This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
This review contains spoilers.
The Woman In White Episode 5
Praise be for proper endings! One advantage of TV adapting historical novels is their self-containment. There’s no pressure on an adaptation to continue beyond the bounds of its original story. Series two danglers are not required (we won’t be seeing The Woman In White 2: Gothic Boogaloo), and cliffhangers can go hang. Neither, it’s worth adding, is there the prospect of a reunion miniseries ten years down the line, in which the cast all looks uncannily younger than they did the first time around.
The Woman In White didn’t just end properly; it ended happily. The gazebo epilogue, which saw Laura, Walter and his mother gaily enjoying life at Limmeridge while Marian was finally allowed to scratch her itch for travel, was joy itself. The baddies were brought low (specifically, six feet under) and our stout-of-heart heroes lived on. They survived.
More than that, they flourished. After everything Laura had been subjected to—rape, abduction, drugging, torture, mental illness—she came through it. Despite wanting to die, she lived, and through living, came back to herself. Art and music and people who loved her brought her back.
The character of Laura has perhaps been writer Fiona Seres’ best work in this accomplished adaptation. She’s less of a nothing and much more satisfyingly complex than the original to a modern audience. Olivia Vinney’s performance, which this week blurred the lines between Laura and Anne in a way that reminds us how we’re all vulnerable to our experiences, has been no less impressive.
The heroic Marian too, came out of her ordeal and fulfilled her ambition – convention be damned. Forget about a life of embroidery by the fireside for this unmarried Victorian lady. Like real-life counterparts Hester Stanhope or Isabella Bird, Marian became an adventurer. After all, it’s not as though exotic climes are likely to faze her after what the Count and Sir Percival put her family through.
The villains received their just desserts. Both were the agents of their own misfortune, requiring no clean souls to be tainted by exacting revenge. Walter’s attempts to save Sir Percival, and Laura’s forgiveness of her husband showed them in the best of lights (and showed those of us calling for the flames to climb higher for the dark-hearted wretches we are). Even Erasmus Nash’s heart was melted.
Plot-wise, it all played out like well-oiled clockwork. The detective story and its search for evidence, Pesca returning to deal with Fosco, the trio confronting the cowardly Frederick Fairlie and the last-minute heroism of servant Louis… everything clicked satisfyingly into place, the cogs arranged just so. And underneath the plot machinery – a beating heart courtesy of Jessie Buckley who seems incapable of being ordinary whatever she’s in.
This adaptation by Seres, director Carl Tibbetts and co., has made consistently good choices. In cast, in location, in tone, and in making this sensationalist story emotionally resonate with modern viewers, it’s shown wisdom throughout. Using this final instalment to reframe it all as a hymn to hope and the resilience of those who survive abuse, was its wisest choice yet.