Last Tango In Halifax S3:E5 Complicit in Their Downfall Recap

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I 'pologize for the lateness of this posting AND the dearth of recaps lately, it's been Very Summer Hours and to be completely frank: the last two episodes of Last Tango In Halifax knocked me oot entirely. Last Tango has always been a terrific show, funny but intensely authentic and still with a sense of following the muse; the last two showings pushed everything into Really Real territory and it was difficult to jump right back in. I wasn't sure I would be able to put my back into chiding Celia for being an Incredibly Terrible Person and the like as usual. ANYWAY, enough of that, rolling!

We open at Sulgrave Heath Independent School (HEADTEACHER now listed as Caroline McKenzie - Dawson!); it's lovely and fall and we have our violins once again. Not calm for long; Lawrence and Angus have a plan to get back at the teenage arseholes what were bullying him about his lesbian mum. They throw firecrackers under the other boys' table and recreate the scene from Pulp Fiction in the diner, pretending to hold guns on the other boys, who laugh until the firecrackers start popping. Off Lawrence and Angus run, just ahead of the gang of noodges who've just realised they've NOT been shot after all. I do hope that older-looking lady in the back is all right.

No violins for the opening, instead the surfer theme from Pulp Fiction continues (I believe it is Surf Rider)

We're at Robbie pounding in fenceposts (not a euphemism) instead of Gillian lugging and stacking bloody huge rocks to repair the wall for once, cheers! Equality! Inside Caroline's over, telling Gillian about Lawrence's suspension, only two days, she doesn't want to go over it. Hayloooo Calamity! Where's your cousin Flora Grace (ty Anna!) then? Oh there she is!! There you are!! In your little carseat next to Calamity, waking up and squawking a bit for us while the ladies peel potatoes and carrots. At the table. Not near a sink or anything like that, just at the table where they'll be eating later, unless Gillian pulls that massive dining room table out of her Aga again.

Lawrence is still being a jerk to Caroline, thinking she's all boring and his dad's Jack Keruoac or somefing. Didn't he learn how awesome boring and stable and consistent can be the night a drunk Almost-Jack (he is NO Jack Keruoac) and excitingly drunk-while-pregnant Judith went missing? "Has Raff ever been suspended?" Caroline asks, and no, but Gillian was. Lol, of course she was. Gillian pushes back, she's not telling her why, but was Miss Goody Two Shoes ever in bother at school? I am so glad she's able to say things like that, her jealousy over Caroline was eating her alive, and I think primarily responsible for Gillian's gawd-awful messings with John. Not with your bagina I wouldn't, Gillian, not for all the Jack in Keruoac.

Miss Goody Two Shoes will have you know that she was in detention, Gillian! TWICE! So here she was in Home Economics (also called Domestic Sciences and Food Tech), bored out of her mind, so bored she had a panic attack. *Flora's fussing picking up* Clearly the only answer was the make pasties with Brillo pads and Ajax, bake properly and feed it to the boys, who ate it. ATE it. Brillo pads and Ajax baked in pastry, but Caroline and Gillian have no sympathy for these particular little devils; they were complicit in their own downfall. Girls would have spit it out, boys don't care, they'll eat ow't and they aren't that bright. There was sickness, and telling and detention, which Caroline and her pals figured was absolutely worth it. Calamity looks on in wonder, and I know she's not ACTUALLY related to anyone on the show, but she looks exactly like Ellie, so: great casting! Who's a good actress?? Who is?? You are!!

Small completely unrelated aside: we had Home Economics, which included half a semester each in Cooking, Sewing, Metalwork and Woodwork. I did all right in Cooking, but still can't sew, almost killed someone with a flying hammer I was polishing in Metalwork, and saved my real glory for Woodworking. I broke four bandsaw machines in one class, although I do think the fourth one was already broken, I just turned it on and everyone got very shouty when the blade started flopping around. That was the end of my Domestic Sciences career; it's kind of funny that I'm "employed" solely in the domestic field.

I'm happy to see Caroline relaxed, not to tense or devastated. Just so very quiet.

Gillian has to spill her suspension story; she was having sex in the cricket pavilion with...probably Robbie. She lights up when she talks about him, she really SHOULD have stayed with him, we all agree.

