On the season two penultimate episode of Dickinson, Emily’s ghost finally catches up to her and we find that he is her brother’s college friend, Frazar Stearns. Stearns is at The Evergreens for a little reunion hosted by Austin. The young men catch up but the conversation moves to the Civil War on the horizon and all their anxieties for being the ones to fight it. Meanwhile, Edward and the board of the Springfield Republican see the impending war as a business opportunity and look for ways to exploit the situation for economic gain.
[Slight Spoilers Ahead!]
Many of the town’s residents, which includes the Dickinsons, have gathered to witness the christening of Jane’s young son. Austin plays an important role since he’s the godfather and the child only has one parent. Emily was never one for church so she stays home. During the day, she’s visited by Samuel Bowles and Sue at separate times and uses the opportunity to confront each for their treatment of her and their infidelities.
“You cannot put a Fire out” is carried by the two powerful scenes that have been building up all season. Emily has struggled with the desire for fame and it has affected her creative process. You can watch as her confidence and resolve strengthen each time she asks Bowles for her poems back. The more defiant he becomes, the firmer she is and her internal fire is reignited and grows. This is a woman who realizes what she’s looking for now and doesn’t feel the need to sell out. It’s an interesting dynamic how much Samuel reiterates how he’s a feminist even though he chooses to continually ignore and minimize the woman in front of him.
Afterwards, the supernatural aspects are tied back in with the reappearance of Frazer Stearns’ ghost. There are parallels to be drawn between the two as the young soldier went off to war seeking glory and fame and pays with his life. Similarly, Emily initially partnered with Bowles to become well known and loses her life, her inspiration for writing, figuratively. She heeds the ghost’s advice to “be the bravest, most brilliant nobody that ever existed.” The corresponding shots of Emily writing and her nieces starting a fire in church symbolize her being relieved by her creative burden.
Sue also receives an earful but their encounter is more biting, personal, and candid considering her and Emily’s complicated history. Some hurtful insults and admissions are hurled but the overly emotional scene rekindles their feelings for each other. One of the most compelling elements of the first season was the pair’s relationship and romance so it will be curious to explore their reconciliation when Dickinson returns next season. Especially since Sue and Austin seem okay with living their separate lives but still carrying the appearance of their marriage. Emily really comes out on top by getting the girl and retrieving the majority of her poems with a nice assist from Maggie.
The only one she doesn’t get back is “The Snake” which Bowles ironically publishes in his paper the next day. We are then greeted with a satisfying and smart concluding montage that ties in the different facets and characters of the season while previewing things that may come. Austin is growing into the man he’s expected to be by taking more of a leadership role in Amherst following the church fire and Lavinia breaks up for good with Shipley. However, there’s the irksome feeling in the air with the bad omen of the burning church and the steps closer to war.
“You cannon put a Fire out” is a great season finale supported by the powerful scenes of Emily confronting the unfaithful couple of Samuel Bowles and Sue.
All episodes of Dickinson are on Apple TV+.
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