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Cornelia and Eli in The English and Their Epic Love Story – Old Hollywood Style

We put the romantic moment spotlight on Cornelia and Eli and their Old Hollywood-style ending.


THE PAIRING: Cornelia and Eli

THE EPISODE: “Cherished” (2022) – The final episode.

THE MOMENT: Cornelia and Eli, a beautiful example of kindred spirits, share an Old Hollywood-style ending in The English finale. 


The English Cornelia and Eli still

The romantic epic is an underutilized genre in film and television, yet some of the most successful movies of all time – Titanic and Gone with the Wind – are epics.

Well, the epic love story between Cornelia and Eli in the 2022 limited series, The English, revitalizes the romantic epic with one of the most beautiful romances to grace the small or large screen in years.

On the surface, The English looks like a traditional Western, but a mix of genres is underneath it. Part revisionist Western, part period drama, part romantic epic, and even part mystery, The English is a co-production between the United Kingdom and the United States, and it is absolutely gorgeous.

At its heart is the powerful love story between Lady Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt) and Sergeant Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer), a Pawnee scout, two strangers fated together by a shared history and a soulmate connection.

The English is unabashedly romantic and heartbreaking, with jaw-dropping twists you don’t see coming and a tragic romance as powerful as an Old Hollywood award-winning classic. But with a modern twist, of course.

From the emotional swell of music during romantic moments to sweeping scenery and brilliant characterization to meaningful stares, longing glances, and electric touches between Eli and Cornelia, The English will sweep you off your feet and break your heart in all the best ways.

The Romantic Moment Spotlight

Before diving into the romantic moment, I wanted to explain the Romantic Moment Spotlight. We like to spotlight memorable romantic moments from film and television. And occasionally, books.

These are often swoony, emotional, or a reminder of good storytelling. We look for authenticity, chemistry, and scenes that reflect aspects of chivalrous romance with a modern edge.  

And while we closed our regular feature (Romantic Moment of the Month – previously Romantic Moment of the Week), we decided we still wanted to write about romantic moments as they inspired us!

So, this is our first romantic moment since we closed the column. But I felt really moved by the Cornelia and Eli romance and felt the inspiration to once again write about a powerful romantic moment that deserves the spotlight.

And we hope to do more spotlights in the future as the inspiration strikes.

So, let’s get to it.

The Story and Cast of The English

The English promotional art

The English is a newer Western miniseries jointly produced by the BBC and Amazon Prime. Helmed by Hugo Blick (writing and directing), the series debuted in the United Kingdom on November 10, 2022, while crossing the Atlantic to premiere on Amazon Prime Video the following day: November 11, 2022, to positive reviews.

The English stars Emily Blunt and Chaske Spencer (from the Twilight Saga) in the main roles, with a talented supporting cast beside them.

The series includes Tom Hughes as Thomas Trafford; Rafe Spall as David Melmont; Stephen Rea as Sheriff Robert Marshall; Valerie Pachner as Martha Myers; Toby Jones as Sebold Cusk; Ciaran Hinds as Richard W. Watts; Nichola McAuliffe as Black-Eyed Mog; Malcolm Storry as Red Morgan; Tonantzin Carmelo as Touching Ground; Steve Wall as Thin Kelly; Julian Bleach as Corporal Jerome McClintock, and more.

The story follows Lady Cornelia Locke, an Englishwoman of conviction whose odyssey unfolds against the backdrop of the American West in 1890. Stricken by the loss of her son and fueled by a resolute desire for retribution against his father (whom she claims is responsible for her son’s passing), Cornelia’s path intersects with Eli Whipp’s.

As an ex-cavalry scout of the American army with ties to the Pawnee Nation, Eli is on a mission to pursue ancestral claims to land in Nebraska (land he feels he’s owed due to his military service), despite skepticism from others.

Cornelia and Eli get photo taken

Together, their trajectories collide, revealing a potential shared history that transcends their individual quests, ultimately leading to an epic love story written in the stars. They continue the quest together – side by side – as they help each other.

Against the sprawling canvas of the untamed West, themes of grief and vengeance intermingle, as elegantly penned by writer-director Hugo Blick and eloquently brought to life by Emily Blunt’s performance.

