Well, friends, we’re back. Last season, all of our beloved pals were once again jilted and disrespected by horrible men, so at this point I’m honestly kind of hoping Georgiana and Charlotte just run away together to be rich and fabulous in peace. However, I suspect my wish is not about to be granted, because even though the season does start with Charlotte making her way downtown (riding fast, faces pass, and she’s Sanditon bound), she’s not alone in the carriage. No, sitting across from her is Boring Ralph, her farmer fiance who we barely met at the very tail end of last season’s finale. I’m gonna be real with you, reader: he seems fine. I’m probably being unfair. But guess what:

A woman yells "Who cares?! I don't care."

Boring Ralph: Golly, Char, I sure hope I don’t embarrass you in front of your friends!
Me: Too late, Ralph.
Charlotte: Hush, you’re not in this scene. He’s gonna do fine!

Meanwhile, at the Parker house, Georgiana is getting an early birthday present: earrings that used to belong to Mary’s mum. Cute! And Georgianna actually looks super happy for once, probably mostly because she’s turning 21 today, which means she’s finally in charge of herself instead of having to be Tom Parker’s ward. She signs the paperwork, smiles, and heads out into town, where she almost immediately runs into Charlotte. They hug, Charlotte hands over some flowers, and Georgiana pretends that she’s happy to see Boring Ralph, who’s now wearing an absolutely incredible hat that makes him look like a low-budget Tom Bombadil.

Just as funny as Boring Ralph’s hat? Whatever is happening over at Lady D’s house, where she’s marching outside to see Dr. Fuchs’ latest “innovation.” Reader, I crap you not: it’s basically a hand-pumped firehose that the good doctor has turned on Horrible Ed in a bid to make him suffer into good behavior. Lady D cackles and leaves them to it, but yikes: I didn’t love it when we tortured evil George Warleggan on Poldark, and I don’t love it now (even if Horrible Ed really does deserve his moniker). In addition to whatever Fuchs has been up to, Horrible Ed also gets to spend time studying the bible with Gross Priest, which feels like a fair punishment to me. He seems contrite, but look: we all know better by now, don’t we? While he “repents” inside the church, Dr. Fuchs arrives, and strikes up a conversation with Gross Priest’s sister Single and Loving It, who apparently speaks some German? Their meet cute is interrupted by the arrival of Gross Priest, who proceeds to quibble with the doctor over whose weird rehab program is more successful. They’re being so irritating I want both of them to lose, if only because I enjoy calling Horrible Ed horrible, and don’t want to stop.

Anyway, back in town, our requisite new characters have arrived: a pair of siblings, chaperoned by their mother, who’s desperately hoping out loud that they left their reputation in Bath. Tom, never one to miss an opportunity, greets them by name (apparently Merciless Mama is titled) and tips his hat before they head on to the hotel. Good. I hope they brought some juicy shenanigans in their luggage; I’ll simply perish if the silliest thing to happen this season is Boring Ralph’s hat.

Later that night, the Parkers, Georgiana, Charlotte and Boring Ralph are playing a game where, for some reason, they stick their hands into a flaming cup and pull out candy. Yes, this is a real game called snapdragon, which was typically played at Christmastime, and which I immediately want to attempt. Boring Ralph, because he’s boring, is bad at it, and burns his fingers.

Mary: You better work on yourself, Boring Ralph: Charlotte is killer at this weird game. Catch up!
Tom: Anyway, it’s time for me to brag about how successful Sanditon is! We’re crushing it, and Georgiana’s party is going to be the icing on the cake.
Arthur: It’s going to be AMAZING.
Georgiana: Yeah, I’m trying to make a big splash for myself!
Mary: Just don’t spend all your money at once.
Tom: It’s gonna be great: Merciless Mama and her son, the duke, just got here. Also Lady Susan from back in season 1 is coming.
Boring Ralph: Hold up, you know Lady Susan? How?
Tom: Oh, they met at a fancy ball in London.
Boring Ralph: WHAT? When did you go to London?
Georgiana: Don’t worry about it, she and Sidney came to the city to save me.
Charlotte, clarifying that she for SURE did not tell Boring Ralph about Sidney: Long story. Don’t worry about it!
Georgiana, definitely not feeling Boring Ralph: Anyway, Charlotte, everyone else is coming except your former boss, Mystery Dad. He’s staying in Bath, for some reason.
Boring Ralph: Good, from everything I’ve heard he was bad!

