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S03.E01: A Secret Which I Desired to Divine

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I think this was one of the few episodes I've been able to enjoy fully from start to finish.  

It was off-book, except for Miss Stacey starting the Queen's class, which excluded Diana.  But the rest of the episode was still pretty good because it showed everyday life without the melodramatic stuff they usually have.  The events that happen could have occurred, so there was less disconnect from the time period or the source material.

They are juggling a lot of characters now, but they did a decent job including everyone.  Bash and his wife felt a little out of the narrative, but they did try to tie them in with a visit from Marilla.  I guess Marilla looking after their baby was supposed to show her softening.  I wasn't sure where the scene with Bash coming home to sleep with his wife was going.  I was afraid Marilla or Gilbert would walk in, but thankfully, that didn't happen.

The rest of the episode fit more into the theme of Anne's sixteenth birthday and her desire to find her roots.  The episode was beautifully filmed as always, from the beginning with Anne riding a horse in the snow and looking at the pinecones on the trees.  

They did a good job of fitting in the Micmaq character, with Anne asking to interview the man making hockey sticks and befriending the little girl.  It was a nice way to show Anne looking at the importance of family which reminded her of the family she never knew.  

The school subplot with the romantic entanglements was innocuous enough.  Some of the child actors have really grown up.  There was some nice chemistry between Anne and Gilbert.  Even though it's off-book, it's nice to see Anne not be mad at Gilbert.  It looks like Anne doesn't really recognize her feelings for him, since she was nicely trying to help Ruby get Gilbert's attention.

It was interesting to see Diana standing up to her parents and telling them her true feelings about being excluded from Queen's class.  

Having Miss Stacey getting the students to write the newspaper and getting a printing press (instead of Avonlea having its own newspaper) has good story potential.

Marilla and Matthew's birthday surprise for Anne was touching.  I felt a bit badly for them when Anne declared she wanted to learn about her parents.  Taking this storyline from the third book was a good idea.  You could see the fears that Matthew and Marilla had about her safety and their fears that Anne might leave them or find out something bad about her family.

I was really relieved when the episode ended because I kept on expecting something melodramatic or inappropriate, but overall, this was a well crafted episode that was generally in the spirit of Anne.  I just hope this remains the case with the rest of the season, since the cinematography, set, music and acting are superb.

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Managed to see this despite being in the US.

Much better start to the season than the slog that started season two. And I’m so glad they have allowed Anne to mature quite a bit. She’s definitely not grown up yet, but she no longer has the social graces of a toddler, which is a very good thing.

The stuff with Anne and the Mi’kmaq girl was clunky, but also very sweet so it was still easy to watch and enjoy.

The anachronisms still bug me. Gilbert saying he’s “not the kind of guy” who does something does not feel period appropriate. And all the girls wearing their hair down and flowy feels off - they should want to wear their hair up, which was the style at the time.

They are really leaning into Miss Stacey being Anne from 10 years into the future, what with her greeting the geese. But I like the idea of Rachel playing matchmaker with her.

Diana is itching for a rebellion. She’s totally gonna hook up with a poor dude. And I love her blue coat.

I’m glad it sounds like we’ll see Cole and possibly Aunt Jo again this season.

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53 minutes ago, Kostgard said:

The anachronisms still bug me. Gilbert saying he’s “not the kind of guy” who does something does not feel period appropriate. 

They are really leaning into Miss Stacey being Anne from 10 years into the future, what with her greeting the geese.

I forgot to mention those two lines, and they really stuck out to me too (and not in a good way).

When Gilbert said, "I'm not a take notice kind of guy", I agree it sounded very modern.  It makes little sense that Anne had to explain what the Take Notice board was for.  It was there all that time and no one noticed or used it?   In a one-room schoolhouse, there would always be older students graduating, so it wouldn't be a new idea if it was on the wall clear as day.

Miss Stacey calling out "Hello Geese" sounded ridiculous.  I didn't like her last season since they were clearly trying to make her out to be a grown-up Anne.  She was better with a small dose in this episode, and Rachel trying to matchmake for her might be interesting.  Though I don't buy Rachel Lynde so quickly warming to such an unconventional teacher.

