Nicholas can’t get work anywhere, though he’s a good worker. He’s known as a union leader by all the masters. Margaret tells her father that things could work out if Nicholas and Thorton could talk “man to man.”
Mrs. Thornton has a talk with Margaret
Two strong ladies go at it! Mrs. Thornton comes to warn Margaret about her behavior, saying that “many a young lady has lost her character” by being out late at night with a man. Margaret cuts her off, saying that she’s not going to just sit there and take such insults.
Thornton talks with Mr. Lattimer, the banker
I don’t think anyone ever accused me of being careless!
Here we see our man very worried and on edge- he snaps at Mr. Lattimer for no good reason, then asks forgiveness. When Lattimer mentions “speculation,” Thornton gets very stiff and serious. (Remember that his father killed himself after he “speculated wildly.”)
Nicholas meets with Thornton
I’m a steady man. I work hard.
With his cap in hand, Nicholas comes to ask for work at Marlboro Mills. Thornton turns him away. Nicholas says he was sent “by a woman who thought” Thornton “had a kindness” about him. This piques Thornton’s curiosity.
The Thorntons at home
Fanny is riding high now that she’s engaged to Watson, another of the Milton mill owners. She cut down Margaret again, calling her “so severe.” When she mentions speculation, John tells her angrily that “there is nothing certain about speculation!” (The emotion in Armitage’s voice is so strong and powerful!) The little joke (about Fanny’s spending) and smile at the end of the scene is just wonderful, too.
Thornton comes to the Higgins home
Thornton sees the little children (of Boucher) playing and reading. Thornton admits that he could not have taken on “a man such as Boucher’s children.” He asks Higgins’ forgiveness, offers him work, and they shake on it.
Thornton, Tommy, and Higgins in the mill yard
Tommy is learning how to read when Thornton comes over (helps with pronouncing “animal”). Both men have been working late. Thornton and Higgins discuss the importance on having a good meal for both working and studying (thinking of Tommy). Higgins has an idea that might work. The two men have a grudging respect for each other.
Aftermath of Mr. Hale’s death
Look back. Look back at me.
Mr. Hale dies (peacefully) while on a reunion trip to Oxford. Aunt Shaw comes to take Margaret home (her house in London). Margaret apologizes to Mrs. Thornton for her previous behavior. She gives her father’s copy to Plato to Mr. Thornton and politely wishes him well. Her eyes are sad, as are his. Then we have the great “look back” moment as Thornton watches the coach drive away in the snow. He feels a great loss, knowing that she will never come back to Milton.
Visit to Helstone
After three months in London, Margaret is still wearing black (color of mournng), which worries cousin Edith. Mr. Bell takes her for a visit to Helstone, but things are different from when she was a girl. Margaret thinks back to her time in Milton, and tells Mr. Bell about the drama at the train station and its aftermath. She feels bad because Mr. Thornton knows she lied. Is that all? Her godfather wonders.
Mr. Bell settles his affairs
Mr. Bell signs off most of his fortune to Margaret before sailing for South America to live out the last of his days (he’s ill). Margaret is “landlord in name only” of Marlboro Mills. When he tries to explain more to Thornton, the younger man cuts him off. Thornton is too busy with his financial problems to deal with anything else. We see him even sleeping in his office.
We learn that Marlboro Mills has gone under. Thornton feels the loss keenly, of course. His mind goes back to Margaret- they met in the mill. Higgins “got up a petition” of men that would be willing to work again for Thornton. Then we have the big reveal about Margaret’s brother- finally! See the relief and happiness on Thornton’s face?
This mini-series has one of the best pay-offs, in my opinion. Margaret and John finally connect and share one of the best (effective) onscreen kisses you’ll ever see! (Trust me, I’ve seen a lot of TV shows and movies.) These characters have grown and changed over the course of the four episodes (about 2 years). Each episode reveals more about their personalities, feelings, values. Margaret gets on the train with Thornton to return to Milton, which will truly be her home.
Hats off to Richard Armitage for bringing Mr. Thornton to life! It’s a great and nuanced performance (for all you newbie fans). It’s not just about being brooding, smoldering, or whatnot- it’s about the subtlety of his acting. Even in today’s (modern/liberal-minded) world, it’s rare to see a leading man who can also be vulnerable (another fine example: Mad Men star Jon Hamm). Thanks for reading!