Monday, May 20, 2019

REVIEW: 'Gentleman Jack' - Ann Is Crippled with Anxiety Over the Future in 'Let's Have Another Look at Your Past Perfect'

HBO's Gentleman Jack - Episode 1.05 "Let's Have Another Look at Your Past Perfect"

Reverend Ainsworth arrives in Halifax, and with encouragement from Mrs. Priestley, sets his sights on Ann Walker. Aware that Ainsworth's attentions are stirring up memories for her lover, Lister sets out to deal with the clergyman in her own inimitable manner. Lister presses on with the transformation of her estate, but her plans threaten to lead her into trouble. A discovery in the pigsty gives Mary Sowden reason to suspect Thomas is lying about his father.

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.

"Let's Have Another Look At Your Past Perfect" was written by Sally Wainwright and directed by Jennifer Perrott

This show is profoundly aware of the fear that comes from trying to understand and accept one's sexual orientation. It's not a spur of the moment decision in most cases. It's a lifetime of buildup that can be so agonizing because of the uncertainty of how people will react to the news. There is absolutely nothing wrong with identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community. However, there is always the concern that that information being out there could lead to one's closest friends and family actually shunning them. It suddenly becomes the only thing that defines them even though it really shouldn't. That is such a potent theme in this particular episode. But it's not a concern that is a relic of the past. It's still very pressing in the present day as well. The community is still faced with near constant threats of bodily harm and discrimination. In fact, the war is still raging on for acceptance on the global stage where people still hide behind religious beliefs and regressive views in order to shame and condemn entire groups of people. It's horrifying and scary. In the context of this show, it's so immensely private to Anne Lister and Ann Walker because they feel like they can only be themselves with each other. Ann is plagued with crippling doubts because no one could fundamentally understand the relationship they actually have. It makes her believe that it's better for her to marry the man who abused her than be with the woman she loves. That's absolutely horrifying. And yet, this hour quickly points out just how sudden this transition of perception can occur as well. Ann and Lister understand that Reverend Ainsworth has arrived in town and is continuing to make romantic overtures to Ann. He wishes to propose to her even though his wife has just died in a tragic accident. Lister is trying to comfort and reassure Ann that she will protect her. It wasn't a mistake to confide the truth with her. It's freeing in a way. It allows Ann to talk about what happened and share it with someone else. She trusts Lister to deal with him so that she doesn't have to be trapped in that position. However, Mrs. Priestley is very eager to make this relationship happen. As such, she too takes quick action to turn Ann's friends and family against her for the inappropriateness of her relationship with Lister. Ann's friend, Ms. Parkhill, is also a guest. She spends time with Lister and is enchanted with her perspective on the world as well. Her view shifts dramatically as soon as the truth is outed. Ann's friends and family are concerned because they see this as a criminal act that will destroy her life and may even see her hanged. That scares Ann as well. Lister has long been able to justify her view that this is the way God created her to be. Everyone should accept her. She articulates that this should be perfectly normal for her. Both Lister and Ann should feel accepted and loved for being their authentic selves. And yet, they aren't. Instead, the world is tearing them about and forcing so much pain and misery onto this coupling. It warps their minds until they start resenting each other. To Lister, Ann is too naive and indecisive to be worthy of loving. To Ann, Lister is too impulsive and demanding of her. These shouldn't be concerns that stand in their way at this moment in time. It could be absolutely transformative if they got to travel together once more. They want to return to that bliss. But all of this is heading towards despair. That's frankly all too common when it comes to depicting these relationships on the screen. Lister is physically assaulted and warned away from Ann at the conclusion of this hour. That's a painful sight. It may be the Rawson brothers trying to intimidate her because of the dangerous game she's playing. Or it could be someone in Ann's family who has decided to take further actions to break up this relationship. Either way, it is so destructive. Lister just wants to care for the people she loves. She wants Ann to feel confident and for the son of her tenant who lost a leg to get an education. But she is still ostracized in this community simply because of who she loves.