So close and yet so far.
Just when it seemed like Emily had finally come to grips with the vile human being that one Samuel Bowles is, she reverted to the silly love-sick schoolgirl in one fell swoop.
All it took was Sam fulfilling his promise of publishing her poem, and Emily became completely undone.
And her stupidity continued as Dickinson Season 2 Episode 7 ended with Emily entrusting Sam with her poems.
Oh, Emily, why do you keep putting yourself through this?
Sam has continually shown he doesn’t care about you — whether it’s professionally or personally — and will put you through the wringer and jerk you around just because he can.
You, Emily, are his marionette, and it’s about time you break free.
As a viewer, it’s been endlessly frustrating watching Emily fawn and fall all over Sam, a man who is the least compatible for her out of all of Emily’s previous love interest.
Sam doesn’t have Sue’s dedication or love, Ben’s innate and intellectual understanding, or even George’s unwavering belief.
He’s just a shell of a man who has the ability to catapult Emily’s career, and that power, for Emily, is intoxicating, prompting her to conflate gratitude and love.
Emily: I think I’ve fallen in love.
Mrs. Dickinson: In love?
Emily: I’ve been completely overtaken by someone, infected, just diseased by him. I don’t know what else it could be, mom. I think I’ve fallen in love.
Mrs. Dickinson: Who is this person? Who is this person?
Emily: Doesn’t matter. You wouldn’t approve.
Mrs. Dickinson: Well, whoever this person is, he shouldn’t be making you feel like this. Someone who loves you, someone worthy of you, shouldn’t make you feel sick. That’s not what love is. Look, I know my marriage to your father isn’t perfect, not be any stretch, but even when he makes me so angry that I could, I don’t know, undust his study, I know he wants what’s best for me. I know he’d sit by my bedside if I needed him, taking care of me. can you say that about this person? OK, look, I know I’ve always been very hard on you about marriage, but you don’t deserve to feel unwell. I didn’t carry you into this world for that. I didn’t.
Emily: Mom? Nothing about this place has made me feel better except for what you just said. I feel almost healed for now.
Mrs. Dickinson: Well, I suppose for now is the best that we can do.
It’s all very histrionic, and out of character, and thankfully, someone finally said something.
No, it was not her best friend and former love Sue, but Lavinia and Mrs. Dickinson, something that would have been unimaginable on Dickinson Season 1.
Lavinia’s words of encouragement were less surprisingly, in part, due to the feminist and sexual awakening she’s been experiencing over the season in her relationship with Ship.
Nevertheless, we were all right there with Lavinia, wanting to slap some sense into Emily when she questioned whether life would be better, simpler if she were married with a baby by now.
Emily is a motherf*cking badass and, under normal circumstances, would never crave marriage and motherhood over her sense of self.
Like imaginary Sue said to Emily on Dickinson Season 2 Episode 6, “Beneath all of this nonsense about fame, what is it that you crave? You crave meaning. You crave beauty. You crave love.”
Even Mrs. Dickinson, who’s been trying to marry Emily off since the beginning, saw the distress her daughter was in and prioritized Emily’s needs over her own desires.
No one — not even some as influential as Samuel Bowles — should make Emily feel this way, so it was a true testament to just how far their mother-daughter relationship has come that Mrs. Dickinson vocalized this.
Lavinia: Tell me what’s going on.
Emily: Nothing, nothing is going on. No, nothing other than a man ruining my life.
Lavinia: Shut up.
Emily: Yeah, it sucks.
Lavinia: I thought you were above stuff like that.
Emily: What made you think that?
Lavinia: Come on. Emily, you’ve always been completely independent. You turned down marriage proposals and, I mean, that’s so brave.
Emily: You know, sometimes I wish I had said yes to those marriage proposals. Maybe if was married with a baby, life would be simpler.
Lavinia: That is the craziest shit I’ve ever heard you say. We need this water cure to heal you because your aura is negative right now, and I need you to be positive. I need you to be strong. Emily?
