably a good thing, because mid dance, a black-clad Mary Parker pulls her aside and tells her that the dead guy we just saw WAS Sidney. I guess that’s one way to deal with an actor being unable to return to the show after hiatus, but YIKES.

A man looks at his laptop before slamming it closed in horror

But the show must go on, so we return to the countryside outside Sanditon, where a whole bunch of men in uniform have just rolled into town. A classic Austen device! Another classic Austen device? Georgiana turning down a proposal by telling the unlucky applicant that she’d rather be boiled alive. God, I’ve missed her. Later, she has to deal with some nosy Parkers (Tom and Mary, specifically) who aren’t super happy about the way she handled that interaction. But hey, she was just being honest, and even the gross priest who’s unfortunately returned from season one can’t argue with that. Alas, the awkwardness will likely continue, because since Sidney died, his guardianship of Georgiana has passed to Tom. Pure disaster; can’t think of a worse person to tell anyone what they should be doing with their life, but go off, English legal system! On the plus side, Mary Parker has correctly deduced that the best way to cheer up their new ward is to get her some actual friends, so they’ve summoned Charlotte. And Charlotte? She’s brought her baby sister, who seems to be really riding the line between Marianne Dashwood and Lydia Bennet, and thus earns the moniker Hurricane Heywood from this recapper.

A man says "This is going to be a disaster." and eats popcorn

Hurricane Heywood: SO nice of the Parkers to send this carriage; I’m gonna have an even fancier one when I’m married. I can’t wait to meet everyone! Georgianna and I are going to be best pals! OMG we’re here!

A man says "yay!" extremely sarcastically.

Look, I get it: your ex boyfriend dumped you and then went and died, and now you’re staying at his brother’s house where you fell in love in the first place. That IS a truly massive bummer. On the plus side, the third Parker brother Arthur is also visiting, and he’s usually a good time. Everyone reviews what we know so far about Sidney’s death: he was mysteriously in Antigua, and caught yellow fever while he was at it. But at least he got to be happy with Whatsherface before he died, right? Again:

A man says "yay!" extremely sarcastically.

Also a huge bummer? Georgiana is currently being chaperoned by Gross Priest and his Gross Sister, who in addition to their known bad qualities are also invested in loudly and badly singing hymns. With another perfect quip, G escapes them to meet up with Charlotte, who’s getting a tour of the new and improved (and hopefully heavily insured) Sanditon. It seems that our favorite budding architect Young Stringbean did a killer job before he left to go to school in London (no surprises there). But wait, I hear you ask: with Stringbean and Sidney out of the mix, where are all the eligible young bachelors for our ladies? Fret not: in addition to the soldiers we saw earlier, there’s also a bohemian artist who’s just finished swimming and is wandering around in a smoking jacket, a sarong, and not much else.

Hurricane Heywood: Hubba hubba, sis. Hubba hubba. Look, we need to get a clothes budget from dad, or we’ll never hook one of these hunks.
Charlotte: Why do you think I’m here, dude? I have been spurned in love! My heart is broken!
Hurricane Heywood:

A woman rudely says "Boo, you whore."

Lady D is equally excited about the regiment’s visit to town, but Esther, as usual, is the voice of reason. A of all, why do we need armed forces quartered in our chill seaside town, and b of all, do we really want a bunch of smelly unwashed dudes taking over? Lady D thinks sedition is a legit concern, and like most rich people, knows she’d be in trouble if a rabble is indeed roused. She also likes a man in uniform, which is, I’m assuming, a surprise to no one. But why is Esther lurking around town anyway? Hopefully it’s to befriend Georgiana and the crew, because Georgiana deserves a partner in snark.

