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Gentleman Jack - First 4 Episodes - Review: Profound New Series

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HBO's Gentleman Jack is one of the best shows to come along in quite some time. The cinematography is stunning as is the brilliant writing and directing done by series creator, Sally Wainwright. The series is well cast with Suranne Jones (Anne Lister) and Sophie Rundle (Ann Walker) leading a powerhouse cast. The series depicts the real-life love story of Anne Lister and Ann Walker as it was told through the diaries of Anne Lister. Their love was prolific and ground-breaking for the time in which they lived, but unfortunately, due to the prejudices and perceived stigma on their respective families, the journals were hidden away. The story of these two real-life women has been told in various books and productions, but never in such a grand visual scale.

For this series to work the leads had to have impeccable chemistry and the casting team nailed that in Jones and Rundle. Individually they are powerhouse actresses, but together they are an unstoppable force of nature, unlike any dynamic that has been seen on television in quite a long time. They have a natural ease with one another that translates beautifully. They are very present and supportive of each other in every emotionally complex and stunningly intimate scene. If there is any negative thing to say it's that it's a shame no casting team has ever cast them opposite each other prior to now.

While these two are the heart and soul of the series they are surrounded by a cast of brilliant performers. Gemma Whelan as Marian Lister, Anne's younger sister, is a standout. She plays the heavier moments just as exceptionally as she plays the comedic beats. Whelan, like Rundle, has spot-on chemistry with Jones. The way they volley lines off each other during the sibling spats really highlights their stunning dynamic together. Marian is clearly written to be a character they can play some of the lighter moments off of and Whelan is more than capable of pulling it off.

The series has been on the air for nearly a month in the US airing on HBO, but since we're just now coming into covering it, below are mini-reviews of these first four episodes. If you live in the UK where the show has just premiered, please take warning that what follows is full of spoilers. And, yes, given that the two lead characters share the same name it can be confusing to write about, but hopefully, the below reviews will be easy enough to follow.

1x1 I Was Just Passing

This first episode of the series starts in 1832 just as Anne is returning to Halifax from her adventures abroad. It is immediately established that she is a lover of women and that despite all her bravado she so easily falls deeply, madly in love only to usually have her heart broken. She ultimately returns to Shibden Hall to help take on the burden of running the estate as her Aunt Anne Lister (Gemma Jones) and her father Jeremy Lister (Timothy West) are not in the greatest of health in their older years. It is because of this fateful decision that she encounters Ann Walker, who has changed quite a lot from the unremarkable young teenager she had once met. It doesn't take much more than a glance at the beautiful, radiant woman Ann Walker has grown into for Anne Lister to take on the challenge of making the younger woman fall in love with her. Even before the love story truly begins these early encounters make it obvious that Anne wasn't going to have to work very hard to win over Ann.

The point of this entire first episode was to establish the confidence and self-assuredness of Anne Lister. The audience needs to see the strong, in control and fierce woman she is before they see her try to win Ann over. On the opposite side of that, the audience needed to see what Ann was like before she and Anne started to fall in love. These were two real women who couldn't have been any more different and yet they completed each other. They wound up being exactly what the other needed and was missing within themselves.

The issues regarding Anne being a female heiress and taking on so-called manly duties was also a predominant theme of this episode. Even her sister Marian, who is a capable strong woman in her own right, points this out to Anne. It doesn't seem to be out of any spite, but more out of concern for the way her older sister is handling herself and the personal risks that could bring her. The show smartly leans into the sisterly dynamic between these two very early on. Marian has an important place in her sister's life even if they do bicker as modern-day siblings do. She is someone that Anne does truly love even if it is at times hard for her to support her sister's choices. Though, Marian is so open to supporting Anne in her matters of the heart.

This episode was about establishing relationships and dynamics. It is a typical first episode of a series in that sense. All first episodes are world builders, but the unique thing here is that before the series even begins the end of the story is known. What Gentleman Jack does is allow the audience to get a firsthand look into the events that will eventually lead to the historical ending of this story. In some ways knowing the end before the beginning allows the audience more freedom to just enjoy the ride without fear of the unknown of where the story is heading.

