The Essex Serpent Episode 5: Review, Recap & Ending Explained
The Essex Serpent Episode 5 Review, Recap, and Ending Explained: Apple TV Plus’ one of the latest offerings, ‘The Essex Serpent’, is nearing its season finale. This week’s episode, episode five, titled ‘I Break things’, is the penultimate one. Starring Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston, the show started with a mysterious serpentine creature generating, some rational and some irrational, fear in the lives of the superstitious locals of Essex. Though never seen and had its physical presence implied rarely, the ‘Serpent’ hovered over the show’s proceedings, like the stormy clouds that never bring any rain.
The show has since traversed towards a Victorian romantic tale involving multitude of characters. Let us recap what happened in the latest episode.
The Essex Serpent Episode 5 Recap:
The last episode had Cora (Claire Danes) and Will (Tom Hiddleston) finally embrace the truth, and then each other, physically, in the muddy fields. It also saw the long-awaited breaking point of the locals, in their feeling toward Cora. Both of these culminated in Cora leaving Essex, and return back to London with Martha (Hayley Squires) and Frankie. Meanwhile, Naomi (Lily-Rose Aslandogdu) was missing.
This episode starts with a late-night search for Naomi. The search party includes a visibly morose Will. The result concludes fruitlessly, with no sign of Naomi. Dead or alive. Back in London, Cora seems quite shaken and heartbroken. It can be easily deduced that it is not as much due to returning to London without any concrete proof of the Serpent. But due to her feelings toward Will. Martha helps her, by arranging a visit for her to the Royal Society of Archaeology. However, Cora’s trip to the Royal Society also bears no fruit, as she is told to find more proof by going back to Essex.
Back in Essex, Stella (Clemence Poesy) finally tells her husband, Will, about her disease. She also mentions Luke (Frank Dillane) has invited her to London for a check-up. Consequently, the Ransome family travels to London for Stella’s check-up, although the children are not told about the real motive behind the trip. The already guilt-ridden pastor gets even more heartbroken as he and Stella find out from Luke that Stella has Tuberculosis. Refusing treatment, Stella asks Will to take her back home.
Cora and Martha also force Luke to accompany them in their quest to convince the Councillor, Charles Ambrose, to see the abhorrent conditions of the slums. With Luke’s help, they manage to succeed in making Charles see the plight of the slum-dwellers. In exchange for his help, Luke asks Cora to accompany him for a high-society event, where he is supposed to be awarded for his radical contribution to medical science.
Though Will has not communicated to Cora about his arrival on London, fate has them encounter each other at the Museum. Where both has brought their respective children to see the skeleton of a blue whale. Will acts shiftily and abruptly ends their chance meeting, leaving Cora even more heartbroken.
The Essex Serpent Episode 5 Review:
Last week’s episode, ‘Everything Is Blue’, had plenty of twists in terms of the relationship drama that was unfolding before our eyes. This week the new episode takes the already strained relationships between most of the characters to their respective breaking points. There has been a noticeable tonal shift in ‘The Essex Serpent’ from the beginning of third episode. The mysterious air, sprinkled with the dread of a creature fare, is mostly evaporated. The metaphorical ‘serpent’ has taken over the story, with the literal one lurking somewhere unseen.
At this point the show is more of a romantic drama with mysterious undertones, which are serving the purpose of plot devices for the central characters’ actions in their quest for love. If one accepts this metamorphosis within the show, then it is not unenjoyable to say the least. The upside to this change of tone is that cast gets plenty of scope to show their skills. Claire Danes, Tom Hiddleston, Frank Dillane and Hayley Squires forms a quite formidable quartet in this game of love.
However, on the flip side, we do not get to explore the religious complexities that the show promised at the beginning. I had hoped in last week’s recap that Michael Jibson’s Matthew could become a loathsome villain with his determined beliefs. But, alas, in this episode, he hardly gets a minute’s worth of screen time. Right now, it is probably safe to assume that show would address the relationship dilemmas in its finale. At least, more than the mysterious premise it had in the beginning.
The Essex Serpent Ending Explained:
After the chance encounter with Will, Cora recovers herself to accompany Luke to his award ceremony. At the event, both of them get quite drunk and Luke proposes to Cora. Seeing Cora’s reluctance to accept his marriage proposal, Luke starts to get enraged. He confronts Cora about her feeling toward Will. He accuses Cora of waiting for Will’s marriage with Stella to collapse. In his venomous tirade, he also reveals Stella’s tuberculosis to Cora, which Cora had not known.
Clearly affronted, Cora leaves the drunk Luke at his own ceremony and gets back to her home. She tells Martha about Luke’s marriage proposal, which she found quite abrupt. However, Martha does not take her side at that and says that anyone could see Luke is in love with Cora. Something snaps in Martha as well. She also starts to accuse Cora of not caring for people who genuinely love her.
It has been hinted at before, but this almost admittance of love for Cora from Martha does throw a new shade in their acquaintanceship. They are always shown to be friends, but it now seems probable that Martha might have harbored some stronger feelings for her friend, which in turn would open up questions about Martha’s sexuality. At the end of their row, Martha also leaves Cora. Distraught, Cora goes into a fitting rage and breaks anything and everything near her.
Luke, on the other hand, leaves the ceremony without taking his award. Drunk and dismayed, he encounters a mugger and gets into a scuffle. The mugger overpowers the drunk doctor and proceeds to heavily injure his right hand with a knife. The reaction from Luke is telling. The injury to his right hand would probably mean the end of his career as a genius surgeon.
Back in Essex, Will goes through a rhetorical purge. Blaming his infidelity for the tragedy that befell on his wife, he renounces sin in front of a fire. Whether that means he is bringing an end to his love for Cora, remains to be seen in the season finale.