Cornelia and Eli – The Lead-In

The English cornelia and eli kiss episode 5

Throughout the six-part series, the relationship between Cornelia and Eli develops slowly and authentically so that when the two finally share an emotional kiss under the night sky in episode 5 (with a crescendo of epic music), you really feel the authenticity of their impossible love.

Unfortunately, Cornelia pulls away from Eli and instead covers herself in mud, perhaps as a reaction to her own illness and perhaps trauma from her past.

We learn that Cornelia Locke has come to the American frontier to get revenge on the villainous David Melmont – a man who assaulted, impregnated, and then infected her and their child with syphilis. It is this STD that causes Cornelia’s son to pass away.

She’s also slowly dying with hidden sores from the disease on her hands and body.

Emily Blunt explained to TVLine the reasoning behind Cornelia pushing Eli away and covering herself in the dirt:

“It’s like she is trying to dissociate from her own decline, and the disease that is taking over…

Up until point, she is trying to keep it at arm’s length. All that matters is that she gets to this big bad wolf… In that moment, it’s this confrontation for her — this hopefulness…that is starting to build [between her and Eli], and the shame of what is happening to her body.

When she goes and has that dustbath, it felt like she was trying to rub [the disease] off her body… like she’s trying to escape… like she’s trying to rid herself of it. It’s desperate and a moment of madness… This fever that she’s trying to keep simmering beneath the surface and not acknowledge… is taking great hold.”

Lady Cornelia finds newfound love and strength with Eli – a man she feels she’s connected to through magic. Sadly, however, she knows they can’t be together due to her illness.

Eli and Cornelia in The English still

In the series finale, Eli and Cornelia finally face Melmont – a genuinely evil man responsible for the Chalk River Slaughter (connected to Eli’s family and past) and Cornelia’s suffering.

As Cornelia faces him, she finds she cannot shoot him. But she doesn’t have to. Another victim of Melmont, Martha Myers, shoots him instead. Eli then finishes the job by stabbing Melmont with his blade, finally ending the truly evil Melmont.

The only problem is that Eli’s responsible for stabbing Melmont – even doing it in front of Sheriff Marshall. But Marshall has a just plan considering the amount of trauma and sorrow the powerful David Melmont has caused everyone.

Sheriff Marshall initially arrests Whipp but agrees to disguise the truth from the townsfolk (and people who would try to avenge Melmont) and let him go but with a condition:

Eli must disappear forever, and he and Cornelia must separate. She will return to England to live out the rest of her life, while Eli must leave and go into hiding (of sorts) so Melmont’s men won’t hunt him.

This outcome leads us to the romantic moment:

A tragic but epic goodbye between the kindred spirits, Lady Cornelia Locke and Eli Whipp.

Romantic Moment – Cornelia and Eli

After Sheriff Marshall lets Eli go and tells him to disappear, Eli remains hesitant to leave Cornelia behind – especially without saying goodbye.

Eli gets on his horse and looks around for Cornelia – deciding which direction to go – much to the frustration of Marshall, who’s trying to save his life.

Sheriff Marshall: There’s only one way out, and that’s not it.

As dramatic music plays, Eli stays grounded, waiting in suspense – hoping to see Cornelia – and refusing to leave.

The English ending still
The English ending of Eli on a horse.

We then hear Cornelia calling Eli’s name as she approaches him on a horse. They ride toward each other amid gorgeous scenery and beautiful cinematography.

The English ending still

“Eli, what’s happening?” Cornelia asks, fearful she’s losing him.

As the Sheriff yells out for Eli to leave – reiterating that time is running out, Eli decides to stay put to explain to Cornelia that the time for them to part has come.

The English ending still of Emily Blunt

But she won’t accept it. She believes all their time together and the events that transpired are magic. “All of it!” she tells Eli.

The English ending still of Chaske Spencer

“Time to go home,” he again reiterates.

“No!” Cornelia declares – as she jumps off her horse and walks away – refusing to accept another significant loss.

Eli stands behind Cornelia

Eli steps off his horse and walks over to Cornelia, standing respectfully behind her.

“Home is here,” she tells him, “With you.” Cornelia turns around to look at him but begins sobbing as denial transforms into heartbreak and then acceptance.

“Where will you go?” she asks Eli.

“Back to the Loup,” he replies.

Eli tells Cornelia you have to let go

When she questions why, he responds with deeper meaning, “Sometimes you gotta see a thing, just to let it go.”

