Emisue fans, meet me in the orchard, because I chatted with ‘Dickinson’ creator Alena Smith on where our favorite forbidden lovers will find themselves in season three.
And now, the end is near Dickinson fans. On November 5th, the acclaimed AppleTV+ show starts its third and final season, bringing to a close one of the most innovative, genre-breaking shows ever to be enjoyed. The moment is bittersweet, given that creator Alena Smith had previously admitted she had the series mapped out over 3 seasons and its nice to see her vision come to its intended end. Then again, how will the fans live without Emisue?
From the beginning, fans of Dickinson latched on to the forbidden love affair between famed poet Emily Dickinson and her BFF/sister-in-law/muse Sue Gilbert, played by Hailee Steinfeld and Ella Hunt respectively. What had once just been rumor and speculation between fans of the IRL Dickinson, Alena Smith brought front and center to her narrative, exploring the complexities of being queer in a time when the word “lesbian” wasn’t even part of the vernacular. After two years of fighting their feelings and trying to find comfort in others, the season two finale found Emily and Sue passionately professing their love for each other in a set of scenes that set fan Instas on fire.
So, what happens to the young lovers in season 3? Well, Alena explains in our EXCLUSIVE interview that while the women aren’t denying their feelings any longer, there’s still hurdles for them to overcome, physically and emotionally. “What we got at the end of season two was this profound moment where both Sue and Emily found each other again,” Alena explains. “They had really come to the breaking point and almost lost each other, and if they had lost each other, they would have lost themselves. So, where we start season three is in a place of completely renewed commitment between the two of them, but, in the context of a world that’s grown a lot more complicated and difficult.”
These difficulties not only include a nation ravaged by the Civil War outside their doors, but a war raging inside their own homes. The Dickinson family is divided, for many reasons, but for Emily and Sue, they find themselves equally at odds when Sue becomes pregnant with Austin’s baby. As hard as she tries, Emily can’t seem to get over the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a logical way for them to live their lives together as a couple. “We watch Emily and Sue negotiate as much more mature, developed individuals than they were in season one or two,” Alena explains. “Negotiate what it means for us to be in love in a world that’s torn apart by war, where you’re married to my brother, and there’s no recognizable space for us in society.”
These “negotiations” are on everything from running off together, to raising Sue’s baby on their own, to how to keep their passion alive when there is nowhere for them to really go and be together. “We really push Emily more to define her sexuality than we have in previous seasons,” Alena adds, “to really own her queerness and to own her love of Sue, and to own that part of her that isn’t just about words on a page, but is about a vulnerable body that wants to be held.”
The one space that’s sacred for the pair is the orchard, the place where their love affair began, at least for the Dickinson audience. In the trailer for season 3, fans immediately were treated to a snippet of a scene where Emily and Sue return to the spot of their first on-screen kiss, and Sue proclaims to Emily that she wants all of her, even the “mess”. Alena explains that returning to the orchard in season 3 felt like “huge, full circle moment,” as it plays as much of a pivotal role in season 3 as it did in the pilot.
“The orchard has been a place where they’ve always been able to completely be themselves, unseen by society,” Alena says. “When they met in the orchard in the pilot, they were girls. Now, they are women, and women with two very different paths that they’ve chosen and walked down. And, they are also lovers. They are people who have really been through it with each other. But while it’s easy to be blown away by wild crushes and passion when you’re younger, it’s a whole different story when you’ve really committed to somebody and you’re there for the good and the bad. That’s where Emily and Sue are at this point in their lives, and their relationship is being challenged to grow.”
And grow it will, but only for 10 more episodes. Fans who were hoping to see more seasons of Emisue’s love were crushed to learn that season 3 would be the team’s last. Still, Alena hopes that the story she and the Dickinson creative family have crafted in this last season will be satisfying. “I envisioned the project of this show, as being a re-imagining and reframing of Emily’s coming of age story,” she says. “I knew that we would, for that reason, that season three would take us into the Civil War, which is Emily’s most prolific time as a writer. And in my mind, really where Emily fully transitions into adulthood. And so for me, that is why, I felt our work is done here. We had successfully concluded telling the part of Emily’s life that I wanted to tell. there’s certainly other parts that are very interesting and worth exploring, but for this series that was the goal. And, I feel like we got there.”
‘Dickinson’ season 3 debuts three all-new episodes on Friday, November 5th, 2021 on AppleTV+, with one new episode premiering every week thereafter.