I reviewed the first episode of North and South last week, and the series continues. Richard Armitage is just perfect as the brooding, haughty mill owner, I could probably spend this entire post talking about him, but I'll try not to.
Margaret Hale is finding her way about Milton, visitng the workers, making friends with Higgin's sick daughter Bessie. Her mother is falling ill due to the unhealthy atmosphere and wishes to see her son, Frederick, before she dies. Higgins is organizing a strike against the rich mill owners, demanding higher wages and better living conditions. Thornton takes a decision that could endanger his life, as the situation in this small town heats up.
The performances in this episode, well, in this series as such, is superb. I especially liked Sinead Cusack as Hannah, the nose-in-the-air mother of Thornton- her disdain for the workers drips like rainwater throughout. And Armitage, well, the piercing look, the arched nose, the crooked smile, the stern face. He is giving Colin Firth some serious competition as the perfect Victorian gentleman, and sparks fly whenever Thornton and Margaret lock eyes. The proposal scene was just so perfectly executed, I was rooting for Thornton and cursing Margaret for refusing. It was quite the opposite with Pride and Prejudice: I always supported Elizabeth's initial refusal, Darcy's proposal was too arrogantly put. You know, I wondered about the astonishing similarities with P&P. The basic plot is the same: proud man falls in love with strong-willed woman who refuses him, only to learn of all his good qualities later. Put P&P in an industrial setting: N&S is what you get. The initial war of words between the two, the proposal scene, it's like watching P&P again. Was this kind of plot as common then as it is now?
As I write this, the proposal scene is playing on my computer. The music builds to a crescendo as an angry Thornton walks out, delivering his parting stab. I'm starting on the next episode in a short while, expect a review soon.