THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE (UK) Series 1 Episode 2 Review

The Crimson Petal and the White

THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE Series 1 Episode 2 – The plot sort of barreled ahead this week without really giving us time to really understand the characters, save for Sugar. We learn that Agnes became ill after having a child, a daughter who is brought up by her nurse and who William cares so little for that he begrudges the thought of spending money on a governess. And Henry realises the depths of his feelings for Mrs Fox too late, becoming distraught when he learns she is dying from consumption. (I shall come back to Henry later.)

At least with Sugar we get enough clues to come to the conclusion that she’s looking for love, stability and purpose in her life. She enjoys the freedom that comes with William moving her into her own flat, but she seems to enjoy his company even more. Could she be falling in love with him? Perhaps. But Sugar also cares for Agnes, his mentally unstable and somewhat neglected wife, even going so far as to follow her on a trip to the theatre and look after her when she has a bad turn.

This was probably the most interesting part of episode 2, for me. While Sugar seemed somewhat calculating and distant in episode 1, this week she was so soft (as remarked on by a fellow prostitute) that I almost wanted her to shun William and befriend Agnes. I’m interested in learning how she views Agnes. Is it as a potential friend? A woman to be pitied? Someone not unlike Sugar herself?

Presumably William will decide to take Sugar on as governess for his daughter. Will Agnes remember the face of her ‘angel’ from the brief glimpse through her bedroom window?

I was confused by Henry’s storyline. Episode 1 established that he had feelings for Mrs Fox and the first three-quarters of episode 2 showed that those feelings were quite deep indeed. We weren’t given a chance to really get to know these two characters, though, and so Mrs Fox’s illness wasn’t as upsetting as it probably should have been (despite an awesome performance from Shirley Henderson) and Henry’s eventual death was downright baffling. Did he intend to kill himself? Was it all just a bit of symbolism that went too far?

I won’t deny that the scene was powerful, but the death of two characters that we hadn’t really learned all that much about was an anticlimax. I was hoping we would find out just why Mrs Fox was so interested in helping prostitutes, in seeing Henry grapple with his feelings for her just a little longer. Two episodes and comparatively few scenes just wasn’t long enough.

Regardless, this was an entertaining watch and I’m eager to see what episode 3 brings next week.

What did you think of episode 2? Let us know in the comments below!

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