Gentleman Jack Rekindles An Old Flame In 'Tripe All Over The Place, Presumably'

Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) has always been a chaotic force of nature, but in the second season of "Gentleman Jack," it almost feels like she's going out of her way to be as reckless as possible where both love and business are concerned. You would think that starting her life with Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle) would promise some stability but Miss Lister has quite a talent for making the ground beneath her shaky. Every episode brings about some new business venture or investment, and while all this talk of coal, canals, and railways isn't the easiest to follow, all the concern and raised voices translate pretty clearly. As for her marriage? In isolated moments, all seems well with Miss Walker and Miss Lister, who routinely melt hearts with their tenderness. But outside of their sweet bedroom chats, they've got more than a few storms to weather.

SPOILERS for season 2 episode 3 of "Gentleman Jack" are below.

Going off the rails

"Tripe All Over The Place, Presumably" sets a few potential disasters in motion. But before things get bad, they actually go pretty damn well. Turns out Anne wasn't kidding about her grand scheme to visit all the Walker relatives and change the narrative surrounding her and Ann — two gal pals who are definitely just roommates and nothing more! They make a whopping 13 house calls in a day and oddly, watching them finish each other's sentences as they tell stories about their trek through the Alps seems to convince the cousins that their friendship is perfectly platonic. At the very least, everyone seems reasonably charmed and happy to see Ann in such good health. They boast about how well she's doing but really, the results speak for themselves. It's ridiculously sweet to watch her talk so animatedly and pause for Anne's interjections — they're delightfully in sync. Unfortunately, that seems to fade a bit when they jump into the carriage between visits. Anne is so distracted that she misses Ann's cute wave. What a fiend.

Here's one of the things on Anne's mind: after buying into the hotel business earlier in the season, she now has an interest in railways. With a new line opening in Yorkshire, the folks of Halifax are getting nervous about their canal shares — Anne included. But could the railway present a new lucrative venture? Marian (Gemma Whelan) doesn't think so. She heard tell of a cow that saw a train pass and in response ... it exploded. The other Listers are varying degrees of mildly perturbed and very amused, but everyone agrees that Marian is probably being pranked. Personally, I hope this insane story is true and that an exploding cow epidemic becomes a major plot point going forward. (Sad for cows, but good for entertainment.)

Anne brings up the railway situation and its potential while chatting with one of the elder Walker men, who says "what we need is a man of vision and energy who can unite us all in one achievable plan ... but where is he?" You can basically see the gears turning in her head and folks, it sounds like Anne is on the verge of bursting into a room full of men, putting them all in their place, and becoming the newest business leader in town. Sure enough, she sets off visiting offices, terrifying locals with her fast walk, and even takes a train ride with Ann, to scope things out up close.

Trouble just around the bend

Mr. Ingham of Blake Hall gets another mention in this episode, lest you forget his name or where he's from. While the wives were out on their visiting tour, he made a house call of his own. While this is barely a blip on Ann's radar, it piques some jealousy and curiosity in Anne — pretty ironic given she spends half the episode zoning out to think about her ex. Mr. Ingham is our hint that the Priestlys won't just let things be. It might even be a point of real concern, if not for Ann's very telling response. This isn't the first time her family has literally thrown a man in her path to bully her into marriage (ah, ye olde conversion therapy). Last time, Ann actually considered it, terrified that she has no other option. But maybe all that time in the mountain air has cleared her head because now she barely registers him.

Beyond the healing of travel, there's the influence of Miss Lister, who's been pushing her to see her strength and self-worth. Ann may get nervous and hesitant, but she isn't the same timid young woman we once met. She speaks up for herself and won't be so easily bullied into a lifestyle she doesn't want. She even stands up to Miss Lister in this episode, pointing out that she felt ignored in the carriage. Where she might have quietly internalized things in the past, Ann is taking major steps forward.

As for the ballad of Thomas Sowden (Tom Lewis), s**t has gotten dark. The ever irritating Uncle Ben has up and left, without a word to anyone. Does that seem unusual? Or maybe a little familiar? Yup, sounds like Thomas has committed his second murder. His mother immediately puts two and two together and when she threatens to turn him into Suzannah, he does a startling impression of his abusive father. Huh. On one hand, this whole Thomas personality swerve feels a little out of left field, but it does create some extremely compelling tension. Perhaps there's a world where timid Thomas murders his abusive father and then lives happily ever after without a second thought, but this reality is so much more loaded. That first murder, which was more reactive than premeditated, has unlocked darkness in Thomas. The softness we once saw in him has entirely disappeared — except with his wife who still speaks pretty highly of him (though we rarely see them together onscreen). How much longer will that last?

