Last Tango in Halifax season 5 came to me as a gift on my birthday. I don’t intend to review it or recap it, I simply want to talk about a few bits. It will be a little spoilery, but not in any large sense. A few scenes, and a few remarks, and I’ll be done.Continue Reading: Off on a Tangent about S5 of Last Tango in Halifax
Last Tango in Halifax S4 E2 is Part Two of The Christmas Special. Holy Moly! What an episode! Stirring, momentous scenes between Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) and Gillian (Nicola Walker) and between Gillian and Robbie (Dean Andrews). Beware the spoilers. Continue Reading: Last Tango in Halifax S4 E2 The Christmas Special Pt. 2
Happy Valley S2 E2 has a few laughs, a couple of funerals, and a mess of disasters that will tangle future episodes. I’ll keep the review as brief and spoiler free as possible, but there are some spoilers.
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) brings home Ilinka (Ivana Bašić) after a group of Croatian women were rescued from slavery. There were more women than the various facilities in the Calder Valley could hold; naturally, Catherine brought one home. Continue Reading: Happy Valley S2 E2: Two Funerals and a Fall off the Wagon
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.Continue Reading: Last Tango in Halifax: S3 E6
Episode 5 of Last Tango in Halifax starts with a bang when Lawrence (Louis Greatorex) pulls a prank on the boys at school who put the sign on his back. By bang, I mean he tossed some firecrackers at them and pretended to shoot them. A chase scene ensued, with wild music which was also used over the credits.Continue Reading: Last Tango in Halifax: S3 E5
Be glad to start episode 3 of Last Tango in Halifax in your happy place because you’re in for a bumpy night by the end.
Every word that follows is a spoiler.Continue Reading: Last Tango in Halifax, Season 3, Episode 3
Last Tango in Halifax begins season 3 on Valentine’s Day. Several important things happen on Valentine’s Day that require a lot of processing on the part of the characters in Last Tango in Halifax.
I’m changing the way I recap Last Tango in Halifax for series 3. I’m going to be much briefer and rely more on images to tell the story. I’ll leave out most of the details and only hit the high points. Hope you like this way of doing it. Continue Reading: Last Tango in Halifax, season 3 episode 1
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!
This episode of Last Tango in Halifax begins in the cafe where Celia (Anne Reid) and Alan (Derek Jacobi) continue to talk about the death of Eddie. Alan says he is an accessory after the fact.
Celia says he probably did the best thing under the circumstances. He tells her that Robbie and the police asked lots of questions. He says that’s why, 10 years on, he doesn’t mind putting a little distance between himself and Gillian (Nicola Walker).
Raff (Josh Bolt) walks up the road from school and sees a strange car in front of the house. He finds John (Tony Gardner) inside, working at his computer, and watching the baby. Raff doesn’t understand why Gillian asked John to babysit. John’s explanation is a bit lame. Raff tells John he can leave, but John says he’s invited for supper.
John asks about Ellie (Katherine Rose Morley) and Raff explains that he doesn’t know how things are with her legally. He doesn’t know if Ellie left the baby with him or if she can just come back and take it.
John, because this is really his business – right? – tells Raff he must go to the registrar and get his name on the birth certificate. Because mothers have all the rights where kids are concerned, look at all the problems he’s having with his kids. Raff says, oh, I thought that was because you had a fling with Judith. Good one, Raff!
In Harrogate, Caroline is lining out Celia on the boys’ schedules for the weekend. Lawrence (Louis Greatorex) has a rugby game in the morning. Lawrence says he’s invited Angus (Felix Johnson) for a sleepover. When Celia hears the name Angus she asks, “Is he Scottish?” in a funny callback to the first time she heard the name Kate McKenzie. William (Edward Ashley) is going to work. (William’s back!) William throws down his newspaper and complains about his job.
John has assembled Raff, Ellie, Harry (Paul Copley) and Maurice (Roy Barraclough) in the registry office to get the birth certificate filled out for the little girl. No one seems to question his right to do this, although Harry and Maurice do want to know why he’s hanging about. He explains he’s writing a novel about farming and that he’s Celia’s son in law. Everyone groans.
They argue over names. John wants a literary name. Raff likes Elsie. Ellie does not. They finally agree on Emily Jane, which prompts John to quote Emily Jane Brontë. I’m the one groaning now.
John’s phone rings. It’s Lawrence, who learns that his dad is in Halifax.
