Another Year Of Lesbian Chaos Begins With Gentleman Jack Season 2

It's been far too long since we last saw the Suranne Jones swing her cane, tip her top hat, and stride into the frame as our beloved Anne Lister. After a three-year wait, "Gentleman Jack" has returned in all its messy glory to zero in on the captivating romance of Miss Lister and Ann Walker. Last we saw them, the pair finally reconciled atop a mountain and declared a commitment to one another, going to a church to take the sacrament (i.e. marry one another in secret). Our joy was hard-fought, after a season of slow-burn romance that also saw them weathering Miss Walker's mental health and Miss Lister's heartbreak. The finally coming together made it all worth the pain. At this point, the show's been gone for so long that all of that feels like the distant past. Their marriage and walking off into the sunset kinda felt like a finite happily ever after — but it's an absolute thrill that the story doesn't end there. You know what that means though? It's time to deal with the consequences of married life.

When we catch up with the couple in season 2, they're happily married, Ann seems a lot more settled and Anne is striding along seeming more confident than ever. But like any good honeymoon phase, it can only last so long. Get ready for bickering, fights, makeups, nosy relatives, and miscommunication. Perhaps take a gander at the Wikipedia page to get all your Ann(e)'s straight (there are four of them!), then let the messy lesbian drama begin!

The latest in love & labor

The will-they won't-they pining stage is over! They will! In fact, they did! Anne and Ann had their own secret wedding in last season's finale and now they're in this hybrid state of being on the down-low but also kinda public with their plan to spend their lives together. Anne's entire family knows and is endlessly supportive: Marian (Gemma Whelan), Aunt Anne (Gemma Jones), and Uncle Jeremy Lister (Timothy West) continue to be beacons of light, thrilled to see Anne happy and enjoying Miss Walker's company. They don't even mind the way Anne is obsessively renovating Shibden Hall in anticipation of Miss Walker moving in. (Her uncle briefly grumbles about the noise but lets it go since they're all getting new water closets out of this deal.) But not everyone can have a supportive family and unfortunately, Miss Walker's many relatives continue to be the absolute worst about everything. Luckily, she hasn't had to deal with them very much. Ann has been working on her recovery, in wake of last season's suicide attempt. Anne has been acting as a go-between, keeping the family updated but not sharing her specific whereabouts — lest they do what they do best and muck everything up. They certainly intend to, based on their reactions to Anne's visit and the news that their niece will be shacking up with the woman she is so obviously enamored by. 

Speaking of the married couple, they seem to be doing great! When they reunite, they stop, stare, make heart eyes at each other, and then share a candlelit dinner that's half-business and half-flirting. They still have some loose ends to tie: finalizing the move-in and altering their wills should be top of the list. But Ann is hesitant to write to her sister because she knows it has to go through Elizabeth's awful husband, Captain Sutherland, first. You'll remember Sutherland from great hits such as trying to entrap Ann in marriage to his gold-digging relative! It's not hard to see why Miss Walker isn't eager to reach out but Anne wants to know that she's committed and this is a crucial first step.

Anne's insistence on the will is partially fueled by matters of their relationship — Ann has a history of being indecisive about their relationship — but she also has a business incentive. Miss Lister has become reckless with her spending, perhaps because she's confident that she'll soon have Miss Walker's money to supplement her own. Financially speaking, Anne is in a tough spot — but more concerning is the way that isn't hindering her lofty ambitions. Continuing her quest to stop the Rawsons from stealing her coal, Anne is still sinking money into her own sinking coal pit, a complicated investment that she needed a loan to afford. (Side note: as a period drama lover, I've gotta be honest — I love when they talk about coal and other 19th-century stuff. I have very little idea what all this talk about sinking pits even means, but who cares!) 

Anne agrees to sell her Northgate property, which would go a long way in paying off the debts. She sets the sale at 95,00 pounds but Northgate is evaluated at around 6,500 so no takers step forward. Because Anne is annoyingly firm, she refuses to sell for any less even though she has already bid on a different estate and won. How will she pay for this? With a new business venture of course! Anne is gonna turn Northgate into a hotel, because those are in right now. Does Anne seem a little overconfident about all these business risks or is it just me? Once the wills and estates are drawn up, Miss Walker's fortune will supplement her own. But that's only if everything shakes out okay. What if Miss Walker doesn't approve of all these crazy investments? Or better yet, what if her relatives cook up some scheme to keep her money tied up? 

On that note, is it weird that we're rooting for Anne? I mean, she's a badass and a lesbian and we're all in love with her, but she is a bit of a gold digger. It's maybe okay because she's actually in love with Ann (even if she won't admit it), but the Walker family isn't entirely unjustified in their finger-pointing ... except for the fact that they just want the fortune to themselves and treat Ann terribly and are all around awful people. Y'know what, never mind. This is fine.

What comes after happily ever after?

Other things happen in this episode — a trip to Paris is planned, Marian has a bad cough that's probably not consumption, there's a hilarious footmen side plot, and Ann wants a pony. But let's focus on the relationship status of our messy couple, because despite gazing at each other with intense love, they still have lots to work through. Miss Lister is still unsure that she's actually in love with Ann. She's certainly fond of her and enjoys every moment spent with her, but she's also hung up on her married ex, Marianna Lawton (Lydia Leaonard). Meanwhile, Marianna isn't happy about Anne's relationship with Miss Walker. As she revealed last season, she always figured that she would be with Anne once her husband died and left her his fortune — but Anne can't simply wait around for a possible future when she could make a life with Ann Walker right now. The exes exchange a flurry of letters and this will most certainly be a major conflict in episodes to come.

