My Thoughts on Series 3 of ‘Last Tango in Halifax’

©  Sally Wainwright, Red Production Co. & BBC.

© Sally Wainwright, Red Production Co. & BBC.

Okay, this is a bit more long-winded than I had planned when I started writing it, but there it is. Storyline-wise this series took place over a span of seven months (February-August).

I occasionally thought it was uneven at times, particularly when it game to the Gary storyline and Gillian’s initial reactions to Caroline and Kate getting married, but then there were also a few moments throughout the series that I was laughing where something was possibly unintentionally funny [I have my grandmother’s very English dry humour to ‘blame’ for that]. And this dry humour is something I’ve found Sally’s pretty good with in any of the television projects that she’s worked on. Sarah pulls it off flawlessly. You don’t always know if something you write comes off as well as you hoped, and sometimes better than you thought seeing it on paper.

I’ll start off with the more controversial aspect of the third series, in terms of the representation shown by Caroline and Kate’s relationship. Do I think it was a bad idea to kill off Kate? Absolutely. I don’t think it was really necessary to the story for Caroline and Celia to mend their relationship. It could have had Kate requiring long term care for a while after the accident. I’m of two two minds on this at the moment; while I would have loved to have seen what the alternate script for S3E4 had done but I don’t know that I want to read the alternate because I’d mourn the actual loss even greater than I do. I would have loved to have seen where that relationship btw Caroline & Kate with baby Flora could have gone, well into the future. It was a beautiful relationship, well developed and written for a lesbian couple in their forties – very much a rarity on television. I can understand the grieving and anger that has been shown on social media platforms, even though I don’t feel it to the extent that many do. I’ll admit that even as a lesbian woman in my forties (who came out at the age of 22), I have the support of my family, friends and co-workers, and to a large degree I’ve not faced much in the way of homophobia at all, at least directed at me. I’m also caucasian and from a middle class family, so I do recognise that I have some privilege there. I’m aware that for many that is not the case, and seeing a relationship like Caroline and Kate’s portrayed as loving as it has been, it’s a tremendous loss to not see that anymore.

On the up-shot, Sarah Lancashire acted the hell out of Caroline’s grieving. Caroline’s self-realisation and identification has come pretty full-circle, being more comfortable with who she is. When we met her in S1Ep1, she was unhappy and uncomfortable; depressed. She had been starting to find a love interest but unceremoniously dumped her when her John showed up again, albeit just for the boy’s sake. Then she and Kate got back together again but again not quite comfortable with being them being public, which continued pretty much to the end of S2. In S3, she was finally open about her relationship to not just family, but also friends. Sadly, frustratingly, that relationship had a painful end with Kate’s death and Caroline remains to raise their daughter. As Flora grows older, she’s certainly going to have questions about her mum. Kate is gone but she won’t be forgotten.

I came into the series already a fan of Sarah Lancashire’s and Nicola Walker’s from other projects and the premise of LTIH was an interesting one; the lesbian relationship btw Caroline and Kate was a bonus for me, but it wasn’t the only reason I fell for the show.

I have really loved the growing sister relationship between Caroline and Gillian, especially in the second half of this series, which was a lot more pronounced in the finale. I would love to see that shown even more next series. Nicola and Sarah play very well off each other.

Gillian and Robbie: I love them but I think it’s bound to be a train wreck, especially with the circumstances of Eddie’s death looming over them. That storyline has come almost full circle. I don’t know that Gillian could stay happy with Robbie. I think she self-sabotages things because she doesn’t know how to be truly happy in a relationship.

Gary: I’m still not sure what to make of him; he’s trying too hard. Ditto his wife. But I did like Raff putting Gary in his place when it came to the family and how he approached things.

