Where were we? Oh, right: Augusta just took Charlotte’s accidentally bad advice and ran off with Horrible Edward! Charlotte was seconds away from, presumably, telling Boring Ralph that even though he’s very sweet, he’s also the human equivalent of a blancmange, and she’s more interested in a pavlova MINIMUM. And Georgiana had just announced her engagement to Dastardly Duke, leaving Arthur very sad.

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

Anyway, this episode, Charlotte’s preparing to go on her second honor rescue mission, despite Boring Ralph’s protests that a) Augusta has uncles to do that sort of thing and b) they’re supposed to go back to the farm.

Charlotte: My dude, our families can chill, I need to avert a Lydia/Wickham outcome!
Boring Ralph: Who? Charlotte, you know I don’t read stuff!
Charlotte: Regardless: this is the last hijink on the docket. Right after this we go straight home! Promise!

John Krasinski, as Jim in the Office, looks at the camera, crooks his eyebrow and frowns before taking a sip of coffee.

Over at Thornfield By The Sea, Mystery Dad and Fun Uncle Sam storm in to see if Augusta snuck home to grab her stuff. Mrs. W is, naturally, confused and horrified. Fun Uncle Sam, who has that infamous background to draw on, asks the one family member who probably knows something for the dirt.

Fun Uncle Sam: Leo: any info to share?
Leo: I promised not to tell!
Fun Uncle Sam: You’re not in trouble, kiddo. And you know you don’t have to keep secrets from adults who care about you!

Meryl Streep yells "yes!" and points

Leo: I helped her meet with him earlier today. I’m sorry, I just wanted her to be happy. She said she wanted to escape to Falmouth.

Mystery Dad strides right out of there to ready the horses or whatever, leaving Fun Uncle Sam to thank Leo for the tip. Back in town, they stop to pick up Charlotte, but not before she can have a weird, gloomy goodbye with Boring Ralph.

Mystery Dad:

A meme from Mean Girls where a woman says "get in loser we're off to save my niece's virtue"

And our friends aren’t the only ones dealing with the fallout of hormone-addled decision making: over at Lady D’s house, she’s furious about Horrible Edward’s horrible behavior.

Rolly Price: It is bad, but hopefully Mystery Dad catches them?
Lady D: Sure, but will he? This is all so embarrassing I can’t even enjoy saying I told you so to all the haters who thought he was reformed!
Rolly Price: I mean, what if we keep it on the DL by marrying them off before everyone finds out about the love shack situation? That would be socially acceptable! Also, since you agreed to marry me last episode you’ll have a different name soon and can distance yourself from this nonsense. Problem solved!
Lady D: Hm, I guess that’s true. What else do I get out of the deal?
Rolly Price: I’ll tell you next week! Shotgun weddings aren’t just for the young and pregnant anymore, sweetie!
Lady D: Why am I into this?? Whatever, sounds good, just as long as you don’t ghost me again.

Also annoyed about everyone’s impulse control? Arthur, who turns up at Georgiana’s place to try and talk her out of her engagement.

Georgiana, annoyed: It’s not impulsive! It’s a good choice!
Arthur: You don’t love him. And he doesn’t love you either!
Georgiana: No crap, Arthur, this isn’t about love! Every day I get more people trying to take my money or marry me. Being a duchess is like having the mother of all spam filters!
Arthur: Yeah, and will you be happy then? Will he?
Georgiana, confirming my suspicion that she figured out everyone’s position re: grouse v. partridge: I don’t want to be a jerk, but if you can’t marry him why shouldn’t I?

Alas, they have no time to unpack the relative merits of lavender marriages, because Merciless Mama and Snarky Sister bust in to interrupt the conversation and take Georgiana away to plan a wedding. The besties both put on their best fake smiles, but they can’t fool me: everyone’s miserable!

Meanwhile, in downtown Sanditon, a middle aged Black woman we don’t know walks through town like she’s looking for a specific address. Could this be Georgiana’s mom? I don’t want to get our hopes up, but whew, this is exactly the time when a mother figure would be most helpful, don’t you think?

Back with team Save Augusta, Charlotte breaks the tense silence in the carriage to suggest that Mystery Dad try and get some sleep.

