Amazon's Picnic at Hanging Rock, final episode
The final episode opens with has to be the past (if it ever happened) where Miranda and Sara are resting after swimming. Now what doesn't make any sense is that Sara's legs look about like they did when she was cutting herself in an earlier episode. There's a title that says a cattle station in January of 1900.
Sara is obviously there with Miranda. Apparently Miranda has removed her corset and her mother yells at her over that. Miranda is makes it clear that she doesn't want to go back to the school. Since Sara makes a remark about Miranda showing her mother her hands then it must take place after Lumley had canned Miranda's hands.
We see that Miranda's hands have gloves on them (possibly) and her mother hasn't asked her why she has them on?
Apparently her parents want her to get an education so she can 'marry up' to a higher status position than they have on the cattle station. (It seems to me a lot of this is done in support of Bumpher's idea that the girls that are missing actually ran away. If that were true, though, then how did Irma turn up after over a week where the girls disappeared and without any signs of injury or illness other than possible dehydration?)
Then it's time for more odd film effects and the time when men were hunting at night for the girls after they disappeared at the rock. Valange was the art teacher. The French teacher has gone to the policeman's home but he's not there.
Then there's a scene where Lumley and her brother are at his place. He acts like a complete, total ass to her. This series has more than its share of really mentally sick people. They get into an major argument (she wonders if he did something to the girls) and this results in a fire which they both die in.
Appleyard is apparently planning to flee. She is stuffing these into her briefcase. My guess is that these are some kind of bank notes. (Turn the image upside down, magnify it and one of the papers seems to say Bank on it although the bottom part of the B is either missing or something else.) She looks into her tin box and then it's back to her past.
We find out the origin of her name Appleyard. Then there's a past scene with Miranda and Marion talking to the gardener about secret routes on Hanging Rock. Then there's the scene where Miranda gives Appleyard back the tin which is marked Appleyard Soap. Obviously, then, Miranda knew that Mrs. Appleyard was a total fake.
The gardener leads her to Sara's body. In the town Bumpher arrives. The French teacher gives her Sara's briefcase and he says there's been a tragedy (the death of the Lumleys.) Then Sara's guardian shows up. Bumpher takes off for the college.
Appleyard says Sara's death was an accident and not a suicide. Bumpher and another policeman get to the college and the gardener leads them to Sara's body.
Then in yet another flashback Appleyard is angry with Sara. Sara says something about Miranda and the other girls making a vow. Sara's guardian and the French teacher also arrive at the college.
Meanwhile Appleyard has taken a carriage to the town. She talks to a guy who seems to know about her and Arthur. She says Arthur is behind the missing girls and Irma sent back to taunt her. (Remember, I'm writing this as I am watching the episode.) It turns out the guy was working with Arthur and her tells Appleyard that Arthur is dead. She's gone back to using a lower-class accent.
She's angry that she did all the running away and the faking things to run a school is Australia when the guy she was afraid of was already dead.
Then there's another past scene with Miranda and Sara. Then another past scene with Marion giving a Valentine's Day card to the teacher she likes. Then there's a mixture of scenes with present-day Appleyard going to the rock and in the past when we see the scars on Miranda's hands from the caning.
Miranda says 'We're here. At last we've escaped.' Then she adds that she can't live in-between, she'd rather be dead. Then we find out Michael had followed them way up into the rock. Miranda says something about them having to go to the very top of the rock for the vow to work.
The three girls cut their hands on purpose on thorns from a rose and then hold hands. We don't hear what the vow is, though. Sara has been watching all of this which means the ceremony must have taken place back at the school since Sara was not allowed to go on the picnic.
Back at the rock the four girls lay down to sleep. Michael has followed them all the way. He then leaves and it's back to Appleyard climbing the rock.
Miranda, Marion and Irma wake up and go further up the rock leaving a still-sleeping Edith behind. The girls take their corsets off and throw them away. The girls hear footsteps approaching.
Appleyard jumps to her death.
So, what happened? We are left with the question of just what the vow was. Here are the possibilities as I see them from the series:
1. Someone was following the girls. Perhaps Michael or someone else. They might have killed the girls and taken away their bodies or kidnapped the girls. Rather unlikely, though, as there would be all three girls opposing whoever this was and, even if the person did kill or kidnap them, how did they get them down from the top of the rock?
2. The girls had made a vow to escape and live their lives as they wished to so they went down from the rock and walked somewhere and started their lives over. Also rather unlikely as they were not carrying any money and they had gotten rid of their corsets and shoes and stockings.
The question still remains, also, of what Edith saw that caused her to scream wildly and run down back to the other girls.
So, as in the movie and the book, there is no set answer to what happened to the girls.
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