As Ken arrives at Highfield, Sir Edward’s sumptuous country pile, the incidental music is erring towards “moody and sinister”, so that gives us fair warning that the upcoming meeting might eventually turn out to be a sticky one for Mr Masters.
Sir Edward is in full country squire mode – flat cap, old jacket and shotgun (shooting some unfortunate clay pigeons to within an inch of their life). Ken, on the other hand, is favouring white trousers, a yellowish shirt and a chequered jacket (complete with rolled-up sleeves). Not quite Sir Edward’s style I feel ….
When Ken confides that he’s always imagined one day owning a place like Highfield, Sir Edward shows considerable restraint by not laughing in his face (the viewers at home might not have been so restrained). Sir Edward – with the smile of a friendly shark – is Ken’s best new friend. He’s happy to bankroll Leisure Cruise and with his money maybe one day Ken might be in a position to take over Relton Marine. Ken Masters as a major player, crossing swords with Charles at Relton? Difficult to see, but it’s an intriguing image.
Ken’s happy to get into bed with Sir Edward, but Sarah isn’t so sure. He agrees with her that Sir Edward is using them but is also confident that they’ll be able to emerge on top if they just hold their nerve. “There’s a whole world out there waiting for us Sarah. Sir Edward holds the key”.
Tom and Jack are discussing their potential design for the America’s Cup. Well, Tom’s discussing it and Jack’s shouting. Jack doesn’t take Tom’s suggestion that they bring Emma on board terribly well (a woman helping to design a boat?). Although it’s easy to argue that Tom has a vested interest – he and Emma have become closer over the last few episodes – it’s also undeniable that her skills would be an undeniable asset. And at the moment when Jack’s really going off the scale about Emma, she walks in. Timing – in soaps as well as sitcoms – always tends to be immaculate.
Jan’s hosting a fashion show. Rather daringly, considering that Tarrant’s weather tends to veer from the awful to the miserable, it’s being held outdoors. As a parade of models traipse up and down wearing a selection of interesting togs (I admit I’m no fashion expert) Jan’s on the microphone, giving us a running commentary. Jan’s wearing a nice hat it must be said. Given that all the models have to parade by a pool I was waiting for one of them to fall in – no such luck I’m afraid (an opportunity missed).
The show is a success and a journalist tells Jan and Anna (sporting some very impressive shoulder pads) that Anna’s designs should see her go far. “Today, an unknown designer, tomorrow Europe. Before too long I’m sure your designs will be known throughout the world”. Just don’t let her go anywhere near a speedboat and everything will be fine.
Charles and Mr Serozawa are examining the latest piece of barren land which Charles believes could be transformed. He promises that it will boast “sporting and recreational facilities”. In other words, a golf course which will enable Mr Serozawa and his chums to get a quick eighteen holes in whenever they decide to visit. Given that Charles has been buying areas of land for redevelopment since the start of series one, I’m a little amazed that there’s anything left in the Tarrant area he hasn’t built on. And where are the environmentalists, protesting that the natural beauty of the area is being spoilt? Nowhere to be found it seems.
Charles is getting concerned. He knows that his father is up to something, but what? Gerald assures him that a full takeover would be impossible, but could Sir Edward be targeting Charles’ American subsidiaries? Charles isn’t interested in calling a truce though, he believes that with Serozawa’s help he can force his father out of the business park. So a quick trip to New York is in order.
Reconciliation’s in the air between Charles and Avril. It’s rare to hear him speak of personal priorities, but his relationship with Avril this year has humanised him just a little (not as much as Paul Merroney’s marriage to April in The Brothers though). He asks Avril to come with him to America, so they can combine business with pleasure.
Kate and Sir Edward enjoy another day at the races. He drops her off home where he meets Leo for the first time. Both are polite, although once again the incidental music (downbeat) is rather obviously underscoring the mood we should feel.
A glammed-up Anna invites Leo to join her and her friends for a night out. It looks as if he’s sooner spend the evening at home, alone with his thoughts and the television (although there’s nothing on). But at the last minute he changes his mind (incidental music = happy, just to hammer the point home that this was a good move) which suggests he’s begun the process of moving on from his ruptured marriage. It’s interesting that the last we ever see of Amanda was in the previous episode where she exited in a very low-key way. Possibly she deserved a little better, but as we’ll shortly see her presence was no longer required.
Cindy Shelly had been absent from series three in order to concentrate on stage work. But now Abby’s makes a most unexpected return. It would have been just as easy to hold her back to the start of the fourth series, but her wordless appearance here is a masterstroke as it provides us with another strong hook into the next batch of episodes.
Presumably if Shelly hadn’t decided to return then Amanda and Leo might have got back together. That would have been an interesting plotline to develop, but sadly it wasn’t to be. Anyway, who’s the first person that Abby goes to see? Need you ask? She looks at Leo, Leo looks at her, their eyes fill with tears (probably a large section of the audience gets a little misty-eyed too) and they hug. Aww.
I like the way that Sir Edward looks just a little shifty when Jan asks him about his links with Ken. If Sir Edward, through Ken, destroys Relton then the Mermaid (including Jan) will end up as collateral damage. He’s a smooth one, that Sir Edward, especially since his next move is to proffer her a rather impressive piece of jewellery. “Yes, my darling, I am proposing to you. You would do me a very great honour if you would consider being my wife”. Crikey!
As we reach the end of the series, let’s summarise. The state of play between Sir Edward and Charles still isn’t clear. Leisure Cruise are now a public company, making Ken and Sarah paper millionaires (they celebrate – how else? – by quaffing champagne). Leo and Abby are reunited. Jan’s considering whether Sir Edward is the right man to make an honest woman out of her. Ken’s Mermaid-designed boat, the Puma, is launched (he takes the opportunity to grab some more champagne). Anna looks set to become an internationally renowned designer.
Everything’s going swimmingly then, but there has to be a sting in the tail somewhere. Tom, Bill and Emma have a heated inaudible discussion, making it plain that something’s up. And just as Sir Edward and Jack are meeting for the first time, Tom sidles over. “I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news. There’s been a message from the coastguard. An aircraft went down in the early hours of this morning. Avril was on board. And so was your son.”
It’s more than a little convenient that Jack and Sir Edward were together when Tom had to break this unhappy news, but nobody said HW was ever connected to real life. Closing on a piece of wreckage floating in the middle of the sea, it’s a strong image to end on and with so many intriguing plotlines unresolved there’s no doubt that the opening episodes of series four will be very interesting indeed. There was very little flab in the third series of HW and I wonder if the standard will be maintained? Shortly we’ll find out.