As for Miss Lister and Miss Walker, they argue because Ann refuses to sort out the will situation and also doesn't want to rent out her family home, Crows Nest, despite her plans to move to Shibden. It makes Anne feel like everything is still unsettled because Ann won't fully commit. Both of them are visibly upset as she leaves but luckily, they don't let the bad feelings fester for very long — and honestly, how could anyone stay angry at Ann Walker? Especially after she surprises Anne by sending an asparagus and blackberry syrup care package with a sweet letter asking her to have faith in her. Who knew asparagus could be so romantic? She signs it "Yours Entirely, Ann Walker" and if that doesn't make your heart skip a beat then Anne Lister has you covered because not 20 minutes after telling us she isn't yet in love with Ann, she CLUTCHES HER CHEST AND SNIFFS THE LETTER. Then she orders her beloved a birthday gift. It's an ornamental seal with the motto "Faith is All" (but in french). Ann is overjoyed, they kiss in a carriage and all is well. Mostly. For about 30 seconds.

The same scene sees Anne offering a compromise to her previous plan for Crows Nest — to have the Washingtons move into the servants' quarters to keep it lived in and taken care of while Miss Walker gets comfortable at Shibden. Ann doesn't shut it down but wants more time to think on it, which prompts Miss Lister to share a knowing look with us. These two are a damn rollercoaster ride. Later in the episode, Miss Walker meets with her belligerent Aunt who berates her for being with Miss Lister. Ann is angry when she returns, and yells at Anne in front of a footman. This too passes pretty quickly because communication is key and she apologizes for lashing out, explains her feelings about writing to Sutherland, and agrees to get the will assorted out. You've heard Katy Perry's seminal classic "Hot N'Cold," yes? I'm starting to feel like the chorus is their theme song. "Cause you're hot then you're cold / You're yes then you're no / You're in then you're out / You're up then you're down / You're wrong when it's right / It's black and it's white /We fight, we break up / We kiss, we make up." They basically cycle through all of that in just the first episode so yeah, this season's gonna be jam-packed with drama.

Stray thoughts

  • A Promising Development. I know we hate when our couple fights and it stings to see the smile fall from Anne's face when Miss Walker yells, but I'll be honest, a small part of me was thrilled to see her so angry. It's a shame that it was directed at Anne rather than her aunt, but are we maybe inching in the right direction? Instead of turning inwards on herself, Ann decided someone else was at fault. It makes me confident that should her family continue to push her (and they will because they suck), she won't require Miss Lister to swoop in to save her — if she continues on this track, Ann Walker will surely become a force in her own right.
  • Keep This In Mind. Thomas Sowden (Tom Lewis) fed his father to hungry pigs last season! Ahem, murder is bad but ... it was pretty cool at the time. His father was an abusive jerk! Him not being around was a net positive for the show overall. But Thomas didn't exactly cover his tracks very well and the wrong people are starting to ask the right questions.
  • And They Were Roommates. Anne Lister is out here blowing people's 19th-century minds: Why, you ask, am I suddenly the only person in direct contact with Miss Walker? Why do we take dinner in private and sleep in connected bedrooms? Why is she moving into my home? "Because she likes me."
  • Best Dressed. Dammit. I initially feared Ann Walker would run away with this category every single week, but she has some stiff competition in the series premiere. Namely, Miss Lister who rolls up to their hillside painting date brilliantly dressed, eating an apple and wearing a straw hat. A! Straw! Hat! Big shoutout to Ann's reunion dress, the flowers in her hair, and the rose-tinted joy of it all, but I have to award the straw hat.
  • Forward Thinking! Building a hotel is such innovative thinking! JK, while I support Anne's desire to beat Hilton and Marriott to the punch, it's much more avant-garde of her to plan a life with her wife.
  • Do Ladies Do That? Discuss financial accounts while having sex with their wives? That's like the epitome of things women aren't allowed to do in 1834 but there they are, our lesbian icons, thinking for themselves and enjoying sex!
  • Of Wit And Wisdom. Anne Lister teaches us a very important lesson in this episode: talking about wills while going down on your wealthy wife is the best way to become her sole inheritor.
  • The Marian Lister Award For Fantastic Facial Expressions: Miss Walker's staff has to know, right? Anne and Ann wear their love so plainly on their face that they just have to know. Their reunion consists of a solid minute of just staring at one another with the largest smiles a single face can contain. Heart eyes! Lip biting! Immediately shut the door behind them! Yeah, there's no way they don't know.
  • Words From The Heart. "Have faith. I will not disappoint you. You know there's no one in the world I would rather be guided by than you. Come back quickly, for I get dull without you. And I want you in a thousand ways. Yours entirely, Ann Walker."
  • Questions For Next Time: It's only a matter of time before Ann comes face to face with Marianna, our dearest scorned lover. How exactly is she gonna respond to the realization that Anne has more of a romantic past than she let on? Will Anne tell her the truth or just get caught in the lie? Speaking of lies, where is she gonna fit a pony at Shibden Hall? Also, does blackberry syrup really cure coughs?!

New episodes of "Gentleman Jack" debut Sundays on HBO Max.