SANDITON SEASON 2 REVIEW & DISCUSSION (SO YES, THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS ARTICLE. KEEP READING AT YOUR OWN RISK!)
After successful fan campaigns (perhaps made more so with the success of Bridgerton) following Sanditon’s shocking cancellation, a surprise renewal, and much anticipation, the period drama series Sanditon finally returned on PBS’ Masterpiece for season 2 on March 20, 2022.
Based loosely on Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, Sanditon follows the heroine Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) and her adventures in the Regency-era seaside resort town, Sanditon, while staying with the Parker family.
SANDITON SEASON 1
Season 1 had mixed reactions from the audience for various reasons: from a couple of risqué scenes to a polarizing love story that ended on an unfortunate cliffhanger.
But what it did have was Andrew Davies’ signature Austen-like wit with a memorable romance and entertaining storytelling. Not to mention a fandom so devoted (nicknamed Sanditon Sisterhood) they were able to help the canceled show come back from the dead.
So, the question is, after the long hiatus, would season 2 live up to fans’ expectations?
While more wholesome than the first season, season 2 of Sanditon still had a polarizing reaction amongst viewers.
But that was to be expected due to Theo James’ (the main love interest from season 1) exit from the series and the lack of season 1 writer and creator, Andrew Davies. Justin Young took over as lead writer for season 2.
Plus, introducing new love interests that have nothing to do with the unfinished romances of season 1 was sure to cause a variety of emotions amongst expectant Sanditon fans.
SANDITON SEASON 2 REVIEW
As for me, I have mixed feelings about Sanditon season 2. I waited to write my complete review until the entirety of the season to freely discuss what happened and give my thoughts on the season as a whole.
But before I do, let’s explore the story and new characters in the new season.
SANDITON SEASON 2: OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION
Sanditon, the fan-favorite drama inspired by Jane Austen’s final, unfinished novel is back for Season 2, airing on Sundays at 9/8c now through April 24, 2022. The story continues with its high-spirited heroine, Charlotte Heywood, returning to the picturesque coastal resort of Sanditon and the companionship of her friend Georgiana Lambe. What adventures, scandals, intrigue, and above all else — romance — await Miss Heywood this season?
Joining the Season 2 cast: Ben Lloyd-Hughes (Industry) as Alexander Colbourne, a handsome and enigmatic local recluse; Tom Weston-Jones (Shadow and Bone) as dynamic Colonel Francis Lennox; Rosie Graham (Outlander) as Charlotte’s hopeless romantic sister Alison; Frank Blake (Normal People) as diffident Captain Declan Fraser; Maxim Ays (Still So Awkward) as Captain William Carter; and Alexander Vlahos (Versailles) plays Sanditon’s Bohemian artist, Charles Lockhart.
THE STORY (SPOILERS)
Season 2 picks up almost a year after the events of season 1 with a tragic revelation: Sidney Parker has died – leaving no hope for a reunion between Charlotte and Sidney.
Not long after, and still secretly in mourning, Charlotte returns to Sanditon with her sister, Alison – the town continuing to grow in popularity thanks to Sidney’s wife’s financial assistance.
Still heartbroken, Charlotte feels marriage is now out of the question and decides to find a way to support herself. It’s then she makes a rather odd choice for her future. She decides the best way to keep her independence is to become a governess.
I’m not sure why Charlotte chooses to become a governess when she could respectably get paid to be Georgiana’s companion! But I digress.
Soon, Charlotte catches the eye of two potential suitors: Alexander Colbourne, the handsome and reclusive father and uncle of the two girls she’s teaching. And Colonel Francis Lennox, a charming military man of questionable morals.
Meanwhile, Georgiana Lambe (Crystal Clarke) becomes a more prominent player in the second season and continues to fend off obnoxious suitors after her money. But soon, she starts to fall for the Byronic-like artist, Charles Lockhart.
In other stories, Tom Parker (Kris Marshall) continues to falter as an entrepreneur; Esther (Charlotte Spencer) returns to stay with her aunt while dealing with personal difficulties, and Edward Denham and Clara Brereton return to cause trouble (and mess with Esther).
Elsewhere, Arthur and Georgiana become besties in a delightful new duo; and Charlotte’s sister, Alison, finds herself in a Cyrano-like love triangle with the Kenneth Branagh lookalike, Captain Declan Fraser and Captain Carter (two young soldiers in town with Colonel Lennox).
WHAT I LIKED:
I absolutely loved the characterization of the female characters this season, particularly Charlotte, Georgiana, Esther, and Clara.
I enjoyed watching Charlotte grow and change throughout the season. She’s more world-weary in season 2, but she still has her goodness and independence with a touch of naivety. Ultimately, Charlotte continues to shine as the protagonist in this Austen-inspired story.
I also liked Georgiana’s character arc as she searches for love and meaning in her life (even going on a sugar boycott to oppose the slave trade) amid all the predators wanting a piece of her inheritance. If you’ve watched season 2 so far, you know she had a new, seductive love interest this season. But does he like her as much as he claims to, or does he have an ulterior motive?
The season also leaves off with an intriguing revelation relating to Miss Lambe, which will be fascinating to see in the third season.
The Parkers, Lady Denham (Anne Reid), Esther, Edward (Jack Fox), and Clara also had good characterization and story arcs. However, my favorite story belonged to the “friendship” developing between Esther and Clara.
It was refreshing to see these two women bond in an odd way – both learning to recognize the abuse inflicted on them.
