Howards’ Way – Series Four, Episode Two

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Last time we were left on a dramatic cliffhanger – would Avril live or die? That question is resolved rather speedily at the start of this episode as she opens her eyes and we’re told that she’ll make a full recovery.  This can’t help but feel like something of a let-down (if you’re going to ramp up the tension then it’s rather a cheat to let it dissipate so quickly) but we do later learn that Avril’s suffering from periodic memory blackouts, so it may be that her road to recovery won’t quite be as straightforward as it first appeared.

Jan’s still fretting about her stolen designs, worried they could be on their way to Taiwan by now (and then later appearing on a market stall near you).  She’s pinning her hopes on getting the chain-smoking Antonia Rogers (Annie Lambert) to buy her some time by stalling the distributors.

Antonia is a hoot. I love the fact that she’s organising a fashion show in what appears to be the foyer of a posh office block.  No catwalk for her models then, instead some are traipsing up and down the stairs whilst two unfortunate girls have to attempt to walk a few paces within the confines of a cramped lift.  Well, it’s certainly different.  A pity that Antonia only appears in this episode and the next.

Jan’s mulling over who could have tipped the crooks off.  Only a handful of people knew – Kate and Polly, for example.  It’s hard to imagine sensible Kate as a hard-bitten criminal but Polly … hmm.  Polly’s very keen to inject some of her capital into the business, making it’s plain that just running a boutique won’t satisfy her requirements, she wants a piece of the action as well.

Whilst Jan’s on something of a downward professional curve at present, the Urquharts are on the up and up.  Polly’s new job is one of the reasons why – and this new-found independence may explain why for the first time she’s been able to connect with Abby.  But there’s more to their new-found relationship than that.  Abby’s grown up since she’s been away and – also for the first time – has come to understand precisely how much work is involved in rearing a child (it’s easy to believe that Abby wasn’t the most docile of babies).  But given that this is HW, one shouldn’t be too surprised if the current air of détente doesn’t last too long ….

Shock news!  Charles announces at a press conference that he’s resigning as Chief Executive of Frere Holdings with immediate effect and has appointed Gerald as his replacement.  As we saw last time, the accident has deeply affected him and he’s come to realise that business is not the most important thing in his life (slightly hard to believe, but never mind).  He wants to spend more time with Avril and the daughter (Abby) he’s only just realised he has.

That won’t be easy though, as Abby’s ensconced with Sir Edward and he’s attempting to prevent her from contacting his son.  This episode there’s much less of the contrite Sir Edward and a good deal more of the ruthless tycoon.  This is also demonstrated when he discusses his possible forthcoming marriage to Jan.  Sir John tells him that financially (if not personally) he’ll be fine in the event of a divorce, provided Jan signs the appropriate pre-nuptial papers.  The way that Sir Edward confidently tells him that this won’t be a problem is a telling one – Sir Edward always gets what he wants, so why should this be any different?

Sir Edward’s tentacles are beginning to spread.  He’s behind the consortium designing a boat for the America’s Cup and Tom is delighted to accept a place on the team.  Emma, his current squeeze, will be his assistant, although Jack’s not happy.  Howards Way wouldn’t be Howards Way if Jack wasn’t sulking about something, so it’s reassuring to know that things are back to normal.  He’s concerned that Tom’s involvement in the America’s Cup will have a negative impact on the Mermaid whilst he’s never taken to Emma and her computers.  Expect sparks to fly in the traditional manner.

Sarah and Sir Edward have a meeting.  She’s been less than thrilled about Ken’s attitude of late (he rarely seems to consult her before plunging ahead with his schemes) so wants Sir Edward – who organised a bridging loan for Leisure Cruise – to clip his wings.  Sarah tries to spice things up by telling Sir Edward that Ken is still interested in Jan.  This is another of those layered plotlines which is simmering away nicely.

Amanda might be long gone, but her father’s still around.  Given that he was never keen for Leo to marry his daughter in the first place it seems a little unlikely that now he’d have so dramatically reversed his opinion – offering Leo a tidy sum if they get back together.  Leo’s not interested and eventually Mr Parker seems to get the picture.

Leo’s not downhearted at the thought of his failed marriage for long though as he and Ken head out for a spot of powerboat racing.  Leo’s thinking of a career change – rather than selling boats he wants to race them.  Whatever happened to the young lad who was so keen on the environment and righting wrongs?  Ken and Leo do look rather sweet in their matching overalls though.

Jan and Tom have a candlelit dinner.  As with most of their meetings since their divorce, it’s a polite and respectful affair.  Tom gently tells her that she doesn’t need his blessing to marry Sir Edward but Jan responds that she’d still like it.  These days Tom is understanding and kindness personified.

If episode one’s cliffhanger turned out to be something of a damp squib, then this one is much more promising.  Ken meets up with Antonia, who confirms that Jan’s in serious trouble and once Antonia (on Ken’s urging) leaks the news to the international press then her problems will only intensify.  “I want Jan Howard to be taught a very expensive lesson, Antonia, one she’ll never forget”.

Even this early on, things are shaping up nicely – especially when Sir Edward introduces Jan as his future wife.  Just a pity she hasn’t said yes yet ….

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3 thoughts on “Howards’ Way – Series Four, Episode Two

  1. Scenes between Leo and Parker are not particularly well written and even less well directed. Parker never loses his high-handed attitude and an expression of near total contempt towards Leo, even when he returns to ask him to patch up the ill-fated marriage. Leo is perhaps a little too cocky, which is, I guess, an attempt to make him appear more assertive. This newly-found cockiness and a sudden onset of apparent short fuse doesn’t sit well with Leo’s previously placid nature, but perhaps it is to illustrate his mounting frustration with Abby.

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    • Parker’s appearance here is odd – especially since he doesn’t reappear again. True, he does influence Ken’s business off-stage, but I do wonder why they bothered to write him in for such a brief scene which achieves little except to reiterate that Leo’s not someone who can be bought off. Had Amanda reappeared – keen to patch up her marriage – then that would have added a little spice (especially with Abby around) but possibly Francesca Gonshaw wasn’t available.

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  2. Much as I’m trying to imagine Amanda changing her spots, it just doesn’t work for me. Yes, she might be spurred by her daddy’s threat to cut down her allowance, but I’m sure Leo wouldn’t have any of it. He is, and will remain, steadfastly a one-woman-man (boring? maybe, but definitely sweet) and, with Abby around, Amanda wouldn’t stand a chance.

    And however sweet Ken and Leo may look together in their matching overalls, they also look somewhat mismatched. Edward Highmore looks smaller than his about average height because quite a number of male characters with whom Leo interacts are played by very tall actors – Stephen Yardley, Maurice Colbourne, Jeff Harding, John Challis – all some six feet and over. It works well in the first two or three seasons, but later, when Leo is no longer a teenager, he still looks like he’s never really grown up. Which is, well, quite sweet.

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