Last Tango in Halifax: Season 3 Episode 2

Anne Reid

Episode 2 of Last Tango in Halifax in season 3 of this BBC series is a painful one. Pain from old wounds and betrayals still unforgiven come forth from the past to color and hurt again today. It begins mere minutes from where episode 1 ended.

Every spoiler imaginable ahead.

Alan and Gary over coffee.

Alan (Derek Jacobi) meets his son Gary (Rupert Graves). Gary is quite excited about meeting Alan. Alan tells him how much his mother reminded him of Celia – her laugh, her walk, the light in her eyes. Alan thinks Mary should have told him about the pregnancy, but she left without doing so.

Celia and Gillian walk down the street.

Celia (Anne Reid) and Gillian (Nicola Walker) take a shopping day. Actually, Gillian is keeping Celia occupied so Alan can meet Gary. Celia mentions that John (Tony Gardner) is staying at Caroline’s (Sarah Lancashire). Celia says she wouldn’t let him darken the doorstep if it was up to her.

Kate and John in class.

Kate (Nina Sosanya) goes to birthing class and John tags along. The midwife assumes he’s the father. That’s not okay with Kate!

Celia and Alan kiss

When Celia returns from shopping, Alan tells her he wants to take the big adventure trip she proposed.

Alan talks to Gillian

Alan tells Gillian that Gary wants to have a meal with all of them. Alan will have to tell Celia. Gillian says Caroline thinks Celia will react badly because of the way she was cheated on and lied to by her first husband, Kenneth.

Kate talks to Caroline

Kate’s upset about John being around. She’s upset with Caroline for letting him hang around after they begged, borrowed and stole to buy him out of the house. Caroline goes to tell him to leave but Lawrence (Louis Greatorex) is so happy to have him there she puts it off until tomorrow.

Caroline comforts Kate

Kate is frightened and nervous about the baby. What happened to Judith’s baby scared her. Caroline is reassuring and tells her everything is going to be all right. She promises to ask John to leave.

Alan and Celia talk.

Alan begins the agonizing process of explaining about Gary to Celia. He says there’s a lot about each other they don’t know. He has a skeleton in the cupboard he never knew he had. He worries she’ll think he’s like Kenneth.

Alan struggles to tell Celia

I’ve got a lad, a son I never knew I had.

Celia reacts

Celia reacts as predicted when she learns Alan had a fling while he was married. He tells her that Mary reminded him of her. He says they were together once and then Mary left.

in the kitchen late at night.

Alan and Celia stay up all night arguing. Celia gets even more upset when she realizes the shopping trip was a ruse to get her out of the way so Alan could meet Gary. She says, “This is what adultery does to people. It turns them into liars.”

Raff leaving for school

In the morning, Gillian talks to Raff (Josh Bolt) about how he and Ellie (Katherine Rose Morley) aren’t communicating. Ellie’s quit school and taken a job at the grocery where Gillian works. It upset the whole family. Gillian also tells Raff about Gary.

Alan and Celia at breakfast.

Things are tense at breakfast. Alan tries to convince Celia to come meet Gary. She’s stony and unforgiving. Alan tells her Caroline knows about Gary. This makes Celia even more angry. She asks if everybody knows about it.

Celia in the car.

Celia drives off and calls Caroline. She says she hated how everyone knew Kenneth was mucking about on her, how everyone laughed at her behind her back. She thought Alan was better than that.

Caroline on the phone

Caroline says this isn’t about Celia and she should try to step back from it. Celia is also hurt because Caroline didn’t tell her. Caroline says she thinks Alan’s a good man who is trying to do the right thing. Caroline wants Celia to see that what happened so long ago isn’t a reflection on her.

Alan wants Celia to look at the computer

Alan tells Celia he’s not Kenneth. He asks if they are friends and she says yes. He wants to show Celia what he found on the internet about Gary. Gary is a successful businessman. Celia’s not impressed.

Cheryl in her cop's uniform.

Cheryl (Rachel Leskovac) strolls into the grocery in her police garb. Cheryl heads for Gillian. There are a lot of customers around, plus Ellie and the store manager. Yep, quite a crowd.

Gillian holds the dildo and condoms, looking stunned.

Cheryl says she knows Gillian’s fooling around with Robbie (Dean Andrews). She gives Gillian a big box of condoms and – since she’s so desperate for sex – a buzzing, huge purple vibrator. Gillian cannot turn the vibrator off – she makes it vibrate louder. Her manager doesn’t take kindly to any of this. This scene was so well done and so funny. A laugh was needed in this heavy episode and Cheryl hand delivered one.

