Last week’s Gilbert Blythe meet-n-greet went very well indeed: Not a single person “polled” didn’t like the new Gilbert! Lucas Jade Zumann had massive shoes to fill (the late, great Jonathan Crombie, no less, whose “eulogy” crashed my site almost two years ago at the time of his death), so this was pretty impressive.
In this week’s episode, we see just a smidgen of the gentlemanly Gilbert and fall even more for him. When that knuckle-dragger Billy Andrews bellows that Anne should bake something and let the men do the real work, Gilbert rises to the occasion like a knight. He thanks Anne and Ruby sincerely for the scones, and in his gentle, noble way, he pushes back, showing he is a cut above the other boys in Avonlea. Of course, Anne has just begun her four-year grudge Re: Carrotsgate, so she barely acknowledges his presence, something Gil will have to get used to.
Many viewers of all ages will be saying “awwww” when Anne stomps off and Gilbert’s face falls…Awwww!
So Gilbert is grand, and I am also really loving the addition of Aymeric Jett Montaz, a young French-Canadian actor who plays the part of Jerry, Matthew’s farmhand. I don’t love all the off-book changes to “Anne,” but I do like that they filled in the character of Jerry so wonderfully. He is a sounding board for Anne, a gentle friend. When she quits Avonlea school in a fit of humiliation, Jerry’s quiet remarks about how he doesn’t even have the chance to go to school–he had to quit early to work–get under Anne’s skin and ours. He adds sweetness and a much-needed fizz of humor and charm to this “darker” retelling.
That’s what I loved about this episode. AHEM!
However, I was less pleased about the rest of it. Episode 4 was waaaayyy off-book, as much as Episode 2. I had heard that Moira Walley-Beckett and her team were aiming for lots of “invention” but also honoring the story with “iconic” moments. So, of course, I was waiting for an iconic moment. Other than a meeting of the Story Club, minus Jane Andrews, there were none.
Post Slate Debacle, we find Anne driving Marilla crazy by hanging around the house all the time, dreaming and letting pies burn on her watch. Anne doesn’t want to go back to school, where she kn0ws she doesn’t belong. At first, Marilla decides to bide her time and let Anne get so bored she’ll return on her own steam, but soon loses her temper and forces the girl out the door. Here’s where things get weird. Anne pretends she went to school, lying her red head off for days in an act of devious, premeditated deception. To me, Anne might have been detached from the truth in some ways, but she was never that deceptive. She simply didn’t have the stomach for it.
Upon being busted for lying, Anne is subjected to a prescriptive visit from the town’s pastor, a pompous, sanctimonious windbag who bears no resemblance whatsoever to the book’s kindly Reverend Allen and his wife, Mrs. Allen, Anne’s most kindred of spirits and encourager.
The book’s Rev. and Mrs. Allen were brimming with grace–why make him so grace-LESS here?
Unless, of course, this isn’t supposed to be Reverend Allen at all. A friend of mine, Rachel, wondered if this smug, bloviating minister might be just a handy male authority figure, meant to show how patriarchal Edwardian Avonlea really was. Could be, but I miss Reverend Allen’s kindness, all the same.
More invention: A fire threatens the Gillis farmhouse, and a level-headed Anne saves their house with her quick thinking. Suddenly, the tide begins to turn in Avonlea and the townsfolk begin to warm to the peculiar orphan girl. In the book, her biggest detractor, Mrs. Barry, is finally won over when Anne saves Minnie Mae’s life. Good old Syrup of Ipecac! This immediately follows the Raspberry Cordial Debacle, and is an absolutely pivotal scene, as it transforms Anne’s enemy into her champion.
FOR THE LOVE OF ALL, PLEASE LET THERE STILL BE THE RASPBERRY CORDIAL DEBACLE! It’s as iconic as anything in the book, and I won’t stand for its omission, THAT’S WHAT!
Overall, I found this episode puzzling. I had been won over to the “invention plus iconic moments” construct, persuaded by this tremendous cast to disconnect somewhat from the book and embrace much–not all–of it. But this week was a hard one, folks.
Here’s hoping next week DOES include some Raspberry Cordial! (In the preview, Marilla tells Anne she may invite Diana to tea, so I am hopeful…). Because as my friend Natalie says, Mrs. Barry still needs some convincing.
And so do I.
Have any of you been able to watch?
What do YOU think about what me and other viewers have been saying?
Are you prepared to buy into some serious revisions here? Or would you prefer, as I do in my heart of hearts, that all of this phenomenal writing and acting and filmmaking would reflect Maud’s original story?
I’d love to know your thoughts! Every comment on my blog until the Anne series has properly aired on Netflix (May 12) will be entered in a contest to win a fetching Anne of Green Gables art piece or frameable quote from my favorite Etsy shop, Carrot Top Paper Shop! So comment away, won’t you, Anne Internet Friends??