On the second episode of Last Tango in Halifax, we begin to unravel some of the layers of the onions of these ladies and blokes we met last time, and what immensely lovely onions they are! We begin right where we left off in Episode One: at that Britishly-dark coffee shop in Skipton, where lovebirds Celia and Alan have just announced to their astonished middle aged daughters that after spending one day with each other, they have decided to get married. Ain’t love grand?
Daughters Gillian and Caroline are not quite so pleased. Caroline continues her gloriously bitchy charade she began at the end of last episode, essentially saying, “Gee, that’s swell; now let’s get the hell out of here, Mum,” dragging Celia away as Celia protests, “Why hasn’t anyone congratulated us yet?” Gillian acts civil while Caroline’s around, but once the ladies leave, she similarly turns on her dad to bark, “What the hell are you playing at?”
The next day at Lesbian Hogwarts, Caroline and her seemingly ex-lady Kate share a rushed walk down the hallway, whispering tensely. Caroline needs more information about this “indiscretion” Kate had about sharing news of their relationship with another teacher; Kate concedes that she told her mate that she and Caroline kissed twice. As they finally part, Kate asks, “Are you cross?” And after an entire scene of angry clip clopping in heels and a scary angry questioning whisper face that clearly demonstrate that she is indeed cross, Caroline looks at Kate for the briefest moment to say, “No,” before turning away.
This “mate” that Kate confided in soon turns up in Caroline’s office. His name is Michael, and he soon proves that he’s not very much of a mate at all. Yet this is where the bitchy Caroline of the coffee shop starts to transform in our eyes to Almighty Queen Caroline, May We Rest At Her Feet. After Michael awkwardly informs her that he’s here to talk about Kate and the things that she’s been telling him, he clearly expects a response, but is met only with this face:
After her defiant silence, he continues to turn this monologue into the threat he always meant it to be, saying that if Kate continues to tell other people, who knows what could happen? Each word he utters gets more and more gross: “It could be damaging to you if any governors or parents, etc. — or one of your two boys, even, for instance, got wind of…”
At this, Caroline takes off her glasses and asks what he wants from her. A promotion? A bigger budget for his projects? Without saying no, he replies, “Look, I can be discrete.” At this point, Caroline’s reached the limit of this little boy trying to manipulate her. And so she begins:
BOOM. The ladies have landed! Go for it, genius! This is 2012! BOOM BOOM BOOM.
After he follows her instructions and cowers out the door, she blows the dust off her imaginary gun as she has just SMOKED that bastard.
I mean, yes, it is upsetting that she’s still clearly trying to brush off whatever is happening between her and Kate. Even while we still know very little of their backstory, I flinched anyway when she said “fling,” because has there ever been a more belittling word for a relationship, however brief? I move we ban it from the English language. Flings don’t exist; relationships do. Every relationship involves feelings, and feelings are there for a reason. But regardless of what Caroline’s trying to convince herself, this speech was still pure badass. All the awards!