Off the top of my head, I cannot think of another show which consistently has me smiling a goofy smile, laughing, and crying, from episode to episode. Hell, I can’t think of many movies that can do that without someone dying or someone going through something awful. Yet, somehow this show can make you cry simply out of seeing McNulty, as Anne, smile. So with having no knowledge of the source material, or past adaptations, I can only look toward McNulty as the reason for this being such a overwhelimg good program. I’d even argue it is better than This Is Us since it doesn’t try so hard.
Episode Focus: Young Love (Matthew, Marilla, Anne, Diana, and Gilbert)
Before we get into the obvious example of young love dealing with Anne and Gilbert, let’s get into the least expected. Such as learning about Matthew and his childhood crush Jeannie (Brenda Bazinet). A girl who, if it wasn’t for the fact his brother Michael died, could have been the one. I mean, she did seem quite smitten with him as Matthew was buying a dress for Anne. Though with him being timid, seemingly as he was when he was a child, he decides to let Jerry pick up the dress in his place. Thus losing the opportunity of seeing a “Old friend” again.
Though Matthew may not be alone in old crushes remembering who they are. Now, this could be me reading into things, but with Gilbert’s dad calling Marilla feisty, it could be that she was one to look out for in her youth. Unfortunately, we don’t get a flashback to solidify this idea, but you never know. After all, just because Matthew and Marilla live together now doesn’t mean it was always that way. But before we get to Anne and Gilbert, we must speak of Anne and Diana.
With Anne getting her period, she feels the pains of womanhood, both internally and in a metaphysical sense. But, of course, Diana is there to see her through. After all, she has had it for nearly a year. Though I should note, Diana isn’t the only one being especially kind to Anne during this period [note] no pun intended [/note], for even Marilla softens up on her. She pets Anne’s back after she bleeds in the bed and even sets up an afternoon tea time for Diana and Anne. Though that is where things turn left.
Reason being? Well, Anne and Diana accidently get tipsy on wine and Mrs. Barry finds them and blames Anne’s influence for the state of her daughter. Leaving her to think the two need to be separated, permanently – including at school. Something quite devastating for Anne for even if she did win over Ruby, they don’t really talk and only Diana seems to accept Anne while everyone else is still trying to figure her out.
But what truly makes the situation sad is that Diana confesses her love, platonically of course, of Anne and it leads you to question, with the way Anne reacts, if that may have been the first time someone has said they loved her?
Leaving Gilbert. Those two remain friendly competition in school and Anne bests him in a spelling bee contest. Yet, it almost seemed like he lost on purpose. Though what perhaps is most noteworthy is that with Gilbert’s dad being sick, and him staying home from school to be around, Anne is asked, neé forced, by Mr. Phillips to bring Gilbert his books. Leading to Mr. Blythe (Wayne Best) noting he has heard positive things and this perhaps softening Anne’s perception of Gilbert. If just for a moment.
So much to unpack. Can it first be said that I would love real clarification as to why Matthew and Marilla live together and seemingly don’t have spouses? Much less, why, based off there being little to no pictures in the house, assuming they had such things at the time, no pictures or even mementos of past relationships? From what it seems, neither one were ostracized like Anne sometimes is. If anything, it seems some people were charmed by them. Could it be when Michael died, and seemingly they were forced to learn the ways of the farm or housework, that was the end of them being social? Could it be, outside of church, they were rarely seen thereafter?
A part of me thinks that is the case, but it seems far more complicated than that. For with Marilla being called “feisty,” I want to believe that there was a time where she was not as uptight as she is now. I mean, I can imagine her smitten with a boy and him interested back. But the question is, what happened? Then with Matthew, surely there wasn’t so much work that even on Sunday that he didn’t get to see Jeannie and talk with her? Even if just for a little bit at church. Granted, she seemed popular and he was timid, but she seemed forward enough at the dress shop and I doubt that came from old age.
Pressing on, I was weeping when Diana said she loved Anne and giggled watching them drunk. For there is just something about their scenes which seem barely scripted. As if the two actresses were just given certain things they must say and the rest was just them enjoying each other’s company. That is how natural their scenes are. Making Mrs. Barry’s proclaim they must cut ties devastating. Yet, with how they snuck in some time at school, I doubt it is permanent. Plus, with Diana revealing she is to go to France for her education, maybe that might be a slight nod that Jerry may come into her life. For, honestly, something needs to be done with that boy since he just exists on the show at this point.
Leaving Gilbert and Anne. I like the slow burn here and I honestly hope nothing happens between them until season 2. For with Gilbert just now having his own storyline outside of Anne, I’d hate for him to just be a love interest. Especially since, with Anne and the girls wondering what boys have to go through, as they bemoan having a period, it would be nice if Gilbert sort of shows the weight boys bear on their shoulders once they come of age. Especially when the man of the house isn’t able to perform his duties as he’d like. Heck, imagine if Gilbert had to drop out and Anne tutored him. If only because she realizes one of Matthew’s greatest regrets is having to quit school and Anne wants Gilbert to not feel that.
Reminding me, I hope more is said about Michael. His death seemingly sent shockwaves through the Cuthbert family and is the likely reason Matthew had to quit school. So it should be interesting to see what it did to Marilla and how Anne, more than likely, uncovers this newly birthed secret. Especially since I feel Marilla and Michael perhaps didn’t have the best relationship or she knows something Matthew doesn’t about his death.
OH! How could I forget the dress? Honestly, with Matthew actually seeming like he once had a life, I almost forgot he has another beautiful moment with Anne. Really pushing the idea that she was, in no way, kept out of pity but because Matthew really wanted a child. One which, as we have heard Marilla concur on, that had the opportunities they didn’t have. Of which seemingly include being spoiled and free to just be a child. Even if she is now, more so, a young woman.