Season 2 of Last Tango in Halifax begins with Celia (Anne Reid) in a hospital corridor phoning Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) to tell her than Alan (Derek Jacobi) has come round and, “is feeling rather perky.”
A very happy Gillian (Nicola Walker) and Raff (Josh Bolt) are at Alan’s bedside. Gillian mentions that she thinks she loves Celia, Raff chimes in, “So do I.” Alan tells Raff to keep his hands off – Celia is his. Alan’s smiling and joking. Perky, indeed.
Outside the hospital, Celia, Gillian and Raff make plans for Celia to stay in Halifax at the farm until Alan is released. Celia comments that she’ll get Caroline to bring her some things.
Gillian gives Celia a hug and says, “Thank you. Thank you for making him so happy. I think you brought him back. You mustn’t fall out with him again.”
Celia answers, “I am NEVER gonna fall out with him again. Ever. About anything!”
Robbie (Dean Andrews) has taken it upon himself to help work the farm. We see him repairing fences as Gillian and Celia drive up. When they are all in kitchen, Robbie serves tea. He says he’s made a lasagne.
On the phone, Celia and Caroline discuss Caroline’s trip to the farm. Celia tells her Gillian’s invited her to stay the night and Caroline says okay. When Caroline tells John (Tony Gardner) she’ll be staying in Halifax, he wants to come with her – we know he wants to see Gillian again, but she does not. She tells him to stay home with the boys.
John explains how he really needs to go apologize because if it hadn’t been for him, Alan wouldn’t have had the heart attack. Caroline says, “It really is all about you.” She says when she gets back they need to work out what’s what between them.
As Caroline leaves, John immediately texts Gillian. She responds with Don’t. Text. Me.
Caroline calls Kate (Nina Sosanya) as she’s driving to Halifax. She explains she won’t be able to see Kate that night but wants to see her the next night. Kate is still a little unsure of her ground with Caroline and every conversation they have is fraught with importance to her.
At the farm, Celia is taking part in Gillian’s family life, which includes Robbie and Gillian teasing Raff about a girl named Ellie. John can’t get Gillian to take his calls or texts, so he calls Celia’s phone and after a few moments of inquiry about Alan, asks to speak to Gillian. Gillian takes the phone because Celia hands it to her.
With Robbie, Raff and Celia listening to her end of the conversation, Gillian tries to tell John to get lost in words that don’t reveal to her listeners what she’s doing. He won’t take the hint. He tells her he thinks he’s a little bit in love with her. He wants to meet up. She says no. She says, “Did you get my text message?” Finally she has to hang up on him while pretending to give him a cherry goodbye.
He calls Judith.
Alan says he gets to come home on Monday. Gillian, Celia and Caroline are clustered around him. Gillian wants to know what the prognosis is and what the doctor told him he could do and could not do. Alan is evasive about it with Gillian. He suggests Gillian and Caroline go have a cuppa.
Celia sits on the bed beside Alan and says, “Bugger everyone. Let’s get married immediately.” He wants to as well. And he wants to do it in secret without telling anyone. Celia isn’t sure about this idea and questions him gently, but definitely doesn’t fall out with him about it. She agrees to keep it a secret. She wants to know what the doctor said. He will only answer, “I’m A-1.”
In the hospital cafeteria Caroline and Gillian talk. Gillian says she wonders if you can die of a broken heart. She thought that’s what made her father have a heart attack. Then Gillian asks about Kate.
Caroline says she wishes everyone didn’t know about it, because she and Kate aren’t quite sure where they are themselves. Caroline wanted to get it all sorted through with Kate before it became public knowledge. Gillian says, “Yeah, the whole world is looking at you like they want you to make an announcement.”
Gillian says, “I want to tell you something.” She’s going to confess to the sex-with-John-mess. She bumbles and stumbles, doubles round and round, and explains badly.
Before Gillian can get it out, Caroline says, “You slept with John.” She expects Gillian to say, no that’s not it. Instead Gillian says, “I was pissed. It was my birthday. I felt sorry for him.”
“Oh, you really have slept with John? What was it like?”
