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.

Reader, as I sat down to write this recap, I won’t lie to you: I absolutely did briefly forget about the part where Clara just showed up all disgraced and grimy at the end of last week’s episode. What the heck?? Alas, we’re going to have to wait to find out what that’s all about: Mystery Dad’s morning aesthetic ride over the hills is being interrupted by soldier practice. And across town, Charlotte’s sleep is being interrupted by Hurricane Heywood’s Disney Princess energy. We all have our cross to bear, is what I’m saying.

Charlotte, too tired to beat around the bush: Look, you said like 5 words to the guy, so I don’t know why you’re so excited. And stop bugging me about your outfits: if he doesn’t like you as you are, he’s not worth it.
Hurricane Heywood, unstoppable: And who are YOU dreaming about?? Mystery Dad? Colonel No Service?

A man reacts with grumpy confusion

Over at Camp Sanditon, Captain Loverboy is just as bad: he’s just so busy daydreaming about Hurricane Heywood that he’s whiffing it hard at the shooting range. Jilted is, as always, unamused, and yet still agrees to support his bro, giving much the same advice as Charlotte: be honest, speak from the heart, and you won’t fail.

Meanwhile, Tom’s busy doing one of these, much to Arthur’s amusement.

Image of an animated newspaper clipping with the headline "old man yells at cloud"

Yes, it’s almost his favorite day of the summer (as long as it doesn’t rain, hence the yelling): midsummer fair day! There will be pony rides! Flower crowns! An elephant? And yet Charlotte remains uninterested in this old timey coachella: she’s got to teach a French lesson today, and much like many modern job seekers, she kind of fudged her resume. But will she quit? No! Mary is, a bit selfishly, frustrated by Charlotte’s drive: she was supposed to be here to be Georgiana’s square, good influence friend!

Arthur: Oh, don’t worry, I’ve got this!

Reader, somehow I’m not sure he does, but I’m not complaining: Arthur’s version of a good influence is going to be MUCH more entertaining. And speaking of Georgiana, she’s arrived at breakfast just in time to mess with Gross Priest and his sister, who are extremely excited about the fair elephants (I guess I can’t blame them) and fall for a classic Georgiana fib about her many elephant pets back in Antigua. But she’s not just here to mess with her chaperones: she’s here for the mail, which hopefully includes an update from her dad’s lawyer. There IS a packet with her name on it, but it sure isn’t a letter: it’s a sketch that can have been drawn by none other than Wannabe Byron.

A man says "The plot thickens."

Apparently, Charlotte can’t walk to work without running into Colonel No Service, and today is no exception. After finding out that French, a topic he can’t be constructive about, is on the agenda for the day, and hearing that Charlotte is still struggling with her charges, he suggests that a retreat isn’t always a bad thing. But to Charlotte that just sounds like “you can’t do it, quit!”

Colonel No Service: Oh, no, that’s not what I meant: I just think you should be respected by your boss.
Charlotte: Well, I barely see him, so it’s not a huge deal. Anyway, from what I’ve noticed so far I’m planning to avoid him.

Marcia Brady sarcastically says "Sure, Jan."

Finally, at Lady D’s house, we get an update on the Clara situation (a Clara-fication, if you will). Esther, as always, is cautious: isn’t it suspicious that Clara arrived so soon after Horrible Ed?

Lady D, making a good point: Oh, it’s VERY sus indeed. But if they are working together, what’s she been up to, lurking around the military camp this whole time? And what’s up with your face?
Esther: Uh… I think maybe I better call the doctor.

But before they can do that, Clara herself appears, and submits meekly (again, suspicious) to Esther’s interrogation. She claims to understand why they don’t trust her, says she really is just here to ask for help, and thanks Lady D for her hospitality. She then makes it sound like Horrible Ed took advantage of her, and while I wouldn’t put it past him, we did actually see that scene, so we know she was equally if not MORE complicit in the snake floor sexcapades. Esther is here to ask the important question: if this is all Horrible Ed’s fault, why hasn’t Clara gotten him to help her out?

Clara: I write to him all the time, he’s been ghosting me.
Lady D: Well I’m gonna go ahead and call your bluff: I’m having him sent over here today for a family meeting.
Clara, incredulous: He’s here? In Sanditon? No way!