Mystery Dad: How could I sleep in a time like this! I can’t stop thinking about what I could have done to prevent this mess. The SECOND he asked to court her at the shooting party it became inevitable. Or maybe when the info about her inheritance got out? I don’t know; I tried to warn her but she wouldn’t listen.
Charlotte: Well, she’s not a kid anymore. She knows what she wants.
Mystery Dad: She’s too young for that.
Charlotte, not about to let her feelings for this man stop him from learning a valuable lesson: People (men) are constantly assuming women don’t know what they want, especially young women, and uncles and dads get to decide what’s best for us, as if we need saving.
Mystery Dad: I mean, scoreboard dude.
Charlotte: Yes, Horrible Edward sucks. But her feelings are still real. She loves him.
Mystery Dad: Ok, so what should I have done differently?
Charlotte: Listen to her, instead of talking crap about the boy she likes. Help guide her to make the right choice for herself rather than doing the choosing on her behalf.
Mystery Dad: I just want to keep her safe.
Charlotte: Obviously! That’s what dads want. Including mine. Also, I know you feel bad but a lot of this is my fault: I told her to go out and get what she wants so she won’t regret it forever. You know. For reasons.

Yeah, we know, bud. Maybe take your own advice!!! Anyway, in Falmouth, Horrible Edward tries to get Augusta to look for a lodging house or something where they can “rest.”

Augusta: No way, we just got here!
Horrible Edward: Aren’t you tired from the trip?
Me: No, because she’s way too young and sprightly for you, ya creep.
Augusta: This is the best day ever!! We can do whatever we want now!

Reader, let’s just hope that whatever Augusta wants includes public daytime dates, and not “resting,” if you catch my drift. Back in Sanditon, Mary’s preparing to go visit Former Maid/Charlotte’s object lesson in the perils of marrying a normal person and Mini Charlotte to see how they’re doing with the whole threat of eviction/raging fever issue.

Tom: I hope Mini Charlotte feels better!
Mary, done pretending to be nice: I hope she’s not about to be homeless!
Tom: Mary, I don’t know what you don’t get: the hotel is going to be a job creator! It’s good for everyone!
Mary: Is it though?? It’s not too late to do the right thing, especially when there’s this aforementioned raging fever issue!

Unfortunately, Tom’s still not ready to do his seasonal “I was wrong and should have listened to my better family members” forgiveness tour, and stalks out. This delays Mary just enough that she’s walking out the door right when possibly Georgiana’s mom arrives at their house. Mary looks like she might be jumping to the same conclusion I did, but unfortunately for all of us, we still have to wait a while to find out if we’re right. In the meantime, we go to the tea house, where Merciless Mama is explaining the perils of owning an absolutely gigantic country home.

Merciless Mama: I hope that’s not putting you off!
Georgiana: No, I think I can handle it. I like a challenge.
Merciless Mama: Great! I mean there’s a lot of space. So like… if you guys wanted to have private space you’d have it. Lots of private space… men need that. But also don’t worry; I’ll be living in one of the houses on the estate so I’ll be nice and close.
Snarky Sister, living up to her name: I’m sure that’s a comfort to Georgiana.
Merciless Mama: It should be! My late mother in law told me how to handle this gig, and now I’ll do the same!
Georgiana, committed to the bit: I’m excited to learn everything you can share.
Merciless Mama: You’re going to crush it. I know it. As soon as you’re ready we’re taking you to court. It’ll be great!

Just then, Mary rushes in to interrupt. Georigana looks relieved before she remembers she’s meant to be excited about wedding planning: can’t this wait? Reader, it cannot: as we hoped, Mary’s brought along Georgiana’s mom who's named Agnes. Georgiana, unfortunately, isn’t in a good headspace to receive this monumental news, and after looking at the confused (and dare I say disappointed?) face of Merciless Mama, and the hopeful faces of Mary and Agnes, Georgiana does the only rational thing and runs out of there. Mary, undaunted, pursues.

Mary: Georgiana, stop!
Georgiana: Dude, you can’t just drop a parent on someone by surprise!
Mary: You’ve been looking for her for so long, I thought you’d want to see her right away!
Georgiana: I used every resource I had to find her. And didn’t. So whoever that is, she isn’t my mom. A lot of people have tried to take advantage of me, but this is a new low! That can’t be my mom; I would recognize her.
Mary: I know this is a shock, but Georgiana, if I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t have brought her here! Hear her out, ok?

