Gentleman Jack season 2 episode 1 recap – what happened in the period drama’s return?

Gentleman Jack season 2 - Suranne Jones as Anne Lister
Gentleman Jack is back! Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) is on a mission. (Image credit: BBC)

Gentleman Jack season 2 kicked off in style as irrepressible 19th-century lesbian landowner Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) sent more shockwaves through her native Halifax.

As Anne and lover Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle) started their lives together, trouble was on the horizon. Here’s how the opening episode panned out.  

*WARNING - spoilers for Gentleman Jack season 2 episode 1 below*

TV tonight Sophie Rundle and Suranne Jones star.

Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle) and Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) face issues in their relationship. (Image credit: BBC)

Gentleman Jack season 2 episode 1 - Love story

The episode begins just weeks after Anne and Ann have undergone a secret ‘wedding’ in York. But before fragile Ann can move in with Anne and her family at the Lister home, Shibden Hall, she remains under the care of Dr Belcombe (Michael Xavier), who is steering her gently through her mental health issues, while Anne is keen to keep her out of the clutches of her meddling relatives.

But Ann’s aunt, also (confusingly!) called Ann (Stephanie Cole), and cousins William and Eliza Priestley (Peter Davison and Amelia Bullmore) feel that Anne Lister has cut her off from her family. Anne does her best to reassure them but to no avail as feisty Aunt Ann subsequently has a very heated row with her niece!

Anne’s mind is set on the future, however, as she makes plans to visit Paris and she is also keen for Ann to make a new will and sort out the division of her estate with her sister Elizabeth (Katherine Kelly). But Ann grows anxious that her family will use her vulnerability against her and worries that it’s not the right time…

While Ann is having a wobble, in a letter, Anne’s intense ex Mariana Lawton (Lydia Leonard) urges her to take things slowly and when Anne and Ann visit some more friends, the Norcliffes, at their country home, Anne's pal Charlotte (Jenna Russell) also quietly expresses reservations about their suitability…

But as Ann promises to sort out her estate and she and Anne arrive in Paris, can they have a happy ‘honeymoon’?

Gentleman Jack Season 2 - Suranne Jones as Anne Lister

Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) deals with her romantic and business issues. (Image credit: BBC)

Business matters

Anne also has financial concerns on her mind. When she learns that an estate is up for sale nearby, she doesn’t want someone else to snap it up, but she wants to get it at a bargain price. Meanwhile a tenant in one of her own properties is moving out and her solicitor thinks she might be best to sell it as her borrowing is getting rather excessive and she could pay off her debts and use the capital for the new venture. But Anne has typically firm ideas and, when she can’t get the price she wants for her own property, she muses about turning it into a hotel to thwart her rivals the Rawsons!

Storm clouds gather

Trouble is also brewing on Anne’s estate. Her tenants, the Sowdens, thought their problems were solved last series when Thomas (Tom Lewis) killed his abusive dad, Sam, and fed him to their pigs and forged a letter from Sam’s brother Ben (Anthony Flanagan) saying he was in America. The only problem is, after Ben turned up claiming not to have written the letter, Anne’s estate manager Mr Washington (Joe Armstrong) now thinks something odd is going on…

Gentleman Jack season 2 airs on Sunday evenings at 9 pm on BBC One and iPlayer. The US release date is set for Monday, April 25 on HBO. It's eight parts long and new episodes will premiere each week.

Caren Clark

Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.

Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.

Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.

In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.