Recap: Last Tango in Halifax S1, E5

last tango in halifax

It’s the morning after everyone was up all night looking for Alan (Derek Jacobi) and Celia (Anne Reid) and after Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) announced to her husband John (Tony Gardner) that she’s been seeing someone.

Caroline parks at her school. She’s on the phone to Kate (Nina Sosanya), all chirpy voiced, asking her to come to her office.

Nina Sosanya and Sarah Lancashire as Kate and Caroline
Passionate kisses for Kate and Caroline

In her office, she grabs Kate, pushes her up against a door, kisses her passionately and pulls up her shirt to reach under and have a feel. She steps back, smiling, and says, “I told John. It felt good.”

Kate asks Caroline if she wants to come round tonight. Caroline says, “Yep.” She studies Kate’s face and announces, “You’re very pretty.” Kate answers, “You’re magnificent.” I have to agree with both of them about it. Caroline whispers something we cannot hear in Kate’s ear, but we can assume it was naughty indeed. They almost kiss again but an assistant comes in with a cup of tea. The assistant talks about the day’s calendar, offers lunch, and heads off.

Sarah Lancashire and Nina Sosanya
Sarah Lancashire and Nina Sosanya

Caroline collapses in tears with the same passionate energy she had just devoted to kissing, and moans, “I thought she was dead last night. There was this one moment when I thought that’s it. And I thought how unfair that was, to find that one person again after all these years and then die.”

She realizes she sitting on the floor. Kate suggests maybe she should be home resting. Caroline asks if Kate will be home by 4 o’clock and Kate says, “I can be.”

At the farm, Alan is watching Celia sleep. She’s on the couch. He perched on the other end, enjoying the sight of her. He brings in tea and the rattling of the china wakes her. She says, “We keep having adventures!” He reminds her that their adventures have been her idea. They talk about the “distinct presence” in the old Hall last night. Celia says, “We’re back in the land of the living now.”

He starts to tell her something about when Gillian’s husband died, but Paul (Sacha Dhawan) comes crashing down the stairs and through the door. He writhes on the floor in pain muttering about keeping his fluids up as Alan explains who he is.

A knock on the door and it’s Alan’s two sidekicks (Paul Copley and Roy Barraclough) which leads Alan to ask, “Is it Tuesday?” The fellas apparently have a regular Tuesday thing.

Celia is on the phone to Caroline while outside a pub with Alan and the fellas. She asks Caroline to bring her fresh knickers, her toothbrush, and a nightie so she can stay in Halifax a few days. Caroline doesn’t want to do that but asks to call her later. Celia tries to make her feel guilty, apparently an old and well worn game with them, then asks her what she wants for her birthday tomorrow. Caroline manages to get off the phone by promising to call her later.  In the pub, Paul is there, trying to drink a pint. Guess they didn’t want to leave him alone at the farm. Alan and his sidekicks discuss Gillian’s birthday tomorrow. Well, well, well, isn’t that interesting. Caroline and Gillian have the same birthday. Alan wants to buy Gillian a used Land Rover and knows where he can find one. He wants to go have a look at it.

Sidekick number one lists his qualifications to be Alan’s best man. Alan won’t commit.

Celia comes in to join them. She says to Paul, “I hope you’re not taking pain killers and drinking alcohol.” He asks her to get him a straw. Cheeky.

Gillian on two phones
Gillian on two phones

Gillian (Nicola Walker) arrives at the house to find it empty. She calls her dad but his phone is on the table. She picks it up and talks to herself on two phones for a funny moment. Then she calls Caroline who explains they’re at a pub. Caroline asks Gillian if she can get her mom a few things – she doesn’t explain why, but we know it will leave her free to go to Kate’s. Gillian can do.

stuffed in the Land Rover
stuffed in the Land Rover

Out in a muddy field, Alan is trying out the used Land Rover. Paul and the two sidekicks are stuffed in the back. Gillian calls and says they are to take Paul to his mother’s house and she asks what size knickers to buy. Celia pretends she can’t hear – no way she’ll discuss knickers in front of these blokes – and hangs up. Sidekick number two announces that the clutch needs to be replaced. And – they are stuck in the mud.

giggling about knickers
giggling about knickers

Caroline rings Kate’s doorbell, looking incredibly eager. Just as they are about to start kissing again, Gillian calls asking about knicker sizes for Caroline’s mum. This gives Kate the giggles and we get to see Sarah Lancashire show off her physical comedy skills.

