Previously on Jamestown: Jocelyn’s husband Samuel is found dead in the river, leaving her a widow with few prospects, though she manages to blackmail her way back into her government sponsored housing. Alice gives birth to the colony’s first child, a boy she dubs Silas in honor of his father. And slaves are now a regular part of the fabric of life in Jamestown, including Pedro, who wants to earn his freedom in the New World, and Maria, who wants nothing more than to go back to her old life across the sea. Need more details? Our recap of the Season 2 premiere is this way.
Reminder: Jamestown is a Passport-exclusive series, meaning that in order to watch it, you’ll need to be a Passport member (If you have Amazon Prime, you’ll also be able to watch the series week-by-week over on the PBS Masterpiece channel.)
This second episode of Jamestown, strangely enough, feels more like a table-setting installment than the premiere did. Possibly this is because both episodes aired back-to-back when the season premiered in the U.K., but also because there’s just a lot going more going on in Season 2. Either way, while it feels as though nothing much happens in this episode, one has to assume that a lot of things are being set up for payoff down the road.
Most interestingly, this episode hands the spotlight to Verity and her husband, giving us many insights into both Verity herself and the Rutters’ marriage. Of the three women who arrived in Jamestown last season, Verity has potentially the most complicated background. Sure, Jocelyn killed a guy that one time, but Verity has been through the proverbial ringer and back, growing up in poverty, enduring regular abuse from her father, watching him beat her mother to death and losing a child along the way. She’s also had the storyline that’s the most all over the place – we’ve seen her doing everything from selflessly supporting her friends, running her husband’s business, causing bar fights between random patrons, and openly robbing her neighbors. Now, apparently, Verity most wants to have another child, which makes sense given her obviously caring nature. (Despite her smart mouth and outspoken demeanor, Verity seems to love mothering literally anyone she comes across.)
Instead, Meredith decides it’s time for them both to become semi-professional thieves. I have no idea, y’all. Men, I guess. Apparently Rutter, annoyed with Verity’s constant complaints that he hasn’t gotten her pregnant yet, thinks that the real way to prove his manhood to his wife is by helping some rough-looking mariner types steal goods from the Virginia Company’s ships and sell them under the table in town. This is a terrible idea for a bunch of reasons, the first of which being that Meredith spends a bunch of his time literally falling down drunk, so he isn’t the most reliable of middle men. The second is that the Virginia Company not only owns all these goods but has a monopoly on selling them in town, so the Rutters are committing serious crimes twice over.
To be fair, it really wouldn’t hurt Jamestown to spend a little bit more time on the Rutters’ relationship in general. They pair seem to genuinely care for one another – until one starts treating the other like dirt for what often seems like no reason. How have they adjusted to their lives together? What are their shared goals? How does Verity really feel about being married to the town drunk who literally passes out naked in the street? Does Meredith even want to live his life any differently? We don’t know, because Jamestown hasn’t really bothered to look closely either of their perspectives.
Since this little business venture ends up with the Rutters losing money and Verity getting attacked by the men they’re trying to work with, it doesn’t go so well. But, at least Verity gets rescued by the Sharrow brothers, happening by just in time from one of their apparently endless trips to trade with the Native Americans. And since Verity knows the hidden location of the last crateful of stolen goods maybe not all hope is lost. Except…she can’t exactly go fetch them, given that the surviving thieving mariner is punished in the town square by being forced to drink molten lead, which seems a particularly grisly retaliation for this particular crime. Yikes.
Everyone seems vaguely horrified by this – as they should be, tbh – particularly James Read, who really seems to be fretting under the yoke of having to be Jamestown’s muscle all the time. Seriously, he gets stuck doing all the terrible jobs, from chaining slaves to trees to prevent their escape to melting the lead used to murder men accused of crimes. . (And does anyone in this town besides Gov. Yeardley have horses? Like, who does he work for the rest of the time?) It doesn’t sound like an awesome job and clearly is the sort of thing that wears on a man’s soul.
Which is, maybe, the reason he decides to make out with the newly widowed Jocelyn? Basically pick your own reason here, is what I’m saying, because Jamestown doesn’t do much in the way of giving us one.
Jocelyn and Read have…exchanged words occasionally, I think, but in Season 1, he was completely besotted by and, frankly, honestly obsessed with Alice Sharrow. How his affections have shifted so swiftly is anyone’s guess. Given the events of this episode, it appears as though he’s impressed by Jocelyn’s smarts and gumption after she cleverly engineers a strategy to force evil plantation overlord Massinger to sell his new slave Pedro to Governor Yeardley. (It involves public shaming, definitely makes Massinger an enemy of them both forever and risks the death of Pedro in the process, but I guess since it worked out in the end it’s all fine?) What Jocelyn sees in Read is…slightly more questionable, as while he is objectively attractive he also looks like a human grease pit 24/7 and that seems very much not the thing for the demonstrably posh Widow Castell. But, he’s more interesting that the drippy doctor she made out with last season, so we’ll see where it all goes, I suppose.
Elsewhere, it’s Alice who gets stuck with the short end of the narrative stick this week, reduced to stressing about whether her husband is betraying the settlement by passing information to his native bestie Chacrow and experiencing what appears to be some fairly serious post-partum depression. Of course, no one in Jamestown has any idea what post-partum is, so we’re forced to watch Alice wander slowly around town carrying a constantly wailing baby and looking miserable. And since her husband is busy trying to convince the native population he actually doesn’t want to spy for them but also that they should still trade with him because reasons, Silas isn’t around much to help out.
All in all, we’re left with a lot of questions. How will Silas handle his newly rocky relationship with Chacrow? Will the Rutters attempt to recover the stolen goods? Who murdered Samuel? Is anyone going to notice how much Alice is struggling? And is Jocelyn really into James? Let’s discuss in the comments.