Great Expectations Episodes 1 & 2: Recap & Ending, Explained – Why did Miss Havisham not allow Pip to come inside her castle?

Great Expectations Episodes 1 2 Recap Ending Explained

Great Expectations Episodes 1 & 2: Hulu’s Great Expectations is a period drama adaptation of Charles Dickens’s classic novel, featuring Fionn Whitehead as the ambitious young boy, Pip, Olivia Colman as the mysterious Miss Havisham, and Shalom Brune-Franklin as Estella.

While the show aims to be dark both in its story and tonal palette, it has yet to evoke any strong emotions (for me, at least!). Despite Colman’s standout performance, the character development and overall plot have not yet fully captured my attention.

However, it may be too early to judge the series, as it has the potential to improve and delve deeper into its themes. I will reserve final judgment until the story has had more time to develop in the hopes that it will ultimately live up to its source material.

Here is a detailed recap of the first two episodes of Great Expectations, with an ending explanation.

Great Expectations Episodes 1 & 2 Recap:

Great Expectations Episode 1 Recap:

The show opens with a somber scene of 1839 London, where a young man tries to end his life by hanging himself and jumping off a bridge. However, the story soon takes us back seven years earlier, when we meet a young boy named Pip, who works at a blacksmith’s shop. While working, he recites Shakespeare’s verses, and when asked why he does it, he says it helps him pass the time.

The next scene takes us to a ship in a remote location at sea, where the inside is infested with rats, and the atmosphere is tense. Two men who hate each other are locked in adjacent rooms, and a guard informs them that they will be locked together until they are transported to Australia.

The story continues with Compeyson, who is not ready to be taken to Australia, using two stones from the prison wall to start a fire. Maywitch gets angry and begs Compeyson to help him escape, but Compeyson refuses and jumps off the ship, telling Maywitch to burn in hell. Maywitch manages to free himself from his shackles after persistently hitting them for a long time and also jumps off the ship in pursuit of his rival.

The scene then shifts to Pip, who is called inside the house on Christmas Eve. He lives with his sister Sara and her husband Joe. After dinner, Pip expresses his desire to visit his parents, but Sara is not pleased with the idea. The tension is heightened by cannonballs being thrown in the dark due to the two escaped prisoners.

Sara, who usually keeps her emotions in check, is vocal about her displeasure with Pip’s plan to go out in the dark, but Pip is determined to visit his parents. Later that night, after Sara and Joe have gone to sleep, Pip sneaks out of the window and visits his parent’s grave in the churchyard. He expresses his desire for freedom before he is caught by Maywitch.

Maywitch threatens Pip and tells him not to turn him in; otherwise, he will find and kill Pip’s family members and bury them next to his parents. Maywitch demands that Pip bring tools to cut his shackles, food, and something strong to drink to survive the freezing winter.

Pip is scared and confused by the encounter and waits for the first light of day before sneaking down to the kitchen to find something to bring to the man he met the night before. He steals liquor from Joe’s collection and takes a cake that Sara had baked for the holiday celebration.

As Pip cuts the shackles of Maywitch, the convict realizes that there is someone else present in the foggy grassland. Once Pip hands over the necessary items, Maywitch allows him to flee. However, as Pip tries to make his escape, he comes across a man whom Maywitch had warned him about, holding an axe and watching him from a distance. Terrified, Pip lies to the man, who turns out to be Compeyson, about Maywitch’s whereabouts and runs away as fast as he can.

During the Christmas dinner, Pip is visibly uncomfortable and disturbed by his earlier experience with Maywitch. When Mr. Pumblechuck and his family arrive for dinner, Pip’s sister Sara, her husband, and Pip himself welcome them.

While they are conversing, Mr. Pumblechuck announces that Miss Havisham, who lives far uptown, has requested Pip’s presence. Miss Havisham had adopted a girl 13 years ago who is now seeking companionship, and since they have been unable to find a boy of their social status, they wish to meet Pip, who is considered a prodigy in his community.

Sara becomes overexcited upon learning that Miss Havisham will pay the family for every visit Pip makes to her palace. Meanwhile, guards storm inside the house and announce that two prisoners have escaped, and they need capable men to help find them. Joe and Pip are demanded to join the force, along with others.

