Howards’ Way – Series Two, Episode Thirteen

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Although Tom’s been ever-present throughout series two, he’s not exactly been front and centre of too many storylines.  The final episode of S2 somewhat makes up for this, as the fallout from the Lynnette’s break-up becomes the key theme.

Tom’s been haunting the yard every day, desperately searching for a reason “why” the catamaran broke up.  Avril believes he’s simply torturing himself (“three days of prowling around in a hair shirt”) but Tom needs to understand.  To this end he visits Mrs Travis, which is an understandably awkward encounter.    When she tells Tom that she feels sorry for him, it’s a statement that can be taken several ways – but the meaning becomes clear after she serves a two million pound writ on the Mermaid yard.

It’s fascinating to see how Avril and Jack deal with this crisis.  To begin with, Jack is convinced there was a design flaw in the catamaran – he maintains that you can’t simply become a skilled boat-designer overnight, it takes decades of hard work, not months or years.  Avril is initially more supportive, but she’s the one who decides they have to serve a writ against Tom and suspend him as the Mermaid’s designer.

She believes that she’s acting in everybody’s best interests – if the worst comes to the worst then at least they have a chance of salvaging the yard.  It’s telling at this point that she tells Tom that Jack shouldn’t have to lose his yard (he instantly picks up on the comment that it now appears to be Jack‘s yard).  And at this point Jack does something of an about turn.  Although previously he was dismissive of Tom’s design, he now supports it and is reluctant to side with Avril.

But side with her he does and the writ is served.  It’s a throwaway moment but it goes to prove that for all his bluster, Jack Rolfe isn’t quite the buccaneering individualist he often claims to be.  Although he made a half-hearted attempt to convince Avril that they needed to stand by Tom, not isolate him, in the end she got her way.

It’s easy to see the sense in Avril’s actions – at this point, with a question mark hanging over the Lynnette, it seems logical that Tom steps away from the design board, but he believes her true motives are quite different.  Charles has invited Avril to take over as managing director of Relton Marine and she’s accepted.  Oddly, we don’t see Avril tell Tom this (it’s only reported second-hand).  It’s a little hard to understand why such a key scene like this wasn’t played out.

If Howards’ Way has an unconscious theme, then it appears to be that successful career women are required to sacrifice any hopes of a successful personal relationship.  We’ve already seen this with Jan and now Avril seems to be heading the same way.  Tom is convinced that Avril accepted this new job at Relton in order to rekindle her relationship with Charles, whilst she maintains that it was the only way to safeguard the Mermaid’s future.  It’s hard to side with Tom at this point, meaning that his character flaws (jealousy as well as the previously seen desire not to heed other’s advice) are now quite pronounced.

As with the end of series one, the fate of the Mermaid hangs in the balance and we’ll have to wait until the S3 to see how things play out.

Abby’s story seems to have reached a natural conclusion.  Her time with Curtis is terminated very swiftly (again this is something important which happens off-screen).  He asks her if she’d like to go up to Birmingham with him, as he has to show the red-card to a man who kicked his dog to death.  Abby clearly didn’t realise precisely what would happen (presumably she thought he’d just give him a severe ticking-off).  Instead, Abby tells the ever-sympathetic Leo that Curtis viciously attacked the man, continuing to kick him even after he was unconscious.  It proves that Leo was right all along to be suspicious about Curtis, although he’s mature enough not to crow about it.

The Abby/Curtis relationship is of special interest because it’s the reason why Abby discovers that Charles is her real father.  This is done in a slightly contrived way though – Polly is concerned about Curtis and asks Charles to do some digging on her behalf.  That’s reasonable enough, but then she asks Charles to visit Abby and tell her what he’s uncovered.  If he does so then it seems obvious that Abby’s going to put two and two together (Charles Frere’s not the sort of person to pop around doing good turns like this for anybody).

Why didn’t Polly do it?  It’s true that her relationship with Abby is strained, but they’re at least speaking at present (Abby didn’t leave home this time because of a spat with her mother – it was more about making a bid for independence).

But she doesn’t and Charles does, leading to the inevitable conclusion.   Given that she despises Charles and all he stands for, it’s no doubt something of a shock, but that’s not the major plot-point here.  Rather, it makes Abby finally understand that she shouldn’t have given William away, since it’s exactly the same mistake that her father made with her.  So she sets off for America, to be reunited with William and a possible marriage to Orrin.