 A man makes a beeping sound and says "My bullcrap meter is going crazy!"

Across town, Georgiana is also unimpressed and eager to be mad about it, so she stomps into Wannabe Byron’s art loft to yell at him for drawing her. How presumptuous! He makes the pretty good point that artists will indeed make art, and asks why the heck she’s there if she’s so mad: he just wants to get to know her better. And before she can say anything to that, Gross Priest’s sister arrives to interrupt and, I guess, chaperone? Regardless, can’t help but feel, based on the track record of the men on this show, that extra eyes on this dude might be the right call.

A woman says "you cannot trust anybody, ever."

Meanwhile, at Thornfield By The Sea, Leo is MIA, and despite the friendship inroads we made last week, Augusta is still, after all, a snotty teenager. Rather than helping Charlotte, she insults her in French, and then (and this is a fair hit) makes a crack about Charlotte’s lack of language skills. What are you, kid, part of that weirdly violent Duolingo owl’s hit squad? Anyway, finding the littler kiddo is definitely top priority, so Charlotte heads out into the grounds in search of Leo, and instead finds Mystery Dad trying and failing to calm his horse Hannibal, who’s still spooked after the gunfire at the top of the episode. Charlotte, an undercover Horse Girl, succeeds where her boss could not, and calms the horse with kindness. A metaphor? This early in the season? No way!

The character Hannibal from the TV show Hannibal smiles softly.

Meanwhile, apparently news of the town elephant has been greatly exaggerated: our Parker pals have been outbid by a neighboring village, and they just don’t have the cash to counter. Optimistic Arthur suggests finding another animal, but Tom isn’t impressed: the fair is tomorrow! He’s going to look silly!

Surprisingly NOT silly is the conversation between Captain Loverboy and Hurricane Heywood. He’s asking all the right questions about her interests, and they actually seem like they might be compatible. But when the subject of travel comes up, they inevitably end up discussing the war. Captain Loverboy tells her about a bridge collapse when he had to try and save his friends from drowning, which sounds frankly horrifying. Behind them, Mary, Georgiana, and Gross Sister talk about G’s prospects: she still wants to decline all proposals, until Mary makes the mistake of explaining exactly WHY Wannabe Byron is a bad idea, which only makes him sound more interesting IMHO.

Mary: No security! No cash! And MESSY at parties!
Gross Sister, has some DIRT: Well look, speaking of that party, apparently the army hasn’t paid for anything yet! They’re running up a huge tab, and everyone here in town is QUITE upset.

The. Plot. Thickens. Speaking of which, when Horrible Ed arrives at Lady D’s, Esther gets right to the point: explain what’s happening with you and Clara. Right now.

Horrible Ed: Whomst?

A woman says "I bet you thought you'd seen the last of me."

Horrible Ed, of course, claims he has nothing to do with Clara’s pregnancy, and never got any letters, but I’m sure not buying it (and even if he isn’t the papa, I have to say, these two kind of deserve each other, no?). Lady D seems to agree, and sends Horrible Ed packing and Clara off to hide somewhere so no one (not even Dr. Fuchs, who’s finally coming to look at Esther) can see their family shame. But of course Horrible Ed won’t leave quietly: on the way out he first steals a letter addressed to Esther and then stops for a chat with Clara.

Horrible Ed: Ugh, why are you ruining this for me? I’ve had to do a lot of lying to convince my aunt that I’m nice now!
Clara: I’m not here to get in your way; I don’t want to see you at all. I got what I needed. Isn’t life funny? Your unborn kid’s going to end up richer than you!

That is funny Clara! Also kinda funny (sorry) is Tom rampaging around town tearing down his cute fair posters and complaining to Colonel No Service that he lost an elephant.

Colonel No Service: Dude, it’s no big deal, it’ll still be a fun fair.
Tom: Not ELEPHANT fun though!
Colonel No Service: Now look, I don’t have an elephant, but I might be able to help…
Arthur, running up: I saved the day! I got us a giant horse!
Tom, annoyingly willing to throw his brother over: Uh, thanks buddy, but Colonel No Service already saved the day!

Messing with Arthur? That’s crossing the line! Back at Lady D’s, Dr. Fuchs examines Esther, diagnosing her with the hot girl’s blight: inflamed intestines. But Lady D isn’t buying it: it’s gotta be those dang herbs! Of course, Dr. F is eager to investigate, and after one look at said herbs tells Esther to stop drinking them immediately: they’ll only make things worse!

