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Series / Apple Tree Yard

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"Before I met you, I was a civilised woman."
Dr. Yvonne Carmichael

Apple Tree Yard is a 2017 British thriller Mini Series, based on the novel of the same name by Louise Doughty. Told in four parts, the series revolves around Dr Yvonne Carmichael (Emily Watson), a 40-something scientist who has grown dissatisfied with her monotonous life and dull, failing marriage. Then, she meets Mark Costley (Ben Chaplin), a handsome, charismatic and mysterious man whilst giving a presentation at the House of Commons. They share an instant attraction, which leads into a passionate affair. However, when a series of shocking events shatter Yvonne’s world, she finds herself questioning whether she ever truly knew her lover at all.


This series contains examples of:

  • Ambiguous Disorder: Mark Costley. His entire defence in the murder trial is based around him having a personality disorder that diminished his responsibility, an expert witness suggests he has borderline personality disorder and in the end it’s revealed he took Yvonne literally when she jokingly told him she wanted him to kill George. He also has a habit of lying, is obviously violent and has a thing for sex in public places.
  • Asshole Victim: George Selway after he's fatally beaten by Mark, considering he’s an unrepentant rapist who continued terrorising his victim for weeks afterward. The plot is more concerned with how Yvonne is affected by the murder.
  • Berserk Button:
    • When the legal advisor the Carmichaels consult asks why Yvonne didn’t try to fight back against her rapist, Gary grabs a knife, holds it to his throat and then proceeds to give him a lecture on how the flight-fight-freeze response works in life-threatening situations.
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    • Whilst at a dinner party, Yvonne flips out at the hostess when she starts Victim-Blaming a young woman who was gang-raped in a recent case they heard about. Yvonne is more than justified, seeing as she herself was recently raped.
  • Betty and Veronica: Gender-flipped version, with Gary as the Betty and Mark as the Veronica for Yvonne. Gary is the dull, mild-mannered college professor she's been married to for decades and while he's not unkind to her, their relationship resembles roommates more than anything. Mark is the charming, mysterious Secret Service agent who sweeps her off her feet. Mark turns out to be a seriously unstable womanizer and throws Yvonne under the bus when his murder trial isn't going in his favor. Gary fully supports Yvonne throughout the whole ordeal, vehemently defends her and stands by her even after learning she had an affair with Mark.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: George Selway. He seems to be a pleasant enough guy, if not slightly annoying...and turns out to be a sadistic rapist.
  • Bittersweet Ending: George is dead and cannot hurt anyone, least of all Yvonne, anymore. Yvonne gets a suspended sentence for perjury, but is found not guilty of murder/manslaughter. Her relationship with Gary is shaky, but possibly salvageable, and she realises that Mark may indeed have some kind of personality disorder after all.
  • Blatant Lies: Every time Yvonne and Mark claim to be Just Friends. It severely backfires on Yvonne in the fourth episode.
  • Broken Bird: Yvonne, after she’s raped and then arrested for her rapist’s murder.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Mark once broke a man’s jaw in a fight after he chatted his wife up. He also doesn’t seem too pleased to see Yvonne and Gary smiling at each other in the courtroom; moments later, he summons his lawyer and reveals his affair with Yvonne to her, though it’s unclear if he did it purely from jealousy.
  • Dead Sparks: Yvonne and Gary’s marriage, resulting in her having an affair. He too later admits to cheating on her, citing the fact they “never have sex”.
  • Deer in the Headlights: Yvonne is so shocked and terrified when George attacks her, she completely freezes up. Her husband later lampshades that this can be a natural response to such a situation, although it’s pointed out that some people will question as to whether it was really rape because she didn’t fight back.
  • Forceful Kiss: George does this to Yvonne, shortly before raping her.
  • Heroic BSoD: Yvonne for half of the second episode, after being raped.
  • Hot for Teacher: Rosa is more than a little obsessed with Gary. He eventually gives in out of frustration over his passionless marriage.
  • How We Got Here: The first episode opens with Yvonne being transported to court for a trial, with episodes one and two explaining why she’s there and what she’s being charged with.