It's very heavy all of a sudden, Caroline clears the air: she can't BELIEVE her mother's at a football match! Neither could Celia and Alan, it was INTERMINABLE and they'd have had more fun at the dentist. The lack of score bothered Celia the most, and that's how I feel about hockey; 60 minutes plus playing time and maaaybbee 2 goals. I can't take that much build up without payoff; that's why I can handle basketball, at least the score is always moving, not just people skating up and down the ice over and over to ALMOST score. Pfft. Also, I'm pretty sure I've been brainwashed about the basketball.

Alan and Celia are exhausted, everyone's eating, Caroline's been back at work for two weeks while the lovely Holly has been looking after our wee Flora (cuddled up and content in Gillian's arms) and the phone rings. It's Gary; he's all tense, worried Alan and Celia didn't enjoy the football, but NO, they LOVED it, maybe next time they could all go. I'm concerned that he needs quite this much reassurance, and feels unable to ask Alan and Celia directly. He wants to have lunch with Gillian on Monday, but she begs off answering definitively with the baby on her knee and supper on the table.

Everyone's confused that the super successful Gary who can "sell sand to the Arabs" is so needy, but Robbie sums it up perfectly: Gary's probably dealing with and working through the fact that he feels he wasn't wanted.

Alan is complaining to Celia later, Gary introduced him to three different people as His Real Dad, which required a bunch of explanation and the whole My Dad Cheated on His Wife to Impregnate My Mum bit, it's worrying Alan raw. Celia thinks that's because Gary thinks it's all about him, Alan will need to have a talk with him about it. Perhaps a slightly lighter touch, Gar-Bear

Caroline arrives home to find John, who's just tucked Lawrence into his own bed. Even though he wanted to stay with his dad and avoid the Flora-Noise, he preferred his own bed after all. John tries to visit with Caroline, but she doesn't want to talk, she's "shit. Actually."

He leaves, but then comes back in as she's talking with Kate. Seeing Kate makes me cry again, although I'm glad to at least be able to see her in some capacity. Which is odd, you know, I hadn't connected very well with her this particular third series, but it's still heartbreaking.

Oh and he brings up getting back together. Six weeks after Kate's death, he wants to know if she would like some more of this, given what a great day he and Lawrence had just enjoyed. SIX.WEEKS. This speech sums up everything about this complicated show:

"I'm a lesbian. I like sleeping with other women, I always did. AND this is after you've been trying so blatantly trying to get inside Gillian's knickers. AGAIN"


All right, fine, whatever, she practically pushes him out the door, he'll drop the latch indeed.

Flora cries and Caroline comforts her, "told you I didn't want a baby. Told you I didn't want a baby" while Kate comforts her in turn. Caroline is sometimes angry with Kate, of course, a beautiful scene with two mums bending over the contented Flora, one in spirit and the other in the corporeal sense.

Gillian asks Robbie about what he said at the supper table about Gary not feeling wanted; did he feel like that about his mum, being adopted? He didn't, but his Eddie did, he figures that's why Eddie was such a mad bastard. Gillian asks about his wording, she's never heard him speak ill of his Eddie, and all that's floating in the air is Will She Tell Him She Murdered His Brother? Robbie always thought the sun shone out of Eddie's bum, but now with the benefit of adult wisdom and the distance, he can see how tormented Eddie clearly was.

Alan and Celia are at Harrogate; Holly's about to take Other Mummy's car (that must be Kate's, but she'll have to stop talking like that, she's giving me a toothache) to look at the boats! I thought last time she said she was afraid of driving cars, or maybe that was just the Jeep or the Lexus, since they're so fancy.

Celia calls Lawrence a "twit" and a "coward"; the latter of which was about Lawrence not kissing his sister goodbye. I legit misheard the former and almost choked; I understand twat is used all over the place in England, and not usually with regards to female genitalia, but from a grandmother? And they don't even sound that much alike, I must have been thinking in words.

Gillian and Gary's lunch meeting is going fairly well, but she lays down the law: however well Raff is doing at work, he's not leaving school. But Gary's got a plan! He wants to take on Raff full time, but release him during the day to train at a tech school as an accountant. Gillian insists: Raff will go to university first, that's always been the plan, and she doesn't get where 6 Saturdays of moving boxes around makes Gary think of training Raff as an accountant?

