Last Tango in Halifax, Season 3, Episode 4

Caroline and Flora on a bed

This episode is about grief, about dealing with loss, about flailing for the right choice when all of the choices are wrong, and about being there for the people who need you.

There are spoilers ahead.

Episode 4 of Last Tango in Halifax starts in what seems like a good place.

Caroline dresses while Kate and the baby are on the bed

Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) is getting dressed in a black dress. Kate (Nina Sosanya) sits on the bed with the baby. They discuss the baby’s name. They agree on Flora Grace. William (Dean Smith) knocks on the door and says “The hearse is here.”

Only Caroline and the baby are in the room

That’s when we realize Caroline and the baby are alone in the room. Caroline’s been carrying on a grief-stricken conversation with a Kate who is only there in her mind. Kate did not survive being hit by a car.

Kate's funeral

Kate’s funeral is the next scene. Kate’s mum, Ginika (Michelle Hurst) is holding the baby.

Caroline cries

Caroline is crying, as she is through most of this episode. Kate’s mum is crying. Back a few rows is Greg (Marcus Garvey), the sperm donor, eying the beautiful little girl Ginika is holding.

Once again Caroline’s house fills with guests, but this time the occasion is not a joyous one.

Celia and Ginika

Celia (Anne Reid) and Ginika discuss Greg, who’s an idiot, and John (Tony Gardner), who’s an idiot. John comes over and Ginika surprises him by knowing his novels. Ginika tells Celia she likes Caroline and that Kate was very happy.

Greg talks to Caroline

Greg says he knows he’s not supposed to ask, but he wants to know about the baby. Caroline says she’s on the birth certificate as a parent. He offers to help, even though he realizes he really shouldn’t be involved and that wasn’t the deal. Caroline takes him in the kitchen and lets him hold the baby.

Caroline watches Greg with a weepy, red-eyed look.

Caroline and Gillian talk

Caroline points out Greg to Gillian (Nicola Walker). She says he’s the biological father and Ginika, the biological grandmother. She says, “And I’m not actually anything.”

The baby has colic and cries all night. Caroline says it feels like she’s crying for her mother.

Lawrence complains

Most of the people are gone. Flora is crying. Lawrence (Louis Greatorex) is complaining because the baby bothers him. He says, “It’s not even ours.” William calls him a nob. Gillian offers to take Flora outside for a stroll, so Caroline can rest a bit.

Gillian and John with the stroller

John, of course, tags along like a puppy at Gillian’s heels. She tells him she’s marrying Robbie (Dean Andrews). He turns and goes back to the house alone.

Caroline sits down with Alan (Derek Jacobi). She asks him if there are any more skeletons in the cupboard because she doesn’t think her mother could take any more. He promises there are not, except he’s realized lately that he’d settled for something he never really wanted with his first wife.


Celia comes in with tea. Celia and Alan try to make light conversation. Caroline withdraws into her grief and sees Kate standing at the window, smiling gently at her. It’s a punch to the gut that Caroline is becoming all too familiar with.

Gillian talks to Caroline

Caroline is looking at a web site for nannies when Gillian returns. Gillian tells her she’s marrying Robbie. Caroline doesn’t really have the energy to think about Gillian’s plans. She does ask how Gillian thinks she can live with someone, sleep with someone knowing she’d murdered his brother. Finally, Caroline says, “We agreed we were never going to talk about Eddie. You do what you like.”

Caroline walks Gillian out and she leaves. Caroline looks up at the night sky, at Orion, and has a moment – a brief moment – of peace. Then Flora starts to cry.

Robbie and Gillian

Robbie comes to the farm the next day. He and Gillian talk about the funeral, about how Caroline is doing. She asks how things went at the farm yesterday. Robbie wants to tell Raff they are getting married and to plan the wedding and a honeymoon. Raff (Josh Bolt) can take care of the sheep.

Raff smiles

Raff hears his name and they tell him about the engagement. He’s pleased about it.

Raff says Gary (Rupert Graves) wonders why no one has rung him lately.

Alan reads a text

Raff texts the wedding news to his Granddad. He adds that Gary wants to know why nobody’s rung him.

Caroline talks to Flora

Caroline’s on the bed with Flora. She pours out her heart to the baby. She promises to take care of her. She says, “Your mum would have been so thrilled with every tiny little bit of you.” She debates her various options about retiring, keeping up her career, getting a nanny, getting help from relatives such as her mother and John, selling the house. Flora has no answers.


