Lost in Austen: Episode 3

“I am having a bit of a strange postmodern moment here.”

In the most plot-heavy episode of the miniseries, we continue to follow the general trajectory of Pride and Prejudice, with several minor alterations.

In the novel, Elizabeth goes to visit Mrs. Collins. In the show, Amanda goes to visit a different Mrs. Collins. Both are received at Rosings where they meet Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her daughter Anne and (coincidence of coincidences) run into Darcy. In Lost in Austen, Darcy is not accompanied by his cousin as he should be, but by the Bingleys. No explanation is given for their tagging along, but Charles makes such a funny drunk I can’t find much fault with this.

The characters stick together in the show much more than in the book. On their later sojourn to Pemberly (which obviously mirrors Elizabeth’s trip to Derbyshire), not only do Mrs. Bennet and Lydia join in the fun, but Wickham and the Collinses are there also. In the novel, it was absolutely necessary for Elizabeth to spend some time with Darcy away from her family. With their distracting impropriety far away, Darcy is free to realize that he loves Elizabeth. Here, the Bennet family is no impetus to Darcy’s feelings for Amanda and thus there is no harm letting them tag along up to Pemberly. It provides for a great deal more comedy than if the party were smaller.

I do love the entire miniseries, but I must confess that some of the most romantic scenes miss the mark a bit for me. Is it the abrupt switch from broad comedy to high drama, the stilted language, or the acting? I don’t know. The scenes aren’t bad and Elliot Cowan brings the smolder (does he ever) but I feel like they could have been better if they’d done something differently. Of course the big dramatic scene is followed by the completely awesome meta fountain scene. It never fails to make me laugh. It also never fails to make me hit the pause button for a moment. Yummers.

The highlight of this episode, for me, is the development of Wickham as a character. Not only does he play fairy godmother to Amanda’s Cinderella, but it is revealed that his dastardly behavior towards Georgiana was nothing of the sort. Georgiana, it transpires, is a scheming, vindictive bitch with no visible good qualities. It works to absolve Wickham of wrongdoing, but in doing so negates a bit of Darcy’s dreaminess. In the book, one of the things that influences Elizabeth towards loving Darcy is how sweet his sister is and how well he treats her. He virtually raised her, so her good qualities speak well for him. Now, what are we saying?

Despite her vow to be “bum-crushingly correct,” Amanda makes a couple of stupendous errors in this episode. First of all, she reveals to Darcy that she’s not a virgin, leading him to immediately dump her. I really hate that scene. Obviously, this is the (fictional) nineteenth century, when it was expected that women be virgins before they married. Still, I can’t get over the icky feeling I get from Darcy ditching the woman he claims to love because she was behaving in a manner completely appropriate to the time she was living in.

Amanda’s second big mistake is really a dumb one. Infuriated with Darcy, she rips her copy of Pride and Prejudice to shreds and throws it out the window. NO GOOD CAN COME OF DESTROYING BOOKS. Of course Darcy finds it and now assumes that Amanda’s nom de plume is Jane Austen and that she is using him and his friends to write a romance novel. I totally blame Amanda for this turn of events. Why couldn’t she just keep the damn thing, or at least not throw it out the window where anyone could find it?

Bits and Pieces:

How can Amanda be a devotee of Pride and Prejudice without ever before picking up on Caroline Bingley’s infatuation with Darcy?

Wickham calls Darcy “Swellerando;” Amanda calls Caroline “Frosty Knickers.”

Collins shoots a peacock, which delights me. They’re cruel, heartless birds and they have no respect for traffic laws.

This is by far the most meta episode of the series. In addition to the fountain scene and Amanda’s “strange postmodern moment,” Mrs. Bennet is surprised to be invited to Pemberly, which Amanda agrees is “unprecedented,” and Kitty questions why she and Mary “never go anywhere or do anything.” That always makes me laugh because it’s totally in character with Kitty who always wants to be a part of things and because it’s obviously referencing hers and Mary’s minimal roles in the plot.

Quotes:

Mr. Bennet: “Door. Pickax. A most satisfying juxtaposition.”

Wickham: “Spunk. Do you know the word? It’s soldiers’ slang.”

Amanda: “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. The person I am most utterly not going to marry is Darcy.”
Wickham: “I did not suggest it. And yet you thought of it. It’s interesting.”

Amanda: “Unless it’s absolutely necessary, I am never going to speak to Darcy again. If I have to, I will be so bum-crushingly correct he’ll faint with boredom and I’ll just step right over him, fanning.”
Jemima Rooper’s delivery here is absolutely perfect. It makes me smile just to think of it.

Amanda: “Mr. Collins says that Lady Catherine’s buttresses are the talk of the county.”
Darcy: “Buttresses?”
Amanda: “Being a woman, I know so little about architecture, of course. But I think they form...”
Darcy: “Yes, I know what buttresses are!”

Mrs. Bennet: “If Jane’s marriage persists in provoking such distemper, I am resolved to take the carriage and visit Mrs. Collins at Rosings Park with Lydia. It will be instructive for her to observe a happy marriage.”
Mr. Bennet: “If you can contrive to find one of those at Rosings, Mrs. Bennet, I shall prance the length of Lady Catherine’s drawing room naked.”

Amanda (v.o.): “You think you’re the girl for him. Step off, Caroline, you conniving, smirking...”
Amanda: “Bumface...Did I say that out loud?”

Bingley: “Damn you, damn you, and damn everyone who won’t put a light in his window and stay up all night damning you.”

Collins: “My Uncle Josephet, of course, was a legendary shot. In Egypt, he once slew a brace of tigers with a single blast.”
Amanda: “He must have been a very good shot to hit tigers all the way from Egypt.”

Amanda: “We are not condemned to endure our lives. We can change them.”
I adore this line.

Amanda (v.o.): “Goodness. Jane Austen would be fairly surprised to find she’d written that.”

Wickham: “Caroline Bingley’s an oceangoing bore and she has no ass to speak of.”

four out of four bloodied peacocks

2 comments:

Billie Doux said...

And unfortunately, I have to stop here. Loved Caroline coming on to Amanda. Hated the scene where Darcy dropped Amanda like a hot potato when he found out she was "not a maid", even though I knew it would happen as soon as Amanda told him.

It's too bad Darcy didn't find the title page and the printing date. How would he have explained that? It's what I thought would happen.

ChrisB said...

The romance scenes worked for me. They are a bit overwrought, but I am such a sappy romantic.

I love the various twists in the tail. Caroline's love of Sappho poetry and Georgiana as a liar both work well in the context of this version. Wickham just gets better and better. Now, there's a sentence I never thought I would write.

Of course, the highlight is the fountain scene. I laughed so hard, especially at the expression on Amanda's face.