'Sanditon' Episode 7 sees Sidney invite Eliza to the regatta even though he seems taken by Charlotte
Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) was quick to experience the highs and lows of falling in love in episode 6, where she realizes she may have judged Sidney Parker (Theo James) too quickly and too harshly. Once the antagonism is out of the way, she can pay attention to how her attraction to him has been growing steadily since their first meeting. She meets a "Susan" (Sophie Winkleman) in the ballroom's cozy sitting nook who becomes deeply interested in the story Charlotte tells about her and Sidney. Rooting for them as a couple, she twinkles her approval when Sidney leads her away to dance again. But right after, Charlotte has to witness Sidney chat up the recently-widowed, Mrs. Eliza Campion (Ruth Kearney), who also happens to be Sidney's ex-flame.
When Charlotte meets Susan in episode 6, you immediately know she is an important personage but you don't know who she might be. In episode 7, all is revealed. She is "Lady Susan Wooster", around whom London society revolves, and who is "simpatico" with the Prince Regent.
When she visits Sanditon to continue her "conversation with Miss [Charlotte] Heywood", the whole of London descends on the seaside resort with her. Tom Parker (Kris Marshall) is delighted by Lady Susan's presence and the regatta is a grand success.
In town for the regatta is also Sidney's special guest, Eliza. Throughout the episode, Sidney seems divided between Charlotte and Eliza. He singles out Charlotte for special shows of affection, like taking her out boating, while also spending time with Mrs. Campion and showing her around the regatta's many events.
Charlotte, who thinks she is being toyed with, acts a bit distant toward Sidney. Mrs. Campion, spying a rival in Miss Heywood, also tries to shade Miss Heywood. But with Lady Susan's insight and protection, Charlotte survives Eliza's microaggressions and tells Sidney (who tells her that Mrs. Campion was only "jesting") to leave her alone. Sidney is also warned by his brother, Arthur, of trusting Eliza again after she had broken his heart before.
By the end of the episode, Sidney has made up his mind. He packs off Mrs. Campion to London before giving Charlotte the "you make me a better man" speech. If it worked for Jack Nicholson in 'As Good As It Gets', it sure as hell works for Sidney, who leaves Charlotte feeling choc-a-bloc with emotions.
In the meantime, the drama continues to unfold at Denham Place. With Lady Denham (Anne Reed) on her death bed, Clara Brereton (Lily Sacofsky) is secure that she will get her share of the inheritance from Edward Denham (Jack Fox).
So she can't help but rile Esther Denham one last time. Clara tells her about Edward conspiring with her to burn the will and then eagerly having sex with her on the drawing-room floor. It is a betrayal of such magnitude that Esther goes and tells Lady Denham everything, even though she seems nonresponsive.
In the end, thinking she is talking to a dying woman, Esther calls Lady Denham's money the cancer that had corrupted "her Edward". She tells Lady Denham, "I hope you find happiness in heaven because this Earth has become a living hell".
But Lady Denham "rises from the ashes like a phoenix". After hearing Esther's confession, she disowns Edward and tells Clara to get out of her house and back to London. She also sneers that she will have to replace the drawing-room floor after their "activities". Esther becomes the defacto and sole heir.
Edward tries to get Esther to get back some of his inheritance but Esther is now immune to his charms. Lord Babbington drops by to comfort her and rails against Edward for abusing his position as an older sibling to "abuse" her. Esther collapses with shame and relief. She has found the one person who understands how she is a Stockholm Syndrome victim, falling in love with her abuser as a child since she had no other person to turn to for support.
While we are happy for Esther, it is sad to see plucky Clara go. Clara has seen more abuse than even Esther during her poverty-stricken childhood and that is exactly what she is returning to in London to a family who will not be happy to see her since she will be another mouth to feed.
But she still sounds cocky when she mocks Edward for "losing everything". Clara is a survivor and its a pity that the show paints her character as a bit of a villain and Esther as the put-upon one. She deserved better.
‘Sanditon’ airs on Sundays at 9 pm ET.