Dickinson season 2, episode 3 recap – “The Only Ghost I Ever Saw” Time for a seance!
Emily holds a seance to ask questions about fame.
Emily holds a seance to ask questions about fame.
This recap of Dickinson season 2, episode 3, “The Only Ghost I Ever Saw”, contains spoilers.
In an interview with the AV Club, Dickinson’s showrunner Alena Smith talks of the second season’s opening as setting up a “blurring the lines of losing the distinction between what is real and what is a dream state of a great artist.” And while the first season featured Emily experiencing visions, and visitations from Death (and a bee!), it’s in the finale episode of those that premiered today where the show takes a tilt into the occult, and the results are somewhat successful.
We start with the aftermath of the last episode’s visitation; Emily has a clear path to publication but is concerned about the “fickleness” of fame. At the beginning of an exciting subplot, she finds out that Henry is writing an abolitionist newspaper (which explains Austin’s secret gift). Emily asks him if he would want to attach his name to the paper if he could. He responds, “I guess who wouldn’t,” making Emily even more confused.
If only she had someone to talk to. Sue seems to be avoiding her for some reason or another, and her actions become even more mysterious when Austin reveals she is at a party without him. What has happened and why is she no longer interested in Emily?
Luckily, Emily finds a shared commiserator in Lavinia, who is having problems of her own. After a church sermon warns that the devil can appear, “in the body of a woman,” she expresses her incompatibility with Chip, who wholeheartedly believes such misogynistic talk. He compares her to Lola, an exciting-sounding ex, who Lavinia wishes she could be more like.
So the Dickinson sisters decide to hold a seance, inviting the usual gang over (“Please be responsible for the energy that you bring into this home,” she announces as they arrive). To lead, they recruit Hattie, played by comedian Ayo Edebiri, whose every line delivery is hilarious. “I’m a maid, a medium, a washerwoman, and a seamstress. I also write plays and autobiographical sketches, sing in a quartet, sell my own hair care products and create a unique line of floral centerpieces,” she says, listing off her impressive resume before ending with “I’m just a freelancer.”
The seance itself in Dickinson season 2, episode 3 is wonderfully staged; with crystals and candles. “Ideally by the end of tonight we will all be synced,” says Emily. Lavinia uses the time to open up and share her thoughts about Ship and marriage. The Dickinsons, like many families, rarely share their emotional issues with each other, so it’s exciting how they use this space to express what they don’t often talk about. It’s also cool to see Lavinia go off; about the patriarchy and her identity (“what if I just went by Vinnie,” –– I’d support it!)
For some Dickinson’s, it’s not just emotional intimacy that’s missing. Across the house, Emily Norcross is having her own spiritual encounter. Fantasizing about a hot captain of a sunken boat she spouts a lot of nautical terminologies and becomes familiar with a bedpost. It’s a fun showcase for Krakowski and furthers the season of Edward’s inadequacy.
Back at the seance, things get serious when Emily directly asks the “fame” question. A storm begins, followed by the sounds of Lavinia’s dead cat. Then things go nuts! Someone starts singing, ghostly instruments float up, others get nosebleeds or their eyes roll back in their heads. Luckily, it settles before things get too spooky. Once everyone’s gone, Emily is again visited by that ghost who repeats that poem again; “I’m nobody, who are you? Are you nobody too?” (one of my favorites of Emily’s poems). Emily still can’t quite place him, which becomes more concerning when he is apparently shot and dies on the floor.
The anonymity of his death haunts her, and she rushes over to Sue’s the next morning. “I don’t want to disappear from this earth without anybody knowing who I am,” she says. And lucky for her, Mr. Bowles is already there, but when she gives him the poem, his enthusiasm gives way to apathy. “It’ll go to the top of my pile,” he says, in the douchiest possible way. Emily’s hope is dashed as once again, men hold the keys to power, and the episode ends with Superorganisms’s “Everybody wants to be famous.”
- “They don’t even remember a time before telegrams”
- The episode’s best line delivery goes to Edebiri who, when first asked to lead the seance, responds: “Yeah I don’t need to talk to any more dead white people”
- We get it, Jane, you’re a widow!
- “That jawline could cut celery. Celery’s a luxury now”
- The seance attendees discuss their goals for the event: “I wanna find out if I’m allergic to anything.” “I wanna make spooky **** happen and get paid.”
- Ship: “So cool that you guys have an indoor toilet.”