A man makes a face that says "yikes"

Tom: Anyway, the good news is that there will be a ton of hot young bachelors. For Georgiana, naturally, since you’ve got Boring Ralph now, Char.
Boring Ralph: Wow, our wedding is going to be way less fancy than this party.
Tom: Don’t worry about it, you’re getting married at a great time of year! “Seasons, mists, and mellow fruitfulness.” Wordsworth!
Arthur: Uh, sorry bro, that was Shelley.
Tom: Really? Ralph, do you know?
Boring Ralph: No dude, I’m here to be a plot device and I don’t know any poetry :(
Charlotte: It’s ok babe, I do: you’re both wrong, it was Keats.
Georgiana: SEE, this is what I’m talking about! Boring Ralph, you know you’re marrying a nerd queen, right?
Boring Ralph, redeeming himself a little bit: Oh yeah, I know, and I LIKE IT.

Well well well. Do I appreciate that he appreciates her? Yes. Does that make me like him?

A man looks confused and then says "no"

The next morning, that duke we met earlier shambles home in what looks to me to be evening wear. Walk of shame? Weird fashion choice? I’m assuming the former, given that he does his best to sneak into the house. Unfortunately for him, when he turns around from gingerly shutting the door, he finds his sister and mother already sitting in the parlor, ready to mess with him.

Merciless Mama: What the hell, kid! We ran away from a scandal, you’re supposed to be behaving yourself!
Dastardly Duke: Don’t worry about it; I was totally well behaved.
Merciless Mama: Your one job is to find a wealthy lady to marry, lock it down, and make a son. What’s so hard about this?
Dastardly Duke: I don’t know, but being kind of a pain in the ass rake worked well for my counterpart on Bridgerton, so I’m not worried.
Merciless Mama: Don’t be a wiseass!
Snarky Sister, like a wiseass: Yeah, brother, don’t be a wiseass!
Merciless Mama: You BOTH need to get your acts together. I got us invitations for Miss Lambe’s party. She’s loaded: you’re gonna charm her.
Dastardly Duke: I bet she’s fat and has a goiter.
Merciless Mama: You have no money to bet with, that’s the whole point!! And Snarky Sister, don’t think I forgot about you; you’re almost THIRTY. We’re gonna get you a husband too. A good one, this time. Ugh, being fancy without money is the WORST.

A woman says "Kim, there's people that are dying."

Back at the Parker house, Charlotte gets the update on the search for Georgiana’s mom. Despite having hired detectives on multiple continents, Georgiana hasn’t had any luck tracking her down. Even worse, she’s had to rethink her relationship with her dad: why did he lie about her mom? Before we can examine that too closely, a maid brings in a note for Georgiana. You guessed it: it’s another man trying to woo her.

Georgiana: Ugh, it’s only gotten worse since I inherited. And after last season, I’m even more committed to never marrying.
Charlotte: I mean, fair enough.
Georgiana, pointedly: Yeah, also: remember how you said the same thing like 2 episodes ago, and then suddenly you were engaged to a guy none of us have met? What gives??
Charlotte: Well, you may recall that I am… not rich. Ralph is a known quantity, and my dad expected it.
Georgiana: Do you love him?

A man visibly goes back and forth on a question in his mind

He’s really great. I care about him. Anyway, I’ve fallen in love in the past and it’s been a disaster every time.

Hard to argue, I guess! And speaking of said former flames, guess who’s riding back towards Sanditon? Yes, it’s Mystery Dad, and despite his heartbreak last season, he and both girls are all legit smiling in their carriage, which is a HUGE improvement. Fun Housekeeper, who this season I will be calling by her actual name, Mrs. W (it seems fitting that Mystery Dad be the only one at Thornfield By The Sea with a fake name, ya know?) and the rest of the squad prepare to greet them at Thornfield By The Sea, and everyone just generally seems to be actually happy. That is, mostly happy: over breakfast, Augusta tells Mystery Dad that now they’re in the country, he should maybe lay off the whole “finding her a husband” project.

