Last Tango in Halifax S2:E1 The Elopement of the Mendacious Pensioners Recap

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I'm not gonna lie, I've been looking forward to Last Tango in Halifax all week. I'm planning on adding The Five into the rotation; it's another Red Production Co. show, but I wanted to touch base with the lovely lads and ladies in Halifax first. It's like: I've eaten my oatmeal, now I want my pudding! CAN I HAVE MY PUDDING PLEASE??

We're back! Series one ended with Alan in the hospital after what was presumably a massive heart attack, dead and visiting Celia for a moment even, but all well and sprightly with the news that Celia had set things right with Caroline, against who Celia had launched a horrific homophobic attack upon discovering Caroline and Kate's nascent relationship. Meanwhile, Gillian's been busy attracting ALL the male attention in the (somewhat Happy) valley; with Paul Bloody Jatri, Uncle Robbie and Caroline's John forming an orderly queue to the left for access to her sturdy-looking bed. Right, was that everything? I'll add as I go!

I would like to continue a bit about Celia's abrupt about face with regards to Caroline's decision to start a relationship with Kate; it seemed like an awfully short period of time to erase or reverse 6 decades worth of thinking of things one way. It also seemed super convenient, as her bigotry and small-mindedness had ended her relationship with Alan, who wasn't having now't of that, thank you very much. Sooo, we shall see if she truly has been on the Road to Damascus after all!

Everyone is so excited that Alan is okay! Gillian and Raff are in rubbing his hands and crying, Gillian thinks she loves Celia too! Alan advises Raff that he better keep his hands off, Celia's his! Er-oooh, that's what every 16 year old wants, his grandad flexing about the attractiveness of his elderly beloved. I'm sorry, I do love Celia, I just have my eye on her now.

Celia wants to stay at the farm, if that's all right? Of course it is, Gillian offers to go to Harrogate to get things for her, but no, Celia will  ring Lady Muck to bring her some things. Gillian is overcome and asks for a hug, she's just so happy Celia is making Alan so happy and for bringing Alan back from the dead. Er-oooh Celia agrees, she thinks it was her! Celia swears she's not ever going to fall out with him again EVER and she dances off. It's very sweet.

Oh well my, Robbie is doing manual labour out in the field and I don't know what it is about a sweaty bearded man WORKING that is like catnip, but there it is. Oooh and he makes a cuppa for Gillian and Celia too, while STILL all sweaty. AND there's a lasagna in the oven that will be plenty to include Caroline for when she comes to drop off THAT BAG for Celia and maybe stay the night. Imma need a minute, Robbie is almost too perfect. He COOKS TOO!

Caroline gets off the phone and I may need another minute, she's puttering in That Kitchen! John ineffectually follows her around and while I can't see anything out of order in That Kitchen, don't just stand there while someone else is working, DO SOMETHING. What he does do is offer to go to Halifax instead and I think that's just the worst.idea.ever, but Caroline doesn't even know what he's getting at. Then he asks to go along and it's making even less sense to her, what about the boys? Ah no, she doesn't know about he and Gillian's birthday bounce. John looks like shite, by the way. Haggard and spottily shaven.

He's got it worked out that every single thing that happened is his fault, which also means that, in his mind, he's responsible for every single thing that happens and he's JUST.THAT.IMPORTANT. We all know that person, don't we? Everything is either their fault or their triumph, but either way, the world's rotational axis is fixed around their personage. I did love how he hesitated, tripping a bit over whether Celia is small-minded and bigoted, or just...can be.

Caroline's has had quite enough of that, fanks, when she gets back she wants to get started on the splitting of things and if they need somewhere to store that enormous Aga while they're sorting it out, I know a place. See, it's not all about John, it's all about That Aga.

Off she goes and John immediately texts Gillian, they "NEED TO TALK." She immediately texts back 'DON'T.TEXT.ME" and all is right with the world.

Caroline is talking with Kate while driving, she's always talking to Kate while driving! Do you think it's out of some kind of respect for John that she does that outside of the house? I mean, I imagine she talks in the house as well, just wondering. Kate looks beautiful, glowing and happy. Kate's smile falters a bit when she realises she and Caroline won't be doing anything this evening and this night is starting to feel like a huge watershed moment.

