Last updated on June 4th, 2019 at 10:17 am
In its sophomore season, Anne with an E ventures into adopting modern storylines while holding onto the heart of Anne from Green Gables.
|Matthew||R. H. Thomson|
|Jerry||Aymeric Jett Montaz|
|Gilbert||Lucas Jade Zumann|
|Muriel Stacy||Joanna Douglas|
|Aunt Josephine||Deborah Grover|
|Mr. Dunlop||Shane Carty|
|Minnie May||Ryan Kiera Armstrong|
|Mrs. Barry||Helen Johns|
Somethings never change. Anne still has a certain whimsy to her and her imagination and kindness remains both the show’s hook and inspiring. In fact, despite the hold Josie formerly had on all the girls, now they are more than willing to hang out with Anne without her around. However, when it comes to the boys, nothing has changed. Billy and the rest remain cruel and indifferent to Anne’s feelings. Making this boy who has grown exponentially, Cole, a silver lining in a way. He is sweet, artistic, and Anne quickly becomes friends with him. In fact, she becomes for him what Diana is often for her. A voice to help deal with the negative thoughts which sometimes plagues the mind.
But, as much as Anne finds a way to be there for Cole, and has Diana, Matthew, Marilla, and Jerry who care about her, it doesn’t erase the past. Her time in the asylum still haunts her and with the girls thinking about their futures, boys included, Anne comes to the belief she is too ugly, too plain to ever be approached. So, her mind adapts to the idea she’ll have to take the initiative.
Though, let it be known, boy trouble isn’t the focus of the season. More so it is exposing us to how having Anne in certain people’s lives changes everything. Take the two robbers from the end of season 1. One of them, because of Anne’s kindness, was contemplating turning over a new leaf. Thanks to long-term exposure to Anne, both Matthew and Marilla seem to step out of their state of arrested development. You know, them not truly living life because of Michael’s death and their mother’s reaction to it.
Alongside that, Gilbert finds his way back home and he brings a man named Sebastian – A Black man. Thus leading to us witnessing a lot of awkwardness as those in Avonlea deal with this foreign presence. Never mind us being reminded how isolated these people are from the larger world. Something we don’t just see in Sebastian’s arrival but also Ms. Muriel Stacy. A woman who pretty much seems like a flashforward of Anne.
However, it isn’t just the adults who have a hard time with foreign people and ideas. Diana and Cole find themselves, thanks to Aunt Josephine, coming to terms that Anne isn’t the most eccentric and out there person they’ll know. Being that Aunt Josephine is a veteran within the local LGBT community, Cole’s introduction to them leads him to realize he found his people. Then, with Diana, being that her world has all been about following in her mother’s footsteps, the conservative domesticated life, realizing what her dear aunt is creates a life-shattering shock.
Yet, in the end, old friends and new friends reconcile, people grow, and very few things remain the same. For, since her arrival, Anne has been a catalyst and as her legend grows, more people find themselves under her influence. And even for those like Gilbert, who travel hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away, they find themselves still drawn to her light and desiring her presence. Even if they can’t say the words. Especially in a romantical way.
Marilla and Matthew Find Their Voice (Also, We Meet Michael)
When we met Marilla and Matthew, they were reserved in personality and in how they socialized. In fact, outside of Rachel, arguably only the mailman had any reason to head over to Green Gables. Yet, through Anne, we see them both open up exponentially. Reason being, though no one can replace Michael, and it isn’t made clear who Michael was to Marilla but her brother, Anne sort of assumed his role in their lives.
Starting with Matthew, one could argue Matthew’s love for Anne is enhanced by his memories of Michael. Someone who seemed to be social yet still had time to play and push his little brother. Now, Anne is much more aggressive than Michael yet it is clear her heart is in the right place. And just seeing her, this redhead who has been through so much find friendship, a community, and be so jovial, it pushes him to do the same. Maybe in baby steps, but you cannot deny him letting Rachel push him on stage and ending the play wasn’t progress. Also, you cannot deny one bit that him speaking up for Ms. Stacy wasn’t because he wanted to support Anne’s hard work and no longer be a bystander in life. That little girl, after a life where he had just been coasting, awakened him.