Mystery Dad: That’s like 90% of being a male guardian in this era, so… no.
Leo: That’s BS! Why does she have to get married if she doesn’t want to?
Mystery Dad: For security. It’s how society works.
Everyone, including Mrs. W, and me:

A woman rolls her eyes

Augusta: Yeah, so I get to meet a steady stream of garbage men.
Leo, my hero: If marriage is such a big deal, why don’t you get hitched, dad?
Augusta: Because he’s even pickier than I am. All the ladies in Bath were eyeing him, but he wasn’t into it.
Mystery Dad: Ok, simmer down.
Augusta: See Leo, this season he’s trying to move away from his Mr. Rochester persona, and evolve into a Mr. Darcy.
Mystery Dad: Fine, well if you can find me an Accomplished Woman™, I’ll consider her.

Also actually happy? Me, when I see that Tom wasn’t just full of hot air when he said Lady Susan was coming back! Also, Charlotte, who really needs a mentor with a bit of a devil-may-care attitude right about now. Charlotte and the Parkers reunite with Lady Susan, who immediately finds out, via Tom, that Charlotte is engaged, and also finds out, via Charlotte’s face, that the younger woman is feeling pretty meh about the whole thing. She swoops Charlotte away for a chat, which goes a little something like this:

Lady Susan: I’m glad you’re happy but this isn’t what I was expecting…
Charlotte: Why not? It was fine for my parents, why not me?
Lady Susan:

A man and a woman look at each other and skeptically say "oh... okay."

Merciless Mama, spotting a much needed rich lady ally: OMG, HI! We met at Princess Charlotte’s wedding, remember?
Lady Susan: Oh, uh, sure!
Merciless Mama: And these are my kids. Wow, seems like everyone who’s anyone is here! Maybe the new king might even visit?
Lady Susan: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Fair question, given that all these characters are under the impression that Lady Susan is super close with said new king, but she’s not about to clarify her position to this stranger, naturally. Lady S does tell Charlotte it’s likely the king will stop by, but more detail is cut short by the arrival of Leo, who rockets into Charlotte’s arms for a hug. Not gonna lie to you, reader, Charlotte looks horrified to see Leo, and barely composes herself even after realizing Mystery Dad isn’t lurking nearby. She introduces Augusta and Mrs. W to Lady Susan, and attempts a polite conversation. Leo has other plans.

Leo: Where the heck did you run off to? You didn’t even say goodbye!
Charlotte: OH, I really wanted to, but it was… difficult. I’m sorry about how I left.
All the adults in the convo:

A man looks uncomfortable over a caption that says [awkward silence]

Leo: But now that you're back, you can be our governess again, right?
Charlotte: Uhhhhh, no.
Leo: WTF?
Mrs. W: Leo, chill.
Charlotte: I’m only here for Georgiana’s party, and then I’m heading home. I’ve missed you all; it’s good to see you.
Mrs. W: Yes, Thornfield By The Sea also missed you. You get what I’m saying right?

Sure do, Mrs. W. Sure do. Anyway, this awkwardly fraught conversation will have to wait, because across town, Tom is rushing home to meet with a guy named Rolly Price. Does that name sound more made up than most of the recap names in here? YUP. Technically I guess it’s spelled Rowleigh, but Rolly is much funnier, IMO. Anyway, apparently this fella is a famous speculator, and his investment in a hotel could REALLY put Sanditon on the map. But he’s a hard man to impress, and Tom is, well, Tom.

Rolly Price: You’re Tom Parker? You’ve kept me waiting!
Tom: I’m so sorry. Good trip?
Rolly Price: HORRIBLE. It better be nice here!
Tom: Well, I’m honored to welcome you to the best —
Rolly Price: — quit jabbering, let’s go inside.


While Tom deals with the human version of Statler and Waldorf, at Lady D’s house, Horrible Ed gives his aunt a report on all the good deeds and hard labor he’s been doing around town, and tells her he’s reformed. For real this time! In her own words, she remains unconvinced, but annoyingly, Dr. Fuchs and Gross Priest both think he’s fixed.

