MotherFatherSon is the latest Sarah Lancashire show (although there is confirmation of more Happy Valley and possibly others this year!), I've heard that it tends to the peculiar so I've got a cuppa to keep me cozy as we dive right into the first episode. Rolling after the break!
We open with a series of voicemail messages, moving from tough love (you can't talk to me like that in my own house!) to worried (just ring us, we want to know you're okay) to desperately terrified. We zoom in on a cell phone in poor condition buried in a pile of leaves. Oh mum, I don't think Tonia will be home any time soon.
**Can any parent hear that and not immediately mentally check where their kiddos are? I always think of poor Leslie Mahaffy and her parents whenever tough love is invoked.
Now we're on a posh plane with Max (Richard Gere - fun fact: I wanted to be an actress just so I could kiss him like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I can't tell if I've set my sights higher or lower now but I'd still snog the bejeebus out of him) carefully cutting out newspaper clippings and stuffing them in an envelope.
Now we're running somewhere unsafe with Caden (I fink - Billy Howe) then screaming at the air as Max leaves his private plane for posh car. He's met by Lauren (Pippa Bennett-Warner - she was in River!! I loved River, so very well done) who wants to know if he's there to pick a Prime Minister or deal with his son?
**PICK a Prime Minister. Rude
Screamy on the beach is probably Max's son Caden, but he's also someone important at a newspaper, looking 12 years old but rating a corner office WITH blinds. Outside in the cubical area a much older worker is getting walked out while Caden suits up and snorts a bump or two.
The woman being fired isn't going gently into the goodnight, she's smoking and monologuing as security guards hover. She implores the scores of people watching to say something, anything, just acknowledge that it's happening. Caden rushes over to ask her to stay, but I don't know if telling Maggie (Sinéad Cusack - I remember her from Eastern Promises) she doesn't matter outside these walls is the best opening. She suggests he just doesn't want to tell his dad she's gone, then spikes it with a rub about him being the problem.
One of the watchers is familiar! It's Nick (Paul Reddy from Bodyguard! And did he get a..perm?) but we don't getta meet him yet, so move that to the back of your brain.
A very wealthy sick, elderly man breathes through a machine while two women walk the grounds and talk shit about him. One is Kathryn (Helen McCrory from one thousand things, most notably the Harry Potter movies. She's married to my boo Damien Lewis from Billions and a billion other things too!), who doesn't know if she'll remarry, even if VWSEM dies.
Max is driven through the curiously empty streets; apparently the Prime Minister has requested he use the rear entrance. See now I thought Max was supposed to help pick a new PM, but here's Prime Minister Jahan Zakari (Danny Sapani) with shortbread at the ready.
**A completely unnecessarily long discussion about biscuits ensues, is Max functionally impaired? How can one choose a Prime Minister if one doesn't understand baked goods? Bizarre
Back to the beautiful Kathryn at a soup kitchen, smirking at a man she's undoubtedly humping already or will be soon-like. This is Scott (Joseph Mawle, aka Uncle Benjen from Game of Thrones!! He looks different with normal clothing).
Now we meet Nick (Paul Ready with the perm) from the newspaper, he has a busy house and a concerned spouse, not to mention a Memory Stick of Doom. Ohhhh now this is difficult to follow, but I believe he's listening to the audio tapes of the missing teenage girl Tonia's voicemail messages. He's also looking at pictures of the crime scene of the murder of another man who listened to the tapes. If I've got that right. Basically: he looks nervous because he has in his possession stuff that people will kill for.
We cut back to Max, being served liquor poolside (my local rec centre has a lot to answer for) whilst his son Caden dresses up in yet another suit. *Still looking twelve* He puts on a singularly important tiepin (slow and loving closeup), blows some rails of cocaine and prepares to meet his dad, who is also dressing but imbibing only legal intoxicants.
Caden makes a panicky run tidying the newsroom, EVERYTHING'S GREAT DAD, LOOK HOW SUCCESSFUL I AM, CHECK OUT MY TIEPIN!!!
Caden's a touch pouty, HE wanted to go see the Prime Minister! Why did LAUREN getta go? Max thinks three would have been too many in that massive Prime Ministerial residence with 8 couches per room.
**Max's timing is bugging me, is he supposed to seem that out of touch or is Richard Gere having a hard go? I guess we'll see.
The entire staff stands up to watch Max enter, I keep waiting for him to ask "Where's Maggie?" Instead he beelines for a 10-year-old intern named Charlie (Darryl Dale) and Caden forgets to breathe.
Max saves it for the corner office; WHY WAS CHARLIE IN MAGGIE'S DESK??? Maggie was their number one political correspondent and there's an election looming (who needs elections if Max's picking the PM?), who cares if Caden thinks Maggie was disloyal? Not Max! He thinks the disloyalty is Caden's fault for mismanagement.
Scott and Kathryn continue to meet for cigarettes and poorly made gifts, trouble is a-brewing there! I love her face.
Max pops round to his flagship current affairs show, RM News, and rearranges the set to his liking and the nerves of the producer.
**Can I just say? We're 18 minutes in and not a whisper of Sarah Lancashire. I feel like a pouty Caden. Also: Max is making me uncomfortable.
Max and Caden square off to show off his preferred fighting chair stance: "Neutral is no good." Max asks if Caden sorted something out with his mother?
It's not just us who think that something's up with Scott and Kathryn at the shelter, Kathryn's got to answer to her boss Dee (Brigid Zengeni with the amazing HAIR) about the same. People have noticed. Dee warns Kathryn, who swears to stay away, the people staying there are complex, damaged people.