John, Raff, and the newly named Emily Jane Greenwood Wallace stop by the grocery. They show Gillian the birth certificate. Raff says they put both surnames, because they couldn’t decide which to use. Gillian likes the new name, and comments that it’s a lot of name for a 6 and a half pound girl. That’s hilarious, because the baby they are hauling around, supposedly less than a week old, can sit up and hold up her head.
Caroline’s black SUV rolls down the highway toward the weekend getaway. The camera does love Yorkshire, doesn’t it? My gratitude to whoever finds these gorgeous locations. As they walk up to the hotel, Caroline and Kate (Nina Sosanya) talk about Celia wanting Caroline to call Alan Dad.
Caroline smiles happily at Kate and they go inside to register. Caroline tells the desk clerk, “We have reservations.”
In Harrogate, Alan and Celia are rehashing the Eddie story once again. Alan just can’t let it go. He keeps coming back to his notion that maybe it wasn’t suicide at all. Celia says, “Let’s live with what’s on the table.” The doorbell rings and Lawrence answers it thinking it’s Angus.
It’s Judith (Ronni Ancona). She’s looking for John. Celia says she doesn’t know where he is. Celia says, “So you’re her, eh? You’re the whore.”
Angus arrives, Alan’s phone rings. Judith suddenly realizes who Alan and Celia are and gets all gushy about how sweet their story is. On the phone, Raff is talking over very loud music.
In all the commotion Alan cannot hear Raff telling him the baby’s name. He thinks it’s Calamity Jane. He says, “You can’t name a baby that.” Finally, he gets the name right. Lawrence tells Judith that John’s in Halifax and she leaves.
Caroline is sitting alone in the hotel drinking wine. Kate walks up and asks if she can sit there.
Kate is very angry, which Caroline can see, but she tries to make small talk about Greg (Marcus Garvey) anyway, and tells Kate she looks beautiful.
Kate says, “You’re unbelievable. I was so happy to be here, that you were going to treat me like your partner when we were outside the house. And then you go and book two separate rooms. Mentally I’ve left. Physically I’m here because Greg’s coming.”
Caroline tries to explain and they talk over each other for a while. Kate says, “You’re not fooling anyone. It just looks sad.”
Caroline says, “I’m not trying to fool anyone.” She says, “I was going to book a double room when I rang but I couldn’t.” She whispers they can still sleep together.
Kate says, “Sod it. Sneaking around like a couple of idiots from a 1970s bedroom comedy. I’m not having it.”
Caroline says, “I panicked.”
Kate says, “You have a doctor of philosophy. You’re 46 years old. You have the welfare of 857 children on your hands on a daily basis. You don’t panic. You’ve blown it.”
Greg arrives, he’s checked in, he can stay for dinner. Kate’s really happy to see him.
At the farm it’s dinner time. Gillian is grilling John about the novel he’s writing. Gillian bounces the baby on one knee as she eats. This baby is in so many scenes, plus it’s handled so quickly at times, that I’m wondering if it isn’t a very real looking baby created in one of those studios where they build dinosaurs and vampires.
Raff wants to know if he’s in John’s novel. Gillian says, “Am I your muse?” She calls the baby Calamity, which Raff says he hope doesn’t stick. A knock at the door prompts Gillian to say in a silly voice, “Why, Calam, that sounds like a knock at the door.”
Could we have more Nicola Walker doing silly voices, please?
It’s Robbie (Dean Andrews) at the door. He says, “I’m sorry. I overreacted. It was a long time ago and you had a lot to deal with. I’m sorry.” So, Robbie didn’t dump Gillian as she assumed he would. Gillian introduces the baby by her new name as well as her Calamity nickname and invites him in for tea.
At the hotel, Greg and Kate share a grand time talking about the good old days and people they know. Caroline is in misery.
Judith knocks on the farmhouse door. She introduces herself and Gillian says, “Well, well, well,” and gives her a once over.
Judith carries a handful of typed paper. When she sees John she says, “You bastard. You stole my story.” They argue at length about who had the idea to write a novel about Alan and Celia’s story and to include the sheep farmer in the tale. Each claims the idea as their own.
Judith gets really wound up and tells Robbie about how John and Gillian slept together. She gives Robbie the complete details about the night it happened.
John blusters, tells Robbie off, says he’s no good for the kind and wonderful Gillian. He says Robbie preys on her and tells him to get lost. Robbie asks Gillian if it’s true and after some hemming and hawing, she admits the part about sleeping with John is true.
Robbie slugs John.
Lawrence and Angus manage to get drunk and make a huge mess. Just as Celia is berating them about it, Alan comes in to say William’s in outpatient.
