Last Tango in Halifax: S3 E6

Caroline, Alan and Gillian beside the Jeep

The season 3 finale of Last Tango in Halifax takes place on Gillian (Nicola Walker) and Robbie’s (Dean Andrews) wedding day. The day is mainly a series of comic disasters overlaid with the faint aroma of horse shit.

There are spoilers.

Most of the episode is devoted to Gillian explaining to Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) why she cannot marry Robbie. It’s done with flashbacks. I’ll indicate the flashbacks with “Gillian tells a story about . . . .

John (Tony Gardner), who actually shaved, and Greg (Marcus Garvey) arrive at the wedding venue with little Flora as the other guests pull in to the parking lot. Why is John with Greg, and why is he carrying Flora?

$Gary (The correct pronunciation of $Gary is Mr. Nutso Moneybags.) and his family are there. $Gary’s (Rupert Graves) wife Felicity (Kate Isitt) thinks John and Greg are a gay couple with a baby. Right baby, wrong couple.

Gillian explains about reason number 1

In Halifax, Alan (Derek Jacobi) and Caroline wait impatiently for Gillian. Finally, Caroline finds her in the bathroom. She’s pacing the floor saying she can’t do it. She didn’t want a big do. It’s only because of other people that the wedding is out of her control. And because she felt guilty about $Gary.

Gillian tells a story about $Gary, who wanted to know why everyone is so upset with him. Gillian told him it’s because he humiliated Alan. Raff tells Gary he's humiliated Alan

Even Raff (Josh Bolt) told $Gary he humiliated Alan. $Gary thinks if anyone should be embarrassed, it’s him, not Alan.

Gillian told him, “Surely you can see that you pointed out to everyone who can read that he was unfaithful to his wife, my mother.” Raff says the same thing, only he changes it to “my granny.” $Gary doesn’t think that’s the way to see it, but Raff says that’s the way Alan sees it. $Gary thinks it must be Celia (Anne Reid) turning Alan against him.

Gillian makes Raff seem like a hero when he turns down $Gary’s full time job and says he’s going to college as planned.

Gary makes a lame apology

Gillian explains that $Gary went to make a rather lame apology to Alan. He claimed nobody read the Courier.

Alan gets angry with Gary

Alan was angry. He told $Gary that everyone read the Courier. $Gary blamed it on a journalist. Alan said $Gary knew damn well what he was doing. Alan said $Gary did it because he’s angry about his mum and for Alan not knowing $Gary existed. $Gary said that was rubbish and left.

Caroline convinces Gillian number 1

After hearing this story, Caroline performs her first feat of magic of the day by convincing Gillian she’s just feeling normal wedding day nerves and everything will be okay.

Robbie's looking a bit peaked

At the hotel, Robbie is feeling bad. Everyone thinks it’s a hangover, but Robbie thinks he’s coming down with the flu. We learn that $Gary is sending Robbie and Gillian to Majorca to one of his houses for their honeymoon.

Lawrence (Louis Greatorex) and Angus (Felix Johnson) take note of $Gary’s two teenaged daughters. There is interest on both sides.

In the car on the way to the hotel, we learn reason number 2 why Gillian thinks she shouldn’t marry Robbie. Gillian tells a story about an argument with Robbie.

An argument with axes

They were both holding axes. (Not a good storytelling tidbit for our Gillian.) They argued about $Gary paying for the honeymoon. Gillian wanted to be in control of her own wedding. Robbie told her to stop being a twat.

At the end of that story, Caroline stops for gas. Alan goes inside to pay. Gillian says there’s more to it than that.

Gillian's shagging in a pickup

Gillian tells a story about shagging a bloke at work in the back of his pickup. (Yes, it’s Ollie, played by Jaz Martin. Knew that was coming, didn’t we?) That was about 4 weeks ago. But only because Robbie called her a twat.

Gillian looks at Caroline

Caroline’s feat of magic number 2 is to talk Gillian out of that excuse because it was just an “old thing” and Ollie won’t kick up a fuss. Although Gillian did invite him to the wedding. Caroline tells her to move forward.

Alan talks to Celia on the phone

Celia rings Alan because they are so late. Alan says they are in Sowerby Bridge and will be there in 20 minutes. Celia wants Alan to get over being angry at $Gary.

Gillian tells Caroline as they start away from the gas station, it wasn’t just Ollie. It was John. And it was Caroline’s fault.

John? Again!

“My fault?” asked Caroline. Gillian answers, “When he thought you were shagging Greg.”