Horrible Ed: They’re so great. I only wish I could let them tell me what to do MORE.
Lady D: Hmmm, whatever. I’m sticking to the original agreement: once I’ve seen consistent good behavior from you, you can get your allowance, but not a minute sooner. If I find out about even one wrong thing you do, contract over. Now take me to town, I need someone to carry my shopping.

She heads out of the room, and as we all expected, Horrible Ed immediately rolls his eyes. Whatever, man, I can’t wait for Lady D to cut you off for good this time. Across town, Mary’s busy telling Georgiana that people like her for her personality AND that she’s a hottie no matter what she wears to her party, proving that women are incredible friends across the board, when they’re spotted by Merciless Mama.

Merciless Mama: Oh look, son, that’s your heiress. She’s hot and rich, so no excuses. Lock that sh*t down!
Snarky Sister: I mean, “your” seems a little premature, but go off, mom.
Dastardly Duke, fake as hell: Anything for you, mummy.

Meanwhile, at the beach, Lady Susan, who always knows what’s up, zeroes in on the weird tension-y conversation she just witnessed. How long was Charlotte a governess?

Charlotte: Oh, only a little while.
Lady Susan: Hm. Interesting that you didn’t tell THEM you were engaged.
Charlotte: Oh, that was just because it was irrelevant, and definitely had nothing to do with their hot dad.
Boring Ralph, galumphing onto the scene: Hiiiiii.

Charlotte makes introductions, and Boring Ralph gets a very warm greeting from Lady Susan, who’s apparently still firmly in information gathering mode. Then, Boring Ralph whips out a present he got for Charlotte: Keat’s latest book of poetry! He also wants to read it together, which is pretty cute. Look, Boring Ralph, I’m so sorry, you’re a sweet kid, but this engagement is still butt.

Anyway, at the tea house, Arthur and Georgiana are having a nice time until Dastardly Duke swans up to the table. Arthur spots him first, giving Georgiana a heads up and time to brace herself for an unwanted suitor.

Dastardly Duke, smarmy: Hey girl, thanks for the invite to your party.
Georgiana: No thanks necessary, Arthur here is organizing everything, and I barely looked at the guest list.
Dastardly Duke: Well, would you like to go for a walk on the beach tomorrow?
Arthur, attack mode: She’s busy.
Georgiana: And even if I weren’t, I’d still say no.
Dastardly Duke: Ok, bye!
Georigana: That was too easy.

Sure was, which leads me to believe that our new friend is a lot less invested in marriage than his mother would hope. And speaking of annoying men, outside, Augusta nearly gets knocked over by Horrible Ed, who actually seems weirdly smitten with her, possibly because her unimpressed and haughty reaction reminds him of his former sparring partner/girlfriend/sister, Esther. He actually apologizes, before running back to Lady D, who tells him in no uncertain terms to stay the hell away from Augusta. Similar advice is being doled out by Mrs. W, which I fear might make Horrible Ed actually seem appealing, given Augusta’s contrarian nature.

A man worriedly says "uh-oh."

Back at the fancy family’s rented home, Merciless Mama finishes lecturing her son for giving up at the first sign of a challenge, before reading off her daughter’s prospects, which are, admittedly, not ideal: Arthur (not rich enough), Horrible Ed (name says it all, also poor), and Gross Priest (ditto Horrible Ed).

You know who else is unimpressed by the prospects in Sanditon? Rolly Price, who pronounces the town smaller than expected, and hates sand (and thus the beach).

Tom: Well, maybe lunch?
Rolly Price: Don’t try and butter me up! I only need to listen to my gut, and my gut says… that I should invest.
Tom: WHAT? YAY! We just need Lady D to sign off; I’ll introduce you tomorrow.

I’m sure that’ll go off without a hitch! No drama at all! Also causing extra drama? Leo, who hunts down Mystery Dad immediately upon returning home to tell him that Charlotte is back in town.

