As The Woman In White continues, it leans into the real horror of its time period: Marriage.
Mr. Gilmore: You have to understand that on the face of it, Percival was a gentleman and a man of honor.
This week's episode picks back up with Mr. Nash's inquiry, starting with one Mr. Gilmore (Nicholas Jones), the man who brokered the marriage settlement. He seems a bit miffed, both at the questioning and at the marriage. As if the audience needed more reason to suspect our Tennyson-reciting fiancee of Laura.
Once back into the story, poor Walter comes rushing back to the house, only to run smack into Glyde, who puts the tutor in his place in a drippingly oily manner. Hartright's hope of getting anyone to listen to his encounter with Ann is dashed, since now he looks less like a credible source and more like a jealous fool. Marian doesn't want to hear it, since getting Laura out of the marriage contract is an impossibility anyway. All it does is get him fired.
Hartright leaves, but keeps turning back up like a bad penny, with obsessive letters, outbursts at people who might be (probably are) following him, and finally reappearing at the estate like a crazy man. Marian has to tell him to go away. When it doesn't work, Laura tells him to be off, by acting like this he's just making it worse. And that, for the time being, is the end of Mr. Hartright.
This leaves the story to descend into a "he said/she said" of Percival's word against Ann's. Absent Ann's testimony, Glyde smoothly explains how she was never right in the head, and he's just trying to do the right thing. Mr. Gilmore nods along, as a rich gentleman of this stature would never lie about such things. Marian is boxed into a corner of acceptance on the matter. After all, this is a time period where "Believe Women" was never chanted outside a courthouse. (Though one imagines Marian would be the first to lead such a thing, should the time come to it.)
At every point, Glyde makes all the right noises to smooth things over. He invites Marian to stay with Laura once they are married. He suggests Laura take time to sit and think about why the marriage would be a good fit. Marian can't shake her doubts though, and Laura, knowing men like Walter are available on the suitor's market, would rather not be married. She is, in fact, dumb enough to think telling Glyde this will somehow make the marriage go away, a notion even Marian is smart enough to suggest not to attempt.
Mr. Gilmore: You are cynical Marian
Marian: I am merely an observer of men.
Laura is too foolish to listen. But Glyde is not about to let something as silly as Laura's feelings stand in his way. He insists her confession proves she is the best wife he could ever imagine. Laura has not only made a fool of herself and given Percival something he can use against her down the line, but the marriage is still on. Laura is a bird watching all the windows to her escape close, one by one. Meanwhile, Marian finally hears back from Ann's mother, who writes to insist everything Glyde says is true. Marian seems disappointed, mostly since Laura would have liked any way out but down the aisle. Laura accepts her lot, packing away her drawing books as one would child's playthings, and announcing her new life as Percival's wife starts today.
This, of course, is when the money starts to become the loudest issue on the table. Mr. Nash's new interviewee Mr. Merriman (Tony Flynn) explains, while nervously fidgeting with his briefcase, the insistence of Laura's entire inheritance and the whole estate passing to Glyde ahead of the marriage, was merely a precaution in the highly unlikely event Glyde outlived his far younger and impressionable wife. Even Mr. Fairlie, who thus far has capitulated at every turn to Glyde less thinking somehow harm his health, considers balking for a second as if to suggest Glyde is tipping his hand too far. Mr. Gilmore, smelling a rat, starts questioning his support for the marriage. But once Glyde's attorney shows up, Fairlie signs Laura's life and fortune away like so many cows to market.
With the wedding now set for the 22 of September, Marian finally starts to rebel against this nonsense. But Laura has broken, having sent Hartright away, and lets it go. Why wait for the inevitable horror? She might as well just get it over with.
With the money secured, Glyde glides in with new ideas, starting with a three-month honeymoon in Italy. The idea of being alone with Glyde for 90 days seems to catch Laura unawares as if the reality of what marriage actually means hadn't quite crossed her mind. Marian assumes she gets to go too, which is when Glyde starts rolling back all those offers of keeping Laura's BBF around once the wedding is over. No, instead he's bringing along his BFF, Count Fosco (Riccardo Scamarcio), who turns up just in time to eat some wedding breakfast.
Marian: Men are the enemies of our innocence and peace. They drag us from our parent's love, our sister's friendships, they take us body and soul for themselves.
Have you ever seen the saddest of weddings? Well, here it is. Laura's eyes are full of terror, Marian's full of rage. Mr. Gilmore, who gives the bride away looks full of tender anger, while Glyde and Fosco quietly look her over like a purchase in the china shop "She's perfect," says Fosco. But is he talking about as a wife, or as a perfect match for plots to come?
The story jumps forward three months, to Laura's return to Percival's ancestral home, Blackwater, where Marian has moved in. Laura has changed, looking like an adult now, no longer a boundary-less wonder of words and deeds of her childhood. The gulf between her and Marian yawns deeper and deeper as there are so many things Laura wants to say, but no longer has the language to express them. Whatever they are, they apparently include refusing to drink the wine Percival orders her to try. Fosco, fresh from their travels, eyes Marian like a particularly delicious looking dish to taste. Glyde, on the other hand, apparently no longer feels the need to be charming, sneering at Laura she wouldn't know passion if it killed her and charms are lost on her. A happy marriage, indeed.
Back in our framework, Mr. Nash looks though Laura's post-marriage letters, crying out for help, begging to escape. As Mrs. Vesey admits, she never arrived.
Next week, the marriage goes further south.