Foxtel’s Picnic at Hanging Rock
Directed by Michael Rhymer
Written by Alice Addison
* For a recap & review of Episode 4, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 6, click here.
At the picnic, Mademoiselle Dianne de Poitiers (Lola Bessis) talked to Miss Greta McCraw (Anna McGahan) briefly about being in love. Then sleep overtook most of the girls. Except for Greta, who heads off into the wilderness. Later, Mr. Hussey (Neil Melville) woke Dianne, saying they ought to get ready to leave. But the girls and Greta were missing.
The Mademoiselle has her watch fixed in the present. She also blames herself for what happened at Hanging Rock. At the college, more girls continue leaving, as their parents worry about them following the disappearances. The Widow Appleyard (Natalie Dormer) is dealing with things in her own way.
There’s more to worry about. Dianne finds Sara (Inez Currõ) is gone, nobody’s seen her, nobody said goodbye. However, the little girl left her Valentine’s Day picture of Miranda (Lily Sullivan)— not something she’d do. And this spells trouble in the Mademoiselle’s eyes, believing there’s been foul play of some kind.
She gets passed a note by Tom (Mark Coles Smith), left by Mrs. Valange (Sibylla Budd) for Sara, and not meant for the eyes of the headmistress. The letter states the girl is welcome to live with Mrs. Valange, also cautioning Mrs. Appleyard is “not to be trusted.” And this all leads to the muddled trail of Sara’s young life, plus the tangled web of the headmistress’s past, of which Dianne has no idea.
“Time is a never ending explosion”
We get a look at Hester’s early life. Her husband Arthur (Philip Quast) basically took her off the streets as a child. So, it was less of an arrangement as it was a case of womanly slavery she grew into, being taken in by an older man as a girl probably orphaned at a young age. Now, the Widow Appleyard’s left with memories she drinks away at night. She’s also currently busy watching Dianne, after Dora (Yael Stone) mentions the Frenchwoman is asking around about Sara and her situation. Oh, my. There are dark things afoot, even more than before.
Flashback to the Mademoiselle first arriving at the college, being interviewed by Hester. She lost her family to an epidemic. The two seemed to bond a little over being alone in the world. In the present, Hester’s fallen back into the arms of her dead husband’s memory. He reminds her: “It‘s not a lie if you believe it.” Much as she had a hand in her husband dying, she’s shackled to his ghost.
Dianne has gone to Sgt. Bumpher (Jonny Pasvolsky) and Mrs. Bumpher (Kate Box) about her suspicions, telling them how the headmistress was mistreating Sara even prior to what she suspects is the little girl’s disappearance. Unfortunately, there’s no actual evidence for the copper to go on.
There’s no end to Dr. Mackenzie (Don Hany) trying to make a life with Hester. He wants to take her somewhere else where they can live a life together, she can become someone totally new. Problem is, no matter where she goes the past keeps haunting her. She’ll never be able to shed that skin of her old life. She wants to— she simply can’t, it won’t let her go.
Creepy Reg (Aaron Glenane) has come to collect his sister, Dora, saying she’s leaving for home and not returning. This doesn’t sit well with Ms. Lumley, she goes mad once hearing about the plan. She accuses Dianne of being a “slut” and brings up her relationship with the watchmaker, Montpelier. The whole place is in utter disarray with teachers and girls leaving, one after another, most never coming back. Appleyard College is quickly going down the drain.
At this point, it’s Hester and Dianne left alone together. Thus begins an accusatory scene, as the headmistress blames the Frenchwoman for losing the girls. She’s decided on a “clean sweep,” letting Dianne go, as well as their cook. This is when we get a brief view into the past of Hester once more. We see her in an orphanage, perhaps why she saw Sara as she did, where Arthur plucked her out of innocence. He and Tomasetti (Marcus Graham) used her to make money for themselves.
That night, Dianne sneaks into Hester’s bedroom where she finds the suitcase belonging to little Sara. Simultaneously, the headmistress stalks the halls, chasing ghosts with that highwayman’s gun in her grip. The Mademoiselle takes the suitcase and makes a run to find Sgt. Bumpher.
We head over to Menzie’s Hotel in Melbourne. Bumpher is talking with Irma Leopold (Samara Weaving) upon her arrival. He’s looking for more information about how things were before the picnic. The high society Irma talks about how Hester didn’t come from “real society.” But the copper doesn’t care about that, he wants to know more of the girls.
This gives us more insight into Marion (Madeleine Madden), Miranda, and Irma. Such as Irma’s being treated disgustingly by her stepfather, Marion having fallen in love with Greta. There was also Miranda dealing with the expectations of her family, not wanting to marry, not wanting to be chained by a husband. They were all dealing with “pretending” as a way of life. So, this begs the question: did the girls disappear on purpose, or was it something sinister?
Yet another solid chapter. Lots of new threads opening up and unravelling, as we continue getting new looks into the life of Hester before she opened the college. So many great, mysterious things happening at once! Can’t wait to watch the final episode.