Get ready for a game changer, folks. After weeks of soul-searching and agonizing over being a published writer, Emily wakes up bright and early to find her first poem on the front page of the Springfield Republican, just as Sam Bowles promised at the end of last week’s episode. Emily triumphantly comes down for breakfast, enjoying the lively debate Vinnie and Ship are having over its meaning. Emily holds her tongue as her mother frantically schemes how to hide the news from Mr. Dickinson, but when Edward arrives and lays eyes on his daughter’s work, he admits his defeat and even gives Emily a bit of praise. But with all the talk of Emily’s poem, no one is actually talking to Emily about her poem. In fact, her whole family is straight up ignoring her. Even her maid and confidant Maggie looks right through her. Enter Nobody, the mysterious apparition, to give Emily the news.
In a dizzy, thought-provoking, seemingly supernatural twist of fate, Emily has become invisible. It’s a wildly ironic, visual hyperbole: in the very moment Emily thought she’d become famous, no one in her life can see or hear a word she says. (And no, Dickinson won’t explain to you how or why, because that’s not how Dickinson rolls.) But Nobody suggests that she use her newfound concealment to her advantage. If she’s invisible, no one can see her as she listens in on how they really feel about her poetry.
And that goes as well as you might’ve guessed. Jane and the Gang are half-jealous, half-bored with Emily’s 15 minutes of fame; Hattie and her revolutionary abolitionist writers are frustrated Emily doesn’t have more of a message; and most people think she’s writing about getting drunk, which invites some not too pleasant conversation around town. Emily’s crushed, and feeling defeated, she follows Nobody back home, passing the cemetery where one of her first loves, Ben Newton, is buried. Here, we finally learn something about this mysterious Nobody. Emily presses him for details about his life, but he still doesn’t remember his name. He does, however, remember how he died: a bullet to the chest. He remembers an overwhelming smell of metal and a horrific battle. Just as it seems like Emily will get answers, Nobody disappears.
Alone, she then makes her way to Sue and Austin’s house, but stops short when she hears voices coming from the barn. There’s a meeting going on the contributors of the Constellation, the abolitionist paper led by the Dickinson’s handyman, Henry. He’s fervently announcing that the money from their paper sales have been sent to John Brown, an abolitionist who famously led a raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, intending to start a slave liberation movement by arming them with weapons. But Henry, Hattie, and their comrades aren’t celebrating the violence to come, (as these events have yet to happen), but rather the power their words have had to inspire others to rise up against injustice. As Emily listens in, still unseen, she witnesses what it’s like to truly feel pride in being published and looks on at their joy with admiration.
Now, we need to talk about Ayo Edebiri, who plays Hattie. It’s almost criminal how little this scene stealer has been in this season, but I’m confident that not only will she be featured more in Season 3, but considering she helped creator Alena Smith write this episode, I’m looking forward to her having an even bigger role behind the scenes too. As the meeting of the Constellation comes to a close, Hattie pulls off her coat to reveal the extravagant gold gown Sue has been ignoring from New York — and she looks hot! What happens next can only be described as perhaps the sexiest, most soulful barn dance ever put to screen. The song is ‘Gon Blow’ by Cakes da Killa; the moves are from Hailee Steinfeld‘s tour choreographer, Nick Demoura; and it’s all just pure joy.
But as all this is going on, Sue has a grand party waiting for Emily 100 feet away at The Evergreens. But without the lady of the hour, her guests are getting restless, including Austin, who, after an angry and awkward run in with Sam Bowles, leaves in huff to find his sister. And guess what? He does! While she’s gone unseen all day by her friends and fellow Amherst residents, a very drunk Emily is discovered by Austin in the barn and dragged out of the party. In a very sweet moment, as Austin, the only person who’s been honest with Emily as of late, gushes about how proud he is of her; in fact, she’s the only thing in his life right now that makes him happy. Before Emily can figure out what’s wrong with her brother, a familiar black carriage pulls up, ready to whisk Emily away. She quickly leaves Austin to reunite with her first love: Death.
Praise be, Wiz Khalifa is back to reprise his crazy cool personification of Death. But on this ride, he’s not alone. As Emily stumbles into the carriage, she’s introduced to the great and recently late Edgar Allan Poe, played by Nick Kroll. Now, you may have read about EAP in school, but like so many of the hilarious guest stars that have come before on Dickinson, Nick is giving the famous author a twist. This Poe is egotistical; he’s drunk; and, he’s pretty horny for a dead guy. While Poe was a notorious womanizer and drinker, to see it come to life is pretty excellent.
After her joyride with the boys, Emily asks them to drop her off at Sue’s place. The house is dark, all the guests have gone home, and Austin is still out at the barn with Hattie and her friends. Emily, still a little drunk, stumbles into the library, remembering the last time she was in there with Sam and he promised she would have a whole shelf dedicated to her work. A door opens and Sue is there. Thinking she’s no longer invisible, Emily runs to Sue, admitting just how much she wants to be seen by her. But Sue doesn’t see her, and with seemingly no one else around, Sue beckons seductively for someone to join her. That’s when Sam appears from the hall, tearing off his clothes, and racing across the room to passionately kiss Sue. At first, Emily is as stunned as I’m sure every EmiSue fan is watching from home. She turns to leave, but as Sam starts to undress Sue, Emily resigns herself to stay, forcing herself to watch the two people she loved the most betray her. She actually pulls up a chair and defiantly sits down, a front row seat for her broken heart. Her eyes never leave Sue’s face. As Sam disappears under Sue’s gown, Sue looks up and it’s almost as if she can sense Emily is there. But she doesn’t stop, and Emily watches on, rage coming over her with every passing second. End scene, cut to black, cue enraged screams from Dickinson fans everywhere.
‘Dickinson’ Season 2 episodes premiere weekly on Fridays on Apple TV+.