Dickinson season 3, episode 4 recap – “This is my letter to the World”

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: November 12, 2021 (Last updated: November 23, 2021)
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Apple TV plus series Dickinson season 3, episode 4


Emily sees Walt Whitman at the military hospital.

This recap of Apple TV+s Dickinson season 3, episode 4, “This is my letter to the World” contains spoilers. 

Read the recap of the previous episode.

It takes another poet to convince Emily to stop thinking about things and just feel, to be in touch with her emotions. Sure, Walt Whitman (an almost unrecognizable Billy Eichner), who she imagines herself meeting in a war hospital (with Zosie Mamet, returning as Louisa May Alcott as well!), is a little full of himself. He seems to be obsessed with the grandeur of war more than saving lives. But it’s more than Emily can claim to be doing, so she takes his lead and follows him into the party.

Dickinson season 3, episode 4 recap

In the glamorous function (which looks cool as hell! I want to go there), they take shots and get in touch with Emily’s feelings. This, of course, ends with her shouting out her declaration of love for Sue (who we briefly see scolding Austin for his drunken singing). And she goes off and dances. It’s a joyous end to a moving, if uneventful episode, which is sometimes undercut by having to go back to even more uneventful subplots.

Edward learns of his brother’s plantation being ransacked — which in true centrist form he sees as a tragedy rather than a bold act of judgment — and from then on he and Emily Norcross are beset by itching. Yes, you read that right. It turns out that Lavinia brought fleas in from the barn, where she slept after trying to bury herself (she’s still thinking about all the dead soldiers, particularly those she kissed).

Far more interesting is Henry, who finally arrives at Higginson’s camp at the same time the latter receives Emily’s letter. (While Henry’s own wife still waits for a letter, why he hasn’t sent one is a good question). Higginson is, to put it mildly, kinda cringe, in the Robin DiAngelo sense. Constantly apologizing for whatever word he says and vowing to “do better,” he eventually gets to the point — he wants Henry to train a black regiment in literacy.

When Henry arrives, he experiences a culture shock. His Massachusetts upbringing does not jive with that of the formerly enslaved black people, and they balk at his mission. It turns out that what they need most are basic amenities; food, new clothes, and to finally be paid (y’know, exactly how it always is when our country tries to “tackle” racism — with symbolic gestures rather than material support). Henry wants to teach the formerly enslaved people to read and write.

Writing can change hearts and minds, but it’s a poor substitute for food and wages.

What did you think of Dickinson season 3, episode 4? Comment below. 

Apple TV+, Streaming Service, Weekly TV
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