During their lookout, Joe tells Pip that he is uncertain about the young boy visiting someone in uptown but is certain that he wants young Pip to take over the blacksmith shop. Soon, the soldiers find the prisoners fighting with one another, covered in mud, aiming to kill each other. The soldiers intervene and separate them and demand to know how Maywitch got his shackles free.

Pip worries that Maywitch will turn him in, but the prisoner lies and tells the soldier that he broke into a blacksmith’s house and cut his shackles, then stole some food and drink. The soldiers take the two away, and Pip and Maywitch share a steady glance with each other, seemingly grateful to have been of help.

Next, we see Pip meeting with Biddy and sharing the arrangement with Miss Havisham. He tells Biddy that he will use this opportunity to help his sister and brother-in-law get out of poverty, and one day, he aims to go to London and become a gentleman. Although Biddy is not pleased with the arrangement, her face tells that she likes Pip, who is too blind to read it on his friend’s face.

Great Expectations Episode 1 Ending Explained:

What does Miss Havisham expect from Pip?

Then we see Mr. Pumblechuck taking Pip uptown and telling him that people have high expectations of him and he must not disappoint them. Upon reaching Miss Havisham’s palace, Pip meets a young girl named Estella, who takes him to her mother, Miss Havisham. We are then introduced to Miss Havisham, who has never shown her face to anyone outside her palace.

She comes from a rich and wealthy lineage, but it seems things are going to take a dark turn in just a matter of time. Upon meeting the two women, Pip is expected to do things that he did not see coming. Miss Havisham’s character feels very demanding, and the episode ends with her telling Pip that she wants to watch him play with Estella.

Great Expectations Episode 2 Recap:

The second episode opens with Sara closing the blinds in her home while her husband, Joe, works in his workshop. At the same time, we witness Miss Havisham playing a blindfold game with Pip and Estella, with a rule that she must not move, and if Pip finds her, she will be his. Meanwhile, Sara is shown praying and invoking the devil, and she picks up a leather-like belt.

Later, we see Mr. Pumblechuck in her room, partially undressed, and Sara whips him with the belt. However, it is unclear if sodomy is introduced in this episode. While Sara is whipping Mr. Pumblechuck, we see Joe hitting a hammer on a newly made hot iron shackle, unaware of his wife’s whereabouts.

Meanwhile, Miss Havisham adds various obstacles to the blindfolded Pip, making the game even more challenging. As they play, Miss Havisham talks about the challenges of love and reveals that she herself has had a difficult experience with it. She shares that she once fell in love with a gentleman, and they quickly progressed to marriage.

However, on their wedding day, the man didn’t show up, leaving her alone and humiliated in front of a crowd of thousands. Devastated and heartbroken, she retreated to her castle and had never left since. Miss Havisham is still haunted by the pain of that moment and acknowledges the awfulness of what happened to her.

During the game, Pip is close to finding Estella, but Miss Havisham silently signals for Estella to move, which Pip notices and demands an explanation. Miss Havisham explains that this is how love works. Later, Pip and Estella are talking, and when Pip asks about her life, she becomes angry and takes him to a wall, revealing that her life is actually quite awful, and she is waiting for a gentleman to rescue her.

She then takes Pip to meet Herbert and tells him that even Herbert is in love with her. However, Herbert unexpectedly punches Pip in the face and demands a duel. Confused, Pip learns from Estella that in the real world, when a girl is to be claimed, two gentlemen fight a duel, and the loser loses the girl. Pip finds this idea absurd and retaliates by hitting Herbert back hard to stop him from hitting him repeatedly.

Great Expectations Episodes 1 2 Recap

In another scene, a man is shown banging on the door of Court Number One at the Old Bailey, hoping to gain entry for his clients. Behind the closed door, the judge is contemplating pulling the trigger of a gun to his head but ultimately cannot bring himself to do it.

Mr. Jaggers then forces his way into the room and demands that the judge sign paperwork to release a prisoner. It is revealed that Jaggers has some dark knowledge about the judge’s involvement in writing letters to a young boy, which may be the reason he is able to blackmail the judge into doing his bidding. Meanwhile, Jaggers’ clients are being saved from execution as he storms into the execution hall.

We return to Pip as he arrives home to find Sara and Joe eager to hear about his experience. However, Pip lies to them and gives a false description of Miss Havisham, downplaying her and referring to Estella as just a plain girl. Mr. Pumblechuck interrupts and informs Joe and Sara that Miss Havisham likes Pip and is willing to pay 10 shillings for his services, of which he will take 3 shillings as a tax.

