Episode 5 of Last Tango in Halifax begins in Harrogate where the Elliots are packing a car with William’s (Edward Ashley) things as he sets off for Oxford.
A for sale sign is outside the driveway. John (Tony Gardner) and Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) take a moment to share a rancorous discussion about their divorce papers as John carries out William’s luggage.
Everyone comes outside to see William off, including Celia (Anne Reid) and Alan (Derek Jacobi) who are making tea in the cottage. Hugs and handshakes and Lawrence’s (Louis Greatorex), “Finally we get rid of him,” and William is off with John driving.
Caroline looks torn as her eldest drives away from the nest to begin college. Celia follows her down the driveway as the car disappears and wraps her in a hug. “Big day,” Celia says.
They talk about mundane things for a moment. Celia says she and Alan are going to Ripponden to help with the baby. She says, “It’s a shame that bungalow fell through.”
Caroline asks about Celia’s wedding plans. Celia says they are on hold because of Alan’s brother Ted in New Zealand. They can’t plan a date around all of them who want to come from there.
Celia wants to know if there have been any inquiries about the house. Caroline says not this week.
Caroline walks into the kitchen and stands there, utterly alone. Beautiful image, even though it’s full of pain. This kitchen, with its big window, has been a wonderful frame for some lovely shots, but this one is exceptional.
At the farm Ellie (Katherine Rose Morley) hands off the baby, dirty nappy and all, to Raff (Josh Bolt). He passes the baby to Gillian (Nicola Walker) for burping and a diaper change.
Everyone calls the baby Calamity. Gillian says, “Calamity, is there no end to your shining wealth of talents,” in regard to her dirty nappy. In spite of everything that’s wrong in Gillian’s life, and there’s plenty wrong, little Emily Jane makes her happy. Perhaps she sees a bit of redemption in her grandchild’s eyes.
Ellie has moved in at the farm, with cash coming from her mother to help out. Raff says he, Ellie and Calamity are eating at Robbie’s that night. Cheryl is cooking. (Cheryl? Who is Cheryl?)
The two young people leave for school and Gillian is alone with the baby.
Kate (Nina Sosanya) enters Caroline’s office. She sits down across the desk from Caroline and tells her she’s pregnant. She’s past 12 weeks now and is cautiously thinking about the future. She asks for arrangements to be made for her to work part time after the baby comes. Caroline asks for time to work out the logistics.
As Kate is leaving, Caroline says, “Congratulation.” Kate smiles and says, “Thank you,” but Caroline cannot look at her.
As soon as Kate closes the door, Caroline begins to cry.
Gillian loads a trailer with sheep as Alan and Celia arrive. She tells them the baby is with Harry (Paul Copley) down at the wharf. Celia goes inside to use the bathroom. Gillian tells Alan the relatives in New Zealand keep Skyping about a date to come to the wedding. Alan says Celia won’t set a date, but his story isn’t like Celia’s on this topic. He says it’s because of Celia’s sister, Muriel.
At the wharf, Harry has a boat where he plans to live. He’s going to install a stove, a satellite dish, and a drinks cabinet.
He says losing Maurice made him want to seize the day. He wants to take them for a spin and Alan is ready to jump aboard. Celia grabs Alan’s coattails and won’t let him go. She tells Harry he’s a dozy old sod. I’m not sure what that means, but I don’t think it’s a compliment.
Alan and Celia have dinner at the farm with Gillian. Gillian tells them Robbie (Dean Andrews) has a new girlfriend named Cheryl. She’s a cop like Robbie, blonde, gorgeous and 15 years younger than him. Celia talks about John being back with Judith like a bad habit.
Gillian says, “Celia, tell me about your sister. I didn’t know you had a sister. Shame the wedding plans have got bogged down because of her.”
Celia says it’s because of Ted. No, says Gillian. There’s no problem with Ted coming from New Zealand. You set a date, they turn up. Celia isn’t thrilled about her daughter-in-law calling her bluff.
Caroline and Lawrence are having a quiet dinner. He asks if he can move in with his dad. Caroline thinks this is a bad idea, but Lawrence says at least his dad isn’t boring. Before they can finish talking about Lawrence’s idea, Gillian calls.
Gillian tells Caroline that the wedding is bogged down. Caroline says, yeah because of Ted. No says Gillian, it’s because of Muriel. She wants to move it along for her dad’s sake.
Caroline says she’s not surprised. Muriel and her mom are chalk and cheese. Gillian asks Caroline to ring Muriel so they can get things moving. Caroline says it will be complicated.
Gillian goes into the living room where Celia and Alan are playing Trivial Pursuit. Celia says, “Sherlock Holmes, the Beatles, Shakespeare,” before Alan even reads the question because that’s the answer to everything.
Gillian suggests she and Caroline organize the wedding. They can check out venues, make up an invite list. Gillian says Celia can cross anyone out. Celia agrees just as her phone rings. It’s Muriel (Gemma Jones). Celia answers with false cheer.
Celia speaks with apparent warmth to Muriel, but it looks forced. Muriel is enthusiastic about Alan Buttershaw and how wonderful everything is. She asks when the wedding is. Celia says she and Alan were going to pop down to tell her all about it. That’s news to Alan.
Meanwhile Caroline calls back and tells Gillian that Muriel didn’t even know about the wedding. She says she will have to face Armageddon with Celia because of letting Muriel know. Gillian tells Caroline that she offered to organize the wedding. Caroline hesitates but Gillian convinces her to help.
Alone in their bedroom later, Celia complains about Muriel finding out. Alan says if you don’t want her at the wedding, we won’t invite her. Celia says why wouldn’t she want her there. Alan says, “It’s an impression you’ve given.”