This could have served as a fairly tidy ending to Abby’s story, but as we’ll see that proved not to be the case.  Although it’ll be a little while before we see her again.

The other major event in this episode concerns the death of Claude, mown down by a speedboat (a pity the man steering it wasn’t looking in the right direction).  Although it doesn’t operate as a cliffhanger (in the way that Lynne falling into the water at the end of S1 did) it’s still highly dramatic.  Lynne sheds more than a few tears (that’ll be the last we see of Tracy Childs until the sixth and final series) and even Jan is a bit teary-eyed.

It’s interesting how Claude’s fight for life is intercut with Jan bustling around, preparing to launch Claude’s collection.  The undeniable impression given is that the fashion world seems even more trivial when matters of life and death are being decided elsewhere, but in Jan’s defence she was unaware of the accident.  It seems a little strange that nobody decided to tell her how seriously ill he was (or even that Claude was in hospital) although this does give us a moody final scene as Jan, together with Leo (who’s travelled down to London to break the news of Claude’s death), both sit alone amongst the discarded clothes and rubbish from the fashion show.

The mood, as so often this year, is broken by leading into the end credits and the warbling of “always there” but no matter.  Series two built nicely on the first, with a largely stable cast of returnees.  The third series would see a little more fluidity amongst the regulars, with several notable absentees and some heavyweight new arrivals ….

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Howards’ Way – Series Two, Episode Twelve

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Abby decides to leave home again.  This concerns Polly, who – rather out of nowhere – has suddenly developed a strong interest in her daughter’s welfare.  Compare and contrast this to her attitude from S1.  Back then, after Abby snuck out to Southampton in the middle of the night Polly reacted with calm indifference (even pretending for a while that she was away with friends).  But now she’s somewhat frantic after Abby stays out for a single night.

When Abby does return, it’s basically only to pack and to give her mother a brief (and rather sketchy) summary of her plans.  She’s going to move to Southampton again – initially with Curtis (although that’s something tactfully not mentioned).  For once Polly seems keen to talk, but Abby isn’t.  So their relationship remains one of total non-communication.

Elsewhere, Jack is still being pursued by Mrs Davis-Seegram.  Even though she doesn’t turn up in person, simply the mention of her name or a phone call from her is enough to give him the shakes.  Glyn Owen was tailor-made for this sort of material.  There’s something rather wonderful about seeing Jack (after receiving an expensive present from her) airily informing Bill that “she’s wasting her time. There’s no way any female is going to get on top of Jack Rolfe”!

The punchline, of course, is that as he’s speaking he’s on his way to answer the phone.  No prizes for guessing who it is.  Jack’s tone instantly moderates from aggressive to conciliatory (bringing to mind Captain Mainwairing’s telephone conversations to his wife Elizabeth).  He later tries to pull a sickie (coughing down the phone) to try and wriggle out of a dinner engagement, but to no avail.

If Jack’s not running scared from Mrs Davis-Seegram then he’s clashing with Tom and Avril.  Charles’ successful takeover of Relton Marine could have huge implications for the Mermaid (possibly the new Relton board will decide not to continue producing the Barracuda).  Jack’s not bothered, he says they’ll simply go back to producing wooden boats.  Even though Tom and Avril both tell him that the market for wooden boats isn’t there anymore (and he himself, given how few have been produced in recent years at the Mermaid, must know this to be true) he continues to maintain a relaxed air.  He’s not under the influence of alcohol, so it’s probable that – Macawber like – he just expects something to turn up.

Jan’s being a little more understanding this episode.  She rushes over to see Kate (although she can’t resist telling her mother that she’s had to put back her meeting with the PR men until the afternoon in order to do so).  Kate explains that she needs to sell her house in order to pay off her debts and Jan asks her to move in with her.  This is an ideal solution which Kate gladly accepts.  But there’s also the vague sense that Jan still has her business head on – after Kate offers to pay her way, Jan doesn’t demur and later admits that it could work out financially in her favour.  Some people might not want to charge their elderly parent for board and lodgings (especially when they’ve had to sell virtually everything they own) but Jan is clearly made of sterner stuff.

