Good day! It IS a good day, it’s time for Last Tango in Halifax to return to our screens, yay! We’ve got a couple of new complications making season five interesting so far for Sarah Lancashire, Nicola Walker, Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi, let’s dive right in to all the spoilers of LTiH S5:E1.2!
We catch up with Celia Buttershaw (Anne Reid of so many things, including last year’s brilliant Years and Years) and Alan Buttershaw’s (Derek Jacobi from Good Omens! ) leaving a rather disastrous birthday party dinner with daughters Caroline (the sublime Sarah Lancashire) and Gillian (the awesome Nicola Walker). Celia got into a row with everyone (shocker) for basically calling Gillian a blood-sucking leech for asking her dad for money to fix the wormwood in her top floor.
Celia is subdued as they leave, alright, she’s sorry, she should have waited until after. She’s wondering if there’s a rift between them, the size and shape of Brexit. Alan’s applied for a job at a supermarket, she asks, all vulnerability, if it’s because he wants to get away from her?
Being in love means being on this emotional tightrope, it’s not for the faint of heart.
And no, Celia, he’s not tired of our face at all, it’s because you keep spending all the money and redoing perfectly good kitchens.
Inside Gillian’s house, she and her stepsister Caroline do the washing up and rehash the evening. Caroline offers to lend Gillian the money to fix her wormwood-infested upstairs but Gillian won’t take it. Remember when these guys called each other “low-life trailer trash” and “snotty bitch”? Now they’re best friends and I kind of love that. There’s been some rumours floating around about them romantically, but I think maybe the point is how close they’ve grown as friends and almost-sisters.
I am absolutely willing to be proven wrong!
*Hello Gillian’s Aga lurking in the back*
Gillian shows Caroline the card Robbie (Dean Andrews) sent her for her birthday, so far he hasn’t spilled the beans that she totally murdered his abusive brother, who was her husband at the time.
Gillian muses that she doesn’t even miss him (but I do).
She’s basically got four hundred people living with her on the farm, though, so there’s that.
Caroline is lonely, though, she’s raising a little one from her extremely brief marriage to Kate (Nina Sosanya), anyone who’s done this alone knows that you start to lose the plot after a while, only speaking to and with a five year old.
Gillian has all SORTS of suggestions for Caroline to meet a posh lesbian! How about the Hebden’s Women’s Disco?? (That sounds directly from the 70s). Caroline politely demurs, she’s got someone coming around the next night, she’ll have Gillian know!
Yeah she does, WOOOO!! We’re just not sure if she’s, well, anyway, she’s Caroline’s head of English, Ruth (Lu Corfield) to us.
I mean, there are other challenges.
Not least that Caroline hasn’t really dated much after she came out and she’s not sure how to, erm, get the party started.
Gillian bucks her up, she’s a lovely person too.
Caroline’s ex-husband John (Tony Gardner) sits alone in the dark, deep in thought. His son Lawrence (Louis Greatorex) asks him what the Sam Hill? John’s pondering getting married to Judith (Ronnie Ancona), whom he had an affair with, which led to Caroline kicking him out. Lawrence thinks that sounds bonkers, they hate each other! John just doesn’t want to hurt her.
*I also used to think my parents hated each other, but then I was married for awhile and realised that’s just how married people talk to each other.
Remember we’ve got Alan’s brother Ted (Timothy West! from Gentleman Jack! I wonder if he caught a wagon over with the Lookout Point TV gang – they’re the new producers of Last Tango!) on the way over from New Zealand via Hong Kong.
*I don’t suppose that’d be very funny right now, would it? They’re having a rotten time in parts of Asia.
Celia asked Alan to swing her over to Caroline’s so they can go pick up Ted, Alan does not understand the machinations.
It’s unusual to see Celia looking so defeated, she’s fixated on the idea that Alan is bored with her and that’s why he wants to go back to work. It’s like she didn’t even notice that she spent almost 500 pounds on two lamps the other day!
Celia explains all to Caroline, but young Flora (Issacah Hatzer) is in the backseat, so shhhh on the “bloody Gillian.”
Gillian and Calamity (Tilly Kaye) are all at the airport waiting to pick up Ted too, she and Flora are such good friends! Celia manages to piss everyone off with a single word: “hopefully” in return to the statement that Ted should have arrived already.
Gillian’s son Raff (Josh Bolt) is back at the farm with his very pregnant wife Ellie (Katherine Rose Morley), he sneaks out for a smoke and sees…a giraffe?
Why is there a twenty foot giraffe painted on the side of the house?/Barn? I mean, it’s a cool looking giraffe, but still. Ellie wonders if it’s be worth quite a lot of money.
Ted has indeed arrived, he meets our gang from a wheelchair pushed by an attractive young woman named Alyssa (Sophie McIntosh), he’s also accompanied by Mia (Catherine Campion). They’ve been looking after him since Hong Kong and they’ll be staying with someone for a few days.
