Doctor Foster S1:E1 The Mourning Bride Recap

Foster Cover

This is another Suranne Jones show, suggested by E on The Twitter, so given how much I liked Sally Wainwright's Scott & Bailey, I thought I'd give Doctor Foster a go! Rolling episode 1 of season 1 after the break!

I'll start by introducing myself, in case this is your first encounter with my recaps. I go by TalksTooMuch, that is both a handle and fair warning. I enjoy all good (and so bad it's good) television, but have especially been focused on the ones written by Sally Wainwright lately, like Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax. Sometimes I get the wrong end of the stick in a show, I correct as I go along, but feel free to write me as gingesbecray@gmail.com or tweet at me @gingesbecray. I tend to veer off into wild tangents, you'll get used to it. And we roll!

We open with a woman prone, being rubbed on and kissed by a bearded gentleman. It looked like comforting at first, but then the clothes started flying and I had to pause while I ushered the underage into the crafting room. Stay out of the glue!

"Did you miss me?" he asks and all the giggling and naked hugging means yes! Then a flurry of dressing and married people talking; remember you're taking Tom to school, there's an event coming up and hang on, is this your red chapstick falling out of your manly pocket, oh husband? Of course, yes, it was the only one they had and that's most men I know, willing to settle for a red lipstain instead of dealing with chapped lips. I wish more would, Syrus Lowe in The Five was GORGEOUS in full makeup. "Bit girly" she laughs, but they pass by it.

They're storming through the kitchen to see their kiddo, just enough time for me to notice they have double ovens like me! Woo hoo! So we've got Dr. Gemma Foster (Suranne Jones from Scott and Bailey!) and Simon Foster (Bertie Carvel) and their kiddo Tom (handily named Tom Taylor), everyone present and accounted for!

Gemma's on the phone with an Anna, planning this event Simon and she talked about, which is a party with bunting, but also money behind the bar, so not a kid's party, but a retirement? There's a cake. Hey, I bet IF I KEEP WATCHING, I'LL FIND OUT!

It seems Dr. Foster is in charge, and one of her peeps hasn't shown up AGAIN to work; Jack with the gastroenteritis. This was his last warning, and someone saw him in the pub the previous evening, so that sounds about right. Just like in Britt-Marie Was Here, I always had a bit of a flu after a night at the pub.

Ros (Thusitha Jayasundera) is after the mouthy but "toned like a bastard" Luke, "not a flicker." Gemma makes it to her office, hanging up her coat and the scarf she borrowed from Simon and there it is: the Hair of Doom. A bright blonde hair on her dark blue scarf that can not possibly have come from her sleek brown bob. I've felt that inability to breathe, where all your stomach rises and the blood drains from your head at the same time: there's only one thing that can mean.

Gemma stares at a picture of her family as Patient Gordon explains the timeline of his medical concern in exacting detail, it's a testament to her strength that she's focused at all. I guess it's like Julie in Spotless, sometimes you need time to... process. Carly (Clare-Hope Ashitey that poor girl in school with that surname...she's stunning) is next and she can't sleep, she wants pills. Why are you not giving her the pills, Dr. Foster? They EXIST! It's a new society today, I hear from doctors that patients usually have already sorted out what they want before they've even come in to see a professional. TV helps in that self-diagnosis. It gets a little...heated.

Susie is the next person, very simple, a straight prescription and perhaps the good doctor could come by the opening of Susie's new restaurant? To say thanks? By the way, Susie (Sara Stewart) is very grateful, but also blonde, so I have my eye on her. She's ushered out and Gemma goes back to the hair; which is definitely NOT Susie's, it's far too long. She winds it around her fingers and she's just gorgeous, isn't she?

Walking through the courtyard to pick up Tom from school, we meet Poppy (Tyla Wilson) with a broken arm and Becky (Martha Howe-Douglas), who Gemma doesn't recognise, but of course, Simon's assistant. Who has long light-brown hair pulled back, but I think I spy blonde streaks, and you know those always fall out first. Her daughter goes there, too, since Becky got divorced (ears ALL the way up) and she's sure Gemma didn't recognise her because after the split, she went blonde! Hm. Target sighted. She does WORK with Simon.

Gemma is hustling to get ready, staring at herself in the mirror, wondering if she needs a change. Tom calls her over for homework help. Simon arrives shortly after and she hands him his scarf, watching for a reaction. It's like that after you find out something earth-shattering about another person, you watch them to see if you there are signs of it anywhere, if they always looked like that, are they thinking of the other now? It's as though they're suddenly alien, like this giant secret stole who they were and now you have to relearn a stranger.

Gemma asked how Simon's weekend was, carefully gauging his face as he answers and I've absolutely tied Becky up in this. I was just thinking, oh great, I hear once you get divorced you share custody and sometimes I bet you even get a weekend away without anyone having to pass away. I have an awful mind. She presses; go out at night? Casinos? Beautiful women? He jokes along.