Alan is looking perkier, head raised up and everything. He's happy, and no, Celia isn't his wife, but they ought to be getting on with it, oughtn't they? That's a word! A real word!

John keeps calling, but Gillian's too busy teasing Raff about his mate / girlfriend Ellie, who Gillian thinks is just using Raff. They had a date and she stood him up for a better offer, but what if it was a misunderstanding like with Alan and Celia? No need to get straight into name calling, Gillian! She, Raff and Robbie do make a nice team, he was right.

John's gone straight into dirty pool, calling Celia instead, who answers coolly and I just BET he asks to speak to Gillian!

I would just like to thank whoever directed this episode and Sally Wainwright, for having poncy old John do all of his thinking and calling in That Kitchen, I swear, I'll try not to mention it again, but I've moved onto waxing poetic about that beautifully shaped island in my melon, so I can't promise anything.

Oh just then John asks to speak to Gillian. Hey!!!! I heard sheep in the background for the very first time!!! It really is a sheep farm!! Also in the background is Robbie, listening carefully as John says he thinks he's in love with her and Gillian tries to get John off the damn phone. She finally is able to hang up and what does John do? Calls Judith. He's not in love with Gillian, he's clinging to anything close by (not necessarily physically) with a vagina. Learn to be alone, you twillock! It'll help you immeasurably in the long run.

Alan's excited because he gets to go home Monday! Some rules, though, the usual. No fighting, no dancing, no enjoying himself, no farting, you get the picture. Gillian doesn't believe Alan's medical rhetoric for a moment, she understood there was damage to the heart muscle and will be asking the consultant herself whether it's sorted itself out or not.

Alan and Celia are finally alone again for a minute, time to get this wedding show on the road! Alan suggests they elope, use strangers for witnesses and tell everyone after! Or not tell anyone! That is EXACTLY how I would get married if I was to do it again, I'd buy a nice dress and nip down to that place with all that gleaming wood and eat cheesecake and drink gin or a pint after. DONE! I hate weddings, but I don't mind them on TV, they last just about as long as I can take; about 45 minutes. I shouldn't say I HATE weddings, there is something so lovely about the beginnings of things, but all the speeches and pomp and circumstance make me itch.

ANYWAY, Alan's A1! A1! And that's it, Celia.

Gillian and Caroline are having a cuppa, chatting, and Gillian thought her dad was dying of a broken heart. Now, that's a lovely sentiment and I know what she's saying, but her dad's had every kind of stress possible lately thanks to That Celia (sorry, sorry, I can't get over how cold and small she was last episode), I'm sure that had much more to do with it than a mystical heart repair.

Gillian asks about Kate, Caroline lights up, but she's feeling the pressure of being an instant couple. They'd just started dating when everyone found out, it sounds as though it's become more about them as a Couple That Means Something than two people figuring out if their match goes beyond a mad physical attraction.

Sarah Lancashire is lovely, and I promise I won't fangirl like crazy, but just watching her is mesmerizing sometimes. I've mentioned this in Happy Valley, but it's the small-scale things she does physically that draw you in, you forget you're watching an actor, you're just there. The nose-wrinkling and eye movements in this scene.

Gillian needs to tell her this thing: and I'm so glad this is how Caroline is going to find out about John! You just KNOW he'd mess that up monumentally. Gillian starts off by saying that she doesn't regret it, she makes a point of never regretting anything and I tense up completely. Don't start off puffing out your chest about your existential leanings! Just get in there and apologize! She starts to explain, and Caroline comes out with "you've slept with John" and Gillian can barely believe it; she apologizes, saying she was pissed and it was her birthday and then the other penny drops: Caroline was joking. And is now quiet while Gillian rambles on, looking forlorn while Caroline asks her how it was. I think Caroline is fine, and Gillian risks a "you're thinking brain-dead lowlife trailer trash, aren't you?" and Caroline agrees "yeah, but that's because I'm a snotty bitch" hahahaha.


Relationships are tricky, yo, I didn't know which way that was going to go. Gillian's worried that maybe Caroline's in shock, though? Maybe the implications haven't sunk in yet? Caroline asks if there are any implications and maybe she isn't taking it as well as thought. John's infidelity has long been a concern and a thorn in her side, and even though Caroline had she herself slept with Kate the day before all that happened, it's a lot to take in at once. I mean, they'd just talked about being like sisters, and Caroline was quite annoyed with John for being so predictable in his pursuit of Gillian (the cell number kept) and I just don't know. Personally, I'd be okay with John sleeping with anyone BUT Gillian again, just because it means he'd be around more. Yuck.

