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Author Topic: Dickinson season 2, episode 1 mp4 recap – “Before I got my eye put out”  (Read 760 times)

Offline Mr. Babatunde

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One of the joys of Dickinson is when something true from this playful and winking retelling of Emily Dickinson’s young life leaps out of the story at us, announcing itself as an unlikely-but-fact-check-it-and-you’ll-see revelation: that Louisa May Alcott really liked to run, even in a corset (“That’s a true fact about me”), or that Lavinia really tied her hair around a suitor’s neck (weird but hot, IMO).

But it’s also delicious to watch the show careen around its own imagination, filling in the blanks as best serves our story and characters. Which is what it looks like season two is going to be, as the season opener tells us up front: Records of everything from before this point were vivid and full of detail.

But “over the next few years, just a handful of letters survive.” The richest primary-source material we’re going to get is Dickinson’s poetry, which this series continues to use in artful, unexpected ways. It is time to make like Hilaria Baldwin explaining her own biography and take some liberties!

“But were it told to me, Today,

That I might have the Sky

For mine, I tell you that my Heart

Would split, for size of me”

The season premiere of Dickinson’s second season, “Before I got my eye put out”, opens with a notice that “the truth” of the titular character’s life, “is hidden in her poems” (something I discussed in my season review). The poem featured (quoted above) is an ode to the natural world and our ability to perceive it, ending with an ambiguous acceptance of its overwhelmingness. It’s a good choice for an episode that establishes that Emily has been spending a lot of time indoors writing poems, poems that are for Sue’s eyes only.


She’s been spending so much time writing that her eyesight has deteriorated (topical given that many of us may have worsening eyesight due to spending so much time indoors looking at screens). The doctor advises her to stay indoors and avoid the sun, which all seems well and good to her; “I don’t need the sun, I still have the moon,” she says.

In fact, Emily Dickinson doesn’t seem too worried about losing her vision at all, (“I don’t need my eyes to see, all I need is my soul”), which is a little worrying considering the mysterious yet familiar man who seems to appear only to her.  But the only person she wants to talk to about seems to be avoiding her.



Having moved in with Austin, Sue begins to open a “salon,” a place where high-minded society can mingle (“Sue is an influencer,” Lavinia declares.) “Sounds like they’re doing all the latest jigs,” Darlene Hunt’s Maggie says in perhaps my favorite line reading in an episode full of strong ones.


The party looks lit! (Parties in places, remember those?) And they have oysters (“actually a cheap and widely available food,” Lavinia reminds us.) It’s a hilarious set-piece that pokes fun at our current society (and our “networking” events) that Dickinson is adept at.

Which brings us to the heart of the show; Sue and Emily. Dickinson is a show about a genius poet who struggles against the world around her and her own internal torment. But It’s also about a poet in love with her best friend and sister-in-law. When Emily ventures into the party, it soon becomes clear that her current poems are a bit much (boundaries, Emily!) and that Sue is no longer pregnant.

But Sue truly believes in Emily’s genius and introduces him to the fast-paced, innovative, (real-life) newspaperman Sam Bowles who seems keen to publish her (and acts like many an overconfident man at a party). When Sue encourages her to recite a poem, Emily runs out, where the mysterious Mr. Nobody appears just in time to recite the last stanza of hers for her. Emily’s confidence in her writing is as sure as ever, but it’s the baring of your work to other’s eyes (and judgment) that seems terrifying.


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