Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Indian Summers – Episode 4 – Recap

The Viceroy of all India has arrived in Simla to enjoy the cool breezes after a business trip to London, and everyone bows very low indeed as he passes by. When he reaches the office, he naturally asks for his private secretary. One of Ralph’s servants runs to the house to alert him and, catching sight of Madeleine in his bed, averts his eyes (I am sure all the servants have been speculating like mad on her exact status). When Ralph comes downstairs looking very debonair, Eugene (furious that his host and sister keep retiring to the bedroom) announces that he and Madeleine are returning to Chicago that very afternoon unless Ralph plans to propose. Ralph is very taken aback but does not plan to be pushed into marriage by an upstart American. Eugene complains about the carrying on he has been forced to observe and asks what Ralph’s intentions are. Ralph hesitates but then Madeleine comes downstairs, all smiles, and is mortified when she realizes what is going on. Eugene insists they are leaving at 4:00 unless Ralph has something to say to Madeleine.
“I wish you a safe passage,” says Ralph, the coldest fish in the sea, because he has to rush off to see his boss. Although not sure I like Madeleine, I felt bad when her face fell and she realized how indifferent Ralph really is to her.

The Viceroy is very pleasant and says he’s heard about Ralph’s young lady and wants to meet her. He implies it is time for Ralph to get married. All of this surprises Ralph but makes him a bit more positive about poor Madeleine.

Ralph is given the coroner’s report on the assassin’s attack which basically says, “Lone gunman, possibly insane.” Heard that one before? He and Superintendent Rowntree commiserate about the guy’s false identity papers being missing (although I assumed these were falsified, but if so, why not falsify more?) which prevents them from publicizing the case as a Nationalist plot. The document is missing because Aafrin took it, remembering his sister had told him the assassin wasn’t really a Nationalist (in fact, we think there is something in Ralph's administrative past that inspired the attack). Ralph suspects the document was stolen, not misplaced, and when he invites Aafrin over for some golf I wonder if he suspects Aafrin. Aafrin is wearing the wrong clothes (not for the last time, poor fellow) and is no good at golf. The Viceroy stops by and acknowledges Aafrin’s brave act in saving Ralph’s life.

Sarah has finally received a gossipy letter from England about Alice - the mail is faster then than now - so immediately decides to ask her to tea – what’s on the menu? Alice!

The uncle who collapsed at the fair has not died from his heart attack, and Cynthia arranges for him to be taken to England for proper nursing. The nephew (about 20?), Ian McLeod is left in charge of his uncle’s failing fortunes.

Madeleine is reluctant to leave India although she knows her brother is right about Ralph’s having sampled all the wares he wants. However, because the Viceroy inquired about Ralph’s young lady, Ralph asks her to stay and play hostess for a little impromptu soiree. “You told him about me?” asks Madeleine hopefully. “Shouldn’t I have?” asks Ralph disingenuously. I am sure he knows how Madeleine is hoping for clues he really does care for her.  Perhaps this is more of an audition of her suitability as a hostess - it’s not as if he needs a hostess with his sister in residence!

Over tea, Sarah tells Alice that her son Matthew horrified her that day by asking to attend his father’s school for the natives. Alice is not very shocked and reveals that going “home” to England at 8 was very lonely. Alice suggests they ask Matthew what he’d like to do, and Sarah mutters something about Alice not having consulted her child when she left England. Suspicious, Alice gets up to leave but Sarah insists on accompanying her and reveals that she knows the truth – Alice’s husband is not dead, as she told Sarah, but alive, and that Alice took her son and left him without explanation (I am sure she had her reasons). Sarah says this if this sort of behavior got out it could hurt Ralph’s career. “What do you want?” Alice demands, and her blackmailer/Sarah says she just wants them to be friends. (As a missionary’s wife, Sarah is low on the social totem pole, which she hates – Alice could improve Sarah’s quality of life, if she wanted to.)