Same goes for Marilla. In season 1, she could barely even deal with Anne’s antics and her being so affectionate. Now, she grips Anne almost as tightly as Anne grips her. She, like her brother, finds herself having a voice and speaking it, not just inside the house, but outside as well. As Rachel harasses Ms. Stacy, she speaks up and calls out the only person who she can consider her friend. Also, in a rather shocking move, she goes to Ms. Stacy’s house, alone, and gives her support. Even highlights Anne and her journey in Avonlea as a means to inspire the young woman.
I mean, they say a child changes everything for you but I don’t think there is a way you can overstate how positive of an effect Anne has had on these two people’s lives. Leading you to wonder, just seeing them reach their social potential this season, what may they say or do in the next?
Setting aside Sebastian being a major introduction since, so I’ve read, there wasn’t a large focus on people of color in the source material, if at all, let’s talk about his actual story. More often than not, when it comes to Black characters in the 1800s, their storylines revolve around being slaves. It’s just what strangely sells in the western world. However, Sebastian is a free man and while his mother seemingly didn’t escape the role her ancestors played, Sebastian has his freedom.
Trouble is, he is a free man in a racist world. Making him the introduction to season 2 expanding what it means to be mistreated, oppressed, and ostracized. That is, alongside finding your people. Something which is quite big for Sebastian since, as kind as Gilbert is to him, even to the point of calling him a brother and pushing back his goals for Sebastian, he is still a kid. On top of that, he is a kid with a certain amount of privilege because he owns land and is white.
Which makes Sebastian’s journey to the bog not just important because he meets the love of his life, Mary, but because it becomes so clear why you must find your people. In the bog, Sebastian doesn’t have to translate things about his culture or his person. People just know. And with seeing the stark difference between life outside of the bog to within it, you begin to see parallels with Anne’s journey.
For until Anne found her people, that is Diana, Cole, Aunt Josephine, and a few others we meet, or have met, she was like Sebastian. She was tolerated, accepted to a point, but uncomfortable. Yet, once she found her kindred spirits, she found, or rediscovered, who she is and was able to let that person blossom. Thus pushing the narrative that Anne’s story isn’t as singular as it appears. For as much as Sebastian may have known where his mother was, she was unable to be there as he desired. Making it where he often wandered the world alone. Yet, thanks to Gilbert, he found a home and was able to bloom from there. All because he gave him more than a present but a future. In a non-white savior way.
Rachel (Featuring Thomas)
Recognizing Rachel often is a bit much, in many ways you have to appreciate it. For a woman of her time, to be boastful, a commanding presence, and yet still someone very lovey-dovey with her husband, and a good friend at times, it makes her one of the most well-rounded characters on the show. Add in that she has the ideal relationship, one in which she is partners with her husband, Thomas, and they perhaps become the closest thing to what Anne talks about this season.
For as seen throughout the season, unlike Diana’s parents, they are partners. If there is a monetary matter, Thomas feels the need to confer with his wife. She has the Christmas play, he participated without complaint! Can you believe that? Then, when Marilla goes to the oculist, and Rachel comes along, her “vacation” is about not having to cook. Not get away from her husband. Because as consistently shown, even after 10 kids and neither probably looking like they did when they were young, they are still as giggly and flirtatious as when they met.
Switching to her relationship with Marilla, while it isn’t necessarily clear how these two became friends, episode 8 explains why they have been all these years. For in that aforementioned “vacation,” she uses her own money to make sure Marilla gets back her family heirlooms. Mind you, this is after her family lost around $150 due to Mr. Dunlop and Nate earlier in the season. Plus, it meant less fun money for dinner. Yet, for her friend, she was willing to not only make sure she was fine to and from the oculist but get her back the one thing she had of Michael, a brooch which was in the family for generations, and most importantly, her pride.
