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 ….