Gillian listens to John's pathetic tale

Gillian tells a story about John coming to the grocery acting pathetic. She went for a pint with him over lunch. He mounted a gigantic pity potty to talk about Greg, and about how he wanted Caroline to get back together with him, and about how he didn’t know Judith was an alcoholic.

Gillian gives John an idea. She suggests he go to Caroline’s house. When he does, he finds Greg caring for Flora.


Flora 2.0 is cute as anything, and apparently somewhere between two and six months old now, although she seems to grow exponentially the same way Emily did. Anyway, back to Gillian’s story. John shows up bearing lunch and befriends Greg. They have lunches, take Flora places, become real buddies.

Caroline discovers John with Flora

John insinuated him self into the daily routine so much that one day Caroline came home to find Greg gone and John watching Flora.

Life at home with Caroline and John

The way Gillian tells the story, John just becomes part of the family again. Caroline is planning a trip to New York to take Flora to see Ginika. The fellows talk comic books. Very homey. John’s made himself invaluable, according to Gillian.

At the end of this story, Caroline almost sideswipes another car as it comes over a hill in her lane. She jerks over to the side and avoids a collision. The back tire goes flat. By a muddy field. Next to piles of horse manure.

At the hotel, everyone makes small talk. Celia talks to Ollie without knowing who he is.

Everyone gets out of the car and makes preparations to change the tire. No one has cell reception. Caroline will do the work. Alan wanders off looking for a signal on his mobile. Caroline asks Gillian about the rest of the story about why she can’t marry Robbie on account of John.

Gillian's reason number infinity for not marrine Robbie involves John

Gillian tells the story about how poor pathetic John believes Caroline will want to marry him again. Gillian’s hurt because John just goes on about Caroline all the time. He never comes over just to see Gillian anymore. Gillian wants to talk to him about how her marrying Robbie might not be the right thing. How maybe that day when they both proposed to her, she chose the wrong person.

An attempted shagging in John's car

So Gillian shagged John in his tiny car. Or fumbled at it. But then she had to send him packing anyway. Obviously.

Caroline bends over the tire

At the end of this story Caroline is struggling with the tire. Gillian advises standing on the tire iron. Which Caroline does. The lug nut gives, but when the wrench moves, Caroline falls.

Covered in shit, and with a broken heel

When she falls, it’s straight into a pile of horse manure. (No stunt woman involved!) Not only is she covered with shite, she broke her heel. That’s when it starts to rain.

At the hotel, Robbie is drinking and looking sicker by the minute.

Felicity and Gary argue

Felicity and $Gary argue quietly. He paid Harry’s (Paul Copley) fine for wrecking his narrow boat in a lock. £46,000. Plus he paid £10,000 for the wedding. $Gary thought it might make Alan less ill disposed toward him. It did not.

Gillian, Caroline and Alan arrive. Gillian wants to run to have a wee. Caroline goes with her but one glance in the mirror and she knows her look is hopeless.

Gillian tells a story about yesterday.

Robbie calls himself a coward

Robbie told Gillian he knew Eddie used to hurt her. But he was a coward and didn’t do anything about it because Eddie was his brother. He told Gillian he was convinced, back then, that she’d hurt Eddie because he knew what she was putting up with. He’s ashamed of not helping her.

Gillian asked if she had killed Eddie, would Robbie have blamed her. He says no. But he believes she didn’t. And he says murder is murder. She’d always hoped she could tell him someday and he’d forgive her, but now she knows she never can and he never would.

Gillian and Caroline in the bathroom

At the end of that story, Caroline finally realizes the real reason Gillian is trying to find an excuse that will get her out of marrying Robbie. She killed his brother. Caroline doesn’t remind Gillian that she told her this months ago, which is remarkably tactful for Caroline.

Caroline’s final feat of magic for the day is to let Gillian talk herself into marrying Robbie on her own.

The wedding underway

The wedding begins. Robbie is sweaty as a miner at 2000 feet underground.

Wedding barf

When they get to the part where Gillian says, “in sickness and in health,” Robbie pukes in a bucket. They resume the vows. When Gillian says, “till death us do part,” Caroline looks away with one of those haunted glances she’s perfected since Kate died.

After the ceremony, Robbie looks a little better. Maybe Gillian wasn’t the only one scared half out of her/his wits.

$Gary finds Alan. He tells him Alan was right about him wanting to lash out. Alan tells him he didn’t just write her mother off. He stayed late looking through all the filing cabinets for her address.

Celia and Alan talk

After $Gary walks away, Celia tells Alan to forgive him. She says, “We’re the oldest. Shouldn’t we try to be bigger about things?”

“What, like you are with Caroline?” Alan asks. Good one, Alan!