But this is Raff's plan, except for the part about accountancy, that was Gary. But Raff really doesn't want to go away to university, three years with everyone else taking care of his baby, who would want that? I wouldn't, I'll tell you that, but if I was your mum, you'd have a hard time getting Calamity back from me, Raff.

Okay, okay he's dropping this, but there's something else! And oooh, she's REALLY not going to like this! He wants to pay for her and Robbie's wedding, a really nice venue and it would also be a celebration of the finding each other and just then I hate that I have to agree with Celia: for Gary, everything is indeed all about Gary.

She's sputtering telling Robbie about it later, we all need a Robbie, don't we? Someone we can rage against the cold light of day at, to calm us down and make us see what's going on at a slightly more gentle pace. She turned down the offer, of course, but then had to spend the rest of the lunch petting him down while he sulked and employed all kinds of emotional blackmail like "I'm not really a member of the family." Robbie thinks she should take the offer, though, and thinks Gary's right about Raff as well.

Alan's had a dream about Raff going to university since Raff got a recommendation from his science teacher, though. Gillian is preserving that dream as well as her dignity in not taking Gary's money. There's the thing, though, if Alan offered to pay for the wedding, damn right she'd let him, so it's the jealousy again. I get it, though, I'd have a hard time of it, and she doesn't want a big 'do anyway. Robbie wants to have the big 'do THEN a terrific honeymoon, there's no emotional component to the money whatsoever for him, just the desire to see what that filthy lucre can do in Belize.

Alan and Celia are at a pub when Gary calls, he tells Alan about his offer to Gillian, which brings Alan up short. If anyone's going to pay, it should be him, shouldn't it? As Celia pisses both of us off by obnoxiously holding up signs ("TELL HIM NOT TO INTRODUCE YOU AS REAL DAD") and loudly whispering at while he's on the PHONE, CELIA!!! Perhaps that is a conversation better had in person, do you think?

More gabbing and then Caroline calls Celia; the police have Flora and Holly's been arrested, can she gets there faster? Caroline is racing through the school as Alan and Celia stare at each other.

Celia gives the most hilariously inept description of her relationship to Flora (I was going to say how ridiculous it was that nobody can ever remember that Kate was Caroline's WIFE, not girlfriend but then it was only one day again and now I'm crying again. This show); she's still stammering through it as Caroline arrives.

They go in the back room to find three male police officers trying to calm a screaming Flora, slow movements, boys! And no loud noises and shoving toys in her face! Caroline snatches Flora to find out why Holly got picked up: she ran a red light and was four times the legal limit for alcohol. FOUR.TIMES. With Flora in the car. It's just as well the police won't let Caroline and I see her, there would be nothing left of that duplicitous daft cow. Some people ARE good at hiding who they are, aren't they?

Back at Harrogate, they're talking about Holly, apparently this is exactly why she left university: she'd go along fine and then BOOM: something like this would happen. And where has Flora BEEN for Holly to get that drunk??

That's it; Caroline thinks she has to resign and take that early retirement, it's no use, even with a nanny, she comes home from work to find everything still to be done, then she's stressed out and tired, and that's not good for Flora, whom she wants to feel loved, not as though she's an inconvenience. And she can't get another nanny anyway, Kate would never speak to her again (not a blip for that, Celia?), which leaves? She'll have to re-think everything, and might I suggest that moron Greg? He IS Flora's biological father and he so dearly wants to be involved. I know you don't like him, Caroline, but Kate sure did and Flora has at least 50% chance of digging her bio-daddeh.

Ahhh Kate standing behind Caroline suggests just that; she always thought Caroline would like him better if she got to know him. And she didn't really get to know Greg, did she? Caroline only met him the twice, once when she knew his nether regions were fast approaching Kate's, and the next at Kate's funeral. So she may have had a bad first impression, but that's not a whole person.

Celia protests, but what other choice does Caroline have?

Alan and Celia are regaling Flora with "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" on the pianner while Caroline slugs back a glass of wine and calls Greg. She's much nicer to him this time.

Back at the farm, Gillian arrives to find Gary's posh car in the driveway and Robbie and Raff waxing poetic about the allure of a big 'do. I'm pretty sure you lot one and all know how I feel about big weddings, so I won't even shout just now.

