After storming out of the house, Tom comes back and briefly – for a matter of seconds – there seems to be some possibility of rapprochement between him and Jan. But when he tells her that he’s gone ahead and sunk all his savings into the Mermaid Yard they sail back into choppy waters …..
If Jan’s upset, then Lynne’s devastated to hear that the Flying Fish will have to be sold. Cue tears and smudged mascara – for Lynne it seems that the world has ended. She continues to pout away later after Tom learns that she’s got herself a job at the yacht club bar (he’s not pleased).
Leo is persuaded by Polly to escort an unwilling Abby to a glittering (for Tarrant anyway) society party. I like the way that Polly is pathetically grateful to Leo for taking on this difficult task. It’s also notable that despite the fact it only appears to be late afternoon, Polly has a drink in her hand. Howards’ Way, like The Brothers, runs on alcohol.
Jack Rolfe practically lives in the pub, although most of the other characters also tend to have a drink close by most of the time. For example, when Jan and Tom are going at each other hammer and tongs, Leo attempts to diffuse the situation by asking his mother if she’d like another drink.
Abby doesn’t want to go the party, so she and Leo have a quiet drink instead (see what I mean?!). Leo is the first person we’ve seen so far who takes the time to listen to her, even though she remains withdrawn and guarded.
Tom arrives at the Mermaid Yard but isn’t exactly welcomed with open arms. Apart from Jack’s ever-loyal factotum Bill Sayers (Robert Vahey), the workers at the yard tended to be fairly anonymous, although occasionally – beginning here – there was an effort made to turn some of them into characters.
Most notable amongst them is Davy Malik (Kulvinder Ghir), who has to face an inevitable trickle of racial abuse from his fellow workers. Ghir was right at the start of his career (only a couple of appearances in Tucker’s Luck pre-dated his turn as Davy). Later he’d be a regular in Goodness Gracious Me and would rack up a score of other credits, most recently appearing as Cyril in Still Open All Hours.
You have to love Jack’s optimism (expressed later to Bill) that it’s going to be easy to manipulate and sideline Tom. Surely he’s realised by now that Tom’s not going to be a pushover? Bill’s worried that he’ll want to change everything, bringing in new fangled computers and the like.
Jack and Bill are traditionalists – but we’re not invited to view this as necessarily a good thing. Jack mutters that it doesn’t matter how long it takes to do a job (quality is all important) but it’s plain that Bill is shiftily aware that there’s long been a culture of inefficiency at the yard. So in some ways Tom, with his crusading zeal, is a Thatcherite new-man, keen to start operating more effectively and efficiently. But he’s not being totally unreasonable, since his plans are obviously in the interests of Jack, Bill and all the rest (otherwise the yard will go under and everyone will be out of a job).
It’s been touched upon before that Jack married his wife in order to gain control of the yard, but it’s restated here by Avril – and with the bleak caveat that she died possibly because Jack was such a terrible husband or possibly because of cancer. It follows that Avril should despise him, but that’s not the case. If Jack loathed his wife then he loves his daughter and when he loves something, he commits totally.
We meet Jan’s mother, the always sensible Kate Harvey (Dulcie Gray), for the first time. Unlike Mary Hammond, the matriarch of The Brothers, Kate is much more down to earth and approachable. From now until the end of series six she can often be guaranteed to pop up in order to dispense a dose of good old-fashioned common sense (her close encounter with Jack in a few episodes time is a treat).
There might have been a hint in the previous episode that Abby was contemplating suicide. When she steps off the train with Polly, there’s a second or two where she lingers – just staring at the railway tracks. Was this intended to signify an unconscious (or otherwise) urge to throw herself underneath an oncoming train? It’s a subtle touch if so, but even if it wasn’t intentional, her hesitancy still suggests that she’s a deeply troubled young woman.
The end of episode cliffhanger, as she plunges into the sea, amply demonstrates this.