THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE Series 1 Episode 4 - And so the story of Sugar and William Rackham ends. The episode showed the last of William’s cobbled together world dissolving: Sugar tries desperately to self-abort her pregnancy in secret and William tries to deal with the apparent death of his wife, and it all ends on a note of girl power, for lack of a better term.
The first two thirds of this episode were pretty good. Sugar’s hopefulness about William wanting an heir turning to despair when she realised she couldn’t allow herself to have his child was incredibly sad. That her own attempts at aborting failed while her upset over William and Lady Bridgelow possibly courting did the job made it all even worse.
But the miniseries sort of falls apart with the other characters. We come to realise that Agnes may still be alive and – hopefully – safe at the convent Sugar instructed her to find. Sugar herself, along with Sophie, will probably head to America for a fresh start. But there is absolutely no resolution for the sickly Mrs Fox, the abusive Dr Curlew or even poor harried Letty. And I still have absolutely no idea what Henry Rackham’s storyline in the first two episodes was supposed to achieve.
And what about William? No, he shouldn’t have started seeing a prostitute nor moved her into his home, but did he really deserve to lose everything? Curlew helped drive his wife insane, Bodley and Ashwell’s peer pressure and goading lead him to prostitutes. I’m not saying William is blameless, but he genuinely loved his wife and, when the opportunity presented itself, he showed he loved his daughter. So did he deserve to lose everything – or was Sugar in the wrong in the end? While I suppose this more an issue of source material (namely the novel of the same name), it didn’t play too well for me onscreen. I think more depth was called for, maybe in the form of more episodes.
Overall: The Crimson Petal and the White was an enjoyable watch with great production values. While the story was a little too open ended for my satisfaction, I would still recommend to others and plan to read the novel soon.
What did you think of episode 4 and the miniseries overall? Let us know in the comments below!
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