Dickinson season 2, episode 5 recap – “Forbidden Fruit A Flavor Has” Ulterior Motives

January 22, 2021
Cole Sansom 0
Apple TV+, Weekly TV
4

Summary

Emily brags about her soon-to-be-published poem, but questions whether Bowles is purely in it for the poetry.

View all
4

Summary

Emily brags about her soon-to-be-published poem, but questions whether Bowles is purely in it for the poetry.

This recap of Dickinson season 2, episode 5, “Forbidden Fruit A Flavor Has”, contains spoilers.


What are we to make of Sam Bowles? He’s charming, but that charm might have an undercurrent of sleaze. He seems to genuinely love Emily’s poetry, but he puts off publishing it as if he’s teasing her. Is his interest purely artistic? By the end of the episode (and the mid-point of this fantastic season), those concerns linger, even as Emily herself is no longer in doubt about her attraction to him.

But first, she dresses to impress! — or to visit the salon now as a (soon to be) published author. She practices greetings and witticisms in the mirror, but Bowles’ presence hangs heavy on her as a source of validation. 

At the party, she announces her proximity to fame, but a doubt springs in her mind caused by a stray comment. Toshiaki notes that Bowles sleeps with every woman publishes. For the rest of the evening, Emily (and the audience) are bombarded with a push-pull — does he care for Emily’s poetry, or is he using her? The comment resonates with the still common sexist idea that successful women “sleep their way to the top” while reminding us that no matter how talented she is, the terms of publication are guarded by men.

When Bowles arrives, he shows Emily off, remarking on her literary skills. But someone comments that she “seems like just his type” which brings back those doubts. She asks Sue, who tells her that it’s “the most insulting thing I’ve ever heard,” and affirms that she earned her own publication.

But things change again when Sam skips out on the lecture, asking Emily to meet him in the library. It turns out that he has chosen this location to show her where she fits on the bookshelf (next to Dickens, of course). Before they part, he compliments his “incredible talent” and compares her to his wife, which is apparently just the thing Emily needed to inspire a steamy fantasy (and boy is it steamy!).

As for the lecture, it’s given by Henry “Box” Brown, who tells a story of escaping a plantation in a box. His empty platitudes of “freedom” are exactly the kind of thing liberal white people eat up (see, everything today), but Hattie (Ayo Edebiri, brilliant as always) is not having it. “That lecture was bullshit, he was drunk and he fell asleep,” she says to Henry, out in the barn. Worse, retelling the story is preventing other enslaved people from escaping the same way, she says, telling of a cousin who tried to escape in a crate of sugar. “Plus, he’s hypoglycemic.” 

Forbidden Fruit A Flavor Has” gives Henry and Hattie a lot to react against; their constant chagrin is amazing and adds a perspective that was lacking in the show’s first season. And, Austin negotiates the arrival of a printing press; an exciting development that makes me excited for the second half of the season.

Dickinson season 2, episode 5, “Forbidden Fruit A Flavour Has” Notes:

  • “Freedom is about being yourself, even if you’re just a young, hot, widow”
  • Lavinia has a B-story about her hesitations toward marriage.  “I am not the boring Dickinson sister,” she says, and “I am even more outrageous than Lola Montez.” That catches Ship’s attention and leads them into a Priest/Hester Prynne role-play.
  • “We doing the thing that Dickinson’s do; which is to stay at home and sit very quietly without thoughts”
View all

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.