So while Rachel is a piece of work, who says some wildly insulting things in the last two episodes, you have to admire both the character and her friendships.
As noted with Sebastian, he opens up the franchise to being more diverse and inclusive. He furthers expands the idea that finding your people is essential for survival. After all, kindred spirits are forever. So taking note of Aunt Josephine mourning her partner and Cole’s journey of self-discovery, you have to appreciate these two queer people being presented as well as their community. Added bonus in that neither journey is presented with trauma and violence. Aunt Josephine and her partner just existed and created an environment for their kindred spirits to exist.
And as for Cole? He found a connection through Anne to be himself and Aunt Josephine opened her doors open to a world beyond his imagination. One which, with him deciding to stay with her, means we get to see, next season, a queen woman raise a queer child who has access to a full blown queer community. Which does lead you to believe, between his parents or Aunt Josephine dying, there will be conflict, drama, and tears, but for now, we are in the calm before the storm and it makes for a pleasant viewing experience.
The Mr. Dunlop/ Nate Saga
This seems like an idea that people got excited about, especially to close out the first season but when it came time to deal with how to address two con artist in Avonlea? There was no good resolution. So, like how we saw on screen, it was just powered through and once it was done, it just didn’t get talked about. Which is the most hilarious and sad thing about the Dunlop/Nate saga. Rachel mentions how people will forgive eventually and that’s it. We don’t see kids get mad at Diana for her parents making them lose money, or look like idiots, and we don’t see her family suffer really at all. I mean, yeah, her parents bicker over it for one or two episodes but then they reconcile and it is like that whole thing never happened.
Which isn’t to say I was expecting it to be harped on for the reason of the season, or show. It is just, with how small the community is, and how petty we see the people are, the fact it wasn’t occasionally brought up seemed surprising.
While you have to adore Diana, especially when she stuck up for Anne as she came to the conclusion she is plain and ugly, there isn’t much to say about her. That is, who Diana is outside of Anne. Yes, she gets a slight moment when, as Mrs. Barry says she has to be a lady, she snaps on Minnie May and that forces Mrs. Barry to let her kids be kids. Yet, the major moment she could have had, which dealt with coming to terms with her aunt being queer and that she could have a life outside of something domestic, that doesn’t really get touched. One episode she is rejecting Josephine’s lifestyle because it is so different and within a few episodes she embraces her and who she is whole.
All of which happens without you seeing how or why her mind changed. And while there is this desire to look at Cole as the possible reason, then you have to factor in Cole only came out to Anne and Josephine. He didn’t make it common knowledge. So as for how and why Diana decided to be accepting is anyone’s guess. For even Anne didn’t really push her to be more liberal and open-minded.
What To Do About Jerry
I appreciate Jerry for what little we get of him. He is but a simple French boy who is kind of like Anne’s little brother. Including like a second child to Marilla and Matthew. Leading to quite a few touching moments in which Jerry, as Nate tortures him, finding comfort with Matthew. That is, alongside, after Anne spends some of her time teaching Jerry to write and read, him giving her a Christmas card. Granted, with her name spelled “Ann,” without an E, but considering the boy couldn’t read or write before, it’s progress.
So, question is, what to do with him now? After the Nate and Mr. Dunlop situation, the only notable time Jerry was part of the action was when he flirted with Diana. Outside of that, he helped Matthew and did his job. Making you wonder, is this all we should expect from Jerry? One or two sweet moments, between Matthew and Anne, and after that him just being Matthew’s shadow as they work? Surely more can be done right? Him not being a big part of the source material or not.
