As the series begins, we see a ship of women sailing towards Virginia. Alice (Sophie Rundle) watches as a body wrapped in canvas is tossed overboard. Then, she sees Verity Bridges (Niamh Walsh) steal a piece of food. Next, the ship runs into a storm. As the ship is tossed around, Jocelyn (Naomi Battrick) speaks with Alice. She wonders whether God is punishing her for killing a man back home. Alice manages to keep the woman calm, until the storm subsides. Once the skies clear, Alice returns to deck and speaks with Verity. Alice admits she is grateful for her opportunity to travel to the new world. Verity agrees, before land is spotted in the distance. Once the ship lands, the women are paired with their future husbands.
Alice seems infatuated with the man waiting for her, Silas (Stuart Martin). Unfortunately, she finds out he will not be husband. Instead, she is expected to marry his brother, Henry (Max Beesley). As for Verity, she is unable to find her future husband, Meredith Rutter (Dean Lennox Kelly). Samuel Castell (Gwilym Lee) and his maid Mercy (Patsy Ferran) meet Jocelyn. Sir George Yeardley (Jason Flemyng) is greeted by Nicholas Farlow (Burn Gorman) and Redwick (Steven Waddington). Sir George is congratulated for getting knighthood and his appointment as Governor of Virginia. Silas explains that his family is indebted to Edgar Massingham (Tony Pitts), because he borrowed money to buy Alice. Pepper (Luke Roskell) makes sure she is aware that his brother paid for her with his finest tobacco.
Samuel drops Jocelyn off at her new dwelling. It is clear the amenities do not suit her fancy. Verity goes on the hunt for Meredith. She finds James Read (Matt Stokoe) and is told the town isn’t safe for women. Alice eats with her new family, before Henry enters. Henry is standoffish and rude. Silas runs into Verity. He expresses concern for her safety before finding her a place to stay for the night. Alice goes out after dark. She walks down to the water, before being attacked by Henry. Alice pleads with Henry to stop, but he rapes her anyway. In the morning, Jocelyn tours the field with Samuel. She makes it clear she doesn’t want children by referring to them as thieves.
Seconds later, Samuel tells Jocelyn about Edgar, Marshall and Farlow. He explains that Farlow is his employer. Once they return to town, Jocelyn reveals she dined with Sir George several times on the ship. She admits George was fond of Samuel. She insists she would like George to be the groomsman for their wedding. Samuel tells Jocelyn that he has already given that duty to his long time friend, Christopher Priestley (Ben Starr). Verity finally finds her future husband. He is a total drunk and somewhat of a disaster. She watches as Meredith is punished for a past crime. Meredith is left outside, while the others go inside to hear Sir George speak.
Henry tells his family that George is simply hunting for gold. However, Henry suggests he wants to build a new world. He announces that the Virginia Company intends to reward those that served the colony from the first day with 100 acres of land each. Verity returns outside and tries to ignore her new owner. She speaks with Alice and learns about the rape. Henry watches the women embrace from a distance. Jocelyn pulls Samuel away from his duties. She tells him she would prefer George be their groomsman. Jocelyn pretends to become ill and subsequently drops to the ground. She is taken home, where she is attended to by Dr. Christopher Priestley. She tells the Doctor about her wish.
Christopher admits it is awkward that Samuel didn’t mention this himself. Meanwhile, Alice and her new family travel to their new lands. As soon as they arrive, they begin clearing the land to make room for a house. Silas tries to comfort Alice, by insisting his brother will make a good husband once his soul is restored. Then, the two express their fondness for one another. Eventually, Henry interrupts with plans to trade with the Indians. Farlow and Redwick arrive seconds later. They agree to wipe Henry’s debt clean, if he hands over half of his family’s land. Henry refuses the offer. Meredith finally catches up with Verity. She makes it clear she has no intention of staying. She rushes away. Christopher speaks to Samuel about the groomsman deal.