At the hotel, Greg is ready to talk about the baby. He excuses himself to go to the bathroom first. Caroline says she can’t stand Greg. Kate says, “Okay. Good night then.”
Caroline leaves to go to her room. She looks back sadly but doesn’t say anything. Kate stays at the table, clinching her teeth. If she had nails to crunch, she’d be spitting them.
Celia brings home a beat up William. He sits down with Alan as Celia goes to make tea.
William tells Alan he left work because he couldn’t stand it. He was getting cash to meet a girl he likes at a club when he was attacked by two guys who beat him up.
Alan gives him a talk about confidence and what a smashing fellow he is. By the time Alan finishes, William is feeling better. Alan is the best granddad ever, even to William.
I know actors love the meaty parts, the villainous parts, because they are so much fun to act. I hope Derek Jacobi enjoys playing the charming and lovely Alan as much as I enjoy watching him at it. Charming, lovely male characters are so rare. We need more of them.
In the morning, Caroline is eating breakfast when Kate comes in. Caroline asks her where she was last night. Caroline looked everywhere for her.
Kate says she went to Greg’s room for a night cap. Oh, Caroline says, you’ve made a start. Kate says no, we just talked.
Caroline apologizes. She says, “I was a coward. I won’t be again. But if we are going to be parents, this bloke is the wrong person.”
Kate says, “He’s perfect from my point of view.”
Caroline sighs, leans back in a long pause. Then she says she’s going to have to give up on the idea of keeping the house. It’s unrealistic.
Kate says, “I want to have a child. I don’t need your blessing. Not after yesterday. And what you just said about the house shows me you were doing for the wrong reasons anyway. It will always be about you.”
“Are you dumping me?” Caroline asks.
“I don’t think anything ever started, did it? Just embarrassed fumbles.” Caroline looks unbearably sad. Kate tells her she and Greg didn’t do anything last night but they plan to and she’s staying there again tonight. Kate tells her she blew it before Greg even showed up. Kate gets up to leave.
This is hard for me, Caroline says. “Yeah, well, grow up. You think it’s easy for anyone?” says Kate.
If season 2 is about Caroline learning to be out and proud, she’s made a big mess of it so far.
At the farm, John has a bruised eye matching almost exactly the one William has. Yes, he spent the night at the farm. No, I don’t know where he slept.
I know Raff slept on the couch with the baby beside him in a box because Judith drank two bottles of wine and all the medicinal brandy in the time it takes Gillian to tie one shoelace, then passed out in Raff’s bed.
Gillian tells Raff that Robbie’s fallen out with her again. Forgiving the distant past is easier than forgiving recent betrayals – I’m backing Robbie on this.
The phone rings at the farm. It’s Harry with bad news.
Alan and Celia are tormenting Lawrence and Angus with conversation about food as they lay hungover on the couch, rugby practice forgotten. The phone rings and Gillian asks to talk to Celia. She wants Celia to tell her Dad something that will upset him.
Celia takes Alan aside and tells him that Maurice died. Apparently it was a stroke.
Gillian and her dad cry over Maurice while 60 miles apart. She talks to John about it.
Alan cries about Maurice with Celia.
Caroline arrives home. Alone. She has tea in the cottage with her mother. Celia tells her about buying the bungalow and not giving her money for the big house. Caroline assures her it’s okay, she just didn’t want to face up to letting the house go.
Celia asks about Kate and Caroline says, “I’ve blown it.” Good lord, does she look sad. She’s had her face smacked into her own inadequacies in the relationship department by Kate. Will she grow from it or continue to squirm in her own fears? Now she’s finally facing the house issue realistically. Caroline, I cannot wait to see what you do in the next episode.
Move forward a few days to Maurice’s funeral. Alan speaks. He mentions how badly he feels about not having Maurice at the wedding because he wasn’t able to choose between Harry and Maurice as his best man.
Caroline enters a classroom where Kate is picking up papers. Caroline looks like she wants to say about 100 things, but she asks about Greg and Kate says they did the deed.
Caroline seems to want to say more but Kate says she finished what she came into the room to do and she’s leaving it. She walks out without another word, leaving us looking at another broken-hearted expression on Caroline’s face.
Everyone from the funeral has gone out to a pub for a drink in Maurice’s honor. Alan says that he and Celia should get married again – a big do – invite everybody. He asks Harry to be the best man. Harry hesitates and Gillian says, do it. Then she asks to make sure she’s invited.
Alan thinks to ask Celia if she’ll marry him again. She says yes and gives him a kiss. Raff says, “Get a room,” and the episode ends with a laugh.