A very complicated discussion follows in the parking lot, there are bits of luggage and people everywhere. Alan and Ted head off separately for a pint, leaving Caroline and Celia with the two hitchhikers.
The hitchhikers ask what’s Yorkshire known for and Celia pipes up; the Bronte sisters, of course!
*Sally Wainwright did a movie about them, To Walk Invisible! I wonder if @OldAintDead reviewed that? I’ll add if she did! She did!! A review of To Walk Invisible by OldAintDead
A hilarious discussion about classic literature ensues with the hitchhikers feigning ignorance in the backseat. I don’t believe they know as little as they’re letting on.
Alan tries to find out what’s happening with Ted, but an email from Waverley offering him a job has him distracted. Ted wants to get champagne to celebrate his visit, champagne and Bovril.
Ted feels exactly like Celia, he thinks his children are all blood-sucking leeches looking for handouts too! They deserve nowt.
*My parents are never allowed to watch this show.
I will bet you ten Canadian Tire dollars that Ted married one of the hitchhikers. He’s decided to stay in England, anyhow.
The giraffe goes over well with the under-six set.
Ellie is sure it’s a Banksy, which would be worth millions.
Wouldn’t that be lovely if Gillian didn’t have to bow and scrape for money? She calls Caroline, who’s dropping the hitchhikers and Celia off at the bungalow.
Alan and Ted stop by Waverley for champagne and Bovril. The security guard David (Tony Mooney) gets us caught up on the feral child Alan tried to help.
Have we mentioned that Judith is not only a recovering alcoholic but also a staggeringly successful writer now? She, John and Lawrence are all living together in a posh modern mansion (I’ll take Harrogate in a second, fanks), with Lawrence currently running a drone from the hot tub.
Judith and her assistant Laura (Anna Leong Brophy who I just met in Traces!) watch as the drone crashes; John up on a higher story so he can call Caroline.
He tells her of Judith’s marriage proposal.
But no, he can’t come over tonight, she has to grab Flora and her Head of English is coming over for supper!
*I’ve been teaching my kiddos about sexism, Middle now notices immediately if someone defaults to male and says something.
Yes, but either way, John, Caroline does not have an opinion on you marrying the woman you cheated on her with. These sort of things do happen, and it would be hypocritical of me to judge, but perhaps everyone should not care, like Caroline. She’s moved on, John!
Ah but John said yes, to avoid hurting Judith’s feelings, when Caroline doesn’t make any awww noises, he presses his case. Is Caroline interested in this Head of English?
I mean, erm.
Yeah she is!
Finally he blurts it out.
Caroline doesn’t even hear any of that or his subsequent blubbering, she’s staring at the giant giraffe on the side of Gillian’s barn.
I actually almost felt bad for John then.
Ellie’s noticed that Gillian’s a bit weird about the barn anyway, why is that? Raff tells her it’s because his dad committed suicide there but we know it’s because that’s where Gillian killed him with a wood splitter.
Gillian doesn’t understand!
Caroline tries to help.
But then Gillian actually swears the whole word and I am so sad. She’s taking this surprise painting very badly, is that because the barn might be investigated when she sells the painting? Caroline tries to cheer Gillian up, this could be a turning point for her.
*It’s such a small thing, but the swearing does get me down so. I know everyone is of age (except Calamity and I’ll bet she can turn the air blue in a heartbeat), and that’s how people talk in real life, but I still find it…
Alan arrives home to an irritated Celia in a lovely apron, I adore things with flowers on them! She’s done some research on the hitchhikers, we’re now going to call them the Nurses! They’re on holiday and have actually been quite kind to Ted, so they get a couple of days to hang out. I owe you all ten Canadian Tire dollars because we haven’t heard of any untoward nuptials.
Celia is even less happy to hear that Ted may be staying with them awhile, but we’re all shocked to hear that he’s brought back our Alice’s remains. She died ten years ago, that’s quite a while to be carting around her ashes, isn’t it?
Alan is so excited to share his news that I just hurt for him.
Of course Celia isn’t happy, even with the adorable little tongue thing he did.
Caroline is polishing up her best glassware when the door brings her smiling in apprehensive yet hopeful joy. But it’s Lawrence and Angus (Felix Johnson) looking for 30 quid, nobody carries cash anymore, love!
Of course Ruth (Lu Corfield) arrives then with all the butterflies in Caroline’s stomach.
*that little foot switch*
Hahahaha Caroline’s “Hi!” to Ruth then immediate “Bye!” to Lawrence was awesome.
You know, I don’t think Caroline is alone in her attraction.
Let’s meet the puppy!
Ruth asks if it’s alright if she leaves her car there, she can catch a cab home and can relax with some wine. That’s fine, that’s fine.
