The final episode of season 2 of Last Tango in Halifax lurches to a grim beginning and works its way through a lot of laughs to a mostly happy season conclusion.
On the farm, the morning after her confession to Caroline (Sarah Lancashire), Gillian (Nicola Walker) prods Caroline awake.
Caroline struggles to sit up. Gillian asks immediately, before Caroline is even upright, if she is going to turn her in to the police.
They are both wrecked, hungover, puffy. They look beautiful: real and honest. They conduct a raw, open discussion of the humiliations Eddie did to Gillian. Gillian says, “If I hadn’t done it to him, Caroline, he would have done it to me.”
Celia (Anne Reid) and Alan (Derek Jacobi) spent the night at Muriel’s (Gemma Jones). They’re having breakfast when Murial suggests she’d like to do some sort of hen party for Celia the night before the wedding.
Celia and Alan tease Muriel about wanting a wild night – in Amsterdam – with strippers and lap dancers and pole dancing. Muriel says she doesn’t mind going to Amsterdam for the art galleries. Alan and Celia have a hilarious conversation at Muriel’s expense.
Caroline and Gillian move to the table – nursing their hangovers with tea – still processing Gillian’s confession. Caroline thinks Gillian told her because she needed to tell someone.
Caroline asks if Gillian wants her to turn her in. “No. No.” Gillian says, “Now I’ve buggered everything up.”
Caroline says, “I’m not going to turn you in.”
Celia and Alan drive away from Muriel’s. In spite of their teasing, they like the idea of a stag night for Alan and a hen night for Celia. Celia even plans to invite Muriel.
Caroline and Gillian drive to the hotel where they left the Land Rover and Caroline’s phone the night before.
Kate (Nina Sosayna) arrives at Caroline’s house with Lawrence (Louis Greatorex) in tow. He called Kate the night before when John (Tony Gardner) disappeared on him. Kate says he left messages for his mother about where he was but refused to call John.
John offers lame excuses for why he went out, leaving Lawrence alone. The home phone rings.
Caroline shouts, “Where’s Lawrence!” John says he’s fine, minimizes the whole event and shuts the door in Kate’s face. Kate stares at the door, says, “No problem. Anytime.”
Caroline calls John an idiot. He tells her that Lawrence slept at Kate’s, an idea suggested by William.
Caroline hangs up. Before she leaves the hotel, she turns to Gillian. “I think you’re right about you and Robbie.”
“Yeah, I really like him,” Gillian answers.
“No. You said it could never be a good idea – you and him. Move on. You’re a nice person, you’re a good mother, you work hard. Something appalling happened. Move on. If I’m keeping a secret for you, you need to stay away from him. Surely you can see that.”
When Caroline reaches her home in Harrogate, John is still hanging about fixing soup for Lawrence. John tells her that Judith (Ronni Ancona) won’t get rid of the baby. Caroline says, “You’ll be divorced. You could marry her.” John says that won’t be happening.
Caroline gets cleaned up and takes flowers to Kate, to say thank you about Lawrence. Caroline asks Kate if she can come in.
She asks if Kate has a birthing partner (yes, her mum) and if Kate has anyone (no).
Caroline wanders nervously through a story approximating what she did the previous night and why she didn’t respond to Lawrence until she gets to her real point. Caroline and Kate had something really nice between them, Caroline says, and asks one more time for Kate to take her back. She promises to do better.
“No. Thank you.” Kate answers gently. From my seat, I don’t see how she can resist the painful pleading in Caroline’s eyes, but she is firm in her refusal. Kate’s breaking Caroline’s heart and mine, too.
Alan and Harry (Paul Copley) explain an elaborate plan for Alan’s stag night involving an overnight trip on Harry’s boat which will bring them to the hotel by 10 AM. Harry’s boat needs a lot of work before then.
Celia tells them that her party with Caroline, Gillian and Muriel will be paintballing. She’s not serious, but Harry wants to go to her party.
Later, Caroline and her mom are in the kitchen at Harrogate. Celia suggests maybe John could walk her down the aisle – give her away. Caroline gives all the reasons why that can’t be. She mentions all the tricks Celia has played on John over the years.
Celia has a good laugh remembering the time John snapped all the tendons in his ankle, the time she let all the air out of his tires, and some other wonderful memories which eventually prove to her that John wouldn’t be the best choice for walking her down the aisle.
Harry and Alan are in Halifax, figuring out their speeches for the wedding and what stories Harry is permitted to tell about Alan.
Gillian enters and says she wants to go to the cemetery tomorrow for her mum’s birthday.
Next day Alan and Gillian sit on a bench at the cemetery with little Calamity in a carrier. Alan admits that when his renters didn’t have enough money to buy his house, he didn’t have the heart to toss them out to put the house on the market. That’s why the deal on the bungalow fell through. Gillian thinks he’s always been too kind for his own good.
Gillian goes off to the grave of an uncle who was killed in the war. Alan has a graveside chat with his dead wife and says he hopes she approves of him getting wed again. Why didn’t he do this months ago, if it needed doing?
Like a blessing, a gust of wind blows flowers from a tree where Alan is standing. They rain around him like snow. He catches one blossom in his hand and takes it as a sign.
A montage covering several months shows us Harry and Alan working on the boat with Celia’s assistance, shows us Caroline alone and lonely, shows us Gillian alone and lonely, and finally a boat that is ready for use.