I would say Georgiana should trust Mary, because the show wouldn’t do her THAT dirty but… we all saw seasons one and two. Either way, we have to wait and see how that works out, because first we have to go back to Falmouth, where Horrible Edward is leading Augusta to a hotel.

Horrible Edward: You don’t have to be nervous.
Augusta: I’m not! I trust you.
Me/everyone watching at home:

A man dressed as an elf screams "No!"

Horrible Edward: Great, you should.

Back in the awkward rescue carriage, Charlotte’s telling Mystery Dad that she only encouraged Augusta because she felt bad that Mystery Dad was pressuring Augusta to marry some boring dude, trapped in a loveless marriage instead of marrying the man she was in love with.

All of us:

A man makes a face that says "yikes"

Mystery Dad:

A man sarcastically asks "really?"

Charlotte, if you’re so fired up about people not marrying boring men instead of dudes they love you could do something about that! Meanwhile, back at Lady D’s house, Rolly Price takes his leave.

Rolly Price: You there, footman, bring ‘round the carriage!
Lady D: Don’t you mean your embarrassing late-life crisis buggy?
Rolly Price: Uh, no. Tom and I have to go to Bath to secure the last investments, and I thought our carriage would be better for that.
Lady D: Exsqueeze me? Our carriage?
Rolly Price: Yeah dude, we’re about to get married and combine all our assets. Sure, my house isn’t as fancy as this but my late wife did have good taste.
Lady D: Hold up. You want me to leave Sanditon?
Rolly Price: Uh. Yes? Married people usually do live together. And you wouldn’t want me running all over the place to visit you after so many years separated, right?

He leaves, confident in his assertions, but you know what Rolly Price? I don’t think Lady D was all that convinced, and I don’t blame her! Across town, Merciless Mama tells Snarky Sister that she thinks Agnes is a fraud who just heard Georgiana is rich and about to be a duchess.

Snarky Sister: Do you think she has telepathy too? Because that’s the only way she’d have heard about the engagement already.
Merciless Mama: Whatever man, they’ll soon get rid of her. So let’s talk about how well everything went for you last night! I mean sure, you’re a messy dancer but Mystery Dad seemed into it!

Merciless Mama is so off base I almost feel bad for her… but not really. Anyway, at the beach, Georgiana talks to Agnes.

Georgiana: This is so mean. I’ve been looking for my mother for months.
Agnes: Yeah, and I’ve been looking for years. I didn’t know you were here; I was looking in Antigua.
Georgiana, snarky: Oh, so you read about an infamous heiress in the papers and assumed I was your daughter?
Agnes: No, actually. I don’t read the London newspapers.
Georgiana: Why now?
Agnes: Well, back in Antigua I’m not free. I can’t ever go back there. My former master brought me to England five years ago, and I seized the opportunity to fight for my freedom. But I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.
Georgiana: Why should I believe you?
Agnes: I didn’t come here to hurt you, and I don’t want anything from you but to get to know you.
Georgiana: Ok, and if you didn’t hear about the trail or see it in the papers, how did you end up here now?
Agnes: It was Otis.
Georgiana: 😍

I mean, YEAH. Anyway, over at Former Maid/Charlotte’s object lesson in the perils of marrying a normal person’s house, Mary drops off some fruit for Mini Charlotte, who coughs pathetically.

Mary: Your fever is better, but you have to eat some of these.
Former Maid/Charlotte’s object lesson in the perils of marrying a normal person, sarcastically: Yeah, fruit will REALLY help us.
Mary: I haven’t given up!
Former Maid/Charlotte’s object lesson in the perils of marrying a normal person: Ok, but I need more than your thoughts and prayers or whatever — check out this eviction notice we got!
Mary: What?? When did you get this?
Former Maid/Charlotte’s object lesson in the perils of marrying a normal person: Your husband already sold the land! If I was here to be more than a symbolic reminder of how tough life is without wealth and status, I’d tell you to dump his ass, but here we are.

Back in Falmouth, in the hotel, Horrible Edward is writing a letter to Mystery Dad saying the usual: you won’t let us get married, so we have to go to the Vegas of the UK (Scotland) to sort this out. Augusta, who we shouldn’t forget is a horny teenager, isn’t interested in waiting around while he works on his correspondence.