Alan buys a new clutch, and sidekick number two makes his pitch to be best man. Alan doesn’t commit.

Alan and Celia hide the Land Rover in the barn and go inside. He makes tea and tells Celia his story. When Gillian’s husband Eddie put his head in the log splitter, he didn’t die immediately. Gillian stood and watched him die without calling an ambulance. After about an hour, Alan arrived. Gillian told him what had happened and that she had called the police. Alan feels guilty and responsible for being a party to something that wasn’t right. He doesn’t blame Gillian, he just feels guilty about his part. Celia does not blame him or Gillian and reminds Alan about wanting to kill her own husband. Alan says sometimes he feels as if Eddie’s ghost is in the barn and that’s why the Hall bothered him.

jiving
jiving

They talk about jiving in the old days, and move on to happier thoughts. When Gillian gets back, she hears music and finds them dancing in the living room, much to her delight. (Derek Jocobi is a damn good dancer, by the way.) Gillian snaps their picture and texts it to Caroline. They stop dancing when they see Gillian. Alan is winded, but not having any chest pains.

Gillian says Robbie is bringing Raff back home tonight. She’s invited Robbie (Dean Andrews) to dinner and seems excited about it. She’s bought food and wine and wants to celebrate. She tells her dad Robbie apologized last night.

Caroline breezes in at home – her afternoon with Kate must have gone well, she’s very happy. John wants to know where she’s been. He wants to know who it is. Caroline wants to know if Judith is pretty – he says no. He says he thought they were going to try to make it work for the boys. He says he can’t stay there if she’s going to sleep around. She says, well maybe we should get divorced. She says if she’s going to be with someone she wants to have them at the house where she can have them any time she’d like. Caroline says it’s like a fog has lifted from her, that she’s happy for the first time in years. John says, “You’re not moving him in here.” Caroline says, “It’s not a he.”

It's not a he.
It’s not a he.

Tony Gardner’s rendition of processing this announcement is absolutely perfect! Caroline is going on and on about something related to the boys but I can’t hear it for laughing so hard at the expressions rolling across Tony Gardners’ face. He’s gobsmacked.

Gillian phones and the two women discover that they share the same birthday. They both turn 46 tomorrow. They’re twins!

John, in the garden, calls Judith (Ronni Ancona).

Gillian and Robbie
Gillian and Robbie

Robbie and Gillian are saying goodnight. He asks her out for a meal and she says yes. He kisses her, a move she rather likes. She asks him to stay. He refuses.

William (Edward Ashley) wakes Caroline on the couch and says she should go to bed. He asks her if she’s seeing someone and if it’s Kate McKenzie. She bumbles around a bit and he says, “She’s nice, she’s interesting, she’s kind. I want you to be happy.”

land rover gift
land rover gift

Next morning Alan presents the Land Rover – and the clutch – to Gillian. She’ll have to install the clutch herself.

A car roars up and dumps Paul on the ground. His mother won’t have him. Maybe because he keeps calling her a bitch. Gillian walks away and leaves him in sprawled in the dirt.

At Judith’s, John is talking to Judith about how Caroline couldn’t be a lesbian. “Aren’t you quaint?” says Judith. She wants to know what it’s like to get hot and steamy with a woman. Then she points out that the woman he’s been living with for 18 years has probably been faking it every single time. Caroline calls and tells him she’s cooking for her “friend” and the boys that night for her birthday. She wants him to join them if he can behave like an adult. He finally clicks on the fact that he knows who the woman must be – the woman Caroline had in the garden.

where to wed
deciding where to wed

Celia and Alan, still searching for a wedding venue, are looking at an impersonal public space. They talk about a chapel at Caroline’s school. That might be the answer.

Gillian is installing the clutch when John calls. He says she gives such good advice he wants to come talk to her. She tells him okay.

cooking
Caroline cooking

Caroline is cooking, drinking wine, and so happy she’s almost dancing. She answers the door to find Kate. William wants Kate to come play Scrabble with him and Lawrence (Louis Greatorex) before dinner.

stealing kisses
stealing kisses

Kate agrees to Scrabble, but steals a few kisses before she goes. Caroline says William knows about them and is being brilliant about it.

