If we created a drinking game for each time I cried big, sloppy tears during this finale of Last Tango in Halifax, let’s just say that we’d all be shitfaced halfway through. I started off watching this series thinking it was a cute little show about some oldies falling in love; I’ve finished it believing it’s some of the finest television I’ve seen, anywhere, ever.
We left off last time in a bit of a mess: a drunk, grieving John had blurted out Caroline’s lesbianism to the entire family, upsetting Celia in particular. At the end of her birthday dinner, Caroline ended up in the hospital waiting on Judith, who took a drunken, bloody tumble at her house; knowing little of the storm that was brewing all around her as Celia and Alan drove over from Halifax in the dark. Kate waited at Caroline’s house with the boys, who are both now in the know, until she arrived home. We begin this time with Celia and Alan dropping off for a coffee in the middle of their ride, where Celia drops this bombshell: She’s always known. Caroline, in fact, came out to her when she was 18, at the end of her first year at Oxford. She came home and had “cut all of her lovely hair off.” Let’s just all take a second, shall we, and imagine Caroline as a youthful dyke in college, full of rebellion and Sapphic feelings? It’s enough to make your heart swell. Perhaps now is a good time for our first drink.
Celia’s response had been, “For God’s sake, don’t tell your father. Or anyone else.” She continued, “Not for my sake — but for hers.” Ah, the classic parental response. So concerned with us not hurting that they don’t realize the hurt they’re doing themselves. Alan, intrigued, asks what happened next. Nothing, Celia says. There was one girl — ”You know when they say a name once too often, in a particular way…” Do I ever. How obvious we all are!
And after that? Well, Caroline met John, and that was it. It was forgotten. As Celia surmises, “I suppose I imagine she got over it.” Got over it. Oh, Celia. Celia, Celia, Celia.
Meanwhile, Caroline has finally arrived home, and after she pours herself some wine, Kate delivers the bad news, all of it. Caroline seems to take it surprisingly well, with a healthy amount of rage at John, of course, but seeming more tired than anything else. And perhaps it helps that it’s Kate who’s telling it all to her. Even now, after a long evening, their conversation flows naturally, more relaxed than Caroline typically is with anyone else, and when Kate excuses herself from the house as Caroline prepares herself to check in on Lawrence, they share a reassuring hug, a “we can’t do this all together yet, but we’re going to get through it anyway, and I care about you, OK” type of hug that leaves Caroline staring at Kate’s back as she walks away.