Last Tango In Halifax S1:E3 The Effect Recap

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Welcome back to Last Tango in Halifax, where I have at long last SEEN THE SHEEP! Thank you, Lesley B, for the pictures!

We ended last episode at the, Raff being dragged off to jail for beating up Paul Jatri for running his mouth about Gillian, William spilling the beans (and spewing everything else at the side of the road) about Judith being at the house and the subsequent leaving of John at the sheep farm whilst everyone else left.

Caroline is driving away, being yelled at by Lawrence, who says she can't just LEAVE John there! Why not, he's left her? Don't try to be rational with children, they don't understand.  She almost drives off the road and then does pull off. She gets out, holding her face and it's just. She looks at the absolute end of her rope.

Inside the car, William and Lawrence are arguing over who is the bigger idiot, and without a doubt, I'd say John. Pressing his case after and not coming clean immediately, I mean. He asked to move into the master bedroom that morning! And even if she didn't know, HE did. It's the sheer nerve that's overwhelming.

William's had enough of Lawrence's defense of their minging numpty of a father, he gets out to go hug his mother and apologize; she says it's not him, even if John and Judith weren't doing anything, he let her into the house, and he is weak-willed and shallow. She pulls Lawrence and William into an embrace and we all have a bit of a cry.

Celia is watching, Caroline asks if she's all right? And she is, but are YOU, Caroline? Caroline smiles, still with tears on her face, and it's really lovely. She looks happy for one of the very first times; lighter.

Alan arrives at the police station, huffing and puffing a bit and careful! Your heart! He couldn't find a parking space and those feature heavily in this show, don't they? Gillian tells him the police won't be pressing charges, just a caution like Robbie thought, but Alan really wants to talk about Gillian's comment about her mother maybe have wanted a car. For her part, Gillian wants to talk about the note, or the non-delivery thereof and it's all very "YOU WANTED ANOTHER FAMILY, DIDN'T YOU?? JUST ADMIT IT!!" to me, anyhow, it may indeed be something else entirely. Nah, I've got the wrong end of the stick, she's just picking up for her mother, like you would. He says he certainly had no complaints but she doesn't look as though she believes him.

Raff is released to them, done and dusted. Robbie asks what was that about? Raff isn't answering and neither is Gillian, not to bloody wanker Robbie anyway.

Alan, Gillian and Raff get home to find John on their couch, passed out, and I start looking for empty champagne bottles, although it does appear to be late in the evening. John is all stuttery, so maybe not. Or that could just be because he doesn't really KNOW any of these people.

Gillian is concerned that he and Caroline have got the wrong idea(r) about them. Raffy's not like this and 1) there is no he and Caroline any more, thank the GODS and 2) anyone who has a teenage child or has been a teenage child should understand. Hormones are the WORST.

And John did have wine! And he's having more now, with Gillian, and explaining the whole affair-fest to non-judgemental Gillian (Tell me when I get boring), and the other day when he couldn't get rid of Judith and drank and had cheese with her and everything with that giant gun she was holding to his head and all. All right, she did dangle a "not sure I can go on" in front of him, but still. He was there by the grace of Caroline anyway, and then to do that? And YES, he should be "desperately grateful to be back with glorious, snotty, mad Caroline." I mean.

Gillian carefully extricates herself to go check on Raffy; who calls Paul an idiot. And her too. She can't exactly argue with that, even if he shouldn't really speak to his mum like that, and that means she knows exactly what they were fighting over, so she closes the door and goes.

John's trying to get home, but Alan's not heading out in the middle of the night, he'll take John to Harrogate in the morning. As long as John doesn't drink any more, Alan doesn't want him throwing up in the car before Celia's even sat in it.

Gillian says sure, John can stay over, but he shouldn't get pushed around so much. Presumably half the house is his? And that's what Judith said too, that it was his kitchen as well. What are you playing at, Gillian??

The next morning, Alan and John roll up in that gorgeous car and John strides in shouting "Daddy's home!" and "I'm cooking! Who wants pancakes?" while Alan makes his way to Celia's flat in with flowers.

AAAAHHHHHHHHH CAROLINE HAS AN AGA!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHH!!!!! Someday, with any luck before I shed this mortal coil, I will cook on an Aga stove. It's the sole thing on my bucket list.

Anyway, sorry, sorry, he's cooking breakfast and all proud of himself and playing loud marching music and making a right mess while Celia and Alan are discussing the existence of God. He stopped believing in the mid to late 70s but he can't narrow down why exactly. She wants to get married in a church instead of a registry office, if that's okay with Alan?

