Previously on Jamestown: There’s honestly too much to fit here, so go skim the Season 2 recaps if you need a refresher on where we left things after last season. Fair warning: A whole lot of crazy happens.
Reminder: Jamestown is a WETA Passport-exclusive series, meaning that in order to watch it, you’ll need to be a WETA Passport member (If you have Amazon Prime, you’ll also be able to watch the series week-by-week over on the PBS Masterpiece channel.) The full season is available to binge right now, but we'll be doing weekly recaps here at the blog, becuase it's more fun that way.
In case anyone was worried that Jamestown would take its foot off the proverbial gas in its third and final season – don’t be. The period drama remains as bonkers as it’s ever been as Season 3 kicks off, offering up an episode that’s got everything from the departure of a major character to mystical visions to an actual beheading.
This is certainly not the Jamestown I remember from history class, is what I’m saying. But it’s also impossible, ridiculous fun if you can embrace it for what it is, and ignore the – admittedly many – historical inaccuracies.
Season 3 open an indeterminate amount of time after the conclusion of Season 2. Alice says it’s been “many months” since she’s last seen Silas, after his decision to abandon the colony and join the local native tribe. But suddenly her son is a toddler that’s capable of walking unaided and Silas has made himself at home enough with the Pamunkey to have earned his own name in their language and changed his entire mode of dress and personal grooming situation. (And Jocelyn’s tobacco plantation, previously burned to the ground in last season’s finale, seems fairly restored.) So, basically just pick your own number, I guess.
No matter how much time has passed, however, Governor Yeardley is still a bitter, trash human being, and remains determined to punish both Silas for escaping and the Pamunkey for existing. (Also, he wants their land.) This time, instead of faking a Spanish invasion or setting fire to a fellow settler’s crop, Yeardley decides to try using God as a bargaining tool. He now insists that his vendetta against the natives is somehow about saving their souls for the Kingdom, as though by trying to force them to convert to a religion that is not their own it makes the fact that he’s planning to steal from and possibly kill them okay.
Yeardley’s weirdly authoritarian hold over the colony is clearly going to be the major plot point for this season, and that idea generally works. After all, who else has as much impact over as many people as the man in charge of Jamestown? And nearly everything there is driven by his desires and ego – he refuses to let Jocelyn, magically a successful landowner in her own right now, join the colony’s Council of Burgesses simply because she’s a woman and he’s a misogynist. He’s got secret plans to gobble up more of the colony’s recently acquired land for himself, and his word is worth less than nothing – see also, his false promise to Alice Sharrow that Silas might be able to return to Jamestown, which was really an excuse to track and attack the natives instead.
All of that, of course, pales beside his decision to murder his former lieutenant Farlow for conspiring with Jocelyn. Now, let’s not pretend that Farlow himself was any sort of fantastic person, as he’s done plenty of terrible things during his time in the colony. But he probably didn’t deserve to get beheaded with an axe at his (former) friend’s dinner table, either.
Neither did poor Joss deserve all that – admittedly very artistically rendered – blood all over her face, either.
Given that the entire colony appears vaguely terrified of Yeardley, it’s a wonder that no one has dared speak against him thus far. (Even if some of the colony’s residents – i.e. Maria – are literally having prophetic visions about his evilness.) But, I suspect if its public knowledge that he’ll brand anyone he doesn’t like a traitor before cutting their head off and waving it around the town square like a psychopath, then that’s a rather powerful deterrent. And here I thought that this show couldn’t possibly make me feel sympathy for Temperance Yeardley. Joke’s on me, I guess.
The Season 3’s premiere’s other shocking twist is Alice’s decision to take herself and her son home to England. You can hardly blame her, what with the colony being run by a monster, her husband banished to a local native tribe, and the fact that she’s still somehow stuck living and working alongside her rapist/brother-in-law after however many years it’s been.
Thanks to Yeardley’s betrayal, there seems to be little hope for Silas ever making it back to the colony, and Alice apparently doesn’t want to make a life for herself in Virginia without him. Admittedly, the episode’s final sequence in which Alice boards the ship home just as Silas learns of her planned departure and races back toward the colony on horseback is incredibly dramatic, and oddly moving. Initially, it felt as if we were about to witness one of those moments where the love interest arrives just in time to avert disaster, but Jamestown picked a bolder path. (Or actress Sophie Rundle had to head off to star in HBO’s Gentleman Jack, which also seems kind of likely.)
While Alice’s departure sort of leaves Silas as a dead man walking figure in Jamestown’s seemingly inevitable war between the colonists and the natives, there is a slight bright side. Maybe we’ll finally see Verity get the sort of story that’s been her due since this series started. Jamestown, after all, really hasn’t been great at balancing the stories between its three leading women, often forgetting that they’re friends or sidelining Verity and her relatively happy marriage for romantic drama with Alice and Jocelyn. The problem is also evident even in this installment; Verity has little to do other than provide plot exposition for Meredith’s story (he’s…maybe got dementia? IDK) and weep over Alice’s departure.
She deserves better. Maybe in Season 3 she’ll finally get it.
What did you think of the Jamestown premiere? Was it bonkers enough for you? What would you like to see happen in the rest of the season?