1x2 I Just Went There to Study Anatomy

As the second episode began it was clear that the world building was out of the way. Main plots and sub-plots were established and now it was time to dive into the heart of the story. This is the episode where the love story truly began to blossom. The chemistry between Jones and Rundle was very clearly established even in the first episode, but here is when it truly got to shine. Jones is so seductive in her portrayal of Anne seducing Ann that one can almost feel Ann Walker's heart pounding through the screen. Rundle is so responsive to what Jones throws at her that Ann Walker's real feelings are palpable. Truth be known, in hindsight of history, Anne Lister worked far harder than she needed. Ann Walker was hers from the moment they laid eyes upon each other as adults. That isn't to say their love story wasn't fraught with pitfalls of society, the fallout of emotional trauma, and the trials of mental health, but they were always going to be together even if they didn't have the foresight to see it.

It was, however, beautiful to see their courtship. It was a lot like how a man of the day would have courted a woman and yet it was more understanding. Anne started off this episode making her intentions very clear that she was just going after Ann for her money. Truthfully, it seems more like a lie she thoroughly convinced herself of in order to protect her own heart from another heartbreak. If Ann Walker was just a conquest for status, then it would hurt less if she didn't ultimately win the battle for her heart. This was a prime case of "thou protest too much." Anne did want Ann's money, that is historically accurate, but she also wanted love. She wanted what every person has the right to have, unconditional love. It is the same that Ann, herself, wanted and not with some man. There is a solid argument to be made that Ann Walker was a lover of women even before she first laid eyes on Anne Lister, she just didn't understand what her heart was trying to tell her.

There are certain points throughout the episode, like all the sitting room scenes at Crow Nest where Ann Walker was driving the dynamic as much as Anne Lister was. Anne was trying to lead her down a certain path to love and yet it wasn't necessary. For all her intelligence, charm, and swagger, Anne Lister missed some obvious signs, at least within the context of the series that Ann Walker was never on the market so to speak. She was Anne's before the courtship started and in her own shy way was trying to explain that. The courage to put the feelings of her heart to words wouldn't come to fruition until the next episode, but the unspoken words consumed the oxygen of that sitting room. After the almost first kiss, Ann was very quick to assure Anne that she had not misjudged the connection between them. She might have been confused about how to make everything in her heart known, but she was not confused or even afraid of Anne's advances.

The show, since it is told from Anne's perspective, wants everyone to believe that she was always the one in control. But from the scene where Ann reveals her upcoming holiday with her cousin Catherine Rawson (Emma Paetz) it was clear Anne isn't always as in control as she'd like around Ann. While it wasn't exactly clear why Anne was so on edge and even a bit jealous regarding Ann's holiday with Catherine, it was nonetheless clear that for that moment she wasn't in control. She rebounded superbly after the whole letter opener breaking debacle but wasn't her normal suave self. Even at this stage, before their first almost kiss and well before their actual first kiss, Anne was already allowing her heart to get invested in Ann. When Anne left after this scene it was clear that the younger woman was thoroughly smitten and had already handed her own heart over to Anne.

Ann even defended Anne against the rumors Catherine was hearing. For such a shy quiet woman, when Anne's honor was on the line, she sat straighter and found a firm tone in her voice. She shut down Catherine and made it clear that bashing Anne was not something acceptable in her company. Rundle delivered a very impactful performance as she took Ann from sitting in a daze likely thinking of Anne to confronting her cousin in a way that Catherine had never seen come from her shy cousin.

As Anne saw fit to see Ann off on her holiday they spent a nice moment together in Ann's bedroom. Ann got to show off her artistry while Anne got to give the new object of her affection a gondola pin to remember her by while she was out of town. Anne also saw fit to make a declaration regarding a wedding she didn't really want to attend. It is because it is the wedding of one of her former lovers, a fact she does not share with Ann, yet the younger woman gives sound advice. It is easy to see Anne Lister portrayed as the one always in control and holding all the power, but that could not be further from the truth. Ann held a lot more power over her than either of them likely ever realized. Anne did truly listen to what she had to say and took it to heart. The only reason Anne ultimately went to that wedding which sent her running after Ann to the Lake District like a love sick school girl is because of what had been said. There is a mutual control of their courtship even if neither party is fully aware of it at this point.

