'The Miniaturist' Recap, Part 2: A House of Lies, A Home

The Miniaturist_Iconic 2.jpg

“The Miniaturist” MASTERPIECE on PBS Sundays, September 9 - 23, 2018 at 9pm ET Shown from left to right: Paapa Essiedu as Otto, Hayley Squires as Cornelia, Anya Taylor-Joy as Nella, Alex Hassell as Johannes and Romola Gara as Marin (C) The Forge/Laurence Cendrowicz for BBC and MASTERPIECE

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In Part 2 of The Miniaturist, Nella struggles to handle the truth of her life.

Cornelia: Are you bargaining madame?
Nella: Yes, I think I am.

Everyone knows the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. This week sees Nella working her way down the list when it comes to the truth of her marriage. To the show's credit, they do allow her to consider behaving like an 18-year-old in her time would have, calling her husband a sodomite, speaking of how he will drown in hell and all the rest of it. She even threatens to run home and annul the marriage, since her husband hadn't bothered to touch her, and protests that living in poverty in a scenario where she would have children would at least make her a real woman.

But soon enough it's out of the denial and anger stages and into the bargaining realm, where Nella starts using her position as someone holding the family secret to take charge of the household. She gets her parakeet back and lets him fly around the house. (Unfortunately, he gets away when someone opens the window.) She puts Marin in her place because, after all, the woman is now beholden to Nella who can destroy the whole family with a word. She also gets the dirt on her hypocrite sister-in-law, and the emotional affair she's been carrying on with Frans Meermans, he of the sugar she's been harassing Johannes to sell. 

Credit: Courtesy of The Forge/Laurence Cendrowicz for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Moreover, the show gets very modern by having Johannes insist he was born this way, a concept that would not have been something anyone would have considered back during the time period. Once this is an accepted fact, of course, Nella cannot leave, as to do so would be heartless. And besides, she's finally seen the titular Miniaturist up close, whose eyes are unsettlingly blue. Furthermore by the next morning another package has arrived containing all the other players in the drama: Otto, Frans, Frans' wife Agnes and Jack, her husband's lover, whose dagger is sharp. Marin attempts to toss the Jack doll upon discovering it, but it comes right back the next day.

Unnerved by Marin's self-flagellating and bored out of her skull after Johannes leaves to sell the sugar, Nella starts investigating her miniature maker. Instead, she discovers that in the ever more evangelical and puritanical Amsterdam, the creation of anything in the shape of a human, like dolls or gingerbread men, has been banned. Her wedding present is technically illegal, as are the packages being constantly delivered to her home. She also discovers her miniaturist is in league with Agnes, who hates Marin and the whole family.

Johannes: Marin, Cornelia, Otto, they wish for love, but value safety.

Tossing the Jack doll was a bad omen, one that unsurprisingly leads to a bad end. Jack shows up in a rage because Marin banned Johannes from employing him on the trip abroad, and when he cannot bring himself to kill her, stabs Johannes beloved mutt instead, killing it dead. In retaliation, Otto stabs Jack in the chest. That dagger was sharp, indeed. Otto panics that he's endangered the family and threatens to leave, but Nella is far more concerned that the contents of her dollhouse have been moved, with Jack and the now deceased dog standing together in the hall where the incident happened.

Between that and the riddle-tainted missives that arrive with each package, Nella races down to the shop to confront the woman once and for all. instead, another package, this one with Cornelia and dozens of sugar cookies, and advice not to let sweet weapons stray. Turns out those sweet weapons are the sugar Johannes is dragging his heels on selling. The longer he keeps Frans and Agnes from getting their wealth from the sweet stuff, the longer he delays the two of them coming after their family, Frans, who wants to destroy Johannes for refusing to allow him to marry Marin, and Agnes, who hates Marin for existing at all.

Credit: Courtesy of The Forge/Laurence Cendrowicz for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

​ ​But the stalling has taken its toll. Frans has his proof of Johannes' proclivities, is outraged he hasn't seen his money and is ready to ruin the whole family. Nella's husband has to run, again, and this time he probably isn't coming back. The miniaturist too seems to have gone, her wares contraband in the city. Nella is left all alone to deal with the household and Marin too, whose rapidly rounding figure isn't fat, it's pregnancy.

How will this all shake out? The Miniaturist draws to a conclusion next week. 


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. 

A Woman's Place Is In Your Face. Cat Approved. Find her on BlueSky and other social media of your choice: @anibundel.bsky.social

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