Celia admits she’s not perfect. Then she points out $Gary’s two daughters, whom Alan has not yet met. They are taking selfies with Lawrence and Angus. Celia tells Alan that $Gary wants to upgrade their flights to first class. She loves the idea. It’s a bloody long way to Auckland.

Caroline gathers up Flora and tells Gillian she’s leaving. Caroline gives Gillian a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Gillian and Robbie will fly to Majorca that afternoon. Caroline heads for New York on Monday, the same day Celia and Alan will fly out.

Caroline talks to Kate

When Caroline is alone in the car with Flora, she begins a conversation with Kate (Nina Sosanya). She says she kept thinking about their wedding, their one day. She tells Kate that Greg’s been great. She assures Kate that she loves Flora. More every day. She says, “I wish you were here.”

Kate touches Caroline's shoulder

Kate touches Caroline’s shoulder. She says, “I’ve got to go.” They seem to look at each other in the rear-view mirror. Caroline says, “I know.” Kate vanishes. Caroline gathers her strength and looks at Flora with a tiny smile.

Alan talks to Gary

Back inside the hotel, the teenagers grab glasses of champagne and run. Alan tells $Gary they will take the upgrade and that they should all have lunch when the trip is over.

Ellie wants to marry Raff

Ellie (Katherine Rose Morley), who once called Raff daft for suggesting they get married, tells Raff they should get married. He likes the idea.

Alan and Celia drink a toast

Alan and Celia drink a toast to themselves. They kiss in a halo of light.

Some Thoughts

This felt very like a real finale. There were no obvious cliff hangers to dangle before us and make us anxious for a 4th season. Since this is one of the most popular shows in the world – not just in Britain – I cannot imagine there won’t be another series.

We did say a final goodbye to Kate. If there is a series 4, I don’t think she will be back. Makes me sad.

It would be interesting to deconstruct each wedding for its symbolism.This is the 3rd wedding on the series. Celia and Alan’s wedding was warm and wonderful and happy. Caroline and Kate’s wedding was a disjointed and heartbreaking prelude to a tragedy. Gillian and Robbie’s wedding was almost Vaudevillian. It would be interesting to deconstruct each one for its symbolism.

Did you notice how all Gillian’s stories about shagging inappropriate men happen while she’s wearing the yellow polo shirt from her new job? She needs to stop taking lunch breaks.

Finally, after 3 seasons, Nicola Walker gets to wear something nice. The wedding dress is pretty, it fits her beautifully, she looks lovely.

The relationship between Caroline and Gillian is deep. They act more like sisters all the time. Gillian’s wedding must have been hell for Caroline: all the magic feats that are required of her as Gillian’s step-sister, all the reminders of her own loss. Yet she looked at Gillian with great love as she said goodbye at the end.

What did you think of the final episode of season 3? Or of season 3 as a whole?

22 thoughts on “Last Tango in Halifax: S3 E6”

  1. One thing you left out is Caroline’s last comment to Gillian about whether to marry, “…and you can always get a divorce.” Which seems to please Caroline. I think Caroline is infatuated, at least a bit, with Gillian. Although I don’t see them becoming a couple, I think exploring this will will be a part of Season 4. I think one of the themes in Seasons 1-3 was “what is a lesbian,” and in Season 4, one theme will be how do lesbians and straight women get along without straight women being uncomfortable around gay women? I find it interesting that both Kate and Caroline were previously, and recently, married before they got together with each other. I wonder how the public sees this because in my experience, it is not that common for lesbians to have been married before– about one third of my friends who are lesbians have been married previously. However, coming out later in life seems to be a theme for this show. We know that Caroline was attracted to women as a young woman, but chose to marry instead because of social pressure, but we never found out Kate’s story. I am fascinated thinking what the general public must think about this phenomenon of women coming out later in life, and if it makes them more or less uncomfortable than lesbians who were out from an early age. I wonder why the writer chose to portray 2 women who entered a relationship after having previously been married to men, when it seems that that scenario is less common than lesbians who have not been married.

    1. I don’t have any statistics, but I do know both lesbians who have never married a man and some who did marry men and have children before divorcing and coming out. For whatever reason the last one is what Sally Wainwright chose to explore.

      I’m pretty dang old myself and I particularly love seeing women in their 40s, and a woman in her 70s, dealing with love and sex in LTIH.

      If there is a series 4, I think Caroline should explore dating women, but Sally Wainwright did say emphatically that Caroline wouldn’t be with a man or a woman in the future. That seems sad to me. Caroline is finally comfortable being out, but she won’t ever find love (or even sex) again. Boo!

      Kate was wonderful but underused. In a 6 episode series, you have so little time to tell a story.

