Happier times plod along for Celia and Alan, however, as they josh about having bachelor parties in Amsterdam, and Harry and Alan spend time together spiffing up Harry’s boat, much to Celia’s consternation. Harry even makes an amazing Spice Girls joke at one point. How I wish they were both my uncles!
Alan, Gillian, and Calamity also make a trip up to one of the most gorgeous cemeteries I’ve ever seen–is this what all cemeteries are like in England?–to visit Gillian’s mother on her birthday. Gillian and Calamity go off to visit another dead relative, and Alan stands in front of the flower bed where his first wife’s ashes are presumably buried. He tells her that he’s getting wed again, and that he hopes it’s okay with her. He hopes she would be happy for him. “We always said life were for living, didn’t we?”
He says that he needs to know he’d have her blessing. And then the wind rustles the flowering trees around him, and a single white petal falls into his hand while some lilting music plays in the background, and it’s the type of scene that I would laugh at if it were in a Hallmark movie, but that in Last Tango in Halifax, just makes me cry.
After that, through a series of quick but absolutely lovely scenes, time passes. The year fades from fall to chilly winter. Celia and Alan’s wedding date of Christmas Eve creeps ever closer.
At school, another teacher stops Caroline as her perfect heels make their way up one of the sweeping staircases on a day close to winter break. The teacher tells her that Kate’s driven herself to hospital, that she’s been bleeding. The teacher wasn’t sure if she should tell Caroline or not, she says, because Caroline has a lot of meetings, meetings that they probably won’t be able to reschedule until after Christmas, but Caroline isn’t listening, Caroline is already turning back down the staircase, Caroline is already gone.
At the hospital, Caroline sits next to Kate in the waiting room and assures her that at 20-odd weeks along, it would be very unusual, you know, and things might be just fine. When Kate’s called in, Caroline hesitantly asks if she’d like her to come in with her. And surprisingly, after Kate’s answered no to Caroline’s questions so many times over the last few months, she responds, “Will you?”
As the ultrasound technicians moves her magic wand over Kate’s stomach, Kate’s hand finds Caroline’s in the dark. Only a tense moment goes by before the technician tells Kate that everything is in fact fine, that sometimes a little blood is just something that happens. And that on top of that, she’s having a girl. And for a glorious moment we ponder how beautiful it would be for Kate and Caroline to raise a girl, a girl full of Caroline’s smarts and confidence and Kate’s kindness, and then suddenly Kate realizes that she’s still holding Caroline’s hand. And she not only releases it, she apologizes, as if what just happened was wrong, as if she hadn’t meant it in the first place. And Caroline’s eyes, which had been full of a quiet warmth and happiness, once again retreat back into themselves.
As the wedding day draws near, Alan’s brother flies in to surprise him and there are guffaws and smiles all around, and then all the boys share a pint the night before the wedding. And not being privy to the conversation Caroline and Gillian have had earlier, Alan has invited along Robbie, and spends quite a bit of time explaining to him why he belongs back with Gillian, and not with bouncy Sheryl. Although to speak in Sheryl’s defense, as we’ll soon see at the wedding, she does have some amazing accessorizing skills.
The girls, meanwhile, share a more refined dinner, where Celia is finally honest with her sister instead of being artificially pleasant, and they both seem to settle on not being able to change the past, but being happy for the present. Gillian and Caroline have also accidentally spilled the beans about Alan actually being the reason he and Celia couldn’t get that bungalow Celia so very much desired. He’s too nice to kick out the tenants in his old house and put it up for sale, or at least that’s the reason he’s giving. After Gillian and Caroline share some giggles in the bathroom over Celia’s reaction, they settle down and reapply their lipstick. Gillian looks over and says there’s something she’s been meaning to say, presumably ever since the drunken night of the confession. “Are we still cool, Vincent?” It’s a touch of genius on Sally Wainwright’s part, one of those writing tricks, bringing a season full circle, that I will always love. And when Caroline says, “Yup,” this time, Gillian might just finally be convinced.