At home, Kathryn fills her tub up far past full then makes an unholy mess everywhere dipping her hand in, flashing to waves crashing against the beach. She takes a pill.
She arrives later at an exceedingly swank restaurant backroom to meet with her son, clothed in a tightly fitted glorious dress covered in birds and daisies.
Caden finally arrives (she's his mum, I've just sussed!) with a packet of pictures of her smoking with Scott on the roof, a rival paper is planning a story about her affair with a homeless man. But she likes him! Why wouldn't she say she likes him?
Caden wants her to help create another article, stressing her volunteerism, etc etc but she won't. And she won't sit hidden in this backroom, either, she lights up a smoke then crashes the main dining room to grab a table. She directs her son to remove his jacket and tie (this is very much a jacket and tie establishment), handing both to the visibly pained maitre d'hotel.
Caden's calm and immediate compliance strikes an odd note. This poor kid, caught between these two exceedingly strong personalities. She brings up a tragic and upsetting event from their past (dying seal, don't ask) and they both cry: is everyone high?
*28.30 not one glimpse of Sarah Lancashire
Nick from the paper has taken his information to Maggie formerly of the paper; it was a private investigator that was killed while looking for Tonia. What's weird is that the murder was written off as a robbery gone wrong, when Nick asked Caden about it he repeated that exactly. Not only did he know of this PI being knocked off, he knew what to say when asked about it. Maggie and I think that's interesting, but she's not ready to come out of retirement just yet.
Nick is a true believer, he wants to end the cycle of dirty cops in bed with media etc something something I don't quite have the shape of it yet.
Kathryn and her gorgeous dress head over to see Scott, nothing better than getting half in your cups and exploiting the mental state of a vulnerable person. She wants to know if he sold the story of their relationship to the paper, but he didn't know who she used to be married to.
He's a perceptive vulnerable person, however, he's sussed that she used that question as an excuse to come see him in her fancy dress. I think they're falling in love, but I think she's probably not good enough for him and he's unstable, so.
Sorry, I gasped.
Angela Howard (Sarah Lancashire - she looks so different! I've been recapping series one of Happy Valley, getting ahead of series three, and she looks so posh here! Like a content Caroline from Last Tango in Halifax) and Max will be meeting later, I love how she bites her words off. It's lovely precise.
Max rambles at nothing then he stares out the window at a newly built complex nicknamed the Battery, she defends it, "you can't outspend the truth" which I think I shall get as my first tattoo.
I love her precise head turn after.
Angela Howard is running for Prime Minister, but she's not exactly Max's ideal candidate. For one thing, she calls him on his shit. She advises him of the strict campaign spending limits and her plan to not lie, even once, I think this meeting is done, right?
"No money, no lies, what's left?" he rejoins. She's going to lead with the truth, she can feel the pain that's out there on the street.
Max could not be more disinterested.
Caden jumps in, though, earning his dad's ire.
**So Sarah Lancashire had 40 seconds of screen time and I giffed it all, what's wrong with that?
Max brainstorms in the car, could Angela win? Only possibly with all of their support and a bit more even, but Max knows she has something. There's something between Lauren and Caden, for the record.
Max invites himself into Caden's new place, which has a parking garage cleaner and more beautiful than my house. Max is impressed! I am confused by this sterile existence, the fridge full of carefully arranged beverages.
Max taunts and baits his son, trying to getting a meaningful conversation out of him but Caden is unable. "Why do you make it so hard?" is a legitimate parental complaint, but I'm pretty sure that's supposed to be internal dialogue.
Maggie meets with Nick from the paper, she's dying of cancer and has decided to throw her lot in with him for this investigation. As this will be her last story, she wants only the top: Max and Caden, so she can make a difference.
Caden wanders around his apartment that looks exactly like the lobby of a fancy hotel, to be met by a beautiful but nervous woman. Without a word, he leads her to his bedroom to explain their role play this evening. Sophie White (Katrine De Candole) is to pretend she knows nothing of sex. Not like she's a virgin, just no knowledge of her or his body.
It's very complicated, repetitive and to be honest: samey. I've heard sex called super inefficient masturbation, I've just never seen it played out so excruciatingly before. I mean. I've been learning to embrace the c-word that doesn't moo, but I don't know that I'll ever have the same affection for it that my pals across the ponds share. Caden and Sophie throw it about liberally while I microwave my cuppa.
Oh I came back in time for him to spit on his hand and drag her hand to touch it. Yay.
Full frontal. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a penis live and on view on BBC Two.
Some super uncomfortable sex and role play later and Sophie is done for the night.
It's difficult to take Caden seriously, between the immaturity, the role playing, the screaming and crying in his car. He takes perhaps the wrong pill and messes up that gorgeous garage by driving into something then puking all over.
What appears to be a seizure or stroke in the elevator leads to him urinating on himself, thinking about a seal he once saved on the beach.
Kathryn rushes to the hospital to watch Caden in surgery, Max arriving right after to assure her that Caden will be fine. To our snorts, he reminds her of Caden's birth, which was difficult.
That's right: he just mansplained her birthing of their child.
They love their son very much and that means a great deal, but I don't know if it will help him during extremely graphic brain surgery.
Awwww baby boy being born flashback, who's a good boy? Who??? And we're out.
So. That was a bit of a different start, a mix of extremely graphic imagery combined with a vague suggestion of a story. I'm sure it's all very artistic, but I'd love to hear some more about the missing teenager and the story there, if I could. And some more Sarah Lancashire would be lovely, ta.
Is Richard Gere all right? Do you think all that disconnection is on purpose? I honestly can't tell, but I'm not a fan of his character or Caden. We'll see how it shakes out in the upcoming episodes! Cheers, until then!