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'Sanditon' Recap: Season 3 Episode 1

Daniel Hautzinger
Arthur and Tom Parker with Charlotte and Ralph as they play bocce in Sanditon
Charlotte's fiancé Ralph is out-of-place in the cultured resort of Sanditon. Photo: Joss Barratt/Red Planet

Sanditon airs Sundays at 8:00 pm on WTTW and is available to stream. Recap the previous and following episodes.
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Charlotte is, once again, returning to Sanditon. This time she has her fiancé Ralph Starling in tow instead of her sister. They’re just some of the many visitors descending upon the seaside resort, which has become ever more popular thanks to Tom’s efforts and will soon host a large party for Georgiana’s birthday, planned by Arthur. Georgiana has just taken possession of her inheritance, so many of the guests are would-be suitors looking to marry into a fortune, despite Georgiana’s resolution not to marry after her disappointment with Charles Lockhart. Georgiana also continues to search for her mother, whom she has learned is not, in fact, dead.

Among those looking to marry into money is Lady Montrose, who has brought her disreputable son and reluctant daughter Lydia from Bath. Lady Montrose’s husband gambled away the family money, but they still have impressive titles. She’s hoping their soiled reputation will have stayed in Bath, and that she can find partners for both her children. Georgiana is the perfect target for Lord Montrose; finding a match for Lydia, who had a previously unsuitable husband or suitor, is more difficult. She is, after all, teetering on the edge of spinsterhood at age 27.

Not everyone has come to Sanditon for marriage and money. Lady Susan, whom Charlotte met at a ball in London with the late Sidney Parker, has come to see Charlotte—and, Tom hopes, to bring some important visitors, such as the new king. She dislikes Lady Montrose’s blatant hobnobbing, and is surprised by the life Charlotte has chosen for herself. Ralph is kind, and Charlotte’s father has always wanted the marriage, but the young farmer is out-of-place in the cultured world of Sanditon. He also doesn’t know much about Charlotte’s past. But when he hears Charlotte mention Keats, he sweetly buys the poet’s newest volume for her, hoping they can read it together, even though he knows nothing of poetry.

Charlotte seems skeptical of what married life for a farmer entails, however. When she joins Mary to visit Mary’s former maid in the old part of Sanditon, she is struck by the wealth disparity—and a bit shocked when the beleaguered maid gestures to her brood of children and says Charlotte will soon be like her.

Some of Sanditon’s visitors have their own wealth and are looking to spend it. Tom hopes that Rowleigh Pryce will invest in a new hotel to house all the vacationers, and manages to impress the irascible grump. Tom only has to get Lady Denham’s approval of the investment. But when he arranges a meeting, Lady Denham ignominiously flees upon hearing Pryce’s name, before she can be introduced.

Pryce doesn’t want to attend Georgiana’s party, but Tom convinces him to so that he can introduce the investor to Lady Denham.

Lady Denham has been busy trying to reform Edward, with the enticement that she will grant him a living if he demonstrates true change. That offer will disappear if she sees the slightest sign of immorality, however, and she is skeptical of his progress.

Dr. Fuchs and Reverend Hankins are more confident. Fuchs has been turning a water hose on Edward, to Lady Denham’s delight, theorizing that if he can withstand physical discomfort he can also resist temptation. Hankins is attending to Edward’s spiritual side. The two men argue over whether the scientific or religious approach is more effective, but Fuchs does take to Hankins’ sister, and she to him. Fuchs promises to write while away at a symposium in London; Hankins doesn’t seem to approve.

Edward finds his own possible object of affection when he bumps into Augusta Markham, Alexander Colbourne’s niece, in the street. She is immediately struck by him, and demonstrates it in her own way by needling him. Both Denham and Colbourne’s housekeeper Wheatley warn their respective charges to stay away from each other.

Augusta has just returned to Sanditon from Bath with her cousin Leonora and uncle Colbourne. When the two young ladies run into Charlotte, Leo excitedly asks if Charlotte will again be their governess. Charlotte explains that she is only in Sanditon for Georgiana’s party.

Augusta has realized that Charlotte and Colbourne were—are?—in love, and schemes to force them together. Perhaps they could dance at Georgiana’s party. She and Leo set off to give Georgiana a birthday gift and contrive an invitation for Augusta and Colbourne.

Around the same time, Lord Montrose approaches Georgiana at his mother’s behest. He has already been rejected by Georgiana—happily, it must be said—and now tells her he’s not interested but asks her to pretend to be charmed. Lady Montrose and the Parkers happily watch the pair as they fake delight at each other.

Georgiana later sees the lord leaving the company of a man in a bathing machine, with a grin. He visits her and asks her to forget what she saw. She agrees, and has a proposition. They can pretend to be a couple, thus giving him cover and deterring all her fortune-hunting suitors. He agrees to the plan.

At the party, Arthur warns Georgiana of the notorious Lord Montrose, but she insists she knows what she’s doing. She dances with the lord, Miss Hankins dances with Fuchs, Augusta dances with Edward. Miss Hankins unthinkingly mentions to Edward that Augusta has a small fortune. Everyone seems to be watching everyone else to see with whom they are interacting.

Colbourne is a popular partner. Augusta works to get him to talk to Charlotte, and he tries several times to begin a romantic speech. First he is cut off by Lady Montrose, who has decided that he is the perfect match for her daughter Lydia. Then he is interrupted by Ralph, whose appearance leads Charlotte to explain that she is engaged. When Lydia mentions that she loves horses, the crestfallen Colbourne invites her to come ride with him at his estate.

Pryce is late to the ball, but amused when he sees Lady Denham, calling her by her maiden name. She and he snipe at each other, and then she tells Tom that she forbids him from accepting Pryce’s investment.

Suddenly, the ball grinds to a halt. Charles Lockhart has barged in, and asks to speak to Georgiana alone. She reluctantly agrees, but Charlotte follows. Lockhart has a writ stating that he is the rightful heir to Georgiana’s fortune. He suggests that Georgiana find herself a lawyer.