The St. George girls are partnered and there’s only one thing to do: celebrate the American way with a raucous party! “Homecoming” (The Buccaneers Episode 4) brings us back to New York where James Seadown and the Duke of Tintagel are being officially introduced to the U.S. high society.
But there’s one major thing standing in the way of everyone’s enjoyment: the truth about Nan’s mom, which she’s avoiding by locking herself in her room. At first Nan is upset with Mrs. St. George — she feels like her mom lied to her every day of her life, even going so far as to reason that this is why she’s always been closer to her dad. It’s not fair and it takes both a conversation with their Colonel father, who plays off his cheating as a timepass activity while his wife was tired, and insistence from Jinny for Nan to come around and accept her mother’s apology.
Nan’s conversation with her father understandably veers into asking for more information about her birth mom, and the Colonel isn’t able to provide much. The woman was just kind of …there, he reasons, saying he didn’t get a good look at her face but he’s sure she was pretty. Yuck. But the Colonel isn’t as depraved as he’s making himself out to be — as he and his wife go to bed that night, Mrs. St. George ensures that he didn’t tell Nan the truth about who her mom really is, making it likely that it’s someone already in the family’s orbit and likely still alive.
Once Nan is satisfied (or at least, as satisfied as she can be) by the answers about where she came from, she finds the Duke. She wants to start their life together without secrets, even if it endangers the very ground they stand on. But Theo has been consumed with something else entirely: a love letter addressed to Nan and written by his best friend Guy.
Theo has no idea that his own mother unwittingly encouraged Guy to write this or that his best friend regretted sending it as soon as he sobered up — the letter still arrived and Theo thought it was for him, opening it with glee at first. He doesn’t know how Nan feels or if she knows about Guy’s feelings but when she asks if she can be honest with him, he tells her not to tell him anything that would ruin their happiness. Instead, he just wants to know if she loves him. When she says yes (and more pointedly, that she wants him) they run off and make out in the coat room, with Guy’s letter deemed forever a secret right along with Nan’s parentage.
Much of the rest of the episode revolves around Mrs. St. George hellbent on restoring order in her family and resenting her husband for putting them in this position. Even after things are smoothed over with Nan, she finds the Colonel chatting with another young woman like he’s done many times before. She’s had it, even trying to declare her freedom by leaving him, but she’s waved off by her husband who laughs in her face at the thought of her surviving on her own. Mrs. St. George appears to be a forward thinking woman trapped in the patriarchy of the 1800s — and unfortunately her daughter Jinny seems primed to follow in her footsteps.
The party is also a showcase for Jinny and her new husband Lord James Seadown, and he’s still up to his shenanigans. It’s only been a few months since he embarrassed Lizzy at Runningmeade and back in New York, he pretends like they’ve never even met. Lizzy, to her credit, plays along though she watches from afar and even slyly asks Jinny if he’s truly treating her like a lady. Jinny, more of a pushover than Nan, maintains that she’s happy even if some of his behavior is off putting.
James’s sister’s earlier declaration of him as “a monster” continues to ring true throughout “Homecoming.” His newest fixation is on embarrassing Jinny and he does so by constantly insulting her American heritage and the party that her parents have thrown, going so far as to wonder aloud whether she’s only married him for the title. James tells Jinny that the party they’ve thrown is vulgar and demeaning, and insists that she request her mother apologize to him. Jinny is initially thrown but feeling the need to be obedient, she complies.
She stands in the center of the ballroom and chastises her mother in front of every well-to-do woman in their circle (the way I howled for her to at least do it in private!). This party, she says, is a “gaudy display of bad taste.” But the embarrassment doesn’t stop with her decision to say this publicly; it continues when her rat of a husband appears confused by her behavior and apologizes to Mrs. St. George, thanking her for a lovely party and wondering out loud what’s come over his wife. Jinny’s reaction is subtle but the wheels are turning — she knows she’s been played.
While Lizzy observes Jinny and James from afar, her mom is in a tizzy about her daughters’ marriage prospects because Lizzy refuses to go back to England and she may or may not have caught Mabel kissing another woman in the bathroom. But their mom is a pro at avoidance and refuses to address what she saw with Mabel. The Elmsworth girls seemed doomed to a sad existence under their mother’s roof until Lizzy agrees to take another crack at British men and go back to England, mainly for Mabel’s sake. Whether or not she’s hoping to keep an eye on Jinny and James remains to be seen.
Conchita and Richard are a minor focus in “Homecoming,” but the episode’s title is apt for their journey. Back Stateside, Conchita and Richard feel free again, no longer stifled by his parents’ expectations and observations. Conchita senses this as a moment to make a final plea for them to move their family across the ocean. But that means he’d have to leave his title and the power that comes with it behind and a caretaker close to Conchita wisely tells her, “no man will choose freedom over power.” It’s this realization that tells her the choice to stay or go lands squarely on her shoulders — and her indecision drives Richard to find solace from his governess Miss Testvalley… while she’s in the tub. He hasn’t cheated yet but the pressure from Conchita may show him to be no different than the other men in The Buccaneers.
Radhika Menon (@menonrad) is a TV-obsessed writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared on Paste Magazine, Teen Vogue, Vulture and more. At any given moment, she can ruminate at length over Friday Night Lights, the University of Michigan, and the perfect slice of pizza. You may call her Rad.