Gillian is angry.

Gillian angrily explains to Alan why she quit her job. Alan calls her a pillock. Then he shows her the internet info on Gary, and says they are going to dinner on Friday at Gary’s home.

Celia ready to go.

Celia appears, suitcase in hand. She doesn’t want to meet Gary and is going to Harrogate.

John with a toy.

John bought a gift for the baby. He’s sweet with Kate and says he knows she’s been upset about Judith. Kate softens toward him.


Everyone in Halifax argues over vibrators, condoms, and job quitting while preparing to leave for Gary’s. Robbie comes in and apologizes. He says Cheryl moved out. Gillian doesn’t want her family to realize she’s been fooling with Robbie, but they get the idea immediately.

Celia and Caroline talking.

Celia unloads all her pain about Alan, Gary and Kenneth to Caroline. In addition to all her old hurts, she’s jealous of how excited Alan is about Gary.

Gary's posh home.

When they arrive at Gary’s home, it’s a palatial estate. He’s rich. Gary’s charming. He’s full of funny stories and wants to know everything about Alan.

Caroline and Kate snuggle

Caroline wakes up on the wedding day to find that Kate hasn’t been able to sleep because she couldn’t get comfortable, had heartburn, and had to pee 19 times. Kate says, “In 3 hours time, we’ll be shackled to each other forever.”

Caroline asleep

Caroline falls back to sleep after finding a particularly comfortable spot. The thought of being shackled to Kate forever seems quite agreeable to her.

Celia won't go

When Alan arrives for the wedding, Celia announces she isn’t going. She can’t stand there smiling while Caroline marries a woman. Plus she’s spent the night thinking about where Alan and Mary had sex. She’s full of lurid imaginings. Again, Alan says, “I’m not Kenneth.” She tells him about Kenneth being out with another woman the night she gave birth to Caroline.

Caroline thanks Kate.

Kate and Caroline are dressed and ready to go. Kate’s hair looks fabulous! Caroline tells Kate how grateful she is to her, for giving her a chance, for giving her courage. Kate says, “You’re magnificent.” Caroline says, “You’re very pretty,” and they have a laugh about their snog in Caroline’s office when they first spoke those words.

Alan talks to Caroline and Kate

Alan delivers the news. There’s a problem with Celia. Caroline heads for the cottage.


Celia is adamant. She won’t go to her daughter’s wedding. Caroline reminds Celia that what’s going on with Alan is separate from her wedding. She recounts a story about when Celia didn’t come to her graduation. Her father did come. She told him, “You really don’t need to be here if she’s not here.” Caroline talks about how much she’d looked forward to that day, how gutted she was that Celia didn’t come. She says, “If you do this to me again, there’s absolutely no point in pretending we have any kind of a relationship.” Celia won’t move.

Lawrence sits down with Celia.

Lawrence finds Celia in her robe. He says he doesn’t want to go, either. Alan tries to persuade them both not to do this to Caroline. He says, “You’ll regret this. Caroline doesn’t deserve this.”

Kate, William and Caroline watching

At the wedding venue Kate, William 2.0 (Dean Smith), and Caroline watch Alan get out of the car alone. No Celia. No Lawrence.

Caroline dismisses Alan.

When Alan explains that Celia and Lawrence won’t be there, Caroline says the same words she said to her father years ago, “Well, there’s no point in you being here then, is there? She’s not here.”

Caroline and Kate walk away from Alan

Caroline turns her back on Alan. Kate looks back and mouths, “Sorry.” Alan is hurt.

Some Thoughts

First, I must mention the acting. Celia is at her worst, her most unforgiving, in this episode. Anne Reid was brilliant at playing it. Alan is so full of pain and regret for the harm he’s causing he can hardly bear it. Derek Jacobi was brilliant at playing it. Caroline is wounded once again by her mother and she strikes out at the her best ally in the Celia department – Alan. Sarah Lancashire was brilliant at playing it. Cheryl is kick ass in her scene in the grocery. Rachel Leskovac was brilliant at playing it.

Caroline and Kate are in a wonderful place. So warm and loving with each other. I found it particularly meaningful that Caroline expressed her gratitude to Kate, thanked her for the second chance, for loving her, for making her happy. Please don’t let anything come along to ruin that. I know there’s no drama in people being happy, but please, Sally Wainwright, let them have a little happiness.

Forgiveness is the theme of this episode. All kinds of unforgiven wounds fester to the surface and cause mayhem. Getting past them will be painful. Healing is painful, hard work. What comes out when these old wounds are exposed is harsh, cruel and vicious. Celia and Alan seem broken. Celia and Caroline seem broken. Even more reason to let Caroline and Kate be happy for a while.

