Sanditon airs Sundays at 8:00 pm on WTTW and is available to stream. Recap the previous and following episodes.
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A young woman should be free to follow her own heart: this is the creed that Charlotte continually preaches, even though she herself cannot adhere to it. She is to marry Ralph, upon her parents’ wishes, and will not buck them—as Augusta has her uncle, by fleeing with Edward.
Ralph doesn’t want Charlotte to help Alexander search for his niece, but she promises she will return to him afterwards. Leo admits to the Colbourne brothers that she helped set up a meeting between Edward and Augusta, and that Augusta mentioned Falmouth. Charlotte and Alexander set off on the long journey to search the coastal town in a carriage.
Along the way, Charlotte does a lot of explaining. Nominally about Augusta, the conversation also clearly draws heavily on Charlotte’s own feelings. Young women’s lives are determined by their fathers and uncles, and they have no choice in the matter, she tells Alexander. As Augusta’s guardian, Alexander could listen and encourage his charge to make the right decision rather than making it for her. She encouraged Augusta to follow her heart, not knowing its target, so that Augusta wouldn’t end up in a loveless marriage, separated from her true love.
Georgiana is fully ready to enter a loveless marriage, and everyone knows it. Arthur asks her to reconsider her decision—should not happiness factor in to marriage? She knows Arthur and Harry are in love, but is attracted to the convenience of the marriage.
At tea with Georgiana, Lady Montrose explains how large the family estate she will be inheriting is—and assures her that the lady herself will live on the property and offer counsel. The house is so large, Georgiana and Harry could almost live separate lives.
Mary enters the tearoom and interrupts to introduce Georgiana to someone: her mother. But Georgiana doesn’t believe Agnes Harmon is her mother, and neither does Lady Montrose—she’s probably just another fortune hunter. Mary persuades Georgiana to speak to Agnes.
Agnes was brought to England five years ago by her master, and became free—but she cannot return to Antigua, where she would still be a slave. She has searched for Georgiana, but assumed she was back in Antigua. She works for an organization that aids former slaves like herself; that’s how Otis found her. All she wants from Georgiana is to know her. She came as fast as possible when she learned where her daughter was.
She was separated from her daughter after Georgiana’s father took an English wife and sold a pregnant Agnes. Her new master wouldn’t let Agnes keep her baby. Agnes left a necklace for Georgiana in Antigua, hoping that it would one day find its way to her. It did, and now so has her mother.
Rowleigh Pryce somehow found his way back to Lady Denham, after leaving her at the altar decades ago. Now they are getting married—next week, in fact, since neither of them have time to waste. But Lady Denham didn’t realize Pryce wanted her to not only leave behind her title but also her estate and Sanditon, to live with him. She’s not sure she likes that.
Mary is not happy with her husband. She has learned that her onetime maid, Mrs. Filkins, has received an eviction notice. Tom has sold the land of the old town to build Pryce’s new hotel, despite Mary’s desperate urgings to do the right thing. He defends himself by saying that he’s doing it for Mary and their children, but she responds that he’s not the same Tom she married.
Charlotte tells Alexander that, no matter what Augusta has done outside of marriage, she will not be ruined—she is still the same girl. She learns from a baker’s boy who supplies the inns in Falmouth that two people matching Edward and Augusta’s description took rooms at an inn.
Edward has written to Alexander, explaining to him that he and Augusta must go to Scotland since Alexander has forbidden their marriage. He resists joining Augusta in bed.
When Alexander and Charlotte burst into the room, Edward is on the couch and Augusta is in bed. Alexander tells Augusta he won’t stand in the way of their marriage, as long as they return to Sanditon to have a proper wedding; she’s old enough to make her own decision. She must simply be sure this is what she wants, because she is a remarkable woman.
Edward’s face falls as he hears this speech. He decides to pretend that he has been using Augusta all along simply to get to her fortune, and is slowly able to once again access his old cruel self, turning on Augusta so that she will not marry him. As he explains to Lady Denham when he returns to Sanditon, he’s irredeemable, and Augusta deserves better than him. He won’t admit to having feelings for the girl, however.
Augusta is devastated. Charlotte and Alexander escort her back to Sanditon, offering what comfort they can. Alexander drops Charlotte off at the Parker house, thanking her. They hold hands for a long, silent moment—and then she tells him he should take Augusta home.
Samuel and Lady Susan have been at the Colbourne estate, worrying about Augusta. They share a candlelit larder meal in the kitchen, and she explains that she married in circumstances similar to Augusta’s. Her late husband was neither rich nor kind. As she gets up to leave, Samuel asks her to stay, and kisses her. She returns it.
The dinner at the Parker house is much more contentious and crowded. The Parkers are hosting a meal to celebrate Georgiana’s engagement and also now her reunion with her mother, but Tom is late so Arthur must play host. Lady Montrose dislikes Agnes and her unmarried, independent, lowly status. But Agnes wants to stay with Georgiana for as long as she can.
Georgiana offers to let Arthur live in the massive Montrose estate, so that he can spend time with Harry. But later, Arthur tells Harry that he would sooner live alone than live a lie, hiding in the shadows behind the facade of Georgiana and Harry’s sham marriage.
Agnes picks up on the unusual relationships in the room, and asks if Georgiana and Harry love each other. They say they do. And then Mary collapses, stricken with the same fever as that afflicting the old town.
This is when Charlotte arrives back in Sanditon. Ralph intercepts her before she goes into the Parker house; he has been uneasily waiting for her. They enter together, and Charlotte rushes to Mary’s bedside. Downstairs, Lady Montrose questions the propriety of Charlotte taking a carriage ride with Alexander at such a late hour, leading Lidia to resentfully explain how her mother “saved” her from an “unpropitious” marriage.
Tom finally appears, ebullient that he has secured all the investments for the hotel. But then he learns about Mary, and runs to her. He tells an unresponsive Mary that he has behaved egregiously. Nothing is more important to him than her. But she might not last the night.
The Montroses finally take their leave, and Lady Montrose offers to escort Agnes home. The title Georgiana receives when she marries Harry will bring new scrutiny upon her and her family, Lady Montrose explains to Georgiana’s mother. Agnes wouldn’t want to ruin Georgiana’s—or the Montrose—name with her presence. Lady Montrose is willing to be quite generous in helping Agnes leave Georgiana behind.
Charlotte goes to Ralph, the only guest left, who brings up Lidia’s mention of losing her desired match. I was never the man you chose, was I? he asks Charlotte. She admits that she’s in love with Alexander, and that she can’t marry Ralph. Ralph still loves her, which only makes it harder; but he will let her do what she must.