The Viceroy is updating Ralph on his recent visit with the Prime Minister. He tells Ralph the English need a man to represent their interests, and tells Ralph it could be him (given the Nationalist fever and Gandhi, I am not sure this is really an ideal job for anyone but it’s certainly meant as a compliment).

Ralph questions Cynthia about how the Viceroy knew about Madeleine, and it is clear Cythia spread the word, hoping to boost Ralph’s career hopes. I guess becaue Cynthia runs the British Club she hears every word of gossip.

Ralph hosts a little soiree, and Aafrin is the only Indian in attendance (a rude English guest makes fun of his suit). Poor Aafrin, and he was so pleased to be invited. The Viceroy asks impertinent questions about Madeleine and Eugene’s wealth as he tries to figure out if it’s a good match for his protégé.

At the party, Ralph’s colleague (Superintendent Rowntree?) tells Aafrin that they’ve made a list of everyone who visited the coroner’s office the day the evidence disappeared and are going to raid all their homes to search for it. Aafrin panics because he gave it to his sister. He leaves the table (the guy has no subtlety at all – I would like him better if he weren’t so clueless) and writes a note to his sister telling her to destroy it. Alice comes to see if he is ill and he begs her to bring the note to Sita. Alice runs in the dark to a church where Sita is waiting for a rendezvous with Aafrin, I suppose, and although Sita points out that Aafrin’s family hates her, she goes to their home anyway.

Quaint parlor games are going on at the party which Madeleine enjoys because she is the quasi-hostess and thinks that if Ralph’s friends admire her that is half the job done, so Alice is able to sneak back inside without anyone noticing her absence.

Ian tells Cynthia that Ramu Sood, the Indian who was feuding with his uncle, has asked him to manage the estate (which now belongs to Sood). Ian seems excited but Cynthia says that is completely unacceptable AND she reveals that his uncle died on the train so Sood is a murderer. Now Ian really can’t work for him but he does not appear to have any source of income. This is usually considered a problem.

The party is a success because everyone is drunk at the end, especially the Viceroy who gets a bit maudlin and accidentally calls Ralph “Gerard,” the name of his son who died in the war.

Superintent Rowntree (I think) tells Ralph they didn’t find the document anywhere, so we viewers know Sita got to the Dalals’ home in time.

Ralph says he has a question for Aafrin, and Aafrin is terrified it is going to be about the missing document. Instead, it is about Madeleine: Ralph says Aafrin’s artist eye was perceptive about him, so what did he see when he drew Madeleine? He goes on to ask Aafrin if he should propose or send her away. Aafrin is astounded and doesn’t know how to answer. I wouldn’t have been surprised if it was some kind of double bluff (i.e., how dare you comment on your betters) But in the next scene, Ralph appears about to propose. I hope Madeleine really is an heiress and not just an adventuress – surely, if Sarah can get the gossip from England, Ralph could have done some due diligence about the extent of the Mathers’ fortunes?

The episode ends as it began, with child Adam dreaming about his mother but suddenly she appears and they are reunited. Or so it seems!

Image copyright to PBS


JaneGS said...

I am trying to get caught up and finally was able to watch this episode last night--I'm enjoying Indian Summers, and coincidentally have been reading Jewel in the Crown as well.

I actually thought that Sita never gave the family the letter from Afrin, and that the guards who were searching found the document that Afrin had hidden, and for some reason Ralph is stringing Afrin along. Very tense...but maybe I misinterpreted what was going on.

To be honest, I think the mini-series is gorgeous and interesting, but I'm not sure it is clear in terms of what exactly is happening.

Thanks for these recaps!

CLM said...

I believe you are right: I think I realized the next week that Sita did not give Aafrin's sister the letter (why? resentment that they dislike her?). I had a hard time following the search, and certainly when Ralph said he had something to ask Aafrin I thought he was going to ask Aafin why he stole the documents, but instead asked him to do the portrait of Madeleine.