The 'Dickinson' Season 2 Finale Gives Emily a Taste of Bliss as Trouble Looms Ahead

The end of 'Dickinson' sends Season 2 off with a bang that blends a sexy fantasy and the bleak, fast-approaching reality.

Apple TV+
Apple TV+
Apple TV+

Throughout the first two seasons of Apple TV+’s Dickinson, Emily Dickinson’s (Hailee Steinfeld) imagination and her life in 19th Century Amherst have collided on screen. She’s gone on carriage rides with Death (Wiz Khalifa) and conversed with a giant bee (Jason Mantzoukas) in moments that manifest imagery from her poems. When she is published for the first time under her own name, she becomes invisible-“I’m Nobody! Who are you?” Most of the time, these flights of fancy are private to Emily. They are outside of her quotidian existence with her family. But every so often, series creator Alena Smith and her writers let these planes bleed into one other, often when the show is playing with anachronism.

In the Season 2 finale, “You cannot put a Fire out,” there’s a sequence that’s “real” in the context of the show, yet feels like it’s sprung from inside the heads of its characters. Emily and Sue (Ella Hunt)-her friend, sister-in-law, and lover-have rekindled their connection. Having dropped their dresses on the ground, they feast on cakes and fruits wearing corsets in Emily’s family home. They kiss and bathe together in milky water with flowers floating in the tub, as “Heaven” by the female-fronted band Charly Bliss plays.

This is not typical of the hallucinations viewers are used to from Emily, which are often filled with an existential dread. Instead, there’s a Pre-Raphaelite indulgence to it. Sue rips open an orange with her bare hands, the juices sputtering. Emily’s hair is at her shoulders in perfect waves. The final shot before the credits roll finds Emily and Sue, naked and covered in a sheet in the Dickinson’s greenhouse, the plants almost enveloping them. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered: Is this through Emily’s perspective, or Sue’s? Or is it both?

Apple TV+
Apple TV+
Apple TV+

This season brings Emily almost to the point at which she is most recognizable: A reclusive genius shutting herself off from the world. Before Sue comes bursting into her room with her confession of love, Emily has resolved to keep her poems and herself hidden from public view. She chooses to be “Nobody,” encouraged by another one of her visions: the personification of that identity, played by Will Pullen.

Emily feels violated by Samuel Bowles (Finn Jones), the editor of the Springfield Republican with whom she entrusted her life’s work, after he proves himself to be cavalier with her words and his affections. His betrayal is also Sue’s. Emily, when she is invisible, discovers that Sue and Samuel have been having an affair. Sue pressured Emily to seek the fame that Bowles could provide, which she ultimately admits was a selfish act. Sue, reeling from a miscarriage, felt burdened by Emily’s attention, which came in the form of her poems.

To Sue, the poems stirred passions that she tried to keep hidden, especially in her new life as a wife to Emily’s brother Austin (Adrian Enscoe). So instead of facing her own emotional turmoil, she thought that if the world shared in Emily’s brilliance she wouldn’t have to grapple with it all on her own.

Apple TV+
Apple TV+
Apple TV+

The moment Sue finally shares her true feelings with Emily plays like a dam breaking. Throughout the entire season, Hunt had portrayed Sue with an uptight aloofness, her neck strained as if she was looking down on everyone around her. A former orphan, Sue channeled her energies into becoming a society doyenne, making use of the wealth she had acquired by becoming a member of the Dickinson family. She seemed more concerned with her gold dresses and the quality of her salons than anything of substance. The more Emily reached out to Sue, the more Sue backed away.

This is why it’s easy to side with Emily’s suspicion when Sue comes to her door, contrite. But it’s similarly just as easy to get swept up in their passion when they start furiously making out. In internet slang/TV fandom parlance, Emily and Sue are the OTP of the series, the one true pair. You want to root for them to be together, even though Sue’s behavior would have you suspect it might not be the healthiest relationship. The lavish, Marie Antoinette-style spread they cavort around seems more like it would be pulled from Sue’s idea of what is sexy than Emily’s. It’s intoxicating the same way the idea of fame was intoxicating when Sue dangled it in front of Emily earlier in the narrative. You want that happiness and recognition for Emily, but it’s also dangerous.

“I will never let go of you again,” Sue says before the credits roll. The statement is hopeful, but at the same time it’s an impossible promise. They are cocooned in their bliss, but around them turmoil is encroaching. They are unaware of the fact that the town church has gone up in flames, a harbinger of the national crisis, the Civil War, that will soon begin. Austerity is approaching-the daydream of cake and wine and sex cannot last forever.

Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.


Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.


Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.


BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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