VERIFICATION: The Lights – Season 1, Episode 3, Rise
Miss Wetherell is dressed as a mermaid, Captain. So you don’t have to listen to a word she says.
Mr. Mannering visits Anna in the Luminaries this week. He gives him a pass to the gold mines. Later, Anna wakes Crosby up and tells him that the key to the locker is gone. He approaches Lydia on the street and finds a key in her dress and a bag too light to be gilded in a safe. Emery wakes up when Te Rau leaves Tauwhare and asks if he can accompany him. Mr. Carver visits Lydia, supposedly to pick up her laundry, and Anna overhears them muttering about whether they should do something now or wait. When Lydia returns, Anna suggests they go see Crosby. Lydia goes in alone and says he’s fine and won’t let Anna into the room. Mr. Lauderback arrives to meet Lydia, but finds Mr. Carver, who claims to be Mr. Wells. He shows Lauderback clothes full of gold, all loaded in his trunk. Carver offers to make it all go away in exchange for the Lauderback ship. Lydia and her guests make noise while Carver attacks a sleeping, drugged Crosby. Thanks to Anna, Mr. Wells, however, what happened to him and beat Carver, cutting off his face and leaving him for dead. He also breaks up with Anna and accuses her of orchestrating the whole thing with Lydia. The next day, Lydia is courted by France Carver and asks Anna to leave the house. Crosby is aboard the ship Lauderback was trading with, but the crew ties him up, probably because of what happened to Carver. He jumps overboard and lands on the shore, where Emery and Te Rau Tauhare are searching for gold. They take him outside and listen to his story. In the meantime, Anna accepts Mr. Wayne’s offer. He gives her a hotel room, a bottle of laudanum and some clothes. Later she dressed and went on a business trip with her other ladies. When Anna is dropped off at home, she sneaks up on Mr. Sook, who now works in an area called Chinatown. He blames her for her situation because she gave him laudanum and got him addicted. Meanwhile, Carver wants to take a boat ride and forget about Crosby and the gold. Lydia, however, does not want to give up her business to live on the meager wages Francis can earn as a prisoner. Mr. Mannering comes to Chinatown to find Anna and reprimand her for playing with the Chinese. So Mannering tells them, especially Sook, not to touch it because it’s his. When Anna gets home, Mr. Wayne tells her she’s pregnant. In the future, Lydia will miss Crosby’s funeral.
Leverage is probably the best episode of Luminaries, but that doesn’t mean much. Some plots begin to deepen; Lydia’s party was planned to divert attention from the argument between her husband and his lover upstairs. She arranges a meeting with Lauderbeck so that Francis, disguised as Crosby, can blackmail him into signing a contract for a love boat to escape. The show still fails to make people understand what is happening and why. The scene where Crosby is docked on a ship that technically bears his name troubled me. The captain hears nothing, and his men cuff him as soon as they see him. It is revealed later in the episode that the captain did not know the ship had a new owner, but the scene in question is a real disaster. Even if the program stays in the same time block and doesn’t change location, it’s hard to keep up.
Lever is one of the best actors of the series so far. Marton Chokas and Ewen Leslie are the same height as Francis and Crosby. This fight scene is pure adrenaline, which is probably the biggest emotion I haven’t felt in this series. Leslie portrays Crosby equally well, whether he’s a bumbling drunk or just a man frustrated with his harpy wife. Eve Hewson is as expressive as ever, but Eva Green’s Lydia really lets loose this week. She’s great in the scene where she begs Crosby to let Francis live, and when she treats him and tells Anna to leave. Apparently Anna must be a sympathetic lot; she was robbed, manipulated and drugged by Lydia. But Green shines here, and we see what really motivates her. She does terrible things for love, while Anna does very little except spy. Eve Hewson’s play confuses me about this character. She almost never talks or thanks anyone, even if they do something good for her. A character who rarely speaks can show a lot of emotion in facial expressions and body language. Sometimes that’s more effective than talking. In fact, some of the most popular characters don’t say much; have you heard of the Mandalorian? But Hewson still has that look of indifference on her face, like she’s tired or bored. Girl, I’m sick of this show too, but you can at least pretend to care about your job. Apart from Anna’s lack of emotion and interesting dialogue, she’s not someone I like. She always acts like everyone owes her something, even those who have done nothing to her. It is understandable that she regrets having prostituted herself for Mannering, but it does not seem fair to despise him as much as she does. She agreed to render services, and he gave her a nice hotel room, some clothes, and prepared her precious laudanum. It could be argued that he shouldn’t be in this business at all, let alone providing drugs to vulnerable young women. However, this is the reality of the company where Anna went to work, and she willingly agreed to work for Mannering. I don’t see why you should be interested in this character. She is not intelligent, kind, generous or even resourceful. She is a blank slate, reacting to what is happening around her. She seems to blame everyone for her problems, even when they do their best for her.
I also don’t think The Luminaries develops Anna and Emery as a couple that well. It’s not just that they didn’t see each other for most of the episode, I understand that’s part of the journey. Their first meeting was nothing special, and Anna seemed to have no further interest in finding Emery. Meanwhile, Emery tries harder than she does, but he and Tauhar have better chemistry than Anna. I wish they had focused more on those two and less on all the other plots. The rest of the show is about drugs, prostitution and murder. It’s nice to stop by and see two people who have their own challenges, but who explore and make friends along the way. I don’t care about Lydia and Frances, only Lydia is passionate. The growing bond between Tauhar and Emery is like a nightlight in a dark room. It’s the only respite from the dull boredom of the rest of the story and characters.
Game plans are still a big mess. The acting is excellent with some of the actors, but not with the leads. The story is messy and boring, and it’s hard to get involved in Anna’s journey.
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