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

Back at heartbreak hotel, it’s the next morning and Caroline is having tea alone when Kate walks up to her table, saying she got Caroline’s text. A text isn’t the only way Caroline’s tried to reach her: she came back downstairs last night, but Kate and Greg had already gone. And when she knocked on Kate’s door two separate times, she received no answer. Greg had decided to stay the night, and Kate had been in his room instead, sharing a night cap. Caroline is clearly annoyed and gives another hurried apology, but continues to say that if they’re going to raise a baby, it can’t be with Greg. “He’s a jerk.” Kate’s face remains set and aloof, countering, “He’s one of my oldest friends.” You are driving the nail deeper and deeper, Caroline.

And then, Caroline sighs and says she’s giving up on the idea of buying out John’s portion of her house. This is off topic, and another bad move. She isn’t just ignoring matters at hand by deflecting, she’s also reacting to being hurt. She’s not casually talking about real estate. If she’s not going to buy John out, then it’s implied that maybe Kate doesn’t need to sell her house, after all. Kate says that all the house business was never for the right reasons in the first place. “You don’t want what’s best for me. You never did. You want what’s best for you, all the time.” A moment later, Kate continues this thought, making what may have been perceived as just a fight now decidedly much more. “You’re too old to change. I think it’ll always be about you.” Caroline responds that it isn’t true, but it’s a little weak, maybe because she thinks Kate’s right, maybe because she can tell Kate is already tumbling out of her grasp. After a beat, Caroline asks, “Are you dumping me?”


Kate replies, “No, I don’t think so,” and for a tiny sliver of a moment, our hearts cheer for a second. Maybe this IS something they can work out. But no, the reason that she’s not dumping Caroline is because there wasn’t ever really any relationship to begin with. It was just “a bit of embarrassed fumbles; an odd mess.” Kate’s evaluation is overly harsh, meant to hurt, as she is hurt. And then she adds: “Which is a shame. Because I would have done absolutely anything for you.”


Caroline’s mouth is slightly ajar, her eyes hard to read, as if in sluggish but gradual comprehension. She starts a sentence about how this weekend was supposed to be, a sentence that never gets finished, as Kate steps in to respond that she knows exactly how this weekend was supposed to be. She’ll be continuing her second night’s stay, with Greg instead of Caroline. But Caroline blew it before Greg even arrived, so, don’t go blaming it on him. When Caroline says one last time, as if her brain doesn’t know what else to say, that this is hard for her, Kate says that it’s hard for everyone. She tells Caroline to grow up. And then, Kate leaves.

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In case our souls weren’t gutted enough by this painfully disastrous weekend at the hotel, there’s more grief left in store for us in the last 10 minutes of this wonderful, horrible episode. Gillian gets a call at her house from Harry which prompts her to talk to Celia over the phone, asking if she can deliver some bad news to her dad in person. Celia says solemnly, of course, love. She leads Alan away from the breakfast table, asks him to sit down. She looks at him sadly and says simply, “Maurice is dead.”


A stroke, they think. Neighbors found him at the bottom of the stairs. And dear Alan Buttershaw’s jolly face immediately switches to a trembling jaw, watery eyes, slowly taking in a few quiet, pained breaths.

Gillian is full of tears, too, over the man her dad knew since they were small children, that she had known her entire life, good ol’ Uncle Maurice. The tears stream down her face freely at the funeral, as Alan speaks about his best friend.

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He says the one thing he regrets is that he never got to ask Maurice to be his best man at his wedding. Later at the pub, Alan reckons that, in light of this regret, maybe they should have a wedding–again. But this time, they’ll invite everyone. Welcome to Series Two of Last Tango in Halifax: the Marriage that Never Ends.

To wrap up the Kate and Caroline heartache, Caroline sums it all up to her mom upon returning home, in the saddest line of all the sad lines of this episode: “I’m just no good at things, sometimes.”

A week later, Caroline enters a room at school where Kate is just finishing up collecting students’ work. Caroline asks if she and Greg have gone ahead with Kate’s plans. Kate says they have. Caroline says, “Well.” Kate says, curtly, that she’s done with her work in the classroom, and so she’s going to leave it. She breezes past Caroline without even a goodbye.

I believed I had already seen more sad Caroline eyes than should be legal in the span of an hour, but we’re left with one final whammy. My heart, it hurts for them both.


What do you think of Caroline and Kate’s current status? Is Kate being too harsh? Is there any hope at all in their future?

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