Episode 6 of The Essex Serpent begins with Luke an absolute mess, having bandaged up his cut hand from the previous night. Despite stitching up the wound, it’s clear this could have huge ramifications for his career.
And that much is especially true when he attempts to pick up a scalpel, breaking his stitches and leaving a pool of blood on the cloth.
Does Cora learn what’s happening with Stella and Will?
Interestingly, the scene flits back and forth between Luke and Cora, with the latter writing to Stella… and abandoning her thoughts as soon as Frankie shows. Screwing up her letter, she leaves for breakfast.
Back in Essex, Stella asks Will to go and fetch Cora and Frankie, wanting them to come back. So naturally, Will decides to write to Cora, informing of the TB diagnosis and what she’s going through.
Will also admits that he’s broken, unable to get through most days, and doesn’t think it a good idea for them to return, despite what Stella wishes.
What happens with the housing bill?
Meanwhile, Martha delivers the bad news about Ambrose and his social housing bill. He decides not to follow through after all.
However, Spencer is going to try and help them, even offering to buy up the whole building. The residents are promised water and electricity, which they’re delighted about, but Spencer’s real flex is to try and impress Martha. Eventually Spencer offers her a job to try and raise a bill for social housing that way.
Does Cora return to Essex?
Away from this subplot, Cora visits Luke and profusely apologizes for what’s happened to him. Cora also suggests he move in with her, which goes down like a lead balloon. Cora persists, offering up Michael’s room (“The mausoleum,” Luke quips) and wanting an explanation as to why he won’t move in. “Because I’m in love with you.” Luke says. “And you’re in love with someone else.”
After some encouraging words of wisdom from Martha, Cora and Frankie head off to go and see Stella after all.
When they arrive, Stella is grateful to see the pair but has a favour to ask of Cora. She wants her to go and see Will at the church. Her wish is for the pair to go and talk through their issues. She offers a warm, seemingly knowing smile, and watches as Cora leaves.
Why does Stella head out into the water?
With Naomi still missing, the villagers are spooked by this serpent and continue to refuse going out on the water. As for Cora and Will, the pair talk about Stella’s condition. Will admits that he’s struggling with this and tells Cora that he’ll always love Stella, no mater what. And with that, the pair look set to kiss.
As for Stella, she leads Frankie out to the shore, where she admits that she’s seen the serpent herself. Sitting in the boat, she has Frankie push her into the water. “My god and King.” Stella says, as she decides to go and meet this serpent.
Frankie charges out to see Will and Cora, revealing where Stella happens to be. As the boat floats lazily up the river, it tips over and Stella plunges into the water.
Is the serpent real?
Will charges out into the river, desperate to bring Stella back. He snatches her up and brings her back. But for a moment, there’s a shot of something lurking under the water that looks like a serpent.
When Stella heads back home with Cora, Naomi comes wandering up the shore to her father. There, she reveals that the serpent is dead and that everything is going to be okay.
Off the back of this, bells toll, the villagers gather and they head down to the river where a large creature has washed up on shore. It looks like a whale but we’ll stick with “gigantic dying fish” to describe it for now!
How does The Essex Serpent Season 1 end?
With the whole serpent malarkey cleared up, time skips forward. Will does his best to tend to Stella as she slowly fades from this world.
As for Cora, she heads back out excavating again, receiving a letter from Dr Garrett on his progress. He misses her and has been made head of the medical school, teaching others what he knows.
Speaking of letters, Will receives one from Cora, telling him she’s torn and mended, as well as loving him too. She wants him to write back but instead, he files it away along with numerous other letters he’s collected from her.
Making a decision, Will heads out to see Cora face to face, admitting he never wrote because he had too much to say. As the pair kiss, now having healed the wounds from their past, they decide to walk together, hand in hand.
The Episode Review
So The Essex Serpent bows out with an ending that wraps everything up as best it could, but not really wowing or revelling in the chilling atmosphere the opening few episodes did.
The ending is an interesting choice too, given the end of the book (unless I’m mistaken) actually stops at the point of Cora asking Will to come and see her, ending in ambiguity. This serial adaptation meanwhile, decides to actually go the Hollywood route, with everything resolved and no ambiguity in place.
The subplot involving Martha and the social housing bill almost feels like a thinly veiled attempt at sending a message about society as a whole but it really does feel like padding and falls flat compared to the more interesting characters in this show.
The triangle between Will, Cora and Stella (not to mention Dr Garrett too) has been the driving force for much of this season but the latter half has definitely slammed on the brakes and struggled to really step up. This isn’t a bad show per-se, but it’s not a particularly memorable one either.
The themes and ideas early on were good but ultimately the show buckles under the weight of expectation, slipping into the murky realm of mediocrity instead.