We’ve reached the end of this journey, and yet …this is not the end. Hopefully, it’s just the beginning.
When Beata and I started on this Anne With An ‘E’ journey, we didn’t know if we were going to like it – we didn’t know if we could look beyond the perfection that are the books for us, or that faithful, wonderful 1985 adaptation. We didn’t know what these reviews were going to say – if they were going to be gushing, middle of the road or just ragey rants.
In the end – they ended up in the middle, leaning towards good, I think, because though we both recognize this not exactly the Anne we grew up with, somehow …we still mostly enjoyed her.
Family is at the heart of this adaptation, of all that Anne has always been in every iteration, and that’s probably why Beata and I, consummate book snobs (we really make no apologies about it) have somehow found a place in our heart for this Anne.
This doesn’t supplant the books in my heart, or the 1985 adaptation, this is a new adventure, a new way of seeing something you thought you’d already experienced all sides of. Yes, it’s darker, and yes, it’s less outwardly hopeful, but, in a way that the original Anne just couldn’t, this Anne reminds us that there’s a lot of hope to be found in people being each other’s light while the darkness surrounds them.
It’s the same lesson, but maybe, one aimed at a different audience. Anne of Green Gables, the Anne of my childhood, was for happy youngsters, Anne With an ‘E,’ meanwhile, is for people who need to believe that happiness is still a possibility, even in dark times.
And it is. Anne is here to show us that, just as before. She’s just doing it in a slightly different way.
Let’s go into “Wherever You Are is My Home,” and explore the meaning of family once again as we say goodbye to Season 1.
“You’re a Cuthbert, for better or for worse. No getting out now,” Marilla tells Anne early on in the episode, when the Cuthbert’s financial troubles lead Anne to worry that they might send her back to the orphanage. We, as viewers, recognize how silly this notion is, but for Anne, who’s never really felt like she was part of something, who still, despite both Marilla and Matthew doing everything to make her feel like she belongs, feels like she isn’t really worthy of this ….a family, the reassurance is more than words. It’s like coming out for fresh air after struggling to breathe for so very long.
In a way, this episode is about that – about family and about things and about what’s important. Matthew considers suicide for a moment, not because he doesn’t want to keep living, but because he thinks it’d be better for Marilla and Anne if he weren’t around, they could live more comfortably.
But life isn’t about things, life is about people. Anne happily gives away her precious dress and Marilla collects just about everything she owns and sells it, because as important as material stuff is, people matter more. Family matters more. And, as Anne says near the end of this episode – they aren’t actually poor. They’re rich, for they have each other.
The other important lesson from the episode comes from one Miss Josephine Barry, who shows Anne and, by extension, Marilla, that love isn’t charity. Love is love. And yes, sometimes asking for help is the hardest thing in the world, but “sometimes you just have to let people love you.” It doesn’t make you less. It makes you more – because you have people willing to help.
And love is what makes Anne clean houses, what makes Diana give Anne her comb to sell, what makes Matthew consider taking his life, what makes Marilla sell everything, and in the end, love is what helps pull them through the hard times. Love. Not just family love, but love. And though love doesn’t solve all problems, the message we can take from this is that love does make everything much more bearable.
Love is strength.
ANNE AND GILBERT
I want to take a moment to talk about this, mostly because – wow is this different. Maybe not deep down, they’re still trying to one-up each other, and they still understand each other in a profound level, but the way they got to that understanding looks markedly different than it did in the books.
We know – and if you didn’t, sorry not sorry for spoiling you – that this not the end of the road for Anne and Gilbert, it’s merely the beginning. But this Anne is not so much the Anne that needed to read that book of revelation to come to accept what Gilbert means to her, what he might one day come to mean. This is as Anne – and a Gilbert, that will find a different way to get to the same point, and as much as I have always loved the story the way it is – I’m kinda curious about where this is going.
But, I do worry – and I think this is a normal worry, considering how much I’ve loved this story for ages, that they’re changing these two so much that, at the end of the day, they won’t be Anne and Gilbert. The show has done a good job in Season 1 of changing things up and still staying true to the message of the book, but, as they move forward, that will get more and more complicated, and that’s why I just want to say this about the love story of Anne and Gilbert: we love it like it is.
There’s no need to make it edgier or more dramatic. We just want them, as they are. And we can take the journey being different, as long as the characters aren’t. This is one of the most important parts of this story. Don’t take it from us. Please.
The season ends in a cliffhanger, though no one is actually in danger of falling off a cliff. This speaks to a) the confidence the writing team had in what they were putting out there and b) the prevailing notion that, even when we know the story TV is telling us, we need to be worried to continue watching.
I don’t necessarily agree with that final point, but I do understand the logic behind it. I am, kinda worried. And I do want more Anne. I just think I probably would have wanted more even without the evil boarders. But then again, if I’ve learned a lesson from this season is not to judge before I watch.
After all, before I started watching I figured there was no way I could like this, and here I am – asking for more.
Other things to note:
- I’ve got a high tolerance for bullshit, I do, but mess with Matthew Cuthbert and I’m done with you – forever. You hear me Josie Pye? DONE.
- As Anne would say – “this is a wound I shall bear forever.”
- “They’re not going to send you back. You read the Bible and everything.”
- WTF is an episode of the heart?
- This potential love interest for Matthew concerns me greatly, just because I’m wondering how willing they are to go wildly off-book. So far it’s been mostly things that have, despite the changes, kept to the spirit of the books.
- But – then again, there’s Jerry, and that could become an issue, and Gilbert/Anne seems like is going in a completely different direction.
- Not a bad one necessarily, maybe they can pull it off – but as enchanting as these two are together and as well developed as their relationship so far has been – how much more can they change till they’re not Anne and Gilbert?
- Also, who’s Gilbert living with? He’s a child!
- Okay, worries over, for now. Miss Josephine Barry is the best. Period.
- But hey, Mrs. Rachel Lynde comes close. And to think we didn’t like her at first.
- Matthew’s apology to Marilla is such a poignant moment and something I’m glad this series gave me. So much of this book and its adaptations has been from Anne’s POV, and if there’s something this series has done that the previous, beautiful 1985 movie hardly ever did, was go into the Matthew/Marilla dynamics.
- They’ve been each other’s everything for so long – how did Matthew expect Marilla to react, really?
- What are these guys going to steal? There’s absolutely nothing of value in the house. NOTHING.
- Yes, the title is Jane Eyre.
Anne With An ‘E’ is available to stream on Netflix right now.