I feel for the actress who plays Anne when she has to utter lines like "It's funny how people are so quick to point out differences when there are so many ways we are alike".  It's pretty obvious that was the message of the episode, so it didn't necessarily need to be stated outright.

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13 hours ago, Camera One said:

It makes little sense that Anne had to explain what the Take Notice board was for.  It was there all that time and no one noticed or used it?   In a one-room schoolhouse, there would always be older students graduating, so it wouldn't be a new idea if it was on the wall clear as day.

I took it as the board is there for notices in general (for the school, and in small towns like that the schoolhouse usually doubled as something else, like a church, that would also post notices) and at one point in time the students used it as a "take notice" board, but the practice died out as those kids left school. Don't know why Prissy was aware of it's former purpose and Gilbert wasn't - that's the part that didn't make sense to me, since they are presumably about the same age (Gilbert might even be older) and if Prissy had witnessed the "take notice" board in the past, he would have as well.

It also kinda bugs me that all the students are about the same age. If this is one of those one-room schoolhouse deals, kids like Minnie Mae should be in there. But I guess it's all for logistics.

13 hours ago, Camera One said:

Though I don't buy Rachel Lynde so quickly warming to such an unconventional teacher.

I thought that was kind of a big leap for Rachel as well, seeing as she was trying to get her fired last season. But I'm not sure how much time has passed - enough time for Bash and Mary to go through a pregnancy and have a baby, so I assume it's been at least a year since we saw everyone last? All the same, I'm willing to forgive it since the matchmaking has the potential to be entertaining.

They do give Anne some pretty awful dialog, but I was enjoying her so much this episode. This calmer, more mature Anne is pretty appealing. And I enjoyed her prayer the night before her birthday where she said he accepts that she's "unique" (in her looks and otherwise) and embraces being "the bride of adventure." 

Edited by Kostgard
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Good start to the season (necessarily juggling a number of semi-unrelated plot elements that will presumably play out over the coming episodes).

Not, per se, criticism, but since I'm an Islander an a historian, assorted notes about inaccuracy for those interested in knowing more:

  • Anne talks about taking the ferry to the mainland to visit her old orphanage. We'll have to see when exactly this happens, but she seems to be planning to do it in the middle of winter, which would have been impossible.  The Northumberland Strait was not navigable in wintertime due to the iceflows, and Charlottetown harbour was not an all-year port in any case. The only way from Prince Edward Island to the other side in the wintertime was to travel via iceboat, essentially a rowboat with metal runners installed so that the occupants could physically drag it over the ice as needed. As you might guess from the description, nobody traveled this way unless they absolutely had to, because it sucked. Mostly they just carried the mail and any nonessential travel was saved until the spring.
  • The Mi'kmaq community the show depicts is, I believe, anachronistic for the time period (indigenous history on the Island is not my specialty, so I can't absolutely swear to this).  Unless they're being sheltered by a sympathetic landowner, they're squatting (in the eyes of the law) on somebody's property.  Prince Edward Island was well-settled at this point, you couldn't just retreat into the woods and hope nobody would bother you, which was how the Mi'kmaq mostly handled the first two or so centuries of European settlement.
  • Also, Anne and co. would have been referring to them as the "Micmac" at the time, but I completely get why the show would choose to use the updated/preferred transliteration of the tribe's name, considering the Mi'kmaq's exposure in entertainment media consists of...this show.
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I'm really glad the show is finally letting Anne grow up.  At 16 she should not be acting the way she did in previous seasons, and now she actually talks like a normal person, albeit still a spacey one.  I get that in seasons 1 and 2 that was because she had never really been exposed to normal people so she didn't pick up normal social mores and all that, but still, it got super annoying.  

I'm kind of wondering what they're going to include from the books, because some stuff is radically different (Josie and Billy,the Mi'kmaq, Jerry, Bash) but a few things are still fairly close (Diana not being in the Queens class, the town newspaper, Moody's general awkwardness).  It makes me wonder what's going to happen with...

Spoiler

Ruby Gillis dying, Matthew dying (I don't see how they can't include that, it's a defining moment in Anne's life), Billy pulling a 180 and actually going for Anne (which would be super out of character for him at this point), and Gilbert eventually getting his proposal rejected.  And will we ever meet Phil or see Patty's Place?  Is Redmond even going to be a thing?  Will Roy make an appearance?  

