'Last Tango in Halifax' Recap: How the Second Half of Series 2 Went


Alan and Celia's big day! (Photo: Courtesy of Ben Blackall/© Anthony and Cleopatra Series Ltd)
Can you believe Last Tango in Halifax Series 2 is over already? I guess it’s true what they say -time flies when you’re engrossed in a proper family drama. Since we last talked, quite a lot of time has passed and life for the newlywed Buttershaws and their kin has been eventful to say the least. While estrangement was rife earlier in the series, by the finale, reconciliation abounded. Loss was tempered with the promise of new life and love definitely trumped angst in the end.

Let’s get on with the recap, shall we? 

Episode 4. In the previous episode, we left John (Tony Gardner) at Gillian’s farm listening to her confession about Eddie’s botched suicide (more on that later). John decides to win points with new Granny Gillian (Nicola Walker) by babysitting so she can get her work done and strongly urging Raff (Josh Bolt) to get his name on the birth certificate. Ellie (Katherine Rose Morley), her granddad Harry (Paul Copley), Raff and John go off to the register office and decide to name the baby Emily Jane; the name great granddad Alan (Derek Jacobi) had already been calling her. Unfortunately a slightly deaf Alan heard Calamity Jane instead over the phone and the nickname has definitely stuck.

Later that evening Robbie (Dean Andrews) stops by to apologize to Gillian for overreacting about her decision as a teenager to abort their child without consulting him. She invites him in for dinner where Robbie is disappointed to discover that John is already at the table. And if this isn’t enough Judith (Roni Anconna) also shows up uninvited to confront John about plagiarizing her idea for a novel based on Alan and Celia’s (Anne Reid) touching reunion and love story. An angry Judith reveals John’s infatuation with Gillian in front of the dinner party, including the details of their one-night stand on Gillian’s birthday. Robbie is crestfallen once again, punches John and promptly takes his leave.

In other struggling relationship news, Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) treats Kate (Nina Sosanya) to an upscale bed and breakfast weekend for her birthday. They have also planned to meet with Kate’s friend from university and potential sperm donor, Greg (Marcus Garvey). Caroline is put out by Greg’s deliberate attempts to exclude her from the classmates’ walk down memory lane. Kate is fuming over Caroline’s inability to acknowledge their relationship in public to such a degree that she booked separate rooms at the B&B. The next morning when the two women meet up in the dining room for breakfast, Kate tells Caroline the relationship is over, seeing as it never really took hold in the first place.

Meanwhile back a Caroline’s place in Harrogate, while the grandparents are handling some minor crises with Celia’s grandsons, a shaken Gillian calls with the bad news that Alan’s lifelong friend Maurice (Roy Barraclough) has passed away unexpectedly from a stroke. At the funeral, a bereft Alan delivers the eulogy for his childhood pal who was a true friend and an even better man. As an unexpected death will do, Alan decides he and Celia should wed again and do it right this time with all their friends and family in attendance. Celia concedes to this proposal with a simple, “Oh go on then.”

Episode 5.  Three months have passed and a fair amount of moving on has occurred. John is living with his pregnant, on-again-off-again amour, Judith. Robbie has taken up with a new girlfriend Cheryl from the police department who is the process of moving in with him. Kate too has gone ahead with her plan to have a baby and reports to Caroline that she is currently twelve weeks pregnant and would like to arrange for her maternity leave. As Caroline is about to have an empty nest with her eldest son leaving for Oxford and her youngest asking to live with John, Kate’s news hits her rather hard.

It appears Alan and Celia’s wedding plans have hit a snag. Alan has a brother who lives in New Zealand and Celia has a sister in Sheffield and both claim the other is having issues scheduling around their sibling’s availability. When Gillian and Caroline confer, Gillian confirms that the problem is not on her uncle’s end so Caroline calls her Aunt Muriel (Gemma Jones) only to find that she knows nothing about the wedding. Of course, Alan and Celia are forced to make a visit and Celia confides she’s been frosty towards her sister since they both had feelings for the same man and Muriel ended up marrying him. The visit goes off well enough despite Muriel’s tendency to brag.