Augusta: I can’t wait to be your wife. And all that that entails, if you catch my drift.
Horrible Edward: I mean, yeah, same. You must be tired, do you want to… lie down?

Again, NOOOOOOO. Anyway, outside, Mystery Dad has suggested an orderly grid search of the town, but thankfully Charlotte is more sensible.

Charlotte: They’ve been traveling all night just like us. They’re probably in one of the boarding houses, sleeping.
Mystery Dad: Sleeping? SLEEPING? As if; you and I both know Horrible Edward wants to ruin her!
Charlotte: Can we quit it with the purity culture nonsense? She won’t be ruined; she’ll be the same Augusta as before, and still deserving of your care. Get a grip dude! I know this isn’t the life you wanted for her, but for her sake, get it together!
Mystery Dad: I am but a simple regency-era man, and you expect me to be cool with a political stance that’s still weirdly contested over a century from now? … ok, anything for you!

Back at the Parker house, Tom’s prattling on about his evening plans when Mary storms in to read him the riot act. How could he?

Tom, entering his emo Spiderman era, hair and behavior-wise: Well Mary, when a man and money love each other very much…

Spiderman, in his emo phase, dances awkwardly, causing two women to run away from him

Mary: Are you KIDDING ME? I hoped you’d come to your senses and understand that what you’re doing is morally repugnant! My friend is taking care of a sick kid, and you’re doing THIS? We have a responsibility to them! Noblesse Oblige, baby, look it up!
Tom: I’m doing this for YOU! For our future, and our kids’ future!
Mary: NO. All I see is an emo spiderman! You’re not the Tom/Peter Parker I married!

Tom storms out to link up with Rolly Price, who makes a cute pervy comment about wanting to get back to his fiance real quick, while Mary presumably prepares to call up Fun Uncle Sam to find out if he does divorces.

Back in Falmouth, the boarding house search continues with little success.

Mystery Dad: This is a nightmare! And obviously they’re not using their real names, he’s too sneaky for that! WOE!
Charlotte: Chill, I Nancy Drew’d it up nice and talked to the baker’s boy. He delivers all over town, and told me he saw a couple of “newlyweds” at the Old Crown Inn who match their descriptions.
Mystery Dad, to himself: Wow, I really fumbled the bag by not locking her down last season, huh?

You sure did, man. Over at the inn, Augusta waits in bed while Horrible Edward washes up.

Augusta: You love me, right?
Horrible Edward: How could you ask that?

A woman says "warning, warning."

Augusta: I need to hear you say it.
Horrible Edward: I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone.

Sweet sentiment, or red flag that he doesn’t have feelings: who can say?? Back in Sanditon, Agnes fills Georgiana in on her childhood.

Agnes: I was happy with your father, but then he married a white English lady. I begged them to let me take you with me, but my new owner didn’t want a slave with a kid.
Georgiana: They told me you died.
Agnes: Otis told me. I thought of you every day. When I left Antigua I left behind a necklace hoping it’d get to you somehow, so you’d have something of mine.
Georgiana, getting up to grab something from the sideboard: But by then I’d already been in England for a couple of years.
Agnes: All this time we’ve been so close and didn’t even know it. Otis came to talk to me in Bristol; he found me through his work with the Sons of Africa. I got on the first coach and traveled all night; I would have done anything to see your face again.
Georgiana, putting the necklace into her mother’s hand: It did get to me in the end.

There’s not a dry eye in the house, and that’s including mine! Later, they’re joined by Mary for tea.

Agnes: Mary, thanks for helping Georgiana trust me. And for all of the kindness you’ve shown her.
Mary: We love her! Seeing you both together… nothing makes me happier.
Georgiana: We have so much time to make up for!
Agnes: And we will :)
Mary: Tom and I are hosting a celebration for Georgiana tonight, and we’d love you to come, Agnes. Now it’ll be a double celebration!
Agnes: Wait, hold on: what are we celebrating?
Mary: You didn’t tell her yet?
Georgiana: I’m getting married!
Agnes: AH! Georgiana, that's amazing, of course I’ll come to the dinner! How could I miss a chance to meet your new family… or most importantly, the man you love!

