Like last season, the episodes leading up to the season finale are sure to be jam-packed with intrigue, emotion, and action. If Harlots Episode 6 is any indication of how the season will end, you will need to be glued to your screen and the world of Harlots will be shaken, much like with Sir. George’s murder this same time last year.
In Harlots Episode 6, Charlotte Wells’ (Jessica Brown Findlay) future is uncertain as she remains trapped in Golden Square, at the will and mercy of Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville). She’ll have to do everything she can to convince Quigley of her loyalty in the face of the discovery of her plan with Lady Fitzwilliam (Liv Tyler). Meanwhile, Lucy Wells (Eloise Smyth) remains deep under Lord Fallon’s spell and her keeper is under pressure from events that occurred last season. All of this culminates when Margaret Wells (Samantha Morton) decides to risk it all, hoping that justice will be served. As always, spoilers below.
A Whirlwind Opening
Leading up to one of the most shocking moments of the series, we learn that Noah Webster (Eric Kofi-Abrefa) had been beaten after he was thrown out of the Vestal Virgin party and Charlotte remains locked away, coming out only when her sister visits her and invokes Lord Fallon’s (Ben Lambert) name as her keeper to Quigley. The big piece of this opening lies in the Scanwell name being tarnished and eavesdropping. Florence Scanwell’s (Dorothy Atkinson) past as a harlot has come to light as retaliation from Lydia Quigley for her refusal to accuse Margaret Wells of kidnapping and rape. In addition to this, Amelia Scanwell (Jordon Stevens) asks Violet Cross (Rosalind Eleazar) to leave with her, to run away, to be true to themselves. To which Violet responds, “I am true to myself.” In this declaration of love but also confrontation we see Violet pushing Amelia away and informing her of her mother’s sins being published. As Amelia rushes to her mother she crosses pather with Rasselas (Josef Altin) while he runs from Lord Fallon.
After Prince Rasselas sees the Spartan Fallon, he remembers the murder of justice and seeing Fallon holding the knife. As he warns Charlotte, one of Quigley’s girls overhears and follows him out, telling both her bawd and Fallon himself. After this, Fallon chases him through the streets. As they turn down an alleyway Amelia sees him, she is comforted to see her friend until Fallon pulls out his knife. As he lunges toward the pair, Amelia shields Rasselas from the stabbing with her body. She’s left bleeding in the street.
Everyone knows it was Fallon, but as the show often does, it shows how his aristocracy saves him, makes him untouchable. After being called to the scene, Justice Hunt (Sebastian Armesto) carries her to the Wells House, when Rasselas informs them of Fallon’s murders, he starts a chain of events that does not stop and won’t until people are dead or imprisoned. This show is unmatched in the build-up it creates and how it showcases the women interconnected and empowered and yet, marginalized and abused by the men around them. Men who silence their voices by their simple existence in a higher station. All of this set up happens in the first 15-minutes.
Lucy, the Spartan
Margaret Wells knows of Fallon’s murder, having heard the events from Rasselas – who is now on the run – she can only think of saving her daughter from the snares of the man who has killed a judge and leaves Amelia clinging to life. When she seeks out her daughter and bursts into Fallon’s home she isn’t met with love. Having been changed by her connection to the Spartan, and the belief that she is one herself, Lucy doesn’t hear her mother. She is confronted with the truth that he is murder to which she swiftly replies, “so am I.” The burden that Margaret sees in her daughter is one that she aimed to keep on herself. Despite Lucy owning the blame for the murder of Sir. George Howard, it was Mama Wells who killed him, not her. But this doesn’t matter.
The realization that her daughter has forgotten her life before Fallone comes as Lucy turns her back on her, instructing that her mother be removed from the property. As Margaret is leaving she is confronted by Fallon. The scared Spartan who is attempting to run but is told not to by the others in the group, which we learn includes Marquess of Blayne (Julian Rhind-Tutt) as their leader, threatens Mags with the secret Lucy shared in a drugged state. He will reveal her part in the murder of Sir George if Mags continues and allows Amelia to wake.
