Previously on Jamestown: A weird episode sees Nicholas Farlow return from Bermuda with a fey new acquaintance named Simeon, who claims to be an alchemist and bears a more than passing romantic interest in his friend. In the end, though Simeon cannot make gold, he claims to have changed his gender, but Farlow chooses his love of the law over sexual attraction and sends his new friend away. Elsewhere, Jocelyn chooses herself, telling both Dr. Christopher and James Read that she can be with neither of them, even though none of us are terribly clear on how she has enough money to live on as a widow with no property. Need more details? Our full recap of Episode 5 is right this way.
Reminder: Jamestown 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.)
The sixth installment of Jamestown’s second season follows a familiar pattern, once again embracing the show’s ridiculous spirit and telling several truly unbelievable tales. But, since they’re focused on characters we care about, they’re a lot more fun to watch than Episode 5’s unwanted and unasked for sojourn into Farlowe’s psyche. This installment has everything from impending rebellion to government deception, all mixed in with the threat of a Spanish invasion, wandering ghosts and a mysterious eclipse that riles everyone’s superstitious natures. Someone even goes randomly blind out of nowhere! Why can’t every installment of Jamestown be like this??
Things pick up literally right where the previous episode left off, as the Sharrow men and a mob of dudes we’ve never seen before head toward the settlement in a rage. They’re infuriated by the realization that Governor Yeardley seems to have conveniently made their tobacco shipment disappear at the hands of privateers, while his own crop safely made it to market in England. Yeardley’s decision to diffuse the situation by virtually making up a Spanish army heading to Jamestown to kill everyone is a wild move, but mostly works since the colony gets distracted by the fact that they have to stockpile food and supplies for an impending siege. Only his wife Temperance manages to figure it out – yet again, the women on this show are really the ones who should be running everything – and he becomes physically violent with her when confronted.
Remember when we all thought that Yeardley wasn’t a trash person???
Despite everything else going on, Jamestown decides right now is the best time to flex its horror chops, devoting half this installment to a weirdo plot wherein Jocelyn and most of the settlement believe they’re being haunted by Samuel Castell’s ghost. Given that these are people trying to survive day to day in a strange, inhospitable and often dangerous land, it’s probably not surprising that they all believe in the supernatural, but poor Samuel is really getting dragged over the coals in the afterlife this year. First being suspected of being a Catholic spy for Spain and now this!
Alice insists that the eclipse they all witnessed is a sign some evil spirit means them harm, and for a bit it seems like she could be right when bizarre things – maggots, unidentifiable apparitions – start appearing to folks throughout the settlement. A tornado strikes the colony out of nowhere, and random objects start flying around Jocelyn’s house in the night. It’s wild, and all the more so when Jamestown leans into the creep factor, pouring on the sketchy sound effects and scary lighting cues.
Suddenly, everyone’s a an expert on the supernatural – Alice and Jocelyn drive spikes into Samuel’s grave as a method of containing his spirit, while slave girl Maria creeps about doing what appear to be voodoo rituals in the dark. Even Chacrow pops up to tell people about unsettled spirits and unfinished business. The fact that the settlers finally decide to deal with the problem by digging up Samuel’s body and forcing people to lay hands on it to see if the body starts to spontaneously bleed. (This is a process called cruentation and it was a real method of seeking proof in the Middle Ages. I’m not sure that seventeenth century Englishmen would still be into it but this show is hardly the most factual thing on television. That Joss somehow manipulates the process to get Massinger to confess to Samuel’s murder is hardly the most unbelievable thing that’s ever happened, particularly when he manages to get hung and somehow not die five minutes later, only to rise up again like something out of Scream.
Honestly, the only truly shocking bit about all of this is that it’s ultimately Verity Rutter who kills him. The most strangely interesting beat in an episode that maybe has ghosts in it is Verity’s insistence that she be allowed to fight the presumably invading Spanish like a man. Now, I’m not sure why anyone on this show would try to insist that Verity couldn’t take care of herself if given a weapon and properly instructed on how to use it, as we’ve all seen that she’s brave, capable and the farthest thing possible from a shrinking violet.
Surely, she’d be a better bet as a warrior than her husband, who is a coward and can barely stay sober for a couple of hours every day. Yet, everyone looks down on her for her desires – except James Read, who is now, I guess, the colony’s Perfect Man. Despite the fact that he holds a job which would almost demand he be a sexist jerk, he instead helps Verity craft her own sword in his smith, and educates her about how to use it. Jamestown has had such difficult to figuring out what to do with this character over its two seasons – despite the fact that she’s one of the most spirited and intriguing women on the show – that we can only hope this is a sign of better things to come for her.
What did you think of this episode of Jamestown? Let’s discuss in the comments.