‘Belgravia’ Finale: With the truth about Charles Pope revealed, Susan Trenchard must lie in the bed she’s made
The most compelling character of the series turns out to Susan Trenchard as the pragmatic adulterer who makes the best with what she is given
Susan Trenchard played by Alice Eve is a strange creation. At the start of the series, you know little of her motivations. She is bored with the Trenchards in general, and Oliver Trenchard (Richard Goulding), her husband, in particular. In the first few episodes, she is continuously asking Anne (Tamsin Greig), her mother-in-law, about the teas and parties Anne is being invited to. You can see she clearly resents being excluded, especially since, as a "barren woman", her life is a tedious "rinse and repeat" made-up schedule of dress fittings, carriage rides and walks in the park.
The Trenchards have a limited social life in Belgravia because of their status as former tradespeople who have only moved up the social ladder because of their association with the master builders, the Cubitt brothers. So no one calls on them and Anne's invitations are Susan's only entry into a semi-active social life. You can see that she finds Glanville, the Trenchards' country estate, deadly dull and craves the excitement of London society.
Her affair with Lord John Bellasis (Adam James), in retrospect, seems to be a desperate bid to enter the glittering social circles she only experiences from the outside. In episode 6, we finally see her ambitions laid bare when she tells Lord Bellasis that she wants to divorce Oliver and marry him. She doesn't seem the least put out by him losing his fortune and says her father is rich enough to support their lifestyle. Thus, it is Lord Bellasis' title as a Viscount rather than his inheritance that she is attracted to. In her mind, Lord Bellasis has the social cache to lift her out of obscurity in London's elite circles.
Susan is beautiful but she is ignored because she has no social standing. She craves the attention, flirting with rich and powerful men when she gets a chance. And yet, her tragedy is that she has already married as high up as she can by bagging Oliver Trenchard. Oliver, who has been brought up as a gentleman rather than a tradesman, is the best she can do in the rigid, class-bound Victorian society. This is made painfully evident when Lord Bellasis not only rejects her proposal but also insults her for being a "tradesman's daughter". Susan realizes she has been used and disposed of as a mere distraction, and she was foolish to have expected anything else.
In that instant, she is quick-thinking enough to find a ruse to get Lord Bellasis out of the room and snatch the papers that establish Charles Pope (Jack Bardoe) as the legitimate heir. She knows that she has made her bed and lie in it she must -- there is no escaping it. So she rapidly updates her ambitions and secures a way to better the Trenchards' position in society and in turn her own, by becoming the relative of the next Earl of Brockenhurst.
She is calm when Anne confronts her about the father of the baby being Lord Bellasis. Given her role in restoring the "good name" of Anne's late daughter, Sophia, and proving that Charles Pope is not a "bastard", Susan bargains for some months in London while accepting her exile to Glanville. She gets two months in London, every year, so long as she stays in Glanville with Oliver for the rest of the year. Again, she makes the best of a bad situation.
As a pragmatic adulterer, she also knows exactly what to say to Oliver to get him to accept a baby who is not his. Oliver doesn't know of course that the baby's father is the "the devil", Lord Bellasis. So he accepts Susan's explanation that she cheated on him to give him a son. When he kisses her hand, you see her shut her eyes for an instant -- as if steeling herself for the life ahead of her. But as soon as Oliver looks up, she opens her eyes and smiles at him. If there is a Season 2 of 'Belgravia', she could shape up to be an even more intriguing character as she navigates the "London Season" during her two months of reprieve.
'Belgravia' finale aired on May 17 on Epix.