Billy and Josie
The two bullies of the show remain rather simple characters. Billy just wants attention, as seen by him being jealous of Cole having all the girl’s attention. Same goes for Josie. Especially since she is raised on this idea that beauty and attention is power. Now, this is an issue for me for while I would hate for them to be like Ruby and find themselves jumping on the Anne bandwagon, at the very least there was some hope they’d evolve a little bit. One could say them not evolving is the most realistic thing about their depiction yet, it doesn’t make you feel like a little effort to be understood more wouldn’t have been nice.
On The Fence
While Gilbert’s story moves forward, like him deciding on becoming a doctor, I must admit it did feel like he took a bit of a step back. As if, his main purpose was to usher Sebastian into the show and his own life was secondary. Especially early in the season. By the end, as Sebastian found Mary and wasn’t reliant on Gilbert he found himself again, but it did feel like he was showing up late to the party.
The Flashback Scenes
Like the first season, flashbacks to Anne’s time in the asylum are used but they aren’t quite as effective. With it already being rather clear Anne had a hard time before becoming a Cuthbert, a lot of it seemed like footage cut from season 1 and repurposed. Most of which seemed like fat that should have been left on the cutting room floor. Especially this one character who bullies Anne and, because she is such a creep, licks her face. All for no real rhyme or reason, besides perhaps freaking her out.
The State of Jeannie and Matthew’s Relationship
We don’t get closure. They reconnect, walk and talk, then she is off to Paris. It sucks the love of Marilla’s life is dead but Matthew’s is not. Can he get married so Anne can be a flower girl and Marilla can ultimately feel her sacrifices have been worth it?
Overall: Positive (Watch This)
While I will admit the high from season 1 isn’t the same, nor the emotional roller coaster, if season 2 did replicate that it would be exhausting. Instead, it keeps the spirit alive and finds ways to enhance it. In some cases, it is in big ways like through Black and LGBT characters. In other ways, it just builds off what was established, like in the case of Matthew and Marilla. Then, of course, there is showing Rachel as a three-dimensional person.
Thus giving us a show which takes what some may consider risks, but ultimately feels very much in line with the world we were introduced to in season 1. Ultimately making it feel like the writers knew what they had was good and they decided to just spread all that focus Anne got and begin to spread it around. Make it so multiple characters got their just due and became as deeply affecting to the audience.
Hence the positive label. While less tears were shed, I am still very much in love with Avonlea and season 2 simply focused on providing more reasons to be. And while the whole gold rush scam got swept under the rug, it’s something you want to forget as much as the fine folks of Avonlea so we’re in agreement. Now if they could just boost Diana and Jerry, as well as add some dimensions to Josie and Billy, this show may be on an untouchable pedestal.
Has Another Season Been Confirmed?: SEASON 3 CONFIRMED!
Though with filming beginning this winter, we might be waiting till next summer, or beyond, for it.
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|As we return to Green Gables, and Anne’s whimsy ways, the boarders begin their final act of trickery to con the entire town.|
|As gold fever continues, Anne may have found another kindred spirit and Gilbert continues to have his eyes opened thanks to Sebastian.|
|After slipping for so long, finally people are catching onto Nate and Mr. Dunlop – but will they stop them before they run off with $1700?|
|Alongside Gilbert finding direction for his life, Anne tries to push Matthew in one which may make him happier.|
|Being that Anne is a girl of a certain age, and obsessed with romantical things, the idea of a first kiss both intrigues and haunts her.|
|As Anne adjusts to her new haircut, we finally get to see Michael and understand, through Michael, why Matthew likes Anne so much.|
|As Diana’s world gets shook, and Cole comes to a realization, we learn more about the aftermath of Michael’s death.|
|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.|
|Avonlea’s new teacher seems like a grown-up Anne. Including not fitting in, being a trailblazer, and her best intentions making things worse.|
|The fate of Ms. Stacy, Sebastian’s relationship with Mary, Cole, and Gilbert deciding whether to stay or leave Avonlea is decided.|