Howards’ Way – Series Two, Episode Four

howards s02e04

Shellet continues to lurk about, this time he’s casting his disturbing shadow down at the Mermaid.  The incidental music takes a sudden turn for the sinister as Shellet looks over the boat that Jack’s due to take out shortly, which gives us a clue as to what might happen ….

Polly, glass in hand, demands an apology from Gerald over his accusations of her extravagance.  Patricia Shakesby and Ivor Danvers sparkle here – Polly declaims that she provides good value for money as a hostess whilst Gerald counters that it’s all she does do (once again highlighting their marriage of convenience).  It’s slightly odd that Gerald raises the point about tightening their belts though, since this wasn’t really the reason for his outburst last time and – as a trusted lieutenant of Charles Frere – it’s doubtful Gerald will be on the breadline anytime soon.

Charles pays another visit to Avril, once again entering her house without her permission, in a scene which highlights their differences.  Charles offers her a seat on his board, which she refuses outright.  For Charles, it’s purely business (they may have been lovers in the past, but that’s over) whilst Avril can’t see past their failed relationship.   And when Tom walks in, the tension level rises a little more.  Tom and Charles have another brief, but entertaining, face-off.

Shellet may have no money but he’s obviously a man of resourcefulness, as he’s able to knock up a quick homemade bomb and pop it into Jack’s boat.  As Jack (once again nattily attired with a bobble hat) takes the boat out, the incidental music helpfully provides the right mood (eerie and faintly disturbing, rather than the more usual blast of the Howards’ Way theme that normally accompanies sailing scenes).

When the explosion comes, it’s a nicely shot sequence – with Jack being flung overboard following the aftershock.  If one were being picky, then a freeze-frame shows that he’s already got a bruise on his forehead before he’s struck by the sail, but not many viewers would have been watching this frame-by-frame back in 1986.  Kudos to Glyn Owen for taking a dip in the cold and unfriendly-looking water – the scenes of an unconscious Jack slowly sinking deeper and deeper are striking.  Luckily, Jack’s rescued by a passing boat but the fact that his rescuers can’t find a pulse is a worrying sign.

Jack obviously makes a recovery off-screen as he’s later ensconced in the hospital.  He’s quizzed by a police officer called Gray (Albert Welling).  Decades later, Welling would pop on a moustache to play Adolf Hitler in Doctor Who.  Avril is a concerned visitor, but Kate’s a more entertaining one.  “Are you all in one piece or are there some parts missing?”

Having made a speedy recovery of her own, Lynne’s now rediscovered her love for all things nautical.   She offers to sleep aboard the Barracuda in order to safeguard the expensive equipment aboard.  This naturally brings her closer to Tom at the expense of Jan, who’s not very pleased at all.  Jan claims that she’s concerned about Lynne’s welfare so soon after coming out of hospital, but since Kate tells her that she’s fine now, it seems more likely that Jan’s dismayed to find Lynne taking Tom’s side once more.  Jan then mutters that “it’s all so bloody unfair” which is a very telling moment.

But the arrival of Claude soon cheers her up.  Claude (or “Clod” as Ken usually refers to him) still has the silly ponytail and the even sillier accent.  Oh well, he won’t be around for ever.  Claude’s later revelation that his marriage is now off is a strange bit of plotting – it seemed to have existed in the first place purely to provide a not terribly involving cliffhanger, meaning that it’s now reversed with alacrity.   Ken’s continuing dislike of Claude means that he won’t support the business proposal forwarded by him and Jan – meaning that Jan’s prepared to strike out by herself.

Leo’s getting more involved in the campaign to save the nature reserve.  Abby’s as keen as he is, whilst Orrin is much more reserved (no pun intended).  Is fighting this cause Leo’s way of filling his time now that Abby and Orrin are a sort of item, or would he have done so anyway?  A little of both maybe.

Charles is thinking big with the marina development.  He doesn’t just want a hotel (part of an international chain preferably) but also an office block.  Even Gerald looks slightly askance at his ever-developing plans – as if it all goes ahead then it would change the look of the local community for ever.  With great zeal, Charles continues.  “I’m thinking of small to medium-sized businesses who wouldn’t be able to afford or who wouldn’t have the requirement to run the whole range of communications and computer equipment.  Secretarial pool, digital and off-peak transatlantic telephone connections.  Boardrooms and conference rooms for hire. Word processing and computer rental. Post offices and banks. The possibilities are endless.”  Oh, then he decides a Casino would be good too ….

With Jack out of action, discussion turns to who could take the Barracuda on its solo Atlantic crossing.  In a not terribly surprising end of episode revelation, we see that Lynne has snuck out aboard the Barracuda and appears to be well on her way.  I can just picture Jan’s face.

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