“Last Tango in Halifax” recap (3.1): Sipping from the furry cup


Happy 2015 and welcome to season three of Last Tango In Halifax.  It is my great pleasure to be taking over recaps from the estimable Jill Guccini, because Last Tango is a show I truly consider to be precious, but in neither the saccharine porcelain figurine nor the Gollum and The Ring senses of the word. Rather, it is like getting a glimpse at British extended family you never knew you had; a family much like your own, but ever so slightly more adorable.

So, when last we left our family, Alan and Celia, the septuagenarian lovers, had just tied the knot and celebrated with a night of drinking, dancing, and nuzzling like bunnies (I cannot imagine them doing anything more graphic, even on their wedding night). Gillian, Alan’s fiery daughter, made the questionable decision to strike up an affair with her dead ex-husband’s brother, Robby. This was questionable because not only is sleeping with one’s brother-in-law awkward in the best of times, but Gillian secretly murdered her abusive ex, and Robby has a girlfriend. (If you’re new to this show, you pretty much have to hop on the Gillian’s Bad Decision Train or get run over by it.) While all that made for some compelling drama, the lynchpin of last year’s Christmas special was the relationship between Celia’s daughter Caroline, and her true love, Kate.  Since we’re all here for the sweet lady kisses, let’s do a quick recap of their relationship.

Season one: Caroline, headmistress of Hogwarts, falls for Kate, one of her professors, while in the midst of a messy breakup with John, her philandering, drunken husband.  Kate waits patiently while Caroline ditches John and comes out to Celia (not cool with it), Alan (totally cool with it), Caroline’s sons (50/50 split), and Gillian (mildly turned on).  After much hardship, two tasteful flower arrangements, and some frankly red-hot kissing, the two find their way to one another.

Season two: Kate decides that she wants to have a baby with what is presumably her very last egg.  Caroline is like “hmm.”  Then Kate decides she wants to conceive it “the old fashioned way” with an ex boyfriend and Caroline is like “HMMM.”  The two quarrel and part ways. Kate successfully gets pregnant and Caroline realizes her life is as dull and gray as an English breakfast without her. At first, Kate is kind of burnt out on Caroline’s controlling tendencies, but on the night of Alan and Celia’s wedding, they get back together and make out on the dance floor. It is GLORIOUS.

This season picks up two months after the wedding, on Valentine’s Day, and finds Alan and Celia out to a romantic dinner.  They are being predictably adorable, cracking risqué jokes to one another.  And immediately, anyone with a beating heart is grinning.  Not because the jokes are particularly funny, but because they are filled with such love and joy. (I am super glad this show is back, you guys.)  Alan happily relates that Gillian has a date tonight, which is our cue to hop aboard the crazy train.


I love Gillian.  I really do.  Nicola Walker looks like a grownup Aubrey Plaza, and still has this bad girl adolescent swagger, and yes I would totally add myself to her list of bad decisions.  She’s out on a date with the bloke who plays Lestrade in Sherlock, only it turns out it’s not a date at all. This guy, Gary, says that after his parents died, he discovered that his dad wasn’t actually his dad. It was her dad. Alan. And since Gary is younger than Gillian, that would mean that Alan was not quite the saintly husband we have always believed him to be.

More on that later, but for now let us journey to the happiest place in all of England: Caroline’s couch.


I could write a fucking dissertation on everything that is right with this scene. But to save time, I’ll give it to you in list form.

1. Chocolate

2. Even more importantly, fine cheeses

3. Champagne

4. Hardcore making out

Let’s pause on that fourth one for a moment. These are two fully-clothed women in their forties who look like actual human people, in no way playing to some imagined male observer, and it is fucking sexy.  Not only that, it’s hilarious, because Caroline keeps interrupting their kisses to shout out the answers to British Jeopardy.  This is, in my opinion, direct confirmation that Caroline is really Minerva McGonagall and Kate is her Professor Sprout. And just when you think things couldn’t get any more romantic, Caroline is like “Remember when you were scared you lost the baby and we got a sonogram and I started thinking of her as ‘our baby’ even though we weren’t together then?” And Kate is like “Um, I don’t remember private thoughts that you had, darling.  We’ve been over this.” And Caroline is like, “OK, but remember at Christmas when you asked me to dance and I asked if we could dance forever?” And then Caroline reaches into the couch cushions and pulls out a responsibly sourced engagement ring.


Kate says yes and they laugh and kiss and the ring falls on the floor and if everything could just stay this good forever this old world might be salvageable after all. They schedule the wedding in two weeks.

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