Anne with an E: Season 2/ Episode 8 “Struggling Against the Perception of Facts” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Anne trying on Marilla's veil.
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As we’re introduced to the Black part of Prince Edwards’ Island, Cole has a theory about Mr. Phillips and Marilla is clued in on what’s wrong.


Network
Netflix
Director(s) Amanda Tapping
Writer(s) Shernold Edwards
Air Date 7/6/2018
Actors Introduced
Mary Cara Ricketts
Dr. Ward Brian Paul

A White Wedding: Prissy, Mr. Phillips, Cole, Anne

With Mr. Phillips’ proposal, Prissy is in bliss. Well, at least until Mr. Phillips says she can’t go to college for he needs her by his side to move up the social order. Thus putting a damper on the idea of becoming married. Something Anne doesn’t help with on the wedding day.

However, another issue could be that Mr. Phillips is gay. Well, at least that is what Cole thinks Mr. Phillips is and assumes that is why he picks on him so much. Mr. Phillips tortures those who are what he feels he can’t allow himself to be. With Cole, the idea is because Cole is gay and is comfortable in that, he is punished. Then with Anne, because she is so weird yet has friends, laughs, and is also smart, she is treated as she is.

For, as noted in the last episode, anyone who threatens Mr. Phillips sense of superiority, that he is the best in a multitude of manners, is a threat. One which has to be taken down a notch. Though, with him being left at the altar, who knows how he may ever deal with that.

Commentary

Prissy and the girls running from the wedding.

Taking note of Mr. Phillips being left at the altar, I wonder, since the overview of future episodes notes a new teacher, will anyone really talk about this? I mean, the whole gold thing isn’t even talked about and that was an embarrassment for the whole town. One which Diana’s family hasn’t really suffered much for, nor has it been brought up with Billy or Josie tease Anne. Do they forgive and forget quickly in Avonlea?

Also, is it weird to anyone else Cole automatically thought he was being picked on because Mr. Phillips was gay? What even led to that idea? He barely looks at him, doesn’t talk to him, and if anything, I’d more so think he was a bigot who was punishing Cole because he thought he was gay. Not because he is self-hating. But you know that is the assumption that goes around. Anyone who hates something with such a venom is probably envious. As if people can’t simply be hateful.

A Trip To the Oculist: Marilla, Rachel, Sebastian, Gilbert, Matthew

While Marilla planned on going by herself to get her eyes checked, Rachel figured it would make a nice little vacation. However, it becomes a bit more than that. For one, Marilla, of all people, takes on an Anne kind of role as she sees Sebastian and Gilbert have trouble getting on the train – since Sebastian is Black. How? Well, she does more than watch the situation play out but gets involved. Something which, for usually reserved Marilla, was a bit of a shock. Though no so more a shock than Rachel sitting across from a black man for the first time in her life. But more on Sebastian’s time outside of Gilbert’s farm in the next topic.

What matters here is not only that Marilla may just need glasses, but also she gets her family brooch and Michael’s pocket watch from the pawn shop. Something Rachel helps her buyback. And upon her return to Green Gables, she bequeaths the brooch to Anne and forgives her for tears what would have been her veil – if she got married. But, seeing as how that may not happen, she also gives that to Anne for her future. After all, she is a Cuthbert.

Hence why, upon Matthew getting Michael’s pocket watch back, he says, even though that may be one of the few things he owns of his older brother, he’d sell it again for Anne. If just to make sure she has a way back home.

Commentary

Marilla and Anne hugging.

We’ve mentioned how touching the things Matthew has said many times before, so we’ll skip over the latest. If only because Marilla and Rachel have got to be talked about. The fact Marilla, a conservative Christian woman, who barely talks when not necessary, really took some kind of stand and made it so Sebastian and Gilbert could sit with them was something.

Now, true, in another life, Gilbert might be her son and she has a soft spot for his father, which may have played a hand, but helping Sebastian was not an obligation. Even if he made a rather kind dinner guest. Never mind, likely is also, in a way, looking after Gilbert as much as Gilbert is looking after him.

But then there is the need to address Rachel. Not her awkwardness around Sebastian but more so who she is as a friend and wife. There are many times there is a need to question what keeps Marilla and Rachel as friends. Is it simply because they’ve known each other so long? Rachel is how Marilla gets to know what is happening around town? If not Rachel feeling like she is in Marilla’s debt for helping her with all her kids?

How their relationship started and bloomed is another topic worth a flashback for another time. What is clear though is they both value each other and Rachel spending her own money, even after the gold rush debacle, so Marilla could get her family heirlooms was sweet. Also, I loved that she went with Marilla for the exam as much to support her friend as to get out of the house. Not to get away from her husband, who she still has a very adorable relationship with, but just for a change of pace. It really does push the idea, in terms of Anne’s desires for life, that there are multiple examples of people who found love and not someone to be financially dependent on, if not socially.

And before I forget, Marilla embracing Anne like she did, in comparison to how awkward their hugs were in the first season? Such a touching moment.

You Gotta Find Your People: Sebastian, Gilbert, Dr. Ward, Mary

After separating from Marilla and Rachel, Sebastian has a hell of a time trying to get assistance. Though Canada abolished slavery before the United States, so it seems, legally abolishing something and the people changing the culture are two different things. Making it where shop owners look at Sebastian like a thief or something to worry about, even with money in hand, and he is looked down upon everywhere he goes.

