And we have reached the season finale of Anne!
Yes, the cinematography was splendid and the acting was top notch and the writing was excellent. And yes, you will want so very badly for another season.
The CBC link is HERE.
SPOILERS DOWN YONDER.
Like, huge ones. I recommend watching the episode instead of reading this post first, because whoa, if I was not stunned by everything that happened.
As Wherever You Are Is My Home starts, it's almost Christmas and all the children are preparing for recitals and the like at school. Anne's cutting up snowflakes when Josie tells the other girls some rather disturbing news: the Cuthberts are poor and Anne might be sent back? Anne is so unsettled that she can't possible wait until after school and rushes home, where Matthew and Marilla are in the middle of an argument. As we saw last episode, Matthew found out that Green Gables lost a considerable amount of income when the "Dal Marie" (a ship) sunk, and went to the bank. It's revealed that he took out a loan from the bank that puts Green Gables up as collateral and has already spent the money on crops that he's hoping will bring in enough income to save the farm. But the argument between him and Marilla intensifies and he has a heart attack.
Don't worry, it's too soon to say goodbye to Matthew. But this episode keeps you on your toes about it. Matthew will be bedridden until he recovers, leaving Marilla to sort out the finances and figure out if she can renegotiate the loan. Anne helps and there's a moment where Marilla reaffirms that Anne is family - she's staying with them through thick and thin, no matter what happens to them. But the news they discover at the bank is bad - since the entire agreement hinges on Matthew working the farm and Matthew can't do that, the bank is demanding that they pay back the loan by the end of the month. And Marilla knows they can't afford to keep Jerry anymore. Things are looking desperate for the Green Gables family.
But Marilla and Anne prove to be the resilient, though Marilla is a proud woman who turns down any offers of charity when Rachel suggests it (not that Rachel listens, because she tells the other ladies helping to set up the schoolhouse for the Christmas recital that they're going to send a collection plate for everyone who suffered losses when the Dal Marie when down and then calls out the ladies comment about why should they help strangers). Instead, Marilla puts out an ad in the paper (which isn't immediately apparent what it is) and gathers everything she can find that can be sold in Charlottetown at a pawn shop, with Anne contributing her beloved puffed sleeve dress. While Marilla stays behind to care for Matthew and sell the cattle to the Barry family, Anne is sent to Charlottetown with Jerry to help sell the shire (horse) and they'll spend the night with Josephine Barry at her manse. Anne doesn't want Jerry helping her, because she doesn't think she needs his help, but Marilla is adamant for safety reasons and Jerry points out that he knows how to auction off the horse and drive the sleigh, things Anne doesn't know how to do. He and Anne bicker all the way there though like a brother and sister.
Things get interesting in Charlottetown. Anne meets Jeannie (Matthew's friend) as she returns the dress and Anne is stunned to see how much the dress cost, though Jeannie kindly tells her that it's because Matthew loves Anne that he spent that much (though I wonder if maybe Jeannie, realizing things are bad at Green Gables, might have added some money). The dress seems to bring in the most money, because Anne seems to have a hard time getting good value for the other items at the pawn shop (telling exotic stories doesn't work since the guy's heard all of them before). Meanwhile, Jerry manages to sell the horse, but is mugged afterward - all the money is stolen by two men and Jerry is beaten. Anne runs into Gilbert, who is working at the docks in Charlottetown in hopes of earning enough to sail away and travel, and she tells him about the situation at Green Gables. It's interesting to see how their relationship has developed in this series - it's clear that they respect each other as intellectual equals and they have the maturity to set aside any pride to agree to a truce.
When poor Jerry appears, he delivers the bad news and he's feeling understandably unsafe, so Anne and Gil part ways so Anne and Jerry can go to Josephine's house. And while all this is happening, the two muggers are in the background, laying low so Jerry doesn't notice them while the younger mugger finds a rather interesting ad with Green Gables... but still no clue what it is yet. Anne and Jerry spend the night at Josephine's house, where (like everyone else) she's stunned with the bad situation at Green Gables and offers help in her own way: she's going to pay Jerry's wages (or rather, she's hiring him for a job that requires him to work at Green Gables) and encourages Anne set aside pride for the sake of love when she gives her money to save Green Gables (the same words that Anne gives to Marilla later on). Jerry gets some development here; throughout the series, he's been an unflappable boy who just lets Anne rant at him most the time. By the incident in Charlottetown is upsetting enough that he's scared to sleep alone, so he runs to Anne's room and we learn some things about him, like how he's never had a bed by himself (I think he sleeps in the barn at Green Gables) because he's had to share with fourteen siblings. It's a rare moment of vulnerability for him.
At Green Gables, Matthew is awake but seriously thinking that Marilla and Anne are better off without him and that they might be able to get through the whole problem if he dies and they have his life insurance. Marilla angrily tells him to get the notion out of his head because she and Anne need him and Anne would be devastated if he left (because he's the reason why she feels she belongs at Green Gables). But it's not enough, so while Marilla is out in the barn, he goes to get a gun... when Jeannie arrives, having heard the bad news and she and Marilla arrive to get him back to his room. But they've seen the bullets that Matthew's dropped on the floor (I just kept remembering how Matthew has been broken inside). Maybe it's because it's coming from a friend who has no material stake on whether Matthew lives or not, but Jeannie manages to remind Matthew that Anne and Marilla need him and Matthew of all people should know how an untimely death had change lives. Marilla forgives Matthew when he asks for it, just as Anne returns (I get the feeling though that this is one those things they will never ever speak of in front of Anne).
By the time Christmas rolls around, the Cuthberts (and Shirley-Cuthberts) think they just might make it. And then Marilla reveals the nature of the ad she placed - they're going to be getting income from taking on boarders at Green Gables. They arrive separately, but they're certainly very familiar faces and Anne's looking apprehensive...
That's quite the ending for the first season. I think there's a certain amount of risk in ending it that way, not knowing for certain if there's going to another season. I like how tied up the plotlines regarding Gilbert and Matthew's loan from the previous episode, as well giving more background on Jerry. And I like how the series doesn't let its characters go to waste - they didn't bring in characters for a day to bring them back for something trivial.
There were some extremely strong performances from R.H. Thomson, Geraldine James, and Amybeth McNulty throughout the episode, especially between Matthew and Marilla as Matthew contemplates suicide thinking it will save his family. It was an extremely difficult and tense moment to watch, and I honestly had no idea how it would end. I was genuinely frightened for Matthew.
Now, as an overall look at the season, I think Anne is probably one of the best adaptations of Anne of Green Gables that I've seen. (That's probably not an entirely fair assessment, because I've got the L.M. Montgomery's Anne movies and the Kevin Sullivan miniseries, and the animated Sullivan cartoon series). It has never hesitated to touch on the darker aspects for people living in that era, especially for girls and women, and has brought up themes that have been relevant to contemporary audiences. And the series has really developed each character, rather than just Anne (without faltering into special "character-focused" episodes) - as I think LilyLacreag once pointed out, Diana is usually reduced to being Anne's supportive BFF, but in this series, Diana and the supporting cast are their own individual person instead of being shown only in the context of this character is connected to Anne. Anne has always managed to be its own imagining of Anne of Green Gables; I don't think I ever felt the need to compare it another adaptation because it was always so engrossing to watch. And a lot of it is because of the excellent writing, directing, and acting throughout.
Give us another season. There's still too much to be told, where Anne is the heroine of her own story.
Please, share your thoughts!