While the focus of this series is the love story there was much more to Anne Lister than her female conquests and Ann Walker. She was a woman doing the work many believed only a man should do. She took charge of the day-to-day activities of Shibden Hall including dealing with the coal on her land, collecting rent, and advocating for her tenants when warranted. She wasn't a pushover and as such, it was hard for men to fathom how to deal with her. Lister was a fierce woman who knew what she wanted and went for it both in romance and in business. Upon her return to Shibden, she made it a high priority to understand the ins and outs of the coal on her family land and to take charge of its mining. That started her down a path that led her into direct conflict with the rich men, mainly the Rawson brothers, who were both knowingly and sneakily mining coal from her land without permission. That is a storyline likely to carry on throughout the entirety of the season as it was a big part of the real Anne's life. It is amusing, however, to think of just how much these men both on screen and in real life underestimated her. They massively underestimated the power Ann Walker had over her and the drive she had to truly upgrade Shibden as both kept her at Shibden long past when they would wish her gone.

The series also has several sub-plots surrounding the servants that ramped up in this episode. The plot regarding Eugenie (Albane Courtois) and John Booth (Thomas Howes) kicked off as he put things into motion to help legitimize Eugenie's out-of-wedlock pregnancy. It was quite the grand gesture by John and showed off his true character as a good man. The sub-plots could so easily get lost under the power of the main plot, but the way Wainwright wrote these sub-plots and the way the performers brought them to life allowed them to shine despite the main story towering over them.

As noted above, the episode ended with Anne off to the Lake District to be with Ann. She was dealing with her latest heartbreak this time with Vere Hobart (Jodhi May) marrying and wasn't about to let Ann slip away like she had lost Vere. And after two episodes of tension and set up the real meat of the love story was just beginning.

1x3 Oh Is That What You Call It

In this episode, the heartfelt dynamic between these two women began to shine through. After spending time together in the Lake District, the two returned home more infatuated with each other than ever before. They were even planning a trip abroad by this point. But feelings take time to process and it took over three weeks from the first near kiss for Ann to work up the nerve to tell Anne that the idea of them kissing did not scare her. It was in the confines of Anne's little getaway in the woods, away from prying eyes and ears, that the two were allowed the freedom to take the first step to become more than just friends. Upon Ann's confession, Anne was clearly in awe. Yes, her plan was coming together beautifully, but there was more to this, at least in the way Jones played it. Anne was impressed with Ann's courage at the moment. There is no real way to sugarcoat it, Ann started off as a conquest, the real Anne said as much in her diaries, but real love blossomed.

This scene, the slow gentle way Jones and Rundle played it showed the blossoming of this mutual love. Unlike most other shows the first kiss wasn't rushed into. Once Ann gave her blessing Anne didn't immediately rush in and kiss her. They shared this fiery locking of eyes and clasping of hands before Anne reluctantly had to break both to shut the shutters on the window. In a bit of a symbolic take on the power dynamic, Anne goes to her knees, in what can be perceived as a lesser position of power, in front of Ann as she looks up into the eyes of this stunningly beautiful woman before her and the chemistry was palpable. She then took time to kiss Ann's neck, hand, wrist, and to brush her fingers over the lips of the younger woman. Only after that seductive dance, that worshipping of Ann, did the two women again come eye-to-eye. Even then, they didn't rush into the kiss as they took their time to take in the moment before their lips finally met in a tender and much anticipated first kiss. The scene then ended with them both smiling again locked on each other's eyes. It was beautiful acting by Jones and Rundle.

By the time they returned to Crow Nest it was clear that the younger woman was all in for this new relationship with Anne. She even takes the first step to invite Anne for dinner and to ask the older woman to stay the whole night with very clear implications of why she was making that request. It was a bold move by the normally shy woman. It should be noted that this moment took place while Ann has herself pressed against the door blocking any exit by Anne perhaps fearful that the other woman would decline her request. She seemed to even pleasantly surprise Anne with this bold gesture because it wasn't but a second later, after a quick surveying glance out the window for prying eyes, that Anne and Ann once again kissed. This kiss, however, was different from the first, it was more needy and excited. She had piqued Anne's interest even further as if that was possible, but it was.

