Black Narcissus episode 2 recap: will Sister Clodagh break her vows for Mr Dean?

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Warning: this article contains spoilers for episode two of BBC One’s Black Narcissus, so do not read on unless you are fully up to date with the gothic horror series.

The second episode of BBC One’s Black Narcissus is another gloriously slow burn.

Sister Clodagh (Gemma Arterton)’s health worsens as winter sets in, prompting the raffish Mr Dean (Alessandro Nivola) to present her and the other nuns with warm, fur-lined boots at Christmas.

Sister Ruth (Game Of Thrones’ Aisling Franciosi), meanwhile, continues to be plagued by the ghost of Princess Srimati (Gianni Gonsalves) – and the forbidden feelings between her, Sister Clodagh, and Mr Dean come to a dramatic head.

Elsewhere, Sister Philippa (Karen Bryson) announces her desire to leave Mopu.

“It’s as though the mountains are watching us, not God,” she warns Sister Clodagh. “I think this is place is too much for all of us.”

Later, of course, the young General Dilip Rai (Chaneil Kular) and Kanchi (the enormously talented Dipika Kunwar) share a moment – a moment which does not go unnoticed by a sharp-eyed, and even sharper tongued, Sister Ruth.

And, come the dramatic episode finale, Sister Ruth dashes off into the woods in pursuit of Srimati’s ghost. Will Sister Clodagh find her before it’s too late?

All in all, it makes for a brilliant second episode of Black Narcissus. But has it left you with more questions than answers? Don’t worry: Stylist’s digital editor-at-large Kayleigh Dray is here to do her utmost best to unravel them all.

First things first, can we discuss the sexual tension between Sister Clodagh and Mr Dean? 

Mr. Dean and Sister Clodagh put aside their disagreement early on in this episode, and it’s clear from all their lingering looks and glances that there’s an obvious fondness growing between them.

“You’ve changed these last few weeks,” he tells her.

“Have I?”

“You’re nicer.”

Later, though, Sister Clodagh self-flagellates as she recalls the sexual exploits of her past. And, after a bitter argument about Mr Dean’s attending of the Christmas service drunk, something shifts between the pair.

“I’m sorry,” he says gently, staring into her eyes. “Clodagh isn’t your real name, is it? They make you change it.”

He tries to kiss her – and almost, almost succeeds. Clearly holding back a tidal wave of emotion, though, Sister Clodagh pulls back and informs him that her real name is, and will forever be, Clodagh. It is as if she is reminding both Mr Dean and herself of her role within the convent, and her sacred vows to God.

But will she break them before the series is complete?

And what of Sister Clodagh’s obsession with Mr Dean?

It’s all too clear that, while Mr Dean only has eyes for Sister Clodagh, he has attracted the unwanted attention of Sister Ruth.

Indeed, when he drunkenly happens upon the young nun in the chapel, she tries to put a sprig of holly in his hat. He awkwardly stops her, touching her wrist in the process – prompting Sister Clodagh to ask Sister Ruth if she was taken advantage of.

Naturally, Sister Ruth informs her that nothing could be further from the truth. But, when Sister Clodagh gently suggests that the younger woman may have become obsessed with Mr Dean, she replies bitterly: “Well, you’d know all about that, wouldn’t you?”

Cue some more vitriol, and a wild accusation that Sister Clodagh is only sending Sister Ruth back to Darjeeling to get her apparent love rival out of the way. But then the nun folds in on herself, almost.

“I don’t know what I’m saying sometimes,” she says softly, “and I don’t know what’s happening to me.”

Is Princess Srimati truly haunting Mopu?

Angu Ayah (Nila Aalia) keeps dropping hints about the tragic fate of the late Srimati Rai (Gianni Gonsalves), something which the nuns themselves soon pick up on. 

She bats away their questions, assuring them that the young woman’s story has been heard before: a young man told her he would love her, until a baby was born. Annoyingly, though, Angu is cut off before she can say anymore – but we do know that the young princess was locked away in a room in the months leading up to her death. That she clawed at the walls, leaving deep scratches in the paintwork. That her ghost walks the halls of Mopu, and that she shares a strange connection with the increasingly volatile Sister Ruth.

“I thought you said she was hungry,” Ruth snaps at Angu, when the older woman attempts to reassure her that Srimati will not hurt her. 

“She is,” replies Angu. “Hungry for happiness. Or maybe to be reborn. Or maybe… just for some milk.”

That explains why Sister Ruth has been dumping her own milk into the offering bowl, eh?

What is going on between Dilip Rai and Kanchi?

Viewers will no doubt have noticed the blossoming romance between Dilip Rai and Kanchi, which results in them sharing a soft kiss in the shadows over Christmas.

It’s worth remembering, though, that Kanchi is a local girl and Dilip Rai is royalty: theirs is the sort of relationship that will never go down well with the townspeople. And, with Clodagh responsible for the young orphan, she has a great deal to lose from this illicit romance should anyone learn of it.

Do we dare hope for a happy ending? 

The next episode of Black Narcissus will air Tuesday 29 December at 9pm on BBC One.

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Images: BBC One

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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