“Last Tango in Halifax” (Ep. 3): And it burned, burned, burned

In a case of opposites, Alan has simultaneously shown up at Celia’s door with a bouquet of flowers at 8AM. These two!

They’re enjoying breakfast together, discussing their thoughts about God, as you do over breakfast, when they start hearing the ruckus from Caroline and John’s row next door. As they overhear all the shouts, they inexplicably start giggling uncontrollably to each other, although Celia does take slight pause when she hears John shout that the next time Celia slaps him, he’ll slap her back, harder. Threatening violence on your elderly mother-in-law is apparently Step 2 in John’s Philosophy For Reconciling With Your Estranged Wife. Like I said, spot on! And while Celia and Alan’s giggle fest does help ease the tension, when Caroline says pathetically, desperately, and so brokenly, “I don’t want you here!” and covers her eyes to cry while John continues to hulk and shout about like the Manly Man Of This House he is suddenly parading as, it really does suddenly become very un-funny.

As John continues to make breakfast for their sons like a domestic wizard made of oblivious testosterone, Caroline slams herself into an empty room in their sprawling house, rubbing her face, running her hands through her sleepy hair, rocking slightly back and forth, and it is the first time, even more so than the meltdown in the car, when we begin to see Caroline truly unravel. And in the midst of her pain, she has also never seemed so beautiful.

Her anxiety then switches oh so smoothly right into Gillian’s anxiety across town, whose son hasn’t been talking to her since he returned from the police station. As she arrives at the grocery store where she works for a shift, she runs into the dude who she slept with last time, Paul, who it becomes clear is the one who her son kerfuffled with. You would kerfuffle, too, if a cocky dude such as Paul was bragging about banging your mom, as he reveals to Gillian that he did. Oh, Gillian. Oh, oh, Gillian. She takes deep breaths in the break room of the store, staring at the contacts list on her phone, alternatively yearning to call her son or her dad. In the end, she doesn’t call anyone, because John calls her. Yeah, John. Oh, John.

John is feeling quite good about himself at this point, what with the triumph of making breakfast and threatening his wife and such — somebody bring this guy a medal! — and he shares his accomplishments with Gillian over the phone, followed by a good smoke, a stiff drink, and again, ridiculous blaring orchestral music, all while he stretches his legs out on the back lawn. What a silly human being this one is.

As he does this, though, Caroline does what we would all do — she calls the girl she likes. Kate is out shopping, walking down the street with her hair down, looking lovely during this conversation, and while it’s clear that she’s still stinging from the whole Caroline-dumping-her-ass thing, she softens immediately once she learns that Caroline is in fact calling her to admit that she was right all along, and that yes, she really shouldn’t be spending her life with that bro who’s smoking and drinking on the lawn.

Well, right.

Caroline also casually mentions that her mother is getting married; Kate says, “That’s sweet!” And in one of the best moments of the whole episode, this continued sentimentality over her mother’s sudden romance is too much for Caroline’s calloused soul. Snapping momentarily out of her emotional, messy state, she holds the phone to her chest so she can roll her eyes towards the heavens.


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