[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers from Season 1 of “Anne With an E,” including the finale.]
It’s been more than a year since “Anne With an E” graced the streaming shores of Netflix. The latest adaptation of the L.M. Montgomery period children’s book “Anne of Green Gables” takes the titular heroine to much darker places thanks to series creator Moira Walley-Beckett, who’s known for her writing on “Breaking Bad.” Even though the only Blue Sky found on “Anne With an E” is overhead, the show still puts an edgy spin to the optimism and purity seen in the novel.
In part, these darker sequences serve to give a more realistic picture of what Anne’s life was like growing up as a young woman during Edwardian times as an orphan. But the show also ventured into new territory and explored issues such as sexism, bullying, and prejudice.
As Netflix returns to Avonlea for Season 2, here’s a refresher of where we left off for each of the characters, and what we’d like to see next for them.
Anne Shirley Cuthbert (Amybeth McNulty)
Where We Left Off: The irrepressible storyteller found a real, permanent home at Green Gables. In a departure from the novels, she was also officially adopted by the Cuthberts. Her growth over last year included learning a bit more about sex, being the object of prejudice and gossip, and even starting her period. In the finale, she went to town to help sell off Green Gables’ worldly possessions to save the place from ruin.
What We Hope to See Next: The PTSD-style flashbacks from her time in the orphanage and in nightmarish foster homes are tough to watch, but it would be good if Season 2 allowed her to actually confide in someone about them. Other than that, more puffed sleeves and perhaps figuring out she has warmer feelings for a certain boy.
Matthew Cuthbert (R.H. Thomson)
Where We Left Off: The elderly farmer fell for Anne’s chatterbox charms and later made a very bad investment that almost cost them the farm. Stress and general old age made him have “an episode of the heart,” which caused the bank to demand its loan back since they had only given Cuthbert money based on his ability to work. As a result, Matthew tried to take his own life, thinking that the life insurance money would save them, but fortunately, he botched that as well. In the finale, he had promised to not kill himself and reconnected with shopkeeper Jeannie (Brenda Bazinet), whom he was sweet on in his youth.
What We Hope to See Next: First and foremost, we wish Matthew continued health, if only to explore that rekindled romance more. But also, it’s fun to see him defy his sister.
Marilla Cuthbert (Geraldine James)
Where We Left Off: Speaking of the other elder Cuthbert, it turns out Marilla was almost engaged to the now-deceased John Blythe. She had turned down his proposal after the death of her older brother Michael because she was “needed at home.” Bittersweet! In the finale, she put an ad in the paper, and two lodgers arrived, which gave Green Gables some extra income. But these are not any ordinary lodgers. (See: Jerry Bayard, below.)
What We Hope to See Next: Whatever is the equivalent of a spa day in Avonlea, Marilla needs that. Between caring for Matthew, Anne, and the new lodgers, she really needs to treat herself for once.
Gilbert Blythe (Lucas Jade Zumann)
Where We Left Off: Anne lost her biggest competition at school when his father died and Gilbert became an orphan like her. Before taking on the responsibilities on their property, something he wasn’t even sure he ever wanted, he went off to see if he could get work on a steamer ship and find himself. Just before that happened, he and Anne declared a truce on their rivalry.
What We Hope to See Next: This adventure storyline is refreshing, and he could come back with newer, bigger ideas than Avonlea can handle (but not Anne!). Of course, he and Anne have unfinished business once they both grow up a little bit.
Jerry Baynard (Aymeric Jett Montaz)
Where We Left Off: Anne has always bickered with the hired hand who comes from a large, poverty-stricken family. She grew to appreciate him though once they went to town to sell their belongings and the horse. While he was in town though, he was set upon by two thugs who beat him up and stole his money from auctioning the horse. To make things worse, he was about to be let go since the Cuthberts couldn’t afford him. Fortunately, Aunt Josephine provided the money to keep him on. Unfortunately, those two thugs happen to be the lodgers who just arrived at Green Gables in the finale with something up their dirty sleeves.
What We Hope to See Next: As horrible as Anne’s circumstances have been, you’d think she would’ve had more sympathy for Jerry. We’d like to see her check her own privilege and examine her prejudices to fight for better treatment for him. Jerry should be able to sit at the Cuthberts’ table (Aunt Josephine let him!), get some schooling, and even get a real bed if he needs it. We’d also love to learn more about and maybe even meet his family. Perhaps better treatment will come when he realizes who the lodgers are. It should have to come to that, but baby steps. Also, could there be a love triangle with him, Anne, and Gilbert? Who’s to say, but Jerry certainly gets her riled up.
Aunt Josephine Barry (Deborah Grover)
Where We Left Off: The wealthy aunt was taken by Anne’s spirit and imagination and acted as her confidant. She suffered from an unspecified lost love in the past — the subtext is that Aunt Josephine is a lesbian who isn’t out — and advised Anne not have regrets when it came to romance. But she also encouraged her to be her own person beyond her relationship to men.
What We Hope to See Next: As one of the most progressive characters in the show, it would be fitting if she drove more stories in Avonlea. We’d also like to learn more about her bittersweet past.
Diana Barry (Dalila Bella)
Where We Left Off: Diana has often been Anne’s sidekick in shenanigans, very sweet but not very imaginative on her own. She got drunk on “raspberry cordial,” joined the Story Club to write their own adventures, and even maintained feelings for her “bosom friend” even when her parents banned them from spending time together.
What We Hope to See Next: Diana is perhaps the character who has remained the most true to the novels, and because of that, she’s been sidelined. As another girl who is Anne’s age in the same society, it’d be intriguing to see what life is like from her point of view, especially since she comes from privilege.
This story has been spoiler-free, but to get a glimpse of some new characters coming to Avonlea, check out the trailer for Season 2 below:
Season 2 of “Anne With an E” will be released on Friday, July 6 on Netflix. Check back for IndieWire’s review.