As the finale begins, we see that Fanny (Bronwyn James) has had her baby. At the jail, Daniel (Rory Fleck Byrne) admits he has always felt like a noose has been hanging around his neck. Meeting Charlotte (Jessica Brown Findlay) changed his outlook on life. Charlotte asks Daniel why he doesn’t throw her mother and sister under the bus to save himself. He explains that he doesn’t want her to despise him. Lord Fallon (Ben Lambert) sends Lucy’s contract to the Wells’ house. Justice Cunliffe (Richard McCabe) enters and learns that the Spartans are ready to see him. However, Cunliffe must bring a handmaid and she must be intact. They agree to meet up that night for hunting. Lucy (Eloise Smyth) receives the contract. Margaret (Samantha Morton) tells her to burn it. Robert Oswald (Steven Robertson) speaks with his superior about Lydia and the kidnapping.
He admits it is strange that Cunliffe has refused to act. Emily Lacey (Holli Dempsey) speaks with Violet and Betsey about her time in Lydia’s dungeon. Nancy (Kate Fleetwood) chimes in and admits she cannot wait to see Lydia hang for her crimes. Lydia (Lesley Manville) visits Amelia (Jordon Stevens) and her mother. Lydia pressures Amelia into lying to the justice about seeing Howard leave the Wells’ brothel dead. Harriet (Pippa Bennett-Warner) tracks down William and Jacob. William (Danny Sapani) reveals that Benjamin (Timothy Innes) is inside the nearby inn with the kids. They step inside with plans of snatching Harriet’s children. Cunliffe receives a visit from Lydia. She confirms she sent Amelia in his direction. They also agree that Charlotte will be released shortly. When asked about Emily Lacey, Cunliffe plays along and pretends the Spartans loved her. He also confirms that the venture is at an end.
William keeps Benjamin distracted, while Harriet sneaks upstairs and grabs her children. Nevertheless, Ben notices before they can escape. Benjamin causes a scene, but eventually succumbs and lets the kids go with their mother. Cunliffe releases Charlotte, but leaves Daniel behind. Lydia confronts Charlotte outside and takes credit for her release. Lydia convinces Charlotte to return home with her, by agreeing to help Daniel get freedom as well. Margaret arrives too late and watches the chariot pull away with Lydia and Charlotte inside. Charlotte is introduced to Lydia’s crowd. The Justice visits Cunliffe and asks him about the kidnapping. Cunliffe explains that Robert’s word cannot be trusted, since he often mingles with the harlots. The matter is dropped almost immediately. When Robert arrives at work, Cunliffe orders him to leave and never return.
Back at home, Lydia tries to coax Charlotte into becoming one of her girls. Margaret arrives seconds later and an argument ensues. Charlotte blames her mother for Daniel’s imprisonment. Margaret eventually asks Lydia about Emily Lacey. Much to everyone’s surprise, Emily Lacey arrives at the door seconds later. Lydia threatens Margaret by suggesting the law is coming after her for the murder of George Howard. Emily threatens both women, before insisting she wants more than just tea from Lydia. Once left alone, Charlotte complains that her mother was willing to save Lucy, but allow her to hang. She refuses to leave with her mother. Meanwhile, Lydia, Charlotte and Charles (Douggie McMeekin) negotiate.
Charles goes against his mother’s will and insists Emily will get whatever she wants. She demands one of the houses, her dresses and one hundred pounds. Charlotte overhears as Charles argues with his mother about her past misdeeds. Once Charles leaves, Charlotte interrupts and asks Lydia about Daniel. She calls for Mr. Abbadon (Roy Beck) to get her coach. Lydia speaks with Cunliffe. This time, the conversation is not cordial. Cunliffe makes it clear he no longer wishes to associate with her. Nancy learns that Lucy has not burned Fallon’s contract. Lucy admits she might need it in case William and Jacob do not return. Violet (Rosaline Eleazar) and Betsey arrive seconds later. Nancy orders them to take Lucy for a drink. As William and Harriet return to town, William agrees that he will smooth things over with Margaret. Margaret watches them from a distance and immediately suspects the worst.
Back at home, Margaret makes her concerns known to William. He denies everything and is upset that she would think so little of him. Mrs. Armitage (Gerard Monaco) arrives with orders to take Margaret to the courthouse for questioning. Seconds later, she learns about the new testimony. Margaret insists the Scanwell girl is lying. Cunliffe tries to strike a deal with her. He agrees to let her walk free, if she can help him capture Amelia. Margaret doesn’t like the arrangement, but it seems she has little choice. Lydia approaches Fallon directly and offers to help him remove the middleman. She offers to get the virgins for him. Charlotte visits Howard’s house. She tries to convince Thomas Haxby (Edward Hogg) to retract his statement. Howard’s wife enters. When she learns the truth, she promptly dismisses Haxby. She also admits the murderer freed her from George. She agrees to speak on behalf of Daniel.
Margaret quickly puts her plan into action. She convinces Amelia to visit a nearby house with her under the pretense that the Scanwells will be able to escape Lydia. Prince Rasselas (Josef Altin) watches from a distance. Margaret prepares to poison Amelia’s drink. However, she stops herself and tells the girl the truth. Amelia also apologizes for squealing on Margaret. They decide to team up to get back at Lydia and Cunliffe. Margaret heads outside to wait for the coach. She spots Rasselas and learns that he wanted to protect Amelia, whom he now considers a friend. Rasselas is ordered to fetch Nancy and William. Nancy tracks down Robert, while William meets up with Margaret. Cunliffe arrives and prepares to load Amelia into the coach. Robert arrives and prepares to arrest Cunliffe for kidnapping. Chaos ensues. Cunliffe is stabbed inside of the coach. The killer is followed by Rasselas, but remains undetected by everyone else.
Prince watches as Lord Fallon removes his hood and disposes of the knife. Seconds later, Charlotte watches Daniel walk free from the jail. When she returns, Lydia has just learned about Cunliffe’s demise. Charlotte offers her comfort. Nancy helps Lucy release her fury. Daniel arrives at Lydia’s place to discover that Charlotte has joined her entourage. Charlotte speaks with Daniel in private and reveals she intends to destroy Lydia from the inside out. We see that things quickly return to normal at both brothels.
Lucy returns home to her mother. The girl seems to have more confidence in her step. She exclaims that he is now ready. The two Wells women step inside together.
The first season finale of Harlots was likely the best episode of the season. It also did a great job justifying a second season. While Margaret, Charlotte and Lucy managed to escape justice, a lot of other questions remained unanswered. Justice Cunliffe was betrayed by Lord Fallon, who has apparently teamed up with Lydia. In that sense, Lydia managed to outsmart her rival. However, she now has a spy in Charlotte living under her roof.
Emily Lacey used her newfound freedom to bolster her own position and wealth. Will Emily subsequently make life miserable for both Margaret and Lydia? As for Lucy, it seems the girl has finally accepted her destiny as a harlot. What will come of her potential relationship with Lord Fallon? There are tons of questions remaining, so it would be a shame not to get another season of Harlots. Until then, this episode deserves an 8.5 out of 10. Catch up with previous Harlots recaps immediately!