Just then, their guests arrive, Neil (Adam James) & Anna (Victoria Hamilton), who are just back from a trip to the seaside. Gemma and Simon wouldn't like that, though. He tries to put it on her feeling trapped, but the truth is; Simon's afraid of water and can barely swim. She had to save his life when they were first dating and she tells the story as Simon pours more wine. She rests her hand on his lower back and that's the next stage, the hoping you don't lose them. This is Your Person and the sense of potential loss is terrifying. She looks so sad suddenly as he waxes poetic about his decision to keep her "this is her; I never want to let her go." And she was a ginger back then! He proposed that night.

Anna rubs Simon's arms and hey! She has sort of blondish hair, note Gemma and I at the exact same time. She can't breathe again. She gets some more wine in the kitchen and is scared by Anna, who she spills the secret to: there was a Long Blonde Hair and Anna asks if there is someone else? A Long Blonde Woman? They joke, but Anna takes it too far, saying she's been sleeping with Simon, couldn't that be it? Not funny. I disagree with Anna as well; sometimes a hair is not just a hair. And what's she going to do, anyway? Go through his pockets and check his phone? Pfft. Anna suggests more wine and joins the group.

Well, lookit right there; Simon's phone is charging in the kitchen, inches away, practically begging her to scroll through texts! I'd be on that like white on rice. Get it.

After dinner, Simon has sensed her distance. Has he done something wrong? She doesn't broach at this point, which means that she's decided to forget it or look for more evidence first. There's that phone again! She picks it up, but is stopped by the image of their family as his background. She sets up the tea and turns off the light, resolute. And then comes back in immediately and checks his phone. All I can advise is that if he leaves his phone out, without a password, there's nothing to look for anyway, he's deleted it.

Gemma's explaining the sitch to Ros. They go through a list of suspects including Becky and Anna but is Gemma drinking too much coffee? It seems like she's drinking too much coffee... helpful Ros is off and Gemma's back to work. What is Simon doing in those two and a half hours every day after work before coming home, though?

Gordon has been asking The Google about his rash, it hasn't cleared up since the previous day, when she gave him the cream, it obviously doesn't work. Gemma stares at the clock and then she's had it. He'll have to leave, she's coming down with something and to be honest... it's probably contagious. Hahahahaha. Off runs Gordon, clutching his stack of Googled rashes.

Carly stops her as she's rushing through the parking lot, now she's got back pain, she forgot to mention that! NOW can she have the pills? Gemma susses out that Carly's lying and asks her to book an appointment when she trusts the good Dr. Foster. Sometimes you just need to talk, Carly! Off she drives.

Gemma's staked out in front of Simon's office, calling Anna to pick up Tom while she watches Simon and Becky separate in the parking lot. She follows Simon's car, clutching her throat because that's the other thing, the bile is even worse when you're investigating, you can't breathe AND you're trying not to vomit and there's all this rushing in your ears. Suranne Jones is doing a marvelous job!

Simon pulls up in front of a storefront, parking and going in. Gemma's about to get closer when an older man slams his face onto the window, he wants to talk. This is the fired Jack (Robert Pugh) of the pub-gastroenteritis, he saved someone's life last night! Simon leaves the store with a massive bouquet of flowers and drives off. Is anyone else thinking of the scene in "Love, Actually" when Emma Thompson only gets a CD for Christmas when she saw the gold chain Alan Rickman bought, that bastard? I miss Alan Rickman, he was bloody fantastic. Sorry, sorry. Gemma's working through all her riotous emotions (I got a new thesaurus, that's fun, hey?) and trying to decide whether or not to follow Simon further when he turns off unexpectedly.

He's at Bridewell, visiting his mother in a wheelchair, who has blonde-ish hair and yay! Gemma is so relieved. She takes him out in the hallway to explain, laughing at herself and her following him once she worked out that he was spending two and a half hours after work not mentioning that he was coming there. She looks so much lighter!

Her mood turns again on leaving. She checks the sign-in register at the front; does EVERYONE have to sign in? Absolutely. Gemma is grim again, her hope shattered in the face of an actual, verifiable lie.

It's POURING outside as she sits in the parking lot and stares at the front door. She drives to Simon's office, talking her way in past the security guard and searches Simon's things, including printing off his schedule, where he's marked unavailable in the early evening quite a lot. She spots his travel / laptop bag, opening it to find...two condoms. I assume there is no reason for those, given how crestfallen she looks. See, even then, you want to believe it's all a giant misunderstanding.

Just then Becky bursts in, oh that's not Simon's bag, that's hers, leaving Gemma to decide whether she's the best assistant EVER, or just commendably safe while negotiating the post-divorce waters. Gemma stammers something about looking for a schedule so she can plan a secret getaway, a guarded and suspicious Becky finally relents and says she'll pass that information on through email, and no need to mention it to Simon.

