DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Gentleman Jack episode “A Lucky and Narrow Escape” has spoilers. Proceed at your peril. 

Welcome back, Ann/Anne fans! Gentleman Jack‘s fifth outing is one of its best yet, focusing solely on the Shibden Hall clan and how they react to terrifying events unfolding outside their walls. Not only that, but Marian’s significant marriage announcement to a man Anne despises will undoubtedly drive a wedge between Marian and her family.

While, at face value, it might seem like Anne’s being elitist regarding Mr. Abbott’s “lower class” station compared to Marian, I believe she wants her sister to find someone worthy of her. Marian essentially wanting to marry Abbott because no one else asked is heartbreaking. 

Additionally, the political unrest in Halifax is intriguing, and Anne refusing to cower in the face of danger as a lesbian and Tory is nothing short of admirable. 

Ready to delve into “A Lucky and Narrow Escape”? Let’s get to it. 

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We open with James Stuart Wortley (Alex Bhat) speaking to a raucous crowd of irate Halifax residents. Wortley is running as the Halifax Tory representative for Parliament, but those in attendance for this speech aren’t a fan of him. Matthew Avison (Leo Flanagan) weaves through the melee and leaves with more than a scratch after a few radicals lay the smackdown on him.

Later, Rosie (Elizabeth Cordingley) tends to Leo’s wounds while Anne (Suranne Jones) asks about the rally. She plans to vote for Wortley despite his unpopularity. 

Then, Anne has dinner with Ann (Sophie Rundle), Marian (Gemma Whelan), Aunt Lister (Gemma Jones) and Jeremy (Timothy West). Marian mentions she plans to spend time with Mr. Abbott, much to Anne’s annoyance. She objects to Mr. Abbott’s visit because of how he treated Marian in the past. Aunt Lister sides with Anne on this.

Ann Walker wearing a red dress and sitting at a dinner table in Gentleman Jack Season 2 Episode 5 "A Lucky and Narrow Escape."

Gentleman Jack – Season 2 Episode 5, “A Lucky and Narrow Escape” – Picture Shows: Ann Walker (SOPHIE RUNDLE) – (C) Lookout Point – Photographer: Sam Taylor

Next, Mr. Abott (John Hollingsworth) and Marian chat post-dinner while Anne urges Rosie to seek out Mr. Sunderland’s medical expertise regarding her hip when he examines Aunt Lister for a house call. Abbott tries to strike a conversation with Anne, but she skillfully evades him, much to Marian’s embarrassment. 

Later, Mr. Washington (Joe Armstrong) informs Ann about her sister’s letter to him. Ann’s sister asked Washington to hand out some eviction notices to the tenants residing in the family estate since Ann declared her desire to divide their assets for will purposes. Ann doesn’t seem keen on evicting many innocent folks, nor does Washington, but Ann urges him to move ahead if that’s what her sister wants. 

Anne sits with her aunt while Mr. Sunderland (Tony Gardner) examines the latter’s leg. He discloses to Anne later that despite the increase in the size of Aunt Lister’s leg sores, she might stick around a while longer. 

Anne urges Rosie to allow Sunderland to examine her hip, but she shoos him away, insisting she can withstand the pain. After Sunderland departs, Anne suggests Rosie stay with her sister for a few days to recuperate. 

Then, Ann addresses her concerns regarding her sister’s letter to Washington. She muses whether Captain Sutherland is manipulating her sister. 

Later, Joseph Booth (Ben Hunter) emerges after a trip into the belly of the beast — a Halifax enmeshed in political turmoil and unrest. Joseph reveals there’s a lot of rioting and destruction at the hands of radicals, and Ann fears the mob might trek uphill to Shibden Hall. He gives Anne a note from Wortley, encouraging our protagonist not to lose hope even though he’s currently behind in the polls. 

While our married lovebirds are winding down before bed, Ann inquires why Anne hasn’t mentioned Mariana Lawton since her trip to the Lawton estate. Additionally, why did Anne vow never to leave Ann again? Anne fails to divulge her adulterous night of passion with Mariana but asserts her undying love for her wife. I don’t doubt Anne’s love for Anne; secrets don’t make friends!

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Then, Anne chats with Marian about a surprising development. Marian reveals she’s going to marry Mr. Abbott. Of course, Anne’s not a fan of this, and she explains that should Marian go through with this marriage, she’ll have to renounce the Lister name. Anne and the family won’t attend the nuptials, and Marian won’t be allowed to visit Shibden Hall or interact with anyone in the Lister clan. 

