I have now watched the second episode of the eight. Previously we saw the children arrive at Spring Cottage which is beside some sort of military operation, and Jack and Philip have been spied on by a strange man.
There is a voice over telling us a little of what happened in the last episode. It specifies that Allie has taken her children and their friends on holiday so she it seems like they are trying to keep things simple here and not get involved in the adoption story. It’s a bit of a shame though, as in the book it’s lovely to see how happy Lucy-Ann is being able to call Mrs Mannering Aunt Allie.
The voice-over also asks could there be a connection between the peaceful holiday and British military intelligence? Well, you’d have to hope so wouldn’t you?
YOU’RE A GIRL!
We pick up where we left off with Philip and Jack in the woods, and Philip makes an impressive dive into a bush to catch the person spying on them. Only he has leapt onto a teenage girl.
“You’re… you’re a girl!” he says cleverly. Clearly she isn’t the person that has been watching them though!
“I wasn’t following you, I live ere!” the girl says. The woods belong to her and her mother. Sudden attacks forgiven she introduces herself as Tassie, and quickly tries to dissuade them from going near the castle.
She then shows them a “witching tree” and spouts some silly magic stuff. She and her mother are now gypsies who are suspicious of folk who live in houses, rather than country folk who have a cottage of their own. I suppose it “explains” her appearance and demeanour but it’s a bit odd all the same. Later she turns up with a fox on a leash, called Buttons (he is Button in the book) and it’s implied he’s a pet of hers rather than something she’s caught to please Philip.
Anyway, she’s not allowed near the castle and the boys encourage her to go anyway as she doesn’t have to tell her mother. There’s a strange tie between Tassie and Sam too. Her mother senses Tassie has been hiding, if not from her, then it must be from Sam.
Sam puts food on the table and shoes on your feet.
I’d rather go hungry and barefoot… No-one’s colder than him.
So that’s interesting. I wonder if he’s a sort of step-father to her? And if so, is he actually a baddie or is this just teenage angst talking.
BOYS VS GIRLS
The previous episode had the characters quite true to the book but this episode veers off somewhat.
Firstly the boys want to go off alone with Tassie to the castle, and Philip in particular is quite harsh about not letting the girls come. That’s seen on occasion in the books – mostly when it’s something potentially dangerous – but it seems rather out of place here.
More in-character, especially for Dinah, is the girls then following the boys to meet Tassie as they think they’re up to something.
For some reason Tassie trusts the boys, but upon seeing two girls isn’t at all happy.
Perhaps this is wise of her as Lucy-Ann – or Lucy as they keep calling her for no reason – is a rather annoying girl now. Firstly she is made out to be very silly (asking which part of your feet grow fastest, the toes or the other parts…) and also very useless. She nearly falls on a perfectly flat walk and laughs pretty gormlessly about it too. And then she does fall, part way down the edge of the moat. I mean was she just not looking where she was going? I don’t know why they’ve picked someone so young and made her so hopeless.
They’ve also messed with her and Jack’s relationship. In the books Jack loves Lucy-Ann, and Lucy-Ann rather hero worships him. She trails after him a great deal and true, he doesn’t always notice her, but he’s generally very considerate of her and would never speak to her the way Philip does to Dinah.
In this adaptation he couldn’t seem to care less if she’s hurt or upset after her fall. He dismisses her as being ‘fine’ as he wants to carry on to the castle. In a desperate attempt to stick to events from the book, Tassie gets very muddy helping Lucy-Ann when she falls, and is cajoled into coming back to Spring Cottage for fresh clothes and a wash. A bit different for the book where Tassie is always dirty (and barefoot) and is practically attacked with carbolic soap by Mrs Mannering, but you can see they’ve tried to shoe-horn the idea in anyway.
AND A SERIES OF PERHAPS UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
Lots of minor things then happen in the episode.
- Allie gets a call from someone called Jane, saying that Allie’s mother is sick. This is setting up a situation where Allie will leave the children at the cottage.
- Sam abruptly invites himself to breakfast at Spring Cottage. The more I see of him the less I like!
- John from the MOD meeting in the fist episode ‘bumps’ into Allie in the village and asks rather a lot of questions about where they are staying. He also works in a warning about the castle being haunted. Very suspicious.
- One of Jack’s photos shows a man by the castle walls, so they know it’s possible to get over there.
- Tassie tells the story of the ‘old man’ in the castle who did away with all his enemies. It came off much creepier in the book, somehow.
- All five children head back to the castle and confirm that the path is entirely blocked by a landslide (but we aren’t shown it).
- Dinah decide to sit on and wriggle across a fallen tree over the huge moat and for no reason at all slides off half way…
And that is the dramatic ending of the episode! We know she can’t be badly hurt, of course, but what will happen next? They’ve set up quite a few things here.
A bit more happened in this episode, and you can see all the ways that they’ve tried to be true to the books. Saying that, they’ve spoiled the relationship between Jack and Lucy-Ann (and Lucy-Ann herself!) and been a bit clumsy in trying to force book elements into their production so actually I think the first episode was better.