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 ….