And we’re back to the adventures of the Eliott sisters and their friends and family.
We open with Evie showing off sketches of her latest designs, and Bea and Madge bring in a suit for new client Sarah White, for the Royal Wedding (it is 1923, the year of the Duke of York’s marriage to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon)! Sarah is very impressed and commissions more original designs from the House of Eliott for the leading social events of the London Season. Sarah steps out of the couture house with an elegant box with the logo and meets her husband, a dashing looking gent in trench coat and fedora. In the seamstress room, Madge, Tilly, Bea, and Evie gossip about the clients and the excitement of sewing something to be worn around royalty! Bea stems the gossip, but the more easy-going Evie gives them a break.
Evie and Sebastian continue their illicit meetings, and lounge beside a lake, where Sebastian pressures Evie to tell Bea about their planned trip to Paris. Evie is noticeably more assured of her attractions, and gives Sebastian a smoldering look.
Sarah shows up once again for more fittings, and she speaks freely about her social obligations and personal life to Bea. Sarah’s husband is apparently a mining engineer just back from South Africa, and–according to Sarah–is straightforward and no-nonsense…like Bea.
Jack comes to examine Penelope’s new mission, and as we’ve seen in the previous episodes, Penelope remains abrasive, overworked, and impassioned about her work for the poor. Jack forces her away from the mission to have a cup of tea and a bun.
Evie beards Bea in the lion’s den with the news of the trip to Paris, and of course Bea does not approve. Evie is either terribly naive or lying to herself when she claims her weekend with Sebastian in Paris would be innocent and fun. Bea is skeptical, particularly since Evie is also juggling Hugo, but does not offer any opinion but a patented Beatrice Eliott look!
Sarah is in for yet another fitting, and her husband Captain White arrives to pick her up. Captain White looks a bit uneasy…and when he comes face to face with a shocked Beatrice, the mystery deepens.
Jack is in his studio cleaning lenses when Penelope drops in. His business as a fashionable photographer has fallen off, and Jack is frustrated and rather accepting of it because he realizes how vapid it is. Penelope of course came in for money–six pounds for plumbing–, but Jack has had to sack his secretary (Minnie Driver) for lack of extra funds. The use of his word “broke” sends Penelope into a tirade over his assets in comparison to the true poor. Penelope is right, of course, but she has a terrible delivery style that does not endear her to anyone. Jack gives her a cheque for the six pounds for “peace.”
Later, Evie consoles a weeping Bea, who reveals that Sarah’s husband is the ex-sweetheart whom her father kept from marrying. Phillip was the only man Bea has ever loved–and she was intimate with him under the expectation that they would be married. No wonder Bea is so diligent about Evie’s romantic life–she doesn’t want her to throw herself away on a man without a wedding ring. The generation gap between Bea and Evie is never more apparent than on this topic–where before the war, Bea’s relations with Phillip White were ruinous, now in the 1920s, it is a teeny more acceptable.
Hugo drops in on Jack, who cannot have any fun for lack of funds!
Sebastian and Evie are in a tearoom, where he is frustrated by Evie’s prevarication over asking Beatrice outright about the trip to Paris. Sebastian is his pushy, arrogant self again. Ugh. Evie obviously likes toying with Sebastian, but backs away from any intensity or physicality from him. It’s odd–does Evie want to be a modern woman, or does she want to play like an innocent? This must be the source of her fascination for her ardent suitors.
Bea sweeps up the sewing room and Madge opens the door at the knock to find Phillip White in evening attire. Phillip tells Bea he thought she gave up on him when she did not defy her father or answer his letters. Bea is devastated to realize her father kept Phillip’s letters back and did not send her letters to him. That said, Bea never thinking her father would destroy their correspondence goes to show that she still held a kernel of hope that he loved and cared for her. Quite sad and likely the foundation of Beatrice’s bitterness towards the late Henry Eliott. But Bea draws from her reserves of courage to recover, and encourages Phillip to discuss how he met Sarah. It is obviously painful to hear how much he loves Sarah, but she is happy that Phillip is happy. Yet, Beatrice’s bitterness towards her father has now congealed to hate, and she hates that she hates her dead father when she never had before.
Jack, who had finally agreed to meet Hugo for a drink, walks in on Bea and Phillip just as Phillip has covered Bea’s hand with his own. The usually suave Jack is stammering and surprised as he asks Bea and if she and Evie would go for a drink with he and Hugo. He beats a hasty retreat! To Bea’s shock, Phillip asks to meet her again and she reluctantly agrees. In the dingy, dark bar, Jack is sulking over Bea having a “gentleman,” and Hugo plants seeds in Jack’s mind about his romantic feelings for Bea. Hugo himself is sulking over Evie’s seeing Sebastian and not giving him any concrete answers about their dating.