Gemma, Simon, Tom and heading to Chow (Ciao? Chao?), owned by patient Susie Parks and her husband Chris. Once Simon works that out, he gets really weird, saying he's been to see Chris for advice and he's sorry ...(hold breath, turn around) he's been working so many hours. *let breath out* It's like living with the enemy now in an uneasy truce, everything seems weighted and momentous.

They're at the restaurant now, Chris (Neil Stuke) seems affable enough, no word of what he does, Divorce Solicitor, perhaps? Gemma watches the easy back and forth between Simon and Susie of the blonde hair suspiciously. Then there's wee lad Andrew Parks (Charlie Cunliffe) and daughter Kate helping out with the tables, it's a family affair!

It's going so well that Gemma invites everyone to Simon's 40th birthday party at The Artichoke, and there you go, that was the event being planned earlier: bar, bunting, and cake sounds just about right for a 40th. Gemma's suspicions are making it difficult to sit and visit, so she absconds to the back alley for air. She meets Carly there, who works nearby and is on a smoke break, and yeah, Dr. Foster does look stressed, mate. She takes a proffered smoke, even though Simon "helped her stop" years ago *side eye*. Carly's twat boyfriend is celebrating his new job, looks like fun! Ah to be young and to be able to be that ridic on a regular basis again.

Carly throws her own words back at her; sometimes you just need to talk, right? And Dr. Foster spills: she's pretty sure her husband is sleeping with someone else. I can't be the only one that immediately thought that all these young people would make excellent spies?

Carly asks what kind of evidence Gemma has? Because she better have something concrete before saying anything; she had a friend who lost her boyfriend after she accused him of messing about after being gone for an afternoon. The thing is, it's much more than one afternoon, isn't it? And he can't have been shopping for Gemma's birthday present for several weeks in a row after work, can he? Unless he's shaping the diamonds himself with a very small file?

Carly's very sweet, sending her off with gum and a squirt of perfume, and returning to work herself to be shouted at by her twat of a boyfriend.

In bed, Gemma stares at Simon and they have sex again, that's twice in two days. Sigh. She looks so sad, none of the giggling and moaning of the previous morning. After he's asleep, she goes on the internet, where all information about Cheating Husbands will be found, including a poem called The Mourning Bride. She stares at Simon's 40th birthday cake while she reads it and looks through pics on the phone again.

Carly's in to see the good doctor again, it's not urgent, but Gemma wants to give Carly those sleeping pills after all. She wants a favour in return though, and hey! You can't pay a spy with sleeping pills! That's SO incredibly ILLEGAL. But it's nice to see we're on the same page re: spying!

Carly follows Simon from work; he stops somewhere, parks and gets out a rucksack. Carly texts Gemma "He's gone into a house near Sandbridge, by the river." I LOVE when we get to see texts! I swear, I'm 4 years old sometimes. Gemma's still staring at her phone ages later when it's time for Dr. Jack's exit interview.

Well, that goes as well as you would imagine when a drunk GP who's been in practice for exactly two years less than his boss has been alive is being fired by said boss. She believes it to be personal: for her age, her gender, her status as a outsider to this community, but he says it's her, just her and her arrogance. He's gone off her. Arrogance means she'll end up alone and that's it, he's done.

Ros can't believe her ears. Gemma's never been like this before. Gemma is almost in tears, staring at her phone again. It's Carly calling, she rushes out into the hallway to take it. Simon's been inside the house for half an hour with the blinds closed, but now they're outside and he's kissing someone we can't quite see. Gemma trembles. The woman's blonde, about Gemma's height, take a picture, hisses Gemma, anything!

Gemma waits in the hallway for a picture as one of the partners from the meeting stops her; he was going to do up minutes, are they done? Yes yes *staring at phone* but all Carly got was a picture of woman's ugly yellow car. That makes it really real, though, does Gemma want to know the name? Carly can find out. Gemma looks energized and terrified at the same time.

At Gemma's home now, Carly's got the name of the other woman: Susan Parks. As in Susie the Patient who is coming to Simon's 40th birthday party this very evening at The Artichoke. Gemma doesn't understand. Could it have been a surprise? Could that have been friendly kissing? We couldn't really see very well. Gemma flashes back to all the handsiness of the previous evening.

Gemma hands over the prescription for sleeping pills; asking if Carly's boyfriend wakes her up every night? It's worse than that though, he's been manhandling her, too, says a sore arm. Gemma snatches back the prescription asking where is this wanker?