Speaking of our gal pals, they reunite in a swanky new tea house to everyone’s delight. After Georgiana fills the Heywoods in on her guardianship situation (boring, frustrating, and well meaning but still infantilizing) she also explains that she’s leading a sugar boycott, in the hopes that the plantation owners who are still relying on an enslaved workforce will do the right thing. See, at this point England had abolished buying and selling people, but not owning them, which as you might guess made it pretty easy for plantation owners to get around the law and continue to engage in human trafficking. So this sugar boycott? We’re all on board. Before the gals can keep discussing Georgiana’s boycott, however, a gentleman swings by to say hi to her. Oho, asks Charlotte: an admirer?

Georgiana: UGH. I’m surrounded by gold diggers. It’s ridiculous. And I’m not marrying anyone: the second I say yes to a man I lose all my power.
Hurricane Heywood: Well you’re not alone in avoiding men: my sister is also dodging advances left and right.
Georgiana: Oh, so you’ve been holding out on me?
Charlotte: This farmer named Ralph is working up to a proposal. Dad is into the idea but I am NOT.
Hurricane Heywood: Yeah, because you can’t go and marry boring old Ralph. So MY plan is to find us men here in town… maybe you can help?
Georgiana: Oh HELL yeah. 100%, I am in. Um, ladies, who’s that guy who just walked in?
Charlotte: That’s that Lord Byron wannabe artist we met earlier.
Georgiana, thankfully not immediately drawn to that walking collection of red flags: Well he seems into himself, huh?

Indeed, Georgiana, indeed. Meanwhile, Tom meets with Lady D to discuss the state of Sanditon. Why haven’t they continued expansion? Well apparently Tom learned an important lesson last season, and he won’t move forward until he’s secured their investment. As it happens, the ramifications of season 1’s fire debacle could still come back to bite them in the collective (milch) ass: Sidney’s widow Whatsherface technically now owns a BIG chunk of the town. Tom intends to buy her out, but I still have concerns, and so does Lady D. Tom’s plan: get money off the regiment. ASAP.

Speaking of whom, as our gal pals walk home, they head through the camp, giving Charlotte a chance to voice a pretty sensible opinion: what’s the draw to these guys anyway? Sure, they may be brave, heroic, and cute, but that’s just like… table stakes for tv love interests. Before they can get into an argument about the relative merits of red coats, however, they stumble onto the guy who’s in charge, and also happens to be topless.

Colonel No Service: Oops, sorry gals: me being shirtless is inappropriate.
Me: Guess someone didn’t watch season one.

Introductions are made. Flirty glances are exchanged. Hurricane Heywood, an apparently excellent wingwoman, clarifies that Colonel No Service is indeed single. The game, dear reader, is on. Meanwhile, Lady D does her thing and meddles inappropriately in Esther’s private life. Why isn’t she pregnant yet? Does she know how sex works?

A young man makes a face that says "excuse me, what?!"

Lady D quickly learns why it’s rude and crappy to ask this kind of question: it seems that Esther’s had a miscarriage, and part of the reason she’s in Sanditon is to recover. Lady D, who hasn’t felt bad about anything a day in her life, pivots to being supportive the only way she knows how: poking holes in this plan and making fun of the medical establishment (specifically, Dr. Fuchs, who’s still doing his thing here in town). Nonetheless, Esther meets with him, and explains that she lost her baby at 5 and a half months, and nearly died herself in the process. She was told by her other doctors that it would be very dangerous, and indeed probably fatal, for her to try again, but she’s determined to prove them wrong.

Dr. Fuchs: Ok, I have some meds, but I don’t know that they’d work: it just might not be in the cards for you.
Esther: Oh yeah? I’ll do anything. Please.

You know what, show? Sidney was one thing, but if you kill off Esther I will actually lose my crap. If only our pals on Call The Midwife could portal into Sanditon and help our friend out! Anyway, my worrying won’t stop the plot, or Hurricane Heywood, who is determined to hook a soldier for herself AND her sister, despite Charlotte’s disinterest. Screw men: Charlotte wants to find her purpose, especially when she sees how much good an occupation has done for Arthur, who’s a lot less of a hypochondriac when his sister Diana isn’t around. He’s also leaned into his friendship with Georgiana, and will be having tea with her instead of watching the military parade.

