10 Best Moments from Season 1 of 'Anne with an E'
Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Canadian children’s series, Anne of Green Gables, has been adapted many times in the more than a century since it was first published. When recreating a story that has been part of the childhoods of Canadians and other children around the world for generations, there are certain elements that must remain the same and others that can be invented or updated to keep the story fresh and captivating.
Anne with an E (or just Anne, in Canada) is the CBC’s most recent adaptation of the classic, in partnership with Netflix U.S. It stays true to the essentials of the original work with pristine casting, beautiful cinematography, plotlines and dialogue that are lifted right from the novel. But it also took the chance to modernize the story in a way that makes it relatable and necessary in today’s world, by including a “Progressive Mothers Sewing Circle” and multiple conversations and conflicts around feminism, choice, and education.
Here are 10 of the best moments from Season 1 of Anne with an E:
Anne’s journey to Green Gables - 1x01 “Your Will Shall Decide Your Destiny”
Anne Shirley’s (Amybeth McNulty) romantic descriptions of Prince Edward Island throughout the series made it an ideal place in the hearts and minds of many young readers, and the sweeping shots and attention given to Anne’s enrapturement as she travels with Matthew Cuthbert (R.H. Thomson) from Bright River to Green Gables capture this sense of wonder beautifully.
This journey also introduces us to Anne, through the eyes of Matthew: she’s talkative, full of big words and bigger ideas, and in possession of an imagination of the likes Matthew — nor anyone in Avonlea — has ever seen before.
All of this is perhaps best captured as Anne and Matthew ride down the Avenue, a lane shaded by drooping cherry trees blooming with white blossoms, which Anne promptly renames “The White Way of Delight.”
Of course, Anne’s overwhelming happiness at finding a home in the most beautiful place in the world is overshadowed by the viewer’s knowledge that Matthew and his sister Marilla (Geraldine James) had expected a boy instead, something Anne has not yet realized and is sure to ruin her dreams of feeling wanted and loved.
“She’s my daughter!” - 1x02 “I Am No Bird, and No Net Ensnares Me”
If this moment didn’t melt your heart, you’re made of stone.
After Marilla sends Anne away for theft — which they soon learn was a wrongful accusation — Matthew chases her to Bright River, then to Charlottetown, then across the strait to Nova Scotia; he sustains an injury to the head upon almost spotting her in Charlottetown and he fruitlessly looks for her at the orphanage, before finally finding her at a train station where she’s collecting money by selling stories for a ticket to Halifax.
Anne is unforgiving when she first sees Matthew again, understandably hurt and unwilling to give him a second chance. A well-meaning stranger gets between them, worried that Matthew means her harm, but Matthew quickly dissipates the situation with a single sentence: “She’s my daughter.”
They’re words that Anne has been longing to hear and believe her entire life and she forgives Matthew immediately, wrapping her arms around him in a hug, and together they return to Avonlea.
Marilla talks to Anne - 1x02 “I Am No Bird, and No Net Ensnares Me”
Marilla is not one to wear even a sliver of her heart on her sleeve, and talking openly to Anne — who is so different from Marilla that she doesn’t even know where to begin — doesn’t come easily to her. Anne has no idea how her brief absence affected Marilla and instead assumes that Marilla doesn’t want or even like her, and it’s only because of Matthew that she concedes to keeping the child around.
Marilla does her best to smooth over her rocky beginning with Anne, in a speech made even more sweet by how obviously difficult Marilla finds it. “Anne, will you forgive me? I am very sorry, Anne. [...] You’re a truthful girl, Anne, even now, and that is an admirable quality. This was my fault. And all that you went through because of it. It’s a wonder you came back to Green Gables at all.”
An adult admitting their wrongs and asking a child for forgiveness is refreshing to see, especially given the time period. Proving that she does have a heart, and a heavy sense of remorse, does much to repair Marilla’s relationship with Anne, and although Anne will never feel the same sense of kinship with her as she does with Matthew, they grow to love each other deeply.
The PMSC (Progressive Mothers Sewing Circle) - 1x03 “But What is So Headstrong as Youth?”
Now that she’s adopted Anne, Marilla is invited to join the PMSC by several other mothers of young girls, a society that discusses and believes in progressive matters, such as girls’ education and equality between women and men.
It’s a clever opportunity for the show to discuss modern ideas in a 19th century setting, and Marilla, an older woman with a conservative bent, is a good viewpoint to see it from. At Marilla’s first meeting, the women discuss books and feminism and being a modern women in a modern world. Marilla is quite out of her depth, but is more than willing to listen and learn and even change her own ways of thinking.
Later, Marilla has a lively debate with her neighbour and friend Rachel Lynde (Corrine Koslo) about the PMSC, of which Rachel is no big proponent of, asking if the women “took turns shouting atop a soapbox” (a common misconception of feminism, even today).
“There was a lot of civilized talk about women’s education and social reforms,” Marilla replies.
Even Matthew chimes in on the discussion when he comes in to tea: “I reckon every new idea was modern once, until it wasn’t.”
Gilbert’s introduction - 1x03 “But What is So Headstrong as Youth?”
In almost any iteration of the Anne of Green Gables series, Gilbert Blythe (Lucas Jade Zumann) is nearly as essential to the story as Anne herself is. For generations, his character has been the object of countless fictional crushes and Anne’s relationship with him is a main driving force of the plot; such a character deserves a hero’s introduction.
And a hero’s introduction he receives. Anne’s on her way to school when she’s confronted by Billy Andrews, who threatens her for unintentionally spreading rumours about his sister. That’s when Gilbert appears, who immediately diffuses the situation by greeting Billy as a friend and suggesting they get to school, while Anne looks on in (surprisingly) wordless shock.