There’s a small hint of the way the series will develop next year, after Sir John refers to a business deal he previously organised with Charles’ father.  Charles doesn’t react terribly well to this and we’re left with the very strong impression that his father is an equally successful businessman who’s exerted a strong influence over Charles’ life.  So whatever Charles does now, he does so in his own way – comparisons to Frere Snr are clearly not welcome.

There are two major developments in the Leo/Abby relationship.  For the first time we hear both of them express, in part, their feelings for each other (although frustratingly they don’t do so at the same time).  Abby tells Leo that “you know, no matter how much I try to deny it, I realise now you mean a hell of a lot more to me than just a friend”.  This isn’t something that Leo can respond to – verbally at least – so they part with a brief kiss on the lips and a hug.

We later see Leo clear the air with his mother and for the first time in a long while they have a quiet, considered conversation where both listen to the other.  It’s here that we learn precisely what Leo feels for Abby (a shame he couldn’t say this to her face though).  “It’s like she’s got a hold on me and I can’t let go. Can’t seem to walk away. When Orrin was over here, I tried but I couldn’t. If she ever needed me, I was always there. Now she’s seeing this other person and I’m still there. I don’t want to be, but I am”.  I’m rather warming to young Leo.

Ken tries to win Jan back with a takeaway Chinese meal.  This is presented as the height of sophistication – so either the mid eighties rated fairly low in the culinary stakes or it’s just another example of Ken’s lack of class.  He throws in a cod Chinese accent as well, so I favour the latter over the former.

Jan’s not interested in a reconciliation and once again she doesn’t have a clear reason why.  Ken’s convinced that she dropped him as soon as he started to have financial problems, which she denies.  But the reason why she’s cooled – the divorce with Tom hasn’t yet come through and she’s not ready to settle down anyway – didn’t seem to bother her before.  It’s hard to feel sorry for Ken, but if Jan wasn’t interested in a long-term relationship, why did she let their affair develop?  Possibly it was simply because she was vulnerable after her marriage imploded.

The prototype of Tom’s catamaran, Lynnette, has been purchased by Mr and Mrs Travis (Ian Collier and Pamela Salem).  Introduced in the previous episode, they seem like a perfectly nice couple (it doesn’t hurt that they’re played by familiar television faces) which makes the ending of this episode even more jarring.  Tom receives the news that there’s been an accident – Lynnette is lying in pieces in the water and we then see a blanket placed over the dead body of Mr Travis with his shocked wife looking on ….

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Howards’ Way – Series Two, Episode Eleven

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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 …

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Howards’ Way – Series Two, Episode Ten

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The character of Curtis Jaeger continues to drive a wedge between Abby and Leo.  Like Orrin before him, he’s a character who somewhat shuts out Leo’s access to her.  Leo’s dislike and distrust of him is again made plain within the first few minutes.  Abby’s crusading spirit still burns – that she’s reading a book on animal experimentation and Jaeger is an activist who’s keen on action not words, suggests the course that this storyline will take over the next few episodes.

Jaeger is a mildly unsettling figure.  Although dressed somewhat scruffily, he’s well spoken and articulate – although this clash still means that he seems out of place in the Urqhuart’s tastefully designed house.  His brief meeting with Polly serves to discomfort her.  He asks if her bag is crocodile, she says that it is and asks him if he likes it.  He responds that he likes crocodiles.

Polly and Abby continue to live in completely separate worlds.  This is highlighted when Abby attempts to find out again who her real father is, whilst Polly at the same time is wittering on about Lynne’s forthcoming marriage.  That neither are listening to the other reinforces the reason why Abby is so keen to leave home again.

Jan’s hard-edged business nature is explored once more.  Her relationship with Ken has cooled considerably of late – this might be because she’s still annoyed at the way he hired thugs to beat up Leo, but it seems more likely that she’s unhappy that he’s not been able to put money into her new venture.  He spells this out to her and she doesn’t contradict him, which is telling.  “I never made conditions Jan.  I helped you when I could. And I can’t now. I’m sorry. Well, I thought what we had didn’t depend on business. You’d have slapped me down if I thought otherwise. And now I’m being punished because I can’t help, because I don’t see it as good business. How the hell is that supposed to make me feel? Was that all I was good for?”

