The second season of Sanditon wastes no time in giving us what we all want from this sort of show—a fancy dress ball that hints at the possibility of multiple potential romances and offers plenty of opportunities for both dancing and gossip. Granted, it also feels like the show is not really being particularly subtle in its storytelling and is telegraphing almost every plot twist with the period drama equivalent of neon lights, but that doesn't mean it's not fun as heck to watch.
Charlotte, apparently having accepted her fate as a sad spinster and neighborhood cautionary tale, starts her new job as a governess for the weirdly reclusive widower Alexander Colbourne. He's got big Byronic energy, a daughter (Leonora) he doesn't know what to do with, and a niece (Augusta) he seems to actively loathe, but he and Charlotte have the kind of instantly combative sort of chemistry that means one or both of them is definitely going to be pining over one another within an episode or two.
We know this because Charlotte is bold enough to put Colbourne in his place, defend the aforementioned horrible children despite the fact that they've been mostly awful to her for the one day she's worked for them, and extol the virtues of education for young women that goes beyond learning to embroider. I have many questions about how Charlotte's qualified for her new job in any way, as well as whether a man like Colbourne would be shamed by marrying a governess if this relationship gets far enough for that to become an issue. But there is a distinct Jane Eyre/Mr. Rochester feel to their connection (thankfully without the madwoman in the attic situation), so I'm willing to see where this all goes. And, admittedly, I did find it rather sweet when Charlotte decided to lie for Augusta simply because she understands how hard living with grief can be and how helpless that can make you feel. Sure, Sydney Parker may not be physically on this show anymore, but his presence is felt throughout it in many ways.
The other half of the inevitable Charlotte Heywood love triangle appears to be the dreamy Colonel Lennox, a dishy army officer who's kind, thoughtful and seems to be a rather good dancer. He invites the Parker clan—along with what seems to be most of Sanditon--to something called a "mess dinner", which as far as I can tell basically seems like a fancy dress ball but with food that's served by the soldiers in uniform instead of regular servants.
Charlotte has to own her new working-class badge of shame and sit with the other losers down the end of the table instead of with her sister Allison and BFF Georgiana, because...I don't know some invisible rule of etiquette that has apparently decided that simply because she is not married but is working to support herself she might as well be dead. Yet, dishy Colonel Lennox is falling all over himself to dance with her anyway, and their scenes, in which he gives her governess advice dressed up as battlefield tactics, are honestly super adorable. Was their meet-cute last week kind of contrived? Yup. Do I care? Not really. (Though I will admit I feel like, at this moment, Lennox may be too normal for Charlotte, in that he doesn't (as yet) seem to be able to drive much story on his own. He's just...nice. It's true, Lennox isn't particularly interesting--and he certainly doesn't have a tortured past or the familiar understanding of grief that a man like Colbourne does. But honestly, all I want for Charlotte is someone nice, and who will give her the stability and unshakeable love she deserves.
Elsewhere, Allison is ready to basically spend the rest of her life with the handsome soldier who rescued her from her carriage crash last week, even if she barely knows his name or any pertinent facts about him. This is good, considering the facts Captain Carter has told her about himself are basically all lies but, thankfully, I think his pretending to like poetry comes from a good place, and not like, a The Tinder Swindler place, so all is not lost there. That said, the show is telegraphing real hard that Lennox's aide, Captain Frasier, also has a thing for Allison, and the two have a deeply snarky Darcy and Elizabeth-style banter going on, which hints that he might be the natural choice for Charlotte's spirited younger sister once Carter inevitably breaks her heart.
Esther and even Lady Denham also manage to attend the swanky army party, though that seems all tied up in the fact that this is also dirtbag Edward's regiment, who is truly the one character I wish hadn't come back for Season 2. Esther is so much more interesting without him, and Season 2 has already planted seeds for a rich story of her own with her fertility issues. (Which, not for nothing, is a topic that isn't exactly covered frequently on shows like this.) I don't care if he says he's truly changed (lol ok) or that he wants to build a new relationship with his stepsister (get away from her)—in fact, it's hard to argue that there's any part of this man's story that is compelling television, and while I'm sure this supposed "redemption" arc is all part of some new scheme, I have less than zero interest in finding out what it is. Even Clara somehow showing up supposedly pregnant with Edward's baby isn't enough for me to want him to stick around. Get in the sea and let the women sort it out.
And while I'm complaining about this—yes, I'm glad that Georgiana is getting more screentime this season, but it's really not entirely clear what Sanditon is trying to do with her, or why the show seems to think that watching her be rude to everyone who isn't Charlotte multiple times per episode is the story that any of us wanted to see. (The one throwaway line about her sugar boycott is not an arc, show!) To be fair, I suspect there are viewers who will read Georgiana's behavior as some form of empowering or a rejection of the oppressive system that Mrs. Parker has encouraged her to accept. I'm not one of those people, and though I'm intrigued by the idea that Georgiana is rich enough to make marrying a weirdo Bohemian artist something she could actually do and still survive both socially and financially, I'm already tired of her back and forth sniping with Charles Lockhart. (As adorable as Arthur shipping the two of them is, I don't know that Arthur's taste in these matters is something we should trust.)
What did you think of the second episode of Sanditon Season 2? Which couples are you rooting for? Let's discuss in the comments.