In Hear Me Out, Primetimer staffers and contributors espouse their pet theories, hot takes, and even the occasional galaxy-brain idea.
With its extravagant costumes and constant ruminations on love and marriage, The Buccaneers couldn't be further from a crime drama or murder mystery. The young women driving the action may be headstrong, free-spirit types, but they've been raised to bury their anger and paste a smile on their faces; no matter how much they chafe against those expectations, they're far more likely to follow that directive than they are to suddenly fly into a rage.
That said, there's one woman who not only deserves to act on decades of pent-up frustration, but should be free from any consequences: Mrs. St. George (Christina Hendricks), who's resigned herself to a life of cleaning up after her lying, cheating husband Tracy (Adam James).
New-money socialite Mrs. St. George hasn't appeared since the premiere, when she sent her daughters Nan (Kristine Frøseth) and Jinny (Imogen Waterhouse) off to London in search of husbands, but in Episode 4, "Homecoming," she makes her grand return as the girls travel back to New York with their British partners in tow. Though the episode advances Nan's love triangle with Duke Theo (Guy Remmers) and his best friend Guy Thwarte (Matthew Broome), it really serves as a showcase for Hendricks' immense talent. Mrs. St. George loves to claim that she doesn't "give a fig" what people think of her, but Hendricks teases out her vulnerability and imbues her with a warmth that shines through her hard exterior.
Mrs. St. George's fierce maternal energy is particularly apparent in her interactions with Nan, who recently learned that she's the product of one of Tracy's many affairs and was adopted by Mrs. St. George as a baby. Of course, in polite society of the 1870s, the matter of Nan's maternity is more than just a family secret; it affects Nan's future, as a man of Theo's standing would be prevented from marrying a woman born out of wedlock. Not to mention, the revelation rocks Nan's sense of self, and she struggles to comprehend the years of lies that got her family to this point. "I'm not yours. My eyes aren't yours. My hands aren't yours. My feet aren't yours. And it was no wonder that I was close to Daddy when I was small," she tells Mrs. St. George. "It was because he was my daddy, and you were nobody. You're nobody."
Desperate to repair her relationship with Nan, Mrs. St. George gives a long, emotional monologue about why their lack of shared DNA doesn't matter. "You nestled into my heart and made it so much bigger and brighter and more important," she says through tears. Speaking to her daughter not as a child, but as an adult, Mrs. St. George admits she's "made mistakes," but explains that at the time, she believed she was acting in Nan's best interest. "I so wanted you to be fearless. And if you'd known, if we told you, you'd have been Nan with a secret. Nan with questions. Nan that felt different. And I just wanted you to be Nan," she tells her daughter. "Maybe that was wrong, but I was making it up as I went along."
But while Mrs. St. George sees Nan as someone deserving of her respect and honesty, Tracy struggles to muster up a shred of concern for his daughter's emotional wellbeing. When Mrs. St. George informs him that "Nan knows" their big secret, his first question is not "How is she?" or "Should I talk to her?" but "Does the duke know?" He's troubled by the situation only insofar as it relates to Nan's value as a potential bride — and by extension, the attention and praise her high-profile marriage would bring to their family.
Even when confronted with all his wife has done to save their family from his transgressions, Tracy fails to express any gratitude. "Do you have any idea what we've sacrificed for your utter belief that you can do exactly what you please?" asks Mrs. St. George. "Well, I must say, when I look at that party out there, with all those orchids and that food and that furniture, it doesn't seem to me much like anybody's making any sacrifices," he spits back.
Later, Tracy stoops so low as to blame Mrs. St. George, and the women with whom he cheated, for his behavior while claiming to tell Nan "the truth" about what happened. "When your belt's bursting, your hair is thin on top, and suddenly a beautiful young girl smiles at you and laughs at your joke... Well, you know, a man can't be blamed for seeing. Hell, she wants you to see it," he says. "And meanwhile, yes, your mother is still the finest-looking woman in the land. But, you know, she gets tired and cranky. So, occasionally..." Nan is rightfully disgusted by Tracy, who goes on to say he "didn't get a proper look" at her birth mother and doesn't know her name — details that are revealed to be false in the closing minutes.
But lest anyone think Tracy has learned his lesson after being called out by his wife and daughter — after it's been made apparent that he's put both their futures at risk and left Nan with the horrible choice of whether to share her secret with Theo — his true self rears its ugly head. As the party winds down, Mrs. St. George spots Tracy in the corner, flirting with a young woman who hardly looks older than Nan. As always, it's up to her to be the "grown-up" and clean up his messes, in ways figurative and literal. On this particular day, it's both: "Homecoming" ends with Mrs. St. George mournfully tidying Tracy's handkerchief, glasses, and war medals on his vanity, just as she did in the episode's opening scene.
Minutes prior, when Mrs. St. George tells Tracy that she "can't do this anymore," he scoffs at the idea, saying that no one "would look at [her] twice" if she were on her own. That may be true as long as Tracy is alive, but different rules apply for widows — just look at Theo's mother, the Dowager Duchess of Tintagel (Amelia Bullmore), a revered figure among the British aristocracy who does whatever she pleases. Perhaps if Tracy were the least bit remorseful for cheating on his wife or appreciative of what she's done to cover for him, he'd be deserving of redemption, but he refuses to take responsibility for his actions, as doing so would require him to acknowledge his misogynistic, entitled worldview.
Tracy's uncompromising foulness leaves Mrs. St. George with two options: ride out her marriage, knowing that she will never be happy (as she admits to Nan), or whack her husband, The Sopranos-style. It wouldn't take much for Mrs. St. George to rid herself of Tracy for good — a spiked drink here, some arsenic there. (Apropos of absolutely nothing, household poisons became much easier to access during this period.) Of course, it's all but certain which path she'll take, but considering Tracy's unpopularity among the New York set, it's hard to believe anyone would blame Mrs. St. George for bringing her marriage to a swift end. And if The Buccaneers really aims to foreground female empowerment, what could be more empowering, or more cathartic, than watching this sexist pig bite the dust?
New episodes of The Buccaneers drop Wednesdays on Apple TV+. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.
Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.