Little Dorrit Recap & Review of Episode Two on Masterpiece Classic PBS

Little Dorrit (2008)

Affairs of the heart populate episode two with hopes and aspirations for all of the unattached characters in Masterpiece Classic’s miniseries of Little Dorrit. The episode opens with a wrenching blow to John Chivery (Russell Tovey), when Amy Dorrit (Claire Foy) rejects his tender marriage proposal. The touching scene played out with chilling sadness as we look upon his dejected face and her regretful downcast gaze. I felt numb with emotion for both of them. I can not remember witnessing a proposal scene that was so tragically realistic.

Meanwhile, Arthur Clennam (Matthew Macfadyen) goes calling to Twickenham to the Meagles and finds he is not the only beau courting Miss Pet. Even though Pet’s parents have attempted twice to separate their daughter and Henry Gowan (Alex Wyndham), he has reappeared and is still the front runner for Pet’s affections. Tite Barnacle Jr. (Darren Boyd) is hopeful too, but the Meagles prefer Arthur, who is smitten.

Arthur’s former paramour, the widow Flora Finching (Ruth Jones) has aspirations of reigniting their childhood flame. Sensing Arthur’s interest in Little Dorrit, she employs her as a seamstress to pump her for information on him and keep an eye on the competition. Amy’s opportunistic sister Fanny has caught the eye of a wealthy suitor Edmund Sparkler (Sebastian Armesto) but she is playing hard to get, which makes her even more attractive to him. His society matron mother Mrs. Merdle (Amanda Redman), who has re-married a wealthy banker, is determined to disentangle her son Edmund from Fanny’s skillful gold-digging and offers her jewelry and a frock in compensation. Not wanting him anyway, Fanny gladly accepts, smug with the thought that she played her for some trinkets.

Little Dorrit 2008 Ep 3

Arthur learns of Amy’s rejection of John Chivery and expresses his concern to her that she should not sacrifice her own future happiness for her family. She assures him that she does not love John and can not marry him. He tells her that he has fallen in love with a young woman who she does not know. This is devastating news to Amy who is secretly in love with Arthur, harboring one of his shirt buttons as a cherished memento (a la Harriet Smith in Jane Austen’s Emma). Arthur departs to Twickenham to the Meagels to propose to Pet, only to learn that he is too late. Henry got there first.

Tempers are at a peak at the Meagles house when counting to twenty-five does nothing to clam Tattycorum’s (Freema Agyeman) tantrum over their treatment of her. She flees to the protection of the mysterious Miss Wade (Maxine Peake) who has finally succeeded in manipulating her away from their protection.

With so much romance afoot, Arthur the gumshoe has been pushed aside. The mystery that was set up in episode one over the Clennam family’s unknown connection to the Dorrit’s and their imprisonment at the Marshalsea debtor’s prison will have to wait. We still have many characters that I am not sure of their connection to the plot. The murderous Frenchman Rigaud aka Blandois or Lagnier (Andy Serkis) being the biggest puzzle. What has he to do with the Clennam family? I am still enthralled. Catch episode three of Little Dorrit next Sunday, April 12 on PBS.

  • Read my recap and review of episode one
  • Read my review of Little Dorrit on the PBS blog Remotely Connected
  • Read about the Marshalsea Prison at Jane Austen’s World


4 thoughts on “Little Dorrit Recap & Review of Episode Two on Masterpiece Classic PBS

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  1. I am loving this program (haven’t gotten a chance to post my own review of part two yet, hope to do so tonight). The proposal scene at the beginning of this episode, and poor dejected John just about made me cry!! His character is such a sweetheart.

    Rigaud’s character was even more scary and chilling in this episode. (Minor Spoiler!) I am curious to discover if he purposefully targeted Flintwinch’s brother to steal the papers, or if it was just a random discovery that he decides to take advantage of…will be interesting to find out!


  2. OMG I have been in love with little dorrit!!! Amy is wonderfully played I feel like and I love the host of characters surrounding her.

    One character I dont understand is Pett. Why do they call her that and why is Arthur in love with her… who knows but she annoys me to know end. She is so tall compared with her parents. She seems different from them.

    Who knows. Other than her I have been loving it!


  3. The only character I’m really not feeling is Tattycorum. It seems she is more hysterical than put upon, and the actress is playing every darn scene as if she’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Maybe we needed more back story on this one, but I am finding her really irritating.

    Other than that jarring note, I adore this production! I agree that the proposal scene was beautifully well done and brilliantly acted. And Andy Serkis has an uncanny ability to just disappear into his roles; his Rigaud is wonderful in a very scary, menacing way!


  4. The novel begins with Monsieur Rigaud, so you can bet the ranch that he will figure prominently in how the tumblers will all fall into place.

    Also, regarding Tattycoram, she has been raised to believe she was equal to her sister in every respect but treated by her as if she were a servant. Dickens didn’t conceive her as being black (apart from a description of her black hair) but Andrew Davies, in his screen adaptation, used brilliant artistic license to cast her as such.

    This is a FAR superior adaptation than the 1988 version with Alec Guiness (although Mr. Guiness’s interpretation of William Dorrit alone is worth owning the film). So much of the dialog in this earlier film is swallowed up by overblown music and background noise that doesn’t help the flow of the story… AND it is a production more BASED on Dickens’ original rather than ADAPTED from it.

    I also MUCH prefer Matthew MacFadyen’s Arthur to Derek Jacobi, even though Jacobi’s age relationship to Little Dorrit is closer to the original. There is no question that the relative “un-littleness” of Claire Foy and the “un-oldness” of MacFadyen make this production infinitely more romantic.


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