Season 2, Episode 10
One, two buckle, my shoe. Let us go and have a duel!
Players: Lillian, Garfield, Hortense, Flobelle, Beatrice, Peepers, Chair, Commodore, Dodo, Victor, Albert, Blanche, Hamish
First off: WOW. Second: That’s a good episode. Another Period’s episode this week took expectations and turned them upside down. In what was thought to be the season finale, “The Duel,” a continuation from the events of last week’s “Lillian’s Wedding,” built upon storylines and executed it almost flawlessly. And with 90% of its characters no doubt.
Each of the eight storylines had their time in the spotlight -- making it hard it discern story structure. But, with the amount of characters it has, this show often experiments with varied structure. First, Bertram still wants to be with Hortense even after seeing her post-glaucoma surgery. Lillian is distraught, of course, doing her best impersonation of a dismayed Darth Vader. She resorts to drinking and smoking her problems away: “I'm gonna go do some drugs and drink all the liquor in the house.” It’s always funny to see the strongest character (in terms of vinegar and temperament) be broken down to pure nothing.
Beatrice and Dodo return home with two separate goals. The latter is served divorce papers so she wants to get her half of the Bellacourt possessions. Chair, dismayed, wants to leave her enemy with nothing. Christina Hendricks’ delivery is reminiscent of her days as Joan on Mad Men when she tells Dodo that she wants her money, her man, and her dignity. Truly powerful. They end up dueling to solve for their issues. Chair’s strength matches her beauty and apparent skills with a sword, an aspect of her seen in previous episodes. Just the way she has taken Commodore from his wife is striking. Her qualities along with Dodo, Lillian, Blanche, Flobelle and sometimes even Beatrice’s stand out in this episode. Another Period’s female characters have the distinct pleasure of being more robust than their male counterparts.
Beatrice, on the other hand, learns that everyone she knows will go to Hell thanks to Jemaine Clement’s blunt priest: “People you like will be going to Hell. A lot of them.” She only wants Lillian to repent for her sins so she joins her in the Heaven party. But she arrives at the exact moment that Lillian is at her lowest low. In fear of losing her sister to sin, Beatrice takes it upon herself to lock up all the booze in the house.
On the other side of the house, Flobelle and Garfield are getting along well. While dumping the spoiled food, Garfield suggests that the stinky site is romantic. Flobelle doesn’t disagree. But their amorous activity is ruined by Hamish, who sexually harasses Flobelle. In a moment that seals the women in the show as fully capable, she tells him off in a calm manner. There were a few moments tonight that had the show bridge the gap between its period and today. Chair and Flobelle both have these moments of truth that circle back to today’s society. Albert and Victor are getting along nicely. Blanche brings them food and Victor asks her “Brunch, did you catch obesity?” questioning her stomach growth. She tells them she’s pregnant and that leads to a conversation about the two of them having a love child (outside of the children they had with Lillian and Beatrice). Finally, Peepers has a shrine to Dodo which is to be expected.
However, the most unusual facet of the entire episode is that it’s the second of at least three. Last season was ten episodes but next week will see a (maybe) conclusion to the current. It’s needed after this episode managed to pack thirteen of its fourteen stars in it (Frederick was sadly missing from the festivities).
Should you watch “The Duel?”
This episode stood out. It moved frantically, sometimes to a fault, but it came together in the end. These people are left in precarious moments in time. Lillian and Dodo have nothing, Beatrice is a nun, Flobelle and Garfield are on the edge of love, Peepers has Dodo back (for now), Chair has Commodore, Commodore has sex, and Hortense is married. Next week’s 22 minutes should put the characters into new places.