“I don’t actually remember very much about it. Except that it happened. Are you hating me?”
Caroline says no. Gillian continues to apologize. Caroline is smiling. She says, “You can have him.” Gillian answers, “I don’t want him.” Caroline is actually laughing, trying to deal. Caroline realizes that was the night she was propping Judith up in casualty. She was in hospital with one of John’s women and he was off screwing another one. “Blimey,” she says, and finally looks serious. Gillian attempts a joke with a movie quote.
The 3 women pile in the Land Rover to head for the farm. When they enter, Caroline asks about Paul. Gillian says she finally got shut of him by sending him to his granny’s. Gillian goes off to make tea. Things are awkward between Gillian and Caroline now. Caroline says she thinks she’ll go back home. Celia asks Caroline if she’d mind if she and Alan came to live in her flat – it has no stairs. Caroline says it’s fine by her.
Celia walks Caroline out to her car. Caroline tells her about Gillian and John.
Caroline asks, “How do people do that? Why is everything so casual and meaningless?” She says she’s a bit shocked. She says, “Do you think before Judith, John was . . . ” That’s really what’s on her mind – has this been a more frequent thing with John than she knows. Celia promises not to say anything to Gillian about knowing.
Next morning, Celia arrives at the hospital to bring Alan home. They are so happy to see each other, happy to be together.
As soon as he’s released, they head for a scenic spot atop a rock which drops off before them for a fabulous view. All the outdoor shots of the countryside around Yorkshire are beautiful, but the camera loves this spot. We see the rock and the spectacular views from every angle as they talk. Alan says he wants to do everything now. He asks her if she’s ever fancied skiing. She says no and they laugh. They talk about their youth and things they did in that spot as teens. Celia says she and her mother scattered her father’s ashes from there. They talk about old friends who are no longer with them. Yet here they are, alive, together, and happy. He wants to pop over to the registry office. She asks again if they are serious about not telling anyone. He insists they are.
At the registry office, they make an appointment for the wedding to be tomorrow at 11 AM. They take the appointment time with them on a card.
Gillian greets them at the farm (she’s chopping wood with an ax, not a log splitter). She asks if they’ve set a date and they say no. They tell Gillian they want to live in Celia’s flat while Alan’s recovering.
Gillian doesn’t take the news well. She wants Alan near her. Celia says her flat has no stairs and she can take care of him 24/7, unlike Gillian, who has to work. Gillian accepts the decision reluctantly. She wants to come with them to help get him set up the next day.
Celia and Alan go up to the bedroom, where they lay on the bed laughing and talking. They are so easy with each other, so happy together.
Downstairs, Gillian listens to them laughing. She looks troubled and worried.
Next morning as they drive to Harrogate, Celia tells Alan about Gillian sleeping with John. It upsets him. He shakes his head in disgust.
Caroline enters the kitchen and tells John that Gillian is coming and Kate is there. He wants all the details about Gillian arriving. Instead, Caroline tells him Kate’s moving in.
John gets upset about Kate moving in. Caroline says, “After what happened here on Saturday night, you have no business talking about what other people are doing.” This angry conversation has something to do with Judith.
When Celia, Alan and Gillian arrive in Harrogate, Gillian sees Caroline’s gorgeous house and says, “You did all right for yourself here, Dad.” He responds by berating her about John. She tries to explain, but he’s not having it. He calls her a name, some British slang my American ears couldn’t make sense of. However, it isn’t the worst thing he could have called her, which is what Gillian expected.
In the kitchen, Kate says she’s put her bags in Caroline’s bedroom. “How permanent is this?” she asks. Caroline says they need to talk it through properly.
Caroline leans on the counter, gives Kate an affectionate smile, and says, “Is this what you want?”
“Do you need to ask?” Kate says.
In Celia’s little flat, Alan calls Gillian an “ongoing disappointment.” She tries again to defend herself and talks about how much she regrets what happened. Alan tells Celia, “She were pregnant when she were 15. She broke her mother’s heart.” Gillian is stung by this and by his disapproval.
