The Men Of ‘Dickinson’: Finn Jones, Toby Huss, & Pico Alexander On Wild S2 Finale & BeyondFebruary 26, 2021
The stars Apple TV+’s ‘Dickinson’ spill on the game-changing season 2 finale, season 3, & the show’s strong female leadership.
[The following contains spoilers for the season finale of Apple TV+’s second season of Dickinson.]
“I am a feminist!” screams Sam Bowles to his front-page poet, Emily Dickinson. Newcomer Finn Jones’ final scene of the season finds him hanging on to the back of a moving carriage as Hailee Steinfeld runs at his heels, trying to catch the devious editor from seemingly escaping with the poet’s entire collection of work. The season two finale of Apple TV+’s ambitious and genre-defying series Dickinson released today, and fans finally watched as Emily, her unmasked scoundrel of an editor, and her best friend Sue, laid their emotional cards out on the table to reveal their true agendas and desires.
In a season filled with high drama, theatrics, and extraordinary writing, it would be easy to write off the finale as simple fan service, but that would be a discredit to creator Alena Smith’s carefully crafted storytelling and the incredibly nuanced performances of Finn as Sam, Hailee as Emily Dickinson and Ella Hunt as Sue over the course of 10 thrilling episodes. Yes, in the end, Sue and Emily finally professed their forbidden and undying love for each other – and then some — but there’s so much more to enjoy. There’s an incredible self-discovery moment for Lavinia that brings to an end her love affair with the adorably clueless Ship. And, Emily’s father has a strange premonition that alludes to a surprising arc to come for the Dickinson patriarch in already greenlit season three.
Speaking with stars Finn Jones, Pico Alexander, and Toby Huss about the finale and beyond, each offered insight into their roles in season 2, gave their compliments to their Dickinson female contemporaries, and hinted at what’s to come in the next chapter of Apple TV+’s best series to date.
Finn Jones on Sam Bowles’ ‘Snake-Like’ Transformation
When Springfield Republican editor Sam Bowles walks into The Evergreens in the first episode of season 2, Emily, as is everyone watching along, is immediately smitten with the charismatic, seemingly progressive newspaper man, who seems hellbent on making women’s voices heard for a new generation. Ten episodes later, after squashing Emily’s confidence, profiting from her poetry, and sleeping with her sister-in-law Sue, we see him for what he really is: a fraud. It’s quite a journey, one that was definitely fun to play out for Finn Jones.
The Game of Thrones alum gives the 1850’s their version of Jack Dorsey or Mark Zuckerberg with Bowles. “Sam represents this new kind of influential technology,” Finn says of the newspaper man, who did, in fact, have a long and well-documented friendship with Sue, Austin, and Emily Dickinson. However, what becomes of the fictionalized Sam by series end takes perhaps more of a creative license — though no one can know for sure.
“Throughout the course of the season, Sam is using his virtue signaling and social merits to try and boost Emily’s work for the sake of his paper,” Finn explains. “At the end, you see him rear his ugly head to be the truly self-serving man that he is … He goes out saying that he’s a feminist, when really, I think truly all he cares about is his own company’s success.”
In pursuit of that success, Sam drives a very unwelcome wedge between Emily and Sue. While at first, it appeared as Sam was flirting with a dalliance with Emily, it’s later revealed that he’s been having an affair with Sue, an infidelity we later learn Sue only agrees to to escape her deep feelings of love for Emily. Watch carefully and hints of Sam and Sue’s betrayal are sprinkled throughout the entire season, starting from Sam’s arrival.
“Ella and I would have tons of conversations about how we wanted to play that,” Finn explains. “Conversations on why we were getting into that relationship, and try to build out the reality behind that; not just make it something that’s kind of 2D and stereotypical.”
“I was very well aware of where Sam ended up,” Finn added. “It was great to understand that, because when I was playing the scenes at the beginning, I wanted [his motives] to be questionable. I didn’t want you to know, like, is this editor wanting to establish female writers and is he as virtuous as he says he is? Or does he have ulterior motives and he’s just part of this kind of big media machine? And it was really interesting to me to kind of go between the two of them and play a kind of like snake-like character.”
Pico Alexander on ‘Dickinson’s Best ‘Ship’
Though his character has a very similar smooth and suave entrance, Pico Alexander’s Henry ‘Ship’ Shipley is ver different man than Sam Bowles. For one thing, Ship is not based on a real-life person in the life of the Dickinson family; for another, he remains pretty lovable, despite his foolish business schemes and unique way of standing in the way of his own happiness. Still, like Sam, Ship finds himself ensnared in a relationship with a Dickinson girl, Emily’s free-spirited, horny, witchy sister, Lavinia, played by the hilarious Anna Baryshnikov.
