Olivia Cooke was at her very best in Vanity Fair Episode 4, as the menfolk prepared for war with Napoleon while the ladies went to battle with each other.
It was only a matter of time before Becky Sharp’s (Olivia Cooke) charm got her in trouble, but she probably wasn’t expecting it to piss off her best friend Amelia Sedley (Claudia Jessie) in quite the way it did in Vanity Fair Episode 4. That’s what you get, though, when you play games with someone else’s husband, even if it is the desperately deplorable George Osborne (Charlie Rowe).
George is, to use the technical term, absolutely shitting himself, thanks both to the impending battle with Napoleon’s forces and the fact that his grand romantic gesture last week has left him with naught but two grand to his name. For him, that’s a pittance, and the idea floated by his faithful buddy Dobbin (Johnny Flynn) to maybe for once just live on his wages was met with incredulous derision. How, without means, is good old George to maintain his station?
Turns out its prostrating himself at the feet of any well-to-do lady in the general vicinity, which causes Amelia no small amount of embarrassment and disgust, especially when he turns his attentions to Becky now that he can see how much military men – and, let’s be frank, men in general – like the look of her. And Becky, being Becky, plays right along, in part because she can’t help it, and also because she’s setting up a line of men with deep pockets to be swindled by her card shark husband, Rawdon (Tom Bateman.)
Amelia can’t see it. She’s so inexplicably smitten by George that she thinks Becky can’t resist him. It’s daft to imagine, really, but I suppose that’s what happens when you gauge a person’s worth based entirely on their social standing. How could dear George be a prick when he comes from such a rich family? He simply must be a gentleman. That harlot, on the other hand…
It seems like the only character in Vanity Fair with any sense at all – beyond Becky herself, of course – is Dobbin, who might be the most likeable chap on TV right now. He’s head over heels for Amelia, poor sod, but he can see what’s what, and he isn’t above setting people right when he needs to. He got George’s nose out of the bottle – and eyes off Becky – for long enough to set things almost right with his wife, and he gave his dad a stern talking to as well. In some ways he’s Becky’s male equivalent, only with humbler aspirations – he comes from nothing and sees the absurdity in the pursuit of everything, but all he really wants is Amelia. I hope he gets her.
That isn’t looking likely, though, now that the men have answered the call of the bugles and the women have been left to their own devices, shacked up in Belgian luxury with distressingly few opportunities for the improvement of one’s circumstances. Becky, I suspect, will find a way, but you have to wonder what she’ll have to give up in the process.