Augusta, doubling down: She said how much she misses us, and how bad she felt about her departure. You made it sound like she decided to go. Care to comment?
Mystery Dad: It was? I think?

That doesn’t deserve a reply, so it doesn’t get one. Later, however, Augusta corners Mrs. W to talk it all over. Mystery Dad sure did have a big reaction to hearing Charlotte’s name!

Mrs. W: No comment.
Leo: Wait, what are we talking about?
Augusta: Mystery Dad and Charlotte are in love. That’s why she left, it all makes sense.
Leo: So, what does that mean?
Augusta: It means we need to Parent Trap them, that’s what it means.
Mrs. W: And what’s your plan?
Augusta: This is a historical drama; I’m gonna make them dance with each other, duh. And conveniently, there’s a party happening this very episode!
Me, still salty that we never did get that Captain Von Trapp dancing with Maria moment last season:

A man says YES!

The next morning, Tom meets with Lady D re: the whole hotel plan, and shockingly, she’s on board. She even compliments Tom for finally living up to his potential, which leads me to fear he’s about to do something very silly very soon. Hilariously, however, it’s not Tom who does something silly. It’s Lady D, who makes Mary scoot her out the servants’ entrance when she recognizes Rolly Price’s voice in the hallway. Miffed at missing his nap, the gentleman in question quickly departs, leaving Mary to wonder what the heck just happened. Given that Lady D’s done a runner, we have to wait for details, but in the meantime, they tell Charlotte what happened.

Tom: Well, whatever. We’ll invite Rolly Price to Georgiana’s party, and sit them together. Then she can’t run.
Charlotte: Uh, given what I’ve heard about this guy, don’t you think that sitting them together might cause a fight?
Tom: Nah, as long as they’re talking about money she’ll be fine.

LMAO, famous last words, and I cannot WAIT to see what happens. But first, Mary and Charlotte head to the less fancy side of town, where they drop off some hampers of stuff with Mary’s former maid. Why? Well because it’s a nice thing to do, because Mary needs something to entertain herself, and because this family clearly needs some support. They’ve got like… 6 kids (if I counted right). Charlotte, who as we may recall has a ton of siblings and likes children, immediately befriends the kiddos, who are dismayed to learn that she will be leaving tomorrow, to go get married and never return.

Mary’s Former Maid/Charlotte’s Object Lesson in the perils of marrying a normal person: Aw, congratulations! Soon you’ll be just like me!
Charlotte, internally, after looking around the tiny house full of children:

A man says "I've made a huge mistake."

Also feeling the pressure of their choices? Arthur, who’s really worried he hasn’t done a good enough job preparing for Georgiana’s party. She tries to talk him down, but he explains that he’s been lowkey hoping this party will make up for his part in the Wannabe Byron situation last season.

Georgiana: Forget him; you’re my best friend, pretty much. The party will be perfect.

I bet it will, in no small part because across town, Tom is going out of his way to make sure Rolly Price will be there, despite the older man’s insistence that he doesn’t like parties and would rather not go. Finally, Tom persuades him.

A man snarkily opens a folding chair and sits down to watch the action.

Mission accomplished, all the Parkers and their assorted guests head to the beach to play some bocce type game, which Boring Ralph attempts to avoid until Tom insists. At the same time, Merciless Mama and her two kids roll up to the party, drawing the ire of Arthur and Georgiana.

Georgiana, approaching Dastardly Duke where he’s pulled away from his family: Ugh, I thought I told you I’m not interested!
Dastardly Duke: Look, me neither. But can you just pretend I’m funny for like one second? I promise I will leave you alone.
Georgiana, deciding to go with it: Hahahahahah!

She’s convincing enough to fool Merciless Mama AND Tom, who seems delighted that she’s become friends with a duke (classic Tom). Boring Ralph, who is after all a normal person, is a little freaked out by all the titled people in Charlotte’s life, but seems to buy her “that’s why you’re here to keep me grounded.” When he agrees to join Tom in Sanditon Bocce, Charlotte’s greeted by Augusta and Leo, who heard through the grapevine that she was having a picnic on the beach. They’re there to deliver a present to Georgiana, and wish her happy birthday, and a good party.

