Episode eleven opens with Curtis Jaeger lurking in the shadows. It quickly becomes apparent that the men he’s tailing are part of an illegal dog-fighting ring. This affords us a rare glimpse into the seedier side of Tarrant life as we see Curtis keeping tabs on a crowd of baying men, all of whom are urging one of two dogs to rip the other’s throat out.
Previously Leo had cast the methods and motives of Curtis in a very unflattering light, but there’s no doubt that his actions here (breaking up the fight by himself and taking one of the dogs) was a brave – if foolhardy – move. He later explains that the police didn’t show up, which makes his one-man crusade a little more understandable, but had he been caught then it would have been him (rather than the dogs) on the receiving end of some considerable punishment.
He manages to escape with nothing more than a few cuts and bruises and is surprised to find Abby waiting for him at his flat. The sight of his bloodied (not his own) face obviously stirs some animalistic instinct deep within Abby as within moments they’re in each others arms. It’s an interesting touch that these two scenes are intercut with Leo on the phone, trying and failing to contact Abby.
Shortly after we’re witness to the delightfully awkward sight of Leo and Polly both waiting for Abby to return home. We later learn that Leo’s been there for an hour and given the fact that he and Polly have precisely nothing in common it must have been an excruciating period of time for them both. When Abby finally does arrive, Polly is at her acidly polite best – berating her daughter for being so late and then adding that “you really ought to be more considerate. You know how he likes to keep tabs on you”.
Leo and Abby’s relationship, whatever that might be, has hit a rocky patch. If he’s ever entertained the hope that it might develop into something deeper than friendship, then her comment that “you’ve been a good friend to me, I’ve appreciated it, you’re kind … ” implies this isn’t going to happen. He cuts her off short (telling her not to be patronising) and things roll downhill from there.
Curtis Jaeger is the problem, although Leo does seem to be concerned more about Curtis’ character and suitability for Abby, rather than viewing him as a potential love rival. So at present Leo and Abby seem to very much be cast in a brother/sister mode, although the next episode does suggest otherwise.
Gerald and Polly are also concerned about Curtis, although in Polly’s case it’s more a question of social standing ….
If Polly makes herself scarce, then Gerald does at least make an effort to diffuse the situation by offering Leo a drink (the classic HW solution to all of life’s ills). Leo doesn’t take up the offer, but it’s another nice moment which shows how Gerald cares for Abby (the way he embraces her after Leo leaves is another sign of this). It’s impossible to imagine Polly ever having such a tactile relationship with her.
Leo has another flashpoint later on, this time with Jan. She’s once again condescending and dismissive (wondering if Abby’s still got him “wrapped around her little finger”). When Leo opines that her mother has little or no interest in him, it’s notable that she doesn’t answer straight away – instead it’s Kate who protests.
Leo’s clearly carrying a fair amount of pent-up emotion, but it’s hard to disagree with the points he makes. We’d earlier seen how Jan had interrupted Lynne and Claude’s honeymoon (she’s fretting over her new collection) whilst her justification for not paying attention to her son is somewhat dubious. She tells him that her life recently has been a dismal failure, so the business is a chance for her to salvage some self-respect. Once again, it’s very hard to empathise with Jan.
Elsewhere, Charles’ attempted takeover of Relton continues. But Tom seems to have been paying very little attention as only now does he seem to understand there’s a very real possibility that he and Avril (but especially Avril) might shortly be working for Charles Frere. And that’s not something he’s too pleased about. Nor is he chuffed to learn that Jack’s using a twenty year old design for Mrs Davis-Seagram’s boat – as the Mermaid’s designer in chief, he considers it to be a breach of etiquette.
Kate decides to sell her cottage and for once she needs Jack (rather than the other way around) to act as a pillar of strength, luckily he’s more than up to the task. Ken continues to make googly eyes at Sarah, which she reciprocates. It’s made plain that her husband’s one and only love is power-boats, so crafty Ken spies an opening …