'Sanditon' Recap: Episode 5

Charlotte and Sidney play cricket  (Photo: Courtesy of Photographer: Simon Ridgway/© Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019)

MASTERPIECE Sanditon Episode Five Sunday, February 2, 2020; 9:00 - 10:00pm ET Desperate for unpaid wages, Young Stringer threatens a worker boycott of the annual cricket match with Sanditon’s gentlemen. Even Charlotte joins the game as simmering tensions boil over.. Shown from left to right: Charlotte Heywood (ROSE WILLIAMS) and Sidney Parker 9THEO JAMES) For editorial use only.


As Sanditon continues, it’s time to dive into the most British of all traditions: Cricket. This week’s installment revolves around the annual town cricket match, which serves as both an actual game and a social occasion, as well as the reason for most of the characters to be in the same place at the same time. Drama!

Now, I have almost zero understanding of how cricket works, which I suspect truly marks me as an American, but in all honesty, the highly anticipated annual town match was little more than noise to me, as various attractive men prance around on the beach in flowing white shirts while carrying wooden mallets and shouting incomprehensible terms and instructions.

At least the scenery is beautiful. Is it the seaside that makes all these random men so good looking? Maybe.

I have no idea what’s going on with the game aspect of the story, but I am very here for all the drama surrounding it, which includes everything from a secret romantic rendezvous to public shaming, with some mild class warfare and surprise feminism thrown on top.

The game itself is a recipe for disaster from the jump, given that it takes place between Tom Parker and his rich gentleman friends versus the folks that work for the Parker family, building their houses and keeping the bones of the town running. Not only does the divide between these two groups fuel their animosity during the match, as evidence by the fact that the moment it looks like the poor kids might win, Tom tries to literally work the ref for a second chance and the workers immediately claim it’s cheating. Which, it kind of is.

Young Stringer has a dramatic profile. (Photo: Courtesy of Photographer: Simon Ridgway/© Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019)
Young Stringer has a dramatic profile. (Photo: Courtesy of Photographer: Simon Ridgway/© Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019)

But for all its aspirations of modernity, the world of Sanditon still appears to be one where the gentlemen are supposed to beat the workers at cricket, no matter how that victory must be engineered.

Which is probably why Young Stringer calls out Tom Parker so publicly about his failure to pay his workers on time. Or, you know, at all. This is a stunning development not just because Tom is apparently fair more broke than any of us realized, but because now all of Sanditon, including Lady Denham and Tom’s own wife, know that he’s a liar whose word can’t be trusted.

In all honesty, I’m not sure that I knew the name of Tom’s wife prior to this episode, but in the continuing Sanditon tradition of all the women on the show completely surprising me, she’s given some real depth and agency here. Mary angrily confronts her husband over his lies, flings the absurd necklace he just bought her back in his face and wants to know why he’s been shafting those whose livelihoods he’s supposed to be providing.

Tom doesn’t have a great answer for that, nor does he seem to have a firm handle on when or how exactly he’s going to get the money to pay everyone what he owes them. Again, Sanditon’s general and consistent vagueness about precisely how the Parkers have money at all or how they’ve been funding this whole Sanditon building project in the first place doesn’t really help things here, narratively speaking. But to his credit, Kris Marshall takes full advantage of his first opportunity to really do anything in this series, selling the heck out of a Tom that appears to be rapidly unraveling.

Back at the beach, Charlotte steps up to take Tom’s place in the match that’s still continuing, thanks to the Reverend Umpire’s full on reversal of fortune when it comes to his initial call that ended the game. (Seriously, we couldn’t just let the poor kids win this once?) Charlotte is, of course, shockingly good at cricket, thanks to what seems to be a combination of beginner’s luck and Young Stringer’s decision to go easy on his crush whenever he gets the opportunity to do so. Though I prefer Sidney as a romantic partner for Charlotte, there’s something extremely adorable and likeable about a man who’s so open about his affection for her. He’s like a walking heart eyes emoji.

Elsewhere, Sidney and Charlotte are back to the sort of awkward flirtation thing they’ve been doing all along, where it’s clear that Sidney admires Charlotte’s courage and free spiritedness and can’t stop staring at her, even as she obviously doesn’t hate him as much as she tells Georgiana she does. I’m here for it, because I am a sucker for this back and forth about false assumptions and misconceptions and just. Yes.

Theo James  in "Sanditon" (Photo: Courtesy of Photographer: Simon Ridgway/© Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019)
Theo James  in "Sanditon" (Photo: Courtesy of Photographer: Simon Ridgway/© Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019)

I’m honestly unclear how Esther and Lord Babbington manage to go off for a horseback ride to a romantic waterfall in the middle of all this drama, but these two are growing on me, so I’ll allow it. Babbington is at least a man who seems to value Esther for herself, and whose feelings toward her feel as though they are not just 100% genuine, but also geared toward her actual happiness.

Babbington is the type of man who both wants the best for Esther, and thinks the best of her, in stark contrast to her (step) brother, who seems to only want to claim his sister so that others cannot have her, without promising her anything that feels like a real future together. He’s doesn’t’ seem terribly interested in whether Esther is happy or not merely, that she is there. My girl deserves better than that.  Plus, that proposal is the cutest thing I’ve seen in ages. Even if it does feel more than a bit sudden.

Elsewhere, Georgiana has been busy receiving letters from her forbidden London boyfriend, with a little help from Charlotte, of course. But, because Georgiana has apparently never encountered a metaphor before, she’s concerned that Otis’ constant insistence that he “will die” if he can’t see her. So, of course, she makes plans for a clandestine meet up during the distraction of the match and manages to get herself kidnapped in the process. Siggggggh. 

As I’ve said elsewhere, I do enjoy that Sanditon portrays Georgiana primarily as a petulant teen who often seems to possess less understanding of the way the world works than Charlotte does. But whew, girl. She really does not get a.) why she should not run off to meet strange men alone or b.) why most men she comes into contact with are obviously going to tell her they want to marry her whether they do or not. (I mean, she’s ridiculously rich, right?) On some level, I absolutely understand this plot as a classic representation of teenage rebellion in a different time period, and that Georgiana has her own set of growing up and identity struggles going on. But watching her next to characters like Esther and Clara – and even Charlotte who at least appears to be trying to see beyond her own perspective – it’s a struggle to sympathize with her. Maybe this is a learning opportunity for her? Here's hoping. 

What did you all think of this week’s Sanditon? Let’s discuss.

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