Their next encounter at Lister's cabin in the woods led Anne to reveal that their plans had been changed because of a bit of a spat she'd had with Marian that sent her younger sister fleeing out of town. It was also here where Ann reveals that she received an anonymous letter regarding Anne. Upon their return to Crow Nest, she shows the letter to Anne and it is a warning for her to be cautious in Anne's company. This is where a lot of women would have likely left Anne at the threat of exposure, but not Ann Walker. This shy woman had more backbone than anyone gave her credit for because she doesn't let the opinions of some random person dissuade her from her love. It was a powerful statement that really showcased that Ann really is all in, at least at this moment.

But the letter did impact Anne. Likely driven by the fear of past lovers lost to her, Anne moves fast by making a proposal of marriage. Despite her massive love for Anne, it isn't an offer that Ann can accept right away. The true reasons would be revealed in the following episode, but in the context of this episode, a lot is still unknown to Anne. Ann's inability to say yes right away really seemed to strike a nerve with her as she suddenly looked like someone who had just had the rug ripped out from under their feet. Instead, Ann proposes a six-month wait for them both to really feel out their union and the relief that washed over Anne was instantaneous knowing that the likely outcome would be acceptance, but the younger woman just needed more time. Ann promised her there was reason to hope and that was good enough for Anne.

This led to the first sexual encounter between the two women. Anne has been playing off her sexual experience, but she does seem to lose herself a bit in these moments being a bit too overconfident. Things moved a bit too fast and Ann clammed up and had to pull back from their encounter. While Anne immediately obliged her request to not go further there was enough disappointment in Anne's voice and face that Ann was scared she had ruined things.

That led into one of the most powerful scenes up to this point. If it wasn't already clear how perfectly Jones and Rundle were cast, this scene solidified it. Rundle is tasked with most of the heavy emotions of this love story and this moment showcased the ride she was about to take the audience on. When Anne came in and saw Ann on the floor in tears it clearly took the older woman off guard. But then when she found out that the younger woman was simply distraught over potentially never seeing her again because she couldn't go through with sex the night before really put things into perspective. She quickly shut the door to give them privacy then she set about trying to calm and reassure her young love.

What really makes this dynamic different is that it isn't all about the lip-to-lip kisses. When Anne is trying to calm Ann, she kisses her forehead then proceeds to gently kiss away her tears. The passion and pure unyielding love that Rundle and Jones bring to this dynamic are stunning. It is heartwarming to see how even when they are in character Jones is caring for and protecting her co-star giving Rundle the safety and support to be so open and vulnerable. At times it is almost as if she is shielding Rundle from the prying eyes of the audience and it's quite something to watch to see two actresses so in sync and supportive of one another.

Their romantic inclinations got the better of them and they left themselves in a vulnerable position while making love on the couch in the sitting room. This time Ann was completely open to Anne and any fear or uncertainty that had crept in previously was gone to the wind. She was ready to let Anne go all the way before they were so rudely interrupted by Ann's aunt. But in a true show of Ann Walker's under-credited strength, she took the whole situation far better than anyone else. She laughed off the whole interruption and proceeded to take Anne up to her bedroom. It should be noted, that once again in this scene, Ann throws herself against the door as if to prevent Anne from having any better thoughts and taking leave. Anyone that says Anne has all the power, including Anne herself, is fooling themselves because at this moment Ann holds all the sway.

That led into a beautifully choreographed love scene where Anne is finally allowed to go all the way with Ann. It was a cute gesture that as they jumped on the bed Anne held Ann up just long enough to get a pillow under her head for extra comfort. In real life, it was probably taking into account the comfort of Rundle during this scene, but it was still an adorable gesture that showed how smitten Anne is already. There is an incredible amount of trust required between performers during sex scenes especially when one is in a more dominant position than the other. Jones takes very good care of Rundle giving her co-star plenty to react to. While Jones has a massive presence about her, Rundle is no flower on the wall. She is great at finding the little moments to play to like the gasp Ann makes when one can only assume what Anne has done to her under the cover of a ton of fabric.