Will Agnes succeed where Arthur failed? Time will tell. First, we head back to Falmouth, where Mystery Dad’s about to bust into the Old Crown Inn when Charlotte pulls him aside.

Charlotte: Whatever happens in there, try to be cool, ok? You’ll only drive her away otherwise.

Mystery Dad doesn’t respond, just runs inside, where they find Augusta in bed… and Horrible Edward trying to sleep on a chaise in the corner! Augusta doesn’t waste any time being embarrassed, and says her piece.

Augusta: I’m sorry you came all this way, but you won’t change my mind. We’re in love, and I’m not going back with you.
Horrible Edward: We want to get married, sir.
Mystery Dad, after taking a long look at Charlotte for backup: Ok. Then I won’t stop you. Augusta, you’re an adult, and I trust you. If this is the man you want to marry, then I just ask you to come back home so we can hold a proper wedding.

Reader, I’ll be real with you: this was the most attractive he’s ever been. Also, possibly, a brilliant strategic move: will Augusta still want Horrible Edward when he’s no longer forbidden fruit? Back at Thornfield By The Sea, Lady Susan has arrived to see if there’s any news.

Fun Uncle Sam, pouring them both some LARGE morning wines: Unfortunately, nothing to report. I’m freaking out over here! I wish there was something I could do other than pace.
Lady Susan: Well, at least we can pace together?
Fun Uncle Sam: I mean, I barely know the kid: she’s my brother’s niece by marriage, we’re not even technically related! But I care about her?
Lady Susan: Yeah dude, you’re clearly not as much of a dissolute rake as you were pretending before you showed up in Sanditon! And guess what: there’s a silver lining to the disaster! Charlotte and your brother had to go on a solo road trip together! Maybe they’ll finally get their crap together.
Fun Uncle Sam: I hope so… but the denial is strong with those two.

You’re not wrong, bud, but also: bold to call out his denial when you’re out here pretending to be just friends with Lady Susan. We all see what you’re up to! Back in Falmouth, Augusta is gushing to Charlotte about how happy she is that she won’t have to be separated from Leo forever, and instead can have the tiny hellion as a bridesmaid.

Augusta: I never thought you’d be cool, uncle. Charlotte, this has got to be your doing.
Charlotte: Nah, he did this on his own.
Mystery Dad: Can I just say: I would NEVER ask you to marry any man against your will! Young women should be free to follow their hearts, not just forced into a loveless marriage because an adult thinks it’s a good match. But please think carefully about whether this is what you really want. You’re an amazing woman, and you have a lot of potential. I haven’t said that enough. This is your choice: if you really think Horrible Edward is good enough for you; that he can make you happy and fulfilled, then you have my blessing. And Charlotte, that middle part was for you too, you got that right?
Augusta: Horrible Edward is a good person. He’s been respectful and kind; he could have had sex with me earlier but he didn’t!
Horrible Edward, growing a conscience?: Ok, I have to stop you right there. I was definitely going to have sex with you if they hadn’t showed up.
Augusta: WHAT?
Horrible Edward, saying what we’ve been yelling all along: A good man wouldn’t take you away from your family for his own ends.
Augusta: But it wasn’t? We’re in love?
Horrible Edward: Are we though??? I’ve never been in love with you; I was in love with your money, honey.
Augusta: That’s a lie! What are you saying?
Horrible Edward: I mean, I’m not sure I can be any clearer than that? Are you that naive? There’ve been others before you, and there will be others after… you thought YOU would redeem me? I only look out for number one. And if you need references, ask Esther, or Clara… or my son. Toodles!!!!

He leaves, and Augusta, understandably, has a total meltdown. Did he just lean into his villainous persona to White Fang Augusta because he realized he wasn’t good enough for her? Or is he finally just ready to admit that he’s the WORST? I don’t know, and TBH I don’t care! After giving Augusta a hug and calming her down, the grownups leave her to get changed while Charlotte checks back in with Mystery Dad. Was he really planning to let them get married?

Mystery Dad: Mhm. You taught me that women are allowed to make choices for themselves, even if I really really hate the choices and their weird Tom Bombadil hats. I would have respected Augusta’s choice, even though I loathed it… the same way I respect your choice.

