Emily asks Betty to help her design a new dress. The Dickinson family is surprised by an unexpected guest.
Emily’s gaze turns inward. Her old friend Death greets her, with a new lease on life, and a new fit. He convinces her she needs the same. “You’ve got work to do Miss Dickinson. Gonna need a uniform.”
When Betty stops by later, Emily requests her expertise in helping make a new dress, one she can write in and live in.
Meanwhile, Austin and Sue wheel their baby over to the Dickinson household, ready to make peace. But Austin has a request. He tells of the Shaw family, who tried to sell their houseworker into slavery. When the Shaw sons’ protested they were imprisoned. Austin wants Edward to help them and “give a new meaning to the name Dickinson”.
Edward, however, has now accepted that his legacy lies not in his name but his family, but seeing his son passionate about something other than upsetting the family, he agrees. As the family gathers to name the baby, they are interrupted by a handsome stranger.
Higginson seeks Emily and is awed to be in her house. “Tell me, when did you first realize she was a genius?” he asks to a dumbstruck house. Sue rallies the family to entertain him, aware of his importance to Emily. “He could one day be responsible for everyone’s legacy,” she says.
Meanwhile, Emily is pitching to Betty the perfect dress (all white, buttons on the front, corset-less and with pockets) when Maggie announces Higginson’s presence. Emily suddenly becomes anxious, afraid to meet him in person. “I’m not ready to meet him yet…I’ve not written enough.” She panics that she’s not the great poet he thinks she is. She’s not ready to become the legendary Emily Dickinson.
Looking over at the sketch of the dress, she has an epiphany: “even if I can’t change the world, I’m still going to write. Even if no-one ever cares that there was a person named Emily Dickinson who sat in this little room day after day and wrote things down just because she felt them.” After all these years of anxiety, she’s at peace. She doesn’t have to write poems for Sue, for Higginson, for the world, or for anyone. She is a writer because she writes, and that is enough.
Downstairs, the family patiently waits for a poet who no longer needs approval. They share details about her with Austin referring to Emily as “the crazy one,” right before Lavinia calls that into question with a demonstration of her performance art. Austin and Sue then announce that they are naming their baby after Edward.
Once Betty is done with the dress, she comes down, where Higginson hears her name and runs out to tell her of Henry’s bravery. The fact that he lives is enough to bring Betty to tears, and that’s before he brings out the bundle of letters.
Alas, it seems like Emily will never come down. She has no need to leave her room, sitting, writing, and watering her plants as the light changes and the seasons pass. Finally, she ends up on a beach, where the mermaids (of her poem) call for her. “Wait for me, I’m coming,” and she rows towards her destiny, or to happiness.
- Hailee Steinfeld as Emily Dickinson
- Jane Krakowski as Mrs. Dickinson
- Toby Huss as Edward Dickinson
- Anna Baryshnikov as Lavinia Dickinson
- Ella Hunt as Sue Gilbert
- Adrian Enscoe as Austin Dickinson
- Amanda Warren as Betty
- Chinaza Uche as Henry
- Erin Gerasimovich as Anna
- Neville Lee as Clara
- Mirella Cardoso as Mermaid #1
- Imani Pearl Williams as Mermaid #2
- Chinara Stroman as Mermaid #3
- Kathy Liu as Mermaid #4
- Natalie Von Kirk as Mermaid #5
- The episode's title and themes are based on "This was a Poet — It is That" poem #448, which written by Emily Dickinson.
- On December 16, 2021, Kevin Yee revealed that his last appearance on the series as Toshiaki was in Grief is a Mouse, the series penultimate episode. Thus he would not be appearing in the series finale.
- Also on this day, Samuel Farnsworth, who has portrayed George Gould since Season 1 also revealed that the ninth episode of season 3 was also the last appearance of his character, and that he wouldn't be appearing in this episode either.
- In addition, Smith revealed in a tweet that in the Emisue Love Scene, they shot this scene with music playing (but it was not not the song 'Ivy' by Taylor Swift"; instead another song was selected that they hoped would work the way "Your Best American Girl" did for the volcano scene in Season 1's I have never seen ‘Volcanoes’). However, there was no sound recorded from Hailee or Ella on the day, just that song.
- Moreover on December 17, 2021, Smith also asked fans of the show on this day if they would want to make Emily’s birthday (which is December 10th) like an annual holiday of sorts. A way to celebrate would be to binge the whole show beginning to end and reminisce, make new connections, etc.🖤
- On December 19, 2021, it was revealed that a grave of Niijima Jo in Kyoto,Japan exists and that he is likely the inspiration for Toshiaki on Dickinson. A fan of the show joked if Smith would make a Toshiaki spinoff with Kevin Yee as a lead.
- On December 21, 2021, in a 1-on-1 interview with Collider, executive producer Smith talked about how she always knew that Dickinson would be a three-season series, how she wanted to reimagine and re-frame Dickinson’s origin story as America’s greatest female poet, the impact of the Civil War on her work, the intense emotional journey she went on while making the show, making her directorial debut with the series finale, her collaborative relationship with Steinfeld, and how much the final moments were directly inspired by the poetry.
- on December 22, 2021, a sneak peek with Death and Emily was released ahead of the series finale titled: This was a Poet -.
- Also on this day, Ella Hunt and Adrian Blake Enscoe broke down Sue and Austin's 'non-traditional' relationship and the beauty in Sue's messiness.
- On December 23, 2021, someone asked if it was truly in the script or if Anna Baryshnikov just frll and they left it in?💀 in the series finale. To which Anna replied she had indeed fallen.
- On December 25, 2021, Smith was asked what her top three episodes from the entire series were. She quickly responded that it was too hard, so instead she wen onto highlight one from each season such as: the circus episode in Season 1 Episode 7:We lose - because we win🎪, the opera episode in Season 2, Episode 6:Split the Lark 🕊 and the time travel episode in Season 3, Episode 7: The Future never spoke.🌪 She also said that an honorable mention goes to every ep with a dance party in it 👯♀️.
- On December 26, 2021, Smith mentioned that she's not going to stop being proud of the fact that she effectively redistributed wealth from the biggest corporation on Earth (i.e. Apple TV+) to a very small museum in the home of a historically neglected American female poet.
- This was a Poet - Apple.com
- Maggie appearing in Series finale Confirmation Tweet - Twitter
- This was a Poet — It is That - American Poems
- Kevin Yee Dec. 16, 2021 Tweet - Twitter
- Samuel Farnsworth Dec. 16, 2021 Tweet - Twitter
- Smith Dec. 17, 2021 Tweet - Twitter
- Alena Smith Dec. 17, 2021 Tweet - Twitter
- Alana Smith Dec. 19, 2021 Tweet - Twitter
- 'Dickinson' Showrunner Alena Smith on Her Three-Season Plan, Directing the Finale, and Finding the Right Ending Scene - Collider
- Sneak Peek: Wiz Khalifa's Timely Advice in Dickinson Series Finale - E News Online
- Dickinson's Sue & Austin Find the Joy in Their 'Non-Traditional' Relationship - CBR
- Anna Baryshnikov Dec. 23, 2021 Tweet - Twitter
- Alena Smith Dec. 25, 2021 Tweet - Twitter
- Alena Smith Dec. 26, 2021 Tweet - Twitter