What the Sam Hill is Robbie wearing?? Mr. T-Shirt and Flannel is swanning aboot in slacks and a sweater with patched shoulders.

Robbie wants to get married where Celia and Alan tied the knot, Raff suggests Robbie sing a song like Alan did! In front of the whole knick! Yeah, that's happening, says Robbie. Gillian comes in just then, she hoped Gary didn't bang up the undercarriage of his jalopy (I think it might be a Jaguar)

Gary's come to apologize about the offer, Robbie presses ahead IN FRONT OF GARY; he says he thinks they should take it. We get a breakdown of the cost of Celia and Alan's wedding, five thousand pounds sounds extremely reasonable for a wedding! And there were only 30 guests? That seems low. Anyway, Gary thinks five thousand pounds is nothing, which just pisses Gillian off even more. It's not when you're in an Aston Martin (NOT a Jaguar then, right, got it), but when you're on a farm... and again, these are conversations they should be having privately, although Gillian doesn't seem to listen to Robbie any more than Gary listens to her.

Raff figures out that Gary's already talked to Gillian about him taking the proffered full time job; he's taking it. She pushes back, he claims it's because SHE never got the chance to go to university, and this is all happening in front of Gary, who tries to duck out. Raff calls what Gillian is doing emotional blackmail, and I guess it kind of is, but Gillian and I scoff at his assertion that she's "inflicting" a university education on him. Families are hard. It's hard to let go of your kids, I bet, and harder when they have their own opinions about what they should do with their lives. I'm still trying to convince mine to wipe ALL of their bums, so I'm not quite there yet.

Gillian rings Alan from the barn, she's out sulking with the sheep: maybe Alan could talk with Gary about Raff's schooling. Alan's going to pop out to see Raff by himself, Celia's got to help Caroline with Flora. Now. Isn't Alan forbidden to drive since his last heart attack? I thought I remembered that.

Alan finds Raff and Ellie sunning with Calamity on the wall, he's there to talk to Raff! Meanwhile, Robbie's not wanting to fall out with Gillian over their different views of the wedding; this British thing where you just go around annoying everyone and deliberately doing things you know they won't like; all rectified by saying you don't want to fall out with them: it's brilliant!

Alan's being even-handed with Raff, he trusts the lad to make the right choice for himself. It's his life, Alan would just like him to take two full weeks to dwell on it properly. They agree.

Alan's holding forth about Gary with Gillian and Robbie, it's REALLY bothering him how Gary's been introducing him as his Real Dad. I sure hope he talks to GARY about that at some point, instead of all and sundry.

Later in bed, Robbie and Gillian, oooooh, I think they're about to have That Talk! She finally tells him that Eddie used to beat her, all he asks is why she didn't tell anyone? Because it was embarrassing, because you don't want to admit that it's happening and also that it can make it much worse.

I'm going to take a small moment to pass on what I've learned about being in a violent relationship, and if just one person picks it up: totes worth it. People who think that beating up an abusive man as retribution or to teach him a lesson, or picking on some one his own size, just remember this: whatever he gets, she's getting it ten times as badly after. So.

She'd lied, saying it was the first time she'd told anyone, but confesses that she's told Caroline. She told Caroline that she'd shed blood in every room in this house, that Eddie put a cigarette out on her neck. Robbie wants to know why she's telling him now? Because Robbie called him a mad bastard and it was an opening.

Caroline is awakened by Lawrence, there's a man at the door and that must be Greg.

Quick note: that vibrating bouncer Flora is in is exactly what Biggest slept the first few weeks of his life in, right next to the couch like Flora! I can still feel the couch vibrating slightly as we dozed. He refused to sleep anywhere else for ages, it's coming, Caroline, just hang in there!

Greg came over in the middle of the night and Lawrence is completely struck dumb. It seems the moron is the author of the Death Grip comic series about an anti-hero, it's his "thang." Lawrence is starstruck, while Flora looks happy, maybe L will stop being such a tosser about Flora now that he knows who her bio-dad is?

So! Greg is a cartoonist and can work from anywhere, yay! AND, Lawrence respects him so maybe he'll stop being such a shite! Just then Greg asks him what he thinks of his new little baby sister and Caroline and I both just about fall over from eye rolling when Lawrence says "she's all right" but thank sweet baby Thor for that. I was getting dangerously close to slappy at that Lawrence.