Do I hope the “I tell you I respect your bad decision and then you realize it’s bad and reconsider” strategy works a second time? Obviously. Anyway, back in Sanditon, Agnes is asking for details about Georgiana’s fiance. Is he cute?

Arthur, who’s also there: YUP.
Agnes: And is he kind?
Georgiana: Yes, 100%
Mary, running in: GAH I’m so sorry, Tom isn’t back yet. And I just heard the doorbell! What do we DO?
Arthur: Mary, it’ll be ok, I’m sure he’ll be back soon. In the meantime I can host.

And so it falls to Arthur to welcome Dastardly Duke, Merciless Mama, and Snarky Sister to the party, and tell them all they look “radiant.” Georgiana confidently introduces her mom, shutting down Merciless Mama’s attempt to second guess Agnes’ identity.

Merciless Mama, trying to be chill and totally failing: Well this is a surprise. But also a delight!
Agnes: I’m excited to meet you all too. Especially Dastardly!
Merciless Mama: Not to be a stickler but it’s traditional to address him as “Your Grace.”
Both of her children:

A young woman makes a face that says "seriously??"

Agnes, not in the business of taking crap from strangers: But he’s marrying my daughter.
Merciless Mama: Well that’s how it works, Mrs…?
Agnes: It’s Miss.
Merciless Mama: WOW. UNMARRIED. YIKES.

So… the party’s off to a great start. Anyway, back at Thornfield By The Sea, Fun Uncle Sam has invited Lady Susan to stay for dinner. Are they sitting in the formal dining room? No! They’re in the kitchen, eating random stuff they scrounged up by candlelight! It’s extremely cute and romantic, just saying.

Fun Uncle Sam: I do love a midnight snack. Though I’m assuming you usually have someone prepare you a fancy repast?
Lady Susan: Au contraire, bud: I’m a lot less fancy than you’re assuming. My parents weren’t rich.
Fun Uncle Sam: So your former husband?
Lady Susan: He wasn’t rich either. Or a good person. We got married in a similar situation to what’s happening with Augusta.
Fun Uncle Sam: Ah. That explains why you’re so worried for her.
Lady Susan: By 30 I was a widow with nothing but a title to show for it. I desperately hope Augusta has a better future in front of her.
Fun Uncle Sam: Is that why you’ve also avoided love and marriage?
Lady Susan: Uh, it’s late. I’m gonna leave.
Fun Uncle Sam, making a move: Do you have to?

And then, reader, he lays a pretty solid kiss on our friend. And she for sure kisses him back.

Fun Uncle Sam: Uh, sorry if that’s too forward.
Lady Susan, already leaning in again: It’s not.

Sorry for being too forward, reader, but HELL YEAH. Ahem. Anyway, back at the Parker house, Mary’s apologizing again for Tom’s absence, as if having him here would make this gathering LESS awkward. Arthur tries to smooth everything over, only to have Merciless Mama insist that he lead a toast, which is obviously hellish for him, Dastardly Duke, AND Georgiana.

Arthur: Ok let’s do this: to the future duke and duchess. May your marriage be long and happy.
Merciless Mama, absolutely refusing to read the room: And may your first child be a masculine child.
Everyone else:

A man drinks water while looking around him in awkward confusion

Snarky Sister: So, Agnes, how long will you be visiting Sanditon?
Agnes: As long as I can! Now that I’ve found Georgiana I don’t want to let her go.
Merciless Mama: But obviously it’s important to let our kids grow up and do their own thing.
Snarky Sister, beating me to the punch: Yes, that’s exactly what you do, right mom?
Arthur and Dastardly Duke, at each other:

A man looks longingly into the distance

Georgiana: Hey, Arthur, I was thinking — I know this isn’t a perfect solution, but Dastardly’s house is massive. Maybe you can come live with us? Wouldn’t that be great, Dastardly?
Dastardly Duke: Oh! Yeah, our house is indeed massive. If you would like that, Arthur?
Merciless Mama, ruining everything: What are you kids chatting about down there? You look way too somber for this fun party!
Arthur: Uh. Georgiana was just telling me how large your estate is, your grace.
Merciless Mama: It sure is! Sometimes I wish I could live in a cute tiny house like this one, Mary. You probably only need a few staff!
Mary, not taking the bait: I’m glad to have the help we have.
Merciless Mama, doubling down: And what’s your… deal… Agnes?
Agnes, also not taking the bait: I stay with my employer in Bristol.
Merciless Mama, judgy as hell: So you… work?
Agnes: Yeah. My organization helps former enslaved people. They supported me a lot when I was first emancipated.
Merciless Mama: I’m sure that’s not something you like to talk about.
Agnes: Actually, no. I’m not ashamed of who I am.
Georgiana: Good. You shouldn’t be.

