Dickinson began Season 2 with Emily, who received scary medical news … along with the opportunity to share her poems with the world.
Friday’s premiere opens with a history lesson, with the narrator telling us that the details of Emily Dickinson’s real life after Sue and Austin’s wedding are schematic, and perhaps we can only find the real truth through her verses. Emily is still scribbling letters to Sue, who now lives next door to Austin. But when her vision becomes blurred and painful, her father takes her to a doctor who is not very nice. (When she says she̵
On the train home, Emily’s father mutters about the solid doctor’s bill, and she tells him, “I’m sorry I was so expensive.” He reassures her that the problem is Austin; his new house with Sue cost a fortune, and then the market hit rock bottom. As she pulls away, Emily is approached by a strange man who tells her, “I’m nobody. Who are you? “She’s convinced she looks familiar, but he leaves without saying his name – and when her father returns, the man is gone. Hmmm.
Meanwhile, Lavinia is trapped when her mother takes on a new boarding house: Mr. Shipley, a former Lavinia with really great hair. (“What’s going on right now?” Lavinia wonders.) Shipley brags that he’s been able to sell a lot of pharmaceuticals, but returns with the intention of marrying Lavinia. He is looking for a traditional girl who shows “obedience, chastity and a willingness to do housework.” Lavinia insists it’s not her – and proves it by throwing it on the bed and mounting it. Well then!
When Emily and her father return home, her mother worries about her grim diagnosis: “Why is this happening to me?” Lavinia wants to gossip, but Emily runs upstairs to write, “My mind is overflowing with ideas.” (Father warns her of her eyes, but she’s not afraid.) Lavinia is excited to attend one of Austin and Sue’s great parties tonight because of so much noise about them. (“Sue is an influencer,” she erupts.) Newspaper editor and budding media mogul Samuel Bowles will be there, she added. Emily tries to write, but the noise from the next party makes it impossible. “It sounds like they’re making the latest gadgets,” said her maid.
At the party, Sue holds the bowl in an elegant dress, while Mr. Shipley marvels at the oysters. (“Oysters are actually cheap and readily available food,” Lavinia sighs.) Shipley greets Austin and tells him that he and Lavinia are “engaged to be engaged” … although she never agreed. There’s also that bitch clique of Emily’s acquaintances, who declares Ralph Waldo Emerson “canceled” and regrets poor Jane, now that she’s a widow with a baby. Emily finally quits writing and heads to the party with ink smeared all over her face. Sue tries to help her erase it, but Emily doesn’t care what it looks like: “I’m here to see you.”
She wants to know what Sue thinks of her verses, and Sue says they’re better than ever … but they’re too much for her, too: “Your verses … they make me feel things I don’t want They remind her of her recent miscarriage, which she had not yet told Austin. Sue wants Emily to meet Sam Bowles and thinks he can publish her poems in his long-delayed newspaper: “I can no longer be your only reader.” Finally, Sam appears, calling Sue “Susie” and he brags casually about his travels. He knows all about Emily’s verses and wants to hear one thing – but when Sue encourages her to read aloud one at the party, Emily says “not tonight” and leaves. (She also sees another look from this “no” guy. Is he a ghost or what?) As she runs home, she turns and sees Sam watching her go. We’re guessing these two will see each other again, huh?
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