‘Great Expectations’ Episode 2: Recap & Review – Joe And His Wife, Sara’s Expectations

The second episode of “Great Expectations,” though it is almost an hour long, begins where the first episode ends. Pip sat in Miss Havisham’s lavish bungalow, surrounded by nothing but emptiness, enjoying the company of the two ladies: Estella, the adopted daughter of Miss Havisham, and the lady Havisham herself. How will Pip manage to understand what exactly the women living in this mansion expect of him?

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Spoilers Ahead


Understanding Love

Pip has been invited by Lady Havisham to be trained to become a gentleman. He was a fine gentleman that would never hurt any woman in his life. Miss Havisham teaches him various rules about how he should conduct himself if he ever wants to become a gentleman in society and project himself as the right match for women out there. She begins with blindfold techniques, and she expects him to navigate through the room wearing one, hoping he will be able to reach out to Estella. Estella, on the other hand, has been emotionally and psychologically abused by her mother, and without realizing it, she starts talking exactly like her. She would want the same things as her mother does, but eventually, she would want to leave the mansion and marry a rich businessman.

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Estella also comes across as a young, disturbed woman because she is subjected to Havisham’s twisted logic and idea of love. Even though Pip makes it clear what he and Estella share is just companionship and nothing more, the woman forces the idea of love between the two for the boy to explore. As his training goes on, Pip manages to get more worldly knowledge from Biddy, his best friend from school. The boy was initially reluctant to go back because he felt a lot more suffocated in that house than he did in his, but he eventually agreed. As the training goes on and the years go by, the young Pip matures to a fine young man, 18 years of age.


Joe And His Wife Sara’s Expectations

Joe is considered an expert blacksmith, but his wife, Pip’s sister Sara, has a violent streak that she utilizes for her benefit from time to time. This time she inflicts it upon Mr. Pumblechook, who does the taxes for her family. The man offers to give himself to inflict some pain on himself, and in return, he helps Sara’s family cut taxes, which helps them save plenty of cash annually. It is not revealed whether Joe knows what kind of services Sara offers to men like Pumblechook, but it is understood that Joe is indeed a good man, and he is trying hard to keep his family intact.

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Joe and Pip work together at times; Pip is informed that Joe is indeed an expert blacksmith, and that he would love to give Joe more work for them. Pip enquiries about the shackles produced by Joe, as to what purpose they serve. He says they will be used for ships going from Australia to Africa, with their last stop at Charleston, America. Pip understands the shackles are for the slaves and not for prisoners, and he refuses to work with the man. Pip comes across as an intelligent boy, and one of values—maybe too good for the Havisham family now.


Mr. Jaggers, The Lawyer

Mr. Jaggers, the King’s Counsel, as mentioned in the first episode of the show, is the one who is counseling Miss Havisham as well. The lady has been heartbroken since the day she was left at the altar by her lover; she hasn’t recovered from it, but she is smart enough to hire a lawyer like Mr. Jaggers, who does his job well. Mr. Jaggers is the kind of lawyer who would do anything to make sure his clients eventually win. There is no way he would accept a loss in his career as a counselor. Mr. Jaggers finally receives a letter from Miss Havisham stating that the time has come to mentor the kid. Jaggers responds by agreeing to take up the task of taking the boy Pip under his wing, but he cannot assure the quality he brings as a young teen to his line of work. But Jaggers is more than happy to take her orders under consideration, bring Pip to London, and teach him how to live in a city as bustling as London.

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Review

The second episode was a 58-minute-long one that gave us a transition from a young Pip to an 18-year-old boy, all set to start his life. Pip could have stayed away from Miss Havisham’s proposal, but he agreed to it because he needs the money to help him with his plan to become a trader who travels all around the world. But the transition from boyhood to the late teenage years didn’t come off as smoothly as it should have. The direction in this episode felt a bit sloppy and all over the place because the screenplay does not help the audience understand what exactly they are trying to convey through Miss Havisham’s character.

As mentioned in “Great Expectations” Episode 1, the darkness should have come across as something that would make the viewers feel eerie and disturbed, but this episode has the opposite effect. Havisham’s final goal of what she wants from Pip comes across as convoluted because there are too many things happening at the same time, which makes the narrative confusing, if not unengaging. There is no mention of the reason why Pip is being treated the way he is by Lady Havisham and Estella; it is just implied that the lady hates men and would go to great lengths to ruin men and their lives. But not many of these aspects of Lady Havisham have been explored so far. Her heartbreak saga comes across as a repetitive pattern, and the episode failed to give the woman any layers.

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Even Estella is exactly like her mother, but she wants more from her life than her existence offers her, again, though the writer does not explore her character or exactly how she feels about her life living in the mansion. There are no layers given to any of the leading ladies because that’s what the story requires for the narrative to remain interesting. Women need to have layered traits, which makes them imperfectly perfect, just like men. Steven Knight’s three women so far come across as one-toned and do not make their character look engrossing enough for me to find their characters delicious.

The transition of Estella from a young girl to a teenage girl, just like Pip’s, was awkward as well. The actor cast as an 18-year-old Estella looks dramatically different from the actor who plays the young Estella. The casting here feels like it has gone wrong because there needs to be some similarity between the two actors who play the young and the older versions of the same character. The screenplay could have been riveting, keeping in mind the dark approach Steven Knight took, but this approach does not serve any purpose in this episode. The presence of an actor like Olivia Coleman is still not enough to help the show remain afloat. Hopefully, we will get to see some depth in the leading characters in the upcoming episodes.

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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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