Now that fences have been mended Gillian and Caroline are keen to get the wedding plans well underway. Upon Caroline’s suggestion, the pair visits the same B&B where Kate and Caroline had their ill-fated romantic weekend. They tour the grounds, look at prices and speak with the event planner at the hotel. They call Alan and Celia to say that they think it’s a great venue; however, the first available date is Christmas Eve and a deposit must be put down if they want it.

All the while the daughters are getting quite drunk on the complimentary champagne. At first it’s girly laughing and silliness but soon they turn to telling secrets and Gillian finally admits the full truth about Eddie to her new step-sister. Eddie was physically and sexually abusive to Gillian for many years and what was made to look like a suicide was actually a murder. Gillian killed Eddie before he could kill her.

Meanwhile, Caroline’s son Lawrence (Louis Greatorex) has been abandoned for hours at Judith’s apartment and he’s unsuccessfully phoned his mother asking her to pick him. When John finally returns home, he finds Lawrence has left Judith’s home with no indication where he’s gone.

Episode 6.  In the morning, Gillian fears she has said too much and asks Caroline if she plans on going to the police based on her confession. Caroline understands that Gillian needed to tell someone and promises to keep her secret. She does agree that Gillian should not pursue Robbie since he was Eddie’s brother and it would be too hard to keep such a horrible thing from someone so close to you. Caroline then heads off to confront John about his irresponsibility with Lawrence. Once home, she learns that her son called Kate and spent the night under her care. Caroline goes to Kate’s house to thank her for watching after her son and asks for another chance to make things up to her, but Kate refuses.

Shortly thereafter, Kate leaves school with symptoms of a suspected miscarriage. Caroline skips an important work meeting so she can be with Kate when she has the ultra sound scan performed at the hospital. Fortunately all is well and Kate learns she is still carrying a healthy baby girl.

Days before the wedding, Alan accompanies Gillian and “Calamity” to the cemetery to visit Gillian’s mother’s grave on her birthday. Once there, the kind and tolerant Alan of old forgives Eileen for not giving him Celia’s note all those years ago; she was just a girl after all. He also asks for her blessing on his new life symbolized by a shower of flower petals that swirl down and around him.

Alan’s stag party is attended by his brother Ted (Timothy West) - a surprise arrival since he’d claimed to have suffered a fall and couldn’t travel, Raff, Harry and Robbie. The men spend most of the evening trying to convince Robbie to reconcile with Gillian because though she’s a handful, she’s worth the bother.

The wedding itself is a Christmas Eve love fest full of romantic gestures and family togetherness. Kate plays the piano for the ceremony, Caroline escorts her mother down the aisle and the bride and groom lovingly and confidently recite their vows.  Heartfelt speeches are made by Caroline and Alan’s best man, Harry, but when it’s time for the groom’s speech Alan says it boy band style with his grandsons as back-up performing the sentimental classic If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body, Would You Hold It Against Me. 

But the romance doesn’t end with the happy couple. After Gillian discovers her father was encouraging Robbie to pursue her, she takes matters into her own hands and steps in on Robbie dancing with his new girlfriend.  Caroline accepts Kate’s invitation to dance in front of everyone at the party and goes even farther, sealing the deal with a very public and passionate kiss.

So there we have it, happily ever after for everyone, right? You and I both know better than that, especially with series three filming already underway. Next series there will surely be a new addition or two to this rapidly expanding family. Will Celia “train” Alan in ruthlessness and convince him to evict his tenants so they can buy a cozy bungalow all their own. Will John stay with Judith or will he finally get his life sorted out? And what of Gillian, can she keep her shocking secret under wraps or will Robbie himself be arresting her for the murder of his brother one night after she gets drunk and spills out another confession?

Now it’s your turn to talk about the end of series two and your hopes and expectations for the episodes to come.  We had a nice lively conversation last time so let’s keep it going!