‘Dickinson’ Season 3 Review: The Eccentric Poet is Back

Last Thursday night, Apple TV subscribers got a treat in the form of the start of Season 3 of the brilliant period comedy with attitude, Dickinson. And because the Apple TV Gods were feeling generous, we got three episodes, not just one.

Created by writer Alena SmithDickinson follows eccentric New England poet Emily Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld) as she navigates life in a time when don’t have literary reputations. 

The cast of characters is superb. Emily is played brilliantly by Hailee Steinfeld, who oozes intelligence and magnetism in her layered portrayal. Ella Hunt plays Sue Gilbert, Emily’s love interest and sister-in-law. Wiz Khalifa is Death, Emily’s obsession. Toby Huss plays self-involved yet sentimental Edward Dickinson, a man deeply concerned about his legacy and making sure the world remembers his name. Jane Krakowski is outstanding as Mrs. Dickinson. Anna Baryshnikov is Emily’s love-suffering sister, Lavinia Dickinson.  Adrian Blake Enscoe is Emily’s older brother and alcoholic screw-up, Austin Dickinson.  Dickinson gives off strong Schitt’s Creek vibes.

The hilarious show slips in some still-relevant social commentary with an 1860s backdrop. And style-wise, Dickinson has a kickass modern soundtrack that makes the (beautiful!) Vitamin String Quartet soundtrack of Bridgerton seems stuffy in comparison.  

If you haven’t seen the show, stop right here, do not pass Go, and watch the pilot. It’s that good. When you’re all caught up with Season 1 and 2, come back and read on about Season 3 because there are spoilers ahead.

The season opens with Emily as a soldier in the Civil War. She’s got a Union uniform and is fighting valiantly. Of course, Emily isn’t actually a Union soldier. In reality, she’s at her aunt’s funeral that, due to a mix-up with the preacher, goes wrong.

But the mix-up leads us to some of the season’s themes – can poetry actually heal the world? Is Emily helping as a writer and with her words as soldiers die on the battlefield?

Episode 2 sticks out so much to me because, again, it’s so freaking funny. Austin holds a maple syrup rager as a sendoff for New England’s famous Civil War son, Frazar Augustus Stearns, aka Nobody. Sue gives birth to Austin’s son during this episode, too. 

The moments between Emily and Frazar later in the episode are pretty profound. Frazar asks her for a poem to carry with him as he goes off to war. It is tangible proof that Emily’s writing has had an impact.

Episode 3 again deals with the themes of the season. Lavinia organizes a sewing circle to make bandages for soldiers in the war, and Emily wonders about her place and role. She’s no good at sewing. But she is good at poetry. A huge historical figure appears at the end of the episode, but you’ll have to watch to find out who.

You can check out episode 4 when it drops next Friday. And if this season is a little bit bittersweet for you since it’s the last one, don’t fret. You can check out more of Hailee Steinfeld’s excellent acting in the upcoming Marvel project, Hawkeye.

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