Well, outside of when Gilbert takes Sebastian to Dr. Ward, the man who treated his father. He is strangely kind and fixes Sebastian’s tooth infection up. Even doesn’t charge him since, with Gilbert serious about becoming a doctor, he sees Gilbert cleaning up a bit a good means of paying off the ticket. As well as giving them time to talk about the future.

But the story doesn’t end there. It seems most Blacks are segregated to a place called “The Bog.” A place which basically is a marsh, so a wetland, and it is anything but appealing. There is mud everywhere, the air seems like they are next to a factory at the start of the industrial revolution, and the few walkways there are, you can barely have two people walk side by side.

Yet, as bad as some make it out to seem, they have a thriving town. One in which, after Sebastian gets pushed down by a hating ass Black train conductor, who thinks Sebastian is uppity, Sebastian may have found a potential bride. In who? Well, a woman named Mary who cleans laundry and occasionally rents a room to Black travelers. Someone who he is quite sweet on and while she hasn’t taken the bait, she has nibbled a little bit.

Commentary

Mary listening to Sebastian's attempts at flirting.
Cara Ricketts as Mary

I really hope we get to see more of Sebastian and Mary together. Taking note this is Anne’s story, featuring the rest of these characters, I would love to see, with this show’s tone, what life was like for Black people in Canada at the time. Especially with slavery not being the focus.

Plus, Sebastian seriously needs some kind of story beyond following Gilbert around and the awkwardness of him being the only Black dude for miles. Especially since Gilbert plans on being mentored by Dr. Ward – that is if he can get over his apparent fear of needles.

Highlights

  1. Rachel’s relationship with her husband and Marilla.
  2. Matthew saying he would sell his brother’s pocket watch for Anne again.
  3. Prissy leaving Mr. Phillips, since it is the closest thing to a real punishment we may ever see him get, even if Cole telling him off was classic.
  4. Marilla sticking up for Sebastian on the train.
  5. The possibility of Mary and Sebastian becoming a thing.

On The Fence

  1. Cole’s assumption that he was harassed by Mr. Phillips because he is gay.

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Previous Episode’s Recap

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New Jersey native Amari Sali takes the approach of more so being a media advisor than a critic to sort of fill in the gap left between casual fans of media and those who review productions for a living. Thus being open about bias while still giving enough insight, often with spoilers, to present whether something is worth seeing, buying, renting, streaming, or checking out at all.

2 Comments

  1. With it being the 1800s, I think age of consent wasn’t as it is now. Granted, I’m an American, also unfamiliar with Canada’s legal history, but with the way this show is set up I think the idea of Prissy marrying Mr. Phillips was seen as a good thing because of the culture at the time. Teachers were a respected position, he was going to move to the big city and was, at one time, going to support Prissy going to college. So there was a lot to be happy about.

    But, I will admit, her leaving him at the alter, and what follows, is handled rather strangely. Especially for a rather conservative town. The idea a young woman left a man at the alter sounds like something which should be a scandal. One Rachel should have had a field day with.

    I’m starting to think I just don’t know how to pick up on when a character is gay. I just thought he was weird and definitely taking advantage of the power dynamics. Also, using being more intelligent than most people around to woo Prissy.

  2. Granted, I am an Australian, and largely unfamiliar with the legal history of Canada… but didn’t you find it incredibly bizarre that most of the town is so accepting, even enthusiastic, about the idea of a teacher marrying one of his students when she hasn’t even graduated yet?

    I’m not sure exactly how old Prissy is supposed to be (I’m presuming she’s at least 16, hopefully 18) or how old Phillips is supposed to be (he couldn’t plausibly be any younger than 25) – but even given the fact that relationships with an age gap were more common in the 19th century, I was surprised at how casually accepting the vast majority of the community seems to be and how many of Prissy’s peers seem to be overjoyed by the prospect….. never mind the legal issues with regards to “age of consent”, there are serious ethical objections to a teacher becoming romantically involved with a student (and even if said student were a legal adult these would still apply) that nobody brings up.

    Actually, I wasn’t terribly surprised by Cole’s theory that Phillips might be a repressed homosexual… the chemistry between Prissy and Phillips in previous episodes often struck me as strained, awkward and oddly one-sided. Also, he has many stereotypically camp mannerisms that came through during moments of sneering villainy, which made it understandable why Cole would leap to that conclusion.

    Also, much as I’m glad that Prissy didn’t get married to this creep, having her start dancing for joy mere minutes after leaving him at the altar struck me as a really over the top scene, especially given it wasn’t that long ago she seemed to have a real depth of feeling for him.
    (and why were so many people invited to the wedding that – based on their behaviour in previous episodes – neither Phillips or Prissy really like that much? why on Earth invite people you’ve hardly exchanged a civil word to for years to be guests of honour at your wedding?)

    Sebastian’s journey was interesting, and though sometimes heavy handed, seemed like a plausible depiction of a historical reality.

    But I’m afraid the whole Prissy/Phillips wedding shenanigans dragged this down for me and I’d count this as the worst episode of this series so far… frankly I hope Philips gets run out of town and Avonlea collectively decides to forget him. And I’m glad a new teacher is on the horizon. Anne had a nice teacher in the books who was more interesting than Phillips and should’ve been introduced MUCH earlier than this.

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