Kate shows up at the foot of the bed and says a nanny was never an option.

Downstairs they worry because Caroline’s talking to herself. Lawrence is still acting like a nob. Celia decides to take Caroline a cup of tea.


Caroline and Celia talk about dying, grief, and healing. About getting on with living. Caroline wonders if it’s weird being dead. If some people linger longer than others. Caroline can’t stop imagining what Kate went through at the end, to die in such a violent way.

Celia holds Caroline

Caroline sobs in her mother’s arms for a long time. Finally she pulls away and talks to her mother about options. She asks if Celia could take shifts with the baby, help out. Celia says she’ll help as much as she can.

Caroline talks to John

Caroline asks John if he could help. He says maybe for an hour one afternoon a week. He’s useless, isn’t he? He does say he wants to get a flat nearby and spend time with Lawrence. He urges her to be realistic about the life-changing event that has happened to her.

Another imaginary conversation with Kate

Caroline drives William to the train. Unlike Lawrence, William accepts Flora as his sister. As soon as he’s out of the car, Caroline slips into another imaginary conversation with Kate.

Kate suggests ringing Greg. Caroline says, “I’m not ringing Greg.” Kate says he’s not as big a twerp as Caroline thinks. And – he’s the only person on the planet likely to feel as protective toward Flora as Caroline and Ginika do. Caroline says what about a proper nanny? Kate says “I wouldn’t speak to you. You’ve got Mary Poppins in your head. That doesn’t exist.” Caroline says, “I promise I won’t do anything that you would hate!”

the farm

In Halifax, Gillian tells Raff and Ellie that Robbie helps bring out the good in her. Ellie (Katherine Rose Morley) says Raff has gotten cocky since he’s been working for Gary. Robbie comes out and they discuss inviting Gary to the wedding. Raff thinks Gillian’s jealous of Gary.

Over dinner at the farm, Gillian says her dad’s a good man. She can’t crucify him. And she is jealous of how successful Gary is, although she won’t say it out loud.

Gillian talks to Gary

The next day, Gillian meets Gary. He talks about being so angry because no one told him the truth. He thinks his dad always loved his little brother the best. He wonders why nobody is ringing him and basically reveals he’s having a crisis of confidence. He’s angry and anxious about everything.

Ginika says goodbye to everyone

Ginika is going back to the U.S. She will be back for 2 weeks in the summer. She hugs everyone goodbye and takes one last long look at her beautiful granddaughter. Caroline gives her a big tearful hug.

Holly arrives

Up the driveway comes a chatterbox of a young woman named Holly (Cara Theobold). She was once Caroline’s student. She’s now a nanny. The agency sent her. She exclaims over the house, the Lexus, the baby’s skin, and everything in sight.

Caroline manages to get in a word and offers her tea. As Holly goes inside, Caroline, Celia and Alan stare after her in amazement. Methinks Caroline is about to do something Kate would hate.

Some Thoughts

I hate this. I’m so sorry the story went this way. I wanted Caroline and Kate to be happy, at least for a while. Many people loved them together: two lesbians, one a woman of color, being treated as normal human beings. In the midst of this glorious situation we get the kill-the-lesbian storyline. It felt for a while like these two woman would escape the kill-the-lesbian trope, but they did not.

Giving up Kate is a great loss for this series, not just for Caroline.I loved having Kate in this series. I loved her personality, although her character wasn’t well developed. I loved that she is a woman of color. I loved the way she stood up for herself. I loved how good she was for Caroline. Giving up Kate is a great loss for this series, not just for Caroline.

I’m sure Sally Wainwright will be giving interviews explaining why she chose to write this particular story, why she wanted Caroline to have to deal with grief, why Kate had to be the one to die. I can’t wait to read those interviews. In the meantime, I’m speculating that she’d written Caroline into the place she’d been heading as an out and proud lesbian. That struggle is over. A new struggle is needed.

Update: See this post for more discussion about this trope and Kate’s death as well as comments from Sally Wainwright: Another Dead Lesbian and the Question of Representation.

The thing I like about Last Tango in Halifax is that there isn’t a weekly thing that has to happen. No weekly crime to solve, no weekly medical emergency to handle. It’s just people living everyday lives. To make it dramatic, to make it interesting, those ordinary lives have to fall apart or be put back together with plausible events.