For most of season two, Pico’s character is found in outrageous situations with Vinnie in her bedroom. On the first day he arrives, she seduces him within the hour; she does a Lola Montez-inspired spider dance for him, complete with a whip; and there’s one memorable scene, in particular, where the pair actually role play The Scarlet Letter. (I did say she was horny!) For Pico, filming that scene was just as hilarious as it was to watch. “We had to do a lot of those intense scenes in that one bedroom all on the same day,” he explained. “And I remember, we were shooting the Scarlet Letter stuff and it was right at the end of the day. I hadn’t eaten anything in a long time. At one point, in between our lines, there’s was a long beat of silence. And I remember on one of the takes my stomach, just like, [wild gurgling noise]. We all cracked up. Anna laughed and everything.”
Pico and Anna are so charming together that, as a viewer, you start to sincerely root for Vinnie and Ship to make it work. Never mind that she’s vowed not to be monogamous and he’s willing to turn a blind eye on a little thing called the Civil War just so he can call himself “a business man.” But in the end, it’s Ship that sabotages the relationship. By the finale, despite Vinnie finally accepting his proposal and ready to commit to a life together in Amherst, Ship secretly buys a house in New Orleans and expects Vinnie to leave everything to move down south with him. Obviously, that’s never going to happen and why Ship would throw away the perfect girl and a great life with her family is beyond everyone, especially Pico.
“Ship’s problem is that he doesn’t know what he wants,” Pico explains. “[He comes back to Amerhest] thinking he wants one thing, then realizes that he really wants the opposite. I guess you don’t really end up expecting too much from Ship … it’s kind of in character of him to totally renege on everything he’s been saying and run away again.” But the question is, will he stay away this time?
Toby Huss On Opening Up Edward & The Best Line Of The Season
By the end of season one, Emily’s father finally accepted his daughter for the woman and poet she wants to be. So, in season two, Toby Huss gets to play a very different Edward. This man is softer, more open, and at times, even rather hilarious. “It’s always fun when you can play a different side of the character,” Toby says. ”If we can bring some humor in Edward, I’m always for that stuff. I like playing that. That’s fun.”
One of the highlights of the season comes when Mr. Dickinson finds himself at the bottom of a pit in his backyard. After sharing that he improvised my absolute favorite line of the season (“My name is Edward. I’m in hole,”), Toby added that filming that scene, and many others, with the incomparable Jane Krakowski is one of the great joys of the job. “She’s a tour de force as a person, not just as a comedian,” he says. “She’s great. She’s all over the place and she’s no end of creativity either…We like to invent stuff together.”
While in season one most of Toby’s scenes were either with Jane or Hallie as the two ‘Emilys’ in Edward’s life, season two opened the door for him to spend more time with the rest of the young cast, like Adrian Blake Enscoe who plays Edward’s son, Austin. The chance of pace allowed him to observe just how much his young co-stars have grown over two seasons. “It’s great to watch their evolution as actors in this show,” he shared.” I think they were not burying themselves in the kind of the minutiae of the history. I think it was so foreign to them, and now they’re really into it.”
‘Dickinson’ Season 3 & Its Fearless, Female Leaders
What draws many to Dickinson and keeps them begging for more is the revolutionized take creator Alena Smith and her team have taken with the period piece. Truly, there is nothing quite like it airing/streaming anywhere. Perhaps part of the strengthen behind the series is that it’s a woman’s story being told, primarily, with women at the helm. “This is a show with a deeply female gaze. It is about a queer female artist. And it is created by lots and lots of women,” Alena told The Advocate.
The joys of working with this team are not lost on the men who get to be a part of the experience. “We started seeing it in real time years ago,” Toby explains, “that more women were in writers’ rooms and more women were pitching shows and more women’s shows were actually [getting picked up]… It’s great to watch that evolution because, in an actual way and a symbolic way, it dovetails Emily’s story too.”
“The thing I loved about the show the most is that there were really talented, impassioned people on both sides,” Finn add. “Both genders, all different kinds of races, all coming together to actually tell a really amazing story about Emily Dickinson.”
With season two at its end, fans will now have a long wait ahead of them before they’ll get to dive into season 3. Though Alena has said publicly that the season is written, with the pandemic, it’s up in the air when the team will reunite to start shooting. That means, the biggest mystery in the season 2 finale will remain as such. In the final moments of the episode, Edward reveals to his wife that he had a vision of the church burning down the night before it happened. Toby explains that Edward’s vision was something that ‘actually happened’ to Edward during his life. “He wrote about it and talked about it,” Toby explained. But as for what it will mean in Season 3. “Fans get to read into it what they want to read. And then when they see Season 3, they’ll find out if they were correct or not.”
And what of Sam and Ship? The door seems open for them both to return. Could it happen? “It seems like the third season’s going into more of what happens with the Civil War,” Finn reveals. “I’d be interested to see how Sam Bowles comes back into that, just to see what the media’s role was within that role. What use of propaganda did they fulfill within that situation? I feel like Sam and Emily’s relationship has come to a head, but I definitely feel like Sam’s role within that world and his company within that world, it would be nice to explore more of that.”
“There was very much a feeling that we would all see each other again and that something would come of this,” Pico said of filming on the last day. “It was nice and I was just so happy to be a part of it.”
But as for season 3? “Yeah, we’ll see what they end up … what they pay us, you know?”
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