Black Narcissus episode 3: the BBC drama’s tense finale has split opinion on Twitter

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The final episode of Black Narcissus aired on the BBC last night, but viewers are divided as to whether it was a masterpiece of suspense – or mildly underwhelming. Here’s how people reacted to episode 3 of the psychodrama on Twitter. Warning: major spoilers ahead

Black Narcissus came to a dramatic conclusion last night, with women-shaming, frissons of lust and a shocking bell tower plunge colliding in the final episode of the three-part BBC adaptation. 

The series, based on Rumer Godden’s 1939 novel and the classic 1947 film, follows a group of nuns who travel to the Himalayan palace of Mopu in Nepal to set up a school. 

With the handsome Mr Dean (Alessandro Nivola) in the mix, repressed desires soon float to the surface, especially amid convent leader Sister Clodagh (Gemma Arterton) and the embittered Sister Ruth (Game Of Thrones’ Aisling Franciosi). 

These tensions come to a head in the atmospheric finale, as Sister Ruth’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic under the influence of the spirit of Princess Srimati (Gianni Gonsalves). Meanwhile, the secret affair between general’s nephew Dilip Rai (Chaneil Kular) and palace student Kanchi (Dipika Kunwar) is exposed, leading to a nasty episode of violence. 

Here’s how viewers reacted to the onslaught of psychological drama in Black Narcissus episode three.

Viewers were furious about the “depressing” cane scene

The secret affair between Dilip and Kanchi was revealed in the finale

After Kanchi’s affair with Dilip comes to light, he is ordered to whip his lower-caste lover with a stick – much to the horror of the nuns, and also viewers. People across Twitter quickly shared their outrage that only Kanchi, as the woman, should be punished for the romance; and in such a horrible, violent way. 

Everyone hoped Sister Clodagh would run off with Mr Dean

Sexual tension between Sister Clodagh and Mr Dean reached boiling point

The simmering sexual tension between Sister Clodagh and Mr Dean ranks up yet another notch in episode three of Black Narcissus – but sadly it’s not to be. In one of the final scenes, Sister Clodagh, who is taking her leave of the palace along with the other nuns, tells Mr Dean she cannot be with him “in this life”. Cue: a collective groan of disappointment from viewers, who would far rather that Clodagh renounce her habit and waltz off into the sunset with her amour who never was.

Sister Ruth’s breakdown provoked a mixed reaction

Aisling Franciosi in Black Narcissus
An increasingly disturbed Sister Ruth grappled with reality

Young Sister Ruth has been a pretty bitter and divisive figure throughout the series, not least this latest episode when she appeared to take pleasure in Kanchi being whipped. At the same time, however, she is increasingly disturbed by hallucinations involving Srimati’s ghost. 

While some viewers interpreted Sister Ruth as a victim teenager with severe mental health problems, others welcomed her demise last night – which came after a dramatic tussle with Sister Clodagh on the roof of the bell tower. In true Twitter style, still other viewers were concerned with the obvious health and safety issues around said tower: where were all the fences?

A beautiful, eerie tale – or a disappointment? The jury’s out

The BBC's version of Black Narcissus drew mixed verdicts

Ultimately, the finale of Black Narcissus split opinion on Twitter. Some viewers applauded the “atmospheric” and “stunning” TV adaptation, while others were left somewhat underwhelmed. For those in the former camp, it’s a good excuse to visit the original book and film, with their abundance of brooding suspense.  

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.