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Last week’s installment of Sanditon on Masterpiece on PBS ended with Augusta (Eloise Webb) running away to elope with Sir Edward Denham (Jack Fox). Miss Markham’s disappearance horrifies her guardian Mr. Colbourne (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) and her former governess Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams). Since the start of Sanditon, Edward Denham has been positioned as the most poisonous, selfish, and cruel rake. In their eyes, there’s no way Edward’s intentions for Augusta can be honorable. She is a teenaged heiress and he is a villain. So why did Sir Edward and Miss Markham’s romance feel bizarrely sweet in Sanditon Season 3?
Sanditon Season 3 has shown fans a different side of Sir Edward Denham. If Edward has any hope of staying in his wealthy aunt’s good graces, he must show proof of reformation. He has been working with Mr. Hankins (Kevin Eldon) on his salvation and Dr. Fuchs (Adrian Scarborough) on retraining his mind. But if anyone seems to have drawn the good side of Edward out, it’s young Augusta Markham. Sparks fly when the two meet in town and they soon find themselves embroiled in a secret romance as Mr. Colbourne refuses to let Edward properly court his niece.
Sanditon Season 3 Episode 5 will follow what happens next for the couple. Will Edward force himself on Augusta when they’re alone, thereby ruining the maiden? Or is their love true?
Ironically, Sanditon showrunner Justin Young revealed that Edward and Augusta’s romance never happened because Masterpiece was initially against the idea.
“Well, it’s interesting because having said there was no pushback for Arthur’s [queer] love story. We got a lot of pushback on this one,” Young said. “Masterpiece understandably were very, very nervous and as we were pitching it, developing it, we kept getting these messages going, ‘You know, our social media team really, really hate Edward. They really don’t want to see [him with] lovely Augusta.’ But, I kind of had faith in it.”
“I think for me, it was about trying to give Edward an energy in the third season that we hadn’t seen in the first two seasons. The inspiration was very much Dangerous Liaisons. You know, when Valmont, the absolute rotter actually does fall in love for the first time. So I thought, you know, it would be interesting to see that dynamic.”
Young said that they decided that Augusta would be Edward’s Cecile because of how she was a younger, still innocent version of Edward’s first Sanditon love interest, Esther (Charlotte Spencer).
“[Augusta] does have that Esther-ish quality. She’s very witty. She’s very smart,” Young said. “And I thought what, what would give that story an interesting energy is that she is smarter than he is.”
“She is innocent on one level, but she’s not a victim. You know, she’s smart and she’s clever and she gives as good as she gets.”
Even though Young was able to convince Masterpiece that the Edward/Augusta romance was a good idea, he admits that the Sanditon team was nervous about pulling it off.
“We were nervous, I have to say, as we were developing it about how old Augusta was,” he said. “We thought it could have felt really, really yuck and it might still feel yuck to some viewers. But I think Eloise, who plays the part, is so skillful in the way that she’s a child at the beginning of Season 2, and somehow when you meet her at the beginning of Season 3, she feels like a young woman. You know, she feels like a match for him.”
Sanditon fans who have already watched the full season on PBS’s Passport app know exactly how Edward and Augusta’s relationship ends. If you haven’t, there are SPOILERS ahead!
Young added that “it was equally important for us that it ended the way that it ended,” with Edward claiming he was intending to ruin Augusta and steal her fortune. He does this only after realizing that marrying her would ruin her.
Sanditon EP Belinda Campbell said that Edward “learning that she’s wealthy gives him a way out.”
“He wasn’t expecting to have feelings for her. Because it’s like he’s changed, he’s changing,” she said. “He’s like a snake shedding his sort of, you know, his skin.”
“I think if it had been like, ‘Oh, and they live happily ever after that,’ that was never the story,” Young said. “She is actually Edward’s chance for a whisper of redemption. He’s never going to be the kind of guy you want your daughter to marry, but he’s not a completely lost soul. And that’s really what that story was about.”
“I know it’s wrong. But at the same time, I kind of ‘ship them.”
Edward and Augusta don’t end up together, but that doesn’t mean Miss Markham won’t get her happily ever after. Campbell said that there’s a hint that Augusta’s heart will heal in one of the final scenes of the series.
“In the wedding scene where Charlotte’s walking around the room, there’s a little moment where [Augusta] makes eyes at a nice looking boy,” Campbell said. “That’s not saying that’s who she’s going to end up with at all. But it’s sort of what that moment is designed to tell us is that she will find love in an uncomplicated, worthy person.” That’s not Edward Denham.
Every episode in Sanditon Season 3 is now streaming on PBS Passport. Sanditon Season 3 Episode 5 will premiere on Masterpiece on PBS on Sunday, April 16 at 9/8 C.