People die suddenly. That’s reality. It’s happened in my family, and probably in yours. The crushing effects of grief, the struggle to keep going, the uncertainty about how to create a new future – those things are all real. That kind of reality that makes a dramatic difference in ordinary lives.

Caroline knows Kate wouldn’t want a nanny. She’s having tearful conversations with Flora about it, but, realistically, how can she manage Flora without a nanny? Yet Holly seems like a flake. Kate would really not like her.

Kate looks so beautiful in Caroline’s memory.The imaginary conversations with Kate don’t seem odd to me. It’s common to feel that way after a loss. I think they will slow down and disappear over time, but it was nice to see Nina Sosanya in this episode. She looks so beautiful in Caroline’s memory.

Sarah Lancashire is brilliant at portraying grief. She did it for a Sally Wainwright series called Happy Valley, and she’s doing it again in this series. She must have spent days in a very sad place filming this episode.

Seeing Michelle Hurst as Kate’s mum was a lovely surprise. She was a favorite in Orange is the New Black. I’d heard she was injured in a car accident, so I’m happy to see her looking well.

Episode 4 was directed by Syd Macartney, who has not been a director on Last Tango before. Sally Wainwright worked with Syd Macartney on Scott & Bailey.

29 thoughts on “Last Tango in Halifax, Season 3, Episode 4”

    1. Sally Wainwright wants to sell us the idea that Kate had to die in order to bring mother and daughter back together again. “It was a narrative decision” (DIVAMagazine).But is this really believable? The fall out between Celia and Caroline was not convincing at all. Alan was unfaithful to his first wife, 40 odd years ago, and Celia was upset about that. OK, I get that, but given that she had prepared to attend, new hat and all, and upon hearing Caroline so eloquently and heart wrenchingly begging her to come, it would have made more sense to the viewer if Celia had made an effort. As it were she just sat there saying nothing, doing nothing. Just a lame “you will have a nice day with your friends”. It wasn’t convincing to my ears.

      But think further. The big fall out is instigated by the Allan and Gary plot. This is a sub story that came out of the blue, but with a big name actor to dazzle us with. Strangely it seems he is already on his way out again. Was the main point with this plot to make a smoke screen in front of the real purpose? That of creating the fall out and subsequently the death of Kate? Was the high profile casting of Kate’s mother also a decoy, so we wouldn’t tune in to the fact that all of series three has been arranged to kill off Kate?

      The paramount objective, I believe, was to wash Caroline clean from the lesbian “dusky negro” and her offspring. The Caroline and Kate story had become way too much for the mainstream audience to muster, a liability even. But Caroline (read Sarah L), as one of the lead characters with great popularity, was too important to the show and needed a clean slate. So out with Kate and I am also anticipating the departure of Flora Grace into the arms of biodad Greg.

      Do you think this is an overly thought-out conspiracy theory? Well I don’t say it all has to have been so deliberately or consciously planned, but in retrospect the patterns are there. As Caroline would have put it “you’re transparent”.

      Sarah and Nina gave us a brilliant lesbian representation, it has been said again and again and it’s true every time. It is, in my opinion, the best visibility act and familiarity bridging there has ever been and it was up there on prime time telly. That is something to be thankful for and cherish. It’s a shame though that it wasn’t allowed to be magnificent.

      1. “Sarah and Nina gave us a brilliant lesbian representation, it has been said again and again and it’s true every time. It is, in my opinion, the best visibility act and familiarity bridging there has ever been and it was up there on prime time telly. That is something to be thankful for and cherish.” So absolutely YES!

  1. Red Production Company
    Level Two
    Manchester M50 2NT

    This is what was posted on tumbler(
    iwanttohavethemhere)just a way to have our voices heard.
    “Maybe with enough support it will also encourage other writers and production companies to include more positive lesbian storylines.

    The idea is to fasten locks of all shapes and sizes with the names Caroline & Kate on them and perhaps black and rainbow-coloured ribbon to a centrally-located fence area outside Red Production offices at Salford near Manchester.”

