“Last Tango in Halifax” recap (3.6): Much Ado About Nothing

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As with so many of the best things in my life, I owe my appreciation of Last Tango in Halifax to my girlfriend. I confess that, even after reading about its lesbian content here on AfterEllen, I had no immediate plans to start watching the show because, frankly, it sounded boring. But then my loving and long-suffering girlfriend told me that it was actually adorable, and I fell headfirst in love with it (just as I did tofu, veggie burgers, stinky cheeses, and the total Shonda Rhimes oeuvre). I discovered that, in spite of its meandering pace and geriatric subject matter, Last Tango was not boring at all, because it was made with love. It captured the rhythms of family life in a way that felt familiar yet fresh. And perhaps, best of all, it gave its audience credit. It trusted that young viewers would have patience with the elderly courtship at the center of the story, and it trusted that older viewers would be evolved enough to become invested in a lesbian love story. I wasn’t bored; I was charmed.

And, I’m sorry, but I just don’t feel that way about it anymore. This finale was so unfocused that I wanted to stuff an Adderall down its throat. It was full of unnecessary time jumps, visual devices nearly as distracting as Glee’s new line-drawing thing, and it devoted a bizarre amount of tension to trivialities. But worst of all, it lived up to Last Tango’s original promise and was, finally, boring. It took me nearly two hours just to get through it because I kept getting distracted by inane internet think pieces and investigations into the darkest recesses of my refrigerator.

The centerpiece of the finale is Gillian and Robbie’s wedding, which is an odd choice for two reasons:

  1. It is difficult to find a lot of humor in the flat-tire/upset tummy catastrophes of this wedding when the actual tragedy of the previous wedding is still so fresh.
  2. Our investment in Gillian and Robbie as a couple is at an all-time low, owing to their numerous foibles and failings, which are mercilessly exposed throughout, so we’re not really cheering them on to somehow make it to the altar.

The one silver lining of this event is the arrival of John and Greg, whom everybody mistakes for a gay couple, since they really do look and act the part.

last tango 6.1BEING GAY IS GREAT. CAROLINE REALLY IS RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING.

While the guests assemble, the bride delays. Alan, Caroline, and Gillian are already running late when Gillian calls Caroline into the bathroom to re-enact the Jenny/Marina first kiss.

last tango6.2I SAW US AS MORE DANA/ALICE BUT WHATEVS.

Now that the dress is on and the cake is baked, Gillian has suddenly come up with about a hundred reasons why marrying Robbie is a bad idea.

A sample:

Reason 1: Gillian never wanted a big wedding anyway, and only agreed to this one so Gary would stop sitting outside her window, throwing rocks with hundred pound notes taped to them, at it.

Reason 17:  Looks like rain. Bad luck, that.

Reason 44: WHAT ABOUT RAFF? WHAT ABOUT HIS EDUCATION? SURELY THE WEDDING IS TIED TO THAT, SOMEHOW.

Reason 67: Gillian slept with that bloke from the supermarket about a week ago.

That reason, at least, catches Caroline’s attention.

last tango 6.3 You did what?

But it is quickly overshadowed by Reason 68: Gillian slept with John later that same week.

last tango 6.4YOU DID WHAT?

Caroline isn’t too sore about it, since hopefully it means John will stop sending her links to The Humbling trailer with the subject line “just a thought.” Gillian confides in her that John really does want Caroline back, since the affair with Judith was just a stupid, one-time mistake (that happened to continue for three months before he was caught). He even goes so far as to say that he suspects Caroline must be bisexual, which at least sounds rightfully ridiculous coming from him. Anyway, Gillian sets up John on a blind date with Greg, and they become a loving, if grating couple. (I think. All the Greg/John scenes were the parts when I read about the racial biases of Masterchef Junior.)

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