Thank goodness they have this massive house! He could have his own little wing! The next morning, Celia comes over to find Greg changing Flora's bum while explaining plot shenanigans to Lawrence and the whole premise to Celia. Someone in the comic series has "giant knockers" and it's awfully explicit for a 16 year old, isn't it? He says it's written for the market that buys it *head nod at Lawrence* and nails Celia; he'll just being listening to her wise and welcome comments all day, will he?

He loves Flora so much, cuddling and cooing at her, slipping and calling himself "Daddy" then looking mortified, sorry sorry, it just slipped out. Caroline makes me cry when she says "but you are her Daddy" as you see hope and love bloom across his whiskery mug. Oh man. This is just being handled beautifully, the delicate nature of this full and blended family of Flora's.

Gillian's having a meeting with someone in the Patterson's Supermarket, she looks all lovely, and catches the eye of another young gentleman Ollie. I was wondering if they'd re-cast Paul Jattri (like WILLIAM!!!!!! *murmur murmur grumble grumble*), but no, this is ANOTHER young man that she used to "hang out with" in the bar. Atta girl, Gillian, nice to know she wasn't just sitting around all those years, but why are they all jackholes? Ohhh, she was there for a job interview, she's going to start there on Monday, yaaaayy! Hey: he's got an hour! That is exactly the line Paul Jattri used! She's got a type and a timeline fetish, apparently. She demurs, but fans herself with a newspaper on the way out.

Alan and John arrive at Harrogate at the same time, both with bouquets of flowers. Lawrence lets him in with barely a word as Greg pours wine and waxes lyric about the beauty of his homemade bread. I also make fantastic homemade bread! And he's right, it doesn't happen immediately, you've got to muck about with it to obtain perfection, but there's not much better than a fresh, homebaked loaf of bread.

John's brought the flowers to apologize to Caroline and ask how Flora is doing; Greg answers, and yes, Celia was right, green poop is totes normal. Yay bio-dad! John makes me laugh "have we, er, met before?" Yes, they saw each other at the funeral, and Caroline introduces John as her ex-husband. No, Lawrence doesn't want to hang out with his Pop-sicle, he's got a new friend.

It's surprising and a little disappointing how well Greg is fitting in, I can't say why I feel that way, but it feels a bit pat, maybe? I am happy Caroline and Flora have help, but her complaining to Greg that after 18 years of marriage, John still doesn't know that she hates the smell of Chrysanthemums and his funny reply "Men" *eye-roll* is...slapstick-y.

John wanders out, looking sad and supplanted, deciding to go go 'round and ask Celia who Greg is: I do love how Caroline and everyone managed to not mention Greg's role, so John's probably imagining some kind of sexy-times sitch. Celia doesn't help with her "he's moved in!" But then takes pity on John and explains Greg's real role. John's so sad and pathetic, Celia invites him in for some tea.

Gillian's sorting through her fanning newspaper, something makes her stop short.

John's talking at Alan, who he's sure will understand about having a fling, what with Alan and his situation; good lord that has to be the worst, finding yourself held in the same regard as this wanker. We find out about how Judith and John and their private parts met up, he was mostly shocked that she was an alcoholic. One of the secretaries from work let Caroline know, and we go back through what happened when Caroline asked him about it: "WHY? WHY WHY WHY WHY??" and he thought he was in love in with Judith.

Things went somewhat downhill from there...involving a lot of throwing things and ducking and "DADDY'S BEEN PUTTING IT ABOUT" and it's kind of AWESOME.

John thinks Caroline's version of events, that he went off with an alcoholic is unfortunate, but... isn't that what happened? Am I missing a nuance here? Ah maybe that he didn't leave her, but that she kicked him out because he was "HAVING IT OFF" with Judith.

Gillian rings just then, ohhh nooooo, Gary's really done it: he's done a whole story in the Courier about how ALAN IS HIS REAL DAD; I was wrong to chastise Celia for yelling that at Alan while he was on the phone with Gary, apparently this should have been nipped in the bud right effing THEN. Jeebus, Gary, what were you THINKING?? And we're oot.