*Personal aside: do not read if you don’t want to be bored by personal details of a mostly mundane recapper’s life! I did this with a friend! I invited her over for supper, she decided to bring wine and stay the night. We had a great time at first but when I mentioned something about dating women, the air went out of the room and she spent quite a lot of time thinking about it while not thinking about the insanely delicious supper I had made. Coconut Curry Chicken deserves more focus. Anyway! She waited until she was leaving the following day before saying anything, which was unfortunate, sooner would have been better but by then I think she’d just talked herself into things that I wasn’t exactly suggesting. I think if you have to talk yourself into things, it’s probably not the best loaf to break, is it? And just because someone says they’re dating, say giraffes, and you happen to be a giraffe, it doesn’t mean they’re thinking about dating YOU. At least the neighbours had a great time, trying to figure out whose car got drunk and had to sleep over!
John reads ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath while Judith plans their wedding (have I mentioned how much I loathe weddings? I’m sorry), interrupted by a text from Lawrence outing Caroline’s budding relationship. He stares at that while Judith explains why she wants a tawdry registry office; something “small and discreet and a bit shit” is them, right?
Lawrence and Angus are meant to be camping, but they’re filming another “documentary” for YouTube about Gillian’s giraffe which means loads of swearing and bad video.
See how Celia is with Alan’s children and grandchildren, she presses money on Lawrence without end. Mia the nurse quite likes the look of Lawrence, how big is his “tint”?
*They talk funny in New Zealand, good thing us Canadians have zero accents to speak of and all the legs to stand on there.
Both nurses join Lawrence and Angus on their “camping”, they love the giraffe!
Caroline tells Ruth the story of Celia and Alan over supper, and lots and lots of wine.
She does that twice! While Caroline is speaking a single sentence. What is she getting her courage up for?
Sorry, sorry, Caroline is talking about Alan possibly getting tired of Celia, who is indeed a force to be reckoned with. Sometimes you just want someone to get along with, you know? Not always a conflict or a compromise, someone with the same basic sense of values is magic.
Celia and Alan are staring at Ted sleeping contentedly in his clothing on the couch, should they try to dig out Alice’s ashes? They must be somewhere.
Caroline said that!
Alan tells us about Ted, Alice and their fateful move to New Zealand. Alice got pregnant very early on in their relationship, she and Ted ended up sort of banished to New Zealand. It’s heartbreaking to think they’ve wanted to come back this whole time, Alan and I and perhaps even Celia are devastated by that loss.
Alan’s going to help him because of course he is. He’s our heart and we couldn’t see him doing anything else.
Cut from that quiet and pensive bedroom to Caroline and Ruth literally screaming with laughter at stories of drunk Judith.
Ruth is glad to hear that Judith is just a normal bit of rubbish like the rest of them, it will hopefully make it easier for interviewing if she’s not intimidated.
The laughing slows, they start to talk about more personal things. Caroline watches Ruth.
Ruth is very happy to be out of the house away from “him.”
Let’s all take some deep breaths, maybe do a little walk around and some knee bends, we’re going into some serious territory here.
Caroline tells Ruth about Kate. It was truly lovely to hear, but not to watch Ruth’s face, which fell almost immediately.
“Bereaved?” offers Caroline, but no, “gay” says Ruth shortly. The body language is bad.
Ruth is going to bed. But her own bed, she’s going to ring a taxi. Ah all the scathing in her tone and face, she clearly feels betrayed or led astray or taken advantage of in some way. She doesn’t leave after all, but it’s, it’s not good.
I’m so sad for Caroline, who only hoped to not be lonely with someone she really liked.
The strength of Ruth’s reaction, could that be overreaction? I’m reminded of Hannah Gadsby who in her show ‘Nanette’ talked about the internalized homophobia she had to overcome. She’d been taught it, lived it, it was very hard to shake. We went from all gooey eyes to deadpan. The more I think about it, the more I think Ruth is perhaps TOO upset. We just don’t have much screentime to resolve this.
Gillian thinks Eddie is still messing with her in the barn, that’s why she’s taking it so personally. She wakes up the young ‘uns by shooting at foxes directly next to their tint.
Caroline wakes up cuddled up with the wrong Ruth, her Head of English leaves early in the morning without saying goodbye.Ted’s also gone missing, that’s not a laugh for a senior with dementia coming on. We’re out for tonight.
Sarah Lancashire’s physical work always reminds me how of how good she is, the little tics, the pauses, the grimacing when unsure of a path forward to seducing Ruth. Glorious. We saw the hope grow in the light, the warmth of Ruth’s attention, then dimmed, all in Caroline’s face. She’s a master!
I love that Gillian was much more comfortable with herself, until the giraffe appeared, at any rate. Murdering Eddie, this is why we can’t have nice things for Gillian! Boooo. I mean, I get it.
I’m slightly confused as to why we spent so much time on the giraffe? Literally all anyone wants to know is if it’s valuable enough to pay to fix Gillian’s wormwood. I did love that we got quite a lot of Gillian this episode.
Celia…I don’t know. She says such nasty things, but as you age, are you meant to not say what horrible things you think still? Aren’t you allowed to say something everyone hates so they know to avoid you in elevators? I don’t know. But I know I love Alan! Until next time, everyone, cheers!