While all this is happening it becomes pretty clear that Mary isn’t feeling so great. While she tries to knuckle through the dinner, Agnes starts asking some pointed questions of her daughter, specifically: what’s up with marrying this guy you clearly have zero romantic interest in and just met a few weeks ago? Dastardly Duke and Georgian try to make it seem like they’re both excited and want to do this, but neither of them is very convincing, I’m afraid.

Merciless Mama: This is normal; marriage is for shoring up your place in society!
Snarky Sister: And love, some would say.
Merciless Mama: There’s lots of kinds of love in the world.
Agnes: But you guys actually love each other, right?
Georgiana, lying, badly: Yup!
Agnes: Then you have my blessing.

There’s no time for anyone to respond, because it’s at that moment that Mary attempts to leave and instead ends up a crumpled heap on the floor. Agnes gets to her first, and insists that they send for a doctor: Mary’s got a horrible fever.

Meanwhile, in the rescue carriage, Augusta and Charlotte are having a classic post-breakup conversation that really deserves ice cream.

Augusta: Why did I let myself love him?
Charlotte: You can’t choose who you love. I know what you’re feeling, but in time you’ll feel better and this will only be a memory. Promise.

Ok! Back at Lady D’s house, Horrible Edward’s attempt to sneak in undetected is thwarted by a sinister Lady D, who I hope is about to read him the riot act, and possibly also do a tiny murder, as a treat.

Lady D: Explain.
Horrible Edward: What can I say, I’m evil!
Lady D: So I’m assuming Mystery Dad got there before you ruined his niece? And somehow he didn’t shoot you?
Horrible Edward: Actually, he said we could get married if we wanted.
Lady D: And Augusta figured it out? Good for her.
Horrible Edward: No. I turned her down. She deserves better than me.
Lady D, speaking for all of us: Holy crap, did you actually have feelings for her and do a nice thing?
Horrible Edward, actually choked up: NO. You know me, I have no feelings!

UGH did he actually do a noble thing? And now I have to feel bad for him? Double ugh! Speaking of ugh, Tom’s just jauntily returned from his business trip and is all ready to brag about the money he got to secure that hotel project that’s going to put people out of their homes when Arthur shuts him down. There’s more important plot points afoot! Mary’s very seriously ill! Tom, to his credit, lunges for the stairs the minute he processes what Arthur said, but given how sick Mary looks this may be too little too late.

Shortly thereafter, the rescue team returns and Mystery Dad walks Charlotte to the Parker’s door.

Mystery Dad: Well, thanks. I couldn’t have done that without you.
Charlotte: You could have. Believe in yourself.

They stare at each other for a while, and then Charlotte takes his hand before remembering that she’s decided to commit to the Marrying Boring Ralph bit, and sends him home. Speaking of Boring Ralph, guess who storms over as Mystery Dad’s driving away?

Charlotte: Why are you out so late, dude?
Boring Ralph: I’ve been wandering around worrying about you! I thought maybe you wouldn’t come back.
Georgiana, opening the door to put a pause on the awkwardness: Charlotte! You better get in here right now: disaster has struck.

That does the trick, and Charlotte and Boring Ralph head inside to get the update about Mary’s condition: still very bad. Charlotte also gets introduced to Agnes, and promptly starts crying because she’s so happy for her friend (and also probably because she hasn’t slept in like 36 hours). Charlotte and Georgiana head right upstairs to check on Mary, totally forgetting about Boring Ralph (easy to do, no judgment).

Merciless Mama: I’m sorry, but did Charlotte just come back in Mystery Dad’s carriage? And you’re cool with that, Boring Ralph?
Boring Ralph: I’m really not allowed to have much of a personality, so, I guess?
Merciless Mama: Weird that they were out so late. I wonder why?
Agnes: I mean, who cares? Our hostess is super ill?
Snarky Sister: My mom literally only cares about Mystery Dad’s status these days.
Merciless Mama: Yeah, no crap! He’s got a nice house, and money, and you need a husband. I’m doing my best to take care of you!
Agnes, amazing as always: Isn’t your daughter allowed to pick her own spouse? Like her brother did?

