The second season of period drama Jamestown is coming to America this November on PBS Passport, bringing with it more drama and romance amid the struggle to survive in the New World.
Season 2 begins streaming on Wednesday, November 21, and a new episode will drop weekly every Monday thereafter, through January 7, 2019.
We know that the new episodes will pick up where Season 1 left off, with the birth of Alice’s child imminent and the first slaves arriving in the colony.
Where we go from here is anyone’s guess, though we have a few suggestions for what we’d like to see as the new season unfolds.
Verity deserves a real story. Verity, one of the original trio of women whose journey to Jamestown kicked off the entire series, is one of the show’s most interesting characters. She isn’t as sweet as Alice or as self-interested as Jocelyn, but something else entirely, and her story is worthy of further exploration. Jamestown often struggled with Verity’s characterization in Season 1. Sure, she’s a sassy firebrand who stands up for herself and has survived a hard life. But that doesn’t mean that she has to basically court public flogging in every episode. Over the course of eight episodes she was suspected of being a witch, tried to run away, briefly became a thief who stole from everyone around town, and also incited a bar fight that ended up with someone dead. Through all of this, Verity’s characterization has been all over the place, and we don’t entirely understand why she does anything she does.
In Season 2, here’s hoping that Verity not only gets more consistent characterization, but an actual story for herself. All the pieces are there – out of every woman in Jamestown, she’s ended up in what is probably the most nontraditional position. She was brave enough to hide herself in men’s clothes and try to run away when she thought Jamestown couldn’t make her happy, but has instead decided to settle down and try to make the best of it with the town drunk. Why? What motivates her? There’s plenty of space for a story there.
Let our three female leads be real friends. The most fascinating scenes of Season 1 were always the ones that involved Jocelyn, Alice and Verity together. The three women are bound both by the gender and their shared experiences of trying to survive the man’s world of Jamestown together. The bond forged between them on their journey to the New World and their shared live in the colony is real, and worth exploring. All three women are incredibly different – with wildly divergent histories and lived experiences. Yet the sisterhood between them is nonetheless genuine, and Season 2 should focus more on this dynamic rather than less.
Let’s see our original trio become real friends. We’ve seen them step up to help one another repeatedly, despite the fact that the group may have gone weeks without speaking to each other in the meantime. What does that say about female bonds? How much stronger could their relationships grow if the show really put some effort into developing them? That’s the Jamestown I want to see.
What about the Native American tribes? While the local native tribes were a consistent feature of Season 1, they didn’t actually do much. Sure, Chacrow helped Silas look for his brother when everyone thought Henry was dead, and we got a couple of scenes were the settlers were either afraid of or actively attempting steal from (by continuously encroaching on their land). It was disappointing, to say the least, particularly given that the historical colony did depend quite a bit on their relationships with the local people. It was almost as if the show realized that there was no way they couldn’t have these characters present, but had no idea what to do with them otherwise.
Here’s hoping they figure this out in Season 2. The arrival of slaves in the colony is sure to be another major flashpoint among the settlers, but Jamestown shouldn’t forget that these colonists were actively exploiting other folks at the same time. Perhaps its time to see an actual storyline within the tribe itself? Surely there must be some tension and debate about how the natives should relate to and/or handle these people – Chacrow seems to sort of like some of the Jamestown folks, how does that impact his standing with his own people? This isn’t a show that’s going to give us a deep dive into the fraught relationships between the British and native peoples, but I’d at least like the show to try and give these characters identities of their own.
Can we meet some more women? The basic premise of Jamestown was set around the first women to arrive in the colony as what were essentially mail order brides. But now that this experiment has succeeded, for the most part anyway, it’s time to inject some more women into this show. Not that we don’t love Jocelyn, Verity and Alice, but adding more female characters allows us as viewers to see additional and different perspectives on the story of the colony, as well as on our original trio themselves.
Jamestown is at its best when it explores the intricate and fraught relationships between these women who are thrust into an unknown and often-unfriendly environment, as well as the compromises they all must make to survive. We’ve seen the stories of men as conquering colonizers dozens of times by now – it’s the female perspective on this tale that makes it so interesting. So give us more chances – and character lenses – through which to do so.
Figure out what to do with Henry. So, as a character, Henry is terrible. Like, legitimately terrible. He’s a rapist and still generally unapologetic about it, despite the fact that Jamestown’s attempted to rehabilitate him with several hamfisted plot twists that involve everything from rescuing a girl from a burning building to creating a union to guarantee that local farmers get fair prices.
All of that’s fine and good, of course, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that Henry’s a monster, that we’re being asked to not just tolerate, but like. How to fix this? I’m not sure. Perhaps Henry needs to spend the rest of his life groveling at Alice Sharrow’s feet; maybe he needs to build a mud hut and live outside the settlement’s walls forever. But what he does need to do is act like a person who realizes he’s done terrible things and try to atone for them in a real, present way. Since it looks as though he won’t just leave, which is what would be really best for the show.
What would you like to see in Season 2? Let’s discuss in the comments.