“Last Tango in Halifax” recap (Ep. 5): Magnificent

In the second-to-last episode of the first season of Last Tango in Halifax, the writers called up the Lesbian Gods and asked them for suggestions on the perfect way to start a television episode. The gods said, “Take two hot ladies, shove them up against a door, and have them make out and feel each other up, FIRST THING.” Last Tango in Halifax said, “OK!”

We left off last time with everyone recovering after their worlds turned a little topsy turvy when Celia and Alan went missing for a night. Now, Caroline is returning to work after the hectic morning. She calls Kate on the phone as she pulls her car up to the building; asks her to come to her office right away. As Caroline walks down the hall, another employee asks how her mother is, and how she herself is doing. Caroline explains that they all had a bit of a fright. “But I’m feeling — something else, now. Exhilarated,” she says, her dreamy eyes drifting into the distance, her face aglow, as she lets Kate into her office. “Hm. Probably shock,” the woman comments, and leaves to fetch Caroline some tea.

Inside Caroline’s office, Kate asks, “What?” a bit peevishly, and we can’t really blame her, after the ups and downs of Caroline’s mixed messages. But Caroline is over mixed messages today. Today is a new day! A day of exhilaration and freedom! A day to grab Kate and do this!

She tugs Kate’s silk shirt out from its tucked-in prison to raise her hand underneath it. And finally, when they pull away, a flushed Kate asks if Caroline would like to come to hers after work, to which Caroline replies, without even the hint of hesitation, without a smidgen of doubt, “YEP.” Caroline is on fire right now; she is incandescent! She is sure and alive and full of light! She also tells Kate that she’s told John she’s seeing someone, and then she tells Kate she’s pretty. Kate says, pleased but coy, “Am I? You’re magnificent.” Caroline whispers something dirty but indiscernible in her ear. And then that lady from the hall comes in with the tea.

The woman asks if Caroline’s eaten lunch; she says, “Nope!” She asks if Caroline’s still up for some afternoon meetings, Caroline says why not.

Then she leaves, and a split second later, Caroline is suddenly leaning against the fireplace in her office as if her body is suddenly too heavy to bear, and she slowly but surely sinks to the floor.

She was sure her mother was dead last night, she says, she was sure they both were. “And how sad, to find love again after all this time, and just die?” And part of you can’t get over how phenomenal Sarah Lancashire has been for the last five minutes, and part of you is suddenly slightly worried that she made out with Kate so hard only because of her exhaustion-driven hysteria, but then she asks if Kate will be home by four, and Kate says, “I can be,” and they both smile.