Gillian goes into a nervous explanation of the middle of the plot from Pulp Fiction, but doesn't really get an answer and they don't go shoot students after, either. There's stuff to mull is all, I hope. Lots of "blimey"s from Caroline and not much else but bemused questions.

Celia, Gillian and Caroline are headed back to the farm, Celia saying she thinks the world of them, and there's an odd look from Caroline to Gillian that doesn't go unnoticed.

Back at the farm, Caroline asks where the little fella is? Gillian dropped Paul Bloody Jatri off at his granny's, yay!  Caroline is leaving, she doesn't want to stay any longer and Celia mentioning John calling earlier and insisting on talking to Gillian isn't doing anything good either. Even bad relationships need mourning space when they're done. Because it never quite takes immediately, there are all those feels left over, usually anger, but also a sense of ownership, right or wrong. I think our Caroline might be feeling a little bit jealous of interloper Gillian as well, dubbed equally important by Celia and pursued by John, who treated Caroline so poorly. It has to sting, even if she DOESN'T want him. Plus, Caroline doesn't strike me as someone who divulges how she feels immediately, preferring to mull things over from more than one angle. There was a moment in her and Gillian's talk where she laughed and Gillian pitifully asked if Caroline was laughing at her and there was bite in Caroline's answer of "just laughing", a bit of steel behind the words. So I don't know.

Somewhere in the middle of all of my musings, Celia mentions that she's like to have Alan move into her little flat at Harrogate, she doesn't want him doing stairs, that's how Celia's beloved dad died with his bad heart.

Celia walks Caroline out; Caroline looks like a child when she explains what's wrong with her and Gillian. I hadn't thought of it like that, but the night they slept together a metric tonne of family turmoil was happening. Alan and Celia were making a very unsafe trip home in the dark, John had been a complete ass to everyone and THAT was the night that Gillian found him irresistible? And that overrode concern about her dad driving in the dark and the fact that she'd made out with Robbie earlier? I mean. Those seeds had to have been sewn earlier. She's single and can muck about where she pleases, that just seemed like an epic error on both sides. It's making Caroline wonder if John was a serial philanderer like her dad, which has to be full of emotional land mines.

Side note: I am ridiculously pro-sex, especially for women, but I think men should have at it as much as possible as well. I think we'd have a much happier world if we all slept with as many people as possible while not attached, it has a way of highlighting what's really important and gets rid of all those artificially introduced stigmas. I just think that on the scale of Bad Sex Partner Choices, John was an 11. As you were!

Celia looks so grave, she doesn't want to leave, she needs to be near Alan and Caroline struggles to not make Celia make a choice. Caroline drives away as Gillian watches from the window. She's made tea for her and Celia, but Celia says she's turning in and Gillian looks so sad after. Also childlike.

It's Monday and Alan gets to come home! Alan teases Celia about her standing him up lo those many years before, but he might be convinced to let that go, if Celia plays her cards right. The consultants come in, but we're not going to find out what's up that easily.

Alan and Celia are perched on a rock, he swore after his first heart attack that he would really live life and now that he's had the second, now he's REALLY going to live. Fancy skiing? No, never! They laugh and reminisce about palling around as kids with friends, we get Joe Reilly's entire life story in a handful of sentences. This is the rock that they dropped Celia's dad ashes from, and she loved her dad. She was confused by the consistency of the ashes, more grit than fluffy and it's so odd, you know. As a young child, I scattered my father's ashes and I don't remember the texture, but there was a bear, a stuck Vega and a whole lot of swearing.

Celia shares about her family, her mother hadn't thought the scattering of the ashes through and they just couldn't get rid of them. Him. They would have loved her and Alan together, though. Alan bursts in with hey! Fancy a pint? And a pop by the registry office while they're at it? Celia isn't sure, does he really mean to not tell anyone until they've done it? He does!

The light comes over them as she drives, she still seems unsure to me, but there they are, at the registry office, booking their ceremony for two weeks hence.

