As ‘Dickinson‘ season 2 gets closer to the finale, the storylines and individual character arcs are getting heavier. The penultimate episode of season 2 is almost entirely without any comical aspect. The ninth episode is raw on the emotional front and the threat of war looms overhead. Each of the Dickinsons has to face their inner demons and confront their pain, and that adds to the gravity of the tone even further.
How did Emily Dickinson, possibly one of the greatest American poets to ever live, manage to live a life of anonymity? Why did she never get published during her lifetime? The entirety of season 2 seeks to answer these very questions, depicting Emily’s push and pull around the notions of seeking fame. If you’re looking to better understand the ending of ‘Dickinson’ season 2 episode 9, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a quick look at the recap and then dive right into the puzzling end. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Dickinson Season 2 Episode 9 Recap
Emily Senior takes on the task of hosting two perfect tea parties single-handedly – Edward’s investors’ meeting for the Springfield Republican and Austin’s college group reunion. When Austin objects to Edward’s unilateral decision of investing in Sam Bowles’ newspaper, Edward bites back by harshly mocking and ridiculing what he sees as Austin’s “frivolous” life. He tells his son that Austin is a failure. Just then, Sam Bowles arrives bearing news of John Brown’s rebellion in Harper’s Ferry, and he shares his plans of capitalizing on the political strife in the country. Austin, however, wants no part of it and leaves.
Henry says goodbye to Austin and leaves because his own life is in danger, having supported John Brown. Sue goes to meet Mary and the two women bond over their shared pain of a miscarriage. Austin puts a damper on his reunion with talks of the civil war. Emily Senior feels unappreciated until Shipley tells her that she is the perfect wife and that’s why he wants to marry Lavinia. Ship and Lavinia make up. Emily finally emerges from her bedroom and goes to meet Austin. At Austin’s, Emily is shocked to run into Frazar Stearns, who turns out to be Nobody!
Emily tries to warn Frazar that he is going to die in the war but only succeeds in freaking him out. She also tells Austin about Sue’s affair with Sam but is taken aback when Austin says he has known about them for weeks. Emily unwittingly reveals to Austin that Sue had a miscarriage. Hearing of his lost child, Austin breaks down completely and confesses that he feels like a huge failure. Emily consoles him. Later, Frazar Stearns gives Emily the idea of getting her poems back from her editor when she admits that fame is not good for her.
Dickinson Season 2 Episode 9 Ending: How does Nobody Turn Out to be Frazar Stearns?
It’s confusing, we know, but the show has always had a mystical, whimsical element that they’ve never felt the need to explain. “Nobody” is previously thought to be a ghost that appears to warn Emily about the dangers of chasing after fame. Nobody preaches anonymity and tells Emily that he died on a battlefield. In episode 8 of season 2, Emily does say that Nobody looks vaguely familiar, but she cannot place him. It turns out that Stearns has met Emily one or two times before.
The easiest (and most logical) explanation for Stearns being Nobody is that Emily subconsciously conjured the image of Frazar Stearns as Nobody, not remembering who he really was. Emily’s consciousness made Nobody into a preacher of anonymity because he is a figment of her own imagination. Basically, one part of her mind wants to get published and become famous, while another part (the one that manifested into the shape of “Nobody”) prefers to stay anonymous. If this logic is correct, then Emily hasn’t really seen the future, and maybe the actual Frazar Stearns doesn’t really end up getting killed in the war.
Is Edward Dickinson Pro-Slavery?
It’s an established fact that Emily’s father is old-fashioned with really regressive views. One of those regressive views is that the South’s way of life (keeping slaves) cannot and should not be completely dispensed with. While he does admit that slavery is “wrong,” Edward Dickinson is not a man who would actively do something about it or even support the abolitionists and their movement fully.
It’s interesting to note Edward and Austin’s contrasting natures. Edward can belittle and mock Austin’s “privileged” life all he wants, but the audience can clearly see that Austin is a much better man, despite being so much younger. While Edward discusses the possibility of war, holed up in his office with his peers, lamenting how America is so divided, Austin has actively contributed to the anti-slavery and civil rights movement. Even Mrs. Dickinson, who is far removed from thinking about matters of the state, is spot on when she tells Edward that maybe wars won’t happen if men had better manners. When you stop to think about it, Emily Senior’s casual remark rings profoundly true.
Read More: Is Dickinson Based on a True Story?