I could get behind last season of Anne with an E, even with its off-book shenanigans, but this season is more challenging. I know many of you find it challenging, too.
“I mean, you’re watching and the actors are so incredible and it’s Anne, and Gilbert, and Matthew and Marilla and Diana…and even good old Moody Spurgeon is along for the ride. There’s crazy gorgeous PEI scenery and you’re loving it when suddenly ….What in the blue blazes is happening on my screen???” I was spouting off to a kindred spirit recently.
I’m still framing this series as fanfiction, not unlike the wildly unfaithful “Little House on the Prairie” TV show from the 1970’s. I mean, that TV show is dearly loved and revered, right? What’s the difference? Some of you have felt the difference was in capturing the spirit of the books or not. Thoughts?
Here are some of my thoughts on Episode 4:
All’s well that ends well in terms of the grifters. Jerry is saved, and Nate and Dunlop are captured. Will we see Dunlop again? Probably.
Otherwise, we find our beloved Gilbert questing around the world with his new best friend, a Trinidadian named Sebastian–Bash (Dalmar Abuzeid). I am not wild over all the new characters, but I like Bash. I think–hope–that Maud would have loved this worldly wise, gentle and fascinating character. Apparently, people of color did settle on PEI in Anne’s day, mostly runaway slaves from Rhode Island or escapees from trading ships. In any event, Bash is a mentor to Gilbert as Gil finds his calling. When he delivers a baby at an exotic port, Gil wonders if he might become a doctor. (You know, like his father. In. the. book...). Will they finally make their way back to Avonlea?
Over at the Barry’s, it’s a fine kettle of fish as Mr. Barry rues the day he thought gold investing was a good idea. Normally he can strut sitting down, but not anymore. Mrs. Barry is wound tighter than a wet boot and in a total tizzy and a half over the thought of her girls not going to finishing school. Those two have a lot to work through, and they do. One of my favorites scenes was when the Barry parents surprise their girls by playfully throwing leaves at them. They finally realized they are rich in family and love, if not rich enough to send their girls to London for finishing school. Finishing school, Schminishing school.
Again, not crazy about all the fan fiction-y, made up storylines for our cherished characters, but I did like the fact that Anne and Matthew’s love was tested in this episode. When Anne takes it upon herself to answer some unanswered letters from Jeannie (remember her, Matthew’s old flame?). Her goal is to drum up a love life for her darling Matthew, which of course mortifies and upsets the poor man. Yet the love between this father and girl is strong and even stronger for having been tested. Come to think of it, it never was tested in the book, was it?
Basically, I am a fan of Matthew having a lady friend, and of Gilbert having a mentor who can teach him so much about the world. Also, a fan of the Barry’s finally getting over themselves. None of this happened in the book, but nonetheless, I am a fan.
I’ve heard that the next episode, Episode 5!– contains one of our very favorite iconic scenes–The Time Anne Dyed Her Hair Green–so hopefully they have done that justice!
Anne takes a jaunt to Charlottetown with the seriously uppity Barry parents and their much nicer offspring. Minnie Mae cracks me up with her attitude! They stay in the city with Great Aunt Josephine, a sassy fossil of a lady who remains a patron and fan of Anne’s. She tips the girls off in their quest to find out more about Avonlea’s “gold rush”: Go visit the newspaper in town, which covered the last fools-gold dusted epoch on PEI. Anne and Diana find the beaten down reporter in a bar (their presence there just about gives Mrs. Barry an apoplectic episode). They are rattled by his news: There is no gold. Everyone is being made fools of by a couple of wily grifters.
Meanwhile, back in Avonlea, dear Jerry is being menaced by the deplorable Nate, who calls him a racial slur and makes a crack about French people starting their kids drinking early. Aymeric Jett Montaz continues to impress as tender, brave Jerry. The sweetest thing was when Matthew, finding Jerry crying in the hayloft, comforts his young farmhand in the most wonderful fatherly way. Jerry makes the connection between the grifters and his attackers, but not until it’s too late. He is attacked again, and can’t warn the Green Gables folk about Nate and Dunlop’s true intentions.
Of course, Dunlop is developing a conscience and wants out of his greasy life of crime. He bakes Anne a welcome home pie with her name cut out in perfect crusty letters. However, she’s on to him, and he can tell. Next thing you know, Anne and Marilla are tied up, and the grifters make a run for it, with Matthew and Avonlea’s menfolk in hot pursuit.
Can’t wait to hear YOUR thoughts!
What do YOU think? Can an Anne fan fall in love with this series, even if it’s wildly off-book? After all, “Little House” fans went berserk over the TV show, even though it went farther off-book than Anne with an E!
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