“I’m not Kenneth.” That’s today’s mantra. It’s suitable for every conversation.

We didn’t quite get to the wedding in episode 2. It’s coming next time.

11 thoughts on “Last Tango in Halifax: Season 3 Episode 2”

  1. Nicole Schrader

    Thank you so much for your detailed summaries of S3.I have to wait till the DVD comes out,because we´ll probably never ever going to see this wonderful show on German tv and until I can finaly see the episodes I soak up every bit of information I can find about the new season.

    I´m so happy for Caroline(despite the new trouble with Celia of course) and I hope there´s going to be a Happy End for her but I have the odd feeling that something will happen to Kate or the baby or even both 🙁

    I think the relationship between her and Kate is one of the best gay relationships on the telly so far,because Sally Wainwright treats their realtionship like every other relationship.2 people are in love ,they have their ups and downs and that´s it and I think that is also the reason why also straight people are so fond of them.

    Sorry,if I don´t make any sense.My English is a bit rusty but I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed you summaries 🙂

    1. Nicole, thanks so much. Glad you find them helpful.

      I’m so worried about Kate, too. Promo photos for episode 3 show Caroline in tears and the BBC summary of the plot for episode 4 talks about Caroline having to care for the baby on her own. It’s silly to be so worried about what happens to a character on a TV show, but I really don’t want anything bad to happen to Kate. I’m almost afraid to watch episode 3 to see what happens.

      1. Oh,no.This can´t happen.Maybe she has to stay a bit longer in hospital and Caroline can already take the baby home?Yes,that must be it.

        Although I have to admit,that I´m not really a big fan of Kate…on her own.For some reason I only like her in combination with Caroline,who I only had to see once and knew that she must be gay and was madly in love with her(But on the other hand I always want my fav tv characters to be gay 😀 )
        Don´t know exactly what I don´t like about Kate.Maybe that she wanted too much too soon and didn´t really respect Caroline´s situation?

      2. I’m hoping it’s just a tease to mislead us before we really see the episode. Fingers crossed.

        My attitude toward Kate is that she really hasn’t been developed as a character. She’s only there for Caroline to have her story arc. I wish we knew more about her – her family, her backstory. If the lead were male instead of female, Kate would only be there to show that the hero isn’t gay. In this story, Kate just seems to be there to show that the heroine IS gay. I like Kate (and Nina Sosanya) and wish she were more well developed.

      3. Nicole Schrader

        I´ve never seen it that way and thinking about it you´re absolutely right.
        Doesn´t Kate´s mum show up this season?Hopefully we get to know her much better and she finally gets her own personality and is not only a “canvas” for Caroline.

  2. “Caroline and Kate are in a wonderful place.” I was saying the same thing to myself and it was giving me a very bad feeling. An ominous almost sinking feeling in the stomach. Kate and Caroline are TOO happy was what I was thinking. And I’ve found with a lot of television characters is when someone is TOO happy, disaster and catastrophe are around the corner. Unfortunately, it came to fruition.

  3. Jane Hutchinson

    I saw this episode for the first time on Sunday. Sadly, the network deleted the part of the scene about the vibrator. Just saw the bag of condoms. I missed the funny part.

    I’m having a hard time grasping Alan’s infidelity. I know it adds excitement to the show. But it seems so out of character for Alan to have had a fling. I think Alan is a bit like Kenneth and Celia is right. Adultery leads to telling lies or at least deceiving others. Robbie and Gillian certainly deceived Cheryl. But I expect that from Gillian. She’s done her share of deceiving and lying. And I expected that from John, when he deceived Caroline in their marriage. And I expected that of Paul in Season 1, when he deceived his fiance. I don’t know how Alan could have forgotten the fling, especially when Celia shared about Kenneth’s flings. That would have been the time for Alan to share that he had a fling too. I think Celia will forgive Alan for not telling her sooner. I wonder if Alan has any other skeletons in his closet. Sounds like he had an ok marriage to Eileen but nothing great. I suspected that all along. (He said he married Eileen on the rebound.)

    It was painful to watch Celia and Alan not attend Caroline’s wedding. I make allowances for Lawrence. BTW, is the other son, William, played by a new actor in this episode? He looks different from previous seasons.

  4. Jane Hutchinson

    PS. I like that Gillian now has ammunition against Alan. Alan always chided Gillian about her sexual escapades, somewhat of a hypocrite. Now Gillian can chide Alan about his sexual escapade.

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