It was beautiful that after everything they had been through, that they did get this joyous time alone together. The episode ended with Ann clearly sexually satisfied in a way that only someone a person truly loves can accomplish and Anne was left thoroughly and unquestioningly in love with Ann, even though she has yet to confess it, unlike her young love who was quick to express her love. Just the way they were playing with each other's hands with huge smiles on their faces spoke to the grand nature of what they had just done together. For any performers who want to know how to portray real love with a fellow actor in a scene then it would be wise to take notes from Rundle and Jones who perfected the art.

Elsewhere in the episode, Marian revealed that she may have a gentleman suitor in a Mr. Abbott. A pairing that her Aunt Lister doesn't really seem sold on, but still tries to be supportive of much like with Anne and Ann. Also, it should be noted how amazing Aunt Anne Lister was because she did truly support both of her nieces and try to guide them the best she could. She loved them and they loved her and it's clear she was a strong part in them continually finding ways to overcome their differences. But, at times, both sisters needed to be apart, so in this case, it was Marian who took off for time away from the Hall and her sister. Her temporary departure left her Aunt to deal with breaking the news regarding Mr. Abbott as well as the surprise marriage request between Eugenie and John to Anne. She spilled the news about Mr. Abbott but was a little less clear in the other news leaving John to accidentally reveal it himself to Anne. It is never good when Anne Lister is speechless over something, so that went over about as well as anyone expected.

Then there was the whole sub-plot with the Sowden family. That plot took quite the intense turn as Thomas Sowden (Tom Lewis) took drastic measures to protect his family from his drunk father Sam (Anthony Flanagan). After Sam tried to beat on his mom, Mary (Lucy Black) and younger siblings, Thomas took his father to the ground and tied him up in the pig pen. Then in an even more surprising turn, near the end of the episode, he murdered his abusive father and literally fed him to the pigs. Granted, Thomas is the better kinder provider for the family, Anne surely would have helped him rectify things without murder being necessary. That is one plot that should be interesting to watch play out when everyone realizes what he did.

Overall this episode set up a lot in regard to upcoming plot points. Things are in full swing and after a rather lovely episode for Anne and Ann, their lives are only going to get more complicated. There are no easy roads ahead for any of these characters as things start to spiral madly out of control before any sense of peace will return to them.

1x4 Most Women Are Dull and Stupid

This episode was a massive emotional rollercoaster ride. It started off innocently enough with Anne and Ann away in York seeing Dr. Steph Belcombe (Michael Xavier) who just so happens to be the brother of one of Anne's former lovers. Dr. Belcombe was actually very supportive of the women being together and even more supportive in his handling of Ann's mental health. The trip did Ann a world of good and even granted the audience the chance to see a cute moment of the two women in bed away from the confines of Halifax. Ann was quite playful and showcased a very different side to her personality. It was nice to get that moment of levity and peace for Ann because her world was soon to begin crumbling around her upon their return to Halifax.

It was upon their return that news came that one of Ann's dear friends, Mrs. Ainsworth, had passed away. That led to a complete spiral regarding Ann's mental health for reasons that Anne and the audience didn't fully understand. This was more than a friend mourning the loss of a dear friend, this was deeper than that. Then she started to shut herself off from Anne and it was clear that more was going on. It was interesting that when they were alone, and Anne was trying to prompt her to talk about Mrs. Ainsworth that all that Ann cared to say was that she did not share the same relationship with her as she does with Anne. She was so lost in thought and distant from Anne and it was far from the woman the audience and Anne had come to know.

