Friday 22 November 2013

Last Tango in Halifax – Why am I apologizing?

Last Tango in Halifax: 2x01.
Gillian: Thank you for making him so happy. And thank you for bringing him back.
Celia: You know, I think I did. 
The central theme of Last Tango in Halifax, that there are no age limits on starting a new chapter in your life and finding happiness, doesn’t just apply to Alan and Celia, who, at 75 and with Alan freshly out of the hospital, are only debating whether their shared future will have to start slowly, to accommodate Alan’s situation, or with as many adventures as they can fit in. Caroline is trying to move on from her past as well, but there is a stubborn and increasingly clingy constant reminder unwilling to let go – John, still living in the house, becoming more and more a caricature of a human person. He is a sad, if comical constant reminder of what happens to people who don’t move on, nor have the empathy and reason to allow others to, and the harder he clings to his old life, the more ground he loses. Gillian is a more complicated story. There were hints of how much she relies on her father’s presence, both for her mental health and financially, in the past, but the first episode of the second season gives the impression that her dependency on him goes even deeper than that, that without him, she would be completely lost. She is unable to move on as well or to build a life separate from him on her own – Robbie seems to offer the opportunity, cooking for her, helping with the farm, but Gillian is reluctant to embrace that new situation fully (and it still is hard to believe that both of them moved on so quickly from the ten years of hating each other), but the life that she knew is slipping away from her. Raff isn’t going to be around forever as he becomes more independent, and Alan, after his heart attack, is moving in with Celia, since her apartment in Caroline’s house comes with fewer obstacles than Gillian’s farm house. 
Gillian is stuck in her life while her loved ones are moving on, and she additionally sabotages her own happiness and relationships by making choices without considering the consequences. As genuinely happy as she is for Alan and Celia, because she sees the change in her father, and as much as she embraces her connection with Caroline, once she admits to sleeping with John, all of those relationships sour. She expects Caroline to keep quiet about it, but it’s never fair to expect of others to keep secrets from people that they love – so Caroline, still in shock to an extent, tells her mother, and Celia tells Alan, because as we’ve seen in the past, she’s makes the very conscious decision of not having secrets from him (telling him about her very strenuous relationship with her husband). She tells Caroline that she never regrets anything she does, but once the consequences become apparent, and especially when it becomes obvious that she’s crossed a line with Alan, who isn’t willing to just accept that transgression (and reveals to her how much her pregnancy at fifteen hurt her mother, as if to remind her that she’s lived a life of disappointing her parents and causing them emotional grief), she does say she regrets it, if only because John has now decided he is “a little bit in love” with her and is calling constantly, adding even more awkwardness to the situation. 
It’s a harsh contrast, Gillian’s downward spiral, from being surrounded by her family to being alone with her thoughts and her past (Alan moves out, Raff nowhere in sight), and Caroline’s situation. As a reaction to John’s unwillingness to move on and out and occasional alcoholic excesses with Judith, she’s decided to move Kate into the house – and along with Alan and Celia, they immediately seem to form a functioning and happy family unit (and John no longer has a place at the table), despite the fact that they still haven’t had the “talk”, and, as Caroline tells Gillian, “I don’t think we know what we are yet, exactly.” Caroline resents the fact that they can’t figure out what they mean to each other in the peace and quiet, since everybody now knows about them, but instead of letting that fact derail her, she has made a choice to embrace the situation the best way she can. 
Kate: How permanent is this?
Caroline: We need to sit down and have the conversation properly and not when we’ve been rushed into it. Yeah. If it’s what you want.
Kate: Do you need to ask?
There are still signs that Caroline isn’t as sure about this as Kate is, but she isn’t running from anything – while Gillian, in her inability to build anything new, and with everything changing around, seems desperately lonely and stuck – and Alan and Celia head towards their new life together. 

Random notes: 

Kate’s patience with John is admirable. I think pretty much anyone else at that point would have at least thrown a glass of something in his face, if not worse. Instead, an elegant “I have no opinion on that”. Sigh.  
Gillian: Do you hate me?
Caroline: No.
Gillian: Are you laughing at me or with me?
Caroline: I don’t know. Just laughing. 
One of the many good things about Sarah Lancashire’s acting is the fact that Caroline always seems so immaculate, even if she’s in the midst of chaos and destruction that other people have caused. 

“Are we cool, Vincent?”

DO. NOT. TEXT. ME. ("did you get my text?")
Celia: I started counting backwards when I got to 36.
Alan: So how old does that make you now then?
Celia: Minus three.  We had a very interesting experience in 1988, when me and Caroline were both 22.

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