Dickinson’s pilot episode

I last updated my pilot-a-day project long ago, and today I wanted to revisit that New Year’s Resolution.  I recently watched the first two seasons (and the pilot) of Dickinson and wanted to take a moment to explore the show.

Why Dickinson? 

Marvel’s TV show Hawkeye is coming out, and I thought this was an excellent opportunity to brush up on my Hailee Steinfeld filmography. The last entry I watched starring her was the hilarious movie Pitch Perfect, which was way back in 2015. And before that, I saw her performance in True Grit in 2010. Dickinson (and Hawkeye, I presume) is a departure from both of them. 

What is Dickinson?

Dickinson is about the poet Emily Dickinson. It’s super-stylized and so different from any other historical drama genre piece in that it’s a comedy. There are some A Knight’s Tale vibes with a modern music soundtrack that helps sell the anachronism of it all. Further helping with that is Emily herself – she uses current language while everything else about the production is very 1860s. 

Season 1 premiered in 2019. Like many folks, I subscribe to a bunch of streaming services. Sadly, Apple TV wasn’t one of them until now. I regret missing out on seeing this show as it aired, but at least I’m happy I get to binge two seasons of it now.

Besides Steinfeld, Dickinson has recognizable names attached to the cast. Wiz Khalifa is the carriage-riding Death. Toby Huss is Emily’s father, Edward Dickinson, and Jane Krakowski is her mother. Other actors include Adrian Blake Enscoe, Ella Hunt, Anya Baryshnikov, and Finn Jones. 

The Dickinson pilot

Episodes of Dickinson are named after poems by the literary giant. The pilot “Because I could not stop” is no exception to that pattern. The full name of the poem, Because I could not stop for Death, is probably Dickinson’s most famous poem, so it’s fitting that the pilot would get that naming honor. 

The episode was written by showrunner and creator Alena Smith and directed by David Gordon Green. It’s 33 minutes long and has a lot of work to do to establish the show. 

The pilot sets out the world’s expectations well – at that time (and even today), there was a heavy focus on a woman’s reputation. Without diving too deep into episode spoilers, a confrontation involving Emily’s future at the end of the episode leans heavily into this theme. Emily has to deal with her family’s expectations – for her personal life, her love life, and her career. She’s trapped in some ways, and her writing and daydreaming are ways out. Despite dealing with these dramatic and heavy things, Dickinson is a comedy, so there’s lots of levity. 

Although the show starts with a bit of a history lesson – recapping the actual Emily Dickinson’s life, the show is obviously not a super-accurate historical representation like The Crown. There’s some artistic license taken for the sake of storytelling, and that’s fine. Nowhere during the pilot is the audience promised that they would get that. 

One of my measures of a good pilot is whether or not I was invested enough in the world and the characters to keep watching. Dickinson’s pilot accomplished that and more, judging by the fact that I stayed with the show for two seasons. Something was jarring about it that made it compelling. 

Will there be a fourth season of Dickinson?

Unfortunately for fans (aka me) of the series, there won’t be a fourth season of the show. Emily Dickinson’s journey will end in Season 3, according to Smith. It turns out that was always the plan. In a release that rocketed across the internet, Smith shared more information. 

“When I set out to makeDickinson, I envisioned the show as a three-season journey that would tell the origin story of America’s greatest female poet in a whole new way, highlighting Emily’s relevance and resonance to our society today,” creator/showrunner Smith said.  Source:https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/tv/tv-news/dickinson-to-end-with-season-3-on-apple-1235007393/


How to watch more

You can catch Hailee Steinfeld in 2 new shows later this month. Hawkeye premieres on Disney+ on November 24. Steinfeld stars as Kate Bishop, opposite actor Jeremy Renner. And season three of Dickinson premieres in just a few days on Apple TV.

Note: This post originally appeared on AylaRuby.com before the hosting went poof. Since that site no longer exists with hosting, you get to visit the archives here. Please mind the cobwebs.