Review of “Anne” Episode 4: Fire-Haired Dreamer

anne 16Last week’s Gilbert Blythe meet-n-greet went very well indeed: Not a single person “polled” didn’t like the new Gilbert! Lucas Jade Zumann had massive shoes to fill (the late, great Jonathan Crombie, no less, whose “eulogy” crashed my site almost two years ago at the time of his death), so this was pretty impressive.

In this week’s episode, we see just a smidgen of the gentlemanly Gilbert and fall even more for him. When that knuckle-dragger Billy Andrews bellows that Anne should bake something and let the men do the real work, Gilbert rises to the occasion like a knight. He thanks Anne and Ruby sincerely for the scones, and in his gentle, noble way, he pushes back, showing he is a cut above the other boys in Avonlea. Of course, Anne has just begun her four-year grudge Re: Carrotsgate, so she barely acknowledges his presence, something Gil will have to get used to.

Many viewers of all ages will be saying “awwww” when Anne stomps off and Gilbert’s face falls…Awwww!

Anne 17 JerrySo Gilbert is grand, and I am also really loving the addition of Aymeric Jett Montaz, a young French-Canadian actor who plays the part of Jerry, Matthew’s farmhand. I don’t love all the off-book changes to “Anne,” but I do like that they filled in the character of Jerry so wonderfully. He is a sounding board for Anne, a gentle friend. When she quits Avonlea school in a fit of humiliation, Jerry’s quiet remarks about how he doesn’t even have the chance to go to school–he had to quit early to work–get under Anne’s skin and ours. He adds sweetness and a much-needed fizz of humor and charm to this “darker” retelling.

That’s what I loved about this episode. AHEM!

However, I was less pleased about the rest of it. Episode 4 was waaaayyy off-book, as much as Episode 2. I had heard that Moira Walley-Beckett and her team were aiming for lots of “invention” but also honoring the story with “iconic” moments. So, of course, I was waiting for an iconic moment. Other than a meeting of the Story Club, minus Jane Andrews, there were none.

 

Post Slate Debacle, we find Anne driving Marilla crazy by hanging around the house all the time, dreaming and letting pies burn on her watch. Anne doesn’t want to go back to school, where she kn0ws she doesn’t belong. At first, Marilla decides to bide her time and let Anne get so bored she’ll return on her own steam, but soon loses her temper and forces the girl out the door. Here’s where things get weird. Anne pretends she went to school, lying her red head off for days in an act of devious, premeditated deception. To me, Anne might have been detached from the truth in some ways, but she was never that deceptive. She simply didn’t have the stomach for it. Anne 18

Upon being busted for lying, Anne is subjected to a prescriptive visit from the town’s pastor, a pompous, sanctimonious windbag who bears no resemblance whatsoever to the book’s kindly Reverend Allen and his wife, Mrs. Allen, Anne’s most kindred of spirits and encourager.

The book’s Rev. and Mrs. Allen were brimming with grace–why make him so grace-LESS here?

Unless, of course, this isn’t supposed to be Reverend Allen at all. A friend of mine, Rachel, wondered if this smug, bloviating minister might be just a handy male authority figure, meant to show how patriarchal Edwardian Avonlea really was. Could be, but I miss Reverend Allen’s kindness, all the same.

More invention: A fire threatens the Gillis farmhouse, and a level-headed Anne saves their house with her quick thinking. Suddenly, the tide begins to turn in Avonlea and the townsfolk begin to warm to the peculiar orphan girl. In the book, her biggest detractor, Mrs. Barry, is finally won over when Anne saves Minnie Mae’s life. Good old Syrup of Ipecac! This immediately follows the Raspberry Cordial Debacle, and is an absolutely pivotal scene, as it transforms Anne’s enemy into her champion.

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL, PLEASE LET THERE STILL BE THE RASPBERRY CORDIAL DEBACLE! It’s as iconic as anything in the book, and I won’t stand for its omission, THAT’S WHAT!

Overall, I found this episode puzzling. I had been won over to the “invention plus iconic moments” construct, persuaded by this tremendous cast to disconnect somewhat from the book and embrace much–not all–of it. But this week was a hard one, folks.

Here’s hoping next week DOES include some Raspberry Cordial! (In the preview, Marilla tells Anne she may invite Diana to tea, so I am hopeful…). Because as my friend Natalie says, Mrs. Barry still needs some convincing.

And so do I.

Have any of you been able to watch?

What do YOU think about what me and other viewers have been saying?

Are you prepared to buy into some serious revisions here? Or would you prefer, as I do in my heart of hearts, that all of this phenomenal writing and acting and filmmaking would reflect Maud’s original story?

I’d love to know your thoughts! Every comment on my blog until the Anne series has properly aired on Netflix (May 12) will be entered in a contest to win a fetching Anne of Green Gables art piece or frameable quote from my favorite Etsy shop, Carrot Top Paper Shop! Anne 9So comment away, won’t you, Anne Internet Friends??