They drive to Carly's house for a housecall, Gemma grabs her black bag from the trunk and heads on over to get rid of this mess for Carly. THAT'S what she needs, not sleeping pills. She calls him by name at the door, is it alright with Daniel Spencer (Ricky Nixon) if she comes in? And he'll want to sit down. She carefully threatens his new job, the release of his medical files would be so unfortunate, and the stress shows in her lighting a cigarette and pausing just then. She tells him to leave, and never see Carly again, or she will send his medical files to his new job and in this town, with her 10 years of medical service, school governor and all kinds of other respectable-sounding things, people take her at.her.word, understood?

He calls her a bitch and takes a clumsy swing at her, which she easily blocks and chides him for his language usage while holding the lit cigarette a millimeter away from the inside of his wrist. That was gorgeous, really lovely.

She advises him to leave immediately, Carly will send his things. She waits outside while he does just that. Carly thinks he'll be back, but Gemma doesn't, advising her to call if he does. And about her thing, prods Carly, if you couldn't find anything, check his boot (trunk?), that's where Simon kept going back and forth to. Hey, maybe tonight at the party!

She and Tom arrive at the party, a surprised Simon is wondering where she's been? Can she have the keys to his car? She's lost an earring and she's looked everywhere else. Off she goes and what's in the boot?!! Susie and family arrive just then. Gemma snaps open the trunk, there's nothing there! Literally nothing, but in a frenzy she opens up the spare tire wheel well and there it is: The Rucksack of Lies. In it is a wallet with cards in maybe another name? And a cell phone, where the background is Simon holding on his lap a very young blonde who is not Susie OR his wife.

Okay, then it gets weird. The pictures in the phone are of all her friends with Simon and his other woman. There are texts from her friends, like Ros, about Gemma herself following Simon. WHAT'S GOING ON?? Is Simon a secret agent man? Is Gemma mentally ill and imagining this? How can they all know but her? The young woman on Simon's lap is at the party, she's Susie's Parks' daughter Kate and was serving at the restaurant the evening previous.

Gemma collects herself, grabbing a long pair of medical shears from her bag and slipping on the earring she'd put in her pocket earlier. Is she going to stab him??

Gemma stands and stares in the middle of the crowd while they all stare at her, including Simon, who is so distracted that he sets himself on fire. Good, that.

Gemma tends to his burnt hand after, removing his wedding ring and pocketing it, I assume. She holds the shears very tightly and I can imagine the urge to drive them directly into his groin right now. He gets called away for cake; opportunity lost.

Simon does his birthday speech; first he has to thank mostly-behaved Tom and then yay a talk about Gemma. I mean. What a load of shite. And now SHE has to make a toast! In front of all these lying bastages. She plants one on him instead, pointedly in the direction of the young blonde Kate Parks (Jodie Comer) who is gnawing on her liver in the background. And we're oot to the rendition of the poem from the internet, no, heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell the fury like of a woman scorned.

Well. I have to tell you, I've only seen Suranne Jones in Scott and Bailey, she has a right time of it with men and cheating, doesn't she? Her portrayal of the stages of a woman on the verge of discovery of infidelity is spot on and I like what I've seen so far. Thanks again, E, for the suggestion! Until next time!

  • I’m anxious to see your opinion of future episodes. I couldn’t get past the first episode of this series, even though I love Suranne Jones and Sally Wainwright. It failed the Bechdel test so spectacularly I was put off. Then I kept hearing how wonderful it was and how Suranne Jones’ character took control of her life and I thought I’d been too hasty. Keep writing.

    • Oh see now that’s strange, I thought it absolutely rang true. When she stroked her throat in the car, I had an almost visceral reaction.

      I just don’t understand the end part; HOW could all of their shared friends know and say nothing to her? Is she that much of an outsider?

  • PLL

    As always, observant insightful and FAF all rolled into one. (I think I just made up an acronym). Just you wait and see how it unfolds! 😮

    (Just a side note – as prolific and brilliant as Sally is and as much as she and Suranne have enjoyed success together, Mike Bartlett wrote this show.)

    • Oh my goodness I see how I COMPLETELY got the wrong end of the stick on Twitter! Ahhh that’s a big one, I’d better change all that post-haste. My reading comprehension on that entire twitter feed was lacking

      Thank you!

      • PLL

        Hey, I wouldn’t fret – it happens to the best of us when we reach a certain age. It happened to me when I reached 7.

        • I’m pretty sure mine was around the same time

        • That just seems like an extraordinarily large one, I dragged poor Sally through rounds and rounds of tweets; oh god I bet I’ve been muted. Someone hold me

          • PLL

            Yeah, it was a pretty good one and sure, you’ll agonize over it for a bit – and THEN you’ll realize that SW most certainly wanted to check out your page after that! And who wouldn’t want her checking our their excellent writing and humour? Every cloud…..🌤

            (Where was that silver lining whenever a “reply all” goof was made? Asking for a friend. 😐)

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