Black Cake – Season 1 Episode 4 “Mrs Bennet” Recap & Review

Mrs Bennet

Episode 4 of Black Cake begins with the impossible meeting between Eleanor and Gibbs. The latter had given up on all hope after he read about the accident. He cannot believe his eyes or his hands when they touch Eleanor’s. She chooses to keep what happened in Glasgow a secret from Gibbs, uncertain how he’ll react. They both had finally found their “one and only” in each other and were now ready to live life. It went well for a while until one day Edwina, from Covey’s boarding house, spotted Eleanor outside the theatre.

Eleanor is rendered breathless and runs away from the interaction in the pouring rain. She asks Gibbs to sever all ties with her. She did not want him to be dragged into her mess and live a life of secret; of always looking over his shoulder and being on the run. However, Gibbs chooses to go in the exact opposite direction and attaches Eleanor to his life forever – by asking her to marry him. That is how Eleanor came to be known as Mrs Bennet, which was Gibbs’ middle name. 

The money from his parents’ estate ensured that they were able to escape to the US to start afresh. Eleanor called him Bert and reveals him to be B&B’s father. We briefly jump back eight years into the past around the time that Benny ran away on Thanksgiving. We see Eleanor getting a panic attack when Bert mistakenly calls her Covey while playing a game of charades. The children didn’t pay attention to it. Bert apologises to Eleanor and asks her to consider telling them the truth.

However, Eleanor decided that it could potentially create a bridge between them instead of bringing them closer, which she realizes, in hindsight, was a mistake. In the present day, we see the children taking another break. They think that Eleanor should have told Bert about Glasgow since he would have wanted to know. Byron tries to comfort a desolate Benny who feels hard done by Bert after learning of their past. It is still unclear why she ran away and didn’t feel like contacting her family for almost 8 years.

We see the siblings go back to their respective partners for the night. But it is not smooth sailing. Lynette, Byron’s wife, suddenly starts berating him for not playing the “race card” to get the promotion. She seems to think that the decision not to promote him was racist and that Byron does not dare to stand up for himself. It is revealed that Benny is bisexual but never came out to her parents. However, Joanie, her then-girlfriend, encourages her to do so. 

She meets Steve, her agent, in the present day, who informs her of a substantial offer for one of her paintings. However, Benny doesn’t want to sell it since it is a personal artefact. We finally go back to that fateful Thanksgiving when Benny introduces Joanie to the entire family. When Benny reveals she has dropped culinary school, Bert gets on her case. He goes on a “show-stopping” harangue that forces Benny to run away. Bert also pokes at Benny’s apparent bisexuality, saying that she has never stuck to anything in her life and calls her a “series of failures.” Since then, Benny has gone on her own way in life.

A year later, we see Benny’s art being hosted at an exhibition, where she meets Steve for the first time. He sees her art and calls her “gifted,” bringing a blush to her face. Steve is a renowned artist and offers Benny an apprenticeship. They begin a relationship soon after that and it all goes well…until they run into Joanie one day. After the interaction, Steve goes off the rails. He thinks Benny used him and doesn’t want him to be a part of her social circle. That’s perhaps the end of the relationship, which seemed an on-off kind of affair.

One night, when they’re together, Benny gets the call that Bert has died. She instantly goes off on an emotional tirade against herself, of how she ghosted him for two years even though they hurt each other. Steve gets possessive of her and gets aggressive in his tone when she turns down his suggestion of not going to the funeral. He goes on like a broken tape recorder about how he is everything to Benny. It culminates in him physically hitting her. 

She doesn’t attend the funeral – can’t, due to the large bruise on her face – only watching it from afar from her car. Benny tells Byron the truth about that day in the present. Byron comforts her by saying he will be there for her through whatever. She reciprocates his sentiment.

The episode ends with Eleanor advising her kids to accept the shortfalls in the people they love. 

The Episode Review

Episode 4 smartly weaves the present timeline into the narrative. Until now, we had been limited to seeing Covey’s journey from Jamaica to the US. However, it came to an abrupt conclusion in this episode. I still think we will go back to Eleanor and Gibbs starting out together but perhaps the present timeline will dominate the storytelling from now on. 

In more than one aspect, episode 4 has a sense of finality to the plot. It is almost as if the show cannot spring any more surprises on us. I do feel that a little more patience could have been useful here. Learning the background of Benny and Byron at a relatively sedate pace would have allowed better exposition.

However, we can’t be too quick to judge unless we know what the makers are trying to make the space for. Adrienne Warren is effective in manifesting Benny’s innate conflict and guilt. The lingering look of confusion and feeling of inadequacy on her face is apropos of how Benny felt about herself for all those years. 

Previous Episode

Next Episode

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

  • Episode Rating

Leave a comment