On the farm, John, Robbie, Paul and Raff are lined up like ducks in the living room. Gillian is pacing the floor in her bedroom. Alan and Celia arrive from their venue search. Alan again brings up the “manslaughter” he confessed earlier. She again reassures him. They go in laden with boxes and sacks from shopping.

Shut up, John
Shut up, John

Gillian tries to warn Celia about John and what’s going on. She can’t quite get it out about Caroline and Kate. John, who naturally is drunk, manages to announce that Caroline is a lesbian in the most offensive way. And Celia is indeed offended – both by the thought that her daughter is a lesbian and by John’s behavior. She gets very upset. Alan and Robbie try to shut John’s ranting down. Celia says it’s wicked to say things like that. She wants to go home.

Caroline’s dinner with Kate and the boys is going well when Judith appears at the door. She’s drunk and looking for John. She’s dropped a wine bottle on the sidewalk. She talks about how she always wanted to be with a woman. She keels over backwards and when Caroline goes to help her Judith is covered with blood from the broken glass. Caroline takes her to the hospital.

Lawrence
Lawrence realizes about Kate

Caroline’s at the hospital and Kate is back at Caroline’s with the boys. She’s talking with Lawrence. He knows his mother is seeing someone but doesn’t know who it is for sure. Gillian calls and wants him to tell his mother that Celia is on her way home and very upset about Caroline’s relationship with . . . with . . . with . . . Gillian can’t say it, but Lawrence says, “Kate.” Gillian says, yes, Kate. Everyone important to Caroline now knows about Kate.

Robbie is leaving for the evening. He says good night and kisses Gillian again. She goes into the living room and sits down to have a drink with John.  John says he only came over because he wanted to see her again. He keeps thinking about her.

It’s late, Alan is tired. He’s driving Celia back home. He pulls the car over to rest his eyes for a few minutes. Celia is upset, won’t look at him. We got a glimpse at Celia’s conservative politics when she and Alan were taking politics a couple of days ago in the church. Her conservatism may cause trouble between her and her daughter when she gets home. Gillian got a new car for her birthday. Caroline’s about to get an earful for hers.

Gillian considers John
Gillian considers John

Gillian and John have a few drinks. Gillian tells John she can’t decide if he’s an evil git. He says he’s not horrible, just disappointingly human.  She says, “Do you want to go upstairs,” and rubs his thigh. Paul is out of commission, Robbie’s being honorable. John it is. Will he be honorable, too? We don’t find out in this episode.

25 thoughts on “Recap: Last Tango in Halifax S1, E5”

  1. I’m a bit confused. Gillian implies, to Caroline, that they are both 46 years old. At the pub, Paul asks Alan how old Gillian is. Alan says 40 years old. Did I misinterpret something?

    Well, I now realize that Gillian is the “randy” type. Maybe, she acts out because of her guilt for not calling for the ambulance sooner, after her husband’s suicide attempt, what Alan refers to as “manslaughter”? Alan says he feels guilt for what we call “obstruction of justice”, not reporting to the authorities that Gillian did not call for an ambulance sooner. But, I would feel no guilt if I protected my daughter. I have a feeling this “manslaughter” thing will pop up, again, perhaps in the second season of Last Tango In Halifax.

    It seems apparent that Robbie,Paul and John all have a “thing” for Gillian. I must be the only one who likes Paul. Yes, he currently is a parasite to Gillian. But, I foresee that he will be Gillian’s support in times to come and they may form a symbiotic relationship. I loved how he laughed in the car, when Alan’s friends were trying to unload a “lemon” of a car on Alan. I think Paul’s laughing was Paul’s voice of reason. Perhaps, he does have Gillian’s best interests in mind.

  2. Ok. In the pub, Alan tells Paul that Gillian is “40 somewhat”. So, I guess the somewhat can be interpreted to mean that Gillian is somewhat over 40. I guess Alan wanted to portray Gillian as being younger than she was. Woman like their vanity. And, I think that Alan was being extra protective of Gillian, since Gillian was having sex with a 22 year old Paul, which was what Alan considered to be extremely poor judgment. Well, perhaps I am reading too much into it. Anyway, Alan and the others have an issue with a cougar relationship, not just because the relationship was with trashy Paul. If Celia has her conservative views, ditto for Alan and the rest of the clan. Personally, I like the idea of a cougar relationship for Gillian. Even though a repentant Paul is still trashy in calling his mother “bitch”, because his mom lied and told Paul she was bring him to his grandma’s house, he must also be a stud in bed and we know how much Gillian likes a “roll in the hay.”

