Sunday, 29 June 2014

New Worlds: Episode 2

"I cannot marry a man I do not love."

Sigh. Things aren't really picking up. Ned is leaving Boston for England, and Beth is seeing Abe again. Plots are laid to expose Angelica as a traitor and expose her rather dull and understandably circumspect Catholic husband, who cannot deny the "Popish Plot" for fear of accusations, just so the King can seize her land. This is a pity, as Angelica's home is a haven of Whiggery and religious tolerance. Meanwhile, Beth and Abe hope to go to the New World to carry on the Good Old Cause. None of this is presented so as to be at all interesting.

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, Hope Russell is to be married to a man- Henry Cresswell- whom she neither loves nor likes. And yes, it's still weird to hear all of these Massachusetts Puritans speaking in RP accents. She is, of course, presented with all sorts if arguments to make her feel guilty and submit to this patriarchal and misigynistic pressure. The point here is that it's not only the Tories back in England who are somewhat lacking in progressivism.

Angelica's house is invaded by thugs who light bonfires and chant about the "Popish Plot and praise the Duke of Monmouth. Angelica's hubby, sure enough, is trapped into denying Titus Oates' outrageous claims and arrested. He is now at the mercy of the infamous Judge Jeffries, and both Angelica and Beth are in trouble by proxy. It's all very dramatic, yet somehow still fails to engage.

Poor hubby is tortured, while Abe learns of his fatger's death; he is, it seems, Wiiliam Goff's son. He tries to kill Charles II, whom Jeremy Northam is portraying as a not-at-all merry monarch. He is harboured by Beth and Angelica, and both are subsequently arrested and, on Angelica's case, finally have her luck run out as she is sentenced to be burned at the stake while Beth is transported to America.

Angelica finally dies, watched by her daughter, and gives a magnificent speech; being executed is, after all, a per formative act and, in this case, a political one as she calls Charles a tyrant. Abe, mercifully, shoots her dead before she can suffer, and then seemingly plunges to his own death.

All this is juxtaposed with Charles, looking thoroughly miserable, putting on his crown and dissolving Parliament. He seems triumphant.

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