After a premiere installment that spent most of its time setting up the framework for the rest of the season through flashbacks, Belgravia’s second hour is much more the show we thought this series would be. It’s dramatic, soapy and full of characters lying and behaving snottily to one another while wearing lovely dresses.
It’s precisely what I’m here for, if I’m honest.
Also, the series’ big secret is officially out. Anne Trenchard, tired of thinking of Lady Caroline Brockenhurst being sad at home with her rich husband and piles of money, spills the literal and proverbial tea by telling her about the existence of her grandson. Lady Caroline actually takes it kind of well, until she and Anne get in an argument over who is more to blame for their kids’ long-ago hookup. (Obviously, Edmund is the trash person in this equation, but I feel like Anne might have waited for like, maybe a couple of days before pointing that out.) The two women part on relatively awkward terms, but the Countess does promise not to share the Trenchards’ secret.
That…seems likely. Sure.
Anyway, Sophia’s son is named Charles Pope, and he was given to a nice vicar to raise right after he was born. He’s grown up to become a cotton merchant with a head for business, and a generally sweet disposition. The Countess makes it roughly 36 hours – and one conversation with her husband, amazingly named Peregrine, who’s mopey about not having a son to leave his fortune to – before paying a visit to Mr. Pope, under the pretense of investing in a new business venture of his.
This is the stuff we’re here for, guys. Charles tries to not be rude about how weird and overly eager the Countess is to talk to him, which really is very random and creepy, because well, she has a lot of money, and he needs some. So, when Caroline invites Charles to an after-supper party she’s throwing, of course he says yes. But what he doesn’t know is this old lady is a massive schemer and has decided to make her sudden interest in Charles the talk of her social set.
Basically: She wants them all to guess he’s a relation, so that way she can say she didn’t break her word to Anne, and she invites the Trenchards too so they can witness it all. (Plus, there’s the added bonus of probably getting to blame Sophia for everything then, which is appealing, I expect. Women are always so quick to turn on one another.)
That’s not the only drama going on though – turns out James Trenchard is also a terrible husband, in the apparently continuing tradition of every man on this show other than Charles turning out to be generally garbage. Because, see, Caroline’s party isn’t the first time James has seen his grandson. While Anne is basically hyperventilating at being in the same room as her daughter’s son, James is trying his best to hide and avoid eye contact. Mr. Trenchard, you see, has known Charles for years, mentored and even worked with him several times. They’re vaguely friends. And he…never bothered to tell his wife about it, even as he berated her for cluing Caroline in to the truth and insisted they were all better off with no contact.
In short: James can also get in the sea!!!
Other major players also enter the scene this week, namely the Brockenhursts awful relatives – Peregrine’s clergyman brother whose name I don’t even want to bother to learn, his wife, and their terrible, terrible son, whose name is John. John, surprising no one, is complete trash. He’s busy trying to marry a girl named Lady Maria Grey, because she’s the daughter of an earl who doesn’t have much money, which is clearly the only reason anyone would be willing to wed John. Barf. Maria, for her part, is smart and fun, and clearly entirely too awesome to end up with John.
Of course, she also meets Charles Pope during Caroline’s party, and we can all see where this is going to go from 200 paces. (Charles is def going to steal John’s girl, in addition to his title and fortune, and I’m already thoroughly looking forward to this development.) They’re cute and charming together, and share a love of travel and other cultures, which automatically makes them easy to root for. Particularly since John is busy chasing after Susan, the Trenchards’ very married daughter-in-law and making really rather vile commentary in what appears to be a closet. Both of them and James can all get in the sea together.
We should probably feel bad for Susan’s poor dumb husband, but at this point we haven’t spent enough time with Oliver to determine whether or not he is also worthless, so the jury is still out on that until next week.
Elsewhere, Belgravia also introduces us to the raft of servants at the Trenchard house, because this is a Julian Fellowes show at the end of the day and he thinks we should care about things like this. They’re all virtually indistinguishable from one another, beyond the woman named Ellis who used to be Sophia’s maid but has somehow never gotten a better job in the past quarter century.
One of the other servants – possibly the housekeeper, but I’m not sure because these faceless downstairs types are the worst part of the show – is actively robbing the Trenchards. She’s busy stealing meat and other foodstuffs that have been delivered from the family farm and selling them. That’s…very capitalist of her, but really not enough to make a compelling B plot. Julian, we could just not do the upstairs/downstairs thing this time? Isn’t the rest of the drama enough?
What do you think of Belgravia’s second installment? Let’s discuss in the comments.