Posted by: Ali Davis | October 11, 2011

Courage, New Hampshire: The Recap (Chapter Two)

Chapter 2 – The Investigation

[Missed Chapter 1? Catch up here or you’ll never forgive yourself!]

If you’ll recall, back in Chapter 1 we had a British soldier, an American woman, and a pregnancy outside of wedlock. It’s clearly time to get to the bottom of things. (In a different way than seems to have already happened.)

Fortunately, we have the wise, patient innkeeper who is central to all the other characters’ lives on hand. He’s sort of the Sam Malone of Courage, only he’s smarter than everyone else, and unless you happened to catch a glimpse of a sign in the background during the last chapter, the character still doesn’t have a name.

So I guess he’s more like The Professor of Courage.

At any rate, he opens the chapter getting the stories of Nameless Young Woman without Baby, Nameless Young Woman with Baby, and Nameless Somewhat Older Woman.

Oh, and for some reason, Bob Wheedle, the accused colonistdaddy, is also there, listening with his back to everyone.

And then we learn that the young mother is the very Sarah Pine from the title!

Sarah Pine. It’s an interesting name for a beautiful mother who undergoes harsh and unfair suffering, isn’t it? It kind of makes me want to slip some other letters in there, like maybe Sarah P(al)ine.

Especially when the nameless woman who turns out to be a midwife says that Sarah was full of “saintly, silent reserve” about who the father was. The comparison is eerie, isn’t it?

However, once the pains of childbirth began, Sarah apparently cried out “Bob Wheedle!” loudly, several times over.

Another important Tea Party principle: Torture works.

The older woman confirms that Sarah not only called Wheedle’s name, but has quite the set of lungs on her. But Sarah totally took a blabbing do-over and swore the women who heard to secrecy. Sarah said she kept it quiet because she knew Wheedle would return to do some proper husbanding and parenting, in spite of the evidence of the previous nine months.

You may have noticed that we’ve stumbled into a tricky area here.

I’m sure we can all agree that fornication is bad bad bad, but, oh, dear, our title character is Sarah P(al)ine. And given her prominent place in the opening credits, it seems like she’s meant to grow into a revered main character.

And the story has a certain unspoken resonance with the story of a younger P(al)ine, an as-yet uncreated character that I think of as Brittle Pine.

The viewer can’t be blamed for expecting a Scarlet Letter-style story of shaming and blaming an unwed mother, but then that would put the colonists of Courage – the original Tea Partiers – on the wrong side of the future. It’s troubling. I wouldn’t blame you if you were starting to panic a little bit.

Fortunately, the nameless woman who I’m just going to go ahead and tell you turns out to be Sarah’s Aunt Molly Pine jumps in and explains that the problem is that Sarah was raised to be too pure and trusting and assumes that Bob is her holy match and will automatically be honorable about it and marry her.

Worrisome cognitive dissonance solved! Phew!

And, indeed, throughout the show, the people of Courage seem to be cool with this logic, and with Sarah overall. They’d like to whip Bob for fornication and they mention that they don’t like feeding the illegitimate children of the redcoats – No free rides, you lazy infants! – but so far, that’s really the extent of their beef.

OK, yes, they’re already working hard to gut the infant Pine’s Head Start program, but that’s nothing personal. Just sound common sense. Pull yourself up by your bootiestraps, kid!

Bob? Still not showing his potential as a stand-up husband. But it’s OK, because he sets off my absolute favorite exchange of dialogue in the entire show.

Bob: “There very well could be several country blades responsible for the current state of affairs… Weren’t it possible that this field has been plowed before?!”

Aunt Molly Pine: “I’ll show you a country blade!”

Later that night, the Inkeeper/Justice of the Peace/Farmer/Presumably Plumber and Bob have a heart-to-heart in which they cover some points that have been mentioned before. Where was this kind of attention to detail in the prologue?

Also, at 11 minutes and 37 seconds into the hour-long show, balloons, confetti, and a duck all drop from the ceiling because Bob finally calls the Inkeeper “Mr. Rhodes.” In another scene or two, someone will call him “Silas,” and we’ll all finally be able to sleep at night.

Bob almost admits to a kind of sideways caring about Sarah – Who could resist? – but quickly locks it down and goes into more posturing about how if they don’t let him go, the 29th regiment will roll in and tear Courage up, and how could this tiny town stand against him?

Silas asks if “the 29th in all its glory could knock down every law of God and man.”


We cut to Bob being forced to chop wood at the Pine place to earn his keep at the inn while he waits for trial. No free rides for prisoners! Sarah watches him with a beatific smile on her face, even though he’s still being an unrelenting jerkball.

Sarah turns on the charm, saying “I know what a good heart you have. …Or will have, once it is made over.”

Way to make marriage seem non-stereotypical and appealing, Sarah.

Sarah steps up her husband-catching technique with some passive aggression and creepy staring, so, yes, I think we can all feel sure that she hasn’t been in a relationship before.

Sarah does get a little feisty when she mentions that the townspeople wanted to whip her – when she was pregnant – for fornication and for refusing to give up Bob’s name. She blithely skips over how on earth she convinced them not to do that and why everyone is on Team Sarah now. I guess she can muster up some serious pregnancy glow.

Bob continues to be a real Colonial unnecessary feminine hygiene product about it, so it’s hard to see why Sarah keeps after him. She’s over the hard part, right? But in this world, families need to be together and married, even if one of the parties is an arrogant drip and would rather be imprisoned than participate.

I think it’s implied that the beatific Sarah sees something in Bob that no one else on the planet can – in a “Jesus speaks to me” kind of way – or maybe we’re meant to understand that if God deals you an awful husband, you strap on your smiling-into-the-distance poker face, play that hand with every guilt-bomb you’ve got, and hope there’s some sort of payoff in Heaven.

Or something. So far this show’s implied relationship wisdom is exhausting.

But you’d better shake off that fatigue and buck up, because we’re about to meet the true villain of the piece! Ooooooooh!

Next up: Chapter 3 – The King’s Attorney


  1. […] in a little late? Catch up on Chapter One and Chapter Two. And have […]

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