“Last Tango in Halifax” recap (2.4): Heartbreak Hotel

Last week on Last Tango in Halifax, we saw more affection between Caroline and Kate than we ever have before — but still not enough. We also learned that Gillian didn’t just find her husband after his suicide 10 years ago; she actually helped finish the deed. This wasn’t a huge shock, after the way they have always discussed this tragedy, but Alan has been carrying it around ever since, and is now using it as justification for separating himself slightly from his daughter.

This week’s episode is like a sneak attack of emotion: it starts out relatively light but enjoyable, comfortable, reeling you firmly in. And then the dominoes begin to fall, slowly and then all at once, until you’re left breathless, your chest cracked right open.

The light and enjoyable part, not surprisingly, begins with John. Poor, befuddled, stupid, stupid, John. He’s at Gillian’s, taking care of the baby while Gillian is at work at the grocery store, when Raff comes home from school. Raff seems confused about John’s presence, but is thankful someone’s there to watch Baby No Name while he plays Xbox. Before he can get to the Xbox, though, he shares with John that they haven’t even filled out the papers for the birth certificate yet, which John adamantly implores him to fix right away. Proof of his fatherhood is important. After all, as he says, “The law is weighted massively, ridiculously on the side of the mother.” Seriously. When will society stop to think about the men? John continues: “Listen, I’m talking as someone whose relationship with his children has been really compromised by being married to a mad, manipulative lesbian.” John is hilarious. But apparently Raff is even more hilarious, because he counters, “I thought it was because you had a fling with Judith.”

2tango4screencap1 Well, now that you mention it.

John swiftly ignores this comment. He demands that Raff stand his birth certificate-fatherhood ground right this moment. In fact, he’ll drive him to city hall to do it! They rouse Ellie out of hiding at her parents’ house, and Harry and Maurice round off the group of witnesses, making quite the amusing, motley crew of people that end up sitting around a government desk, bickering about what they are actually going to call Baby No Name.

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John has a lot of pretentious, literary ideas, but in the end, they settle on what Alan had been calling her all along: Emily Jane. Although when Raff calls Alan to tell him the news, Alan at first believes he says “Calamity Jane,” which becomes a tiny running joke. Gillian later says she actually prefers Calamity. Calamity sounds like someone who can kick ass. A point I agree with her on.

Over in Harrogate, Caroline gets ready for her mucky weekend with Kate, leaving the boys in the care of Celia and Alan. As Kate and Caroline drive up to the palace hotel, sweet music is playing in the background, and they are dressed casually and gorgeously, relaxed, focused on just themselves, all things we have rarely, if ever, seen before. They stroll the luxuriously British pathway into the grand, historic building, and they are all smiles and happy, glowing faces.

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