    1. @Jane, years ago they use to say that women were at a sexual peak in their 40s. Don’t know if that’s still the prevailing wisdom, but Caroline and Gillian are both acting it out in their own ways here, aren’t they?

      1. Agree. They are both acting out. Caroline seems to be getting somewhere,relationship-wise, with Kate. Maybe, Gillian will too, with Robbie??, unless he gets wind of the “manslaughter”(?) and he is abusive like his brother was?

  3. Yes, such a wonderful array of characters. And, as you may have guessed, I am caught up with all the Paul “hate”. And, as undeserved as it may seem, I will come to his rescue as Gillian has.

    Paul was boastful of his sexual relationship with Gillian, even approaching her at her job and at her farm. He had a big mouth, especially telling Gillian’s vulnerable son, Raffie, about it. And, Paul was a jerk for bad-mouthing Raffie to Gillian, after Raffie beat him. Paul caused a riff between Gillian and Raffie. He was a jerk for having sex behind his fiance’s back. And, Paul paid his price for his boastfulness and adultery. His fiance’s brother found out about Paul’s infidelity and has some thugs beat Paul to a pulp. And, Paul publicly called his mom “bitch”, even though he was “calling the kettle black”. He was also calling the kettle black when he laughed about the lemon car. Paul’s demise is his big mouth and crudeness. But, we see a change in Paul. Paul shares his vulnerability with Gillian. He said he believed he would be torched by the thugs when the thugs told him he would be. Paul asks Gillian if she is ok, as Gillian is worrying about her missing dad. Gillian strokes Paul’s shoulder in appreciation of his caring about her. So, there is a change in Paul. His savage beating causes him to grow up. And, he helps in locating Alan and Celia. Eventually Raffie and Robbie reconcile with Gillian. So all is not lost.

    There is much to be said about the “apple not falling far from the tree”. Gillian is making poor choices in her choice of men. We see Alan making a poor choice by buying Gillian a lemon of a car. Alan says he’s had a relationship with his dead wife that he can’t complain about. But, one is left wondering by his choice of words, if he had an unfortunate, bland life with his wife, a wife who didn’t deliver to him a letter from Celia. Is the apple not falling far from the tree if Paul is a bitch like his mother and makes some poor choices? And, will Robbie be like his brother, physically and emotionally abusive to women? We already know how Celia’s choice of husband affected Caroline and Caroline’s choice of husband. We all make some poor choices. And, Last Tango In Halifax is riddled with them. Is it really fair to concentrate on Paul’s obvious poor choices and self inflicted suffering because he is the dangerously outspoken, public one? Something to ponder, as we see the less obvious, poor choices and suffering, self-inflicted or not, of the less outspoken characters.

  4. I forgot to mention that Robbie looked up to his older brother, Gillian’s dead husband. He was in denial of the reality of his brother’s darker side. Gillian tries to convince herself and her dad that her mom was a wonderful woman, by telling him her mom was a wonderful woman. He agrees partly to console Gillian, as she is starting to doubt how wonderful her mom really was. She asks her dad why he didn’t buy her mom a fancy car. He says her mom wasn’t into cars (wasn’t into adventures the way Celia is). So, Gillian is wrestling with realities about her mom and dad and about her parent’s marriage. And, Gillian can’t help but compare her dead mother to Celia.

  5. I got a second viewing of episode 5. I really think the “manslaughter” issue will come back to haunt Alan and Gillian and may cause forced separations? And,a rift between Robbie/Raffie and Gillian once again? I just think the writers put a lot of emphasis on the subject in episode 5, and are adding some necessary excitement for Series #2. I don’t know how the manslaughter thing will leak out. But, I imagine Alan could leak it out while under sedation and police officer, Robbie, who is Eddie’s loving brother, overhears? Here goes my wild imagination. I also think the lesbian thing may threaten Caroline’s and Kate’s positions at the school where they work? Perhaps more attempts at blackmail from co-workers? I see Alan’s 2 friends affected by Alan’s choice of best man, who very well may be Raffie, to keep the peace? Perhaps, spiteful John causes problems for Caroline and Kate, including fighting for custody of the children? Perhaps Paul will be beaten again and/or ostracized in public situations? Or, perhaps, Paul and Gillian will have sex, again? Judith or Gillian get pregnant? Judith, or a heartbroken Raffie, attempting suicide? Another heart attack for Alan or illness for Celia or any of the other characters? Have I left any character out? Left any possible scenario out? Well,looking forward to series #2 to see if any of my imagination comes into fruition.

