'Barkskins' Episode 2: Marcia Gay Harden as Mathilde hides a lot under her stern innkeeper exterior
Barely two episodes in and with a limited screen time considering the number of characters that are on the show, Mathilde has already gained herself a footing that can hardly slip
Spoilers for 'Barkskins' Season 1 Episode 2 'The Turtle King'
'Barkskins' is set in a small settlement of the lawless town of Wobik, which is now the Canadian province of Quebec. The story examines the constant battle for gaining control over the sparsely populated forested land and develop it into a settlement for France.
Marcia Gay Harden plays the role of Mathilde Geffard, an innkeeper and a power player in the town. Turns out Mathilde knows everyone's secrets and doesn't hesitate to use the information to suit herself. When Hamish Goames (Aneurin Barnard), Hudson's Bay Company's agent, brings the mysterious girl from the settlement massacre back to town, it is Mathilde who takes her in and helps her come to ease with her kind, gentle, warm and nurturing nature. It had been revealed by now that the innkeeper had lost her daughter, a young girl named Rose, who she still remembers fondly. Perhaps this is the main reason why that she is so kind, giving and patient towards the mysterious girl.
It is evident that Mathilde runs a tight ship at the inn. She even argues with her husband over the quality of the tables, which she then makes sure that they are refunded for. At the same time, when her husband says that it is a bad idea for them to keep the young rescued girl at their inn, she tells him that if he disagrees with that she has no qualms not visiting his bed.
Mathilde looks like the kind of woman who is simply fighting to live every day. Having lost her daughter, she is dedicated to working at the inn. But in a town like Wobik, work at the inn is a lot more than just getting guests to sign in the logbook. When she passes on information about Hamish and Yvon to Gus Lafarge (Matthew Lillard), unaware of his plans, she does so for the penny. But in the same breath, she also makes it clear that they won't be taken advantange of.
In the second episode, her husband is killed during the kidnapping of the rescued girl. During the scuffle, she was injured as well. Thom Lafarge (Kyle Breitkopf) stabs her in the stomach when he tries to lure the young girl away.
Barely 2 episodes in and with a limited screen time considering the number of characters that are on the show, Mathilde has already gained herself footing that can hardly slip. She is a strong character, who knows her place in the society that is New France, but that does not keep her from doing the best to survive. Whether she is alive or not, is going to be revealed in the next episode only. For one, we do not think that the makers would be putting to waste a very potential character like hers, which is played out by an extremely talented actress in Harden.
'Barkskins' airs on Mondays on National Geographic at 9/ 8c.