Georgiana: Oh, I am so sorry, when I sent invitations I thought you all were in Bath!
Augusta: You’re so kind; it’s a real shame, I would have loved to attend.
Georgiana: You know what, one more guest wouldn’t be a problem, right Charlotte?
Charlotte, definitely knows where this is going: It’s your party!
Augusta: That’s so nice of you, but I would need a chaperone. I’d have to bring my uncle, and two extra guests is just SO much, you know?
Georgiana, who, let’s not forget, also ships it: No, not at all! You’re both welcome!

Hehe. Less amusing? Tom, who’s positively delighted at the fun interaction he thought he saw between Georgiana and Dastardly Duke.

Tom: You guys seemed AWFULLY cozy! If you became a duchess, I’d really feel like I nailed this guardian thing.
Mary: Pump the breaks, babe: we don’t know him at all.
Georgiana, not above a scheme: I guess that would at least get rid of the fortune hunters…

Georgiana takes the Parker kids off to look for shells, and it’s after the kiddos have run back to the rest of the group that she happens upon Dastardly Duke in a bathing machine… and not alone. There’s another guy in there with him, and let’s just say their clothes are… disheveled. Dastardly Duke sees her looking, and there’s a TENSE moment: if she draws the conclusion that I’m drawing, and decides to tell someone, it could be very dangerous for our new friend.

Meanwhile, at Thornfield By The Sea, Team Tiny Hellion moves on to part 2 of their plan: telling Mystery Dad about their late-breaking party invite.

Mystery Dad: The party is in less than 10 minutes of TV run time, I don’t have time to muster up a good mood for that.
Leo: Tough taters, papa: Augusta already said yes.
Mystery Dad: Ugh, you should have asked first!
Augusta: I knew you’d want me to go, since there will be prospective suitors for me to meet. Can’t miss that opportunity.
Mystery Dad: Hmmm, seems suspicious, but it’s hard to argue.
Leo: Charlotte’s going too, btw.
Augusta: She was hoping you’d be there.
Mystery Dad: Well since you already RSVPd for us, I guess I better go.

I guess you’d better, dude! Later that evening, Dastardly Duke calls on Georgiana before the party, which I’m sure will cause quite a stir with Tom when he finds out. Unsurprisingly, he’s really here to ask Georgiana to forget whatever she thinks she saw at the beach earlier.

Georgiana: I didn’t see anything, so.
Dastardly Duke: Thanks. As a duke, I have to keep up certain… appearances.
Georgiana: Oh, I 100% get it. I do have a proposal for you though.

Reader, as a person who goes absolutely feral for fake dating plotlines, I am delighted to tell you that Georgiana’s proposal is exactly that: she’s asked Dastardly Duke to escort her to the party, and to open the dance floor with her. Merciless Mama is ecstatic, especially because she also thinks she’s found a match for Snarky Sister: Mystery Dad! That, I like a lot less, but I’m sure it’ll all work out. I mean, we’ve never been let down romantically by this show before, have we?

A woman cries uncontrollably

At Thornfield By The Sea, Mystery Dad gets a fit check from Mrs. W, who tells him that a) he looks nice, and b) second chances are rare, so he better not blow this one. Hard to argue, so he doesn’t, and we head right across town to the party, where everyone’s arriving in their finest outfits, which for Boring Ralph, for some reason, includes his Tom Bombadil hat. Again.

Lady Susan: Charlotte, you look amazing! Boring Ralph, I hope you know how lucky you are.
Boring Ralph: Sure do, though I’m not sure when Charlotte’s gonna get to wear these fancy clothes again!
Lady Susan:

A woman makes a face and raises her eyebrows as if to say "yikes."

Single and Loving It and Dr. Fuchs have a cute moment. Gross Priest moralizes about how fun this will be, and how that’s bad. Everyone walks into dinner to find what I can only describe as an indoor enchanted forest: Arthur killed it, and this party is going to make its way onto a lot of Pinterest wedding boards, mark my words. One person who doesn’t like it? Lady D, who calls the room vulgar. Lady Susan steals Charlotte for a chat, and has just reminded her of how much she’s grown as a person when Mystery Dad walks in, and Charlotte and Mystery Dad immediately start sharing Significant Eye Contact like there’s no tomorrow. Lady Susan and Augusta, who also have eyes, take the opportunity to excuse themselves so the couple can talk with actual words.