Anne runs from Gilbert and they’re not properly introduced until they reach the school, where she finally finds her tongue, tells him her name, and realizes that he’s the famous Gilbert Blythe as he’s immediately swarmed by his admiring classmates.
Gilbert has always seen Anne differently than everyone else, and feels a pull to her from the start. Where everyone else — including Anne — believes her to be homely and judges her harshly for coming from an orphan’s asylum, Gilbert says, “Why do I care where she’s from? A cute girl is a cute girl.”
(Later, when the class laughs at Anne for her dramatic reading of a poem, Gilbert only sees it as admirable: “She’s good. Invested.”)
Anne and Marilla discuss Anne’s future - 1x04 “An Inward Treasure Born”
After several weeks off, Anne is ready to go to school again. But she’s still concerned about what the minister told her earlier in the episode, about her not needing to go to school and becoming a wife instead. Ever since she heard that, Anne has been contemplating what it is she would like to be when she grows up.
Marilla is progressive enough and loves Anne enough to view the minister’s thinking as old-fashioned, and tells Anne that she should decide for herself what she would like to be and set her mind to it.
Gentle moments like this one between Marilla and Anne are rare, which makes them all the more touching when they come along. Marilla is new to parenthood, and while she certainly struggles with some aspects of it (and Anne is no easy child to raise, either), this is something that comes surprisingly natural to her. She always seems to know just what to say to ease Anne’s mind, and her unwavering faith in Anne’s intelligence and goodness is raw and honest, when she chooses to express it.
“You’ve got a good and nimble mind, Anne. I don’t see why you should limit it. In my day, we didn’t get to choose. I think you should make your own decision.” This statement means a lot, especially coming from Marilla, who wasn’t given the opportunity to choose her own path due to her family situation.
Anne saves Minnie May’s life - 1x06 “Remorse is the Poison of Life”
Anne’s experiences as an orphan prior to coming to Green Gables have her poorly adjusted for many things, but have taught her many things no child should be expected to know — including how to deal with croup.
When her dearest friend Diana’s little sister, Minnie May, falls ill on a night when both her parents and half the town are in Charlottetown to see the premier, Diana (Dalila Bela) goes to Anne for help. Anne immediately sends Matthew into town to fetch the doctor, while she accompanies Diana back to the house.
What follows is an extremely tense scene in which Anne does everything in her power to save Minnie May’s life — including employing remedies from old wives’ tales — while Diana and her Aunt Josephine (Deborah Grover) look on in shock.
The moment Minnie May coughs and breathes again after several minutes of choking silently on phlegm is an exceedingly powerful one. Anne’s role in saving the little girl’s life — when the doctor arrives, he confirms that Minnie May would have died otherwise — causes Diana’s mother to forgive her after the unfortunate currant wine incident of a month before and allow the two to be friends again, and raises her esteem greatly in the eyes of Aunt Josephine.
Anne and Gilbert talk about grief - 1x06 “Remorse is the Poison of Life”
For several months after the incident in which Gilbert called Anne “Carrots” and she responded by smashing her slate over his head, Anne holds to her promise not to have anything to do with him unless absolutely necessary. It’s not until Gilbert’s father dies and Anne feels that this is something she can relate to him about — after all, now they’re both orphans — that she makes any effort to actually talk to him.
Unfortunately, Anne isn’t a natural when it comes to sympathizing and not only does she not pick up on the fact that the last thing Gilbert wants is to talk to someone, but she manages to say exactly the wrong thing.
“Being an orphan has its challenges but you already have so many advantages, you’ll be much better off than I was. And...I didn’t know my parents. They died when I was a baby, so I couldn’t fend for myself the way that you can. And I don’t remember my parents at all, but you’ll always be able to remember your father. You know, when you think about it, you’re really very lucky.”
Later, Anne realizes that Gilbert has lost someone in a way she never has since she never knew her parents and thus never mourned them; however, when she arrives at Gilbert’s house to tell him this, he has already gone.
“I choose myself. That way I’ll never be disappointed.” - 1x06 “Remorse is the Poison of Life”
While out on a walk to “take advantage of the winter air,” Aunt Josephine comes upon Anne in her clubhouse, yelling aggrievedly to no one about Gilbert Blythe.
“What you heard just now had nothing to do with romance,” Anne assures the old woman, which leads into a discussion about Anne’s future and how all the other girls at school dream only of becoming a wife, and Anne herself has so many other ambitions.
Aunt Josephine is perhaps uniquely situated to give Anne advice, having never gotten married herself but spent her life living with the woman she loved (a relationship Anne hasn’t yet realized extended far past the realms of friendship).
“I have the following thoughts to offer,” Aunt Josephine says. “First, you can get married any time in your life, if you choose to do so. And two: if you choose a career, you can buy a white dress yourself, have it made to order, and wear it whenever you want.”
Aunt Josephine’s words do much to improve Anne’s mood, and she promptly exclaims, “I’m going to be my own woman.”
Gilbert and Anne meet in Charlottetown - 1x07 “Wherever You Are is My Home”
While in Charlottetown pawning goods in the hopes of saving Green Gables, Anne runs into Gilbert, who’s there to work on the docks. Anne is inexplicably happy to see him again, and the two go for coffee together.
Anne finally gets the chance to apologize to Gilbert for what she said after his father’s death, even if it’s an apology he doesn’t need to hear. The two strike up a truce and at last seem to form the beginnings of a friendship — with Anne even admitting that she’s missed him (although, supposedly, only in school).
Neither of them seem quite prepared to leave the other without knowing when they’ll see each other again (even Jerry notices the long looks that pass between them) and when they do eventually meet again, it’s easy to assume that a fundamental aspect of their relationship will have changed.
Season 2 of Anne With An E premieres September 23 on CBC in Canada, and is already available on Netflix in the U.S.