    2. I must say that I haven’t seen ep six yet and to be quite honest I’m not really that keen on seeing it. I still haven’t gotten over(and probably never will)the killing off of the character of Kate. Also, it may be a small point but it still bugs me. Kate and Caroline never I said I love you to each other. I never understood that.

  2. Sally Wainwright did say (in the Diva interview) that Caroline wouldn’t be with a woman (or a man) in the future but I did assume that she meant in this series. I hope so anyway.

  3. I assumed the comment regarding future relationships for Caroline only referred to Series 3, as it was unknown when SW said it whether there would even be a series 4 or beyond. If there has been a RED/BBC decision to preclude all future relationships for Caroline (and I think that they do have veto power over story lines), what is the basis for that decision? “Too much gay stuff” on TV? Personally, I think Kate “was killed” to allow the public to grieve for a lesbian character and to miss C&K’s relationship, AND ALSO to allow the potential for the plot to develop future relationships for Caroline– she is the most interesting character in the show. She is a true heroine. Many of the characters in the show now are only interesting and important now because of their relationship to her (Greg, John, the boys)– the others who aren’t in her orbit (Gary, his wife, Raff and Ellie) are just not that interesting to carry the show to any extent. Even Gillian, Celia and Alan are primarily now only interesting because of their interactions with Caroline.

  4. My theory, at the time of Kate’s demise, was that by the end of series 2 the chemistry between the two actresses had blown the relationship out of intended proportion, in relation to the four main characters. So the death was to rein in its run away appeal.

    However while that may be the case I am now pretty confident that SW felt she was writing for at least an additional series and possibly more, while she was still on series 2.

    While the series initially replicated Wainwright’s mother’s story, the pleasure that a broad audience gained in seeing the live’s of a set of middle aged and older people prospectively suggested to her and the production company (and the BBC) that they had the bedrock of a longer running opportunity.

    So by series 3 they needed to broaden the appeal to pitch to a younger demographic so Gary (as well as being pretty to look at) builds the dynamic not only back to Alan but to Raff as well.

    Then (heaven forbid) there is the ‘zaniness’ (or otherwise) of Greg introduced. I see series 4 becoming more diverse as it portrays the ‘antics’ of the third generation and their dilemmas. But Greg prospectively didn’t have a function had Kate survived.

    So what I am trying to say is that what I saw as an at times delightful interpretation of four people truly working through what could be anyone’s issues in the first two series has been broadened out and dumbed down to make it ‘fun’ and faster to a broader viewing demographic. As part of that it does also concern me that a ‘normal’ (and highly admirable) same sex relationship between two higher achieving professional women was the aspect that had to be sacrificed.

    The series has certainly migrated to ‘soap’. The antics of episode 6 indicate that the depth which was part of the appeal of the first two series is prospectively a thing of the past.

    I hope this ‘rant’ makes sense but I so loved the first two series and to see it descent to what it has become was for me a terrible disappointment.

    1. This last episode was almost slapstick.

      From the limited perspective of stats on this blog, I think what you called a “‘normal’ (and highly admirable) same sex relationship between two higher achieving professional women” was actually the big draw for this series. I’m not sure how the series can maintain its numbers unless Caroline has another same sex relationship in her future.

      I truly never see anyone who arrives here after a search for Anne Reid or Derek Jacobi, and only rarely Nicola Walker.

      These are the top 7 search terms for the last 30 days:
      nina sosanya
      last tango in halifax season 3
      sarah lancashire
      nina sosanya husband
      last tango in halifax
      a wife’s nightmare movie
      sarah lancashire and nina sosanya

      Only A Wife’s Nightmare is unrelated to LTIH, and Nina Sosanya is far above all the others.

      As I said, my perspective as a blogger is very limited, but those stats say to me that RED productions may have misjudged what the interest in LTIH is about.

      1. Yes I’d totally agree Ep 6 was ‘slapstick’ only not even clever.

        Thanks for the opportunity to ‘vent’ via your site. (As an Aussie it isn’t on mainstream tellie here yet.) Very interesting to see those stats re searches (not that I really know what that means as I don’t know what the context of the searches was.)

        I adored the relationship depicted between Kate and Caroline and think that the quality aspect of LTiH was definitely chucked out for a seemingly crazy reason unless at some level they (writer, production company and/ or BBC) saw themselves threatened by the success of the depiction of that fabulous relationship.