But lest we feel too sorry for Ken, there’s a sense that new horizons are opening up.  He meets Mark Foster and his wife Sarah (Sarah-Jane Varley) to continue discussions on a new business venture.   Although we were introduced to Mark last episode, it’s abundantly clear now that Sarah is the one who makes all the decisions (she does most of the talking whilst he cradles his drink).  Sarah’s a very attractive and confident businesswoman who knows her own mind and instantly catches Ken’s eye.  The look on his face makes it clear that he might not be adverse to explore pleasure as well as business ventures with her ….

But he’s not totally given up on Jan and attempts to bring an unlikely ally (Kate) on his side.  Given that she’s never hidden her contempt for him, he seems to be on a hiding to nothing with her.  But Ken dangles the possibility of a full-time job at the boutique in front of her eyes and then asks her if she’ll talk to Jan on his behalf.  This is maybe a more emotionally honest Ken than we’ve seen before, and Kate seems impressed.

But hard-edged Ken is never too far from the surface.  Shortly afterwards he meets Dawn, who suggests they might resume their relationship.  “Look Dawn, you did me a favour. I’m not mean. I’ll give you a finder’s fee. Five hundred quid. All right? But that’s it. Nothing else. There’s no going back. No more lovey-dovey stuff. That’s all washed up”.  This would be Dawn’s final appearance.  Sally Farmiloe, who died of cancer in 2014, would later hit the headlines when her affair with Jeffrey Archer become public knowledge.  Obituary.

Charles’ stealthy acquisition of Relton Marine is gathering momentum.  He currently owns about 13%, with Sir John suggesting that once he’s got 20% he should make a public offer.  Where could the reminder come from?  It’s suggested that since David Lloyd owns 3% he might be open to an approach.

Tom’s been absent for most of the episode, only popping up some fifteen minutes before the end.  Maurice Colbourne makes up for it with a wistful speech to Lynne, as he remembers the way things were.  “What a busy life we had in those days. Houses, boats, school, work. No chance to sit back and enjoy it all. Still, I suppose it’s the same for most people. Pity.”

There’s a couple of onlookers cooing as Lynne leaves the house for the wedding ceremony (“doesn’t she look lovely?”).  A bit of a mystery as to who they might be (neighbours, friends?).  No matter, as we’re soon at the church where all the women are decked out in some mightily impressive hats.  Kate’s is very large and therefore eye-catching, whilst Abby’s is possibly not the most flattering – it seems to have been designed to obscure as much of her face as possible (if she chose it herself it’s possibly a subconscious statement that she didn’t want to be there).  Leo’s the best man, although we never had a scene where Claude asked him, nor do we see him fretting about the responsibility.

It’s a nice touch that the car carrying Lynne and Tom to the church passes a bustop where Dawn, suitcase on the ground, is waiting for transport to take her away from Tarrant.  Shame about the organist hitting a few bum notes as Lynne walks down the aisle – perhaps they should have gone for another take or at least dubbed over that part.

There’s not a dry eye in the church as Claude and Lynne repeat their vows.  The happiness continues afterwards, although this is intercut with a wistful Avril, standing on the sidelines and unable to join in with the family celebrations.  So Claude and Lynne look set for a long and happy life together.  Hmm, I wonder how that will pan out?

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Howards’ Way – Series Two, Episode Eight

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Episode eight opens with William’s departure.  It’s obviously a sad moment, although the mournful incidental music rather hammers this point home.  It’s characteristic that Gerald, instead of Polly, is the one who consoles Abby afterwards.  Even at this point, with Abby at her lowest ebb, Polly obviously can’t summon up even a smidgen of maternal instinct.

The revelation that Abby is Charles’ daughter was enough to make him drop the marina project, but the fallout continues here.  Gerald always knew he wasn’t the real father but was unaware that Charles was.  This places Gerald in an untenable position – businesswise – and he resigns.  Charles sees no reason why it should make any difference, but he makes no attempt to stop him either.  This is a typical reaction from Charles Frere – he values Gerald as an associate, but is not prepared to beg him to stay – if he wants out, then he’s out.

It leaves Gerald looking like a man of principle, but also as someone who’s rather weak and foolish.  He later tells Polly that he’ll be able to set up on his own, but even he doesn’t sound convinced by this.  Polly, of course, is far from pleased.  She can see her comfortable lifestyle evaporating, once Gerald starts again from scratch (which isn’t something that she’s prepared to accept – divorce would be better than that).

