The English season 1 – who killed Cornelia’s son?

By Marc Miller
Published: November 11, 2022 (Last updated: February 3, 2024)
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This article discusses the main plot point of who killed Cornelia’s son in season 1 of The English.

The English is Hugo Blick‘s unforgiving and uncompromising Prime Video series that captures the dangerous elements of the American West, where more than one thing can kill you besides bullets, knives, and arrows. While tackling themes of the genocide of Indigenous people and regrettable treatment of women, Blick tries to offer the anti-western. And that’s what separates this series from others of the same ilk. That’s because Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt) is on a trek to find the man that killed her son. The biggest mystery may not be who the father is but how the young lad died.

What happened? Thanks to Hugo Blick’s masterful plotting, we are guessing who killed her son and who the murderer is. On Cornelia’s trip from New Orleans to Wyoming, she uncovers a country full of bushwhackers, hucksters, con artists, thieves, and murderers. That’s where Cornelia meets a former Pawnee scout in the United States Army, Eli Whipp (Twilight‘s Chaske Spencer), who helps guide her through a treacherous journey across middle America and the great plains. They develop an old-fashioned romance harking back to the golden age of filmmaking. And when they do kiss, Cornelia is quick to kiss his cheek. When she succumbs to kissing Eli on the lips, she is upset and runs away, running down a hill, stripping down to her underwear, and covering herself in the Wyoming earth.

Why is this happening? Soon, Cornelia has a fever and passes out. What may look like a wound from a shotgun blast that burnt her inner thigh, where she would not let Whipp look at it, is actually from a sexually transmitted disease. Cornelia is in stage four of a disease called syphilis. At the time with no such thing as penicillin to cure the disease, if you catch the “love bug,” like King Edward the IV, it can kill you and cause symptoms such as a painful and repulsive appearance of genital sores, foul abscesses anywhere on the body, and ulcers with severe pain. While many mistake Cornelia as stuffy, stuck up, and even pretentious because she is always impeccably dressed and buttoned up, she was covering her scars all over her body and wore gloves on her hands.

However, what does this have to do with the death of Cornelia’s son?


So, that begs the question:

The English season 1 – who killed Cornelia’s son?

The scripts have a storyline where we follow Thomas Trafford, an Englishman looking to start his own cattle empire, which means big business. He hires hired hands/muscle like Thin Kelly and David Melmont. The latter is an evil man with a silver tongue. After Trafford buys some land, they run into a death squad from the United States Army, who roams the plains looking to murder Indigenous people. Melmont tells them about a group of Cherokee they came across and are all murdered by the soldiers and Melmont. This storyline makes us think Thomas may be Cornelia’s son because he is naive, clearly in danger, and these men he has encountered are murderers. Keep in mind we still have no idea what Cornelia’s son’s name is.

Melmont returns to England and reports to Cornelia that Thomas was responsible for the massacre. However, we finally understand that Thomas is her fiancé. Cornelia’s father finances him to start his empire. Cornelia believes in Melmont and creates a relationship with him. However, she later finds out he was lying and kicks him out, but not before he strikes her down with his hand and takes the money he feels he is owed. Melmont used this to start his business at Powder Creek, Wyoming. We then see Cornelia is pregnant with Melmont’s child.

How does this tie into the story? The child was born, and she loved her child until he died as an adolescent. He died from syphilis, which Melmont contracted at a brothel from a woman later called “The Black Widow,” for obvious reasons. So, Melmont is the father of Cornelia’s son and killed him by giving his son a venereal disease during a time when there was no cure until the invention of penicillin.

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