Recap: Last Tango in Halifax (S1, E2)

last tango in halifax

We begin back in the cafe where the two daughters went last week to retrieve their parents. They are shocked when the newly engaged Celia and Alan (Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi) announce to their children that they are getting married. Instead of congratulations for the announcement, Gillian (Nicola Walker) rushes off to the loo and Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) claims to be too busy to stay and chat.

Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi
Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi in Last Tango in Halifax

Our old young lovers agree to talk tomorrow as the children rush them off. They look at each other with so much affection, it’s simply lovely.

In the car, Celia tries to convince her daughter Caroline that she’s serious. Caroline blows her off by saying she doesn’t have time to think about it. It’s clear that she doesn’t think a marriage will actually happen.

Gillian asks her dad what the hell on earth he thinks he’s doing. He tries to explain about how her mother tricked him by not delivering Celia’s note all those years ago, but he doesn’t quite get it out.

Next day at school Kate (Nina Sosanya) tells Caroline that she told another teacher named Michael about her relationship with Caroline. Kate said all she told was they kissed a couple of times.

Celia calls Alan and says she wants to come over. She asks Caroline’s errant husband John (Tony Gardner) for a ride to rent a car. He asks her to put in a good word for him with Caroline. She doesn’t say she’ll help, but instead asks what he thinks about her news.

Nicola Walker
Nicola Walker as Gillian

At the farm, Gillian tells her father that she thinks she should tell her son Raff (Josh Bolt) that his father actually committed suicide because Raff’s uncle keeps raising the issue of the father’s death.

John calls Caroline at school to see if she will agree to go out to dinner with him. He says he finds the relationship between Celia and Alan life-affirming. Caroline still continues to blow it off. I have to say I agree with John on this one. When he hangs up the phone he finds his girlfriend Judith (Ronni Ancona) at the door. That can’t be good.

At the school, Michael comes into Caroline’s office. He tries to intimidate and threaten her with his knowledge about her and Kate. Her response is, “Sod off, you little prick. Do you really think you can humiliate me? Go for it, genius, spread a few rumors. It will say more about you than it ever will about me. This is 2012. I was single. She’s single. We’re adults. We had a fling. The ladies have landed. Quite a long time ago in fact. Get over it.”

Go, Caroline!

At Caroline’s house, John and Judith are discussing their breakup. Judith wants him back. They start drinking. That can’t be good, either.

At the farm Alan drags a box of photos down from the attic. He and Gillian look through some of them. There are photos of her mother, and her mother with both Alan and Celia. Once again he muffs the chance to explain to her that the only reason he ended up with her mother instead of Celia was because her mother tricked him. Celia arrives in her rented car. In Alan’s eyes it’s like the sun just came out. They talk about where they might live after they are married. His little house, which is currently rented. At the farm. In her cottage at Caroline’s. Three choices, no decision.

Gillian is using rocks to rebuild a wall when her bad boy lover Paul (Sacha Dhawan) drives up. Just as he asks if anyone is at her house, Celia and Alan drive by on their way to lunch. Well, no one’s at the house. Quickie time for Gillian and Paul.

On the drive into town, Celia suggests to Alan that they sell both their small cars and buy one car – something they’ve always fancied. Alan may be dazzled when he learns exactly what Celia’s always fancied.

John and Caroline’s eldest son William (Edward Ashley) arrives home from school to find John and Judith drunk. In his eyes, his dad is now officially a wanker. Gotta say I agree with him, even though John technically is innocent of any wrong doing on this particular occasion. Just as Judith heads out the door, Caroline phones and says yes to going out to dinner with John sometime. I love the way the writers framed these two phone calls about a dinner date for the reunited married folks with Judith’s arrival and departure.

In an auto showroom, Celia and Alan are looking at a red Lexus convertible. You read that right. A red convertible. While they look at the car, they exchange stories about their kids. Celia doesn’t understand why Caroline let John come back. Alan reveals his son-in-law’s suicide. They have trouble getting the salesman to take them seriously and let them drive the car. Ageism is rampant even in the UK.

At the farm, Gillian and Paul have finished their little love fest, and she tells him to bugger off. After he goes, she looks in the mirror with one of those what the hell am I doing looks.

The car salesman is finally talking deal with our favorite lovers. It will cost them about 10,000 (euros? pounds?) each. Turns out Celia drives a hard bargain.

They decide to have an engagement party on Saturday at the farm.

The minute Gillian gets her dad alone again, she brings up the question of telling Raff about the suicide. Alan agrees that it needs to be done. He tells Gillian he thinks it’s wise, one of the kindest things I’ve ever heard a parent say to a child in a television show.

When Gillian does tell Raff, he asks several questions. She tries to reassure him. She talks about how everyone has demons, a line of thought that seems to apply to her more than her dead husband. She mentions that Raff’s dad had a wonderful side and a dark side, and assures him that he doesn’t have a dark side like that. He’s like her dad – kind, thoughtful, balanced.

Celia arrives back home and tells Caroline about the party on Saturday at Alan’s house. They talk a while, giving Celia a chance to explain her feelings and how she doesn’t see her behavior as “rushing.”

This episode is full of deep conversations between parents and their children.

On Saturday morning, as they prepare to go to the engagement party, Caroline almost tells John about Kate, then changes her mind and talks about being snotty to Gillian instead. Then she tells him he can start sleeping in the bedroom with her again.

No, Caroline!

The engagement party starts off well, conversation is flowing. Alan stands up to give a speech and finally tells the tale of the deception that lead to him and Celia losing touch. Gillian looks gobsmacked when she realizes the implications of the story. As they toast the happy couple, the new Lexus is delivered. Everyone rushes outside to see it. The two daughters finally share a moment of bonding as they look at each other in dismay over their parents car buying behavior.

During the excitement over the new car, the police drive up to take Raff away because he assaulted Paul. Seems Paul was talking about his mother in a way Raff didn’t like. Gillian doesn’t have time to explain to Raff and the police that she’s been shagging Paul. During the arrest, William tells his mom about Judith being at their house. Finally convinced that John is a wanker, Caroline leaves him standing in the middle of the road at the farm and tells him he can’t come back. Feeling guilty about Kate is one thing, but a wanker is a wanker is a wanker. John is yelling at Caroline that she can’t leave him there when Celia walks up and slaps him.

Go, Celia!

As if Gillian hasn’t had enough to deal with already, we can look forward to learning in episode 3 whether or not she will claim her relationship with Paul or continue to try to hide him from her family. I’m also eager to find out where Celia and Alan are going to live.

What did you think of episode 2? What do you think will happen next?

All images ©BBC.

4 thoughts on “Recap: Last Tango in Halifax (S1, E2)”

  1. What a completely enthralling series! Caroline is one of my favorite characters (even though she almost blew it with letting John come back). I have a growing crush on her. My other favorite character is Caroline’s son William.

    My least favorite character is John. What a mess that guy is. Not even Judith deserves him!

    Celia and Alan are about as down to earth and precious as you can get. I love them.

  2. I was so excited to come across your blog and read your recaps! I’m so smitten with this show! Gillian seems like a total mess when it comes to dealing with men!

    I love Caroline, she’s smart and sassy and I love her relationship she has with her boys, you can tell they close

Share your comments