  6. Comedy Evolving: There is a comedy evolving between Paul and Gillian. His being spit out of his mom’s car, onto Gillian’s driveway and her pretending to shoot him. His falling down the stairs, telling Alan that Gillian forgot to give him his liquids. His laughing in the car, about the “lemon” that Alan is about to buy Gillian. There is a comedy evolving between Paul and Gillian. Looking forward to the continuing comedy.

  7. Sure, there is a valid point in that Gillian’s Land Rover is not a fancy car but think for a minute or two. Life on a farm is a working life. That Land Rover will be useful and last longer than a sedan, and putting in a clutch is part of the deal. Tractors and equipment break all the time, given the rough terrain and variety of situations that come up. It is reasonable that Alan give her a “found” bargain vehicle and that she has to put something into the deal, too: the clutch. As bad as firing her vehicle is, Gillian’s own actions in her gossipy country life have greatly contributed to the angers the locals.

    At first I found the story too dark, but now I am howling with delight at our disappointing human selves in each episode. Glad to hear there is a season 2.

    1. @Jeanne, One of the things I most appreciate about Gillian is her self-sufficient attitude. The clutch is no big deal to her. (Although I feel certain that the shots of Nicola Walker bending over the engine bear no resemblance to what a real clutch installation would look like.)

      1. I have to agree with many of your points regarding the Land Rover. Still, we see that Gillian can’t seem to adequately repair her Land Rover and she’s flustered. Perhaps that’s why she has the Manual for Land Rovers and we see Paul reading it. Gillian is human, after all, and may or may not have the expertise to repair the clutch and make other repairs. And, yes, I think she does have a self-sufficient attitude and wants the world, including us, to know how self-sufficient she is. Alan had to know how stubborn she is and that she would probably refuse any help for the clutch repair and any other repairs. Yet, Alan knew that Gillian would not accept a brand new Rover, even though he may have been able to afford it (as he could afford to split the cost of a $50,000, without extras, Lexus sports convertible) and told her it was found on the side of a road. I think the Land Rover was a purchase from his friends. But, was is found on the side of a road? I am not clear on that. Is a car dumped because it only needs a clutch repair? It was a win-win transaction between friends. His friends seemed to really want to unload the Land Rover. Usually, when you buy a used car, you should have a car repair shop take a look at it to find out if other repairs are needed. Perhaps an inspection was made. But, I doubt it, as Alan may not have wanted to insult his friends. It was a trusting, quick transaction. That’s why business transactions with friends or family are discouraged. It can be a recipe for lack of forethought. But, perhaps this transaction was flawless and there was only the need for a clutch repair. Paul laughed. After all, it wasn’t his money. He’s thinking the car is a lemon and wondering what other repairs lie in wait. He’s thinking that Alan is easygoing, maybe too easygoing. Alan probably ignored his laugh. But, if he didn’t hear it, was it because he was giddy (or gullible?)? Just my opinion.

  8. I watched the scene where Paul was laughing in the Land Rover. Paul laughed after Alan’s friend said that, other than the clutch situation, the Rover was in near perfect condition. Yep, Alan and Celia heard the comment and Paul’s laugh. Celia was in true form. She had the look of someone who thought the car was distasteful. Alan had a bewildered look, like he had his own reservations that, other than the clutch, the car was in near perfect condition. I both hate and love to be nit-picking, but, used cars that already have a metal to metal screeching, broken clutch, are seldom “near perfect” in other ways. That Rover has driven around the block a few too many times.

    Now, if Gillian is so handy with some auto repairs, what is she doing working as a clerk in a store, part-time, a job she probably loathes? She seems to prefer working outdoors. She could buy some other repair manuals and do a few repairs for her neighbors and pull in more money than she gets as a clerk.

