My Richard Armitage Gateway Drug

For some unknown reason, the universe decided to leave me more or less unencumbered on Friday evening…what to do with all of this free time AND custody of the iPad?  (Mini Me’s recent birthday resulted in her very own Kindle Fire which further resulted in my iPad occasionally being out of her clutches)  I thought that I might go back and watch the Hannibal Great Red Dragon story arc on Hulu, but alas, only the final three episodes of S3 are currently available.  Drat.

Fine.  I’ve been idly thinking about starting a Lucas North fic, so I thought I could stand to re-watch some Spooks (titled MI-5 here in the US).  DAMMIT.  Netflix seems to have dropped MI-5 from its offerings.  (I have since found it for purchase on VUDU, so suck it Netflix!)  Foiled again.  I’d better check one other thing….

**I feel silly even doing this, but um..spoilers below…if you haven’t seen North and South yet (?!?)**

north and south

Whew!  Four well spent hours later, as I was “rewinding” the final scene, I was recalling what it was that drew me in.  I’ve always been a sucker for a crinoline romance, and this is a good one.  The dialogue sequences between Margaret and Thornton are great, but it is the moments of silence that are simply killer.  Daniela Denby Ashe’s Margaret Hale snips and snaps at Thornton, but her luminous eyes and plush lips say something entirely different much of the time.  Is it any wonder that Richard Armitage’s John Thornton runs the gamut between infatuation and indignation in almost every conversation?

The level of detailed emotion that he conveys solely through his facial expression is something that I noticed first in North and South and have continued to marvel over in each and every performance since.  Here though, the marriage proposal scene in episode 2 is spectacular.   Thornton goes from hopeful but hesitant, to surprised, then slighted, and finally insulted and irate in the space of minutes. Even without his bursts of dialogue, the visual emotion that runs across the planes of that beautifully angular face communicate volumes and are incredible to behold.

Episodes 3-4 are a tour de force of angsty facial expression action.  Though he is stern and harsh to her face, even coldly announcing at the end of episode 3 that he is over her and “looking to the future,” Thornton can’t seem to shake her off when she can’t see him.

look back

Even when he thinks the absolute worst of her, he still pensively pines after her and urges her to “Look back” at him as she leaves Milton…he thinks forever.   GAH!!

swoon smile

Don’t even get me started on the tiny smile and swoon inducing tenderness in the gaze when he sees her on the train platform and then as the sit on the bench.  Where’s my hartshorn?!

*Ahem*  Where was I?  Ah yes, North and South…I don’t watch it often, but like any good gateway drug does, it opened a door to a plethoRA of addictive Armitage performances!

I was going to say something about the pining Roman poet Catullus in here somewhere, but re-watching those North and South sequences did me in.  Below is Catullus’ version of what Thornton might have scribbled in his super secret journal at the end of episode 3:

Advice: to himself

Sad Catullus, stop playing the fool,

and let what you know leads you to ruin, end.

Once, bright days shone for you,

when you came often drawn to the girl

loved as no other will be loved by you.

Then there were many pleasures with her,

that you wished, and the girl not unwilling,

truly the bright days shone for you.

And now she no longer wants you: and you

weak man, be unwilling to chase what flees,

or live in misery: be strong-minded, stand firm.

Goodbye girl, now Catullus is firm,

he doesn’t search for you, won’t ask unwillingly.

But you’ll grieve, when nobody asks.

Woe to you, wicked girl, what life’s left for you?

Who’ll submit to you now? Who’ll see your beauty?

Who now will you love? Whose will they say you’ll be?

Who will you kiss? Whose lips will you bite?

But you, Catullus, be resolved to be firm.