Vanity Fair Episode 6 ended up pretty morbid, but it was satisfying to finally see Becky Sharp receive a little comeuppance after so many things have gone her way.
Vanity Fair Episode 6 begins with a cautionary tale. If you’re Martin Clunes, you shouldn’t pursue a young temptress through the woods. Young men can get away with that kind of business, but older fellas are liable to trigger a stroke or some such and collapse dead in the snow.
The untimely demise of Sir Pitt Crawley doesn’t mean much for Becky (Olivia Cooke) or her husband, Rawdon (Tom Bateman), despite their surname matching that of the deceased. His extensive estate goes elsewhere, leaving Becky to schmooze the lecherous Lord Steyne (Anthony Head) and accrue secret riches in the lockbox she hides in a bedroom drawer.
It’s increasingly difficult to like Becky, particularly in how she neglects her son (“Why is the child downstairs?”), slags off her well-meaning husband, and quite clearly lusts after the high life while those around her sink deeper into the mire of poverty. Amelia Sedley (Claudia Jessie), on the other hand, has quite embraced her fate. She bobs chirpily around town picking up books from which she hopes to home-school her son, who she evidently loves deeply, while her parents suffer the indignity of a life in which they must travel everywhere on foot. (The horror!)
Everyone is trying to improve their lot in Vanity Fair Episode 6. Amelia’s brother Jos (David Fynn) is cavorting in a comically fake-looking India with Major Dobbin (Johnny Flynn), who finds a potential wife there. Naturally he wants nothing to do with such a thing, his heart still belonging to Amelia and all, but that’s just the way of things. And those bits provide the only real levity in an episode that swiftly becomes quite downbeat, with Amelia forced to send her beloved child off to the father of her late husband as money in the Sedley house is simply too tight to spare, and Rawdon realises quite quickly that his wife is putting it about to better her own circumstances without thinking about him, their son, or their faithful maid, Briggs (Felicity Montagu).
I must admit that there’s something quite satisfying in seeing the sour-faced ladies of luxury give Becky the cold shoulder, especially after seeing how desperately she has coveted their stations. (And how many good people she has stabbed in the back to share a room with them.) It’s even more satisfying when Rawdon finally reaches the end of his tether and slaps Lord Steyne around, thus also stumbling on Becky’s hidden treasure trove, which he rightly pockets. Vanity Fair Episode 6 might have been miserable, but it felt right to finally see a flicker of earnest emotion from Becky Sharp. She deserves it.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.