John: self-absorbed, useless, alcoholic twat. If he’d been the one to die, Celia would have been dancing on his grave. Caroline might have cared, if only for Lawrence’s sake. You could hit him over the head with a clue-by-four and he still wouldn’t get that Caroline’s a lesbian and can’t be bothered with him. And as long as Caroline doesn’t go back to men at all, particularly not John, I’ll be a happy camper. I LOVED the flashback of a royally pissed off Caroline pitching shoes and stuff at John. Seemed very cathartic for her.

Greg: I’m not as bothered by him as I thought I might be. It’s not an ideal situation by any stretch but he’s kind of like an over-grown kid. Yes, he loves his daughter but he’s not trying to hook up with Caroline, despite what John thinks. And there’s this weird bromance vibe developing btw John and Greg. A one-up-manship between the two that seems to have moved into a friendship of sorts. Not sure what exactly to make of that, but if Greg can get John to stop making an ass of himself, it would be a considerable plus.

Lawrence & Angus. Teenagers. Still Angus has been to three McKenzie-Dawson-Buttershaw-Greenwood family weddings as Lawrence’s +1, would be four if they go to Raff & Ellie’s.

Raff & Ellie: For a young couple with a baby, they’ve actually come quite a way. And little Calamity Jane’s adorable. They’ve grown up for the most part, partially because they’ve had to because of the baby.

Alan and Celia: They’ve gone through a lot in the last three series. There are checks and balances as they work through all the family dynamics. They will call each other on their crap. Have done since the beginning. It will be interesting to see where they progress.

Last night the BBC announced that it has commissioned a fourth series of “Last Tango in Halifax”. I’m cautiously optimistic. I wouldn’t mind a few less bombshells being dropped. Things need to settle down a bit after this tumultuous series. I’d like to see Caroline happy. And Gillian. Even if neither of them are in relationships with others. While I’d like to see Greg  maintain a relationship with his daughter, depending on the time span between the series (when they pick back up again), have him move out into his own flat. It’s August for Gillian’s wedding. Caroline’s off to NYC for a vacation and to see Kate’s mum. When she comes back it’ll be the beginning of a new term. I think there’s loads more to explore with this multi-generational extended family.

Sarah Lancashire (Caroline) and Nicola Walker (Gillian). Last Tango in Halifax. © Sally Wainwright, Red Production Co., BBC.

Sarah Lancashire (Caroline) and Nicola Walker (Gillian). Last Tango in Halifax. © Sally Wainwright, Red Production Co., BBC.

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About jlynnstapleton

I'm a Licensed Practical Nurse, photographer and writer. My focus in photography has been primarily landscapes, particularly water based images, both in colour and black and white. I love to travel when I can and sometimes find some unique treasures to photograph. I also enjoy writing these blogs and doing interviews when I can. I'm the oldest of three siblings. I grew up in St. John's, Newfoundland [Canada]. I came out as a lesbian when I was twenty-one, and fortunately I've had a supportive family, and friends.
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5 Responses to My Thoughts on Series 3 of ‘Last Tango in Halifax’

  1. Reblogged this on shallotpeelblog and commented:
    I definitely agree that it was uneven especially when compared to Series 1 & 2.

    I’d be curious for examples of the unintentional humor. I often find myself ‘enjoying’ bits of unintentional humor. My sense of humor is wicked, warped & wise – definitely dry.

    “Sarah pulls it off flawlessly.”

    As far as I can tell, that’s what Sarah aka Lancs does with everything she’s given a shot at!

    I’m glad you have expanded upon & to me, at least, clarified from your earlier comments about the killing of Kate. (I find I am almost typing ‘the killing of sister kate’ over & over again at this point down this road.) I would have preferred for Caroline & Celia to have mended their fences by actually working through them, in front of us, great drama that could have been, or to have remained estranged, which actually does happen in real life for some folk. I want to read the missing script; I always will want to. I would also accept a radio play of it!

