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.
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