'Beecham House': Episode 4 Recap

(Photo: Courtesy of MASTERPIECE)

MASTERPIECE “Beecham House" Sunday, March 1 on PBS Passport Episode Four Just when John thinks all is going well, Chandrika visits his room late at night, witnessed by Violet who tells all to his mother. When Margaret learns of this, she makes clear her intentions to leave Delhi. John realises he has no choice but to reveal the truth about his past and the baby’s identity knowing that this could risk the safety of his child. Shown from left to right: Saiyami Kher as Khamlavati and Tom Bateman as John Beecham For editorial use only. Courtesy of MASTERPIECE

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The truth about John Beecham’s past comes to light in a ridiculously over the top episode of Beecham House that is simultaneously eye-rollingly predictable and also much more entertaining than anything that’s come before.

Is that an improvement? Technically speaking, yes, but it’s not like the bar wasn’t center-of-the-earth low already.

To be fair, this fourth hour is much more the sort of show I’ve been expecting Beecham House to be for the past two weeks, one which is insane and kind of bad, but is also at least fun to watch. (It also probably helps that they dial back old Mrs. Beecham’s racism this week to just calling the servants by her made-up names for them, rather than disparaging the entire Indian race with every other line.) Anyway, there’s nothing to do with the revelation that John’s son August is the presumed dead grandson but secretly hidden of a maharajah except laugh at it, particularly as the story digs into the specifics of his birth.

Most of us – read, me – guessed that August was at least royal-adjacent as soon as Chandrika showed up, and at least this twist makes the strange opening moments of this series make sense. John’s vaguely Messianic entrance – seriously he looks like a Jesus Christ Superstar understudy – comes just in time to rescue an old man and his two daughters who happen to be minor royalty. He gets shot for his trouble, because of course he does, and nursed back to health in very fancy royal style. The inevitable love story with daughter Kamlavati is much more the sort of story I thought Beecham House would tell all along, and if it’s all a bit rushed at least it’s vaguely sweet.

(Photo: Courtesy of MASTERPIECE)
(Photo: Courtesy of MASTERPIECE)

At least it is until Kamlavati is brutally murdered by her own uncle, a virtual faceless comic book villain of a figure we never see, but who covets his brother’s crown enough to kill his own kin. John pretends August was killed along with his wife and flees to Delhi to become a trader and hide the truth of his son’s identity. That’s the big, bad dark secret he’s endeavored so hard to hide, and I don’t know that keeping it all the way until episode four has done this show any favors at all.

“Margaret, I hope this has answered your questions,” John concludes dramatically, without noting that it is still eminently possible for his entire story to be true and for him to also have slept with Chandrika the night before. I mean, we all know he didn’t, but the rest of his family doesn’t, and he never actually denies it as such. Anyway, I guess that’s not such a dumb move from a guy who thinks it’s fine to tell this secret to a half dozen people, including the messy brother he barely trusts and his drug-addicted mom with a status obsession, and just assume that they won’t mention it to anyone else.

So, I am sure that’s going to go great.

Elsewhere, Daniel breaks Chanchal’s heart by informing her that just because they slept together the day before, he’s not planning to marry her and has, in fact, already been called back to his military regiment so he’ll be leaving soon. Chanchal is surprised and heartbroken, but pretty much every other servant in Beecham House takes the time to tell her how dumb she’s been to trust in a man who’s basically wearing a sign that says HOT SLIMEBALL. Poor Chanchal.

I mean, there’s a reason that Daniel’s dirtbag meter goes off around John’s shady friend Samuel Parker, and clearly it’s because it’s a whole takes one to know one situation.

(Photo: Courtesy of MASTERPIECE)
(Photo: Courtesy of MASTERPIECE)

Samuel, for his part, is busy trying to get John arrested and sent back to England for reasons I don’t entirely understand, because wouldn’t it be more efficient to just kill him or let Hot Soldier Played by Gregory Fitoussi do it or whatever. Instead, we get an overly complicated plot in which the Prince is trying to sell a gigantic diamond known as the Star of Agra, but has to enlist new trader John Beecham’s help to do it on the down-low so that no one finds out the royal family is in financial trouble.

Sure, I guess? But, Samuel, not even bothering to try and be not completely suspicious anymore, runs straight to Hot Soldier Played By Gregory Fitoussi to tell him what’s up and point out that this is the way to ruin Beecham in the Emperor’s eyes. This would probably all be more compelling if Parker were even a vaguely nuanced character with motivations that went beyond a throwaway line about how he’s mad at John for leaving him holding the bag with the East India Company. But, this is Beecham House, so naturally, he’s the most simplistic, cardboard version of that idea. Can’t wait for Daniel to be the one who eventually finds the proof of his duplicity!

 What did you think of this episode of Beecham House? What do you think will happen in the remaining two episodes? Let’s discuss in the comments.

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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