  5. Virginia,

    The thing that bothers me the most about LTiH is that an entire episode was devoted to Alan & Celia’s wedding S1, an entire episode was devoted to Gillian and Robbie’s wedding S3 and barely 10 minutes to Caroline and Kate’s wedding.(At least that’s how it felt) There was obviously a plan from the start to end this beautiful relationship between these two professional women. I don’t understand why they would kill the “golden goose” for the series. There has obviously been ton’s of positive press and fan mail going to Sarah and Nina. Maybe not so much to the others? I think the C&K storyline was starting to eclipse all the other storylines and they had to get it back to the original premise of Alan and Celia. LTiH started out as a love story between two pensioners and was soaring on the love story of two women. I really think they made a mistake, but there is no way to raise Kate from the dead. Season 1 & 2 are my favorites and half of S3. Thanks for letting me vent. Best Regards.

    1. Paula, I think I’ve finally moved past being upset about Kate to accepting the fact that this is the way Sally Wainwright wanted her story to go. Whatever her reasons, I’m willing to stick with her for S4 and see what happens. I don’t like it much, but there it is.

  6. Jane Hutchinson

    Is there a definite that there will be a season 4? Seems there are no cliffhangers in episode 6.

    Why did Gillian invite Ollie to the wedding and reception? Seems odd. And I wonder why Celia was chatting with Ollie, if only for Sally Wainwright to get Celia to suspect, rightfully so, that Gillian and Ollie had a tryst. Gillian’s up to her own tricks, shagging Ollie and attempting to shag John while she’s engaged to Robbie. And she’s still drinking alcohol.

    Money bags Gary is still throwing his money around. His wife doesn’t approve. Paying Harry’s fine seems implausible. Paying for the wedding and a trip to Majorca. Paying for first class plane tickets. How will Gary top that in season 4? Gillian is the only one who takes Gary’s money out of guilt. I think Robbie, Harry, Celia and Alan like Gary’s money. I think they are reinforcing Gary’s throwing his money around. It’s a win-win situation.

    1. Jane, yes season 4 is definitely on. It was announced a while back. But I saw a tweet from Josh Bolt (Raff) saying they wouldn’t film until summer 2016, so Flora may be in kindergarten before we see it!

      Gillian did say she invited Ollie to the wedding before the revenge shag in the back of the truck. Sometimes the details of certain things get lost in the PBS version because they leave out bits.

      A good direction for Gary in season 4 would be to stop trying to buy his way into the family.

  7. When Caroline was changing tire what did she ask Gillian “did you check all the angles (?) When referring to john continued interest in her (caroline)?

    1. I don’t recall a line like that. She asked Gillian about shagging both Ollie and John in the last month, but Gillian dismissed the John episode as “a fumble.” (Which I don’t think would make much of an impression on Robbie if he knew about it.)

  8. Caroline and Gillian NEED to get together. It’s the only reason I keep watching the show, just waiting for the moment when they realize they are perfect for eachother. i don’t know how no one can see the chemistry, and it seems like they’ve been setting up Caroline loving her from the very beginning. Kate says something like, I can’t tell if you love Gillian to bits or think she’s a huge screw up, (huge misquote I’m sorry) but Caroline says (with love in her eyes) Both I think. She has always loved Gillian and Gillian will find that she is in love with her too. I’ve waited so long please let it happen!!!!

  9. Karen Wallace

    Maybe it’s wishful thinking on my part, but I think that Caroline and Gillian’s characters were always intended to end up in love in the end together. I know this hasn’t happened yet, but the whole progression of the dynamics between the two seems to lead in that direction. It seems to me that Gillian has been quietly infatuated with Caroline from the start, always watching her and wanting her attention. Gillian will come to find that she sleeps with men all the time because she equates sexual attention to love. Everything the two have gone through will bring them closer. I think we were thrown some crumbs to follow in the last season. One, when Judith was trying to ask Caroline on a date and Gillian pulled up in the car beside her and yells “tell her you’re going with me”–I think there was a lot of truth in that she subconsciously wants that. Then Caroline called Gillian with her brilliant idea for Gillian to sell the farm and move in with her so Caroline could have a babysitter and Gillian could farm at Caroline’s if they bought the land next door. Sounds like a great excuse to bring these two ladies into closer proximity on a daily basis to do none other than fall in love with each other, of course! The way Gillian was caressing Caroline’s arm at the wedding before Kate showed up, the way Gillian has looked at Caroline at different times over the years. From the start, they have the same birthday and Gillian says something like oh, were like sisters, but Caroline said something like ‘we’re something…” as if it were yet to be determined unknowingly. The way the both of them laughed and carried on when they checked out the wedding venue for their parents. It’s all leading to them falling in love. What better two to bring together? None, I say. They deserve each other. I doubt all the nuances of their relationship this whole time has been unintended. The writer of this wonderful series knows what she’s doing.

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