  • I Am Not Pretty: Yvonne. She’s thinks she’s ‘past-it’ and at one point compares herself to a jelly-baby in appearance.
  • Insanity Defense: Mark pleads this after being charged with George’s murder. It works and, whilst not confirmed, it’s implied that at the very least he’s got some pretty abnormal ways of thinking and behaving.
  • It Meant Something to Me: In the end Yvonne tells Mark that her feelings, at least, were real. He claims his were too, though it's possible he's lying.
  • Kick the Dog: After raping Yvonne, George begins stalking and harassing her, sending her an email asking if they want to share rooms on a business trip and, after she leaves the hairdresser’s, sending her a text asking if her make-over was for him.
  • Knight Templar: A possible interpretation of Mark Costley. After his lover is raped then stalked by her attacker, he confronts him at her request to get him to leave her alone. Mark ensures that he does...permanently.
  • Love Martyr: Mark's wife seems to be this. Although he doesn't necessarily directly mistreat her, she's still with him even after he's been arrested for assault and cheated on her multiple times. During his murder trial, she blames Yvonne solely for the crime, screaming at her that she's a "bitch" who "gets everything [she] deserves". Of course, she storms out in tears after hearing sordid details of one of her husband's affairs and isn't seen at court again, so it's possibly subverted.
  • Literal-Minded: Played for Drama. It's revealed in the final scene that Mark took Yvonne literally when she jokingly told him she wanted him to kill the man who raped her.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Yvonne and Mark. Mark, as it is revealed in the trial, seems to have a fetish for this kind of thing.
  • Not Good with Rejection: When Yvonne rejects George’s advances, he hits and rapes her.
  • Rape and Revenge: Deconstructed. After Yvonne confides in her lover Mark that a co-worker raped her and is now stalking her, Mark kills him in retaliation, believing it's what Yvonne wanted. However, Yvonne is actually horrified; they both end up being charged with murder, which further traumatises her.
  • Rape as Drama: Towards the end of the first episode, Yvonne is brutally raped by her co-worker George at a party, with the aftermath of the rape forming the main plot for the rest of the series.
  • The Reveal: Mark murdered George when he confronted him, doesn't actually work for Secret Service (except in a clerical position) and has been lying to Yvonne about various aspects of his life. Also, in a final twist, it seems he actually does have some kind of personality disorder, given his behaviour and the fact he took Yvonne literally when she joked about killing George.
  • Sex Equals Love: Yvonne seems to have shades of this in regards to Mark. It's painfully deconstructed as she comes to realise she actually has no idea who Mark Costley really is, not to mention the fact she begins doubting whether he actually cares for her.
  • Stalker with a Crush / Stalker Without A Crush:
    • George begins stalking Yvonne after raping her. His intentions are not entirely clear, though it’s obvious he enjoys terrorising and messing with her.
    • Gary’s student Rosa also seems to be borderline stalking him, turning up to his house drunk one night. Her motives are romantic given her crush on Gary.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Yvonne is more or less treated quite sympathetically, especially after she is raped. Her marriage to Gary has been floundering for a while and it's revealed Gary cheated on her too. In the end they both realize they still care about their relationship and try to be honest with each other moving forward.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Mark Costley is depicted as such, with Yvonne being completely smitten after they meet.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Yvonne goes through one. First she is raped, then stalked by her rapist and then she’s arrested for his murder and has to endure a trial, with the very real risk of going to prison.
  • Wham Episode: The first episode manages to be this. It starts out as a fairly standard affair drama, then takes a much darker turn in the final minutes of the episode when Yvonne is raped by George.
  • Wham Line: In the second episode when Mark asks Yvonne about whether or not George left any physical evidence of the rape and the audience realises that it was even more brutal than what was shown in the previous episode:
    Mark: Have you got bruises anywhere[...]?
    Yvonne: I’ve got...I’ve got finger bruises on my thighs from when he...And I’ve got internal bruising. And an anal tear.
  • Would Hit a Girl: George. He hits Yvonne in the face twice, threatens to hit her again if she fights back and violently rapes her.