“Episode 8” | Sanditon
We’re officially back in business with fall TV and so far, everything’s been utterly pleasing where this writer is concerned, but this week especially, I have not stopped thinking of the Sanditon finale since it’s aired and I’ve only rewatched it about 12 more times after that. (More, it’s definitely been more.)
First and foremost, I need you all to know that period dramas own my soul. That said, the slow but worthwhile progression of a Jane Austen love story is my absolute favorite because when it finally comes down to conversations between the pair we’re rooting for, it’s worth every pining moment — every dramatic event. There are plenty of moments throughout Sanditon’s finale that tug on the heartstrings, but I’m thinking blissfully about Sidney and Charlotte’s conversation on the balcony. And dare I say this might just be my favorite declaration after Mr. Knightley’s “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”
“I have never wanted to put myself in someone else’s power before. I have never wanted to care for anyone but myself.” is as profound a declaration of love as the three official words could say. If this is just the first season, I can’t even imagine what will follow, and to be perfectly honest, I’m not ready for the emotions it’ll put me through it. (Just kidding, I’m 364% ready. Bring it. Give me season two stat.) There’s a great deal to be said about the bravery the affirmation conveys because such vulnerability coming from a man as jaded as Sidney promises far more than any ring ever could. And that’s essentially what makes me so hopeful for what’s to come. While words without actions can be insignificant, there’s still great prominence when the choice to be unreservedly sincere is coming from a man who’d long before promised never to love again. Sidney Parker, detached, damaged, despondent, made the conscious choice to give love one more try because the woman who stands before him brought a sense of indescribable purity back into his life — innocence and eagerness. The yearning to live beyond his needs in order to ensure that the best version of himself is worthy of her time and adoration. Any and all declarations take courage, there’s no questioning that, but it’s what he means that screams beyond the words he speaks. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for Charlotte, no ocean he wouldn’t cross, no deal he wouldn’t make, no place he wouldn’t go. At the end of the day, it’s all for her. It’s all for her because his sole ability to love again is entirely due to her goodness, her innate curiosity, and the fearlessness in which she alone challenges him with.
I talk about vulnerability a lot in all my reviews, it’s essentially what’s always been the most riveting part of any form of art that leaves me utterly satisfied even when wanting more. “I have never wanted to put myself in someone else’s power before. I have never wanted to care for anyone but myself.” This isn’t just the confession that a woman’s bewitched a man to his core, but it’s a man’s choice to remind a woman that she is his strength — in all his days of highs and lows, no one’s come close to knowing the real Sidney Parker as Charlotte Heywood has. It’s a reminder that come what may, she’s everything to him, and knowing how deeply the heartbreak in his past crushed his spirit, this sincerity not only showcases the immense capacity to love within him, but the softness in his character. If he’s using words such as never, it elucidates the fact that even beyond what he’s experienced, with Charlotte, it’s far more — it goes beyond anything he ever believed he was capable of feeling, which is entirely telling of how profoundly engulfing his feelings are.
While words are empty without actions, performances allow us to see far more deeply into the spirits, and in this case, the quiet intimacy we’re watching unfold is entirely due to the work Rose Williams and Theo James are putting in — the acute embodiment of their characters that’s allowing us to see that intimacy is far more than a sweet first kiss on a clifftop. Intimacy in this case is serenity, it’s the ease in being completely and utterly at another’s power. It’s a quiet conversation being had entirely through longing looks and fretting hands. It’s Williams’ choice to match his sincerity with glowing laughter and indulgent eye contact. It’s James’ split deep breaths that reflect the angst in a man who’s never been more vulnerable than he is with her. Once charismatic and too boastful for his own good, he’s now entirely undone, wholeheartedly captivated and content — nervous, aware, and profoundly in love, in finding his soul’s perfect equal, it’s become easier for Sidney Parker to be his best self, and we’re able to see that entirely in his vulnerability around Charlotte.
We all know how the conversation would’ve ended if they weren’t interrupted, we all know the words he’d say and the promises they’d make to one another. But there’s great beauty in patience because if they couldn’t stand to be a part for a single night, the long nights away is bound to only make the hearts grow fonder. We all know that if Charlotte had asked him to choose her during their parting that he’d drop to his knees right then and there, but part of loving someone with every fiber of your being entails a selflessness they’re both now learning to live with. Despite the fact that they’d choose one another over and over again if need be, part of loving someone is making certain you’re at your best even when they’re not with you. And that’s what makes the affirmation that much more enamoring because we know without a single doubt that every choice Sidney Parker has made since has been entirely for her. She’s asked him to care for his family’s affairs more thereby, resulting in his choice to do whatever’s necessary to help his brother. There are great things to come. I’m certain of it. And it’s entirely due to a few words that are said with profound weight and enveloping vulnerability. There’s no going back after this, no one can and no one will match what the other’s done for them.
Let’s talk Sanditon. What’s your favorite part of the finale? What was the most exquisite moment you watched on TV this week?