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Gentleman Jack recap: five things we learned in the season finale

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Meena Alexander
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Gentleman Jack: Suranne Jones as Anne Lister and Sophie Rundle as Ann Walker

The first season of Gentleman Jack has come to an end, and although the finale was satisfying in many ways, it left us wanting more of Suranne Jones’ wonderfully exuberant Anne Lister.     

Episode eight of Gentleman Jack wrapped up what has been, quite frankly, an emotional rollercoaster of a series – otherwise known as the real life story of 19th-century landowner and ‘first modern lesbian’ Anne Lister

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With the show already confirmed for a second season, we didn’t have to feel too wistful about saying goodbye to our heroine, but the emotional ending was still enough to bring a tear to our eye. 

Here are five things we learned:

Anne should probably move to Denmark

OK, maybe not quite that extreme, but it was clear she was thriving there – even if she was missing her beloved Ann Walker. Seeing Anne become the toast of high society while escorting a friend’s niece – the mischievous Sophie – to Copenhagen was joyous and fun.

It felt like she’d found a place where her uniqueness made her shine brighter, rather than stick out like a sore thumb, and even the Queen of Denmark was taken with her. 

She was out of her comfort zone and yet still in her element, and to see her whirling around the royal ballroom with a young woman in her arms felt like a poignant moment of abandon. 

Gentleman Jack: Suranne Jones as Anne Lister
Gentleman Jack: Suranne Jones as Anne Lister

She is truly loyal to Aunt Anne

Throughout the series we’ve got the sense that Anne relies on her elderly aunt for emotional support, but in the finale we see just how much she means to her. 

Receiving word from the family doctor about Aunt Anne’s failing health, she makes a dramatic journey home from Copenhagen, desperate to arrive back in Yorkshire while her aunt is still alive. 

Although clearly thrilled to see her health improved when she does return, Anne is furious about cutting her long-awaited trip so short: “I’ve risked my life and that of my two servants to get here,” she hisses at the doctor. “I haven’t taken this coat off for 15 days!” 

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Ann’s sister is married to a demon

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Because personally, we think if Ann Walker’s brother-in-law had any more airtime he would’ve quickly become the standout slimeball in this season. He is chillingly formal and polite with Ann, but the aggression is always lurking just beneath the surface.

It becomes clear in this episode that he intends to bully Ann – just like he does her sister – into doing his bidding, which this time happens to be marrying her off to one of his penniless cousins. 

And to make matters worse, this guy sounds awful: Ann’s sister divulges that his landed gentry title is not legitimate; he paid for it to gain clout. The 19th-century equivalent of paying for Instagram followers, perhaps?

 The Sowdens aren’t out of the woods yet 

Ah the Sowdens, Anne’s seemingly wholesome tenants with a very dark secret. Despite feeding his father to pigs, we can’t help but root for young Thomas Sowden, who is now stepping into his father’s shoes as head of the household and getting married. 

The lie that his father just walked off into the sunset one day – ‘confirmed’ by a made-up letter from his brother – seemed to have satisfied everyone’s questions, and it looked like the Sowdens were about to get a happy ending.

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But then said brother shows up looking for a place to stay and lets slip that he sent no such letter. We hope Thomas enjoyed his wedding, because he could be behind bars before long…

But our heroines are finally happy

With so many hurdles – from homophobia to abuse to breakdowns – Anne and Ann’s relationship has been an uphill climb. So to see them reunited on a blowy Yorkshire hilltop, in the most quintessential period-drama-romance kind of a way, we could have cheered.

They have realised they can’t live without each other and they agree to (finally!) get married – or at least exchange rings and take the sacrament together as their own private ritual of commitment.  

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The hilarious final scene of them leaving the church, exchanging banter as if they’ve already been married a decade, reminds us exactly why we’ve fallen in love with these two life-affirming characters.

But happily for us, it’s not goodbye. Just goodbye for now.

Images: BBC One

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Meena Alexander

Meena Alexander is Stylist’s sub-editor. She prides herself on her ability to spell big words, her vinyl collection and her photographic memory for every outfit Rihanna has ever worn.

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