'Jamestown' Recap: Season 1, Episode 6

Niamh Walsh in "Jamestown" (Photo: Carnival Films Ltd 2017)

Previously, on Jamestown: Verity flirts with the boys at the tavern enough that she can be credibly accused of inciting violence when two of them get in a bar brawl and one murders the other. Bailey, the murderer, gets shot while taking part in what appears to be a planned military coup in the settlement and Verity gets extremely sad about it, despite the fact that we’ve never seen them interact before. We also learn that Jocelyn’s big secret is she poisoned an ex, and James still can’t seem to let go of his obsession with Alice. In a petty move for the ages, he manages to find out Henry’s still alive and tell everyone in town about it. (Need more details? Read our full recap of Episode 5.)

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.

In Episode 6, Verity’s behavior becomes increasingly bizarre and erratic, as Jamestown proves once and for all that the show really really has no idea what to do with her character. In the wake of Bailey’s death, Verity is apparently so distraught – despite having barely conversed with the man – that she suffers what can only be termed some kind of bizarre break from reality. As a result she decides to process her grief by openly stealing from residents around town, including one of the town magistrates and one of her own best friends. Who is this woman?

Honestly, it’s upsetting that this is the only thing they can think of to do with a character with so many layers. Worse than that, it’s lazy. Verity isn’t as sweet as Alice or as self-interested as Jocelyn, but the series nevertheless seems incapable of letting her carve her own path. She’s a survivor who’s had a hard life – living with abuse and in poverty to start – yet her behavior repeatedly comes off as someone who isn’t familiar with every single risk of the world she lives in. Sure, Verity’s something of a firebrand, but there are ways to handle that aspect of her character without having her openly court public flogging or worse every single week.

Niamh Walsh and Dean Lennox Kelly as Verity and Meredith in "Jamestown" (Photo: Carnival Films Ltd 2017)
Niamh Walsh and Dean Lennox Kelly  in "Jamestown" (Photo: Carnival Films Ltd 2017)

When Jamestown started it seemed as though Verity would be the character to push the show’s boundaries. She was brave enough to don men’s clothes and try to run away when she thought she’d be unhappy, yet she’s decided to make the best of it with a man who’s falling down drunk every day. How is that not enough basis for a real story? Sigh.

Elsewhere, Jocelyn’s busy trying to figure out how to keep Lady Yeardley from finding out that she poisoned a guy back home and telling the whole settlement about it. She decides that a little sucking up never went amiss and volunteers to help Temperance with the planning of the annual summer solstice festival, which everyone’s calling St. Johns Eve, because solstice is a pagan holiday. Lady Yeardley, who could give James Read a run for his money in the Pettiness Olympics, sees this for the fake friendship it is, but doesn’t let that stop her from torturing Jocelyn for a bit. She offers to help her learn to be a better wife to Samuel, which naturally involves 5am prayers and a near constant exhortation to get pregnant as soon as possible.

Jocelyn, you may imagine, isn’t a fan of any of this, but her attempts to smile through the pain of pre-dawn Bible readings are probably the best part of the episode. Naomi Battrick plays this whole sequence so well – conveying Jocelyn’s simultaneous hatred of her situation and her constant awareness of the fact that her life could swing in the balance of this performance – it’s hard not to love it. And let’s be real, Jocelyn’s been so repeatedly awful to Temperance’s face, she kind of deserves all of this.

 Niamh Walsh, Naomi Battrick and Claire Cox in "Jamestown" (Photo: Carnival Films Ltd 2017)
 Niamh Walsh, Naomi Battrick and Claire Cox in "Jamestown" (Photo: Carnival Films Ltd 2017)

Thanks to Verity’s elite thieving skills, Jocelyn ultimately gains an advantage in her blackmail battle with Temperance – the knowledge that the treasure map to the mythical Virginia gold mines is hidden in a box on the governor’s desk. (And that he robbed a grave to get it.) For the moment, it seems a state of détente is reached: Neither woman will rat the other out, and The Letter from the cousin in England will be destroyed upon its arrival. Can this last?

Silas, feeling guilty about the whole leaving his brother for dead thing back in the series’ first episode thing, heads off upriver to look for him. After rowing for what appears to be roughly twenty minutes, Silas is so tired, he passes out. Thankfully, some local Native Americans are spying on him from the riverbank and save him, dragging him back to what appears to be the same camp the governor and friends visited earlier this season.

Once Silas explains the whole missing brother situation, the chief not only tells him he thinks Henry’s been found by a neighboring tribe, he offers Chacrow – who is also there for some reason – up to go with him as a kind of guide. He also asks Silas in a round about and extremely awkward way if maybe he’d be cool with being the natives’ spokesperson in the settlement. Since they did him this solid and all.

Kalani Queypo and Stuart Martin in "Jamestown" (Photo: Carnival Films Ltd 2017)
Kalani Queypo and Stuart Martin in "Jamestown" (Photo: Carnival Films Ltd 2017)

Back in Jamestown, Alice blames James Read for Silas’ absence, since he’s the one who informed everyone Henry’s still alive in the first place. He insists he’s still the one who’s truly devoted to her and wants her to admit he’s a good man. Read, by the way, is crazy. Granted, Alice maybe should be a bit more angry with Silas for leaving in the first place, but it’s real hard to tell what James thinks is going to happen here. Dude, she straight up married another man. I don’t know what clearer signal she can send to you that this thing you’re imagining between y’all will n e v e r happen.

By the end of the episode, the two take a tentative step toward friendship after James rallies the townsfolk to help save the Sharrows’ tobacco plants from a gross worm infestation. I guess that’s nice? Maybe now that they’ve stopped being open enemies, James can get a storyline that doesn’t have anything to do with his inappropriately possessive feelings about Alice. We’d probably all be happier.

After they all save Alice’s crops, the settlement enjoys a day of merriment at the solstice festival. Or at least they do until the episode ends with the creeper image of the year: Henry Sharrow, officially back from the dead and having found silver in a nearby riverbed. What happens now? After all the set-up forced into this generally dull episode, it better be something exciting.

What do you think of Verity’s behavior? 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 Twitter at @LacyMB