We're back with the new Sarah Lancashire show MotherFatherSon; turns out the writers think it's a Richard Gere and Helen McCrory show and we don't get much Lanc-y screentime. I'm not one to complain (coughcough), I'll take my Sarah however I can get it, but I definitely have my fingers crossed for a little more love this episode. Rolling after the break!
Small rundown: Richard Gere is Max, a high-powered kingmaker ruling the roost in England, though born in the US. His ex-wife is Kathryn (Helen McCrory), a different sort of society lady easing into a relationship with a homeless fella. Their son Caden (Billy Howle) is a right obnoxious tool, with a seething drug addiction, an affinity for stunted sexual play and a raging desire to impress his disconnected father. Our Sarah Lancashire is Amanda Howard, a candidate for Prime Minister whose campaign is marred by truth-seeking and altruism, maybe Max can save it, maybe not.
We open in the past with Max and Kathryn reviewing their separation agreement, that is SO much fun! Kathryn takes a moment to not throw up before returning to defend her attendance at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre. She had a miscarriage, this was how she dealt at the time so she could continue to do everything she needed to do to support Max in his kingmaking. He needs to tell his lawyers that she drank because they lost their daughter, not that they lost her because Kathryn drank.
But how can they be sure, counters Max? He's calling her an unfit mother, she refuses any offer, they're going to court.
She says it's to fight for her son, but Max will no doubt be aware of how unfavourable the publicity will be regardless. He has the money and influence to take his son and so he does.
She leaves young Caden (Samuel Leaky) in a heartbreaking scene and
I DON'T WANT TO WATCH THIS ANY MORE
We're back in the present with Caden having open brain surgery, he's just had an awful seizure/breakdown and almost died. A doctor (Thomas Arnold) explains that there are significant challenges ahead for Caden, a complete personality change perhaps. Caden was always quite malleable previously, but the stroke has removed his filter.
"Every thought can become a speech."
Did I mention that Max is a bigwig running a media empire?
I am struggling to not hate all of these people but they're not making it easy!
Caden's been assigned a dishy new bodyguard (Neal Beagley), rival papers are after pictures and medical records. We also get to meet Max's pregnant wife Sofia (Elena Anaya), he's like 70, in case you haven't checked out Richard Gere lately.
I think Kathryn and Sofia are great friends, extremely odd, but not as much as creepy/dishy bodyguard setting up a nannycam/Get Well Soon card at Caden's bedside.
Kathryn brings some memorabilia for Caden to look at while Max listens to their conversation through the bugged card.
Across town we have an investigative duo looking into, hold on, we'd better run through that too. In the first episode, we opened by listening to the voicemail messages of a missing Tonia, starting angry and then devolving to grief. We weren't the only ones listening, there was a private investigator tuned in too, and then he was murdered. Max owns a newspaper (voicemail listening associated with newspapers seems awfully familiar...), two of his past and present employees are hot on the trail of the story. One is Nick (Paul Ready from Bodyguard but on a diet with a perm) and the other is dying, retired political correspondent Maggie (Sinead Cusak) who has nothing to lose and a legacy to leave behind.
The private detective had a partner (I'm totally guessing because they've explained nowt), who didn't think the murder was weird, just a robbery gone wrong and the police didn't care either.
Woooo only 17 minutes in!
She wanted to talk to Max alone, without her team.
It seems our Angela Howard made her fortune in ethical sweatshops, that is she initially manufactured her jerseys in Bangladesh and then moved everything back to England. She's beloved and successful and has a great life.
Why would she want to become the most powerful person in the country?
I mean, you could argue that MAX is the most powerful person in the country but let's try to stay on topic. We have a lot of gifs to make yet.
She feels a moral obligation to pitch in and help the country, I'm just wondering how well that perfect life will hold up under that level of scrutiny.
She believes in Britain as her parents believed in her; she's proved all her detractors wrong and she won't stop until it is fixed.
American Max thinks the UK has already had its day, can she really think it will regain its place as a superpower?
Kathryn is coming as Angela Howard is leaving, an interesting look passing between the two. Then we're swept back in the past with Kathryn hosting a party in the mansion with Max in happier times. This is Max and Kathryn's tenth anniversary, she stops to blow a rail of cocaine in the bathroom before heading out to join the festivities. The Prime Minister Jahan Zakari (Danny Sapani) watches as Kathryn's dad gives a speech, then dances with her later. This is before he's PM, I gather, he got there with Max's influence maybe while sleeping with Kathryn.
He sees through her facade, asking if she's happy: she thinks that's why he'll win. She's not wrong!
Young Caden is awake and watching from above, Kathryn about runs upstairs to tend to him. He's heard some things, if she and his dad separate can he stay with her? Of course, she would never ever leave him, she doesn't even need to swear to that.
A rousing round of Married People Fighting follows; Max thinks she spoils Caden by reading him a story instead of helping him say goodbye to people at the door. It gets even more fun when a tipsy Kathryn declares she wants to work; she wants to write again. He could not care less if you dipped that in shite. He doesn't care if she works/writes/pogo-jumps down the road. He was happy when she stopped writing, he thought it was terrible. Nobody ever read anything she wrote, it wasn't what people wanted. "My newspapers are not the last resort for unfulfilled wives."