Too much temptation

Mariana Lawton (Lydia Leonard) is plagued by a broken heart and it's hard not to feel for her. While it's unfair of her to presume that Anne could spend forever waiting, or continue being her mistress, Mariana's pain is very understandable. As Tib pointed out last week, she didn't have the same options as Anne — Mariana had to marry to secure a future for herself. Being with Anne was a gamble she wasn't willing to take. But then, doesn't Anne deserve someone happy to take such a risk?

The duo continues their trend of exchanging furious, emotional letters, and eventually, it becomes too much for pages to contain. Mariana requests a visit and Anne obliges — after asking Miss Walker's permission. When the time for her departure comes, Ann looks absolutely miserable, despite agreeing to this, and simply requests that she "come back." Heartbreaking as this may feel, it may be for the best. Mariana has been simmering beneath the surface of their relationship for far too long. Anne keeps brushing it off and tells her concerned Aunt Anne, "I don't think I've ever been in less danger as far as Marians's concerned." She's so full of anger at Mariana, that she can almost deceive herself into thinking that all her feelings for her have been flushed out ... but that's a blatant lie. 

The moment they reunite, the energy of the show seems to shift. Though we've only seen small moments, these two have a history and a love so deep that they've both been drastically wounded. For Miss Walker and Miss Lister to truly begin a future together, Anne will have to deal with her past. Painfully, the episode ends — just as they start to dig into things — with Mariana declaring that the worst part of this isn't Anne getting married, but marrying someone she's not even in love with. Her response? Anne doesn't argue. Yikes.

Stray thoughts

  • Pull It Together, Mr. Washington! Mister Police, I gave you all the clues. Seriously. He caught Thomas in a lie, knows that he tied his father up in a pig pen and now a second abusive family member has gone missing. There's no reason he shouldn't have solved this already!

  • Keep This In Mind. Ann makes plans with Miss Lister to hire a new lawyer to hash out her estate business. She's afraid that Washington is too close with Sutherland and won't truly help her when it matters. We also learn about the lengths Sutherland went to, in making sure the fortune was inherited by his wife and sister-in-law — which included paying off John's widow. He really wants their money, and wouldn't hesitate to throw Ann under the bus. Since his claim isn't as good as Ann's this wouldn't be so bad if not for that other dangling story thread: Washington's daughter witnessed Ann and Anne kissing. If she shares this aloud, Washington finds out and really does side with Sutherland...

  • And They Were Roommates. That entire conversation with Mrs. Rawson is gold. "Could two unmarried ladies do better?"

  • Best Dressed. It's a group prize! There are no grand astonishing gowns, but a shout-out is owed to all the elegant comfy clothes woven into this show. Mariana's relationship-mourning red gown, Ann in her pleated dress and shawl, plus the comfy bedtime clothes that the wives wear by the candlelight.

  • Do Ladies Do That? An oldie but a goodie: "Miss Lister dissected a baby once, in Paris."

  • The Marian Lister Award For Fantastic Facial Expressions. The face that poor Edward Vicar makes when he learns about the dissected baby is rivaled only by the many expressions that pass over Marian's face while describing the railway cow explosion. A carriage with no horses pulling it?! Traveling past at such abominable speed?!

  • Of Wit And Wisdom. Aunt Anne never fails to offer necessary wisdom: "Don't make a fool of Miss Walker. She thinks the world of you."

  • Words From The Heart. This one hurts. "There are so many times she could've just ... had me. Forever."

  • Questions For Next Time: Was letting Anne visit Mariana a mistake? Should we be concerned about Ann's drinking? What exactly do you do when you realize that your daughter's new husband is a murderer? Will we ever meet Mr. Ingham of Blake Hall or will everyone just keep repeating his name until the end of time? And how well will Ms. Walker get along with the Listers when left alone? (Fingers crossed for some Marian and Ann bonding!)

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