Near Christmas, Caroline learns that Kate’s gone to the hospital with some bleeding. Caroline rushes off to be with her. She finds Kate sitting alone in the waiting room. Caroline sits down beside her. They don’t touch.
Caroline assures Kate that she’s fine. She’s 20+ weeks now. However, four miscarriages would make anybody jumpy and Kate is scared. When they call Kate back she allows Caroline to go with her.
Kate clutches Caroline’s hand as they begin the ultrasound. As Caroline looks at the ultrasound readout with Kate’s hand in hers, we see a light in Caroline’s eyes for the first time in months. Kate’s fine. The baby is fine. Kate asks about sex and learns the baby is female. As Kate relaxes from her fears, she realizes she’s holding Caroline’s hand and drops it, saying, “Sorry.” Out goes the light in Caroline’s eyes.
Caroline, Lawrence, Alan and Celia have dinner in Harrogate. Alan explains that his brother Ted can’t make the wedding because he broke a leg.
Celia wants Caroline to call Kate about the wedding because she offered to play “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” for it. Caroline tells Celia to call Kate herself.
William arrives home from Oxford, with his laundry, and sits down at the table. William’s looking very grown up with a new hair cut. He has a girlfriend he wants to bring to the wedding.
Lawrence says, “Does she know you’re a puff?” and William says “I’ve been meaning to break this to you, and I know you’ll be disappointed, but I’m not gay.”
Alan, Lawrence and William whisper some secret plan when the woman are clearing the table. Ted (Timothy West) calls and Alan talks to him about the weather as Gillian sneaks him in Caroline’s door.
Alan jumps up in surprise, hugs his brother. They laugh about how surprised and happy they are that he made it. Ted hugs Celia and grabs her ass. “Always a handful!”
Alan, Ted, Harry, Raff (Josh Bolt) and Robbie (Dean Andrews) share drinks at Alan’s stag party. As they laugh at silly jokes, Alan suggests to Robbie that he and Gillian should get back together. Raff agrees.
The hen party is more elegant but just as funny. It includes Celia, Muriel, Caroline and Gillian.
I’ve been waiting for a serious scene between the formidable duo of Anne Reid and Gemma Jones. We finally get it when Caroline and Gillian go off to the restroom together.
Celia tells her sister how miserable her marriage was. Muriel knows that Celia has never forgiven her for Frank but she’s truly glad that Celia is happy now. It might be the first honest conversation Celia’s had with Muriel in years.
The wedding scenes begin with a shot of Kate’s fingers on a piano keyboard. Celia looks lovely but I don’t like what Caroline and Gillian are wearing. (Nicola Walker didn’t like the dress either.) Caroline walks her mom down the aisle.
As Alan and Celia recite their vows (which Anne Reid does with extraordinary meaning, I must say) we see everyone’s reactions to the words. Gillian looks troubled, Caroline is stealing glances at Kate, Kate is stealing glances at Caroline, Robbie’s date looks hopeful while Robbie steals glances at Gillian. Kate plays them out with a ragtime tune and the party begins.
At the party, Caroline gives a beautiful speech that reflects my thoughts about Celia and Alan’s story exactly. Harry gives a charming speech. When it’s Alan’s turn to speak, he takes the microphone and leaves the table. No one knows what he’s doing.
Alan performs a song and dance, complete with backup dancers and singers attired in kilts. The lyrics are “If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?” The song is perfect – funny and embarrassing – and the party is off to a great start.
Time to dance! Alan and Celia dance every dance. They do dance beautifully together, don’t they?
Kate comes up to Caroline and says she’s going. Kate says, “Have a nice Christmas.”
“How likely is that?” Caroline asks, then immediately regrets it. “Sorry. You . . . you have a nice Christmas, too.” Kate leaves the party.
Caroline and Gillian sit at a table, partnerless. It’s a beautiful party, but it’s passing them by. Gillian decides to cut in on Robbie for a dance. “Not Robbie,” says Caroline, but Gillian does it. A brief conversation and Robbie pulls her close.
Roberta Flack’s romantic version of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” plays and everyone snuggles in a slow dance.
Kate returns. She marches across the dance floor to stand in front of a surprised Caroline. “I got in, shut the door and turned round and came straight back. Do you want to dance?”
Their situations reversed, Caroline is the insecure one now. She wants to know if this is “forever” and Kate quips, “forever’s a mighty long time.”
The moment they’re close and touching, they kiss. A long, lingering, very public kiss. Lawrence covers his eyes, Gillian smiles, William beams, Muriel isn’t appalled, Alan is happy, and Celia groans. Caroline and Kate are oblivious to anything but each other.
There’s a beautiful exterior shot of the hotel, laced with snow early the next morning – Christmas day – and a room tour of the still snoozing guests.
Alan and Celia hold hands as they spoon.
Caroline and Kate finally shared a room at the hotel.
Cut for a beat to John and Judith, who are passed out on Judith’s couch with empty bottles littering the table in front of them.
Gillian wakes up in the hotel with Robbie and wonders what fresh hell she’s gotten herself into now.
Season 2 closes with smiles, some story lines tied up with gaily colored ribbons, and a few tempting issues to make us eager for season 3.
Bravo. Bravo to the cast and crew. Bravo to Sally Wainwright for her wonderful storytelling. Bravo!