DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Gentleman Jack episode “Two Jacks Don’t Suit” has spoilers. Proceed at your peril. 

Welcome back, Anne/Ann fans! Gentleman Jack‘s second episode of the season, “Two Jacks Don’t Suit,” is an improvement from last week’s premiere. The stakes feel higher with Ann Walker’s family attempting to sabotage her marriage to Anne Lister. Plus, there’s the Mariana Lawton of it all. Anne’s dismay over Mariana’s decision to cut ties might drive a wedge between her and Ann. 

High stakes make for good drama, and while Anne and Ann stay together for the rest of the former’s life, the tension certainly keeps things intriguing. 

I find it challenging to maintain interest in any plotline not involving our favorite wives. Suranne Jones oozes charisma and electrifying charm out of her pores. She arrests your attention every time she’s on the screen. Additionally, Jones’ chemistry with Sophie Rundle is off the charts. 

Ready to dig deep into “Two Jacks Don’t Suit”? Let’s get to it. 

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We open with Anne Lister (Jones) and Ann Walker (Rundle) having dinner in an upscale French restaurant. Isabella “Tib” Norcliffe (Joanna Scanlan) joins them, and Ann finally meets the famous Tib. However, she doesn’t know that Tib is Anne’s former lover. 

Later, Tib expresses disapproval of Ann, and it’s clear she’s envious. Plus, there’s the Mariana Lawton aspect to the love equation. 

Meanwhile, Marian (Gemma Whelan) visits Aunt Ann Walker (Stephanie Cole), relaying updates regarding Ann and Anne’s French getaway. Marian asks if Aunt Walker received any of the correspondence Aunt Lister sent. Unfortunately, it’s all radio silence on the Lister side of things. Aunt Walker brusquely replies that, yes, she has the letters. 

Once again, Aunt Walker complains about her niece shacking up with Anne Lister. 

Next, we see Anne and Ann hiking the snowy French Alps. After reaching the summit of a mountain, our favorite wives clasp hands. Aw!

But dark forces plot their downfall, a.k.a. Ann’s insidious family. We see William (Peter Davison) and Eliza Priestley (Amelia Bullmore), among many others, conspiring to get Ann out of Shibden Hall. They muse on whether it’s best to marry her off to a man, or maybe someone else can move in to help care for Aunt Lister. Regardless, according to them, these two women residing together is utterly unbecoming (clutches pearls)! 

Anne Lister stands with her back against a cart in Gentleman Jack Season 2 Episode 2 "Two Jacks Don't Suit"

Gentleman Jack – Season 2 Episode 2, “Two Jacks Don’t Suit” – Picture Shows: Anne Lister (SURANNE JONES) – (C) Lookout Point – Photographer: Sam Taylor

Meanwhile, Ben Sowden (Anthony Flanagan) forks his sister-in-law, Mary (Lucy Black). And his brother is barely digesting in the stomachs of those pigs! Mary fears someone will find them out. Ben questions where Sam went, but Mary keeps mum regarding her late husband’s fate. 

Then, we see Anne reading Mariana Lawton’s (Lydia Leonard) letter in a carriage, her face overcome with emotion. Ann asks her about Mariana that night while lying in bed with Anne. Anne divulges that Mariana’s not well, and reading about her loved ones’ ailments makes her emotional. 

Aunt Lister (Gemma Jones) reads Anne’s letter aloud to Jeremy (Timothy West), who’s getting examined by a doctor. Jeremy wants a horse and carriage because who wouldn’t get cabin fever while cooped up at Shibden 24/7?

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Finally, Anne and Ann return to Shibden Hall to much fanfare. Ben chats with his nephew, Thomas Sowden (Tom Lewis), about Sam. What happened to him? Did he travel to America? Ben reassures Tom that he’s aware of his brother’s abhorrent behavior. He believes folks know more than they’re letting on. 

Anne and Ann visit Aunt Walker post-France vacation. Aunt Walker looks none too pleased with their arrival. Our fave wives gush about their rejuvenating trip, but Aunt Walker seems disinterested. That’s when Aunt Walker discloses that another relative was moving in with her to be her companion. Ann reminds Aunt Walker that she offered to move in with the latter a few years ago, but the older woman rejected her. 

