Dickinson season 3, episode 5 recap – “Sang from the Heart, Sire”

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: November 20, 2021 (Last updated: November 23, 2021)
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Apple TV plus series Dickinson season 3, episode 5 - Sang from the Heart Sire


The Dickinson family conflict comes to a head at Edward’s birthday party.

This recap of Apple TV+s Dickinson season 3, episode 5, “Sang from the Heart, Sire” contains spoilers. 

Read the recap of the previous episode.

We’ve reached the midpoint of Dickinson’s final season and if you thought that the last few episodes were a bit too relaxed, well, this episode really hits the gas. In some ways it mirrors the premiere, but with several episodes of development that makes the cuts feel deeper this time around.

Dickinson season 3, episode 5 recap

It starts off gentle, at a quilt auction where Emily Norcross feels so terrible about selling the one remaining possession of her sisters she had, she asks Edward to buy it back. Emily is buoyed by the Higginsons’ feedback — he asks her for more poems, and Lavinia has chosen a vow of silence as this week’s act of self-serving activism.

Things start to simmer when Edward is called out for his recent letter in the newspaper. Every episode this season he’s shown more and more sympathy to the confederates (“both sides”-ism), but his public expression is too far. What he believes to be a defense of his brother (remember, family is all) is taken as praising the enemy, and the people of Amherst are unhappy, threatening to remove him from his treasurership. He’s unsettled, but he still has his family, and that’s what counts. His daughters rush to him, less in defense but in consolation, to make sure he is ok. Despite their political differences, he is still loved.

Especially since it is his birthday, and Emily is planning a surprise party. She invites a tired Sue, who, inspired by her encounter with Walt Whitman, she expresses her love to. Sue agrees and invites Austin, who reiterates his refusal to talk to his father, and says he will spend the evening with their child. But Sue does not see this happening — and she trots out some generalized gender roles; her distaste for her husband’s affect spoken of in generalized terms. “Put a uniform on,” she tells him.

The party itself is a delight, with the family singing along (or mouthing, in Lavinia’s case), and the Dickinson parents recounting the story of how they met (an activity my own sister always encourages). Huss and Krakowski do marvelous work, as the telling unearthed some buried emotion in Emily Norcross, who never saw her mother again after her wedding, and feels especially sensitive with her sister so freshly in the ground.

It all climaxes in beautiful montages to Emily playing “Hard Times Come Again No More,” and Steinfeld’s gorgeous singing voice strikes a chord with everyone around her. Even Austin, who surprises everyone with his appearance, wishes his father a happy birthday.

But the peace doesn’t last long. Soon everyone is harping on his drinking, and Austin makes an announcement. He will be starting his own law firm — specializing in divorce. Starting of course with his own. Worst of all, he wants full custody of the child.

When he announces his divorce Emily Norcross decides to come in with her wedding dress, at the worst possible moment. The family is outraged, but it’s Sue’s dismissal — “You won’t even remember this in the morning” — that cuts deepest. Emily recalls their earlier conversation where Austin asked her to pick a side and confirms that she has chosen — she is with her father.

The ending

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Dickinson family fight if it didn’t result in someone falling over — and this time it’s Emily Norcross, who has somehow made it up the stairs in her dress but wants to come down, and takes a shortcut (tripping and falling).

With Austin out, the Dickinson girls and Edward seem finally at peace, Sue gets one final dagger through the heart. Upstairs she finds the letter from Higginson — the poem she thought was just for her was shared. Hurt, she compares Emily to her brother. “You think you’re fighting for something. You’re just running away.”

Additional points

  • We get a fun scene of Henry starting his literacy class. Apparently one of his students can see through time which is pretty neat in my opinion.
  • Of course, Higginson has yet to fulfill his promises. There’s “an infinity of white men, lined up getting in our way.”
  • This episode was directed by Keith Powell (Twofer from 30 Rock).
  • Emily Norcross’s comic timing with the dress is *chef’s kiss*.

What did you think of Dickinson season 3, episode 5? Comment below. 

Apple TV+, Streaming Service, Weekly TV
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