Sara is displeased with Pip’s nonchalant attitude towards the opportunity for easy money and calls him ungrateful. Despite her criticism, Pip stands up for himself and declares his intentions to move to London when he comes of age, become a gentleman, and build his own empire by the river Thames.

What surprise did Miss Havisham plan for Pip on his 18th birthday?

In this episode, Pip is expected to quickly learn everything he needs to become a fine gentleman in order to attract eligible suitors. Biddy, who is witty and sharp despite being considered a “horn on a horse’s head,” helps him to impress Miss Havisham and Estella.

We see daily lessons from Miss Havisham and Estella on how to stand tall, walk, treat a lady in public, and approach someone. The show jumps ahead a few years, and we see a grown-up Pip at 18 years old, meeting Estella at the gate. She tells him that it is time for his birthday surprise.

Miss Havisham takes Pip aside and tells him that to be a proper gentleman, he needs to know how to ride horses, box, dance, and be good at sex. As a birthday surprise, she arranges for Pip to spend time with Mrs. Givens and expects him to have sex with her.

Pip is scared because he knows Mrs. Givens from his village and sees her every week at church. Despite his fear, Mrs. Givens welcomes him and asks the other women to leave the room so they can be alone. Later, Miss Havisham sends a letter to Jaggers asking him to help Pip become the person she wants him to be.

The scene opens with Estella conversing with Pip in French when he arrives at her house. Unfortunately, he is unable to understand a single word she says. Sensing his confusion, Estella hands him a letter, which he assumes might mention the need for him to be proficient in French.

In an effort to learn the language quickly, Pip asks Biddy to bring all the French books she can find from the school library. As it turns out, Biddy is fluent in French because she grew up conversing only in the language with her grandmother. With Biddy’s help, Pip learns the language with remarkable speed and soon speaks it like a native.

Great Expectations Episode 2 Ending Explained:

Why did Miss Havisham not allow Pip to come inside her castle?

During his next visit to Miss Havisham’s estate, Pip is informed by her that he must know how to dance for an upcoming society ball and should only ask a lady to dance in French. Estella gives him a dance lesson, and although he struggles at first, he eventually becomes quite skilled.

Miss Havisham notices Pip and Estella dancing and takes him aside, demanding to know if he has fallen in love with Estella. Pip denies having any such feelings and is surprised when Miss Havisham touches his face and asks him to kiss her on the cheeks.

She then gives him a pouch filled with high-quality Chinese opium and demands that he sell it for no less than 8 pounds at the dock so he can buy fine clothes to impress Estella. Despite his reservations, Pip sells the opium and buys the clothes, receiving compliments as he heads to Miss Havisham’s estate.

Upon arriving, Estella is seen crying in her room, and she eventually comes to the gate to inform Pip that his education is complete and he is no longer welcome to visit. Before leaving, Estella gives him the keys to his new palace, as that is what is expected of any gentleman.

Pip is heartbroken, having finally fallen in love with Estella, but Miss Havisham is pleased to see him suffer. Later, Pip visits a local bar and drinks heavily. The episode ends with Jaggers visiting the same bar, looking for Pip.

It is unclear what motivated Miss Havisham to give cut off Pip’s visits to her estate. One possible interpretation is that Miss Havisham wanted Pip to understand the darker side of the world and to toughen up before facing it. Another possibility is that Miss Havisham was seeking revenge against men in general, given her own traumatic experiences with them, and was using Pip as a pawn to accomplish this.

It is also possible that she wanted Pip to impress Estella with his status but ultimately changed her mind and decided to keep the two apart. Regardless of her motivations, Pip is left heartbroken and struggling with his newfound social status, while Miss Havisham watches from afar with a twisted sense of satisfaction.

The true intentions of these characters will be revealed in the upcoming episode, shedding light on the motivations behind their actions and bringing clarity to the story.

Read More: Everything Coming To Hulu in April 2023

Great Expectations Episodes 1 & 2 Links – IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
Great Expectations Episodes 1 & 2 Cast – Olivia Colman, Fiona Whitehead, Owen McDonnell, Hayley Squires
Where to watch Great Expectations
Deepshikha Deb

Quit my job to watch movies with my husband and occasionally write about it. I am also a social media and momo tasting expert, who loves Masala Dosa and Tilda Swinton.