“Last Tango in Halifax” recap (2.5): Muriel’s Wedding

Caroline’s day continues to be pretty downright sucky that night as she and Lawrence share a quiet dinner, with her reading a book and him looking anxious. No Kate; no William; no Celia and Alan (who are at Gillian’s, helping with Calamity); it is a quiet and sort of sad house all of a sudden. But it’s still not worthy of what Lawrence finally spits out: “Can I go and live with my dad?” Dad, by the way, is now living with Judith. When Caroline asks why he’d want to do that, he replies, “He’s not boring.”


Oh, dear, dear Lawrence. I know your mum may be a bit uptight, but please, she is not boring. And when she says that you don’t want to live in Judith’s flat, you should really probably trust her on that one. And speaking of his dad, when John comes to pick up Lawrence for the weekend, he pulls Caroline aside and has some shocking news himself. Judith is pregnant.

Ha, this series! Full of weird, out of the blue pregnancies. Caroline appears absolutely befuddled by this news, and asks if Judith is planning on keeping it. John makes a series of vague John-ish words and gestures, signifying that presumably yes, but it’s complicated.

Much of the plot of the rest of the episode is taken up with some drama over Alan and Celia’s wedding planning, mainly to do with Celia’s sister Muriel, who Celia clearly hates. She hadn’t even told her about the wedding or about Alan, in fact, until Caroline mentions it to her, which is the reason why Caroline is “so far in the doghouse that there’s no hope of getting out,” as we kept seeing her say in previews. Alan and Celia travel to Muriel’s that weekend, and Muriel and Alan seem to get along just fine while Celia has constant Grumpy Face. All of which presents the fact once again that Caroline truly is her mother’s daughter: a bit snotty and definitely judgmental, yet there’s something amusing about it all the same.


Gillian has also decided that she’s tired of all this feet dragging, and volunteers herself and Caroline to plan this wedding for them. Caroline eventually agrees, and the two meet at Gillian’s during the weekend to look at venues. As Caroline pulls into the drive, Robbie, his new girlfriend, and Ellie and Raff and the baby are all headed out. The new girlfriend Sheryl seems exuberantly, if a bit awkwardly, friendly, a bit too perky for either Gillian or Caroline’s tastes. As they wave goodbye, Caroline says pleasantly, hilariously, “She’s annoying.”


In a somewhat sad twist of fate, Caroline takes them to the same hotel we spent so much time in last episode, where she and Kate fell out. Even though it’s where they broke up, it struck Caroline as a lovely place for a wedding. Gillian has gotten dressed up for the occasion, which we don’t see that often, and while they share lunch, Caroline dishes out the dirt about Celia and Muriel. I think it has something to do with a man, who used to date Celia but ended up as Muriel’s husband, but to be honest I have a hard time following as all I can think about is how damn fine both of these women look.

They both also seem quite happy, and quite happy with each other’s companies, and it’s so wonderful to see both of them smiling and laughing, especially with each other. As they tour the grounds and the hotel workers keep filling them with alcohol, they agree that the hotel seems perfect for their parents. As Caroline is on the phone with Celia at one point to tell her just that, Gillian leans over to share a sudden realization she’s just had: that the hotel staff might believe that the wedding they’re looking into is for them, Caroline and Gillian.


When Caroline asks why they’d think that, Gillian responds that she guesses they remember her bringing Kate here, and so they probably think “I’m just another one of your women.” And they suddenly collapse in giggles. I collapse in giggles. We all collapse in giggles. Caroline tries to keep it together long enough to finish the phone call with her mother, the effort of which just makes her laugh harder, and this has to be the best Last Tango in Halifax scene ever written in history. She finally musters out a high pitched, “Bye bye!,” as Gillian twirls her hair around her finger in mock-seduction—”Don’t do that, it’s frightening”—and then both women descend into actual big bellied laughter.



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