Just then, they're distracted by Caroline coming into the kitchen and the ensuing shouting match. It's really funny at points, to Celia, Alan and me (when you were gone shagging that WHORE!!) but not really, you know. He's not leaving and she's just supposed to put up with this cheating, useless arsehole because legally, the house is half his. I bet a smaller flat would be much easier to take care of, Caroline! And wouldn't have an arsehole named John innit or the headache of upkeep. But the Aga...

Side note about arseholes: someone called me one on my very first Happy Valley recap, but I think we've made up since then. I was taken aback, but still tickled at being called something so eminently British. I expect a "wanker" out of one of you lot!

The boys wander in, taking sides immediately, with Lawrence sitting down to eat his Popsicle's brekkie and William making after Caroline, who's slammed the door.

Gillian's making another run at Raff, but he's still not talking to her, preferring headphones.

Gillian pulls up at work and it's the funniest things that stick out to me; both times she's driven up to the grocery store in her Land Rover, she's parked right in front of the store. This must be a back entrance of some type, no way would an employee take a a prime parking space to sit there all day while she's working.

Anyway, none of that is the point, I'm just putting off talking about her meeting with Paul outside the store. He's got a cut over his eye and a little scrape and looks fine. She's furious that he called the police in the first place, but he wants credit for not pressing charges. Of course, he says that before he says that he described the upstairs of her house in excruciating detail, down to things in Raff's own room to Raff and what a c-word that doesn't moo. There is just no other word to almost use. I mean. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, GILLIAN?? She cries as she suits up for work and I'm sorry for yelling, Gill, he's just SUCH a scumbag? What grown man goes to such lengths to upset a 16 year old boy and humiliate someone?

She's thumbing her phone, trying to decide whether to call Alan or not, deciding not and putting it away just as John calls to thank her. For putting him up and also for winding him up, he's done it, he's stuck up for himself.

Inside, Caroline is talking to Kate and watching John smirk on the phone to Gillian. She doesn't know what to do! She's wasted the best years of her life on this insufferable...jerk (plus all kinds of other words)! Kate is perfect when she says, simply "yes" and suggests that THIS time, Caroline do something about it! Divorce him, for real this time, sell the house and split everything and that's what I said! There isn't anything worse than a wishy-washy friend that decides she's leaving her awful husband once a year, sops up all the sympathy and offers of help she can for a week and then carries on like nothing's happened until the next year. Don't misunderstand me, marriage is difficult at best and divorce is even worse, I hear, but I've known women who've pulled those chains for close to a decade before I realised absolutely nothing was going to change; she was content with her annual rile-up.

This is not our Caroline, however, she's worried about the house that she just finished making perfect, and her mother, but not her mother, because Celia's getting married and probably moving anyway. Kate thinks it's sweet that Celia's getting married! And does Caroline want her to pop 'round? Go for a walk? DO something?

Gillian's trying to get off the phone with John politely, he just never shuts up! It's like someone who just talks and talks and talks and how many words are we up to now? He pulls out a cigarette and Caroline is FURIOUS! "Oh" says Kate "Is that bad is that?" and hahahahah I like her! She's funny! Caroline doesn't think it's funny that he's smoking (we don't smoke *grim look*), though, AND drinking whiskey at 11:15 am AND listening to the bloody Archers!! That whole scene is hilarious and so, so true.

Not so hilarious is the scene outside, although Caroline dousing John with water to put out his cigarette was fun! William listens as they fight, John is going on about wanting his marriage to this "mad cow" to work but she says it's done, it's redundant, and she doesn't want to waste another second. And then William shuts the window and plays music to drown them out. It's difficult to make the end of a marriage truly funny, there are so many feelings falling out all over the place.

Celia and Alan are parking; holding hands and she's reminiscing about Kenneth. He wasn't very romantic and once she's found out what a "randy sod" he'd been, she stopped going anywhere with him because she didn't know who knew. She says she should have divorced him, but she'd given up her job when she had Caroline and had no job or money of her own, and NO, that's not just back then, Celia. People *ahem* still do it these days as well. It's a vulnerable position to be in.

Celia says she could have killed him once, not hyperbole or an euphemism, he slipped off a little stepladder once and knocked himself out and she decided if he ever did it again, she's slip a pillow over his face and suffocate him. "Have I shocked you?" she asks clearly shocked Alan, "nooooo" he stammers but she's just giving him a heads-up on the sort of woman he's about to marry. He asks if she wants to go for a pint, she invites him to spend the night at Harrogate instead. He's completely nonplussed, but she didn't mean anything untoward, just a lot of travel ahead of him and he's been up since dawn. He says he'll need a toothbrush and that means yes, yay!

