The closing episode of the Death Comes to Pemberley adaptation was extremely satisfying from a character point of view, but the cheesy “last minute rescue” resolution to the murder trial had me half-cringing and half-laughing. Too Hollywood to take seriously!
Without giving anything away, I’ll just say that the resolution of the murder case was the 19th century equivalent of, stopping the bomb with one second left on the clock. I cringed. But at least it was very well-acted!
However, the character development was great. The Elizabeth and Darcy dramas were resolved. I especially liked a scene that happens at a point when they’re barely talking to each other, but Darcy still stops to tuck a sleeping Lizzie in before leaving for the trial. It spoke volumes about their relationship.
I really didn’t watch this series for the murder mystery. In fact, anybody who has read a few crime books will probably figure everything out long before the characters do, well filmed and acted as it was.
What I did watch it for was a chance to see fabulous actors bringing famous characters to life. I honestly think I got more of a sense of 19th century life from this series than I have from many Austen adaptations. I also enjoyed seeing the slightly more mature characters going about their days. Romantic historical fiction tends to focus solely on the very young, and until now I didn’t really realise how much we miss out on because of it.
Penelope Keith’s brief appearance as Lady Catherine de Bourgh was interesting. To see a very different dynamic between this formidable lady and Elizabeth was interesting. She seems to have accepted things, even if she doesn’t like them. Keith played the role very differently to how I’ve seen it played before.
So, was Death Comes to Pemberley worth watching? I’d say yes, definitely. Absolutely. It hasn’t inspired me to run out and buy every Pride and Prejudice spinoff on the shelves, but I’m really glad I watched it. I maintain that Anna Maxwell Martin isn’t ever going to be Elizabeth for me, but seeing her work with Matthew Rhys to bring two famous characters to life was amazing. I could watch them forever!
One final question: Why does Elizabeth only have one gown?! In the first episode she refers to her fine clothes. I was wondering where those fine clothes were! And the messy hair! No matter her personality, everything from her posture to her appearance made her seem more like a servant than a very rich lady married to a very important man!