    ” … I would have loved to have seen where that relationship btw Caroline & Kate with baby Flora could have gone, well into the future. It was a beautiful relationship, well developed and written for a lesbian couple in their forties – very much a rarity on television. I can understand the grieving and anger that has been shown on social media platforms, even though I don’t feel it to the extent that many do. I’ll admit that even as a lesbian woman in my forties (who came out at the age of 22), I have the support of my family, friends and co-workers, and to a large degree I’ve not faced much in the way of homophobia at all, at least directed at me. I’m also caucasian and from a middle class family, so I do recognise that I have some privilege there. I’m aware that for many that is not the case, and seeing a relationship like Caroline and Kate’s portrayed as loving as it has been, it’s a tremendous loss to not see that anymore.”

    I had to quote all of that because I love hearing it. I’m southern US, white & am aware of my privilege, although I came from working class & tried to climb some via education. I’m about to turn 64 & I didn’t even know I was gay until I was 25. I didn’t completely come out till I was 48. I’ve watched & read many lesbians in fiction over many years & Caroline & Kate were the best that television ever offered. Can’t compare movies or books to TV, but for TV they were far & above up there in terms of positive, complex relationships, the kind of relationship that Ruth from Stonewall called for in a recent podcast.

    Before LTiH I had seen Sarah aka Lancs in “Doctor Who” but I didn’t know who, if you’ll forgive that word play, she was. I knew Nicola from MI-5. I knew of Sir Derek. I’d never heard of Sally Wainwright. The only reason I tuned in was because I saw someone mention it, someone who knew of the lesbian storyline, and who likes many of the same shows that I do.

    I completely agree about Gillian sabotaging herself & her relationships.

    I think Felicity has Gary’s number & that is one thing I got out of the finale.

    Totally agree about John. His picture is beside the word ‘useless’ in the dictionary.

    ” I LOVED the flashback of a royally pissed off Caroline pitching shoes and stuff at John. Seemed very cathartic for her.”

    Best Use Of Flashback Evah. Full Stop.

    I resent the attempt to redeem EwwwGreg.

    Agree about Raff & Ellie & Calamity.

    I think it weakens Alan to put up with Celia. I think Celia is too much a bitter martyr & bitch. Not even Annie Reid can get mileage out of that.

    I’m very concerned about Series 4 because of the writing & the direction it turned in Series 3. Where’s our ‘little show that could’ and can we get it back?

    My biggest concern is that they make certain to avoid pairing Caroline with anyone too soon.

    I will just point out that it looked like the show was ready to wrap last night. All of these people were being sent off leaving not too many people left behind. I wonder how certain the re-commissioning was. I know every Series finale could be a wrap, accordingly, but last night’s really stood out to me.

  2. Nana says:

    Bring Caroline and Kate together in a new story. Sally owes this to Nina, Sarah and the public, especially the gay community.

    • As much as I loved the relationship of Caroline and Kate, which I did greatly – specifically as a lesbian over 40 – I don’t think Sally Wainwright ‘owes’ it to anybody, fans included, to specifically give Caroline and Kate a new story. Their story has been written, and as sad as it is, Kate is dead. Sometimes bad shit happens to good people. Caroline is still a lesbian and will continue to be so. She will eventually find another love. If you want to see Caroline & Kate together forever, there’s several fanfic stories that are doing that, or write your own fanfic story or original story.

      Yes, it was a fantastic storyline that she wrote for Sarah and Nina to play. Yes, it was upsetting and frustrating that Kate was killed off far too quickly, but this show is about a lot more than just Caroline’s relationship with Kate. It’s an ensemble show, that was about Alan and Celia and their families being brought together. This show as a whole is Sally’s to write, as she sees fit for the ensemble. She can continue to acknowledge Caroline’s grief as she raises their daughter, but Caroline needs to move forward. Backwards momentum is never a good thing in the long run.

      • libble says:

        yeah but please more caroline and LESS celia. she really is just a ^%$#&&*ing b^%7ch

      • Celia can be rather narrow-minded many times, as much as she professes to love all things about Caroline. She takes quite a narrow view of things. This is, however, an ensemble piece, not just about Caroline and her love life.

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