Gillian is home, looking for Raffy, but he's not home and he's taken some of his things. He's not answering, though, so she again looks at Alan's number (DON'T CALL YOUR DAD!! HE'S HAVING A GREAT DAY AND POSSIBLE SLEEPOVER WITH HIS FIANCEE!!) but calls Robbie instead. Of course Raff is there, but he can't come to the phone just now, he's on the X-Box. Thankfully, Raff hasn't filled in old Robbie on exactly WHY he's so cross with Gillian, but Robbie's not keeping him there by force and he won't put him out.

Gillian cries and paces, finally deciding on calling John back. That's a little random, although I suppose it's nice sometimes to talk to a new person who doesn't have any preconceived notions about you, not having known you their whole life. John says sure, he can talk, peeking out on Caroline in her "Witch's Coven" out in the garden with (Lawrence says) lesbian woman from Caroline's work.

Gillian wants to talk about what she's done with Paul. I gather she thought that since John had that fling-thing he would maybe be a sympathetic ear. She cries as she explains and I feel bad for her, Raff is gone for now and it's not right but there it is.

There's a beautiful scene in the garden next; Caroline is thinking out loud about her next steps and Kate is explaining about how it went when she split up her marriage with (off-screen) Richard, they couldn't come to an agreement and so had to split everything up and sell it and Caroline muses she'll need legal advice. Kate snips that yes, of course, she doesn't know anything, which Caroline distractedly asks "don't you" and then Kate is off. Caroline doesn't know the first thing about Kate, no clue that Kate's father has Alzheimers or anything else, because Caroline never asks about HER life, but also assumes that Kate will be interested in hers. Caroline shuts down, saying she shouldn't have called Kate after all, and Kate says no, never that, she'll always come 'round, she just wants Caroline to be aware. Of the effect she has. On her.

credit curiouser75 tumblr
credit curiouser75 tumblr

Caroline gives a gorgeous monologue about growing up in a loveless house, with two parents not speaking to each other unless absolutely necessary; she can see normal friendships, she just doesn't know how to DO them. She wonders what it would have been like if her parents had loved each other and she's so struck by how different Celia is now with Alan.

Is there is any message here, although, really, there are like 6 or 7 there, it's that staying together for the kids isn't always the best FOR the kids, you know? If you teach them that unhappy, angry people co-habitating is what relationships look like...

Caroline swears to try to not make Kate feel as though her friendship isn't important or that she doesn't want to know about her life. I love Kate. I mean, always loved Caroline, but that was a courageous talk to have at this stage.

John is giving Gillian some valuable advice; let Raff stew for a week and let Robbie deal with a teenager in the house, it'll shake loose. So his mom has sex, who cares? He'll get it when he's an adult. 16 is a ways from that, though.

Celia and Alan have fallen asleep fully clothes holding hands on the couch, awwww! Sleeping together before marriage, tsk tsk, better forget about that church wedding after all, Celia!

Gillian awakes the next morning to see an unfamiliar blue car parked in her drive. She knocks, no answer, but when she opens the back door, a severely beaten Paul peaks out. She gasps and ask who did it, Raff? Robbie? But he can't speak yet. For once. She hauls him inside, he's really beat to shite.

She wants to take him to the hospital, but he doesn't want to go. And it wasn't Raff OR Robbie, it was two of his fiancee's brothers and some of their friends. They were going to pour petrol on him and set him on fire and yeah, I would also guess the engagement is off. This is what being so bloody indiscreet got you, you bastage!

Everyone is getting ready for work or school at Caroline's when Celia pops 'round, she just wanted to let Caroline know she'd had an overnight visitor. And marvelous sex. Just what EVERY adult child wants to hear from their parents; how good the shagging is with their new fiance. Celia is so worried about Caroline and I just love their scenes. So much genuine emotion between those two, and Caroline looks BEAUTIFUL in a dark-ish green cardigan.

Gillian did take Paul to the hospital. He's on crutches now and clearly in a lot of pain. He can't go home, he's been kicked out and staying with his former fiancee is similarly out of the question. She sighs "but I'm not giving you Raff's room!"

Alan and Celia are cuddled up in the church, reminiscing about their past as youths who went to school together. I will just say, Alan and I are on exactly the same page about church being about control and power and there being nothing wrong with having pop songs at funerals. I've told my husband several times, but he keeps forgetting (or blocking out) that I want "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers (NO remakes) at my wake, which is just self-serving and melancholy enough that everyone SHOULD be crying AND enjoying some first rate music with a pint at a pub. You lot will remind him, won't you?

