Spoilers ahead for the Season 2 premiere of Sanditon on PBS.
Sanditon fans waited through years of uncertainty for the period drama to return and reveal what would happen next for Charlotte Heywood after Season 1 ended with her heart broken and the man she loved engaged to another woman. Fans got very good news with the announcement that the show had been renewed for not one but two more seasons, although it came with the bad news that Theo James was not returning to reprise his role as Sidney. The Season 2 premiere revealed that Sanditon went the tragic route of saying goodbye to Sidney by killing him off-screen, but I already think that Season 2 could ultimately be more enjoyable overall.
Of course, only one episode of Sanditon’s second season has aired so far, but the premiere was enough to debut some new characters, establish the new status quo after the seaside town was rebuilt, and reveal how Charlotte has been dealing with Sidney’s marriage and then death, and there are some key reasons why I’m optimistic about Season 2.
Sanditon Is Honoring Sidney Without Stopping Charlotte
Until the end of the premiere, it seemed that Sanditon had simply decided to write out Theo James’ character by conveniently killing him off with yellow fever off screen, but it became clear that there’s more to the story. Nobody knows just yet why he was in Antigua, but there’s some connection to Georgiana Lambe. His family hasn’t forgotten him or given up on learning all they can about his final days, which is fitting for the former male lead who was central to so much of Season 1.
At the same time, Charlotte is moving forward in her life, even if she is still mourning his death and the life she’d dreamed of for them. The tragedy of what happened to Sidney doesn’t overshadow how much she was hurt by him, to the point that she doesn’t want to marry at all now because she never wants to be under a man’s power. She was completely powerless at the end of Season 1; she won’t let that happen again. Sanditon is doing as much justice to both characters as possible, and that can mean a fun Charlotte moving forward rather than a heartbroken Charlotte standing still.
Sanditon Could Plan Ahead For Season 3
The show scored an order for Season 3 at the same time as Season 2, whereas there was no guarantee during Season 1 – or even for quite some time afterward – that there was a future beyond Sidney breaking Charlotte’s heart. Even if things seemed glum on some fronts in the Season 2 premiere, fans can rest assured that the Sanditon team was able to look to the future and plan ahead. Head writer Justin Young told TV Insider:
Of course, that’s not to say that Sidney’s death will become less sad or that Esther will get her happily-ever-after with a baby and Babington after all, but Sanditon can play a long game this time. It won’t be the end of the world if Season 2 ends on a sad note like Season 1 did, and having a plan in place can only be a good thing when it comes to continuing these characters’ stories.
There Are Lots Of New Characters
Sanditon Season 2 hit the ground running quickly enough that fans might not really have the time to linger too much on Sidney’s absence, and a lot of that has to do with the new characters. Alison Heywood brings some of the starry-eyed naivete that Charlotte brought to Season 1, and the premiere introduced so many eligible young men that it seems there are plenty of love interests to go around. The whole garrison of officers stationed at Sanditon means that there will be plenty of redcoats walking around, and it’s safe to say that Charlotte will have her hands full as a governess.
The newcomers undoubtedly won’t all turn out to be fan-favorites, and I was trying to will Alison to stop talking more than once in the premiere just to spare Charlotte some of her discomfort, but the show is full of people and events to get the story moving forward despite starting the season with a major tragedy.
I Learned My Lesson From Season 1
I can’t speak for everybody, but part of why I was so frustrated by the end of Season 1 was because I assumed that a Jane Austen adaptation would have to get a Jane Austen happy ending. As somebody who has read Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Emma, and the rest of Austen’s finished novels, I was fully expecting even through the lowest of Season 1 lows that everything would end up just fine by the end of the finale. Surely, Sidney would somehow redeem himself and become Charlotte’s Darcy or Captain Wentworth or Mr. Knightley. Or at least revealed to be a Wickham or a Willoughby, with the real hero on the way!
Well, I’ve since learned my lesson about going into Sanditon with any expectations. This isn’t so much a Jane Austen adaptation as a continuation of an unfinished Austen story that goes in some very different directions than anything that the author herself would have ever written. Sanditon can pack all the brooding widowers, charming officers, and unconventional artists into Season 2 as it can fit, but I’m going to avoid trying to apply Austen ideals to the new episodes, and that could make it a more enjoyable experience on the whole than Season 1.
Sidney Dying Might Be The Best Thing For Season 2
While I originally didn't think that Sanditon would actually kill off Sidney to write out Theo James, I actually think it might have been the best move for the show as it moves ahead with Season 2 and Season 3. Sidney’s death means that viewers – like Charlotte – need to look ahead to the future, not hope that a happily-ever-after could still happen between the two characters. If Theo James was not going to return and Sanditon was not going to recast him, then killing Sidney off provides some closure to a story that needed it, even if it’s not the kind of triumphant closure that many fans undoubtedly wanted after the end of Season 1.
All things considered, I’d say that things are looking up for Season 2 of Sanditon even though it started on a tragic note that kicked off a mystery about what Sidney was doing in Antigua. Find out how the second season continues to compare to the first with new episodes of Sanditon on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on PBS in the 2022 TV schedule, or get an early look at new episodes with some streaming options.
Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.
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