It’s Been One Year Since #RichardArmitage Had Me at “Stephens!”

Stephens

John Thornton shouts at the hapless Stephens, North and South, BBC 2004, Episode 1. I was a goner from that moment on.

In the process of going through my PayPal records looking for business expenditures, I noticed that my first payment to Netflix was the first week of April, 2014. It just so happens that the first show I ever streamed on Netflix was BBC’s wonderful 2004 adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, and although I didn’t know it at the time, my life was about to change. So yeah… I guess this is something of a One Year Fanniversary for me!

From the moment I saw John Thornton overlooking the mill floor, my heart started thudding. A few seconds later, the gorgeous jerk shouted “Stephens! Put that pipe out!” then chased the unfortunate smoker down, and delivered a beating. I was toast.

So, in honor of this occasion, I’ve been busily giffing away on North and South… many of these have probably been giffed a thousand times, but I wanted my own little John Thornton library. Prepare for Thornton Thursday overload, ladies. And pray for a fast connection, because I might have gone a bit wild. LOL

Oh, and if you, for some completely unfathomable reason have NOT watched North and South, there be spoilers below. =)

 

I Saw You

Thornton chases Stephens, violently furious.

Get That Woman Out Of Here

The ideal gentleman, surely! LOL

Something about Richard Armitage’s fury, his energy and  on-screen magnetism just gripped me in those moments, and I knew that this was going to be something more than an enjoyable period drama. From then on, he absolutely dominated every scene he was in, and I really haven’t been the same since.

 

 

 

Meet Thornton

Meet John Thornton. Properly, this time. Such an arrogant turn, and head set. Damn but he’s fine. THUD.

Turn Away

It seems I like to watch John turn in either direction!

Something in the way John Thornton held himself. Something in the way he turned around to face Margaret. In fact, whichever direction he turned, impressed me.

 

 

 

 

 

sinister thornton

Thornton hosts a dinner party for the mill owners.

Watching

Thornton watches the workers enter the meeting hall.

He embodied the sinister Master so well. No sentimentality for the plight of the workers, just pragmatic business sense. Yet… he didn’t join the others in mocking the workers. And he didn’t try to stop the union from meeting.

 

 

 

 

Thornton Ogles Subtlly

Mr. Thornton very subtly ogles Miss Hale as she serves his tea.

Greeting

Thornton greets Miss Hale at the dinner party.

I found myself transfixed at every minute twitch of his lips, every brief eyelid flicker when Mr. Thornton would gaze at Miss Hale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

hand language

Miss Hale refuses to shake John Thornton’s hand.

handshake

Miss Hale allows Thornton to shake her hand. And caress it ever so slightly…

Soon I began to develop a fascination for Thornton’s hand language. Not only are his hands beautiful to look at, but they’re eloquent. This has not abated. One of the reasons I’m not as into Thorin as many of the other chaRActers may have been that his hands were obscured…

 

 

 

 

 

Not the slightest wish

His passion for her is entirely over. Can’t you tell? =)

I understand you completely

I can’t think of another proposal scene that made my heart race as this one did.

Then there was the intensity of his smoldering. Not sure where I’ve ever seen the like. Armitage delivered barely suppressed, strong emotion in spades after Margaret rejected John’s proposal, and after John shielded Margaret from the inquest.

 

 

 

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Stride 1stride2
I guess since we’re listing all the things that made me instantly obsessed with Thornton, I’d have to include his stride. It wouldn’t have done for Thornton to mince along, or swagger western-style. No, he would move with purpose and determination everywhere he went, and I never tire of watching him in motion.

 

 

Mr. Hale Dead

Thornton learns of the death of his friend, Mr. Hale.

Grief

More eloquent hand language. John realizes that there is now nothing to keep Margaret in Milton.

The final episode was full of angst on Thornton’s part. When he learned of Mr. Hale’s death, and knew it meant Margaret would also depart Milton, his grief was palpable.

 

 

 

 

Look Back

Mr. Thornton stares in desolation as Miss Hale begins her journey back to London. She does not look back.

I am certain that no John Thornton tribute would be complete without a nod to the famous “Look back. Look back at me.” Everyone I’ve steered toward watching North and South has referenced this scene and those lines.

It broke my heart, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

empty mill

Thornton stands alone in the empty mill. He thinks of Margaret.

 

Yellow Rose

Not telling even his mother where he is going, John leaves Milton and travels to Helstone, where Margaret grew up. Was he looking for her, or simply seeking an emotional connection, a shared memory that would remain private in his heart?

As if the death of Mr. Hale and the subsequent separation from Margaret were not enough, Thornton was now devastated by financial crisis and foreclosure. Having lost almost everything that was important to him, aside from the abiding love of his mother, we were left with not a shattered man, but certainly a despondent and contemplative Thornton.