And then, of course, there are the romances. The only romance I completely loved was the developing love story between the Marianne-like (from Sense and Sensibility) sister, Alison Heywood, and the romantic and intelligent Captain Fraser. There was proper development between the two with an earned happy ending.
The other romances didn’t fare as well – which I’ll discuss below.
THE ROMANCES: BEWARE OF MAJOR SEASON 2 SPOILERS
CHARLOTTE, COLBOURNE, AND LENNOX
The central romance of season 2 becomes clear about halfway through the season: Charlotte and Alexander Colbourne, a reclusive man of wealth with secrets. When Charlotte becomes a governess for his daughter and niece, sparks fly.
If I’m being honest, I didn’t completely buy into the romance between Charlotte and Colbourne – although I think many will like it. However, I’m open to being won over in season 3.
Of course, I couldn’t help but compare him to Sidney (who I didn’t like at first but eventually, he grew on me) and wonder why they went the governess route for Charlotte.
Not that there’s anything wrong with Colbourne, per se. Perhaps it comes down to personal preference.
The homages to Austen felt a little too on the nose without being original, making me miss the clever dialogue from the previous showrunner Andrew Davies. Like season one or not, it was an intelligent period drama.
But the apparent copying of the Darcy, Lizzie, Wickham triangle between Colbourne, Charlotte, and Lennox was blatantly obvious to the point of distraction.
While I longed for something more original, the familiar plots are comforting. In the end, I liked Charlotte and Alexander, but I didn’t love them together.
And then there’s the question of how he treated his first wife. Is Captain Lennox as bad as Mr. Colbourne hints?
Indeed, the exchange between the two men in the season finale made me wonder if Colbourne downplayed his own faults to Charlotte relating to his first marriage – which is why he makes the wrong choice concerning Charlotte in the season 2 finale. He’s meant to be the Romantic Hero of the season, but I didn’t buy it.
He’s not Darcy making a grand gesture. Nor is he Rochester throwing aside society’s expectations in the name of love. His love for Charlotte proved to be more of a whimper than a bang as he treats her horribly in the season finale.
The series truly needed a couple of more episodes to develop their romance. I also felt they pushed the romance too quickly.
I would have preferred seeing Charlotte realize she has feelings for Colbourne at the end of the season – leading to more build-up in season 3.
Instead, the series dangled this romance, only to keep them apart to create conflict, and then gave us a rather unnecessary cliffhanger with Charlotte becoming engaged to a farmer. SIGH.
And then there’s the elephant in the room: Sidney.
When the Parkers received Sidney’s belongings, I hoped for a romantic letter for Charlotte there written secretly by Sidney. And not just information for Georgiana. A romantic tragedy can still be romantic.
Okay, clearly, I have a lot of feelings about this.
Honestly, I’d prefer to have Stringer return in a Captain Wentworth way next season to sweep Charlotte off her feet. But it seems Colbourne is their end game.
So, I’m hoping Colbourne will win me over! Perhaps on a re-watch of season 2, he’ll grow on me as Sidney did. Or maybe he’ll win me over next season.
GEORGIANA LAMBE AND ARTIST CHARLES LOCKHART
The other main romance was between Georgiana and Charles, the bohemian, Lord Byron-like artist. Of course, their love story was more about who Lockhart turns out to be (a relation wanting Charlotte’s money as warned by Sidney) rather than romantic.
So, there isn’t much to say other than it was an exciting story for Miss Lambe. I hope Georgiana finds happiness in season 3, as all Austen heroines deserve.
So, was the romantic period drama worth saving? Yes, absolutely. Is Sanditon season 2 worthy of Austen? No. But that’s probably an unfair comparison.
It is still a worthwhile period drama series set during the Regency Era because it is entertaining with memorable characters, even if it is frustrating for some viewers (including myself) when it comes to the central romance.
That said, based on the reactions I’ve seen online from other fans of the series, many love the romance in the second season, even preferring it over season 1. Again, I think this all comes down to preference and interpretation.
That love from the fans makes the series worth saving alone.
The writing is good and the characterization excellent. While the second season seems to have had a budget cut from season 1 (most noticeably with the sets, production design, special effects, and the number of episodes), the costumes and makeup are still fine. Plus, the entire cast gives good performances.
Ultimately, if you liked season 1, you will probably like season 2. It has all the qualities one might enjoy in a British period drama.
And while I haven’t been won over by the Colbourne/Charlotte romance yet, I still look forward to season 3 and have every expectation of being won over. You know, unless Stringer returns in a surprise twist!
I’d be all in for that.
All in all, period drama fans everywhere should love season 2. While it doesn’t quite live up to the standards set by Jane Austen’s unfinished final novel, the writing is still good, and the cast does a great job.
The romances might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they are interesting nonetheless. And who knows, you might find yourself falling for the romances in this alluring series.
Despite my hesitancy over the central romance, it was fun to watch season 2 and fall in love with the characters again.
And I look forward to season 3.
Content Note: TV-14 but very mild. It feels closer to TV-PG in the second season.
Where to Watch: PBS, PBS Passport, and PBS Masterpiece Amazon Channel. You can also buy it on Digital and DVD.
Have you watched Sanditon season 2? Do you agree with our review? How did you feel about Colbourne and Charlotte? Did you prefer Charlotte with Sidney or Colbourne? Or do you want to see her end up with Stringer?
And then there’s the other characters and story arcs. Did you have a favorite character this season? Finally, what do you hope for in season 3? Discuss in the comments below.