Barchester Chronicles episode 4

Continuing my coverage of the 1982 BBC miniseries The Barchester Chronicles. . . .

From here on out, each episode will get its own blog post. Previously, the genteel world of Barchester clergymen was upset by the arrival of the Proudies and Slope. Now, their reign of terror worsens.

Things start off with Slope extending an offer to Harding to become the hospital warden again, which was hinted at in the previous episode.

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“Let’s make a deal!”

But Slope takes much assholish pride in emphasizing how the warden must work harder now than he ever has before and how the pensioners won’t be offered services in the cathedral like before and will also include old women–the horror!–and also how the salary for the position has been reduced. The entire monologue is a celebration of the glories of being a petty tyrant, but I especially love his fixation on the frequency of painting the building–he has a strict schedule for how frequently both the inside and outside of the warden’s living quarters must be repainted.

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“The job’s yours, but first you must sit through my passive-aggressive insults.”

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“You’re an asshole.”

Harding dislikes some of the changes and actually loses his cool and says this isn’t how things are conducted in Barchester. Slope takes some time to seriously consider this.

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Actually, that’s bullshit. He just takes some time to reflect sinisterly before he tears into the old man again.

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“You think you can outmaneuver me? If it weren’t so naive, it would be cute.”

Harding ups the ante by demanding to talk to the bishop, instead of Slope.

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Encountering unanticipated resistance.

Slope tells him the bishop will not meet with him about it because he doesn’t have time to deal with every disgruntled clergyman in the parish, and that, no, he is not allowed to disagree with the terms and still keep the job. If he can’t jump on the bandwagon, then they’ll find someone else.

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“Checkmate?”

Harding is flabbergasted that he is not allowed to converse freely with the bishop. Despite being a mild-mannered guy by nature, he actually refuses to yield and suggests it might be better if they do find someone else.

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Ms. Brocius commends Harding displaying an ounce of backbone.

Naturally, his stance puts an end to his interview with Slope.

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“Don’t have a nice day.”

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“I love fucking people over this early in the morning.”

Slope then reports to his superiors and, in the way he tells the story, Harding was ungrateful and difficult.

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“Bastard doesn’t deserve our offer.”

The bishop suggests it might help if he talks to Harding personally, but Slope rules that out instantly.

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“What did you suggest, peasant?”

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“We done with your shit now?”

Mrs. Proudie and Slope seem to have already come to a consensus on who was runner-up if Harding didn’t accept–someone named Mr. Quiverful, whose most distinguishing characteristic is his 14 children.

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“Let’s just hire the dude with all the kids.”

The bishop agrees, probably because he was castrated by his wife long ago.

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“I get more Machiavellian shit accomplished in a morning than most people do in a year.”

Next page: The search for a new warden continues.

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