 

 

 

Train Station 1

Margaret Hale on the southbound train. John Thornton on the northbound train. My heart began to beat faster…

Train Station 2

The contrast here, this Thornton, with cravat off and a soft gaze… compared to the sinister and even violent man from the first episode: Is It Any Wonder I Was Captivated by this chaRActer, this actor?

Never having read Gaskell’s novel, I remember thinking at this point, with so little time left in the program, that this particular period drama must have no happy ending. I was prepared for heartbreak. Then, the train station…

 

 

 

 

Kiss 1Naturally, no post chock-full of celebration for Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North and South would be complete without remarking upon The Train Station Kiss. Excuse me while I ovulate.

The legendary kiss to end all kisses. Such lovely music. Such restrained reverence in his eyes and in his touch.

 

 

 

Kiss 2So tender, his lips. Such a captivating jaw line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kiss 3And don’t even get me started on the simple elegance of his hand.

 

 

 

 

And there you have it. Gorgeous, passionate, sinister, furious, smoldering, heartsick, tender, loving John Thornton. Is it any wonder that North and South is the proverbial “gateway drug” for so many in the fandom?

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He Had Me at “Stephens!”

You could say I have Thornton on the brain today. It’s a welcome relief. Ever since London, I have had a massive John Proctor problem. I was so affected by The Crucible experience that until just a couple of weeks ago, I was unable to concentrate on any works of fiction, whether audiobook or written, no matter how much I wanted to. Some audible releases I’d been waiting months for came out, but I just couldn’t pay attention long enough to get into them. I had several unfinished novels on my Kindle, abandoned so I could read and re-read The Crucible, hearing each distinct character voice so clearly in my head. It wasn’t until The Armitage Authors Network came online, and Kelbel75 posted about her FanFic Gateway that I decided enough was enough, so I searched my Kindle cloud and found A Heart For Milton by Trudy Brasure, which I purchased months ago in the midst of my North and South preoccupation, but hadn’t read yet. (Does anyone else have a hopelessly long list of audiobook and digital book files in the cloud? I can’t imagine myself ever getting through my own library. Especially now that I’m so preoccupied all the time…)

So I’ve started A Heart For Milton and I’m only about 15% into the story, but I’ve been transported back to the beloved setting. I love how Trudy Brasure has captured the essence of John Thornton’s ways of speech, because my brain just fills in Richard’s gorgeous voice in every dialogue. This has really gotten me off the John Proctor fixation track, for which I am profoundly grateful. Much as I love him, I needed a break from Salem and from Proctor’s passionately hopeless heroics.

Thornton

The curious lovablility of this sequence! [Screencaps borrowed from Flixchatter and from Servetus]

Yesterday, Servetus posted a pic of the moment I like to think of as “my moment”- the moment when Richard Armitage first not only came onto my radar, but overwhelmed me with his singular combination of freakishly gorgeous appearance and magnetically compelling performance… that magical moment when he roared “Stephens! Put that pipe out!” It’s a bit of an odd moment to fall in love at first sight, but that’s pretty much exactly what occurred. Funny how I’m quite sure that had I been in Margaret Hale’s shoes at the moment, I would have been shocked and repelled by the violent outburst that follows. The men in my life, thank heavens, just don’t behave that way, and no matter how well he looked… all tall, dark and cravated… I would have been leery of becoming involved with him. Nonetheless, it was this very outburst of physicality, this shouting, chasing and pummeling, that captured my fascination with the character, and by association, the actor behind the performance. The moment he threw the horrified and indignant Margaret out of the mill, I knew it would be a love story to remember.

What would be the appeal of conquering Mr. Darcy without his initial hatefully rude condescension? Likewise, Mr. Thornton without his raw and unrefined brutality would not have been as riveting without this moment. Had the 2004 BBC production followed the Elizabeth Gaskell novel, with Margaret never once entering Marlborough Mills, thereby never setting Miss Hale and Mr. Thornton at such dramatic odds, I wonder if I would have fallen quite so hard, or become quite so fascinated, with Mr. Thornton… and later Richard.

Probably. After all, I just adore smoldering, angst, betrayal, hot male brooding and sexual tension in film and in fiction, so what followed as the plot unfolded was an inevitably escalating fascination with the character and storyline. I was amazed to discover a character, in Thornton, capable of out-Darcying Mr. Darcy himself.

What was your “moment”?

The N&S Proposal Scene, Read by Richard Armitage

Thanks to Lauren Oakenshield for taking the time to combine the audio of my favorite narrator reading an excerpt from the beautiful proposal scene in Elizabeth Gaskell’s classic novel, with the visual of my favorite actor in character! Love it =)

I read North and South only after watching the BBC production, and personally I liked both the proposal scene and the final scene in the film better than the book. I don’t think anything could improve upon the 2004 BBC adaptation in my heart and mind. It was my gateway drug into Armitage Affliction. That being said, the original text is romantic and beautiful in its own way, and listening to an Armitage narration is never a waste of time. I only wish he’d narrate the novel in its entirety. And every other book I might ever like to listen to.