  9. I wonder, again, if the writers want the viewers to think about details about the plot. I think the writers are great and want to lull the viewers into complacency, same as they want the characters lulled into complacency. I know this story is fiction. But, even though the notion that the Land Rover was an abandoned vehicle, perhaps Alan’s ruse to placate Gillian, did not give intelligent Gillian immediate pause, it would have certainly given police officer, Robbie, immediate pause. It seems the writers decided to add the element of an abandoned Land Rover, ruse or otherwise, into the script to give the story a rustic appeal. But, the writers also added the element of a character who, as a police officer, enforces the law. It may be that opposites attract. Gillian may not be thinking about legal ramifications, while Robbie is trained otherwise.

  10. I suggested that Gillian have her own part-time car repair business. I said that partly in sarcasm and partly to make a point. She is so self sufficient in so many ways, with an exception of her part-time job as a store clerk. Her boss is always breathing down her neck or she’s fearful he’s always watching her. I have a hard time watching those scenes. Makes me shudder. Surely she can make the money she makes as a clerk in a more self-sufficient way, with no fear of a boss breathing down her neck.

  11. How convenient it is for Gillian to acquire or think she’s acquired an easy bargain, an abandoned Rover. Last Tango is fictitious after all. Why burden her or the viewer with reality? Well, sorry to burden anyone. Here is the reality, if UK motor vehicle law is anything similar to USA law. The following is anything but easy and is required to take ownership of an abandoned vehicle in the USA. Hopefully UK requirements are more lax:

    In the USA, Alan’s friend checked the Rover’s VIN number against a list of stolen vehicles, to insure that the “almost perfect” Rover was not stolen. If stolen, the police seize the Rover. If not stolen, Alan’s friend went to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The Registry used the VIN number to contact the last registered owner. (In the UK, the tax disc number is also used.) The registered owner or bank can reclaim the vehicle. Or, the owner or bank can sell the Rover to Alan’s friend, and, Alan’s friend has the Title. If the last registered owner is not found, after reasonable time and notice, Alan’s friend was required to have a lien sale, open to the public. The highest bidder secures a Title and owns the Rover. So, it is assumed that Alan’s friend was the highest bidder and he transferred the Title to Alan or Gillian, so that the Rover could be registered. Again, hoping UK law is more lax. Now, if the Rover is truly an abandoned car or Gillian thinks the Rover is truly an abandoned car, and, if she doesn’t question whether Alan’s friend has taken the required steps to receive and transfer Title of the Rover, “Stop trying to fix that clutch, Gillian!”

      1. Thanks for clearing that up for me, Virginia. Obviously, I had a hard time believing it was abandoned. I’m sure Gillian did too. Just didn’t make any sense to me. I don’t always catch the wording on the program. I never understood Shakespeare. Part of it is the British slang. Part of it is just the way the British talk. Part of it is because I need to take bathroom breaks. Ha. But, “Old Ain’t Dead”, as you say! LOL

  12. I apologize if I offended anyone by my comments. I really do enjoy Last Tango in Halifax. And, obviously it has had a great impact on me. I think the writing is very good and I am not surprised it has been renewed for a 3rd season. I am watching The Paradise and there are some characters that will probably not show any vulnerability and whom I will never like or accept. But, I can’t name any characters on Halifax who do not show vulnerability and whom I cannot like or accept. John has learned that his wife is a lesbian. In real life I have witnessed that his reaction is similar to my friend’s reaction. Judith shows her vulnerability and talks to Caroline and expresses her acceptance of lesbianism. Paul becomes likable, even comedic, and shows his vulnerability. Although Gillian shows me the ways in which she is self-sufficient, I also see that she has feelings of inadequacy and low-self esteem and insufficiency. She seems reckless in her sex life, not unlike people with low self-esteem. The Paradise has its black and white. But, Last Tango in Halifax has shades of grey. That’s my opinion.

  13. Please Please stop saying writers. There is only one writer of LAST TANGO IN HALIFAX and that’s Sally Wainwright. The one thing you will find in most British Dramas as well as comedies we use maybe 2 writers at most. Hence and I’m trying not to say our products are better than yours but because we don’t normally have a whole collection of writers on each programme most of them are more cohesive.

Share your comments