Dickinson season 2, episode 1 recap – “Before I got my eye put out”

January 8, 2021
Cole Sansom 0
Apple TV+, TV Recaps, Weekly TV


Emily deals with her eyesight and Sue hosts a party in the opening episode of Dickinson‘s second season.

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Emily deals with her eyesight and Sue hosts a party in the opening episode of Dickinson‘s second season.

This recap of Dickinson season 2, episode 1, “Before I got my eye put out”, contains spoilers.

But were it told to me, Today,

That I might have the Sky

For mine, I tell you that my Heart

Would split, for size of me”

The season premiere of Dickinson’s second season, “Before I got my eye put out”, opens with a notice that “the truth” of the titular character’s life, “is hidden in her poems” (something I discussed in my season review). The poem featured (quoted above) is an ode to the natural world and our ability to perceive it, ending with an ambiguous acceptance of its overwhelmingness. It’s a good choice for an episode that establishes that Emily has been spending a lot of time indoors writing poems, poems that are for Sue’s eyes only.

She’s been spending so much time writing that her eyesight has deteriorated (topical given that many of us may have worsening eyesight due to spending so much time indoors looking at screens). The doctor advises her to stay indoors and avoid the sun, which all seems well and good to her; “I don’t need the sun, I still have the moon,” she says.

In fact, Emily Dickinson doesn’t seem too worried about losing her vision at all, (“I don’t need my eyes to see, all I need is my soul”), which is a little worrying considering the mysterious yet familiar man who seems to appear only to her.  But the only person she wants to talk to about seems to be avoiding her.

Having moved in with Austin, Sue begins to open a “salon,” a place where high-minded society can mingle (“Sue is an influencer,” Lavinia declares.) “Sounds like they’re doing all the latest jigs,” Darlene Hunt’s Maggie says in perhaps my favorite line reading in an episode full of strong ones.

The party looks lit! (Parties in places, remember those?) And they have oysters (“actually a cheap and widely available food,” Lavinia reminds us.) It’s a hilarious set-piece that pokes fun at our current society (and our “networking” events) that Dickinson is adept at.

Which brings us to the heart of the show; Sue and Emily. Dickinson is a show about a genius poet who struggles against the world around her and her own internal torment. But It’s also about a poet in love with her best friend and sister-in-law. When Emily ventures into the party, it soon becomes clear that her current poems are a bit much (boundaries, Emily!) and that Sue is no longer pregnant.

But Sue truly believes in Emily’s genius and introduces him to the fast-paced, innovative, (real-life) newspaperman Sam Bowles who seems keen to publish her (and acts like many an overconfident man at a party). When Sue encourages her to recite a poem, Emily runs out, where the mysterious Mr. Nobody appears just in time to recite the last stanza of hers for her. Emily’s confidence in her writing is as sure as ever, but it’s the baring of your work to other’s eyes (and judgment) that seems terrifying.

Notes on Dickinson season 2, episode 1:

  • The first three episodes of the season air today (I’ll have recaps up later) with the rest airing once a week each Friday.
  • “The market Crashed, the railroad went bankrupt,” says Edward Dickinson, explaining why they must take in Mr. Shipley (“Ship”) as a boarder. Ship is an old flame of Lavinia’s who claims to be a “serious adult man;” but his traditional views on marriage clash with Lavinia’s newfound rambunctiousness.
  • Speaking of Lavinia, she shuts down Ship’s praise of New Orleans and it’s cheap tobacco with “because of slavery.” Between that and her oyster comment, she’s fast becoming my favorite character on the show.
  • Another Lavinia gem: “I’m seriously addicted to the news,” — I mean, same, but not in a good way.
  • Another great line from Edward at the doctor’s office: “Emily hush, can’t you see I’m in the middle of shouting at this man”
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