There are also extended scenes that follow the aspirations of her maid, friend, and housing advocate Martha (Haley Squires), who is such a socialist that the show seems to mention details every time she appears on screen. Hiddleston’s vicar too, although the most underdeveloped main figure in the group, has his own complicated feelings for Cora, due in part to his faith in and love for his wife, Stella (Clemence Poesy). Yet even she has a striking take on their nascent attraction, showing off the nuances that come when they aren’t looking at things in black and white. These stories are not directly related to the snake, but the power of the representations proves that this is not necessary.
At the center of it all is the Kora. Through Dane’s performance, the series gets a rich, empathetic look at someone who seems to cause destruction wherever they go, even if that wasn’t their intention. Danes illustrates the confusion and pain as she encounters the many people she attracts, the shame of the townspeople of Oldwinter, and her own trauma from a previously abusive relationship from which she fled, widowed but scarred. on her neck. Episodes four and five practically forget about the snake in Essex and make it clear that, however clumsy the metaphor may be, the energy of the Cora is the important snake in everyone else’s lives.
Throughout The Essex Serpent, a small scandal is brewing involving the new widow Cora and the ardent curate Will; while tension will certainly help sell the series, it is the most scarce ingredient in history. Their mental duels, his religious skepticism at odds with her science, turn out to be more interesting than the looming threat of their confusion. But at least Danes and Hiddleston have strong chemistry in these moments when they act like the only people in the swamp: their pensive looks, the way they kiss open-mouthed as if it were their first kiss; the way he ties his dark green scarf around her neck, replacing warm red in this gloomy tale.