'Sanditon' Recap: Episode 6

The iconic ball dance scene we've all been waiting for  (Photo: Courtesy of Photographer: Simon Ridgway/© Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019)

MASTERPIECE Sanditon Episode Six Sunday, February 9, 2020; 9:00 - 10:00pm ET At loggerheads over the disappearance of Miss Lambe, Charlotte and Sidney comb the London underworld to find her. Meanwhile, Tom tries to save Sanditon and his marriage, and Edward and Clara hatch a cunning plot to seize Lady Denham’s legacy.. Shown from left to right: Charlotte Heywood (ROSE WILLIAMS) and Sidney Parker 9THEO JAMES) For editorial use only.


The fallout from Georgiana’s abduction continues this week on an action-packed Sanditon that pretty much leaves us all wondering how in the world all of this story is going to get wrapped up in two episodes. (Maybe it’s not, and that’s the point, but there are certainly a lot of plot threads still dangling out there.)

As we saw in the last episode, Charlotte has snuck off to London to search for her BFF, because, honestly, why not. Her introduction to big city life is predictably hilarious, as Sanditon plays up literally everything that’s stereotypical and terrible about life in the big city. It’s dark and dirty, everything is poorly lit, and squads of creeper men roam the streets at will, leering at the newly arrived country girl and literally vomiting into her path. (PEOPLE. ARE. LITERALLY. THROWING. UP. AT HER.)

And that all happens before Sidney Parker (somehow??) shows up just in time to prevent Charlotte from getting raped in an alley. This show, y’all.

Sanditon leans full in to rehabilitating Charlotte and Sidney’s relationship this week, as the two air grievances, admit mistakes, express their mutual admiration for one another and share an adventure that ultimately brings them closer than ever before. Plus, they dance together at a party and a total stranger lets Charlotte know that she’s in love with Sidney, just as his ex shows up.

Days of Our Lives could never.

The thing is, as someone who is predisposed to liking Sidney and Charlotte together and rooting for their romantic happiness, I’m here for a lot of this. It was gratifying to finally see them talk about Georgiana’s claim that Sidney was a racist piece of trash, for Charlotte to acknowledge she’s based a lot of her feelings about Sidney and Otis Molyneux on assumptions that she pretty much crafted in her own head, and for Sidney to admit that Charlotte d is more interesting and complicated and good than he’d initially thought. Their dance at the ball that closes the episode is all kinds of tense, but in that fun way that indicates how much these two have grown to care about one another. (And if you somehow missed all the road signs, here’s Sidney telling Charlotte how she’s the only woman he wants to dance with and putting a bow on it all.) 

This dress is so perfect  (Photo: Courtesy of Photographer: Simon Ridgway/© Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019)
This dress is so perfect  (Photo: Courtesy of Photographer: Simon Ridgway/© Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019)

This sequence is lovely, but I can’t help feel that Charlotte and Sidney’s relationship has been rather poorly paced up to this point, jerking the pair back and forth for no discernable reason, particularly when that screentime might have been better used depicting them really getting to know one another post, say, Episode 3. 

And at least we finally get some sort of denouement about Sidney’s supposedly racist past – he says he gave up the sugar trade because he detests that it was built on the backs of enslaved peoples, and…that’s kind of it. Wow, we couldn’t have cleared that up like three weeks ago? Ugh. See this is what I’m talking about. And now Sanditon has introduced Sidney’s conveniently widowed ex-fiancé, who will doubtless prove another roadblock to the couple’s happiness until the series’ final moments. Sidlotte deserves better y’all.

If Andrew Davies is so clearly here to shake up some of our preconceived notions about what it is to be an Austen story, mayhap it would have served him well to start here. Because he’s certainly not averse to doing the unexpected in other parts of the story.

Because I have now been forced to sit through people having sex on a floor in a Jane Austen adaptation and let me tell you all that is an image I will never be able to unsee.

Once again, Davies’ desire to scandalize Austen purists and sex up his stories (literally in this case), results in a sequence of events that viewers will definitely be talking about, but that don’t really add anything of note to the story.

That Edward and Clara strike a deal to destroy Lady Denham’s will in order to purposefully subvert a dead woman’s wishes is exactly the sort of blatant, trashy scheming I am here for. These two are terrible, and I love how unapologetic they both are about it. Sorry, town of Sanditon! Sucks to be you, random donkey farm that needed money! But guess what, I absolutely knew that before the show decided to show the pair getting it on a floor whose decorative tiles literally form the shape of a snake’s face. TWO SNAKES DOING IT ON A SNAKE FLOOR. We get it, show. I promise. The metaphor is clear. Let us live!

Edward remains the worst (Photo: Courtesy of Photographer: Simon Ridgway/© Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019)
Edward remains the worst (Photo: Courtesy of Photographer: Simon Ridgway/© Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019)

Personally, I don’t watch Jane Austen stories for this, and I don’t know what this brought anything besides pure scandalous shock value to the proceedings. Edward’s betrayal of Esther, his obsession with money above else, and his willingness to rob a dead woman all make it obvious enough how garbage a human he is. I don’t need to see him cheat on Esther to know that. (The fact that he just convinced her to give up another man for him is merely the icing on the cake of fail.)

But I remain fuzzy on why, precisely, Clara subjects herself to this. She’s gotten what she wanted, and more, so why is snaking it up with Edward necessary? Is this a power move for her? Does she actually care about him? Are these two going to marry each other by the end of the story, thereby securing a fortune for them both? Is Clara also trash? (I think maybe she is, no matter how much I like her, and on some level I can’t even fault her for it. No one is going to look out for a woman alone but herself in this era.)

Speaking of dirtbags, Georgiana is finally forced to realize that her boyfriend might be one. And, okay, Otis is not the worst monster in this saga – looking at you, Mr. Howard, who literally bought a woman to try and steal her fortune – he’s not exactly looking great here. Perhaps this will prove an object lesson for Georgiana, given that Otis did apparently tell everyone about her and use the promise of her fortune to secure his own debts. That Otis is also a degenerate gambler seems to be another problem that the show doesn’t really mention enough, but maybe it’s not fair to pile on to the poor girl quite so much. Hopefully, she gets it, and will maybe go a little easier on Sidney in the future.

To be fair, I also have a lot of questions about the efficacy of the kidnapping plot in the first place, not the least of which being the fact that stepping onto Gretna Green doesn’t make you married. And even though Scotland a location where parental permission isn’t required to wed, the assent of the parties involved certainly still was. Whatever, let’s just all laugh at the hilarious carriage chase, shall we?

Thoughts on this week’s action-packed episode? 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

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