Lavinia: You’re my hero.
Yes, Mrs. Dickinson is still flighty and nonsensical, and hyperbolic
at times most of the time. Still, Dickinson Season 2 has done an excellent job of fleshing out the character, showing us there’s more to the Dickinson family’s matriarch than meets the eye.
The only one who oddly wasn’t in Emily’s corner was Sue.
From the start, it was evident that Sue wasn’t interested in any of Emily’s “drama,” going so far as to avoid alone time with the poet.
However, once Emily cornered Sue, all the societal influencer could muster was reassurances that Sam would publish Emily’s poem.
There was no sympathetic heart-to-heart or cursing out the editor of the Springfield Republican; no, all there was were empty words and condescendingly explaining Emily’s feelings to her.
Even Emily’s declaration that this was all Sue’s fault wasn’t enough to garner a reaction from Sue, who kept her face unnervingly neutral, not even breaking her composure after being blamed by her best friend.
And while Sue was technically right about Emily’s poem’s fate, she had no way of knowing that at the time, right?
Her constant affirmations read like someone trying to placate her friend and get her to change the topic, rather than some insight into the situation at hand.
Sue: Emily, this anxiety you’re experiencing, it’s natural. This is a big step for you and your career. You’re putting yourself out there, and it’s stirring up a lot of emotion. But that’s good. You of all people know what to do with emotion: Put it on the page. Write about it. Turn it into art.
Emily: But I don’t believe in myself anymore.
Sue: Wait, what?
Emily: I used to have this confidence, this power, but not anymore, not since I met him. And Sue, I hate to say this, but it’s your fault.
Sue: My fault?
Emily: Yes, because you pressured me into this. You introduced me to him. You started filling my head with all these ideas about fame. And as soon as I gave him my poem, I lost everything. The flow I used to have, it got cut off. I used to be inspired by everything. And then suddenly, the only thing that mattered to me was him – what he thought, how he felt. It’s like he invaded me. He’s all I can think about. I used to have a drive that came from somewhere else, and now it all comes from him.
This has been Sue’s tactic all season, trying to thrust Emily onto other people — namely Sam — and when that proved not to be going as planned, Sue doubled down, hoping for the best.
If she keeps this up, there’ll come a time when Sue pushes Emily too far away from her, and at that point, it’ll be impossible for them to find their way back to each other.
We haven’t reached that point yet, but we are getting close.
Some stray thoughts:
We may have our suspicions that Sue is cheating, but Austin can no longer claim the moral high ground after he and Jane shared a brief kiss. Yes, they stopped things before they went any further, but that kiss represents the bigger problem at hand: Neither Austin nor Sue is happy.
If it was just a quick peck or one-time thing, that could be forgiven, but that liplock has much larger implications than we may even know.
Speaking of problems, Austin needs to stop agreeing to adopt other people’s children without talking it over with Sue first. They may have their issues, but agreeing to raise someone’s child is a big commitment and at least warrants further discussion.
Does anyone else want to see more of Henry’s secret Black newspaper effort? We’ve only caught glimpses here and there, and while Henry isn’t a central character, a one-off Henry-centric episode wouldn’t hurt. It’d be great to see things from his and the others, like Hattie’s, perspectives.
I’m not sure what was weirder: Aunt Lavinia or 19th-century spas? Both were pretty crazy and downright weird at times. Aunt Lavinia has always been good for a few laughs. Still, nothing beats the physical comedy of Emily and Mrs. Dickinson trying to de-cacoon themselves and that weird screaming yoga. Totally bonkers.
So what did you think, Dickinson Fanatics?
Why does Emily continue to put herself through this?
Who’s reaction surprised you more: Lavinia or Mrs. Dickinson?
What’s going on with Sue?
Don’t forget to hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts on the latest episode.
Jessica Lerner is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.