In the middle of this tense moment, Caroline pops in. She invites them to dinner. She tells them Kate is there. She says she didn’t plan it exactly, and asks them to bear with her. She tells the story about Saturday night when she arrived back unexpectedly to find a drunk Judith (Ronni Ancona) falling down her stairs in a bathrobe, a drunken John dressed only in his underwear, and two upset boys witnessing the whole thing.
Caroline tells them John said, “You have friends round, I have friends round.” She told John to have things cleaned up by the morning. He said, “Whatever,” as Judith threw up on the floor.
Caroline went to Kate’s with the boys. When she got back in the morning she asked John to move out. He refused. Caroline explains that she asked Kate to move in “in the hopes that at some point he will get the message.” Well, it seems Kate was wise to be a little concerned about her status in the household. Caroline’s motives don’t look entirely pure if this description to her mother is used to judge her commitment to Kate.
John lurks around like a schoolboy, asking questions about Gillian, trying to catch a glimpse of her.
Gillian wants out of there. Her father’s condemnation has her ready to run. John tries to chase her down, but Caroline beats him to her. Caroline wants Gillian to come inside. John peeks at them through the mail slot. He’s hilarious doing it, like something out of a Shakespeare comedy.
Gillian wonders why Caroline told Celia about her and John. Caroline doesn’t offer a very good reason, but she sees that Gillian is upset about her father knowing. Gillian tells Caroline about having an abortion at 15 and that her father just told her it broke her mother’s heart.
As Gillian heads off in the car, John speeds out, runs down the driveway and hops in beside her. He tells her she can’t ignore him. She wants him to get out. He says, “We had sex.” She says, “Boy, am I paying for it now!”
They argue and try to explain themselves. He says his publisher’s dropped him. She reveals she’s worried about the farm and money issues. Wow, does anyone have pure motives around here? He wants to come over. She says, “I’m seeing Robbie.” I don’t know what this means to a Brit, but to an American “seeing someone” implies sex. This finally gets John out of her car.
John goes inside and joins everyone at dinner. Things are incredibly awkward. Celia gives John a death stare.
Morning on the farm, Gillian gathers the sheep and loads them in a trailer. Parallel to this are school children filing into assembly. Gillian and Caroline are at work herding their charges, unaware of their parents’ plans. Later Gillian is cleaning and finds the card with the appointment for the wedding on it.
Gillian calls Caroline and tells her about the secret wedding. Gillian is really bothered by the idea of not being there for her dad’s wedding. Caroline says she can be there if Gillian can. They talk a bit more, and Caroline says maybe they wanted to avoid a fuss. Caroline’s not nearly as upset as Gillian.
Gillian hangs up on Caroline and runs out the door.
6 responses to “Recap: Last Tango in Halifax, S2, E1”
I am growing to not like Gillian. Could Gillian have not realized, years earlier, that she broke her mother’s heart, having a pregnancy and abortion at age 15. What loving mother would not be heartbroken?
Don’t any of the characters remember that Alan just had a heart attack and nearly died? Celia doesn’t think twice about telling Alan that Gillian slept with John. Talk about putting strain on Alan’s heart. Also, the logical thing, for a recovering Alan, is to want a secret, no fuss, no stress wedding. But, Gillian will have none of that.
@Jane, Gillian does make some questionable decisions, but I do like her as a character. She’s so broken in so many ways.
You’re right. One can have sympathy or empathy toward her. She acts impulsively and later realizes the error of her ways. Then she is apologetic. But, how much slack do you give her? She’s in her 40’s, and not seeking therapy. Well, Sally Wainwright makes Gillian an interesting character to thicken the plot. Gillian is interesting to say the least.
Thanks for the recap – I think Gillian is well aware of the heartbreak she caused – she tries to stop Alan with “Dad, I’m going to get upset” when they arrive at Celia’s little apartment. I agree Gillian makes poor choices, particularly when drunk, and falls into bed with whichever man gives her a kind word, but the actress makes her a compelling mess rather than a tragic one, like Judith.
@Andrew, Nicola Walker is amazing in this part.
I agree. All the actors/actresses are amazing. BTW, glad that Gillian fixed the clutch problem on her Land Rover! Also, I miss Paul (Sacha Dhawan).