“I can’t let you go…I can’t!” Lady Cornelia repeats.

Eli continues to speak with greater subtext and emotional pauses between words: “Short or long…we ain’t here but a moment. You nor me. None of us…But that star of yours…”

“Scorpio,” she answers.

“Next time you see it, look to its right. The Wolf. Beside her. Won’t never change.”

Here, Eli reveals his true feelings to Cornelia. He will love her forever and always be with her in spirit – even if they can’t be together now.

The English ending still - beginning of hug.

She smiles, accepting. Eli then holds out his arms – welcoming her into an embrace.

Eli hugs Cornelia in The English finale.
The English ending still of Eli kissing Cornelia on side of the head.

The two stare meaningfully into each other’s eyes and hug. He then kisses her on the side of the head.

The English ending still of a wide shot of Eli and Cornelia.

As the Sheriff again reminds Eli that he must go, Eli caresses Cornelia’s face and walks back to his horse.

The English ending

But they’re still not ready to say goodbye to each other. With emotional, romantic music, the two ride back to each other as Cornelia calls out to him again.

She has a gift for him. “It’s wheat seed,” she explains to Eli as she hands him a bottle of seeds from the Mennonites. It’s for the day when he claims his land. She believes his dream of claiming his land will come true.

The English ending; she hands him wheat seed

He then hands her something significant of his: a small bird skull. Eli places it in her hand with care and meaning.

“I found it…with you,” he says – implying home.

The English ending; final shot of Eli watching Cornelia ride away into the sunset.

They smile at each other for the final time. And then Cornelia begins to ride away into the sunset – as he watches her leave.

Eli begins chanting as she rides away with the Sheriff. The camera follows her emotions as she trots – the scene presented in slow motion. It’s about as epic and tragically romantic as any Old Hollywood film.

“I cherish you.” He yells out one final time – leaving us with the last shot of Eli in the entire series, looking out at the sun on the horizon.

While they can’t be together physically – their souls are connected in the most beautiful way – leading to one of the most authentic and heartfelt romances I’ve seen in a while.

The English Ending Explained

eli and cornelia photo 1903

Thirteen years after Eli and Cornelia go their separate ways (1903), The English ending brings us to England with a much sicker Cornelia.

She holds onto the picture she and Eli took together and now covers her face with a veil. Sick and disfigured, Locke attends Jackson’s Wild West Show – the show she helped fund during her time in the West – and visits the young boy she and Eli saved: White Moon (the son of Running Hawk).

The now older White Moon stars in the Wild West show, portraying Eli Whipp. The performance act tells the legendary tale of Sergeant Eli Whipp and the English lady he crossed paths with. So, in one more way – their epic romance continues to live on in story and legend.

And while the final shots of the series show the actual footage of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in England and Melmont’s trading store (seemingly built over the graves of Native Americans), The English is entirely fictional with a beautiful story I won’t soon forget.

But what happened to Eli Whipp? Well, the actor Chaske Spencer revealed his thoughts to TVLine:

“I feel like Eli has found peace at the end…I always pictured Eli on his land, using the seeds which Cornelia gave him to create life and to create food. I feel like he started over as much as he could. I don’t think he ever moved on to anyone [after Cornelia]. I always thought of Eli as a loner; that’s just the way that he is.”

It sounds like an apt ending to the beautiful epic love story of Cornelia and Eli—a great love to remember. 

Content Note Warning: TV-MA for some graphic, disturbing violence, and occasional profanity.

What did you think of the Eli and Cornelia romance? Did you like The English? How did you feel about the ending? Discuss in the comments!

Credit for photos: Amazon Studios/BBC/All3Media

Cornelia and Eli in The English and Their Epic Love Story – Old Hollywood Style pinterest image


By on August 22nd, 2023

About Amber Topping

Amber works as a writer and digital publisher full-time and fell in love with stories and imagination at an early age. She has a Humanities and Film Degree from BYU, co-created The Silver Petticoat Review, contributed as a writer to various magazines, and has an MS in Publishing from Pace University, where she received the Publishing Award of Excellence and wrote her thesis on transmedia, Jane Austen, and the romance genre. Her ultimate dreams are publishing books, writing and producing movies, traveling around the world, and forming a creative village of talented storytellers trying to change the world through art.

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