Well. I'm glad Greg is involved, we'll see how that fleshes oot. Since the last two episodes and having some more understanding of the strife the storyline caused in this series, a couple of things are hanging me up. Sally Wainwright said that the point of Kate's death was to bring Celia and Caroline together and that makes absolutely ZERO sense to me. There were quite a few other ways that could have been accomplished, including a horrifically detailed one someone forwarded to me involving William's death, but I will always respect the writer's take first on their own story. I'm not sure I even understand WHY Caroline and Celia had to get back together, I could see that as an alternate path, but again: I am not the writer of this series. You know, or ANY series. Ahem.

I am not a lesbian, OR a person of colour; I understand factions of those groups were particularly angry about this story, but I can relate it somewhat to when a writer uses rape as a plot device; it incenses me. I just didn't see that type of writing here, but again: everyone has their own reaction to a show, especially one as compelling as this one. And I am eleventy thousand years behind and you lot have already had your words out about all of this, I know you've all made your peace with it in whatever way makes sense to you, this is just my struggle at the moment. Until next time, when I wrap up this series until Christmas (I made it sound like I wrote it again just then, didn't I? My bad) Cheers!

ps: thanks much for everyone who's emailed me or tweeted at me about this series, it's been really helpful with some plot points, but it's been invaluable to get a sense of how things were when this show first aired. As always, thanks to the awesome Dixie for sharing these on her fantastic page! If you haven't heard of it, but of course you have, you should totally check it oot: Sarah Lancashire Fans

As for everything else; there is only one more episode of Last Tango in Halifax to recap so far, but you can check back at the mainpage to see what else is being posted, or friend / follow on Facebook, where all recap links are posted as well. Cheers again!

  • D Holtz

    I do really enjoy your recaps — even if I did watch this series quite a while ago now. It was brutal for me when Kate died. I really found it hard to understand why Kate had to die to propel the Caroline/Celia plotline forward. I still do love the show. I find Sally Wainwright’s work to be remarkable. I even, despite all my intentions, found goodness in the rest of the season (even in Greg’s presence with the family!). That said, I am a lesbian, and it felt so careless in the scope of an otherwise careful Halifax world. I’m eagerly awaiting what comes next from the series, but a part of me will always feel a bit tossed-aside by it all.

    Now that I’ve worked all that out… thanks for the therapy time! Keep recapping! Brill!

    • That’s what I like about talking it all out; get to work through everything!

      That seemed like a really hard choice to make and I absolutely can see how it would be devastating for people who had really identified with Caroline and Kate; Sally Wainwright’s writing is just so compelling. I will always respect the writer’s vision for their story, but I could not give one toss about Celia amd Caroline getting back together, personally. Not one teeny tiny toss! Not even half a toss!

      Side note: I’m not exactly sure what a toss is, but even if I had a truckload, I wouldn’t spare one for that particular storyline

      Thanks for reading and commenting, D! Just one left

  • Dixie M

    Great recap as ever 👍🏼
    For me, I think the honest reason Kate was probably killed is because she was the weakest character in the show, but the one that would make the most impact if killed-off.
    Kate was never in an episode for more than 5mins per ep, and there wasn’t much depth to her character – we didn’t know her.
    But if you decide to kill off someone for dramatic impact and you start going through the characters you can afford to lose, without a doubt, the one that will create the biggest storyline for you would be killing Kate.
    It also makes Caroline’s story more interesting for the future and where that will lead.
    Taking a step back and looking at the choices, I think Sally made the right one. Hey, it certainly got people talking! 😉

    • Colleen O’Shea

      You always have an interesting perspective on the stories Dixie. Love reading your opinions and I usually agree with you. It does indeed make Caroline’s story interesting from now on. Hope she copes ok!

    • I agree, Kate was barely present this series but I’m glad we still get to see her a little bit

  • Edith

    Yay, I can finally comment, thanks for the link!
    As I’ve said on Twitter and FB, I love your recaps and you say exactly what we were all feeling when we first watched these episodes. I’m so sad the LTiH recaps will be ending soon, but hopefully a new series is in the making and we can look forward to reading more from you.

    • Yay I’m glad you were able to get in! I will miss this show, and all of you lot, hopefully you will like some of the other recaps too!