In Defense of Death Comes to Pemberley aka A True Sequel?

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Welcome back! I am always on the lookout for new stories that feature my favorite characters. Whether it be fanfiction or a professional work, I am always open to following my favorite characters down new roads. As I talked about in yesterday’s blog, not everyone is as open as I am. Some people just see their favorite characters one-way and refuse to see them going down any other roads.

That statement could not be truer when it comes to the sequel Death Comes to Pemberley. I recently watched the series that aired over Christmas on BBC1. In America, it aired on PBS Masterpiece (as all good British television shows are). Either way many people had many opinions about this sequel. It started as a novel written by P.D. James in the same vein as Jane Austen. I have not read the book yet, but it is on the ever-growing list.

I did get to watch the adaptation on Netflix, and I quite enjoyed the experience. I was only planning to watch one episode before bed. However, as always, I ended up watching all three episodes of this miniseries.

In case you have no idea, what Death Comes to Pemberley is here is a little overview of the plot (without spoilers). The Darcy’s are throwing a ball. The night before the ball Lydia shows up in a horse-drawn carriage visibly upset and confident that Wickham’s been hurt. Darcy and crew go looking for him, and it changes everything for the Darcy’s and Bennets. It is a murder mystery, and Elizabeth/Darcy are Nancy and Ned! (get that reference you get a cookie). There are a lot of little subplots, but they work within the central mystery.

After watching the mini-series, I went to the internet to see what the general feelings were about this sequel. Well…I think I may have been the only one who enjoyed this series. So, I’m going to defend this sequel using the top three complaints. I know these are the main three complaints because anywhere I go that is what people are talking about consistently. I hope you read this and want to watch his fun miniseries too!

Complaint #1: The Actors Do not Fit Their Characters

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The big complaint I have seen on the internet is the cast is not right. Elizabeth and Darcy are played by Matthew Rhys and Anna Maxwell Martin and are, in my opinion, perfect for the movie. Everyone has a favorite Darcy out there, and I have to say that Matthew Rhys managed to bring his Darcy up to my top three. He has the right type of ‘growl’ to the character. That is how I describe Mr. Darcy. He needs this intense quietness or ‘growl’ to him for me to be happy. Anna Maxwell Martin was great as Elizabeth because she has settled into being a lady of the house but kept her independent flare that caught Darcy’s attention to begin with. She matches who I always pictured Elizabeth to look like. Elizabeth is not supposed to be an obvious movie star beauty. She is expected to have her own type of beauty. Something that isn’t like anyone else. This actress has that and more.

I think the chemistry between them was great. They knew each other now and knew when to push each others buttons. I loved the scene where Elizabeth’s mom wouldn’t stop talking about Wickham. All the Darcys had to do was look at each other to know what they should do next. They are a team and the two actors truly show that teamwork on the screen (even when their team is torn apart…you know they are finding their way back).

Complaint #2: The Characters Wouldn’t Have Done the Things they have Done

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I think a lot of people are still stuck in the Pride and Prejudice world. This film is sometime after that. The characters have settled in and formed new worlds. What we remember the characters to be, have changed. They have to change. It would be weird if Elizabeth and Darcy, as a married couple, are still having the same tension. There would be new tensions.

I also believe that people expected the Darcys to have that same bright spark. It was there but not so pronounced which makes perfect sense to me. They have been married for a while, that initial honeymoon period doesn’t last forever. They love each other, make jokes and even argue about what is best for Georgiana. They are settled, and the movie showed us that perfectly.

We also get to see how Darcy would handle scandal that comes from Elizabeth’s family (his as well. Technically Wickham is his ‘brother’). He could talk about it all he wants (he kind of does in the original) but having to handle it shows how far Darcy has come as a character. He almost falls into the trap of acting like his father but snaps out of it and looks at the situation from a different viewpoint.

Hey,…at least Lydia hasn’t changed much.

Complaint #3: Who the heck is that? Where is Mr. Bingley?

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(Where you in the original?!?  I don’t remember you. – Darcy’s Thoughts) 

Yeah. There are a few new characters in this story, but they need to pad out the small stories happening in the background. Also, my favorite new character would have to be Georgiana’s love interest, Henry. He is a bit of a rebel. Disagreeing with the last war that was fought. Like brother like sister, I see.

You need new blood to force the story forward. The original characters can only do so much. Since we are in their new worlds, there would be new characters to supplement the originals.

Sometimes Mr. Bingley can’t always be there. Can I offer anyone a Mr. Ben Lee?

General Thoughts

In general I love this sequel because I feel this was a natural progression for the characters. The murder mystery is needed as a plot device to challenge these characters since they may have become complacent in their roles (at least since we saw them).  I loved seeing Darcy and Elizabeth go through their challenges only to come out stronger, see characters like Whickim get more of a personality than just ‘greedy and evil’ (doesn’t the 2005 version imply he is abusive as well?). I love that the Bennet’s (that we see) never change. It is a fun watch and I highly recommend it.

I think what we all can take away from this little exercise is people will always see what they want to see. Everyone has a picture in their heads of how a character or situation would look. When it does, match well…people will make sure we all know about it on every social media site. I should know; I do that all the time. I’m not proud of it, but sometimes we all go a little crazy with our favorite characters sometimes.

Until next week, the randomness has ended. Hope you enjoyed.

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