For the first time we see Polly shaken out of her usual amused self-control. The sight of Abby being carted off in an ambulance is more than enough to finally bring her long-repressed maternal feelings to the surface.
They aren’t reciprocated though, as Abby screams when her mother attempts to join her in the ambulance. And Leo offers no comfort either – looking blankly at Polly when she insists that Abby’s tumble down the stairs was an accident. Since it clearly was (there’s not even a hint that she was pushed) why does Leo seems incapable of offering even a crumb of comfort?
The baby – a boy – is born, although Abby still refuses to have anything to do with her mother. This results in a tear-streaked Polly leaving her daughter’s bedside, convinced that Leo’s the one who’s turned her daughter against her. “I hold you responsible for this, Leo Howard. And you’ll regret it, I promise you. I’m going to make you pay.”
After a brief moment of self-insight last time, Jack’s back to his normal, bluff persona. Telling Avril that, in the words of Aristotle, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” and plonking his shoes into the filing cabinet are two early signs of that.
He later refuses to be kowtowed when David Lloyd and the others visit the yard to inspect the prototype. Jack’s at his best here, refusing to stand on ceremony and inordinately proud of the craftsmanship of the Mermaid. The fact that the prototype is made out of wood is something that’s mollified him – it makes him content that although the Barracuda will be mass-produced, at least the original was hand-crafted in wood.
Jan asks Tom for a divorce (which rather oddly happens off screen). Ken’s delighted to hear this of course, although he has to ratchet down his joy when he realises that Jan’s more than a little traumatised. Bless Ken, his social skills tend to be somewhat limited.
Sir John invites Ken to lunch at the golf club. Once again there’s some lovely class-based comedy – Ken orders a gin and tonic (no doubt seeing it as the perfect drink for such an exclusive environment) whilst Sir John asks for a pint. Once again, this a small moment which illustrates the difference between them – since Ken is anxious to fit in, he attempts to modify his behaviour accordingly whilst Sir John is secure with his place in the world and sees no need to change.
Kate aptly sums Ken up later as “a wolf in wolf’s clothing” and is baffled why her daughter should prefer him over Tom. Minutes later they meet – briefly – for the first time. Kate flashes him an incredibly filthy look and refuses his outstretched hand, so they’re plainly not going to be friends anytime soon!
Relationship traumas in the Howard household continue with Lynne. She’s still besotted with Charles, even though he’s proving to be somewhat elusive (breaking their appointments). Poor Lynne spends her time moping by the phone and staring into the distance, waiting for him to call. Charles doesn’t seem at all bothered though.
There’s another example that Charles is a winner – we see him bouncing around the tennis court, playing a range of athletic shots, which eventually ends up with him emerging victorious.
Claude pops up again, much to Ken’s disgust. Ken does a nice impression of Claude’s accent though! Claude wants to purchase a fashion house. Jan’s keen, Ken’s not.
Howards’ Way, like The Brothers, always understood the importance of carrying forward certain plotlines to the next series as well as closing each run of episodes with a strong cliffhanger. The disputed ownership of the Mermaid Yard is something that’ll be settled early in series two (we see Jack enter the hearing, but aren’t told what happened).
As for the cliffhanger, an increasingly irate Lynne make her way to Charles’ yacht, only to find him in bed with another woman. He introduces her as “Honey Gardner, my wife” which rather takes the wind out of Lynne’s sails. She exits, sobbing, and in her haste to get away loses her balance on the jetty and falls into the water.
It might not be the best stunt ever mounted – rather than a simple stumble and fall, the stuntwoman falls to the ground and then seems to deliberately roll over into the water – but no matter, it’s still a strong way to conclude the first series.