*This is almost spooky*
Back in the present, Kathryn enters Max's office which is now a War Room. Dishy bodyguard and assistant Lauren (Pippa Bennett-Warner) are there to workshop the Caden Publicity Problem. If the press gets wind of his stroke while under the influence of a myriad of mind-altering substances, it will be much harder going.
Max excuses everyone and hands Kathryn a folder filled with pictures of Caden's escort agency shenanigans. She thinks that means he can't fall in love; I think it might have more to do with being literally ripped from the arms of his loving mother so his dad could make a man out of him and stomp out any signs of weakness, aka *feelings*.
More Married People Fighting.
This is fun! Or whatever the opposite of fun is.
She leaves and Max confesses his secret relief to Lauren: when he heard that Caden had a stroke he thought "at least he can't f*** up anything else."
In the hospital Caden awakes for the first time since his stroke, hearing his mother shout his name when he went missing as a child. He is freaking.out.
At the newspaper, Lauren has summoned Nick to the head office, she's all cake and fancy espresso drinks and offers of meeting Max. I thought Lauren was Max's assistant, but I can see now she's more more than that, perhaps his right hand person?
She's feeling Nick out about Maggie, has he stayed in touch with her? A dismaying anecdote about class differences compounded with racial overtones later, Nick is alarmed and I'm confused. Why not just ask where Maggie is? She's probably listed in a paper phonebook, she's totally old school.
Ohh homeless Scott (Joseph Mawle -Uncle BenJen!) has popped 'round to see Kathryn at the hospital. Last week she was all
And now she's steeped in memories of her past with Max and sees Scott as an unfortunately timed dalliance. She asks him to never come there again before saying she's happy to see him.
Caden is now restrained to his bed, he became quite violent earlier so they had to tie him down. Kathryn undoes the cuffs as he cries and tries to talk to her through his partially stilled lips.
Max is on his way, but ditches his bodyguards to walk the stairs alone, needing some time to gather himself.
I can't WAIT for Caden to start dropping truth bombs on his folks!
He asks his dad for a mirror, but his appearance devastates him and he cries. Max insists that Caden stop crying and covering his face, stiff upper lip now!
Max has been called to see the Prime Minister, he's heard that Angela's been round to see Max. He thinks Angela has disturbing ideas, she's dangerous. "Dangerous to you," counters Max.
The PM mentioned dealing with something similar with his own son, right after the meeting Max beelines over to Lauren's apartment to get the shovel ready for that dirt.
Kathryn calls Scott after all, they meet in some kind of a honkytonk dancehall (does England have honkytonk dancehalls?), she overdressed and he worried about not having enough money.
*Uncle BenJen looks odd with frosted tips and real clothes on
Kathryn waxes sentimental about a having a crush on her son's nurse, I am as creeped out as Scott is excited.
*You know, have crushes on whomever you like, but there are better ways to show your gratitude then making a pass at someone at work whose mostly dying for a cuppa and to get off their feet.
They slowdance and then makeout while I wonder if this is an extrapolation of Lauren's story from earlier. Is this Kathryn's charity? Doing her part to feel virtuous as she scratches that itch at the same time?
Either way, it's 1000 times better than the love scene last week, so I will take it.
We're back in the past with Caden waking his parents up with a feather before an important brunch about the ruination of what will soon be Max's newspaper. It seems the paper was originally owned by Kathryn's dad, interesting.
Kathryn sorts through Max's briefcase while he's at the meeting, finding Caden's artwork in a portfolio. Lots of happy drawings of Caden and Mommy, lots of angry renderings of Daddy.
Daddy is downstairs making his pitch for ownership of the newspaper, it's offensive and boorish and expected but as he says "money IS quality." You can have the best newspaper in the world, but that's worth nothing if nobody can read it because it's in receivership.
Max promises to A) not interfere and B) protect everything he owns and we all thought of Kathryn then, didn't we?
Kathryn has an intuition about Caden in the middle of the night, Scott wakes to find her dressing. He's disoriented and offers to leave, but she tells him to stay, it's not about him. She's just going to pop over to the hospital. He bolts after banging the wall?
Over at Maggie's house, Nick fills in his sick co-writer while her partner (Carolyn Pickles! From Broadchurch!) comforts the ailing Maggie. Is the story worth it? Nick can't answer that.
Caden tries to communicate with the pretty nurse his mum wants to shag, she's a total smokeshow, I get it. He wants her phone? Max is listening through the bugged card, Kathryn arrives just in time for Caden to wish to die then accuse her of humping (Truth Bomb #1).
He rips out his tubes again, then horrifyingly starts to pull at his stiches-covered scalp. Kathryn reaches across him to pull that arm away from his self-harm while applying pressure to the other which is bleeding all over the place and Caden reaches up with his mouth to suckle at her breast.
I am all done.
Thanks, BBC Two for the Sarah Lancashire screentime, I'm sure your show is quite artistic and all that, but I will not be watching again. All the best, cheers.
IF YOU HAD ANY IDEA HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO WALK AWAY FROM A SARAH LANCASHIRE SHOW