By her nature, Anne is a protector and it seemed to be eating away at her that she could do nothing to help Ann at that moment. So instead of sitting around, she threw herself into work learning more about the coal business to avoid thinking about the possibility of losing her. Yet, when Ann beckoned, she went running, only to be further heartbroken to learn that a letter had come indicating the Reverend Ainsworth (Brendan Patricks) intended to propose to her in the wake of the passing of his wife. And still, Anne was not allowed to know the full story or to even see the letter in question. Ann has not been shy to let Anne in on everything and show her letters not meant for her eyes, but this time she was hiding something. But Ann did her very best to let Anne know that it is indeed her that she loves and no man. She even confessed to knowing she belonged with Anne since she was the young age of fourteen.

When she finally revealed the potential proposal there was some weight given to Ann's fear of not wanting to confess the truth. Anne did not respond positively, likely driven by all the other lovers she had lost to men. She forced Ann to make a choice regarding her proposal by the end of the weekend or risk losing her forever. Friendship was not even an option should Ann choose Ainsworth over Anne. For someone with fragile mental health like Ann, it was an impossible situation for her to be in. She felt she was obligated to one person while in love with another. That would be a tough spot for even someone with strong mental awareness.

That whole situation sent both women into dark spirals. Anne was so distraught over it that she even became physically ill as she tried to journal her thoughts. That alone showed how emotionally invested and in love she was with Ann despite how often she tried to convince herself she was only in this for the money. This went well and truly beyond any sort of conquest. One doesn't become physically sick and demand God to not “dare do this to me again” over the idea of losing someone unless they truly, deeply love that person.

Anne distracts herself with work at Shibden and dealing with those trying to obtain her coal. It gave her time to get caught up on what was going on with John and Eugenie. The latter of which suffered a miscarriage and broke off the engagement. Anne also had time to send word with Mr. Washington (Joe Armstrong) via his daughters to Thomas Sowden and his family that she would grant them tenancy should Sam Sowden not return, which the audience knows won't happen. Thomas did seem smitten by the eldest daughter of Mr. Washington, so that might be something else she will have to contend with at some point on top of the potential reveal that Thomas murdered his father, but at least it'll keep her preoccupied from the drama seeping into her relationship. There is also plenty of town gossip for her to contend with.

When Ann finally sent her attempt at an answer it wasn't what Anne had hoped. Pulling an answer out of a purse was not satisfactory for Anne and it, thankfully, sent her storming over to Crow Nest to confront Ann. That led to the scene that was even more impactful than the major emotional scene that preceded it in the prior episode. This was the big reveal of everything that Ann had been holding inside grappling with on her own the entire episode.

This scene was also a massive tour de force for Sophie Rundle who has delivered nothing but superb performances up to this point but really blew everything else out to the park with this performance. She brought Ann into the confrontation with Anne timidly and nervous. Ann was clearly afraid to take Anne's visit, but can't compel herself to stay away from the woman she loves. It would seem she has rightfully anticipated how cross Anne would be regarding everything. And Anne starts off that way, shouting as her frustration of losing another love to a man boiled over. She threw the purse and stomped around in a way that threw Ann into a timid and frightened mood. When confronted directly by Anne for details she broke down into a sobbing heap as all the emotions she had been fighting to keep locked inside escaped.

Ann sunk into the couch and tried to hide her face in her hands. Anne who moments earlier was posturing and full of anger instantly softened. She realized that there was more going on than she was privy to. She was overcome by emotions as well showing how emotionally invested she is in Ann. She looked at her in confusion and worry before trying to speak her name, but it only comes out in a whisper. She then went to her knees and hesitantly made contact with Ann as if she knew the moment she did the shield she had built around her own heart would crumble, and it did. She spoke Ann's name two more times before making eye contact with her. Her voice was firm, but there was understanding in it now that was missing earlier in the scene. Jones was exceptional at this moment as she showed Anne's vulnerability regarding Ann.

