Black Cake – Season 1 Episode 2 “Coventina” Recap & Review

Coventina

Episode 2 of Black Cake begins in the present day. Mitch, Benny, and Byron sit in awkward silence. Byron especially has trouble getting his head around what he just heard. But Benny is strangely cheerful. Her reason is ironic, though. Seeing her mother as an imperfect person and perhaps as much a mess as herself is what brings a spring to Benny’s step. Her brother does not share her enthusiasm. He leaves Mitch and Benny alone in the house as she talks about her hobbies and time away from the family.

Benny talks about how she wanted to make her family proud by opening a café on all her own and pursuing her interests in music. But none of that materialized for her. Mitch reveals that Eleanor looked forward to hearing Benny’s music online. He encourages her to pick it up again. Mitch leaves and asks her to give him a call whenever Byron is ready. All alone in the house, Benny wanders around, going through some of Eleanor’s things.

She listens to Eleanor’s last audio message – asking Benny to come home – over and over again. Tears start gushing from her eyes as she realizes the missed opportunity to reconnect with her mother. Byron also faces disappointment at his work. He was in contention to become the director of the Institute he works at but lost the place to his colleague, Marc. Byron comes back home and does not tell Benny about it. Mitch is back and they start listening to the tapes again.

Covey started her life in London as a nanny. She remained focused on hiding her true identity, thus giving the title of this episode, “Coventina.” The essence of the same is that she had to assume a new identity by hiding parts of herself. Her job as a nanny isn’t as hard as Eleanor’s, who is training to be a nurse. But even so, Covey struggles to cope with her new life. Anonymity and being invisible have swept away all joy from Covey’s life. When she tries to make fish soup for kids at her job, Covey experiences heartbreak as they dislike the dish.

Covey cries uncontrollably in her bed that night and Eleanor catches her awake. Usually, she drops by only after Covey is asleep. But the two bond over their dismal time. Eleanor expresses her wish to study geology and pursue it as a career. Covey encourages her to take the leap while also mentioning her dream of swimming competitively. Eleanor also consoles Covey who is drenched in homesickness. This is where she reveals that she was an orphan and hence can sympathize with the feeling of being alone in a new place.

Covey has a close call at a social event when her lie about being from the mountains is nearly exposed. She is determined to find a way out of this misery as she knows the next time, she won’t be as lucky. Eleanor mentioned a geology school in Scotland and Covey proposes that they move there together. They have enough money saved up, so that is not an issue. Eleanor is thrilled and the pair soon leaves the boarding house. On the journey, Covey reveals the truth about her origins to Eleanor, who is receptive and it doesn’t change her opinion of Covey. However, the train meets a deadly accident and Eleanor is killed. Covey is badly injured and taken to a hospital.

However, the authorities and nurses mistake her for Eleanor and news spreads that Covey has been declared dead in the accident. She sees this as a way to further reinforce her anonymity and accepts her new identity as Eleanor. News reaches her home town as well and they have a memorial. Bunny has completely lost it. The episode suggests that she is gay and has strong feelings for Covey. She has trouble coping without her best friend, although her father, Leonard, tries his best to help her recover. It is also revealed that he wants to set her up with Pat, a childhood friend so that Bunny has someone to look after her.

The Henry brothers take control of the shop and throw Lin out, forcing him to reminisce about how his family got it. The family faced persecution at the hands of the locals. One day, Lin discovered cockfighting and kept chancing his luck until it ran out. He thought that his streak would never end and his family ended up paying a heavy price because of his overconfidence. Lin lost the support of his parents when he married Matilda against their wishes. And then he lost Matilda’s support as his gambling debts ran amuck.

In a flashback, we see that Lin claimed to see Gibbs at the after-party the night Clarence died. Could he have poisoned the thug and saved Covey’s life? It remains a mystery for now as the episode ends with Lin trying to commit suicide with all hope lost in his life.


The Episode Review

Episode 2 of Black Cake hints toward more hour-long instalments in the series and I have mixed feelings. Even though the show’s writing calls for a patient, deliberative exposition of the story and characters, the runtime drags on too much. Both episodes could be at least 10 minutes shorter without impacting the storytelling. On the contrary, perhaps crisper editing could introduce more urgency to the storytelling.

However, one thing is clear. The creators have made an honest and sincere attempt to adapt the length and breadth of the literary source. Black Cake is not a casual effort for the sake of bringing the story to life. It has a purpose and steers away from reimagining the plot for “modern viewers.” Despite time being of the essence, we hardly see any time stamps or text establishing time frames.

It beckons viewers to pay attention to what’s happening, although the structure is very accessible. I like how the writers have given themselves the option to build the backend of the Islands through these brief flashbacks whenever the present-day timeline gets vacuous.

The show is promising but not without its pitfalls. Sorting these small details can drastically elevate the show’s quality.

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You can read our full Season 1 review of Black Cake here!

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