Tom Jones airs Sundays at 8:00 pm and is available to stream; WTTW Passport members can stream the whole series. Recap the previous and following episodes.
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Sophia is rich, Tom is poor and a bastard. They can never be together. Instead, Sophia must marry someone with wealth—someone like William Blifil, even if she suspects that he doesn’t love Sophia but rather just hates Tom. What better way to spite an enemy than by marrying his love?
Tom appeals to Allworthy to prevent the marriage because Tom and Sophia love each other, but the magistrate says the decision has already been made. Sophia has offered her consent.
No, she hasn’t. But Squire Western steamrolls over her objections. He clearly doesn’t pay much attention, as he tells Tom to “knock some sense” into Sophia about the marriage—and Tom takes the opportunity to further confess his love for Sophia. She asks him for a single kiss—just as Western is storming back into the house, having heard from Aunt Western and Blifil that Tom and Sophia are in love. They’re caught red-lipped in the embrace of each other.
Sophia is locked in her room, while Squire Western and Blifil ride straight to Allworthy’s home to tell him what they have witnessed. Allworthy asks William if he will still take Sophia, despite her indiscretion, and, after long consideration, he says yes—on the condition that they be married as soon as possible.
Allworthy tells Blifil he was right about Tom: the boy does not live up to the name of his adopted father, being not all- but unworthy of trust. Allworthy’s sister Bridget appeals for one more chance for Tom, but Allworthy kicks Tom out of his home with a fat wad of money, telling the boy he never wants to see him again. Tom objects to the money, but Allworthy insists.
Good thing Tom wasn’t too interested in the cash: he loses it immediately, dropping it from his bag as he sets off for London. Black George, his old friend, sees him drop it and takes the money for himself after Tom explains that he won’t send the letter he was writing to Sophia, because there is no future for them.
Sophia has more faith—perhaps misplaced. Tom wouldn’t have left without a word if he loved her, she tells her maid, Honour; but then she also still thinks Tom is an angel. She decides to flee her grandfather’s house before her wedding, and convinces the city-loving Honour to do so by telling her they will go to London, where Sophia has two wealthy aunts. With extra dresses in tow—her entire “worldly wealth”—Honour sets off with Sophia in the night. Black George sees them leave and tells Sophia that Tom is also heading to London.
At a gloomy inn along the way, Tom meets the puffed-up Sgt. Major Patrick Fitzpatrick. The two men, wanderers both, get drunk together—but the fast friendship devolves into a fight when Fitz insults Sophia. Fitz breaks a chair over Tom’s head, knocking him out.
The only other guest, a barber, dresses Tom’s wounds as he wakes up. Fitz has disappeared—don’t worry, he’ll be back. The barber, having overheard Tom’s name, says the boy should be his worst enemy—but instead he’ll befriend him. Benjamin Partridge was once a teacher—the very teacher with whom Tom’s mother Jenny lived when she gave birth to Tom. Everyone assumed Partridge was the father, although he insists he is not—nevertheless, he lost his job, wife, and home, thanks to Tom’s existence. He offers to cover Tom’s bill, until Tom tells him he’ll never be able to pay him back. Tom is kicked out of the inn, and sleeps in the barn.
Sophia and Honour pass by the inn soon after Tom has left in a hungover stupor. The landlord explains what happened, but Sophia isn’t ready to give up on Tom. She defends him to Honour.
Meanwhile, Tom defends a woman’s honor, when he hears cries from the side of the road. Fitz is assaulting a woman, although she doesn’t seem too torn up about it, even if her clothes are. Fitz wanders away—he’ll be back—and Mrs. Waters immediately takes to Tom, asking him to accompany him to the next town, where she can get some clothes to once again be decent.
Sophia and Honour reach the next inn before Tom. The servant doesn’t like that they’re both Black, but the landlady sees only the fineness of their clothes and bows and scrapes before such ladies, giving them a room. She then sees the disarray of Mrs. Waters’ clothes and tries to kick her and Tom out—until Partridge again appears and tells her that Tom was raised by a country magistrate. Tom receives some bows and scrapes, and Waters receives a room next to Sophia’s.
Partridge offers to pay for Tom, explaining to the inn’s servant after Tom is summoned to Waters’ room for a meal that Tom could help him rebuild his life, if he stays in the boy’s good graces.
It doesn’t take long for Waters to get into Tom’s good graces—and further. She flirts with him and he quickly succumbs, falling into bed with her. Innocent Sophia worries about the noise that ensues through the wall, while Honour simply keeps silent.
After their romp in bed, Waters tells Tom that she got bored of her husband and always finds herself drawn to bad men like Fitz. The assault Tom witnessed was precipitated by her cheeky suggestion to Fitz that he ask his own wife for money instead of her. Fitz is good at apologizing, so Waters always finds herself with him again.
And he always finds his way to her: he stumbles drunkenly through the inn in the night, accidentally entering Sophia’s room first—thus giving Tom time to hide. When he finds his way to Waters’ room, the landlady and her servant are drawn by the racket, but Waters tells them that Fitz is a colonel. Bows and scrapes ensue, and Fitz and Waters are left alone in bed, while Tom sneaks out holding his clothes. The servant notices him. Sophia and Honour have to sit through another round of—let’s call it romantic—noise through the wall. And yes, Fitz will be back.
The next morning, information is lightheartedly exchanged between people who don’t know the others have connections. Sophia and Honour overhear the inn’s servant say she saw Tom leaving Waters’ room naked. Partridge learns Sophia’s name, and recognizes her as Tom’s love.
Sophia finally gives up on Tom, deciding to proceed to London and her aunts anyway. She accidentally leaves her pocketbook at the inn, where Partridge and Tom find it—Partridge has told him about seeing Sophia. In the pocketbook is money—valuable to Partridge—and the address of Sophia’s aunt—valuable to Tom, who has realized Sophia didn’t marry Blifil and followed Tom out of love. Partridge tries to convince him that Sophia will no longer want him; Tom argues with Partridge about spending Sophia’s money.
Sophia and Honour eventually find their way to her aunt’s house, even though Sophia remembered the wrong street. Sophia wants to be like her Aunt Harriet, who married for love—but Harriet warns her not to become like her. Harriet’s husband enters: it’s Fitz.
Harriet sends Sophia on to a wealthier aunt, Bellaston. Tom visits Harriet’s house every day at the same time, leaving a note for Sophia. Harriet tells not Sophia but Bellaston, who takes an interest in the handsome young man. At Tom’s next visit, Harriet invites him in and explains that Sophia is living with another aunt, but won’t reveal who. Just then, by coincidence of course, Bellaston enters and looks Tom up and down.