& the slipper still fits

North and South episode 4

First please forgive me if there are some horrible typos...but I wanted this post posted before the New Year and find very little time to proof it.

Here we are, dear reader, at the wrap up of North and South. And while much has happened through the last episodes, this last hour is full of character arches and resolutions. Margaret has not only learned Milton ways, but begun to think more like an adult. And of course, we get to see a very happy ever after.

Brains to Work 
The strike is over, and what's worse, Nicholas is struggling to find work. As a leader of the strike, and as one of the union's strongest advocates, none of the mill owners will take him on. Compounded by the fact that Nicholas has taken on all of Boucher's children -- he's in a very tough place. Margaret urges him to take another chance on asking Thornton, reminding him that Thornton is a steady and reasonable man who would value Nicholas' work ethic and honesty over everything. When Nicholas goes to see Thornton, waiting all day for the chance to speak with him, Thornton throws him out. Nicholas finishes the meeting with this final line, "I was told to ask you by a woman who thought you had a kindness about you." Thornton knows exactly who that woman is.

After investigating Higgin's situation, Thornton does give him a job and the two men, though walking in very different "worlds" form a strong friendship based on honesty and even, dare I say it?, humor. The good of the worker is good for the mill and based on this principle, the two make a dynamic pair.

I LOVE the scenes with Thornton and Higgins. They are fantastic. Simply put. What you see, are two men who actually think a great deal alike, and they are just looking at situations from difference perspectives. Higgins begins to fulfill an older brother role for John and their mutual respect for each other is refreshing to see.

Goodbye, I love you
Mr. Hale never recovered from the death of his wife. And when he goes on holiday with Mr. Bell to his old college stomping grounds, we soon fear his fate. He never returns to Milton, and Margaret is left completely alone. Her aunt comes from London to take her back "home" and Margaret has no real other choice. Mr. Bell, her new guardian in name, doesn't live in Milton either. But before she goes, she wants to say goodbye to her friends.

As she says goodbye to the Thorntons you can feel her longing not to leave. And in seeing her eyes, John's cold heart melts towards her. Again she is the love of his life, and again he will loose her. But this time, it's not because she is rejecting him. As she leaves in the carriage, John utters the most memorable lines in the whole mini-series: "Look back, look back at me."

This might just be me, but I truly believe that if Margaret said, "I don't want to go." Thornton would have proposed again on the spot. Literally, the only thing keeping these two apart at the moment is their belief in the other's indifference. They both long to say they love one another, but pride and impressions make it impossible. I cry every time I see this scene. It's just so sadly lovely.

Despite hard Work, it all comes crashing down
The strike might not have helped the workers, but it sure didn't help the mill owners either. Thornton can't fill the orders he has on time, and he can't receive payment for them till they are filled. Long story short - he has a huge cash flow problem. It might, perhaps, be solved by a 100 to 1 speculation, but John refused to play with the money he's fought so hard to make, or the money to be paid the workers. And despite everything, John looses the mill he strove so hard to make prosperous.

Watching John slowly loose the mill, is heartbreaking. What's worse, is seeing the lives of the workers improve thanks to he and Higgins' ideas, only to know that soon none of it will matter.

Home Again
Mr. Bell comes to visit Margaret, give over all his fortune, and cheer her up with a walk down memory lane. They return to Hellstone for the day and Margaret realizes that her childhood home is not what she remembers now that her mother and father are gone. She returns with an adjusted sense of reality and a new maturity.

Returning to Hellstone makes the story come full circle for me. Margaret sees her home differently because it is no longer her home. I feel this is her last step to knowing she belongs with Thornton. It wouldn't matter if the North was the South or the South was London, so long as she could call living with John home. Margaret learns, what we have always heard, home is were the heart it.

You can Explain
Hearing that Thornton's mill has closed, Margaret rushes to see what she can do to help -- she is in love with him, after all. And Thornton, free for a moment of responsibility, ventures to the South to see the beauty which is bred into Margaret's soul. On their respective ways home, they cross each other's path at the train station. Somehow, after months apart, even thing that they couldn't say at their last meeting is implied and there is no pretense left. Margaret tells John of her business proposition, which will enable him to run the mill again. John knows she would not offer such a generous deal if she still thought of him as a cold businessman. Margaret, after offering fifteen thousand pounds and her love, returns home with John on the North-bound train.

This scene is not in the book. Well, it is, but it is done very differently. I adore the new version and its the HUGE payoff everyone dreams for in a costume drama. With the kiss between John and Margaret (and the reveal of Richard Armitage throat) costume drama is revived. Ask anyone -- there hadn't been a strong, beautifully adapted or filmed costume drama since 1995. And it was with this single, and final, scene we are given a new milestone in mini-series and hero to adore. It really is the best kiss in --I'm going to be 12 for a second -- forever, like completely forever.

North and South changed the BBC landscape. It proved you didn't have to have an Austen or Dickens attached to the title for it to be a runaway hit. North and South wasn't expected to do anything the season it aired and it has become a herald of the genre and a classic in its own right.

And now, with my winter rewatch complete, I can look to the spring and all the new films and seasons coming soon.