Belgravia remains inelegant and a bit puzzling, but at least it’s starting to entertain in a soapy, melodramatic sort of way.
This recap of Belgravia Season 1, Episode 2 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Belgravia Episode 2 continues the show’s penchant for exposition dumps and a generally stuffy atmosphere but adds a new wrinkle into the mix for good measure: Head-scratching character decisions that largely seem designed explicitly to prompt the odd zinger in dialogue. Riveting stuff.
Anyway, on with it. You’ll recall that Lady Caroline Brockenhurst (Harriet Walter) isn’t as alone in the world as she first thought – her heretofore unknown grandchild, Charles Pope (Jack Bardoe), was sired without her knowledge by Sophia Trenchard (Emily Reid) and her son, Edmund (Jeremy Neumark Jones), both now deceased. Charles was handed off to a clergyman by Anne (Tamsin Greig) and James (Philip Glenister) and his existence was kept a closely-guarded secret until now when Anne just drops in on Caroline and tells her outright.
This, naturally, leads to something of a rift between the two women, and rightly so – nothing about the exchange is handled in a way that makes much sense, and mostly serves to make Anne come off as a bit of a nutcase. Words are exchanged, some of them nasty, fingers of blame are pointed, and subjects are switched with whiplash-inducing effect. Afternoon tea does not go well, to say the least.
We get to see a bit more of the Brockenhurst family in Belgravia Episode 2, charming bunch that they are. The heir presumptive, John (Adam James), stands to inherit the family fortune, and might well have to share it with Lady Maria Grey (Ella Purnell), the daughter of a not particularly wealthy earl whom John isn’t all that fond of since he hasn’t had to work for her affection. These are one suspects the perils of absurd wealth and privilege, not that I’d know anything about such things given I write about telly for a living.
It occurs to me that almost nobody in Belgravia is particularly likable. The Trenchard servants are raiding the larder and selling the stuff on. Caroline is able to track down Charles and invite him to a party along with the Trenchards, including Oliver (Richard Goulding) and Susan (Alice Eve), where we learn that James set Charles up in business in the first place, which he sneakily kept from his wife. I suppose the only point-of-view we can get behind is that of Charles, who suddenly finds himself in a maelstrom of social privilege and forms a fast connection with Maria Grey – he might end up taking John’s missus and his fortune at the same time, which I suppose is worthy of some respect. Though John seems quite taken with Susan anyway, so perhaps it’s just as well.
Blimey, has everyone kept up? Let’s hope so. The real motives behind Caroline arranging all this are left somewhat deliberately unclear; Anne thinks it’s to make guessing Charles’s parentage really easy, though I’m not sure how much sense that makes, though one has to imagine there’s an ulterior motive unless she really is just keen to get to know her long-lost grandson. Nevertheless, even though Belgravia Episode 2 was as harmfully inelegant as its predecessor, it was at least more entertaining in a soapy, melodramatic sort of way. Every cloud, and all that.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.