Well, it’s hard not to get a little excited as a shipper when you see an episode title like “The Proposal,” isn’t it? Of course, Miss Scarlet and the Duke 2×06 is not going THERE yet. But it is a thrilling season finale and probably my favorite episode of the entire series so far. (Yes, I’m aware I said something similar about the previous episode, but it’s still true!)
Eliza Scarlet (Kate Williams) and William Wellington (Stuart Martin) began this season by putting aside any romantic future for themselves. “For now,” were William’s exact words. This was obviously a tough moment for shippers, but we also got to watch the two stay colleagues and friends. They have also evolved as people over the course of the season. Since this is a season finale, it only makes sense for the audience to expect some sort of progress for the central relationship of a show. This episode may not give the viewer THAT kind of proposal, but Eliza and William’s relationship is always in focus.
The story arc involving William being forced by the police commissioner to take a job in Glasgow was set up earlier in the season and is now reaching a resolution. And the effect of that on our two favorite detectives in Victorian London is very much worth watching. Oh, and so is the case they solve in this episode! Miss Scarlet and the Duke 2×06 will make fans cheer and swoon. A lot.
“You make me want to be a fairer man.”
The various plot strands begun earlier in the season appear early in this episode in a way that does the writers credit. With William leaving, Eliza feels she’s in a vulnerable place. First, Patrick Nash (Felix Scott) repeats his job offer and reveals he has sent clients Eliza’s way so she’ll have work. Eliza is still unconvinced. Then, harsh words from Eliza’s frequent antagonist, Mrs. Parker, about a woman’s old age prompt Eliza to change her mind. This sequence of events feels authentic. Eliza is someone who values her autonomy above all else, so she wouldn’t agree to work with Nash except under this buildup of circumstances.
But then something unexpected happens. Eliza is telling Nash she will do a trial case for him when shots ring out and Nash is hit. The writers give fans an entertaining throwback when Eliza and Moses (Ansu Kabia) figure out that Eliza was the real target. The person responsible was the man Eliza caught during her first case as a private investigator: Joseph Simms (Aidan McArdle). He was a con man who was trying to steal his wife’s inheritance by having her declared insane.
It’s delicious to watch Eliza outsmart him yet again. So satisfying.
“And I’m fine with that.”
Another satisfying moment comes with the resolution of the season-long plotline where William has been mentoring the police commissioner’s son, Fitzroy (Evan McCabe). Fitzroy started out seeming incompetent but was really just browbeaten by his father. He simply needed time to grow his skills. However, his father doesn’t understand that and is just blaming William.
When Fitzroy gets wounded trying to apprehend Simms, the situation comes to a head. To see Fitzroy thwart his father by gathering all the other officers to protest William’s removal…well, as I said, it’s satisfying.
No, actually, it’s more than satisfying. I was literally cheering at my TV.
What had me doing the opposite of cheering was what happens to Hattie Parker (Jessie Cave). Eliza had befriended the girl because she is the cousin of her friend and investor, but she truly cares about her future now. Hattie wants to marry someone of her own choosing, but her aunt (yes, that same Mrs. Parker) has arranged her marriage anyway. Eliza is surprised when she learns Hattie is engaged, saying Hattie should get to marry someone she likes. Hattie’s response will break your heart.
“I have liked many gentlemen in the past. The trouble is, it has not been reciprocated.”
Talk about an emotionally effective way for the writers to remind us of what women faced at that time. As well as being immensely relatable to today.
“It’s always a competition.”
Meanwhile, Eliza is facing the loss of William, from London and from her daily life. So far, Eliza and William have had quite a slow burn. The audience never doubts their attraction to each other or how much they mean to each other, but they also easily butt heads. I think it’s because of the ways they’re similar to each other. This episode has another fight between them early on, when Eliza tries to offer William a job so he can stay in London. William’s ruffled feathers don’t last when it turns out Eliza is in danger, though. That’s how you know a ship is strong — any fight is not enough to push them out of each other’s lives.
Both Eliza’s latest case and William’s almost-relocation from Scotland Yard evoke soul-searching in each of them. Eliza becomes more vocal than she has been before about how she feels. In fact, she is about to tell William something she “should’ve said a long time ago,” which seems like “I love you.” She only stops when she learns he is staying in London. Eliza may hold back about declaring her feelings right now, but William is persistent about trying to find out what she was about to say. That’s a change for him from where he was at the beginning of the season. Each of them still have a bit to go before they are ready to be together and face everything that that would mean, but this episode gives fans undeniable progress.
Miss Scarlet and the Duke 2×06 ends season 2 exactly the way it should: with viewers pleased and wanting more. Good thing season 3 is coming so soon!
Miss Scarlet and the Duke airs Sunday at 8PM on PBS.