We then learn that the bishop and his wife are planning a rad party for everyone, and of course, Slope is the party-planner. I must confess, I am kind of inspired by how competent Slope is at this. He’s been onscreen for probably thirty minutes and is clearly an off-putting personality, but the dude knows how to get shit done. I salute him.
Grantly hates Slope and Mrs. Proudie so much that he is going to ditch the party, until he realizes that the Malingerer has been recalled from Italy and will be attending.
At the party, we finally get to meet the Malingerer.
One of the things I like about Trollope’s work, which this series also brings to life, is that the issues aren’t black and white. Yes, Slope is a first-class ass, but the Malingerer makes it clear to Grantly that he was shirking his responsibilities and getting paid handsomely, which they both agree is what they should be doing. So, yeah, this guy deserved to be called out and lose his cushy position.
His family is also a shitstorm of dysfunction, with his annoying son and his daughter–played to perfection by Susan Hampshire–who goes by the title of “Signora” after she managed to marry a disappeared Italian and who is now no longer able to walk after a fall. Her mother, though, makes it clear that they’re all a pack of liars.
Hijinks ensue as the Signora is placed in the reserved sofa and wants the chair moved. Slope starts to help and is ridiculed by her brother.
Slope is not amused.
Mrs. Proudie is not amused either when they tear up her dress in the process. She hates not just the Malingerer but also his spawn.
Slope may hate the Malingerer’s son, but he knows a meal ticket when he sees it. He puts the moves on the Signora in a creepily awesome bid at seduction.
Mrs. Proudie discovers this perceived treachery–because the Malingerer’s family is now Public Enemy #1 in her eyes–and is not letting any of this shit stand. The once inseparable Slope/Mrs. Proudie tag team is torn asunder when he obviously does not appreciate her interference.
Slope calls her out, claiming the Signora needs “spiritual support,” but Mrs. Proudie isn’t having any of this shit. He can either ride or die, in her eyes.
The smackdown with Mrs. Proudie, in my mind, is just further proof what a great actor Rickman was. I’ve had this happen before with other slimy/evil/distasteful Rickman characters, but damn if I didn’t feel bad for Slope when Mrs. Proudie jumped his shit about this. I really shouldn’t because I know he was totally just trying to ingratiate himself with someone who he thinks can help him climb the ladder, but I felt a sliver of sympathy for him when Rickman brings the puppy eyes and whines that the Signora is disabled and needs “spiritual support.” Even though Slope is an undisputed pain in the ass, there’s still a sort of vulnerable poignancy to him in those few seconds.
Of course, we don’t want to give too much credit because he then promptly follows Mrs. Proudie to another part of the room like a well-trained lap dog.
I’m going to save my complete summary of this series for the very end of the miniseries, but I’m still going to keep a running tally of best Rickman lines and faces for each episode.
Favorite line: “Would you mind not sitting on that sofa, bishop?”
Next time: “Episode 4”