Hugo’s hints worked, for Jack’s first stop in the building is at the House of Eliott, where he claims he was concerned about the safety of Bea, the single woman. Bea sees right through him, but is also taking her frustration about Phillip out on him–and on Evie, who arrives at a quarter to midnight.
When Madge comes to fetch Captain White’s cheque, Bea seems to be in a better mood, and tells Evie of Aunt Lydia’s invitation for drinks that evening. Her good mood extends to Lydia, and when she arrives at Lydia’s home, her aunt is also in a good mood–no doubt because the House of Eliott is fashionable. Lydia offers her cast-offs to the seamstresses at the House of Eliott, but Bea diverts her attention to the genuine needy: the people of Penelope’s mission. Lydia is overjoyed to have something to do–which Bea gossips about to Evie when they are at home that night.
Evie, noticeably less patient with Bea’s moods, immediately states her intentions to go to Paris with Sebastian. Bea is aghast, but Evie attacks Bea for hypocrisy–the presence of Phillip White’s cheque is evidence of her older sister entertaining a married man at night. The friction between the sisters, born from their ages and from Beatrice being both mother and sibling to Evie, always seems to come about from Evie’s romantic life. Bea orders Evie to her room, and she obeys, but their disagreement is not over.
Lydia is dressed to the nines as she walks about Penelope’s mission, prepared to do Good Deeds. The look on Lydia’s face when Penelope asks her to clean a kitchen range is priceless.
Evie dines alone with Sir Desmond because of the row between the sisters, and Sir Desmond suggests she apologize to Bea. He also lands a zinger over Evie’s possible reason for agreeing to apologize to Bea. He’s a fantastic godfather. Evie comes home, contrite and tearful, and Bea is just as upset and hurt. They both apologize for taking their jealousies and stubbornness out on one another, and Bea’s anguish over her genuine fondness for Sarah White and her regret over what-could-have-been with Phillip is palpable. In yet another fitting, Sarah fishes for something from Bea that would betray her possible liaison with Phillip and stakes her claim as his wife. Bea gives nothing away.
Bea has dinner with Sir Desmond in a private dining room, where he lays out how Evie could get to Paris without ruining her reputation. Bea–who looks dashing in a blue hat and frock that matches her eyes–has been licked!
Evie and Hugo walk in gardens where they discuss her trip and her excitement over being near the top fashion houses. Hugo, of course, is more interested in the art! He is also taken aback when he realizes Sebastian is flying her to Paris and will be there with her. Hugo declares he is not jealous and that he will drive Evie to the aerodrome himself!
The House of Eliott has completed Sarah White’s commission, and the intuitive and clever Sarah offers to order her next batch of clothing from another fashion house if her presence pains Beatrice. When I read between the lines of Sarah’s description of her marriage to Phillip, it seems she willingly turns a blind eye to his extramarital affairs.
Hmm…is his pursuit of Beatrice the result of regret and deep love, or opportunity to pick up with an old lover? Sarah gently hints to Beatrice that she would not mind Phillip having an affair with her if there were no “bad feelings”–aka scandal and embarrassment. Beatrice hints just as gently that she had no intention of having an affair, and Sarah’s relief at this response proves she isn’t as above-it-all as she attempted to portray.
It’s time for Evie’s trip to Paris, and Hugo straps all of her luggage into the back of his motorcar. Bea sees Evie off with a hug and a kiss, and Hugo drives off! After they leave, an introspective Bea rings Phillip, and they meet in a maze, where Phillip pleads his case for their continued relationship. Phillip’s love for Bea and for Sarah appears genuine, but Bea has settled her past. She closes the chapter of Phillip White with a kiss goodbye, and leaves him in the maze.
Hugo and Evie’s trip is not without trouble, with the cooling system of Hugo’s car breaking down. Now they must wait for the radiator to cool before continuing to the aerodrome. Then they get lost. Sebastian waits impatiently for Evie’s arrival, but his boss urges him to take off at the appointed time because the special guest is not the king or the Prime Minister. Sebastian must take off at the risk of losing his other flying gigs. As they roll into the aerodrome, they see Sebastian’s plane take off into the sky. Hugo apologizes, but you know he isn’t as sorry as he says he is.
The following morning, Hugo arrives with the morning paper, where he reveals that Sebastian and his aeroplane crashed. He also inadvertently reveals the hapless trip was planned and Evie orders him out. And, again, Evie throws a tantrum at Bea’s supposed interference with her life with the accusation that she put Hugo up to his deliberately breaking his car, and storms out.
I don’t know about you, but I never was sad when Sebastian died. He was annoying!
Join me Wednesday, December 18th for the recap of episode 9!