Barchester Chronicles episode 4

Never one to be diverted from his quest, Slope tries to weasel the bishop into taking the warden job away from Mr. Q. and giving it back to Mr. Harding, claiming there was a misunderstanding.

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“So . . .  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this warden job.”

The bishop is weak, but he’s not a complete pushover.

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“I can’t do that!”

But Slope is nothing if not determined and crafty.

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“Do you really doubt this face?”

He finally hauls out the heavy artillery in this argument–conjuring up horrific scenarios of the damaging gossip it could lead to in the town because Harding is so popular. He also turns on his former ally, Mrs. Proudie, and says she can’t be in control.

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“Your wife can’t be the boss of you. Let me be the boss of you!”

Unfortunately for them, Mrs. Proudie overhears and is not amused. They’re both terrified of her, which leads to a wonderful scene of Slope jumping up and running to the other side of the desk when he sees her. I think it’s a misguided attempt at solidarity with the bishop but it also reinforces how weaselly and chicken-shit he is

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“Honey, we’re doing it our way.”

She is adamant that Mr. Q will get the job and brushes off all of their arguments, saying they can counter gossip with their own gossip.

Then she tears into Slope’s behavior with the ladies. This entire conversation has been wonderful, but watching Slope and Mrs. Proudie turn on each other is simply on a divine plane of its own.

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“Bring it, bitch.”

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“Challenge accepted.”

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“I can spin anything. Just try me.”

She starts by saying his behavior with the Signora is most inappropriate.

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“Who are we even arguing about now?”

He puts up a smugly self-righteous defense about how he’s just doing his job.

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“I visit lots of people. I’ll list them one-by-one.”

Slope is a first-class weasel, but even he trips up occasionally. He does so here by starting to list all of the other people he visits, and he only gets to Eleanor before Mrs. Proudie knows exactly what he’s been up to.

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“I’ll never again rely on a list to win an argument.”

She reminds him that he is out of line, has too much authority with the bishop, and should remember his place and not interfere.

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“You’ll pay for this.”

Nevertheless, after she’s gone, the bishop shows that he’s still Team Slope because he asks him to run interference and take the meeting with Grantly about Harding and the warden job. He does, though, make it clear the position is not up for debate.

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“I just know I’ll be sick tomorrow when Grantly shows up.”

Though his plans were thwarted, Slope is clearly perked up by this display of trust.

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“Thank God someone is still gullible enough to love me.”

He then delivers the next day when Grantly arrives and insists that he must see the bishop.

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“Take his note to you and leave, loser.”

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“I know he’s not sick. I will talk to him. One day.”

The encounter with Slope reminds Grantly that he really doesn’t want this son-of-a-bitch for a brother-in-law, so he invites Eleanor and Harding to spend a few days with his family. He makes the offer sound like it’s for their own mental health, but he admits to her dad that it’s also to get her away from Slope and his visits.

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“Come over to my place, so you don’t marry Slope, I mean, to spend time with your sister.”

She has to postpone because she has plans. Bertie has already invited her over, so she can hang out with him and his sister, The Signora. They spend a languid evening with Bertie drawing Eleanor.

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“Isn’t this exciting? Don’t you wanna do this for the rest of your life?”

Initially, this looks like a surprisingly dull affair, but Slope arrives to court the Signora, unaware that Eleanor would be visiting. Having two of his intended victims in the same room with each other is, understandably, distressing.

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“Why are you here?”

Just because he knows it will irritate Slope, Bertie suggests they go for a walk, which leaves out the Signora. Bertie strolls with Eleanor while Slope gets screwed with the other sister, who he doesn’t even try to pretend he gives a flying fuck about. Bertie spews a bunch of bullshit at Eleanor because he’s a twee artist, but he also warns her about Slope.

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“Slope is full of shit–and so am I. But at least I admit it.”

And thus ends the fourth episode. For me, each episode just gets better and better. If you like petty British Victorians scheming and trying to shit each other over, then this series is one of the best things you’ll ever watch.

MINI SUMMARY:

Best line: This was hard, but I finally settled on one. At Mr. Q’s, Slope is offered some sherry. His overbearing response?

“Truthfully, that depends if you have a brand that suits my palate, Mr. Quiverful.”

Best face–so many to choose from. But I finally decided on this gem, also from Slope’s interview with Mr. Q:

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“It’s so hard being this awesome every day. The struggle is real.”

Next time: “Episode 5”

 

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