The third episode of “Great Expectations” will have Pip going through a drastic change, i.e. learning to live in London. Mr. Jaggers comes by the tavern to take the boy away to work with him in hustling, bustling London. Will Pip be okay with life here, or will he miss his town?
Pip In London
Mr. Jaggers drags the boy away from the tavern, where Pip is busy getting drunk. Estella and Lady Havisham have made sure to shun Pip away from their mansion, for Estella conveys that he is no longer welcome to their home. Pip is confused to come across such polar behavior from the mother and the daughter. The pain of not being able to see Estella ever again puts him in a sad state of mind. Mr. Jaggers received a letter from Havisham asking him to take the boy away from this town and take him under his wing to let him grow as a gentleman in the city of London. Jaggers immediately acts as per the instruction. The boy overnight is taken to London. Pip is unable to say goodbye to his family and Biddy.
On reaching London, he is shown the ugly side of the city, which never reaches the ears of people living in the countryside. Mr. Jaggers takes him through the muck, dirt, and blood to show Pip the actual London. The whole point of doing this is to remind the boy that life here will be very difficult and not all roses. Jacobs leaves no stone unturned when it comes to showcasing what city life is all about. He also doesn’t shy away from showing him the dead body of a judge who committed suicide in his office. But Jaggers would not bury it yet because he has plenty of documents that would require the judge’s signature. Pip is horrified to see the way city life has corrupted people. So far, Pip has only had negative thoughts about the London. Mr. Jaggers also reveals to Pip that he has received a huge amount from an unknown benefactor, and the said benefactor has named Jaggers as Pip’s legal guardian. Pip assumes that the unknown benefactor is Miss Havisham, and Jaggers does not correct him.
Estella’s Fiancé, Mr. Drummle
Jaggers meets with Mr. Drummle, who is one of the biggest traders in the empire, and as Miss Havisham claims, he made all the riches from importing nutmeg. Jaggers is in his office to talk about what an asset Pip can be to his business. Pip always wanted to be a trader, and because he grew up around the Thames, he understood the ships, the river, and also the language of the sailors. The boy is being sold as a prodigy who will help Mr. Drummle improve his business. Jaggers would like to get into the marine insurance business along with Mr. Drummle, with Pip being the boy who would get insider information from the ships sailing legitimate and illegitimate cargo. The insurance drawn under Drummle Insurance will surely have a person like Pip drawing out secret information that will be used against any cargo that wrecks mid-voyage. The said information will be used against the ship’s insurance claim, which will help Drummle’s insurance company prosper.
Pip realizes Drummle is the one who is set to marry Estella, and he is livid at Jaggers for not informing him about it. Jaggers reveals that he has a big plan to make Drummle’s money his own. For that to happen, Jaggers and Pip would want to bring down the man’s business. This would mean Jaggers is helping Pip get Estella. Jaggers has the money meant for Pip, and he is just strictly using it for investment purposes, where they know it would turn into a profit. Jaggers would want Pip to be the eyes and ears for the business to prosper, which would eventually help Pip himself. Jaggers wants Pip by his side from now on, and Pip is confused, but he agrees to the plan forged by his legal guardian. The last shot of this episode of “Great Expectations” has Pip rowing away into the River Thames, surrounded by trading ships, and wondering if this would be his life from now on. He can only hope the insurance business will be his stepping stone to becoming an ivory trader, something he has always wanted to be.
The almost hour-long third episode of “Great Expectations” has the viewers experiencing a long and stretched screenplay that depends so much on being dark that it refuses to deal with making the characters interesting and nuanced as well. The writers could have indulged in making all the lead characters also deliciously dark if they had the narrative in that genre already. Mr. Jaggers, Miss Havisham, Pip, and the city of London—all of them come across as completely one-toned with no layers of complexity wrapped around them. Mr. Jaggers, though, comes across as someone who is always in a negative mood, hell-bent on showing only the ugly side of the city. His ugly side also comes across as very flat, and the viewers are not for a minute taken aback by his acts. The whole point was to make him look like a person who has never seen good things in life, and now that he has them, he still refuses to see the good around him. But this particular trait of Mr. Jaggers is written poorly, and his intent never comes across clearly. The performance of Ashley Thomas as the most sought-after lawyer is decent, but the writers could have given him some complexity to understand his point of view.
London is the highlight of this episode; the screenplay does not make London a part of the narrative, for we get to see the city again only from Jagger’s point of view and not from Pip’s. It would have been interesting to watch London become a part of this episode because, at the entire time, the city was shown as something that is highly misunderstood by the people from the countryside, people like Pip. Many periodical television shows have made sure to make London an integral part of the narrative. “Great Expectations” is just three episodes in, but they began in London partly in a lukewarm manner.
The show has its plus point, which is Olivia Coleman. She is a magnificent actor, and she makes sure her character stands out in the show, even though Lady Havisham is not written with enough meat. Lady Havishman is supposed to be a tragic character, but giving her a dark side without an ounce of tragedy in it makes her only evil. Olivia Coleman, though, is stunning in all the scenes she is in, and so far, she has made sure to live the role she is portraying. “Great Expectations” so far is not the adaptation we were looking forward to, but one can only hope the next episode will be better. Waiting to be surprised.