Channel 4 has just released an intriguing new trailer for “Indian Summers” Series 2, and while it’s mostly Alice and Aafrin-heavy, there are a few interesting glimpses and tidbits concerning our favourite Viceroy, Lord Willingdon, as portrayed by Mr. Malahide. Here’s a little of what we were able to spot, with a lot of speculation as to what it all means.
We first see Lord W. rumbling peacefully through the streets of Simla in his cream-coloured Rolls Royce Phantom, apparently having a great time waving to the crowds as usual. In a seemingly unrelated event, Sergeant Singh (Sudarshan Kumar) chases a crowd of urchins stained with powdered dye for Holi, seemingly having sensed something wrong. The tone quickly becomes foreboding, as Aafrin Dalal (Nikesh Patel) states in voice-over that “we [Indians] are not these people’s friends… We are the subjects. Their subjects. And never the twain shall meet.”
His words prove to be prophetic. The sense of foreboding quickly escalates as Sergeant Singh is too late to prevent one little boy from throwing a grenade into the back of the Viceroy’s Rolls, landing on the seat right beside Lord W. He recoils in surprise and shock, but apparently doesn’t get blown up right away. Perhaps it’s a dud? At any rate, it’s proof his subjects aren’t quite as adoring as he might have believed. “Whoever perpetrated this attack, wants to make a splash,” comments Ralph Whelan (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), Lord W’s personal secretary. Hopefully he’s speaking figuratively rather than literally, since he’s brandishing the grenade at the time. Guess it was a dud.
However, Ralph is apparently just ambitious enough to consider using the assassination attempt to further his own ends, though he needs a bit of encouragement first. With the Viceroy now vulnerable, away from the seat of power as he takes to his bed in shock, Cynthia (Julie Walters) exhorts Ralph to become Viceroy “one year early”. From what snippets we’ve gleaned (Admin has a good summary here), the state of upheaval following the attempt on Lord W’s life leads to the arrival of Lord Hawthorne (James Fleet) from England, there to straighten things out whether the Viceroy wants him to or not. Ralph at first appears happy to transfer his loyalties to Hawthorne as the new source of power, cheerfully clinking glasses with him at Cynthia’s club. But the shift in authority may not be what Ralph expects; he angrily mentions “[his] job!” being promised to someone else while Hawthorne appears to defeat someone (likely Ralph, possibly the Viceroy) at croquet. Okay, a game of croquet isn’t high stakes or anything, but I think it’s meant to symbolize either Lord W’s or Ralph’s waning prestige.
We also get a glimpse of Lord W. and Ralph overseeing the arrival of what looks like a large number of guests to the Viceregal Lodge for some kind of very swank, outdoor affair – the Viceroy’s retirement and return to England, perhaps? The crowd appears to be made up of both expatriate English and Indians, so the Viceroy seems to be putting into practice his decision to abolish the colour bar (in a limited fashion) in series 1. However, despite a heavy guard presence (a lot more than we ever saw in the previous series), there’s a massive explosion outside the gates. Apparently the “Quit India” movement (or a near facsimile) isn’t quite done with Lord Willingdon or the governing British just yet. And Aafrin has joined the movement, producing seditious writings and working for the rebels behind the scenes while still clerking in the Viceregal office.
Change and Upheaval
So, an assassination attempt, some languishing in bed, people gunning for his job, possible divided loyalties and treachery, lots of upheaval and change, and explosions – looks like the Viceroy is in for an interesting (and dangerous) time for his last year of office in series 2. Oh, and we also get a brief glimpse of Art Malik as
Shamy a visiting Maharajah, arriving in style in a palanquin, who will no doubt create complications of his own. I’m looking forward to see how the events of the trailer pan out, particularly to see if Lord W. is allowed to leave office on his own terms (which seems to be historically correct) or if he’ll be forced out in the interests of drama. I’m hoping for the former!
You can view the trailer below, or scroll down for a (small) gallery: