Dickinson season 3 boss breaks down key Billy Eichner scene in episode 4

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Photo credit: Apple
Photo credit: Apple

Dickinson is coming to an end with season 3, but not before introducing viewers to major new characters and exploring important themes.

American Horror Story star Billy Eichner was introduced as Walt Whitman in the latest episode of the third and final season, which was released on Apple TV+ on November 12.

In it, he took Emily Dickins0n (Hailee Steinfeld, who is soon to star in Marvel's Disney+ series Hawkeye) to a queer bar.

Digital Spy caught up exclusively with Dickinson showrunner Alena Smith, who spoke about the importance of seeing this historical queer setting celebrated on screen.

Photo credit: Apple
Photo credit: Apple

"It was just one of the most delightful, little – or big – examples of the kind of project that Dickinson has always been up to," she said, "which is to take the 1860s and hold them up as an unexpected mirror for where we are today.

"Things that people see in the show, that they say, 'That's absurd, that couldn't possibly be real,' are in fact deeply based in the truth."

Talking about the real-world inspiration for the scene, Smith explained how "there was a bar called Pfaff's Beer Cellar that Walt Whitman would frequent. It was on the Bowery in New York City. Whitman, who was working as a nurse in a Civil War field hospital, would, you know, do his rounds in the day, and then go to Pfaff's to blow off steam at night.

"The bar was absolutely a queer space. The waiters would wear aprons with no clothes underneath their gown," she laughed. "We got to show one of those in the show."

Photo credit: Apple
Photo credit: Apple

Adding on from Emily's development in the first two seasons, the third instalment of the period drama is "really pushing Emily more to define her sexuality," said Smith.

"In previous seasons, we were all interested in the idea that: 'Oh, in the 1850s, they didn't even have the same words and categories that we have for sexuality. So she's fluid, and it's sort of like how kids today might be a bit fluid or not willing to define their gender.

"But I think in season three, we were all like: 'OK, yeah, but no. It's time for Emily Dickinson to own her queerness, to own her relationship with Sue, to say, "I'm gay," or something as close to as we could get her to say it.'

"So for Whitman to take her to an explicitly gay space, and show her that this is a world that exists, that she deserves to be a part of, is really important and part of, I think, a core theme of Emily's journey in season three."

Dickinson is available to stream on Apple TV+ with new episodes being added every week on Friday.

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