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Kerri says

    It must be candidly admitted that I, Canadian Kerri, wish this series were rent from he air waves, this was no bewitching Anne, this version of our beloved orphan was stuck in a time loop between modern and her century. I must admit that I love Jerry, the way this show has fleshed this character out; but the rest of this fetid and festering trash heap of an episode leaves me so harrowed up in my mind that I wish I could stop. The trouble is, I cannot tear myself away. Please enlighten me as to why Marilla became angry with cooking for Matthew, I sense an agenda here. Please excuse my rambling as I am overcome with wrath right now.

    • Lorilee says

      Kerri, please don’t sugarcoat! :) I wonder how many others share your “wrath”? I am finding an interesting mix of responses, which include delight AND wrath. Doesn’t seem like many people are indifferent!

  2. Eleanor says

    After episode 4, I’ve given up watching the 2017 version of what is jokingly being passed off as Anne of Green Gables. This story is nothing to do with Anne as she was originally written. It presents all the values and mind-set of the 21st century – with none of the charm and warmth of the real story of Anne.

    I overlooked the huge discrepancies of the first couple of episodes, because, while they were jarring, I thought they might be leading to something really worthwhile. And as Anne herself says ‘if you make up your mind to enjoy something ………” But enough is enough. What a shame that Moira (sorry I’ve forgotten her last name – is it Walley? ) didn’t have the imagination to retain the personality of Montgomery’s Anne through some genuinely well-thought-out, new adventures without destroying the most memorable and important episodes of the story, not to mention changing both Anne and all the other major characters. It’s a great opportunity missed.

    And one more thing. Amybeth McNulty may be a great little actress, but she does not have thick, red braids, as Anne did. McNulty’s hair is much to thin and fine to pass for Anne’s. Her braids look positively wispy. Surely someone in the costume dept. could have done something about that. But probably reading the book was not a requirement to work on the series.

    At the moment, the whole thing is becoming unintentionally laughable. It’s a far greater disappointment than I expected.

    • Lorilee says

      Wow! Elcy, you have strong feelings about this! This episode was hard for me on several levels, for sure. I sort of feel like it might have been better as a modern retelling, not a retelling with modern ideas superimposed.

      • Jill says

        Continuing to love the new version of Anne. A few scenes had me catching my breath (another gentleman move by Gilbert…for those who saw, you know the scene!). Enjoyed watching Anne and Ruby’s relationship develop (the muffin suggestion, etc.) and thought her skipping school was realistic. Funny how the Pastor twisted things around and got her to rethink her decision (I thought he did it on purpose – maybe that’s just my interpretation). When Anne walks through the school door at the end, it’s like a breath of fresh air just entered the building and Gilbert’s pleased smirk was awesome – he knows things are about to get interesting with her around!

        • Lorilee says

          Jill, thanks for this great recap. I have now used “pleased smirk” several times so thank you for that! Things ARE about to get interesting!

  3. Ange says

    Really liking this series and am so glad that I never saw the older versions! Because of this I don’t have to relate everything that happens in the book and the previous series! Will stop reading your column as you have spoiled several things for me. I should have known better but that’s ok.

  4. Mariam says

    Hey there!
    I understand why people will have an issue with things being changed and added to this series but so far I truly like everything. If anything, the slightly modern dialogue leaves me confused but it is a small matter.
    This series is supposed to be a darker and more dramatic retelling of Anne and I think it delivers thus. I love the 1985 series to death and it was perfect as a show on it’s own as a dreamier, more whimsical version. But I think this show is just as good a show and becoming it’s own thing very nicely.
    Amybeth’s Anne is a different Anne but with the same whimsy and spirit and every other character is well done too, in keeping with the darker tone. I’m enjoying the subdued drama of this series very much.
    I do think the additions are made to serve a purpose of enhancing each storyline instead of butchering it. Since this is an extended version of the books and they plan to continue for many more seasons, it only makes sense to add some subplots without harming the overall story.
    As long as everyone stays in character throughout these subplots, I don’t have any objection.
    Also I think I’m more excited to tune in every week because I don’t know how they will approach the familiar storylines and keeps me intrigued.
    The feminism also has not seemed preachy to me so far and I hope they keep at that. Even if many ideals are more of the 21st century, it doesn’t seem impossible for Anne to have raised such questions or for Marilla to have doubts at such a time. As long as it’s not preachy, it’s good.
    I’ve seen an interview where the raspberry cordial scene is indeed confirmed so worry not! :D
    Love reading your blog!

    • Lorilee says

      Hi Mariam, love your comment! Thank you for allaying my fears re: the raspberry cordial scene. I actually ADORED last night’s episode!!! Watch for the new review tonight!

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