Mystery Dad: You look super hot.
Charlotte: Thanks. I’m assuming Augusta made you come to the party?
Mystery Dad: No, actually, I wanted to be here. I was hoping we could talk.

I was hoping they could talk too, but Merciless Mama isn’t about to let that happen. She forces an introduction out of Lady Susan, who’s regretfully required to follow the era’s etiquette. They’re just finishing intros when Georgiana arrives on Dastardly Duke’s arm to a rousing applause.

Dastardly Duke: Dang, I’m popular!
Georgiana: LOL it’s not for you, they’re cheering for ME.

Damn right they are! Charlotte, who after all knows Georgiana very well, jumps on her first opportunity to ask Dastardly Duke what the heck is happening (politely, of course).

Dastardly Duke: Oh, we’re new friends, but we got along immediately.
Arthur, sitting on Georgiana’s other side: Dude, wtf? Don't fall for another fortune hunter; he’s got a reputation and his dad gambled away all their money.
Georgiana: Don’t worry, I got this! History won’t repeat itself. Also, this party is perfect.

Across the table, Lady Susan’s subtly interrogating Boring Ralph, which is how we find out that he’s been into Charlotte his whole life, and also that he feels like she’s a really different person when she’s here in Sanditon.

Lady Susan: Is Sanditon Charlotte better or worse?
Boring Ralph: Not for me to say.

Reader, that worries me slightly, I won’t lie. Across the room, Merciless Mama sympathizes with Lady D, who’s got an empty chair next to her. They both happily complain about the rudeness of the unknown man who was meant to sit there for a while, but Merciless Mama is never not on the hunt for spouses for her children, and takes a minute to remind Snarky Sister to pay attention to Mystery Dad’s every move.

The man in question? He’s asking Augusta if she sees anyone eligible. Worryingly, she looks over at Horrible Ed, but apparently doesn’t have strong enough feelings about that to tell Mystery Dad. Yet. I’m watching you, kid, be careful. Mystery Dad, meanwhile, is definitely looking over at Charlotte, who’s clearly realizing that she maybe should have told someone on Team Tiny Hellion that she’s actually engaged already. Horrible Ed, for his part, tells Gross Priest that he’s starting to get sick of being abused by Lady D (I mean, fair, but I don’t feel that bad for him). Gross Priest also doesn’t feel bad about it, because he thinks he’s saving Horrible Ed’s soul. He similarly doesn’t regret blocking his sister’s flirting with Dr. Fuchs.

Meanwhile, across the party, guess who finally showed up? Yes, it’s Rolly Price, and he immediately recognizes Lady D.

Rolly Price: LOL it’s you!
Lady D: Ugh, I can’t believe you’re here, you sneak.
Rolly Price: Look, if I knew YOU were Lady D, I wouldn’t have even come near Sanditon.

There’s a story there, and I must hear it. I must! Of course, I’ll have to wait: we have to take a quick trip out to Thornfield By The Sea, where Leo is sitting on the stairway, unable to sleep due to excessive excitement about the attempted Parent Trap setup at the party. Even Mrs. W’s halfhearted attempt to lower the kiddo’s expectations isn’t enough: Leo is invested! At the party, Mystery Dad finally heads over to Charlotte to shoot his shot.

Mystery Dad: I was so excited to hear you were back; I thought you wanted to stay away, but knowing you were sad to leave, I was hoping maybe I could tell you that —
Boring Ralph, who at least doesn’t have boring timing: — oh hi Charlotte, there you are!
Charlotte, ripping the bandaid off: Mystery Dad, meet Boring Ralph. By fiance.
Mystery Dad: Uh, well, congratulations!
Boring Ralph: Sorry to interrupt!
Mystery Dad: Nope! No, I’m fine! This is fine! I was just going to see if Charlotte would maybe come back and be our governess, but I guess that’s not gonna happen! Anyway, Charlotte, you’re irreplaceable. Ok bye!