When Ann confessed her indiscretions with Ainsworth, Anne stood and looked down on her, but not in an angry way. She kept herself in check and gave Ann time to explain everything and then the moment Anne realized what Ann was really saying, that Ainsworth forced himself on her, the soft protective vulnerable Anne was back. She took a seat beside Ann and tried to understand the extent of how far Ainsworth had gone with forcing himself on Ann. When she asked if they had been "connected" a single tear slipped down Anne's face because, much like for the audience, everything was beginning to make sense. Ann wasn't timid with Anne in their earlier sexual encounters for no reason, she was truly traumatized and knowing that in hindsight likely had a heavy impact on Anne. Add that to her natural protectiveness and it was clearly a hard blow that she wasn't able to protect someone she loves so much from such a horrible situation. Jones was incredible in this scene as she took Anne through everything this scene sent flying her way. Most importantly is how protective she was over Rundle, even more so than in the scene from the prior episode. Together they made this feel like a moment that the audience should not be watching because it was so private. Jones took great steps to support Rundle throughout the highly emotional scene and at times even felt as though she was trying to shield her from the prying eyes of the audience. Scenes like this can take a lot out of a performer and they need a strong scene partner to have their back and Jones was that for Rundle.

For Rundle's part, she was beyond brilliant. There are not enough words to properly describe that performance and do it justice. She took Ann through the early timid moments, to the highly distraught moments in the middle of the scene, to the animated and exhausted bits that ended the scene. There was one point after Ann finally gave the letter to Anne that it doesn't seem Rundle took a single breath as she ran through a tangent regarding Ainsworth trying to claim Ann and thinking her to be his already. The weight of isolation was being lifted from her and it all just came pouring out and there was no time to breathe or risk it all not getting out. Rundle's performance was one of the best emotional releases seen on TV in an exceptionally long time. She gave herself over to the scene and through her it was as if the real Ann was speaking through her, finally getting a chance to be heard. Now, if one were to look at the diaries there seems to be a tiny bit of dramatic license at play, but the core of it all is true to life.

Ann was a woman who faced a lot of trauma in her life and Anne was her savior from a lot of the anguish from those events. The way she sunk into Anne's embrace and hid her face in her chest at the end showed how much she truly needed her to get through this trauma. It was also very beautiful that during Ann's whole emotional ramble she realized that Ann was indeed accepting her proposal but said that even if Ann hadn't accepted that she still would have helped her out of the situation. Even if Ann had chosen Ainsworth over her it seems very unlikely that she would have been able to stay away for too long. She can only stay angry at Ann for so long before caving and that statement confirmed it. Ann seemed just as surprised as the audience was, but knowing Anne, she would have been true to that. There was no way she would ever sit back and let any harm or heartache come to Ann if she had any power to inflict a change. Anne is well and truly in love with Ann and by modern day terms, one may even call her whipped.

This whole scene played perfectly because the series took great effort to build to it. Everything they did prior led to that moment playing out as perfectly as it did. The audience is invested in them both and their relationship. One can argue the audience is as protective over Ann now as the real Anne was back in the 1830s. To get that sort of audience investment is a true testament to the powerful and honest acting that both Rundle and Jones are delivering. The moment that ended the scene as Anne told Ann, and the audience, that she did not yet know what she would do regarding Ainsworth in that icy tone set up what promises to be quite the showdown between the Reverend and Anne.

This is a special series for so many reasons. It is telling a story of real people in as near a real way as possible. The special little moments the camera manages to capture really adds an extra element of making the audience feel right there with these women. The sub-plots are interesting and engaging and the acting by every single performer no matter the expanse of their role is superb. The writing and directing are spot-on and there really, so far, is not a single thing to fault with this series other than the fact that eight episodes are not going to feel like nearly enough. Hopefully, if and when the series gets a second season, they'll up them to at least ten episodes. There seems like a lot of emotional story points on the horizon, so buckle up because Gentleman Jack is about to take us all on an emotional ride.

Now that this one big review is out of the way to catch up with live airings, look for a normal length single episode review for the next episode that will go into finer detail. Please use the comments to discuss all the other beautiful moments from each of the first four episodes that didn't make it into this article.

Don't miss the next episode when it airs Monday at 10/9c on HBO in the US and on Sunday's at 9 on BBC One in the UK.

Hit the comments with your thoughts. How do you think the confrontation with Ainsworth will go? What will it take for Anne and Ann to overcome the inevitable conflicts coming their way as shown in the promo? Will they go their separate ways for a bit? Or will they fight to keep fixing their relationship with each new obstacle?

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