May 21, 2023
Tom Jones airs Sundays at 8:00 pm and is available to stream; WTTW Passport members can stream the whole series. Recap the previous episode.
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Sophia is once again locked up, but this time she doesn’t have to escape on her own. Her Aunt Western liberates her, denouncing the “tyranny of idiot menfolk” like Sophia’s grandfather. Sophia continues to resist that tyranny, telling the Westerns that she will never marry but instead look after her grandfather—who’s apoplectic at the suggestion. Aunt Western explains why, beyond societal expectations: Sophia is the last of the Western line, and thus expected to continue it with children.
Sophia is currently more interested in parents, specifically her mother. But her grandfather doesn’t want to talk about her, and her aunt only knows her mother’s name: Beneba. The two Westerns argue over Sophia’s promised marriage to Blifil and her aunt wins a concession: Sophia does not have to marry Blifil, as long as she only marries someone approved by her grandfather.
That doesn’t include Tom Jones, who nonetheless manages to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of the landlady Miller because his friend Nightingale has married Miller’s daughter Nancy and allowed Tom to take his old room again. Nightingale believes the only way Tom and Sophia’s relationship can progress in the face of Lady Bellaston’s threat to reveal her relationship with Tom to Sophia is for Tom to call Lady Bellaston’s bluff. Propose to marry her, he advises. Lady Bellaston will think Tom is simply after her fortune and refuse, giving up on him.
Tom is skeptical, wanting to appeal to Lady Bellaston’s better rather than worse nature and disliking lying. But Nightingale convinces him to write a letter to her anyway and then sleep on it—except Nightingale sends it while Tom is sleeping.
Lady Bellaston visits Tom and tells him she despises him, calling him a “worthless villain.”
Tom has made a powerful enemy—and she soon pairs with his lifelong enemy, Blifil—but that’s getting ahead of ourselves.
Tom goes to the London house where the Westerns are staying to say goodbye to Sophia and meets his old friend Black George there. George admits that he built his family a new house with the money Tom dropped when he was kicked out by Squire Allworthy, but has rued it ever since. Generously, Tom tells George he’s glad the money could improve his life.
He then climbs to Sophia’s window, and tells her the he will leave because he is unworthy of her love. Nonetheless, they kiss, profess their love—and then he does, in fact, leave.
Blifil sees him climb out of the window, and reports the sighting to Lady Bellaston. The pair will vanquish Tom together.
Lady Bellaston invites everyone of status in our story to an art show—and some not of status also decide they will attend, like Harriet’s husband Fitzpatrick. Sophia is wary, as is her Aunt Western—even more so when they see Tom there. Harriet also distrusts Lady Bellaston, and warns Tom, but it’s too late: he sees Lady Bellaston showing Sophia his letter proposing marriage.
Sophia flees and Tom tries to follow but trips. He and Harriet stand together in the street, and Fitz demands that Tom “unhand” his wife, attacking him with a sword. Tom bests Fitz with the help of Harriet—and then Fitz falls into his own sword as Tom holds it. You’ll hang for this, Lady Bellaston tells Tom, with a glint in her eye.
Aunt Western rushes to tell Sophia’s grandfather, and is surprised to find Squire Allworthy, Bridget, and Partridge with him. Partridge had returned to the country to defend Tom to the Allworthys; they also received a letter from Sophia’s dismissed maid Honour while he was there, telling them Sophia was about to be forced into marriage. They all set off for London.
Now that Sophia knows about Tom’s relations with Lady Bellaston, she realizes that Honour knew and had been subtly warning her to forget about Tom. Now Sophia visits Honour at a pub frequented by Black men where Honour has found a fiancé, and asks her maid why she didn’t tell Sophia about Lady Bellaston and Tom. Honour says she didn’t want to hurt Sophia—and that Sophia still loved (and loves) Tom, despite everything.
But Tom is truly out of reach. Blifil visits him in prison, and is surprised when Tom tells him he’ll always think kindly of him and apologizes for the problems he has caused Blifil. Blifil is not repentant. He once again denounces Tom to the Allworthys, who are skeptical of him.
His path continually crosses ways with that of Mrs. Waters, who runs into Blifil when she visits Fitz in the hospital and sees Blifil pay the wounded man. She then visits Tom after Blifil, and Partridge sees her leaving. He’s overjoyed to see her, his old housemaid Jenny Jones. He reveals to her that she is Tom’s mother, not realizing that they have another—cough—connection.
Partridge quickly learns of that other connection when he visits Tom—as does Tom, thanks to Partridge, to his horror.
Mrs. Waters goes to Fitz and demands to know why Blifil paid him. Harriet is there, and reveals that the money was for Fitz swearing to law enforcement that Tom struck the first blow, thus landing him in prison. Harriet makes Fitz recant, and both women decide that they are finally done with bad boys like Fitz. Tom is released from prison.
Our cast converges on the Western lodgings in London for a good old wrapping up of the plot.
Partridge appears first, with the Millers and Nightingale in tow to attest to Tom’s good character to Squire Western.
Then Mrs. Waters shows up and asks to speak to the Allworthys. Bridget recognizes her immediately as Jenny Jones—because Bridget is the one who paid Jenny to name and leave the infant Tom in Allworthy’s bed. Bridget is Tom’s mother, not Jenny.
Blifil is aghast. You always loved him more than me, he says, leaving. He goes to Lady Bellaston to become her newest boy toy: he has nowhere else to go.
Finally, Tom shows up. Squire Allworthy introduces him to his mother, Bridget, and Tom embraces her.
Sophia is upstairs packing , preparing to leave London. Honour summons her to Squire Allworthy, who tells her he wants to welcome her into the family, with a more favorable nephew than Blifil as her husband. She tells him she has a duty to her mother, a slave, to use her freedom well, and refuses.
But then Squire Western presents Tom, and Allworthy escorts the whole crowd out of the room. Tom asks Sophia to marry him—and she says no. But then she starts making demands: she won’t live in London; her first child will be named after her mother. She will observe Tom’s conduct for a year, and if he is upright, they can marry.
They kiss, as everyone crowds back in. Squire Western objects to waiting so long for a wedding, and Sophia asks when he will stop telling her what to do. When you’re married, he replies—so she agrees to a quick wedding.
Everyone retreats to the country for a blissful wedding. The boy from nowhere and the girl from the other side live happily—perhaps even ever after.