Two men do a very groovy high five.

While everyone else waits for the soldiers to show up, Gross Priest and Gross Sister actually do something good, handing out fliers about Georgiana’s sugar boycott and explaining the reasoning to the crowd. Lady D, unsurprisingly, has a bad take on this, and thinks the boycott isn’t worth it because it won’t amount to anything. Classic her. Charlotte, Hurricane Heywood, and Mary Parker join their party just to make everything more awkward.

Hurricane Heywood: Ooh, you met your husband here, right? Advice?
Esther: Be horrible. If he doesn’t give up, lock it down.
Lady D: And why are you still single, Charlotte?
Charlotte: I don’t want to get married?
Lady D: Bullcrap. No one wants to be a spinster, just look at Gross Sister!

So regressive, and yet, her straw man argument is hard to fight in this instance. But they don’t have time to argue anyway: guess who just rolled into town with the regiment? Yeah, it’s the horrible Edward Denham, cad extraordinaire. Hey Eddie?

A creature says "you don't have any friends. nobody likes you!"

As if that wasn’t enough drama, a small boy runs into the road and is almost trampled. Thankfully for everyone involved, Charlotte dashes in front of the horse and hauls the kiddo to safety just in the nick of time! Day saved, they return to the Parker house, where we find out that said kiddo, Leo, is a tomboy who can’t stay out of trouble and is driving her cousin, who was supposed to be supervising this whole time, absolutely bonkers. Charlotte bundles Leo, and cousin Augusta (who’s a real pill), into the Parker carriage to take them home. They’re both mostly mad at Charlotte for ruining their game (Leo) and caring (Augusta), but I have a feeling she’ll worm her way into their affections eventually.

At tea, Georgiana tells Arthur he should just marry her and save her from all these crappy suitors, but as we may recall, Arthur is only going to marry if he absolutely has to (and in that instance, and that instance only, Georgiana would of course be at the top of his list).

Georgiana: All these guys only care about my money, not me. You’re my friend. And I’m worried you’re singular that way.
Arthur: Definitely not! I’ll keep my eye out for someone good. Hey, can I PLEASE just have a sugary treat?
Georgiana: No, but good try.

Afterward, our friends run into Wannabe Byron, who shares Arthur’s disdain for the military, and tries to compliment Georiana by telling her he noticed her earlier because she looked “haughty yet inscrutable.” G isn’t particularly amused by that, and tells him she thinks he looks arrogant and affected. Unphased, he owns the descriptors: he’s an open book, but she sure isn’t. Is that on purpose?

Georgiana: Maybe I’m just not interested in you knowing me. Anyway, let’s go, Arthur.

An animated dragon smugly says "you like him, don't you?"

So… that should be fun. Meanwhile, Charlotte, who’s way too much of a softie to understand that not everyone chooses to see the world like it’s a Lisa Frank binder come to life, arrives at Leo and Augusta’s house, and is promptly ditched by both kids. Undaunted, she approaches the housekeeper to explain that Leo’s leg does really need looking after.

Housekeeper: Ugh, her dad told them not to go to the dang parade in the first place, so he’ll be “delighted.” This is why we need a governess. Anyway, thanks!

Charlotte leaves, like this isn’t possibly her ticket out of unwanted matrimony (and directly into a Brontë novel, if Tom’s reaction to Leo’s dad is any indication). See, our Parker pal thinks Leo’s father, Mr. Colbourne, is a rude, miserly recluse who hates Sanditon, and the feeling is mutual. Mystery Dad has, per Mary, been MIA since his wife died, which honestly seems fair enough to me. But we’ll talk about him later: first, Colonel No Service drops in to make sure the kiddo he saw his boys almost crush is ok, and, guilt assuaged, to compliment Charlotte. He stays for tea, which gives both Tom and Hurricane Heywood the chance to attempt to woo Colonel No Service for their admittedly very different purposes (staying in Sanditon and marrying Charlotte, respectively). It’s pretty awkward, TBH, so I’m not surprised when Charlotte flees the scene. Unfortunately for her, Colonel No Service, like Babs before him, likes a woman who’s actively mean to him, so we definitely haven’t seen the last of him.