Celia has a long list of old resentments about Muriel, which she airs to Alan.
In Harrogate, John arrives. He’s supposed to be taking Lawrence for the weekend.
John says, “Just so you’re aware. Judith’s pregnant.” Caroline says, “How? Is it yours? Does she want it?” He stumbles and stutters a lot, and says things may be a little bit fraught and it isn’t a good weekend to take Lawrence. Lawrence gets in the car and won’t be moved.
Caroline goes to the farm. She arrives just as Robbie and his new girlfriend Cheryl (Rachel Leskovac) are leaving with Raff, Ellie and the baby.
Caroline endears herself to Gillian by pronouncing Cheryl annoying. Caroline wants to take Gillian to lunch.
They pull into the same hotel where Caroline took Kate, but they are there to consider it as a possible venue for the wedding. They sit down for drinks and Caroline tells Gillian that Muriel stole a boy named Frank from her mom when they were younger. She married him. That’s two women who stole men from Celia. Ouch. And Celia does hold tight to her resentments.
A wedding planner gives them brochures and offers to take them round to look at the venue after lunch.
At Muriel’s, Celia and Alan conduct a conversation in the car, as they are prone to do. Celia doesn’t want her sister to know that her marriage was unhappy. She doesn’t want her sister to know that Caroline plays on the girl’s team. Both Alan and I find Muriel perfectly acceptable, but every word poor Muriel utters irritates Celia.
Over tea, Muriel thinks Celia must be proud of William, wants to know what Alan’s daughter does, wants to know about Caroline and John and is full of questions. When she leaves to make more tea Celia says, “I don’t know how much more of this I can take.”
The wedding planner shows Caroline and Gillian around, talks about deals, offers them champagne. They’ve already been drinking wine at lunch.
Judith (Ronni Ancona) tries to work as John and Lawrence watch TV in her tiny flat. She can’t concentrate and goes out. Lawrence thinks she’s too old to be pregnant. John follows Judith out the door, ostensibly because she shouldn’t be drinking.
The conversation at Muriel’s moved to the garden, where they talk about Harry. Alan says he and Harry share a great grandchild, which makes Muriel ask about Raff still being in school and irritates Celia even more.
Caroline calls Celia to explain that she thinks Celia would love the hotel as a venue. The only available date is December 24. As Caroline is talking to her mother, Gillian realizes that the waiters and the wedding planner think that she and Caroline are the ones getting married. Celia asks Caroline to email photos as Gillian goes into a contagious giggling fit.
“They think you and I are getting married,” Gillian giggles. She acts coquettish with her hair, and says, “I’m going to finish with you if you aren’t careful.” Caroline continues the conversation with her mum by punctuating it with laughter, and can hardly say goodbye to her mother before she and Gillian burst out in loud guffaws. Another toast with champagne seems in order.
By nightfall, Gillian and Caroline must take a cab to the farm because they are both too drunk to drive.
Lawrence calls his mom and asks to be picked up because his dad is gone. He says, “I”m sorry I said you were boring.” Caroline’s forgotten her phone at the hotel bar so she doesn’t get his message.
At the farm, Gillian and Caroline flop on the couch side by side. Gillian asks what happened with Kate. Caroline says, “I booked two separate rooms for our romantic getaway.”
“You did not,” says Gillian.
Caroline says she’s tried to apologize but Kate won’t listen. “I really blew it. I only realize now how lovely it was. How precious. Now I’m in this box with bad written on it. But I’m not bad, just arrogant . . . inept . . . selfish . . . repressed . . . emotionally crippled.”
“What about you and Robbie?” Caroline asks. Gillian sits up, goes for more liquor.
Celia and Alan study the emailed photos of the hotel. Alan also looks at the photos on Muriel’s bedroom wall, including ones of Kenneth and Frank. He says Muriel seems fond of Celia, even though Celia isn’t fond of her. Celia drags out even more resentments about her sister. Alan has a more mature point of view. In a stroke of brilliance, he tells Celia that Muriel is very plain compared with her and hasn’t made him laugh even once.
Judith and John arrive back at her flat in the midst of a drunken argument. Lawrence is not there.
In Halifax, Gillian tells Caroline about going out with Robbie early on. She says she’s always been fond of him. But she says it will never work with Robbie.
“I’ve never told anyone this,” Gillian says.
“Don’t tell me something you’re gonna regret.”
“I want to tell. I . . . I murdered him. Eddie. The only proper family Robbie ever had. I murdered him.”
Gillian talks about her marriage to Eddie. He beat her, pinned her down and burned her with cigarettes. She says she’s shed blood in every room of this house. He knocked her teeth out. He humiliated her in ways she won’t name. Caroline listens without speaking, but her face says volumes. Gillian thinks her Dad and Robbie know there was more to it than what she told the police.
Nicola Walker is stunning in this scene. Stunning. In a show filled with outstanding actors and acting, this powerful scene stands out. Amazing performances from both Nicola Walker and Sarah Lancashire.
In the morning Gillian wakes up on a couch in her living room. Caroline is asleep on the other. Gillian runs to the kitchen and throws up.
She turns to look at Caroline with terror on her face as she remembers what she confessed the night before.
The precipitating moment setting off the story of Last Tango in Halifax was the reunion of Celia and Alan. Alan leaving the farm set off a chain of external events for Gillian, leading directly to last night’s confession. Caroline’s journey, on the other hand, is internal. It began before Celia and Alan even found each other. Caroline and Gillian have been yin and yang every step of the way.
Yet, here they are, because of their parents, telling each other things they’ve never said to anyone before.