  2. It’s especially sad that Nina did not choose to leave this series, but was killed off to move the story forward. What a waste of a good story! So disappointing that Kate/Caroline could not explore a married life together. They didn’t even need to be happy, just alive and dealing with what their situation required. I find all the other stories boring now without the light/sweet relief of Kate/Caroline. Hard to reconcile that a writer of Sally Wainwrights purported stature stooped to such cliches. I know the loss of Kate/Caroline has left a void in my life. They had such potential. I cling to the hope that all of this has caused others in the “biz” to recognize the talent of Nina Sosanya and that we may see her in a starring role sooner rather than later.

    1. I don’t know if you have read the comment on the interview with Sally Wainwright in Diva magazine by Ceann Eile but I do agree with it:

      Kate’s treatment by SW reminds me of Tara’s treatment by Joss Whedon and co on Buffy. In fact, Kate full stop reminds me of Tara – a poorly developed peripheral character only made round by the actress playing her and then sacrificed for plot development.

  3. Nicole Schrader

    I doubt that Kate´s death will really fix C&C´s relationship.During the next couple of months they will probably put their animosities aside and Celia will help her with little Flora(although I can´t see Celia as a doting granny for Flora) but when the time of mourness and tears is over the conflict will surface again.
    I mean why should Celia suddenly accept Caroline´s sexuality,just because her wife died?Doesn´t make any sense to me.
    And I wouldn´t be surprise if Celia suggestes Caroline to date man again because “it didn´t work out with that lesbian”.

    Totally don´t understand Lawrence´s reaction.Okay,he got bullied at school and was never a #1 fan of the relationship but in my eyes he didnt really show any sympathy for Caroline.Even when he doesn´t like the whole situation he must see how much Caroline suffers.Hope William will give him a piece of his mind.

    Guess we´ll see Greg now more often…

  4. Pingback: Another Dead Lesbian and the Question of Representation - Old Ain't Dead

  5. Let me just say that I was totally PO’d by the last part of episode 3 and the entire episode 4. Really? Really? Then I calmed down after a few days and made my peace with it. But you know what? I’m PO’d again. SMH..SMH..SMH. We(the viewer) new absolutely nothing about Kate. Where was the backstory. I feel soooo cheated. There could have been storylines regarding how Kate discovered she was a lesbian. How she told her mother.. How she and Caroline first met.. They could have had a scene with Ginika asking Celia how she felt about Kate and Caroline’s relationship. So much promise and it was all extinguished in one fell swoop. I’m such a glutton for punishment that I’ve started at the very beginning..Season 1…But I think I’ll stop after Season 2..Season 3 no longer exists. Caroline and Kate kissing on the dance floor..that’s how I’ll end it.

    1. BB, I’ve watched seasons 1 & 2 several times. But the first half of season 3 is really lovely. I’m sure I’ll end up watching season 3 several more times, too, even though I don’t like what happened to Kate.

      1. Well I’m a twit and a liar. Started Season 3 again(Thanks Youtube)Watching episode 4 right now. Tequila is numbing the pain(not good because it’s way before noon right now.Hiccup

    2. I agree. The end of season 2 was one of the most beautiful scenes I had ever seen in television. I Have already watched it about 20 times and just saw it for the first time 2 days ago.

  6. Jane Hutchinson

    I just watched this episode last night. Celia is still learning new things about Alan. She finds out that he smokes an occasional cigarette.

    I get a kick out of how quickly these actors and actresses are recycled by BBC into new roles. Cara Theobold was a kitchen maid in Downton Abbey. Nina Sosanya was in an episode of Shetland recently. It goes on and on. I’m watching The Crimson Field and two of the characters are in Downton Abbey. One has a lead role in George Gently. Rarely do I have to go down memory lane to figure out where I’ve seen that actor or actress before.

    I have no opinion regarding Kate being killed off. Having read the spoilers I was prepared for it.

    It was good to see that Gary has some insecurities. He’s flawed like everyone else in the series. He just makes a lot more money than everyone else put together.

    Looking forward to episode 5.

  7. I’m heartbroken about Kate’s death. It’s cliche’ and pedestrian. So beneath Sally Wainwright’s ability to keep a show interesting and engaging. Happy Valley was brilliant in every way. Last Tango in Halifax just died for me with Kate. I love Sarah Lancashire, but frankly I’m done with this show. So glad I didn’t buy the dvd’s. Many a sour grape got choked down with ep 4. Sad sigh.