A man yells "No! God! No! God! No! Please! No! No! No! Noooooooooooo!"

You know what though, reader? Mystery Dad has grown a lot! Understanding that he messed up, and still subtly telling Charlotte that she’s unmatched? That’s what I like to see! Sorry Boring Ralph: you’re toast. Maybe not this week, maybe not next week, but by the end of the season, for sure. Anyway, later, during the dancing, Georgiana asks Dastardly Duke what’s up with his finances.

Dastardly Duke: Oh yeah, we’re poor: we just have the title and the house. That’s why my mom is so keen for me to marry you.
Georgiana: Well my minders are equally thrilled, and all these creepy men are leaving me alone. Match made in heaven.

Not to fall for a fake good thing again, but honestly, this seems like it could work out for both of them… I’m cautiously optimistic! Meanwhile, Boring Ralph awkwardly tells Charlotte that Mystery Dad is a lot less horrible than Charlotte made him sound (lol) and that she must be happy she doesn’t have to be a governess (less lol). Merciless Mama and Lady Susan have an awkward conversation about how hot Mystery Dad is (which Lady Susan wins by calling Merciless Mama a cougar). On the dance floor, Single and Loving It, who’s gotten stuck dancing with Horrible Ed again, ends up feeding him the information that Augusta has some inheritance, which Horrible Ed pretends not to care about (super not lol). And this is where the night starts to go pear shaped. Lady D loudly tells Tom he’s not allowed to work with Rolly Price, whom she proclaims an untrustworthy scoundrel, to Tom’s dismay. Augusta rolls up to Charlotte and Boring Ralph and asks why Charlotte didn’t tell her about the engagement.

Charlotte, not a good liar: I thought I did?
Boring Ralph: Not really the kind of thing you should be able to forget though, is it?
Georgiana: Charlotte, come dance!
Boring Ralph: I don’t know this one.
Georgiana, inside: Good, I wasn’t asking you.
Georgiana, out loud: Oh no! You don’t mind if Charlotte does though?
Boring Ralph: No, go for it.
Charlotte: G, what is up with the duke?
Georgiana: I’ll tell you later. What’s up with Mystery Dad?
Charlotte: Nothing to tell.

Man sings "wrong wrong wrong wrong"

During the dance, Dr. Fuchs gets Single And Loving It’s permission to write to her when he’s out of town at a conference. Horrible Ed tries to chat up Augusta, who tells him she’s very aware of his bad reputation, but does it in a kind of flirty way that has me WORRIED. Charlotte has a perfectly nice time dancing with Arthur, and then a perfectly wretched time dancing with Mystery Dad.

Charlotte: Good luck finding a new governess.
Mystery Dad: Good luck with your marriage. I hope he’s good enough for you.

That… did not go great. Unfortunately, Snarky Sister, who’s more dutiful than her brother, uses her dance time with Mystery Dad to secure the opportunity to come visit his house to ride horses. Beyond the mild awkwardness, everything is going ok, and Georgiana is not only having a great time, but has also just agreed to continue the fake dating thing with Dastardly Duke, when a VERY unwanted visitor appears. It’s Wannabe Byron, who stalks into the party and insists that Georgiana come talk to him. Alone. Arthur tries to follow, but when Georgiana tells him to stay and deal with the fallout of this weirdness, he agrees. Thankfully, Charlotte isn’t so easily swayed, and arrives at Georgiana’s side just as Wannabe Byron hands her a sheaf of papers. You guessed it: he’s serving her a writ claiming that HE is the heir to her father’s fortune, not her.

Wannabe Byron: Better get a lawyer. Toodles!

I hate to give the guy the last word, but alas: I go where the episode takes me, and this time it’s taken us HERE. Pure garbage, I hate it! At the very least this gives Charlotte plausible reason to lurk around Sanditon for a while. Just who the heck does Wannabe Byron think he is? Will Georgiana be able to find a good enough lawyer to take him down? And what in the world is going to happen with everyone, romance-wise, this season? You know the drill: we’ll just have to wait for episode 2 for more answers.