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Dickinson – Season 3 Episode 10: Recap, Review & Ending Explained

This Was A Poet

A greeting with Death

Episode 10 of Dickinson Season 3 starts the very last episode of this show with Emily attending the best social event of the season. No, it’s not a big ball but actually her garden. Emily talks to each of her flowers one by one before being greeted by Death.

Death appears in a swanky new suit and admits that he’s been taking some time to reflect on his purpose in life. He tells Emily she needs to dress how she feels rather than how other people want her too, directly referencing her uncomfortable and tight dress she’s wearing.

In order to go deeper into her subconscious and deliver the poems everyone will revere her for, Death implores Emily to dress the part. Before Death leaves, he warns that Emily is on a tight deadline.

A beautifully poetic sentiment

Emily soon heads back to her room but struggles to remove her tight dress. Lavinia is there to help though, thankfully, as Emily delivers one of the best lines in the whole show. “They can’t stop me from writing Vinnie, because writing is the thing that keeps me alive.” Maybe not to others but as someone who has been writing since the age of 6 or 7, this really resonates with me.

It’s a beautifully poetic line that really shows the power of writing and captures the essence of how it can be such an amazing release, especially when you can share it with others. Anyway, I digress.

Do Austin and Edward patch up their differences?

Elsewhere, Sue and Austin head up to see Edward and Mrs Dickinson. Heading inside, Austin decides that he wants to team up with Edward on a brand new legal case. However, this will require both their expertise to handle. That case comes in the form of a young freeborn black woman named Angeline Palmer.

Angeline used to be a servant for the Shaw family. However, it turns out the Shaw’s actually hatched a plan to sell Angeline into slavery for $600. Although she was saved from that fate, the men who did this were arrested on charges of kidnapping. Austin wants to represent them.

It’s a tricky case and with the Dickinson name down and out, taking this on would give their family a new lease of life and, potentially, a foot toward redemption as well. Austin is determined to be there when society changes. Edward notices the passion in his son and decides to help him.

Colonel Higginson arrives

A knock at the door distracts them all though as Colonel Higginson rocks up in uniform. He’s there to see the great poet Emily Dickinson. He reveals to the family that her poems and letters have really struck a chord with him. He gushes over her brilliance, how she managed to capture the horror and essence of war, despite not being anywhere near the battlefield.

There’s a recurring joke here about Higginson’s name, which is pretty hilarious, as Emily prepares herself to meet the Colonel. Mrs Dickinson is not so sure this is a good fit but Sue lays down the law and tells her they need to do what’s right by Emily.

While they all wait for Emily to come downstairs, Sue and Austin decide on a name for their baby boy – Edward. It’s a touching tribute to Austin’s father as Colonel Higginson bumps into Betty outside.

Does Betty receive Henry’s letters?

He feeds back exactly what Henry has been through in the war. Higginson stresses the courage and tenacity Henry has shown and hands over a whole stack of letters that Henry wrote. The same letters that haven’t been able to reach her until now. It’s a really beautiful moment and one that sees a big smile cross her face, knowing that she’s not going to be a widow after all.

How does Dickinson Season 3 end?

Emily meanwhile, continues to deliberate over heading downstairs. While she paces in her room, we receive a beautiful montage of Emily across the seasons. Soon, this fades away and in its place, “By The Sea” is read out.

Emily is down by the shore, and she gets in a boat, riding out to greet the mermaids who happen to be perched on the rocks nearby. As she rows out to sea, the series comes to an end.

What is the meaning of the ending?

Now, many people will come away confused by this but to be honest, the meaning can be found within the poem itself. Emily is about to embark on a brand new voyage of her own, meeting Colonel Higginson downstairs. The alluring water could signify her emotions while the mermaids in the distance usually symbolize beauty and something foreign and unknown; a metaphor for greeting the good looking Colonel perhaps?

Of course, this is all open to interpretation but this seems like the most likely explanation. However, if you have another theory, please do let us know in the comments!

The Episode Review

This season really needed another episode or so just to solidify everything and allow all of the storylines to be resolved. Although most of this has been wrapped up, the lack of a reunion between Henry and Betty is a bit disappointing. Likewise, Lavinia not actually getting Emily’s poems published after her death and seeing her honoring her sister is another missed opportunity.

Emily herself is stuck at somewhat of a crossroads here too, with little closure to her story and an open conclusion over what she’s going to do about her future. We know she doesn’t have much time left and for those who are unaware of Emily Dickinson’s life, you should absolutely check it out online.

Anyway, it’s good to see Austin and Edward patch up their differences, while there’s a really nice feel-good moment when Austin names his child Edward. These little moments help to give some closure to the different subplots but one can’t help but wish that the show had leaned into this a little more, especially with Emily and giving her a good send-off.

Either way though, Dickinson season 3 has been an enjoyable ride and the final chapter bows out with most of the big plot points all wrapped up. With no season 4 on the horizon, it would have been nice to see a good send-off for Emily herself!

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