This episode wasn’t as spectacular as the previous two, however I think that’s a good thing.
The first two episodes were extremely intense and overly plot filled, now that we are most likely reaching the halfway point of the season, the writers’ seem to be plateauing. While this episode was plot filled as well, what makes it stand out is that they all revolved around two themes–truth and blackmail. Jim discovers the truth about his current situation and blackmails McNaughton, Matron and Joan discover who the father of Maggie’s baby is and blackmail him into indirectly reopening Stanton House, and Eva blackmails Patrick and subsequently Joan into helping her get what she wants. Although blackmail has been a theme that has been explored in previous episodes, more so last season, this is the first episode where it has been fully used by the majority of the characters. It gave the episode a dark quality and made the characters quite unlikeable despite the good intentions behind their actions, which is something I found enjoyable.
I personally enjoyed Matron and Joan finally working together and possibly establishing a friendship. Despite constantly locking horns throughout the series, they obviously both believe in supporting the girls, just in different ways. I also enjoyed seeing Matron put her manipulative tendencies to good use and I’m happy that Stanton House has reopened, although I personally felt that the reopening was always going to happen. I loved Matron towards the end of the episode, she’s badarse and SHE’S BACK! She’s better suited to being Matron than a board member (although whether she’s given up her board member status hasn’t been established). Meanwhile I’m loving the slow progression of Shirley as Maggie’s mother, especially her mama bear tendencies coming out in this episode. I also loved the scene between her and Annie, ultimately providing a character analysis of Matron from both sides of the spectrum–being saved by Matron and being betrayed by Matron respectively.
My favourite subplot of the episode was the relationship progression between Bowditch and Martha. Bowditch being the one to ultimately stand up for Martha and make a fool out of himself rather than the other way around is cliche, but since it was so sweet and funny, I’ll give it a pass. However I loved how it naturally lead to them taking it to the next level and Martha proposing to him. Due to the era they’re living in, they’ll be facing a lot of bumps down the road, however I’m looking forward to seeing them get married. I also loved Patricia’s subtle questions and references to Martha’s mother. It’s good to know that Martha and her mother have developed their relationship, however it would be nice to actually see it, maybe at the wedding.
Meanwhile Patricia seemed to appear more in the background, however due to the subtle references of her crush on Jim and the previews to next week’s episode showing her acting on these feelings, makes me believe that she’s in the background of this episode, because she’ll be centre stage over at least the next one or two. I’m interested to see where this goes, purely because I don’t see Jim and Patricia as a good fit. I think Patricia’s lonely (and too young for him) and as for Jim, he sees Patricia as an “easier version of Joan”–same looks, same kindness, not as much drama.
Speaking of background, interestingly Viv only appeared briefly in two scenes, I’m hoping her role’s not being diminished. Similarly Annie also appeared in just two scenes, with Chris not appearing at all, however I don’t mind that so much considering that they were centre stage for the second half of last season. I’m actually more interested in finding out what Annie’s future holds now that her boss knows that she’s pregnant.
I personally didn’t enjoy Eva’s reappearance, she’s become more unlikeable and her reappearance didn’t serve any purpose other than as a pawn for the Stanton House subplot and Jim discovering the truth behind his current situation. I hope I don’t have to see her again.
Overall, I did enjoy the episode however it did feel like a bit of a filler.