Celia and Alan pull up to the farm; that Lexus is a really gorgeous car, but I saw an old Futura convertible today, also red, that blows it out of the water. Can Gillian put the kettle on? They need to talk to her about something. Oh and harumph, er-oooh wedding date, nah, they don't have that, getting Alan all better is the focus insist the mendacious pensioners.

It's Harrogate, stair-less and with Celia as 24-7 nursing care, but Gillian is not adjusting very well to her dad possibly moving away. Alan reminds Gillian that they were thinking of buying anyway, and probably around here, but that's not decided, interjects Celia, which means NO WAY. Oh, and it's tomorrow. Gillian's so worried about Alan's heart, though, she settles for a home visit when they go to move in.

Alan and Celia are cozied up in bed talking about the wedding particulars, Celia's not the "something old" they need, she started counting backwards when she turned 36, leaving her currently -3. There was that memorable time in 1988 when she and our Caroline were both 22, hahahaha. I'm one of those obnoxious women who refuses to lie about her age, but I don't go pushing it at people either. I had an exciting twenties, so I figure that anything after 30 was a surprise and gift, so 43 is really just all gravy. I've gotten super judgy about our Celia, I'll try to shake it off!

Alan figures he can borrow a suit, he just has to lie about an invite to a Manhattan cocktail party. Or tell Maurice to sod off, one of those. And then I think they talk about pornographic magazines, and laugh and laugh while Gillian listens below.

Celia and Alan are driving to Harrogate with Gillian trailing behind, Celia spills the Sleeping With John Beans and I can't say it can help with everyone knowing like this. It's like what Caroline said about her and Kate; everyone knows and has opinions about it and they don't even really know what's happening yet. All this talking about it, it's as though everyone has to take sides and I don't think that's necessary.

HEY! How come we didn't see Caroline get home? Was Judith there? Did Caroline call Kate again? That felt like the biggest night ever for Caroline to be away and it was all for naught?

Caroline walks into the kitchen where John is working at his computer (thank you Sally), Gillian's on her way and Kate's here! John ignores Kate completely, rude, asking repeatedly about Gillian. Oh, and Kate's moving in. She'll just go get her things, Lawrence will help.

John can't believe she's moving Kate in, she has her own house! And oh! Judith WAS there when Caroline got home! And after that night, Caroline will not be made to feel like a "sodding gooseberry" in her own house and he has NOTHING to say about what she does. He stands down

Gillian is as blown away by the sight of Harrogate as I was, telling her dad he's done all right here, hey? He glares at her, and tells her he thought she was plumbing the depths with Susan Jatri's lad, but John? He calls her a...pillock, but I think he was going to say slapper and that would not be okay.

Kate's put her things in Caroline's bedroom, is that okay? And how permanent is this exactly? Caroline knows they need to have a proper conversation about this, but if it's what Kate wants, then yeah, yeah it is. Lots of lovely eyecuddling and CarolineCleavage and then the phone rings. It's Celia, telling her they've arrived; Caroline will go pop 'round with her news.

Alan is still mad and wanting to have it out with Gillian, it gets ugly fast. He tells Celia Gillian was pregnant at 15, breaking her mother's heart, and that's when Caroline walks in. She's making supper, and by the way, Kate is here. And here's what happened Saturday night!

Side note: it's all fine and dandy for Alan to judge Celia for not being open-hearted about HER daughter, but he's not being very nice to his offspring either right now.

Back to Saturday night! Caroline walks in to find Judith literally falling down the stairs in a bathrobe, followed by John in boxer shorts and her kitchen DESTROYED. Where are the boys? They march into the hallway to tattle on their extremely drunk caregivers, one of whom is feeling queasy right about now. Caroline tells the boys to get their coats and get into her car, when she gets back that kitchen better be clean!

John drunkenly protests that if she can have friends over so can he! And he paid for this house with the money made from being on the bestseller list and blah blah Judith throws up behind him as he sputters away. Right. Caroline will see him in the morning. That's exactly what John talked about before! Judith falling down the stairs and vomiting all over herself, although I can't tell if she's peed on herself too.

In retelling, Caroline says she invited Kate to stay to get the message across to John, who won't move out as she asked. So. Kate, meanwhile, is puttering about in the kitchen as John walks in; he's just so rude to her, only asking abrupt questions and saying he won't me made to feel like a...whatever (sodding gooseberry?) in his own home and I honestly can't see how this will work. I don't think you'll be able to shame him out, Caroline, but I understand about not wanting to leave certain rooms in that house when you have to sell it for splitting.

