Have you ever watched a scene in a movie and wondered how the characters moved on? Maybe it’s a beautiful concluding love scene. Maybe it’s just there to give you a vital piece of information or character development. Maybe it puts the characters in an embarrassing situation and its only use is comic relief. But no matter the scene’s purpose, if you were in the character’s shoes, you don’t know what you would say or do to get out of it. But fortunately, the characters don’t have to take a next step because the director swoops in and transports them to the next scene.
Recently I watched the 1999 BBC adaption of Wives and Daughters and had such a moment. Sadly, Elizabeth Gaskell died before she wrote the last chapter of the book. Obviously the makers of the BBC series could not leave the story unfinished and had to improvise the ending.
Let me set the scene for you.
Roger is about to leave on a scientific exploration of Africa. Before he leaves he wants to tell Molly how much he loves her–she doesn’t know of his feelings. Unfortunately, his nephew comes down with scarlet fever (he lives, btw) and as Molly has never had it, her father, the town doctor, forbids Roger to contact her.
On the day Roger is to leave, he waits at what we would consider the end of Molly’s driveway, hoping to see one last glimpse of her before they are separated for an undefined amount of time. He is noticed just before he must rush off to catch the stage. This is where the book ends. The BBC program continues with Molly running after him to say good-bye at the stage. She is too late. But Roger was unable to leave without telling her of his love.
Because of his promise to her father, they are standing ten or so feet apart in the middle of the street at the stage station. Oh, and it’s pouring rain. There Roger declares himself and Molly agrees to be his wife.
The scene ends.
I have watched the ending of Wives and Daughters more times than I care to admit. I haven’t been counting anyway. It is, as my literary critic friend put it, “a nice kind of awkward.” The part I think I like the most is the look of pure joy on Roger’s face when Molly says yes.
Still, I can’t help but wonder now what? What would they have done next if this were real life? Would they stand in the rain until one of the numerous town gossips came along to jolt them back to reality? Does he realize they can’t stand in the rain forever and walk her home–from the other side of the street, of course? Do they discuss wedding plans and whether she will go to Africa with him?
Despite the fact that I just ruined the ending for you, Wives and Daughters is an excellent, funny, and clean period drama that you should go watch. You won’t regret it.