It’s been established in the previous series that Abby and Gerald have never really connected in a daughter/father way.  They seem to be making up for this now, although his next conversation with her – he tells her about her parentage – is a difficult one.  Abby’s reaction is interesting – she’s not particularly upset (or if she is, then she hides it well).   Instead, she treats it as an explanation as to why she’s never fitted in (she later admits that she could easily believe that Polly wasn’t her real mother as well).

Abby and Polly have a heated discussion later, which ends with Polly giving her daughter a hard slap.  Ouch!

Dawn is a fast mover.  Having only just met Jack, she already seems to have moved in (we see the pair of them first thing in the morning, making it obvious that Dawn’s spent the night).  If Jack’s sudden interest in all thing carnal seems to come out of nowhere, then the revelation that he owes nearly ten grand to a bookie is another bolt out of the blue.

True, we’d seen earlier on this series that he’d helped Kate to win a tidy sum at the races (plus it was mentioned in passing last episode that he was spending all his time at the racecourse rather than at the yard) but it would have been better had this plotline been developed a little more.  Otherwise it all ends up feeling rather artificial.  In order to settle his debts, Jack offers 25% of his stake in the Mermaid to Relton Marine, which Avril later buys back – at a price.

Once Dawn knows that Jack’s got financial problems she beats a hasty retreat.  No-one can say that she’s not a transparent sort of person.  She then runs into Ken, who after rubbishing Jack as a “sugar daddy”, make her an offer she can’t refuse.  Ken might be down at present, but with Dawn’s contact (in the power boats business) he’s already planning to bounce back …..

Leo continues to keep Abby’s spirits up, although his choice of venue (as she says herself, “a ruined Abbey”) possibly wasn’t terribly tactful.  The later conversation between Jan and Leo is a revealing one.  She’s tagged Abby as manipulative and self-centred and tells Leo that when he’s no longer of any use, she’ll drop him.  This is a terribly unflattering analysis which says more about Jan that it does about either Abby or Leo.

Is she subconsciously thinking about herself and Ken?  Both Jan and Ken have declared their love for each other on numerous occasions – but Dawn accurately surmises that Ken is partly interested in Jan due to her breeding (he sees her as his entry ticket into a higher social circle) whilst Jan is undeniably interested in his money (without it, she can’t grow her business).

If Jack’s problems with the gee-gees comes out of nowhere, then the engagement between Lynne and Claude is something else which happens with unseemly haste.  Partly this is due to the fact that there’s only thirteen episodes to play with across series two, but it’s all a bit sudden and whirlwind.  Jan’s not happy (once again Jan Harvey gets to practice her disapproving face) but she later comes round a little.

The Mermaid Yard are moving into the future.  They’re going to buy a computer!  No prizes for guessing that Jack’s less than impressed (“that thing’s going back, right?”).  And when he retreats into his office for a quick swig of booze, it’s further evidence that he’s gone off the rails again.  The late arrival of Kate, with her mission to chivvy Jack into mending his ways, is a delight.  Kate Harvey, as ever, delivers a good dollop of common sense and Dulcie Gray is once again immaculate.

Tom’s boat design continues to be called into question by both Bill and Avril, although Tom is still ignoring them.  Last time you could explain this away (Lynne was adrift and uncontactable in the Barracuda, so Tom was preoccupied) but his continuing pig-headiness is harder to understand.  At times he seems more inflexible and autocratic than Jack, but the events at the end of this episode suggest that he should have listened to them ….

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Howards’ Way – Series Two, Episode Seven

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Howards’ Way seemed to spend a great deal of time in one hospital or another.  This episode opens with Leo propped up in a hospital bed (looking much the worse for wear) with Jan and Tom by his bedside.  Leo looks to have been the only person to have been beaten up by Ken’s thugs, which seems to prove he was born under a bad sign.

Jan’s still in a state of denial over Ken’s involvement in the tussle.  She tells Leo that it was obviously Charles who paid for the bullyboys, apparently not even considering that Ken might have been responsible.  At first I wondered if her voracious capitalistic streak had taken hold (not willing to rock the boat with Ken, since she still needs finance for her and Claude’s business venture) but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

When Polly later off-handily confirms that Ken was the guilty party, there’s genuine shock on Jan’s face – so maybe she was simply a little gullible.  Ken’s contrite (telling her that he’s never done anything like this before) but it’s somewhat difficult to believe him – is he just sorry he’s been found out?