Christopher suggests going along with Jocelyn’s scheme, so she’ll recover in time for the wedding. That night, the governor pays a visit to Samuel. The Governor explains that there could be resistance against his rule. He asks Samuel to spy on the other men for him. The next day, Alice tells Silas she cannot be with Henry. She claims she will kill him, if necessary. Silas promises that it will not come to that. Meanwhile, Samuel finds Mercy praying for Jocelyn. Samuel follows Christopher’s advice. He pretends that George will serve as their groomsman. Meanwhile, Alice runs into James Read. He introduces himself, before handing over a basket made from a helmet. He also notices the red marks along Alice’s wrist. Henry and Silas are shown sailing along the water.
That night, Meredith pretends to gamble for Verity. However, he wins, so she doesn’t have to sleep with the loser. This ticks her off. In the morning, she flees the village. Christopher speaks with Jocelyn. He admits it is awkward that she has recovered so quickly. Christopher turns the tables on her, by suggesting George will be suspicious of such a swift change in groomsman. Christopher’s words quickly change Jocelyn’s mind. She speaks with Samuel and tells him to change the groomsman again. Then, Jocelyn speaks with Alice about her problems. She offers to help. However, Alice admits she shouldn’t feel indebted to her. Jocelyn learns about the threats to Henry’s lands. Once the conversation ends, Alice speaks with Read and learns about Verity.
Then, she asks Pepper the way to Berkeley Town. He gives her directions, but admits going would be incredibly dangerous. Alice doesn’t take his advice. Meanwhile, Henry tells Silas about his plan to find gold. He makes it clear that Silas needs him to survive. Alice treks through the woods, while Samuel receives a visit from Farlow. Jocelyn eavesdrops, as Farlow tells Samuel that he is concerned about the governor. He wants to know how Yeardley climbed the ladder so quickly. Jocelyn and Samuel go for a boat ride. During the trip, she gives him an idea for tricking both the governor and Farlow. She suggests providing Farlow with a fake tip to ruin his credibility with the others.
Seconds later, Alice finds Verity stuck in the mud. She pulls her out, before admitting she needs Verity for support. She gives her friend a pep talk and convinces her to return to the city. Meanwhile, Jocelyn visits Farlow and feeds him a lie about the governor wanted to ban tobacco. Then, she visits the governor and tells him about the threats to the farmers’ lands. She suggests putting a law into place to prevent their lands from being stolen. Alice and Verity are attacked by wolves on the way back home. They’re saved by James Read, before being escorted back to the city. Meanwhile, Silas and Henry get into a fight. Henry easily overpowers his brother. Henry tells Silas he is not man enough to take Alice.
Farlow returns to his allies and tells them about George’s wishes to ban tobacco. Henry sleeps inside of the boat with the cargo. Verity and Alice return to the city. Meredith reveals his secret. He confirms he cheats when gambling and would never risk Verity. That night, Henry catches on fire and explodes with the boat’s cargo. Silas watches and does nothing to help. Meanwhile, Meredith tells Verity not to steal, because it’ll land her in the gallows. Silas returns to town and tells everyone about Henry’s death. Alice coaches Silas, so he will not look suspicious. The townsfolk gather for another speech from Sir George. Farlow is caught off guard, by George’s comments. The governor tells everyone he intends to protect the citizens and their lands.
Jocelyn tells Farlow that she was drunk on the boat and may have misunderstood what was being said. Verity and Meredith speak in private. Meredith reveals a piece of gold he has been hiding. He admits he gave the Indians two barrels of ale for it. Samuel and Jocelyn get married. Then, Jocelyn tells her husband that he will one day be governor. That night, Silas and Alice pray. At the end of the episode, Henry wakes up covered in mud. He is surrounded by Indians.
Jamestown has all the potential in the world. The time period and setting are great. Plus, the cast is truly topnotch. With the likes of Burn Gorman, Shaun Dooley, Max Beesley, and Sophie Rundle, the series should be spectacular. Unfortunately, the script is subpar at best. The writing doesn’t do the cast any justice. A little humor here and there is fine, but it is simply overwhelming here.
It feels like the writers didn’t take Jamestown serious. The series could be great, but it’ll need to walk a stricter path and eliminate some of the childish banter. The premiere wasn’t terrible, but it was easily forgettable. A 6.5 out of 10 is deserved.