Previously on Jamestown: Everyone went nuts over the idea of a map that allegedly leads to some hidden gold mines that definitely did not exist in seventeenth century Virginia. Pretty much the whole town loses its mind looking for it, including Jocelyn, who sees it as social climbing on steroids; Farlowe, who just wants to be rich; and Henry Sharrow, who thinks gold will give him enough status to cover up the fact that he’s a rapist dirtbag. Too bad for all of them, though, because it’s Governor Yardley who secretly has the magic map. Elsewhere, Alice and Silas finally got married, which irritated James Read enough that he punched the governor and got partially hanged for his troubles. (Need more details? Read our full recap of Episode 4.)
Reminder: Jamestown is a Passport-exclusive series, meaning that in order to binge the whole thing now, you’ll need to be a Passport member (If you have Amazon Prime, you’ll be able to watch the series week-by-week over the course of the spring on the PBS Masterpiece channel.) Now with all that business out of the way, on with the show.
The fifth episode of Jamestown is…well, it’s kind of a wild mess, covering everything from unhygienic surgery to possible revolution in the colony, with a bit of a murder confession in between. This show is nuts, y’all.
Bailey, the random man that Farlow paid off to spy on Jocelyn by pretend-dating Mercy, is back this week for some reason. Why? I have no idea. And apparently he’s now quite a favorite of Verity’s at the local tavern, even though we’ve actually never seen them interact prior to this point. However, they interact so much in this episode that some other random guy gets jealous and goes after Bailey with a gun. Boys, y’all know Verity is married right? And that she would probably get stoned as an adulteress if she hooked up with either of you? But, sure, let’s shoot each other to death over that.
Because of course that’s exactly what happens. Bailey shoots other Random Guy dead. Ugh, men. But when he finds himself dragged in front of the town magistrates for the crime, Bailey blames everything on Verity. Yes, you read that right. He accuses Verity of luring both men on, encouraging them to fight over her, promising a secret adulterous rendezvous to each of them, and pretty much doing everything but actually just shooting Random Guy in the face herself. He does this because Redwick told him to, because Redwick is trash and just…hates women a whole lot?
The episode doesn’t do much to explain Redwick’s motivation, beyond the fact that he apparently wants to have some influence over the militia men in Jamestown, so he can engineer a mutiny or something. It doesn’t make a ton of sense, and it’s almost easier to assume his actions are motivated exclusively by sexism, since that’s at least a plot arc we can understand. It’s also his most consistent character trait, come to that.
But, sure, this all somehow actually connects to Redwick wanting to control the town. Governor Yeardley’s down for the count for a while with kidney stones, and his survival basically depends on whether local flirt and purported surgeon Christopher can get himself together emotionally in time to operate. While Dr. Chris is having a crisis of the soul, BFFs Farlowe and Redwick are arguing over who should manage the colony during Yeardley’s illness. Redwick’s not happy that Farlowe’s basically taken over and pretty much starts encouraging all the militia men to rebel, Les Miserables-style. Seriously, someone starts building a barricade and everything. Luckily, after some extremely graphic, nonhygenic and painful-looking surgery, Yeardley pulls through and staggers outside to give the men an inspirational speech about how he was once a soldier too, or something.
The story doesn’t matter at all, except for the fact that Bailey, the human garbage who accused Verity of using her sexual wiles to encourage two men to fight to the death over her, gets shot by Redwick and dies. Personally, I’m of the opinion that no one needs to mourn this loser but Mrs. Rutter apparently feels differently. Her public sobbing over his dead body is pretty over the top when you consider this guy was willing to pretty much condemn her to the stocks or worse to save his own skin, but Verity just cries and cries because…I guess this guy was hot? I don’t know.
Jamestown very clearly has z e r o idea what to do with Verity, which is a real shame, because Niamh Walsh is extremely appealing as an actress. Yet over the course of five episodes, we’ve spent the least amount of time with her and watched her characterization zig zag all over the place as the plot requires it. Perhaps there’s a big Verity’s Backstory episode still to come this season, but as it stands now I’m just disappointed that they’ve created such a fun, out of the box female character and done virtually nothing with her. SIIIIGH.
In random decisions involving female characters, we also find out what Jocelyn’s big secret is. We also get confirmation that Doctor Christopher is in love with her, but pretty much everyone guessed that already and I’m not sure if anyone actually cares. (I mean, Samuel is a drip sometimes, but he’s nice.) Anyway, according to the story she tells, back in Ye Olde Days in England, Jocelyn loved a boy she thought would marry her. Except that after they wandered off into the woods for some “unchaperoned” time, she found out that he was just trying to win a bet involving which man could sleep with her first and that his friends were in the forest watching them.
Jocelyn responds to this (admittedly horrific) discovery not by public shaming or other legal means, but by straight up poisoning her boyfriend and watching him die. Jocelyn is hardcore, y’all!! This is clearly the event that led to her decision to start a new life in Virginia and it is basically terrifying. Doctor Chris is strangely turned on by this confession, but Jocelyn is just concerned that Lady Yeardley’s snooping will turn up her secret. Which, of course it will, I’m sure. Unless Lady Y’s got some equally dark murder lady past she’d like to keep hidden.
Elsewhere, James tries to apologize to Alice for the whole, you know, being obsessed with her and trying to prevent her from marrying the man of her choice thing. I guess his near death experience has show him the light on personal autonomy or something. Alice, however, is still worked up about the whole dead cow situation, and is busy blaming all the men she’s angry with for its death. James takes being accused of bovine murder very personally – or maybe it’s that Alice is insufficiently grateful for his weak apology, who can say? – and stomps off upriver in a snit. He’s determined to find out what happened to Henry, because he’s definitely not the petty sort of person who would want to (or has already tried) to brand Silas a murderer or anything.
Henry, for his part, is still wandering the wilderness with Davy, searching for gold. But it’s okay because when he’s presented with the opportunity to let his sort-of friend die after falling down a cliff, Henry helps him instead, which is clearly meant to show us he can be more than a rapist piece of garbage. Joke’s on you, though, Jamestown, because I still hope he gets eaten by a bear.
The episode ends – as we all knew it must – on James’ revelation that Henry’s still alive. Silas is appropriately shocked, since as far as he knows he left his brother burning to death in the woods. But he and Alice are also both pretty nervous about what happens next, particularly if anyone catches on that Silas could have saved his brother’s life and didn’t. Is Silas about to get interesting? Stay tuned.
Thoughts on this roller coaster of an episode? Let’s discuss.