Ken goes through the wringer in this episode.  With Abby, Leo and (presumably) others receiving court summons, they have to decide whether to go to the Magistrates or Crown Court.  Crown Court would generate a great deal of publicity, which is precisely what they want (and Ken is anxious to avoid).  Charles is wonderfully laid back throughout – maintaining that since he’s done nothing wrong he’s not bothered either way.

But Ken – increasingly stuck in a vice-like grip – sees disaster ahead, so sells his marina shares to Charles for the knock down price of £250,000.  This means he’s taken a considerable financial hit and now has to count the cost of his bruising encounter with Charles.  It’s been obvious from the start, but this simply confirms that Ken is a complete novice in business terms compared to Charles.

Jan has another brief, but very telling, moment later on.  She’s looking to use the house as collateral in order to finance her business.  Remember that last year she was less than impressed when Tom did the same thing.  Since the divorce hasn’t gone through yet, it’s strange that she hasn’t discussed what she’s doing with Tom (who presumably still owns half of the house, unless he’s signed it over to her).

It’s unconvincing stock footage ahoy again as we join Lynne and Claude on their cruise home.  Claude is his usual annoyingly smooth self, telling Lynne that he’s had awful trouble in keeping the deck lounger next to him free (because, no doubt, hundreds of women were panting to get at him).  Meanwhile Lynne cheerfully tells him that initially she thought he was a frog pursuing her mother, but now she’s of the opinion that he’s just a frog with some redeeming features.  Lynne’s looking particularly attractive during the scenes when they trip the light fantastic on the ballroom floor.

Ken’s former girlfriend, Dawn, turns up behind the bar at the Jolly Sailor.  Jack’s immediately taken with her.  “If you need someone to show you around the place, I’m your man. So how about it? I could take you to the village duck pond. Morris dancing, marbles match, conker-bashing. We could really live it up”.  This is a different side to Jack.  Although we’ve seen him enjoying Kate’s company, they were – as the phrase goes – just good friends.  Jack’s never shown an interest in the opposite sex before, certainly not one as young as Dawn.

This doesn’t go down well with everyone.  Avril looks slightly askance at the fact her father’s been entertaining someone as young as she is, whilst there’s another pressure point later on – the launch of Tom’s catamaran.  Jack’s invited Dawn to do the honours, whilst Avril has also asked someone – Kate, in fact.  No-one could do well-bred disdain like Dulcie Gray.  Her comment upon meeting Dawn is priceless.  “Your niece, is it, Jack?”

One of my favourite scenes in this episode occurs when Abby visits Leo in hospital and explains the reason for her present of nuts  “Grapes are bourgeois.  Men don’t appreciate flowers and chocolates are bad for your teeth.”

It’s a brief moment of levity for Abby, as elsewhere there’s not many laughs for her.  It’s the arrival of Orrin’s father, Robert (Bruce Boa), which is the problem.  Canadian-born Boa had a lengthy career playing Americans, often of the very stroppy type (he doesn’t order a Waldolf Salad in this one, but it’s easy to imagine him doing so and being less than impressed).

The appearance of Robert Hudson helps to define Orrin’s character a little more. Up until now it’s been difficult to decide exactly what Orrin’s motivations were.  Did he want to marry Abby because he loved her? Was he more interested in ensuring that the rich and powerful Hudson family didn’t have the scandal of an illegitimate child? Or was he simply designed as a character to come between Abby and Leo?

The influence of his father over him is plain to see (in sharp contrast to Abby, who rarely listens to her parents).  Left to his own devices Orrin’s been somewhat relaxed, but Robert’s dominant (indeed overbearing) personality eventually seems to subsume his own, meaning that by the end they are both of one mind – if Abby doesn’t want to get married then baby William will return with them to America.

This then leads into one of the most intriguing moments in the whole series.  Everything is set up for Abby to declare that she’d sooner die than see her son taken away from her, but instead she somewhat meekly accedes.  It’s just so unexpected (it would have been easy to see this becoming a major storyline) but it’s good that the show doesn’t always do the obvious.

The episode ends with a revelation that wasn’t completely unexpected (hints were laid during the first series) but it’s nice to have it out in the open anyway.   Charles is Abby’s father ….

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