Previously on Jamestown: This season continues to spiral into the absurd, as the entire colony becomes obsessed with a random palomino horse from…somewhere, and then spends the bulk of the episode chasing it through the woods. (I wish I was making this up.) But, thanks to Henry acquiring said magical animal after a complicated series of trades and tricks, he swaps it to Yeardley in exchange for securing his brother Silas’ safe return to Jamestown. I don’t know about y’all, but I’d rather have the horse. Need more details on this madness? Our recap of Episode 4 is here.
Originally, Jamestown was a show about women. Three very different women, brought to a strange and often hostile land, who struggled to build new lives for themselves. And, despite the ridiculous heights of…well, ridiculousness, that this show reached during its first two seasons, that fact is what held it together. What made Jamestown worth watching, even when it pretty much made up its historical facts out of whole cloth.
Unfortunately, that’s not always – or even often – the case in Season 3. With Alice gone home to England, and Verity sidelined in increasingly bizarre plotlines that have little impact on the main story, that leaves just Jocelyn. And, to be fair, she’s doing her best – scheming against Yeardley and Crabtree, flirting with James Read, and trying her darnedest to force the colony to give her the power she believes she deserves. But even Joss can only do so much.
Because like so much of this season, this episode seems to exist almost entirely to tell the stories of men.
Sure, it’s great to see Chacrow finally take something like center stage after two full seasons of the Pamunkey tribe existing on Jamestown’s edges. But, at the end of the day, his story is as much about Silas as it is himself, and counts on telling us an awful lot about the depth of their friendship, since the show hasn’t bothered showing us much of it over the years. I suppose we can vaguely be expected to care if they kill one another, but that idea certainly doesn’t feel like enough to hang the bulk of an episode on.
There’s also the weird thing where drunken Meredith Rutter of all people is somehow maybe meant to prove the existence of the Christian God to Chacrow, but pretty much everything to do with Meredith this season is so dumb and offensive, that it almost feels like an insult to the Church to assume so.
It’s also fairly unfortunate that one of the show’s best characters is shackled to this man, and stuck in horrible story after horrible story as a result.
To be fair, Jamestown has never really known what to do with Verity Rutter in the first place. She’s been a barmaid and a thief, a flirt and a wife desperate for children. She sort of caused a bar fight that ended in murder that one time, and tried to help slaves Pedro and Maria escape the colony another week.
It’s a disservice to actress Niamh Walsh, who is often great at the smallest moments, that Jamestown’s never really given Verity a story in her own right. Her marriage with Meredith is occasionally sweet, but largely treated as a joke, and she always felt like something of a third wheel around Jocelyn and Alice. Even now, her sudden adoption of random runaway Tam never felt like a story that truly explored her issues with motherhood and her overwhelming desire for someone to love.
Instead, it became a plot about Meredith, somehow, focusing on his guilt over his lost family, rather than his wife’s, and becoming a convenient reason for him to drink more often. Even the loss of Tam is somehow also all about Meredith, as he literally spends multiple scenes drunkenly wandering the streets of Jamestown bemoaning his cowardly state. Obviously, this is much more interesting than anything involving, say, Verity’s interior life or POV. Duh.
At least she helps convince Mercy that a little premarital sex with Pepper is a great idea, especially if she can manage to get herself pregnant in the process so they have to be allowed to marry.
(Why does this show hate Verity so much, y’all? I’m so tired.)
Elsewhere, Jocelyn’s dogged obsession with Crabtree finally pays off, as she figures out that he carries the King’s seal and is technically the most powerful man in all of Virginia, not just Jamestown. (After she drugs and robs him, naturally.) Eat that, Yeardley.
But, instead of overthrowing the corrupt and insane governor who has already beheaded someone out of personal greed and pretty much established chattel slavery in Virginia, Crabtree instead chooses to…get in a fistfight with Redwick? The heck?
I have no idea what’s even happening anymore, and that is...not as fun as I imagined it would be.
What did you think of this episode of Jamestown? Let’s discuss in the comments.