And speaking of awkward, Horrible Edward drops in to pay his respects to his aunt. He claims he didn’t mean to come back, and that he’s changed, but she finds that hard to believe (and so do I). He even promises to avoid his stepsister.

A woman says "I have doubts."

Wow, I am immediately proven correct: Horrible Edward’s halfhearted apology tour runs right into Esther, who tells him to get lost, even when he pushes her. See, Horrible Ed has misunderstood Babs’ absence as some kind of marital trouble, and appears to be trying to weasel his way back into Esther’s heart. I sincerely hope the door hits him on the way out and we never see him again, but I guess unfortunately for us, someone has to bring the drama.

Charlotte heads to the church to light a candle and cry about Sidney, and gets back late, to a very contrite Hurricane Heywood, who finally gets that her sister is still not over Sidney. Understandably, Charlotte really isn’t interested in being with a man ever again.

Hurricane Heywood: Hey, one problem: we’re poor, dude. Dad can’t afford for us to stay at home.
Charlotte: Aha, but I met a family that needs a governess earlier this very episode!

This news… does not go over well with the rest of the crew. Mary’s worried. Hurricane Heywood thinks this will bring dishonor on the family. This is supposed to be a last resort kind of job! Spinster bad! Married good!

In a, surprisingly, more supportive display of female camaraderie, Esther decides to hang out in Sanditon a little longer. She’s still dealing with her whole medical situation, but more importantly, she doesn’t feel good about leaving Lady D alone when Horrible Ed is in town. Lady D doesn’t think she needs help; after all, Horrible Ed does seem genuinely contrite! But Esther isn’t fooled for one second, and she’s right to worry: at the military encampment, Colonel No Service reveals that Horrible Ed was the one who suggested they come to Sanditon in the first place AND that the jerk in question still hasn’t paid his commission, which sure clears up his creepy intentions vis a vis parting his female relatives from their cash.

Georgiana, at least, takes Charlotte’s plans in stride: yes, she’d rather C just hang out with her all the time, and is willing to cover her friend’s costs, but she understands why Charlotte wants to support herself. She even offers a shoulder to cry on, even though we all know Georgiana, rightly, wasn’t ever a big fan of Sidney. Now all Charlotte has to do is get the job, so she heads right over to the house, where Mystery Dad puts her through a curt and aggressive job interview to make sure she knows her stuff (she does). After a lightning round interrogation, he confirms that she’s actually ready to take on this job: can she handle spiders in her bed? Pine cones on her chair? Because these two gals are ready to give her the full Sound of Music governess experience, and she better be ready. Mystery Dad, leaning into the Captain Von Trapp role, describes the girls as feral and insolent, and says they need discipline, which obviously Charlotte isn’t too keen on, but she still manages to convince him of her worth based on her passion for women’s education (no matter what society thinks about the matter). The fact that Mystery Dad’s dog is obviously obsessed with her also probably helps. Does he offer her the job right away like a normal person would? No! He waits until he can cinematically track her down by the cliffs on his giant horse.

A woman holding two martinis says "drama, drama, drama" to her friend.

While she’s off doing that, Georgiana takes Hurricane Heywood to the beach to meet some soldiers in a (borrowed) carriage belonging to one of her suitors. Very Thelma and Louise, ladies, well done. They’re in the process of galloping off into the sunset with a few hearts in the back seat when the wheel falls off the carriage and they crash. Thankfully, they’re both ok, and this also gives Hurricane Heywood a chance to get a meet cute with one of the soldiers. But something is up, it seems, with Georgiana’s estate: and that, apparently, was why Sidney went to Antigua. What’s happening?! Hopefully we’ll have some answers next week with episode 2!