Meanwhile, William and Eliza call on Ann at Shibden, but Marian reveals that she’s out visiting Aunt Walker. The Priestleys wish to chat with their cousin, and it’s 100 percent about not living with Anne Lister. While they’re riding away from Shibden, Eliza admits she wished Ann’s suicide attempt was successful because it’s better than her residing with another woman. Oof. What an awful thing to say. 

Isabella "Tib" Norcliffe and Anne Lister sitting in a restaurant and talking animatedly in Gentleman Jack Season 2 Episode 2 "Two Jacks Don't Suit."

Gentleman Jack – Season 2 Episode 2, “Two Jacks Don’t Suit” – Picture Shows: Tib (JOANNA SCANLAN) – (C) Lookout Point – Photographer: Sam Taylor

Later, Ann and Anne head over to Crow Nest so that the former can assess what she’s taking to Shibden Hall. They move from room to room, taking stock of Ann’s possessions. Anne reassures her that Aunt Walker can’t do sh*t to them. They must rise above her empty threats. Our lovebirds get hot and heavy while two kids, related to Samuel Washington, watch from their hiding place in the room. Will this come back to bite them? Hopefully not. 

Marian confides in Aunt Lister regarding something Aunt Walker said to her. Aunt Walker claimed Anne is “unnatural” and that her “scandalous” past in York would make its way to Halifax. It will ruin her. Aunt Lister consoles Marian, urging her to forget Aunt Walker’s words. Anne is the best of the best, and nothing Aunt Walker can say will change that. Long live, Aunt Lister. She’s an accepting, not homophobic person!

That night, Anne reads a letter from Mariana to Ann, wherein Mariana reveals she’s happy that Anne found someone to make her happy. Mariana also discloses that she’s in the area, so Anne suggests they all meet. That could be fun! Could Mariana be moving forward with her life?

Meanwhile, Ann’s sister Elizabeth (Katherine Kelly) scans a letter from Ann in Scotland while Captain Sutherland (Derek Riddell) observes. Ann asks about settling the estate at Anne’s behest in the said letter. Captain Sutherland finds this peculiar, especially since Ann now lives at Shibden — unless she plans to marry. Little do they know that Ann’s already married! Sutherland advises his wife not to respond to her sister … yet. 

Ann Walker wearing a red dress and sitting at a dinner table in Gentleman Jack Season 2 Episode 2 "Two Jacks Don't Suit."

Gentleman Jack – Season 2 Episode 2, “Two Jacks Don’t Suit” – Picture Shows: Ann Walker (SOPHIE RUNDLE) – (C) Lookout Point – Photographer: Sam Taylor

Thomas catches his uncle getting randy with Mary and demands Ben leave. However, he soon learns that Mary and Ben are having an affair. Ben’s well aware of his brother’s murder, but he promises to keep quiet if Thomas allows him to continue staying at their house. 

Next, Anne and Ann arrive home to Jeremy recklessly driving his new set of wheels through the gates with a terrified (and queasy) Marian in the passenger seat. 

Anne reads another letter from Mariana, who reveals she left Scarborough early to head home, passing Shibden Hall. Mariana informs Anne that she’s cutting off all correspondence with the latter. They’ll never meet again, but she wishes Anne well. 

We see Anne gripping a knife by the blade, which slices through her hand. She’s equal parts enraged and heartbroken. 

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I hope we see more of Tib — give me all the rejected ex-lover drama! We undoubtedly haven’t seen the last of Mariana. Get ’em all in a room and have them fight over Anne.

I think Ann’s family will produce a gentleman suitor sooner rather than later, which will be awkward to circumvent with the whole, “I’m already married to a woman” thing. It is 1834, after all. 

Gentleman Jack‘s bread and butter are its stellar performances and the love story between Anne and Ann. Again, I find it hard to immerse myself in the other stuff, but I appreciate the effort in broadening the narrative horizons. Perhaps the Sam Sowden murder will get more interesting, especially if Thomas’ wife finds out he was directly involved. 

Do you think we’ll see more of Tib? Will someone please remove the stick from Aunt Walker’s bum? Join me next week while I recap Gentleman Jack, only on Geek Girl Authority. 

Gentleman Jack streams new episodes every Monday at 10 pm on HBO Max

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Melody McCune
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