Gillian's not staying for dinner after all, she's so very firmly on the outside. Caroline offers to walk her out while John stalks her from various windows. Gillian cries with Caroline, she's so upset at her dad's reaction. Caroline apologizes for telling her mom and this all happening and here's what's bothered Gillian so much about what Alan said; when Gillian had an abortion at 15, it broke her mom's heart and here was Gillian earlier saying she believes you can die of that. Sigh.

Gillian drives away, calling Caroline a sanctimonious bit..  while Caroline wonders why she's apologizing anyway and John frantically tries to head Gillian off in the driveway. He jumps in the Rover and they have a mad talk with all kinds of finger pointing. He's floundering, see his publisher has dropped him, Caroline has "decided" she's a "mad dyke" and he's ended up in a situation with that mess of a woman again! None of that being a result of any of his choices. He's especially upset that he can't share any of it with Caroline, she'd put it in context and she's a really good person to have in your corner! Which apparently is ALSO not his fault. Gillian doesn't want anything with him, she's seeing Robbie, and by the way, everyone knows about them. He doesn't think that's a bad thing, is it? But she disagrees. She's sorry for the publisher dropping him, and she's gone. We don't see her leave, so there could have been snogging, I suppose. He looks grave after.

John's gone and got himself locked out, he has to knock to be let in to the dining room where everyone is eating already and I almost feel sorry for him.

Again we get to see all the contrasting shots of Caroline and Gillian; Gillian herding sheep in a field with a dog while Caroline herds small, smartly dressed children about a gorgeous big school. Caroline is grand and Gillian is not, got it.

Gillian's cleaning, though, and finds the card! The card telling her when the Alan and Celia's secret wedding is next week! Gillian calls Caroline, and actually, it's today! And nobody knew anything of it! Gillian is devastated that her dad didn't tell her he was getting married, she's taking it all very personally, when Caroline is much more sensible: they really just didn't want a fuss. They're off and it's a race to see if they'll make it in time.

Alan and Celia drive along in the sun and it's beautiful but HEY! I thought it rained all the time in England! I was in Seattle last summer and it was the hottest part of the US we went through, so much for rainy there either!

So, there we have it. I went over most of what I thought above, but it really seems as though this birthday bounce will have as much impact as I originally wondered. I mean. GILLIAN! You expect John to be a wanker, that's what twillocks do, but that just wasn't a good decision and let's face it; she's spoilt for choice when it comes to todgers, they're advancing from every angle! Was it a little bit to get at Caroline, do you think? Who she's coming to love but has EVERYTHING, from a fancy house to a beautiful accent to the surety that almost everything will go as planned. Anyway, the worst part is John's leech-like attachment to her, she's spent 45 minutes in his company whilst awake, and that mostly involved far too much wine, so what exactly is he in love with anyway? Not being alone? Still being attached to something familiar? Pfft

I cannot say I enjoy Alan's shaming of Gillian, however, a lot of people make mistakes at 15, you don't need to hold onto that ire to throw at them 3 decades later. Wasn't that just the sort of thing he was berating Celia about? Not accepting people as they are?

I loves yous, means it! Email me at about any discrepancies or just to chat. I LOVE to chat. Cheers!

  • The part about Alan still holding a grudge against Gillian reminds of why I enjoy this show. The writing is true to life. Just like real life, there are a lot of gray areas and contradictions. Alan was Mr Perfectly Understanding at the end of season 1, but now we see that he has feet of clay; just like everyone else.

    If this were a Hollywood production, all the characters would have devolved to cheap, stereotypical caricatures by now. Caroline, the triumphant lesbian overcoming judgemental adversity. Alan, the lovable grandfather that pulls quirky gems of wisdom out of his back pocket at the exact perfect moment. John, the inveterate asshole. Wait…..

    • I feel the same way! I would love a discussion about Alan’s actions; is it fair that he’s painted her that way? I think it’s hypocritical, given how he was with Celia. NOT that I’m equating homophobia with slapper-shaming, one is systemic and much more entrenched, but the other has roots in misogyny and both are harmful.