Esther: I can’t stop, they’re my only hope!
Dr. Fuchs: False! I’ll make you a tincture. It might not work, but it definitely won’t KILL YOU, unlike these!

Esther, of course, agrees. TBH, I just want to know what’s in any and all of these medications because I frankly think everyone is peddling snake oil. Across town, at tea, Arthur tries to tell Georgiana that he thinks she should be flattered by Wannabe Byron’s art project. She sets him straight quick:

Georgiana: You don’t know what it’s like to always be looked at. I’ve always been an outsider because of my mixed race heritage, and now that I’m in England, everyone looks at me like I’m an outsider. That portrait is a physical representation of how much I don’t belong.
Arthur: Oh no. I’m so sorry. I can’t understand that: I’ve spent my whole life being overlooked, so when he drew me I felt uniquely seen.
Georgiana: He asked me how I wanted to be seen and I didn’t know how to answer.
Arthur: We both know most people see things through their prejudices. I don't think he does: he’s got clarity.
Georgiana: Well Mary thinks I shouldn't trust him.
Arthur: Maybe Mary doesn’t know either of you all that well.

I get where Arthur is coming from, but I also think Georgiana is right to be cautious. We’ll just have to wait and see! Over at Thornfield By The Sea, Mystery Dad insists on accompanying Charlotte on her search for Leo. He knows all the good hiding spots, so I think this is probably a good idea, even if it’s embarrassing for Charlotte. And in the woods across town, Hurricane Heywood bumps into Jilted while they’re both out gathering materials to turn into flower crowns. They're trading barbs about the respective judgements they’ve made about each other (but all in good fun) when it starts to rain, catching both pairs in a downpour. While the younger Heywood shelters under a tree, the elder continues to search for her charge, and for trouble, asking Mystery Dad why he takes such good care of his horse but ignores his kids.

Mystery Dad, missing the point: Augusta isn’t my kid.
Charlotte: Yeah, and she thinks you consider her a horrible burden. I love my dad and your girls deserve that experience too.
Mystery Dad: Well maybe they’re better off without me. Anyway, look, it’s Leo. Try not to lose her this time.

Hmm, curiouser and curiouser! Elsewhere, Hurricane Heywood and Jilted, none the worse for wear, head home, but not before she asks him to tell his brave heroic buddy that she’ll write. Jilted, a good friend, is pleased, but seems perhaps a little confused. I’m sure we’ll eventually find out why! Similarly, we’re still waiting on answers on the Sidney in Antigua situation. Georgiana’s father’s plantation was sold when he died, so she really just has the money left over from the sale. But what about her mom? Georgiana tells Charlotte that her mom was beautiful, graceful, and beloved by her father, but she died in childbirth. While the friends have this serious, painful conversation, Hurricane Heywood is in a different kind of pain: she can’t figure out how to capture the depth of her feelings for Captain Loverboy! But there’s no time to deal with that: a lovely bouquet of flowers has arrived… for Charlotte! As you might guess, they’re from Colonel No Service, and come with an invite to go to the fair together.


Britney Spears makes a confused face

The next day dawns clear and warm: perfect conditions for the fair. But Captain Loverboy is far from happy: he’s busy getting his butt handed to him in the boxing ring. Why? Because Hurricane Heywood wrote him a DAMN nice letter, including a poem, and he knows he won’t be able to measure up. It’s ok, Captain Loverboy: some women want himbo boyfriends! But he’s undeterred: he’s got to impress her. Lucky for him, Jilted just happens to carry around a little book of poetry at all times, and begrudgingly lends it to his friend.

Meanwhile, Mary finally passes on what she learned earlier this episode regarding the army’s financial situation here in town to Tom. Unfortunately, due to his budding bromance with Captain No Service, Tom isn’t keen to believe “idle gossip.” Even if there are a few debts here and there, if they build a barracks it comes with a hefty government stipend which would more than make up the difference! I get why Tom is thinking this way, but I have to agree with Arthur’s suggestion for caution. Something just doesn’t quite add up!

