After a day spent searching for a wedding venue, we last saw Alan and Celia locked in the dark, possibly haunted, and decidedly un-romantic confines of Southowram Hall in Last Tango in Halifax S1E4. It was an unexpected end to a day that had already had its fair share of surprises, but the couple, no doubt bolstered by one another’s company, took the setback in stride. But while they prepared to settle in for the night, their families weren’t quite so comfortable. After witnessing her Jeep go up in flames, Gillian tried to get in touch with her father, but with his phone out of range, she didn’t have any luck.
Instead, she was left with only Paul to keep her company, and his suggestion that someone might’ve torched her car because of their affair didn’t calm her nerves in the slightest. As the evening wore on, her father’s absence only served to fuel her agitation. Back at the old estate, Celia and Alan started to find themselves in much the same state. Though they were warm and dry as the storm raged outside, their small supply of candles didn’t keep them from feeling uneasy when it sounded as though someone else was walking through the house’s halls with them.
Back in town, her mother’s whereabouts was the furthest thing from Caroline’s mind, as she struggled to remain civil with John. Even Gillian’s call (to John’s cell phone) wondering if they’d seen Celia and Alan was enough to raise her suspicions, and try her patience, once again. Though Caroline wasn’t immediately worried by their parents’ absence, Gillian was starting to become frantic, and tried to contact Raffy to see if he’d heard from Alan. Though her son didn’t bother picking up Gillian’s call, it was clear that Raff was also growing tired of hearing his uncle speak about her, and seemed to inwardly question just how valid Robbie’s criticisms really were.
When Gillian finally got through to Raff and Robbie, the news that Alan was missing was enough to get both of them back to the farm, along with a pair of Alan’s friends. They encouraged Gillian to tell the police that her father was missing, but she was hesitant, not wanting to overreact or start expecting the worst. She soon changed her mind, though, and met Caroline at the police station, where she and Robbie explained that the authorities might be able to track their parents’ most recent movements and discern where they were heading before they disappeared. In the meantime, the rest of them retired to the farm to wait out the night (and, in Paul’s case, sleep through the evening).
It was while Gillian was awaiting any news about her father’s whereabouts that Robbie, out of the blue, took the opportunity to apologize for the way he’d treated her since his brother (and her husband) died. He admitted that his behaviour had been out of line, and seemed sincere when he told her that he wanted to start over with both her and Raffy. Their conversation came to an abrupt halt when Gillian received a call from the police, saying that the couple’s Lexus had been seen on the road to Southowram Hall. From there, they were able to deduce that they’d gone to the hall looking for a wedding venue, and left the police to investigate further.
With some of the pressure taken off them, Caroline and Gillian were finally able to talk to one another normally, and Caroline let some of her well-hidden feelings come to the fore (an unusual sight given her typically buttoned-up demeanor). Clearly upset about the end of her marriage, and worried about proceeding with her relationship with Kate, it made sense that she would eventually share with someone else, though Gillian seemed surprised that she was the individual in whom she confided. She, in turn, told Caroline that it wasn’t a misunderstanding that led to Paul getting beaten up by his fiancée’s family, something that (surprisingly) didn’t inspire any judgment on Caroline’s part.
When the police found Celia and Alan’s car in the parking lot at Southowram Hall, they began a search for them in the land around the house, but didn’t think to look inside. Rather than let Gillian keep worrying, Robbie offered to go up to the estate to see if he could learn more about the search for their parents. By the morning, Caroline and Gillian were still anxious, but able to talk through the period of uncertainty as they waited to hear from the police. Gillian admitted that she’d been upset to learn that her mother had kept Celia’s note to Alan all those years ago, and felt as though learning about deception, even decades after the fact, had affected her father. Caroline was quick to remind her, however, that without that simple act, neither of them would’ve been born, and that they should be grateful to her.
Fortunately for them both, they didn’t have to worry about their parents much longer. When the curator at Southowram Hall finally opened up the building, it was only to find the pair of widowers, safe and sound, though not particularly impressed at being locked into the old house. It wasn’t long before Celia and Alan were on the phone to let their respective daughters know that they were alive and well, and when they arrived back at the farm, it was to the warm greetings of their assembled family members.
As life began to return to normal, Raff’s anger over his mother’s choice in men started to resurface, and Caroline was forced to face up to the causes of her own dissatisfaction at home. Though John seemed committed to maintaining transparency in their (clearly floundering) marriage, his efforts were clearly those of a man clinging desperately to something that was all but over. Caroline was much more resigned to the inevitable end of their marriage, and revealed to him that she was seeing someone else, though she didn’t go so far as to say whom. After her candid conversations with Gillian, though, it looks as though she’s on the cusp of revealing the truth to the rest of her family – and how they react will in turn reveal something about them as well.
– Kate Shepherd