When she knows that Lucy will not leave Fallon for her, she asks Nancy and specifically William, knowing that Lucy’s love for her Pa will bring her home. When this succeeds they head to the Wells House. While sitting around the table we learn that Lucy’s faith in Fallon comes less from a love for him and more out of the shadow she’s felt suffocated by her sister Charlotte. She explains that Fallon is her first success, he is hers, and that no one will take that away. While her family wonders what has happened to her, she acknowledges that she is finally becoming herself before leaving her mother’s house in silence and not telling anyone, going back to Hades.
The secret of Lady Fitzwilliam has been hinted at, asked for, and hidden the entire season. In this Harlots Episode 6, it’s exposed. From their first interaction the relationship between her and her brother seemed unhealthy, incestuous, and as the season continued, abusive. In Harlots Episode 6, Lady Fitz is laid bare with her past and her trauma is exposed to us and to Charlotte.
After discovering that her brother is the leader of the Spartans, we know his violence. When he throws his sister onto the bed he says that it’s been a long time since he’s “broken a girl.” This scene is intense and Lady Fitz fights him the entire time. At this moment, the verbal abuse and control he excerpted over her finances is amplified by the reality that he raped her.
As Lady Fitz feels her brother circling closer and closer to her secret she confides in Charlotte. After the rape and abuse she endured, the Marquess left for 12-years. During that time she gave birth to a daughter, his daughter. Her daughter is the secret Quigley holds, including the location of her boarding school. She explains the pain that her brother can inflict and the fear of that falling upon her daughter. Charlotte consoles her, emotionally and physically when she learns that the only touch Lady Fitz has known was the violence of her brother. With the secret out, Amelia dying, and the Spartans holding each other up, the scene is set for the season to end sadly and kept me on edge.
A Mother’s Love
As the world is falling apart around her Margaret Wells is left to save her daughter from Lord Fallon and ultimately to have him hanged. This is all while Charlotte remains a captive in Golden Square. Although she has been found conspiring to save the virgin the night of the Vestia party, Quigley remained in the dark of the five-headed beast and the women plotting for her downfall.
When Cherry (Francesca Mills) decides to report on Emily Lacey (Holli Dempsey) she reveals Charlotte’s place in the plot. Quigly is enraged but Charlotte is more so. She switches quickly from a woman attempting to show attention to Dame Death and appeal to her motherly instincts to a woman focussed on her murder, throwing Quigley to the ground and choking her.
Before she can kill her, Mags comes in. She came with the intent to kill Quigley herself but seeing yet another child so close to murder, she could not. She pulls Charlotte off of her and attempts to quell her hatred. The moment was there, Quigley was almost dead, but Mags could not see another one of her daughters with murder on their soul and the threat of the hangman in the air. Instead, she pulls her daughter from Golden Square and explains, with her voice cracking, that she wishes she had kept her hatred to herself. Instead of agreeing or letting it stand, Charlotte explains the pain that Mags whent through did not need to be carried alone and the abuse Quigley still perpetrates is an issue that needs to be confronted.
As Harlots Episode 6 draws to a close Margaret Wells makes a decision. Lord Fallon needs to meet justice and Justice Hunt’s love for Amelia will all but ensure it, but they need his name. In fear that Lucy will be turned over after reporting to Hunt, Mags does what a mother would, she falls on the bonfire.
She admits to Sir George’s murder and Justice Hunt reveals himself to be a caring man, one who looks for real justice and not one that just serves the aristocracy. He asks what he can do for her, she insists that he makes her death quick. While Quigley lost the daughter she through she had in Charlotte and Florence is nursing her daughter in hope that she will wake, Mags will walk to the gallows to save her girls.
What to expect?
There was a lot more I could talk about in Harlots Episode 6 and I honestly don’t know where it will go next. I’m expecting Mags to die, and for her daughters to strike back. I’m hoping the news of her mother’s imprisonment will make Lucy come home, for good. At this point in the season, it’s hard for me to imagine justice or happy endings for the women in this world. In spite of their strength for survival, they are cut down. Even with Justice Hunt’s strong and steady moral compass the armor of money is unbreakable.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.