Marian sitting by the fireplace in a red dress on Gentleman Jack Season 2 Episode 5 "A Lucky and Narrow Escape."

Gentleman Jack – Season 2 Episode 5, “A Lucky and Narrow Escape” – Picture Shows: Marian Lister (GEMMA WHELAN) – (C) Lookout Point – Photographer: Aimee Spinks

Why? Because Marian would be marrying below her station. Anne urges her sister to think long and hard about taking this step and consider what she’ll lose. Marian asserts that no one else will marry her, but Anne counters that that’s not a reason to settle for less. Amen to that! Jones and Whelan kill it in this scene — they harbor excellent chemistry as onscreen sisters. 

While Rosie shows the substitute chef what to prepare for the Lister family, Eugénie (Albane Courtois) not-so-subtly flirts with Matthew, and it’s only a matter of time before these two boink. 

Later, Mr. Washington returns to Shibden to report what he saw in Halifax. He describes the destroyed shopfronts and utter chaos to Anne and Ann. 

Then, the following day, Anne loads her guns and prepares to embark on a potentially perilous trip to Halifax. Anne’s not letting her Tory status impede her from going about the day’s business. While in town, a group of kids confronts Anne, asking her if she’s “yellow” (if she’s “blue,” that means she’s a Tory). Anne replies that she’s wearing black to mourn the loss of vitality from Halifax. Anne radiates BDE (big dick energy) here. 

Anne visits Mr. Parker (Bruce Alexander), who lauds her for braving the dangerous elements to get sh*t done. There’s a hotel Anne plans to purchase, so Parker assists her with this. 

Meanwhile, Joseph Booth finds Eugénie and Matthew getting down and dirty in a carriage at Shibden. And on this day, baby Matthew learned a lot about growing up. 

Anne meets with John Waterson Snr. (Nicholas Farrell), who laments the fall of Halifax even though Wortley won. She returns to Mr. Parker’s office, wherein he reveals Anne now owns that hotel. She admits she only wants to hire folks to run it who align with her beliefs, a.k.a. only Tories. Parker disagrees with its underhandedness, but he goes along with it anyway. 

Later, Anne encounters William Hardcastle (Joel Morris) while en route to Shibden. She tells him about the Rawson family losing their carriages, the mob ransacking houses and destroying property. Then, she drops a bombshell on Hardcastle: Anne informs him that Christopher Rawson drove the gig that caused Henry’s accident, wherein he lost his leg. Anne tried to confront Rawson about it, but he denied everything. Hardcastle thanks Anne for disclosing this information.

Anne Lister and Ann Walker embracing on Gentleman Jack Season 2 Episode 5 "A Lucky and Narrow Escape."

Gentleman Jack – Season 2 Episode 5, “A Lucky and Narrow Escape” – Picture Shows: Ann Walker (SOPHIE RUNDLE), Anne Lister (SURANNE JONES) – (C) Lookout Point/HBO – Photographer: Aimee Spinks

While the family dines, Mr. Washington pops in with a newspaper article of interest. It’s a marriage announcement. Anne assumes, without speaking, that Marian announced her betrothal to Mr. Abbott. However, someone mysterious planted false knowledge, claiming Ann Walker married Captain Tom Lister. Anne laughs it off, reassuring her family that it’s a well-placed prank. Someone’s pulling their leg!

However, we see Anne and Ann sitting in silence side-by-side in their room after dinner. Both of them look utterly distraught.

This fake announcement sounds like something William Briggs orchestrated, especially given his treatment of Anne in last week’s episode. 

RELATED: Catch up on all the Shibden Hall action with our Gentleman Jack recaps!

“A Lucky and Narrow Escape” boasts terrific performances, namely from the always-solid Gemma Whelan, who imbues Marian with a tenderness and vulnerability we often don’t see from her. Gentleman Jack soars when it focuses on one main story instead of branching off into multiple episodic arcs.

For me, it’s because the supporting characters aren’t as compelling as our leads, and when we venture outside Anne and Ann’s bubble, it often feels like a different show entirely. 

I’d still like to revisit the pigsty murder story, but the show hasn’t addressed it in a handful of episodes. Here’s hoping the writers didn’t forget about it. 

Do you think Marian will sacrifice her familial connection to marry Mr. Abbott? Will Anne finally confess what went down with Mariana? Will Halifax rebuild after the mob attacks? Join me next week while I recap Gentleman Jack, only on Geek Girl Authority. 

Gentleman Jack drops new episodes every Monday at 10 pm on HBO and HBO Max. 

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Melody McCune
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