'Jamestown' Recap: Season 2, Episode 4

James Read in his fancy new doublet (Photo: Carnival Films Ltd 2018)
James Read in his fancy new doublet (Photo: Carnival Films Ltd 2018)

Previously on Jamestown: The Sharrow baby goes missing, which throws the whole settlement into turmoil, as everyone from the slaves to the local natives to Alice herself is suspected. The twist turns out to be that the Pamunkey did take the baby – without Chacrow’s knowledge of course – in attempt to use the child as leverage against Governor Yeardley’s constantly expanding land grabs. Chacrow secretly returns the child, and promises to broker a new peace by forcing Henry to take a native bride of his own. Elsewhere, Jocelyn continues to pretend as though she doesn’t have a thing for the town blacksmith, for some reason. (Need more details? Our full recap is this way.)

ReminderJamestown is a WETA Passport-exclusive series, meaning that in order to watch it, you’ll need to be a WETA 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.) 

By its fourth episode, Jamestown Season 2 appears to have fully hit its stride, getting back to the basics that make this show so enjoyable. Not only do the women all have new storylines in the works, the bulk of the episode revolves around relationships, making it deliciously soapy in every direction. There’s tragedy, forbidden romance, blackmail, at least one new forced marriage, and two guys fighting each other in a field with garden hoes. You can’t ask for much more from this show.

The arrival of a new ship in port means that some more Jamestown men are supposed to become husbands, as it has another shipment of marriageable women on board. One of them is blacksmith James Read, who’s actually adorably excited to promise himself for life to someone he’s never met before. Her name is Carina, and James is all sorts of nervous about her arrival, or at least he is until Verity and Meredith step in to give him romantic advice and help him spruce up his appearance, complete with a shave, a washcloth and a brand new fancy red doublet from the secret stash of stolen goods.

It’s a bit odd that Verity and Meredith are used here as an example of Jamestown marital bliss, but I guess they’re the best the town has to offer considering that Alice’s intended raped her before she married his brother, and Jocelyn’s husband was murdered. Yay, Rutter household! Alas, it turns out that James’ intended died on the crossing from England, a mere day from shore. The blacksmith is brokenhearted over her loss, as he’d kind of fallen in love with the idea of having a teammate as much as anything else, someone who was, I suppose, required, to love – or at least like him – even once knowing all his flaws.

(Sidebar: theoretically, James’ new wife couldn’t have been the only maid bound for marriage on the ship. In fact, we see the backs of several ladies’ heads. Who are they? Where are they? Did they get forced to marry characters we haven’t met yet? What is happening?)

Jocelyn, already struggling with Yeradley’s insistence that she spy on her pseudo-boyfriend Dr. Christopher, decides to comfort James Read in his grief by…sleeping with him in a barn? On the face of things, Joss’ fascination with the blacksmith is understandable – in stories like this women always want men they can’t have – but given that she was equally just as into Christopher last season, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when her feelings changed. Or if they even did, because what she seems to feel now is a lot of regret. After telling Read that he has to promise not to love her, she panics that someone will realize that they two spent the night together. (Since James Read, champion romantic, left her asleep in the barn by herself and the magistrate saw her there.) Apparently even though they’re in Jamestown, where everyone struggles, class hierarches have to be maintained and a common blacksmith is beneath Jocelyn’s dignity. Christopher, for his part, kisses Joss and says he wants to marry her, but then cries over how guilty he feels because he can now have his best friends wife, only because said best friend is dead. Really, girl, you can just be a widow for a while.

Jocelyn making poor choices. (Photo: Carnival Films Ltd 2018)
Jocelyn making poor choices. (Photo: Carnival Films Ltd 2018)

Marriage is apparently in the air this week, as Henry Sharrow ties the knot with Pamunkey woman Winganuske. Or maybe he does. They have a native ceremony, but I’m not sure how binding that is in Jamestown, particularly given Temperance Yeardley’s sudden insistence that what they should be really doing is saving the Pamunkeys’ souls. As for the woman herself, she seems remarkably fine with marrying into a camp of people who distrust and dislike her, encouraging Henry to bed her and insisting that as “senior wife” she gets to boss Alice around.

Instead, it’s Henry who seems to have trouble with his new native “family” connection, as he gets so annoyed by Chacrow and his friends laughing at him that he…agrees to spy on and manipulate his wife’s family for Governor Yeardley? Y’all. They gave him a dumb nickname, which hardly seems that problematic, especially when they literally nursed him back to health like a year ago? Ugh, Henry is the worst.

Luckily, I’m not the only one that thinks so, as Silas rats out his brother and Governor Yeardley’s plan to load down the native tribe with loans and then…have them owe them money? This plan isn’t entirely of the sense-making variety to me, as it rides a lot on the idea that a group of people the settlers have been repeatedly terrible toward having enough honor to want to pay a debt they owe to them. But, I suppose if you view it as an excuse to attack them at the first opportunity it works? Anyway, joke’s on Yeardley because after Silas gives Chacrow a heads up, the natives turn around and offer up their own gift of labor to make everything between the groups square. Henry responds in his typical mature fashion when Silas confesses what he did, and the two men engage in a crazy fistfight among their tobacco crop. This show is just the best sometimes. 

However, I have to wonder when Jamestown is going to realize that Henry is honestly awful. There’s no way they can expect that his completely out of proportion reaction to a dumb nickname was justifiable, or that his behavior is something the audience can be brought round to root for. Certainly, yes, it’s clear he is a deeply broken, damaged person – but the problem is he isn’t a sympathetic one, and thus far he’s displayed no real willingness to change or grow in anyway. Look at the difference between Henry and James Read – who has done all of those things, and now has become someone we can feel good about wishing happiness upon. Henry, not so much. (The show never really dealt with the fact that he’s a rapist back in Season 1 and things have only gone downhill from there. Just kill him off and free us all, I say.)

What did you think of this episode of Jamestown? Let’s discuss in the comments