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

When she brings the phone back to her ear, Kate offers to come over. Obviously. They don’t get to say proper goodbyes, however, because Caroline has just noticed the smoking, drinking John on the lawn, and has tossed the phone away in order to properly march out there and, with both hands free, throw a bucket of water on top of his smug face.

I don’t think she’s kidding.

As the ‘rents continue to shout on the lawn, Angry Curly Haired Son Whom I Love slams the window of his room closed and begins to blare Florence + the Machine to drown out the sound of their voices. “Strangeness and Charm,” to be exact, one of the bonus tracks off the deluxe edition of Ceremonials. Oh, this Florence-listening boy is definitely gay.

I have my books and my poetry to protect me.

Gillian, meanwhile, is continuing to have a right shit day herself. When she returns home from work, she discovers Raff has run away to the detested uncle’s house. When she calls the uncle, he says, “Yep, he’s here with me. He can live here if he wants. Guess he found out what a bitch you are!” Classy one, this unc. Not wanting to bother her dad, or perhaps not wanting to tell him why Raff is so mad at her, and not knowing what else to do, she ends up calling John. At this point, John’s changed into some dry clothes and is still lounging around the house, as Kate and Caroline talk outside. He sits up on the couch when Gillian says, “You know that affair you had with Judith? Well, I’ve done something stupid, too.”

Herein, though, lie the differences between Gillian and John. Her “affair” isn’t perfect, as this young lad she slept with is engaged to another woman. It’s also unclear when exactly their relationship, if you could call it a relationship, started. But in any case, it seems that Gillian’s husband has been dead for at least a decent amount of time, and at this point, she should presumably have the ability to do what she wants. While her relationship with this guy is clearly upsetting to Raff, who’s still dealing with learning that his father killed himself, she is still by far a less offensive party than John, who openly cheated with another woman while his wife was still alive and well. But besides analyzing the varying degrees of their offenses, the most striking and important factor here is how they deal with them. While John still doesn’t seem that truly repentant, or understanding of why the way he’s currently acting is wrong, Gillian is crushed. Her love for Raff, and the fact that he doesn’t trust her, is ripping her apart.

Outside in the garden, another honest, but much more lovely conversation is ensuing between Caroline and Kate. Everything about this scene is so wonderful that it makes me  jump fully headlong into believing in this partnership, and it will be hard for me to describe it accurately without simply flailing. But let’s try.

Kate is giving advice about when she went through her own divorce from her now ex-husband; Caroline seems distracted and responds somewhat flippantly. Feeling brushed off once again, when she actually has useful, sympathetic things to say, Kate stands up for herself. There are a million and one things you don’t know about me, she says to Caroline, because you never ask. Yet you just take advantage of the assumption that I will always be interested in you. Caroline says, you offered to come over! Kate says, yes, but you called me. Caroline replies that she’s sorry she did. To which Kate suddenly softens.

“Don’t say that. I just want you to understand the effect…you have…on me. If you ring me I’ll come around, even though I know you’re not really interested in me.” (Oh, Kate.)

Caroline sighs. And I now must transcribe her entire following monologue, because it reveals so much of who Caroline is, and it is acted so absolutely brilliantly by Sarah Lancashire, that I don’t know if I breathed throughout the entire thing.

“I’m not…not interested…in you. I’m…I don’t know what I am. You’re right. I’ve never asked you anything about you. And it’s not because I don’t…it’s because I’m selfish, and hopeless. And you’ve been a really good friend. And I don’t know how to be a good friend, to anyone. My parents never got on. I grew up in a house on my own with these people who never spoke to each other unless they had to. And I thought that was normal.

And now she’s met this bloke, this Alan, and he’s a sweet man. And he thinks the world of her, and she thinks of the world of him. And she’s so different. And I can’t help wondering, if she’d been in love with my dad, and he’d been in love with her, how different things would’ve been. I don’t know what normal relationships are like. I see them, but I don’t know how to do them. So I’m sorry. I’m sorry if I’ve hurt you, or taken you for granted. I will endeavor not to do that in the future. Because I do value your friendship. And I’m sorry if I’ve never said that, or made that clear, or done what normal people do to express these things. So I’m sorry.”

And you want her to be loved, and you want Kate to love her, and you want her to love Kate back. And as they continue to sip tea, next to each other on that bench, you begin to believe it might really happen.

Caroline, I’m yours.

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