  8. I am just coming to this series now, Feb. 2021. Knew nothing of the plot. I had just been telling my sister over the phone the day before I watched this episode, before I watched it, that it was so amazing, after 60 years, to watch not only two women in a good lesbian relationship together, but two middle aged (almost), accomplished, professional women with successful careers and a level of maturity that is often not/never afforded lesbian characters. They are not clowns, crazy, the trouble makers among all the other “lovely” things lesbians get to be in pop culture and literature, but maybe most importantly, they are not dead. I had told her how different I felt about myself watching this show with these two characters exemplifying a life I had never gotten to see growing up or even as a young adult. Then I watched this episode later that night and thought, ‘There it is. Typical.’ Have to admit, I didn’t see it coming this time because I thought I was dealing with a better more aware writer in a time or much much more acceptability.

    I read a lot of the interviews Wainwright did in the aftermath of this extremely poor, unadvised decision and the idea that she did it to move Celia closer to Caroline is just pure bad writing and laziness. A good writer and good dialogue would have found a myriad of ways to bring them closer again without the use of tragedy. I realize it is television and there aren’t unlimited amounts of time to get from A to B and British television is even more condensed than U.S. television since here our seasons and series’ are usually quite a bit longer, but if we are going to be practical about it, then why alienate a major part of the viewership for an unnecessary move? I don’t think Celia and Alan’s relationship should have been sacrificed either, the series is pretty much named for them, after all, nor do I agree that Celia and Caroline’s relationship is so “toxic” that that should have just been done away with, but dealt with in a skillful way. Just giving Caroline tragedy is easy, but inadequate as it just glosses over what came before (Celia’s persistent rigidity and homophobia) and doesn’t really deal with it.

    I also want to point out, as I had observed in many interviews and commentary, that this dead lesbian syndrome is not just a trope of contemporary television, but has persisted throughout the modern era in literature, tv, movies. Has anyone ever watched “The Children’s Hour?” Wainwright also said she genuinely did not know this was a thing. I am having a bit of trouble really believing that, but for the sake of argument, if this is true, it is just reflective of there not being lesbian screen writers on the writing staff. Had she had even one lesbian on her writing team, they would have flagged this b.s. Begs the question, if you are not that familiar with lesbian culture (someone also pointed out that these two women seemed to live in a vacuum, developing no lesbian friendships or connecting with other lesbian moms) and negative tropes, why on Earth would you not have someone on your writing staff who is?

    Honestly, I am not sure I am going to continue on with this series as much as I like the acting, particularly Sarah Lancashire, but you know, same old, same old expendable, invisible, must be punished nonsense.

    1. There have been two more seasons since. In the last one little Flora was 6 years old. Sally Wainwright has proved she can write lesbian stories with Gentleman Jack, but people are still mad at her all these years later about Kate.

      1. I know. I guess I am some proof of that. I really liked the comment you made in your blog article about it, “Another Dead Lesbian and the Question of Representation,” where you said, “We need some sort of “no lesbians were harmed in the filming of this series” guarantee.” LOL. I agree, that’s definitely a necessity, or some kind of warning, ‘Dear lesbians, for your emotional health and the emotional health of those around you, do not invest in these particular lesbian characters, by warning of the Surgeon General.’ I did find out about the “Gentleman Jack” series just this morning as I perused the responses to Kate and Caroline. I found that I can watch it on Amazon Prime. I probably will and I do find lesbian relationships of that era intriguing and exciting, but I really liked Kate and Caroline because I could relate to them as a modern couple of my era, not too far in age from me. Oh well.

      2. When you think about the actual business of writing for television and how you build a fan base and a brand, it just makes sense to be good to lesbians. They are so loyal and enthusiastic about the shows that treat them right. Look at Lost Girl or Wynonna Earp. The L Word. Super loyal fans. If there were more like them, more diversity in choices and protagonists, each one wouldn’t be so important individually.

      3. That’s so true, on both counts. Not having that many characters to look to makes each one more significant. I still remember how devastated I was back in the 80’s when “LA Law” teased us with the character Abby briefly getting into a relationship with a female colleague and then just dropped it after a couple of episodes because the colleague thought Abby was too inexperienced and scared. My straight friends didn’t understand why I was so depressed about it. I kind of had the same feeling here, 30 years later, though I can’t deny things are better now. I do think writers should also think more about audience and real life reactions to things along with plot points and mechanisms. I know they don’t want fans to dictate how they think the story should go and I can see how playing to an audience probably has diminished creativity in the past, but I feel like they may have gone too much in the other direction now.

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