Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Indian Summers – Season 1, Episode 5 – Recap

The Viceroy is hosting a very elegant party at his residence to celebrate Ralph’s and Madeleine’s engagement – Alice says everyone has been invited, and this includes both blackmailing Sarah and the beautiful Indian teacher, Leena. “Prepare to eat cake!” is the theme of the party.

Ralph is negotiating with Dr. Kamble, an Untouchable (at the bottom of the caste system), to prevent the Untouchables from making a deal with the Indian Congress, which would go against British interests. Dr. Kamble is not impressed by his arguments and asks when Ralph’s family first came to India. Ralph is proud his family has been in the Indian Civil Service since 1824 but Dr. Kamble opines that his family had a hundred years to help his people, had they so chosen.

Weird little boy Adam and his equally strange mother have reunited. She tells him to wait for her and they’ll find his father (could it be Ralph?). Adam is scared of his mother but does not fit into the orphanage. The rest of the orphans are enjoying the story of Cinderella and want Leena to go to the ball, but she says she only has a hand me down dress. The orphans make her an outfit that looks beautiful but Leena wears the hand me down silver dress instead, which does nothing for her. Not that it matters; the missionary is still in love with her and with a wife like Sarah, who can blame him?

Alice tells Aafrin that she knows he stole the evidence linking the assassin to the Indian nationalists and accuses him of asking her to betray her own brother. Aafrin asks worriedly if she will tell but she’s not sure. This prevarication usually winds up with someone getting murdered but I think Alice is safe because she is the only character I like. Or does that mean she is more likely to be eliminated?

Sarah made one of her first blackmail demands of Alice – she wants to sit near the Viceroy at the engagement party dinner. However, the man in charge of protocol is immune to Alice’s coaxing and says as the wife of a missionary Sarah is stuck next to a man who works in sewage (at least, in an office job; not cleaning or shoveling it – that would indeed be insulting).

Ralph is regretting his engagement and asks Alice what she really thinks of Madeleine, complaining that Alice avoids her. Alice says Madeleine has been very kind to her and tries to explain she is just giving the couple privacy. “Oh, you’re jealous!” Ralph exclaims, because he finds that easier to understand, and from the way he is fawning over Alice we know he’d be very jealous of her spouse. Lucky spouse is far away, we think, albeit not dead.

“I don’t know if I’m in love or following orders!” Ralph complains. This could refer either to his engagement or the absurd costume he is wearing. I think the engagement is doomed. I hope for her sake Madeleine isn’t pregnant!

There is a first mention that Ralph may be spending more than he can afford although I guess it was implied when Alice commented on the gorgeous house in Episode 1. It would be nice if Madeleine really is an heiress but I suspect she and her brother are frauds.

When Sarah finds her name tag down at the uncool end of the dinner table she is furious and tells Alice it would be a pity if people found out her husband was alive (Alice was an idiot to say she was a widow). As a result, Alice switches their name tags, which doesn’t go over well with Protocol Guy, although Alice is perfectly happy sitting next to the Sarah’s morose husband, Dougie. When Alice notices that the servants are deliberately ignoring Dr. Kamble, she makes them serve him but the poor man is given something offensive – which must have been pig. Sarah does get to dance with the Viceroy which is more than she deserves. I doubt she will be grateful.
Madeleine and Ralph are dressed as Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI (hence the cake theme – bizarrely appropriate for the last days of the Raj although surely that wasn’t Madeleine’s intention) which is strange because it’s not a costume party and no one else is dressed up; plus it makes Ralph look extremely sinister, kind of like John Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons. Cynthia is watching them dance and taking pleasure in the engagement because she helped engineer it until Eugene reveals there is no fortune! Cynthia is stunned by this news and can’t decide what to do. And if Eugene thinks Ralph is too much the gentleman to break the engagement, he is quite wrong.

However, Ralph doesn’t know the bad news yet and is in good spirits because the Maharajah at the party was gracious to Dr. Kamble, which Ralph and the Viceroy had not anticipated. It turns out that the Maharajah outlawed Untouchables in his admittedly small region. Aafrin has been put in charge of Dr. Kamble and tells him that Ralph is trustworthy (which is clearly not true) smoothing the way for Ralph to make another attempt to win Dr. Kamble over for his political purpose. Don’t Ralph and his cronies know the British will have to leave India? Are they just trying to feather their nests before they leave?

Then Ralph takes Madeleine for a turn in the garden just as Adam and his mother appear. They seem bent on accosting Ralph, so I guess he really is Adam’s father (we can tell from the mixed race children at the orphanage that half-Indian, half-English children are not unusual but they are kept out of sight so I suppose this might destroy Ralph’s career). Ralph seems to recognize Adam’s mother and tells one of the servants to get rid of her. Alice and Aafrin are watching, out of sight, and Alice impulsively kisses Aafrin passionately. He responds (I could tell he was getting tired of girlfriend Sita when she kept chattering to him earlier but maybe it was also because she never delivered the warning note. Although Aafrin doesn’t know it yet, the police found the forged document in his family’s home) but although this embrace was predictable, it is not very convincing. Aafrin is not a very appealing character (although intended to be) and was very petulant throughout this episode. Combined with the fact that he asked Alice to betray her brother by concealing his theft of the evidence relating to the assassin, she should steer clear of him. Does Alice not realize that if Ralph turns her out, she will have no choice but to go back to England to the dreadful husband?

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