Sanditon’s second episode gives viewers plenty to sit with, good and bad — a jam packed hour full of some riveting moments that touch on the theme of class and judgement bitterly. It’s an episode full of some of the most cringeworthy statements along with some of the most relatable ones, but most exquisitely, it’s a testament to friendship, and Austen’s way of writing steadfast female friendships. If I were in charge of titling the episode, I’d call it “Paddling in the Sea”, for it’s best to describe the first steps into an astounding friendship and the exposure of Sidney Parker’s being, physically today and emotionally tomorrow. It’s an episode that does a remarkable job of shifting plates and allowing viewers to start seeing more sincerity in the characters. Thus finally, it’s an episode that spends a lot of its time discussing the panoramas of marriage and what it truly means to choose a partner.
To kick things off, these are the times I’m glad we no longer live in regency era because goodness every word out of Lady Denham’s mouth during the luncheon had me cringing so hard. (And I love period dramas immensely, but they’re just … so … white … and entitled.) But this is the very episode that lets us see into the hearts of those who matter most because Charlotte, Sidney, and Arthur all coming to Georgiana’s defense is the very showcase of how good natured their spirits are. Sidney’s especially which officially gives viewers a glimpse into his character’s true nature. He didn’t want to be Georgiana’s guardian, but let’s be real, not many would be in the right headspace to be anyone’s guardian during their mid-twenties. And while he grumbles about it, he doesn’t miss the opportunities to remind her of her value, something women in regency era, especially black women, aren’t reminded of as often as they should be. “You know you’re worth far more than Lady Denham and all her circle put together.” Sidney Parker might waste away his days at bars and boarding houses with smoke and self-deprecation clouding him, but at his core, he’s a man who’s fully aware of the strong women he’s surrounded by. It’s also a fantastic showcase of the fact that Charlotte was right in throwing him under the bus about being too cruel despite stating that he doesn’t care. “Think too badly of you? I don’t think of you at all Miss Heywood. I have no interest in your approval or disapproval. Quite simply, I don’t care what you think or how you feel. I’m sorry if that disappoints you, but there it is.” And oh how badly this’ll bite him later on.