And while Dastardly Duke and Arthur make anguished eye contact, Snarky Sister explains. If she’d had her ‘druthers, she’d already be married! But her mom decided said gentleman wasn’t good enough, so here we are! Dastardly Duke asks for more wine, clearly having settled on the strategy of getting hammered instead of feeling anything. Upstairs, Dr. Fuchs explains that Mary probably got sick tending all the people in the old town, and Tom does his once per season “I screwed up by not listening to Mary, but I’ll be better now” speech. This one is way harder to watch than normal because he’s obviously convinced his wife is dying and heartbroken at the thought. Charlotte agrees with me, and starts sympathy-crying. Downstairs, Dastardly Duke corners Arthur in the dining room to see if he’s thought about Georgiana’s suggestion.

Arthur: Now is not the time! Mary might die!
Dastardly Duke: But it’s our get out of jail free card! We could be together as much as we wanted because of the marriage, as long as you were discreet!
Arthur: I don’t want to be discreet! I don’t want to be the third wheel while you and Georgiana put on a show!
Dastardly Duke: Isn’t that better than nothing?
Arthur: I don't think so. I can’t be ok with this sham marriage when I love Georgiana. And love… other people too.
Dastardly Duke: I feel the same!
Arthur: I’m so sorry. But I have to be myself. I would rather be alone than live a lie.

BRB, sobbing. They rejoin the group in the living room, where Georgiana has just announced that she’ll stay to support Mary, who’s sleeping. She suggests that her mom get some rest, and Merciless Mama offers to escort Agnes back to Georgiana’s place in a way that I just don’t like. Georgiana, perhaps because she’s distracted by the whole sick Mary thing, agrees. She and Arthur head upstairs, and announce that everyone’s gone. Everyone, that is, except Boring Ralph. Charlotte steels herself, and then heads downstairs.

Boring Ralph: How is Mary?
Charlotte: No change. You didn’t have to stay.
Boring Ralph: And what happened with Augusta? You didn’t say.
Charlotte: She’s totally fine.
Boring Ralph: Good. And I’m sure Mystery Dad was happy to have your help.
Charlotte: So, listen…
Boring Ralph: Earlier, Agnes asked Merciless Mama if her kids were allowed to marry whoever they wanted. Snarky Sister said there was someone she wanted to marry but her mom shut it down. I wasn’t the guy you chose, was I? This was something our parents decided on before we even knew what marriage WAS.
Charlotte: Yep. You are so special to me, and you always will be, but I can’t marry you.
Boring Ralph, apparently a glutton for punishment: You’re in love with Mystery Dad.
Charlotte: Yeah. I tried really hard not to be. I get it if you hate me.
Boring Ralph: Nah. I can only love you, which is what makes this so tough.

Boring Ralph, I’m so sorry I keep calling you that, but even this breakup was boring! See ya never, probably! Meanwhile, Merciless Mama uses her alone time with Agnes to be an a-hole.

Merciless Mama: I bet this place is way fancier than what you’re used to. And your daughter is about to be in charge of one of the fanciest houses in the whole country.
Agnes: Yeah, you were pretty aggressively talking about that all night!
Merciless Mama: Well, duchesses have to live up to certain standards, and deal with additional attention. We want our kids to do well, right? We wouldn’t want to be an embarrassment or get in the way. So if you ended up needing to leave town for some reason, I’d be super helpful in making arrangements. I can be pretty generous.

Wow, trying to simultaneously bribe and shame Agnes into leaving might be a new low. Despicable. Back at the Parker house, Dr. Fuchs has once again done his “get ready for your relative to maybe die, I can’t do anything more, let’s wait and see if she makes it to tomorrow morning” shpiel, which we hate. Everyone hunkers in for a long tense night, and, naturally, that’s the end of the episode. Will Mary survive? Will Tom repent for real this time? Will Agnes be cowed by Merciless Mama’s crap? Will everyone get their heads out of their butts and resolve their romantic plot arcs? ONLY ONE EPISODE TO FIND OUT!