Dickinson season 2, episode 6 recap – “Split the Lark” A night at the Opera

January 29, 2021
Cole Sansom 0
Apple TV+, Weekly TV
5

Summary

The Dickinsons visit the opera as Emily realizes that her strong words may not always be wanted.

5

Summary

The Dickinsons visit the opera as Emily realizes that her strong words may not always be wanted.

This recap of Dickinson season 2, episode 6, “Split the Lark”, contains spoilers.


It’s so easy to get caught up in ourselves, that we forget to consider the other side of things. It can be difficult to escape the myopia of our internal lives and think about how our actions look from someone else’s point of view. And when it all comes shattering down, the realization can be devastating.  In this week’s stunning episode of Dickinson Emily is forced to break out of the narrative of her life that she has been fantasizing about. And at the opera no less! 

“Alright folks, let’s go see what this opera craze is all about,” says Edward, as he brings his family into a world that lies several social strata above them. While Lavinia is excited (having studied up on the show and its lead singer, Adelaide May), her parents could not be less enthused, especially when their daughter in law shows up dressed to the nines. Sue and Austin have reserved a box, much to the chagrin of their benefactors, who have purchased the cheap seats.

To escape a lousy view, Sue convinces Sam (whose wife is once again mysteriously absent) to let Emily join his box. Seated, she begins to profess her appreciation for him, but Bowles does not return the affection. “We have a problem,” he says, divulging that the letter Emily wrote to his wife “made her feel extremely uncomfortable.” “You wrote the craziest sh*t in that letter,” he says, and Emily is forced into shock. She’s so good at putting her emotions into words but doesn’t know when to keep those words to herself.

Moreover, Bowles speaks of the “rumors” circulating him (from last week’s episode) and how it can upset his wife. ‘The romance,” he says  “it’s between you and yourself.” There’s a question of how much is Bowles to be believed; could he just be manipulating Emily as a cruel joke to keep her in his control? Regardless, the lesson, of escaping your own point of view, still applies.

As for the opera itself, it’s remarkably similar-looking to Sue’s parties, and Emily is entranced by Adelaide May, who at one point shifts into Sue and begins to recite the episode’s titular poem.

When Bowles leaves, Emily notices his backstage pace and uses it to meet May, with hopes of meeting a fellow artist, a kindred spirit in translating private emotion into art. But May is a professional; she’s an actor. “You just saw the most moving performance and yet I felt nothing,” the singer tells Emily, who has trouble contemplating performance bereft of underlying emotion.

In contrast to Emily’s goal of her poetry lasting “forever,” May seems content that her impact is transient, but she nevertheless invites the fan to the stage. There, Emily has a vision of being cheered on by an enormous crowd and reiterates her desire to be published. “Everything that’s exposed… goes stale,” says May, who has suffered.

The singer gets to the heart of why Emily wants to be famous and promptly turns into Sue once again. “What is it that you crave?” Sue/May asks. “You crave meaning, you crave love” and the two make out passionately on the stage.

Emily, realizing her true desire, remains on the stage where a janitor tries to kick her off. “You don’t even know who I am,” she responds, and for the first time, she’s content about that.

Dickinson season 2, episode 6, “Split the Lark” notes:

  • Austin runs into an old friend, Frazar Stearns, and leaves his wife to have a drink with the boys, not before giving Sue a look that indicates something going on in their marriage
  • “Do you think they have popcorn?”
  • The way Jane Krakowski sings “We’re he-e-e-e-r-e” as they arrive will get me through this week.

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