Back at Thornfield By The Sea, Augusta is continuing to be a pain in the butt, but I actually can’t blame her: she’s very knowledgeable, and despite Charlotte's passion for education, she might not be advanced enough to challenge her charge. But what Charlotte absolutely can provide is emotional support, which she does by asking about Augusta’s parents. Her mother was pretty, kind, and sad: she never really got over the death of her twin, Leo’s mom, a subject nobody wants to discuss, so great is the grief that Mystery Dad feels for his wife. Speaking of Mystery Dad, just then they spot him lurking around the yard and everyone jumps on the opportunity to get him to come hang out. Leo is pretty effective, given her status as the tiniest hellion, but it’s Augusta’s cold assumption that he won’t want to stay anyway that clinches the deal, probably thanks to Charlotte’s meddling earlier.

Alas, nothing is ever easy with this kid, who immediately attempts to throw Charlotte under the bus: she was asking about Aunt Lucy! Charlotte explains that they’d been discussing Augusta’s mother’s relationship with her sister, and the convo quickly devolves into an argument: Augusta feels trapped in the countryside and wants to be presented to society in London. Mystery Dad doesn't think she’s ready, and also hates people (fair enough). Before they can get into this more, Leo arrives with some cornflowers, which prompts a discussion of the Greek mythology behind the name that leaves Mystery Dad impressed with Charlotte: she IS a nerd after all! They don’t mention this, but fun fact: cornflowers are sometimes called bachelor’s buttons, and some stories say that if a man in love wears one, and it wilts, his love is not returned.

Meanwhile, over at Lady D’s, Esther decides to stay home from the fair. Will it likely be somewhat pedestrian? Sure, but her real reason is that she doesn’t think Clara (who I have deduced from years of watching Call The Midwife might just be in labor) can be trusted alone in the house. Esther’s plan: to glare at Clara and make sure she doesn’t steal the silver. But babies don’t care about petty rivalries, and this one seems hell-bent on making its entrance soon, whether everyone is ready or not.

Across town, Captain Loverboy arrives to pick Hurricane Heywood up for the fair. She’s delighted by his letter, and asks him to finish the verse of the poem he included. Now obviously given his lack of poetry knowledge, this isn’t a good idea, so he demurs, but I have to wonder how long he’ll be able to keep this up. Before he can be caught out, Colonel No Service and Jilted arrive looking for Charlotte, who’s late, and the Colonel pulls Captain Loverboy away to help set up “the ascent” (ominous) leaving Jilted to escort Hurricane Heywood. Did she like that letter, he asks?

Hurricane Heywood: It was perfect! He just really gets me. He’s a hero and a poet!
Jilted: A what now?
Hurricane Heywood: Oh yeah, he told me about his bravery rescuing everyone from drowning.
Jilted: Huh. Interesting.

OMG. Captain Loverboy, you better not have lied about that, that is NOT cute! Also not cute? Lady D’s decision to harangue Georgiana about the sugar boycott. Again. Lady D just seems very determined to knock Georgiana down, which is petty and pathetic. Not into it! I am, however, very into the fun picnic that’s STILL going on over at Thornfield By The Sea. Everyone’s enjoyed themselves, even Augusta! That’s certainly worth celebrating, but not today: Charlotte has promised to attend the fair, so she has to run off in a hurry to meet the Parkers, and leaves the entire Mystery Family kind of sorry to see her go.

At Lady D’s, Esther helps Clara to her bedroom, eventually resorting to an absolutely gold star one-liner to drag her former rival up the staircase.

Esther: You absolutely cannot have this baby on the stairs — it's bad enough that it was conceived on the floor!!

Jennifer Lopez, looking stunning in a crystal-covered dress, stands from her chair, clapping. She frowns, but it's an expression of approval.

And then, after trading insults, Clara finally gives in and asks for help: she can’t do this alone. Esther, of course, finds this so much harder that Clara has any reason to suspect, but because she’s still a secret softie, she agrees.

