Monday, April 29, 2019

REVIEW: 'Gentleman Jack' - Anne Lister Begins Her Seduction of Ann Walker in 'I Just Went There to Study Anatomy'

HBO's Gentleman Jack - Episode 1.02 "I Just Went There to Study Anatomy"

Lister begins a playful but dangerous courtship of Ann Walker, who quickly finds herself captivated by the attention. Lister's plan to excavate her coal mines brings her into the path of local magistrate Christopher Rawson. While Ann Walker prepares for a trip to the Lake District, her cousin's reaction to her budding friendship leads her to realize that Lister is not popular with everyone in the community. John Booth offers a solution to Eugénie's problem. Lister wonders if confronting the past could be the key to finding future happiness.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO's Gentleman Jack.

"I Just Went There to Study Anatomy" was written by Sally Wainwright and directed by Sally Wainwright

Anne Lister's seduction of Ann Walker begins in earnest here. She only recently made the decision to stay in Halifax to renovate her family home and mine the coal on her property. She presents as the wise businesswoman who understands everything about the way the corrupt men of the world have taken advantage of her community. She sees herself as someone who looks after the families who live on her land. Sure, she doesn't always keep her family in the loop about everything that she's doing. In fact, she doesn't consult them at all about the changes she plans on making. She has the final word on everything even though they never expect her to live at Shibdan Hall for very long. She spends most of her days going out into the world checking in on people and doing things that wouldn't be considered very ladylike. She combats that narrative head on. She doesn't care what people say about her. She is proud of who she is. She won't let anyone fool her into taking less than she deserves. Of course, she's very manipulative and opinionated as well. She dictates directly to the audience about how carefully she has crafted this seduction and how effective it has already become. Meanwhile, the audience understands that Lister may only be pursuing this connection with Ann Walker because of her being rejected by her former love who is getting married. She doesn't want to attend that wedding in London. She views as it as the exact opposite of what she has always wanted from life. She doesn't want to say that she hopes the two of them have a very happy and fulfilling life together. She knows how short life can be. She doesn't want to waste time doing anything that is inherently beneath her or belittling to her beliefs. She believes she can absolutely marry a woman if she wants to. That's her ultimate goal with Ann Walker. Her new target is completely naive to what Lister is doing as well. Her family keeps thrusting the narrative until her that she is a frail and vulnerable young woman who must distrust anyone who takes a keen interest in her because of her vast estate. She doesn't view Lister in the same way because she doesn't even accept that women can be in love with one another. When Lister introduces that concept to her, she is taken aback by it. It's not an outright refusal of affection though. It's more so a moment of pure confusion and anguish. Lister presents to the world as the friend that Walker has always needed. A peer who can tell her exactly what to think about any given situation. Someone who doesn't have a vested personal interest in the outcome of any financial deal. But Lister does have a unique interest because she views Ann Walker as the way into further dominance in the community. She demands respect from everyone she deals with. She won't let any of the businessmen in the coal industry cheat her out of her money. She's more than willing to flood her own mine to ensure it can no longer be profitable to those stealing from her. Those expenses may pile up quickly. That may put some pressure on her seduction of Ann Walker. Meanwhile, Ms. Walker just wants to believe in the innocence of having a friend who makes her feel confident. Lister is the only person who empowers her in that way. That too is very exciting. It can be corrupted very easily though. These personal relationships could become complicated because of how fast Lister wants to move. She makes plans to see Ann Walker again in the Lake District following the wedding. She does so not knowing what may potentially be going on back home at Shibden Hall. The balancing of these priorities is important because she has made promises to the people on her land but she isn't there to oversee that everything is done correctly.