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I think they are going to have to deal with Matthew's fate at some point, but I don't know when. If they are roughly following the books they aren't quite there yet, but will be relatively soon.

Ruby's story line they can definitely push out until much later, I think.

I did wonder about Billy Andrews' character turn too, and how they are are going to pull that off if they still plan on doing it, because watching this episode I thought, "Well, Billy still sucks. And nice to know he's racist too, I guess."

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On 9/25/2019 at 1:15 AM, Kostgard said:

And all the girls wearing their hair down and flowy feels off - they should want to wear their hair up, which was the style at the time.

There are actually a couple of places in the book where the girls are explicitly judgemental about wearing your hair up before you are seventeen.

“In four more years we’ll be able to put our hair up,” said Diana. “Alice Bell is only sixteen and she is wearing hers up, but I think that’s ridiculous. I shall wait until I’m seventeen.”

At Queen's when the girls are sixteen:

Ruby was a very handsome young lady, now thinking herself quite as grown up as she really was; she wore her skirts as long as her mother would let her and did her hair up in town, though she had to take it down when she went home.

On 9/25/2019 at 2:16 AM, Camera One said:

When Gilbert said, "I'm not a take notice kind of guy", I agree it sounded very modern.  It makes little sense that Anne had to explain what the Take Notice board was for.  It was there all that time and no one noticed or used it?   In a one-room schoolhouse, there would always be older students graduating, so it wouldn't be a new idea if it was on the wall clear as day.

Making the "take notice" board a weird formal declaration thing apparently located at the school was bizarre to me. In the book "take notice" was childish graffiti for teasing kids about liking each other, not the first step to an engagement. 

The anachronistic language actually feels less awkward to me than the attempts at period dialogue, but there is no consistency. 

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1 hour ago, Kostgard said:

I think they are going to have to deal with Matthew's fate at some point, but I don't know when. If they are roughly following the books they aren't quite there yet, but will be relatively soon.

If Season 3 is preparing for Queen's.  Then, maybe Season 4 is the year Anne is at Queen's getting her teachers' license.  So Matthew's fate might occur in Season 5, which would be the final season of this series anyway.  

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2 hours ago, Kostgard said:

I did wonder about Billy Andrews' character turn too, and how they are are going to pull that off if they still plan on doing it, because watching this episode I thought, "Well, Billy still sucks. And nice to know he's racist too, I guess."

I was surprised when Billy talked about his father retiring and letting him take over the family business, as opposed to the farm. I guess I should have processed that this TV Avonlea is not envisioned as a farming community, but it still took me aback.

I would have preferred Anne's discovery of the Mi'kmaq to feel less sudden, and for Ka:kwet to be less immediately worshipful of Anne. And I was shocked that Anne didn't take the opportunity to mention that her name was spelled with an E -- but maybe they didn't want to talk about orthography when there was a larger language barrier in play.

Edited by SomeTameGazelle
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On 9/26/2019 at 7:23 PM, Camera One said:

If Season 3 is preparing for Queen's.  Then, maybe Season 4 is the year Anne is at Queen's getting her teachers' license.  So Matthew's fate might occur in Season 5, which would be the final season of this series anyway.  

I always thought that the death of Gilbert's father is to offset Matthew. 

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On 9/25/2019 at 1:15 AM, Kostgard said:

Diana is itching for a rebellion. She’s totally gonna hook up with a poor dude. And I love her blue coat.

When Diana ran into Jerry I thought once again that Moira Walley-Beckett might have done better to adapt Emily of New Moon (i.e. Ilse and Perry).

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Why is this thread filled with spoilers? Only the main source is hidden. But the comments are here for all to see. I didn't want to be spoiled. 

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2 hours ago, maddie965 said:

Why is this thread filled with spoilers? Only the main source is hidden. But the comments are here for all to see. I didn't want to be spoiled. 

This entire season has already aired in Canada and the discussion up to this point is from Canadian viewers.  As noted in the mod note, these are not spoilers but US viewers should be aware before going into the episode threads that if they haven't yet seen the episode they will be spoiled.

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Thank you, but I meant spoilers from the books, like when will Mathew meet his "fate". But maybe that's allowed, I don't know.

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