This article contains information that could be considered too revealing according to our spoiler policy. Proceed with caution. You can't unsee it!Reason In the U.S., Netflix released the whole first season the same day; it's also already aired in Canada.
As The Season Ends, Would We Say Anne With An E Is Even About Anne?
And other questions sparked by 'Wherever You Are Is My Home.'
Will Anne ever see her puffed-sleeve dress again?
When Matthew has a heart attack and Marilla is forced to sell anything that's not nailed down in order to meet the terms of the high-yield mortgage he took out, Anne volunteers to return the dress of her dreams and give the proceeds to the family. Marilla says it's not necessary, but in a moment of family loyalty, Anne insists.
I loved this addition to the story: that dress has so much emotion tied up in it, and losing it raises the stakes even further. Because it's a significant object for Anne, but also for Matthew and Jeannie, I suspect we haven't seen the last of those incredibly puffy sleeves. After all, Jeannie is very nice, and has a lot of feelings about Matthew, and Matthew has a lot of feelings about Anne, and Anne has a lot of feelings about, well, everything. Fingers crossed Jeannie can safeguard the dress until the Cuthberts' financial and personal-safety issues are resolved, and then we'll see it again. Anne can wear it to Matthew and Jeannie's eventual modest wedding! ...IF HE DOESN'T DIE FIRST.
Who would hire sweet, tiny Gilbert Blythe to work at the docks?
While Anne and Jerry are in Charlottetown to sell the Cuthberts' stuff, they run into Gilbert: after closing up the house in the previous episode, he went to town and got a job at the docks, in hopes of getting onto a ship and traveling the world.
Now, I love Lucas Jade Zumann's rendition of Gilbert: he reads so young, and who wouldn't like this sensitive, respectful kid with wonderful social skills? I bet he would come up with a killer promposal, in today's parlance. And I know plenty of boys took to the sea in those days, and I guess he's technically a man now that he's on his own, but is sweet young Gilbert truly meant for a life of back-breaking work and tattoos and, like, syphilis? Please tell me I've just read too many misleading books about the lives of sailors, and maybe send that kid to work in a bank or something.
Attempted suicide AND secret robbers? SERIOUSLY?
The story of Matthew Cuthbert is probably the saddest story in Anne Of Green Gables: shy, big-hearted farmer, unsuccessful in love, finally finds a suitable recipient for his feelings in the form of a lonely orphan girl, only to die before he can watch her grow up. As if that weren't heartbreaking enough, Anne With An E goes even darker: in a last-ditch effort to save his family from financial ruin, he tries to shoot himself for purposes of cashing in his insurance policy. Thankfully, Jeannie catches him, and she and Marilla give him an earful as they march him back to bed; he probably won't try THAT again.
But that's not all! This wouldn't be Anne Of Breaking Bad without an alarming cliffhanger ending. As the series comes to a close, Matthew, Marilla, and Anne take in a pair of lodgers to provide some income...
...but we know their new roommates aren't just nice Islanders looking for a tidy place to live. They're a pair of thieves who beat Jerry up and stole his wages in Charlottetown. Surprise!
I hate to be That Person who can't stop comparing the series with the book. I know this isn't the book, and I appreciate the impulse to shine some light into the dim corners of the story -- this series has done a really lovely job of examining the realities of Anne's pre-Island upbringing and Gilbert's new life as an orphan, the importance of class in Avonlea, and the heartbreaking stories of how Matthew and Marilla became retirement-aged sibling farmers. Committing to expensive production values and bringing an already-lush text to life is a great idea, and this show has done a lot of it beautifully.
At the same time, I don't understand the impulse to adapt a beloved story that everybody knows and make it halfway unrecognizable in both tone and detail. Part of the joy of Anne Of Green Gables is that secret robber-lodgers aren't required; the drama of growing up and becoming part of a family and a community is enough. Worse, to imply otherwise continues a long tradition of trivializing stories about women -- especially stories about young women -- which is especially galling on a show that spends so much time putting neat feminist slogans in its characters' mouths. The Matthew storyline, I don't mind so much; it's a dark take, but one that I think there's room for. But spending time on external problems, like the criminal element of Prince Edward Island, seems unnecessary when there are already so many internal ones to deal with. I'd rather see this show delve deeper with Anne herself than go hunting for trouble, thinking there isn't enough already.
Where are we?
So we've reached the end of the first season. One thing I appreciate about this show is its slow, deep take on the novel; I like, for example, that the question of Anne's staying or going isn't resolved for two full episodes, and we don't even venture into the schoolhouse until a third of the way through. I guess the tradeoff for a loose adaptation of the book is that there's no pressure to fit the whole story into seven episodes -- and at this rate, there's enough story to fuel this show for years. Because of all this, though, it's hard to tell where we are. Lots of iconic moments from the book haven't happened -- no green hair, no ridgepole walk, no getting stuck on a bridge piling in the middle of the river and rescued by Gilbert -- but because the series isn't sticking all that closely to the book, it's hard to predict whether those things haven't happened yet or simply aren't coming at all.
Where do we go from here?
Obviously, someone (someone whose name rhymes with Jan, perhaps?) will have to take care of these new bad guys down the hall and then come up with some alternate income source. Fine. That's Episode 1 of the next season sorted.
But then there's the question of Gilbert and the problem of where to put him -- whether or not he gets a spot on one of those merchant ships, can he really come back to the Avonlea school and compete with Anne, after all he's been through? There's no question that we'll see him again, but neither sending him out to into the world nor stuffing him back into the context of spelling bees and girls in pinafores seems to make any sense.
Ironically, the only person who isn't the source of much story at the turn of the season is Anne herself: she's barely changed at all since she became a Cuthbert, and her actions are far more reactive than I'd expect from a show with her name on it. (Again we hear feminist words coming out of her mouth without a lot of agency or depth of characterization on her part.) I hope the second season, assuming there is one, will give her more to do and put its money where its mouth is.