Celia thinks church should be about tradition and sometimes you need someone in a high place to tell you what to do; a horrified Alan says she can't have voted for Margaret Thatcher? She doesn't answer EXACTLY but says he can't have liked that Michael Foot? In his anorak at the cenotaph and I have no bloody clue what that means. They discuss Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and his phony grin (and he's SCOTTISH) and I don't know that EITHER, but I DO know The Guardian! Which he can keep, and I for sure know the Daily Mail, which is what she reads, and they're just perfect opposites. "I'll teach you," he says and "No, you damn well won't" she replies. They end their rousing discussion of church and state with David Cameron, who at least "knows he's as can see him thinking 'I was born an arse, I'll die an arse but at least I know I'm an arse."

I couldn't agree more; Celia walking down the aisle to "The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba" could not be more appropriate. And Alan's okay with oppressing the masses for a half hour or so, let's go find the vicar. "I hope he isn't a woman" says Celia...

The female vicar is brusquely advising them of their options for a Saturday wedding, 5 months, but that's awfully far away. Since they aren't divorced and are regular church goers, er ooooh, not exactly regular churchgoers. All right, when was the last time, then? Christmas....1977? And why do they want God's blessing if they aren't churchgoers? Alan thinks for a moment and says "thought he might like the trade" HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I seriously laughed out loud then!

Back in the car, Celia and Alan are laughing to pee themselves, that's it, Celia's done with the church, that vicar has turned her off getting married in one entirely. Celia just wants somewhere classy and to but a new hat, how about South Ouram Hall? Alan's sure it's just as creepy as it ever was!

Oh nooooo, Raff and Robbie are at the farm and I'm pretty sure I just saw Paul's wee blue car there still. They burst in to see Paul resting on the couch and Raff calls his mother a slapper, prompting a "yeah, whatever", not a clock across the melon. Now Robbie knows what's going on, too, but Gillian doesn't make any apologies, it's her house. Raff goes to get the rest of his stuff, there's still time for that clock across the melon, Gillian! Raff's stomping out, Gillian asks him to stay, Paul hasn't got anywhere to go. He does try, though, to be hushed by Gillian, he really hasn't anywhere else to go, and Raff does. These are hard choices.

Alan and Celia escape the rain into South Ouram Hall, which appears to be deserted. Alan called it creepy because he saw a ghost there when he was younger, a woman. They go find where he saw her, upstairs and through that door. This is a hella creepy room, with walleyed dolls and wooden horses (thanks Something Wicked This Way Comes!) and then the power goes out!

Back at the farm, it's a big storm as well, Gillian and Paul start at the sound of glass breaking and then there's an explosion. Gillian runs outside to see her Land Rover engulfed in flames, was that the Cresswell boys? Or Raff / Robbie? And we're oot

Well. Lovely scene with Caroline and Kate, I hope that divorce gets rolling soon. I don't think I realised what unhappy looks like until I saw Caroline start to shake it (and John) off. Bit of a random aside with Celia and Alan trapped in this haunted house but I do love how Gillian's story shows exactly how things really happen. Of course Paul would come there with nowhere else to go; of course she would have to take him in, of course she would talk to self-confessed adulterer John, who might be able to untangle some of the self-recrimination to find a way clear, and of course none of that will make any sense to a 16 year old or his obstreperous uncle.

Until next time! If you have any discrepancies you'd like to mention or even just to say hi, you can always email me at or I'm on Twitter @gingesbecray


  • PLL

    Again, these are just SO good and SO entertaining – they must be great fun to write, too, especially when the show is just so darn good! You always strike the perfect balance between the funny and absurd, the serious and reflective. Love and laugh seeing our newfound Britisms (Brenglish?!?) put to good use!

    • Thank you, lady! I love the show, so many layers and not at all predictable. Any other show would have had John walking away immediately and forget having Paul stay! Much more real and complex this way, beautiful, really.

      I was so proud I got a minging numpty in there! Woot!

  • So. This was different. I actually watched this episode before reading the recap. I am really loving this show! The cinematography isn’t an after thought. There is complexity and reality to the characters. Flaws exposed. Dislike John immensely, but had to agree with his logic about Raff.

    I had to play back the kitchen scene several times. Not only an Aga, TTM, but multiple Le Creusets in the kitchen as well! Also, I am doubling down on the parking in front of the store. It pinged my radar a bit the first time. This time I full out thought “What the??” LOL

    My money is on Robbie for torching the Land Rover. The ex’s brothers are too obvious of a choice, what with Paulie Hamburger Face mentioning fire earlier, and Robbie is an angry enough tool. Imagining him investigating his own arson.

    Fighting the urge to binge watch the rest of Season 1. Need to savor. I already have Season 2 waiting as well.