Meanwhile, back at the fair, the meaning behind "the ascent" is finally made clear: Colonel No Service has lent Tom an observation balloon, and Tom is currently trying (and failing) to convince the assembled crowd that this is a fun opportunity for them to see Sanditon from a new perspective. Arthur? Not into it. Lady D? Hard pass. Charlotte? Volunteers immediately (obviously). Tom is weirdly against it (probably because he thinks it’ll pickle her uterus or some such nonsense) but Colonel No Service is willing to allow it: at least one other woman has gone up before; it should be perfectly safe, and if she goes up everyone else will have to step up. As Charlotte and Colonel No Service start rising into the air, Wannabe Byron sidles up to Georgiana: why isn’t *she* in the basket? Are her mean jailers stopping her? Georgiana argues that Mary is her friend, not a jailer, but Wannabe Byron isn’t buying it (and TBH I’m not sure Georgiana completely buys it either).

Now, I for some reason assumed these soldiers had experience with their fancy balloon. I was wrong. On the ground, the guys holding the rope tethering our friends to the ground lose control, slip, and let go. Charlotte is jostled into Colonel No Service, who catches her (ooooh) and on the ground, everyone starts panicking. But it’s good old Arthur who finally happens to catch onto the rope and save the day! The soldiers grab him before he can fly away too, and he gets a well earned round of applause from the crowd AND a hug from Wannabe Byron for his troubles.

A man dressed in a revolutionary war era soldier uniform leaps to his feet and shouts huzzah!

Aloft, Charlotte takes this opportunity to tell Colonel No Service that she’s won the latest battle with her charges, and also seems to be making inroads with her boss, who might be a better person than she assumed. Later, back on the ground, Colonel No Service pulls her aside to continue their conversation: he doesn’t want to be rude, but he has to be honest: she should be careful around Mystery Dad. Will he explain why? No, and Charlotte isn’t impressed, so finally he caves, and tells Charlotte that he used to know a very cool young lady a lot like Charlotte, and you know where this is going: that lady was Mystery Dad’s deceased wife Lucy. Colonel No Service goes on to add that Mystery Dad “destroyed her,” whatever that means. Now look, I guess we have to wait to get all the facts, but I’m not ready to just take Colonel No Service’s word for it on something this big just yet.

Over at Lady D’s house, Clara has successfully given birth, and despite Esther’s urging, doesn’t want to hold her son. Unfortunately this leaves Esther in the difficult position of holding onto a smooshy newborn when she can’t have kids of her own. And speaking of bad ideas, Georgiana has for some reason decided to knock on Wannabe Byron’s door while he’s in the middle of a weird art fugue state.

Georgiana: Ok, you can paint me. If I’m pleased, you can name your price.
Wannabe Byron: Oh, I’m not going to stop until we’re both pleased.

A man says "Hey. Phrasing!"

Wannabe Byron: You alone? Come on in.
Georgiana: LOL good try, but no. Goodnight.

Back in town, the Parker party is making their way home from the very successful fair when they’re set upon by a small but angry mob of shopkeepers. Oh no, that gossip from before turned out to be true?

A woman says "Fake sarcastic shock, I was right?"

Tom puts everyone off and slams the door, but that crowd isn’t going anywhere, so he takes himself right over to visit Colonel No Service later that night to try and have a chat about the money issues. But no dice. Well, some dice, actually: Colonel No Service easily distracts Tom with a game of chance. While they play, Captain Loverboy starts up a convo with his coworker Horrible Ed: what’s the matter? Why is he so glum?

Horrible Ed: Apparently I’m about to be a dad?
Captain Loverboy: But that’s a good thing, surely?
Horrible Ed: Oh, it might be. It. Might. Be.

Ugh, no time to find out what *he’s* got planned, because Jilted pulls Captain Loverboy aside to ask him about that story of his heroism in battle. Kinda weird that he was able to be so brave when we wouldn’t have been old enough to even be there in the first place! Jitled isn’t playing around: Hurricane Heywood deserves better!

An animated genie points at a blackboard and says "tell her the TRUTH."

Across the room, Tom’s night has gone from bad to worse: our friend just lost 100 pounds, and it’s only now that Colonel No Service asks what Tom came to talk about in the first place. Tom, at least, finally seems to be wondering if the Colonel isn’t everything that he appears, and so, it seems, is Charlotte. Back at the house, she’s arranging the flowers the Colonel gave her, but she also still has those cornflowers from the Mystery Family picnic. Who’s lying? And will our friends be able to stay out of the crossfire? We’ll just have to wait for episode 4 to find out!

Episode 1 recap: guess who's back
Episode 2 recap: shady characters, sedition, and a spinet