If the final episode of series four has a theme then it seems to be shattered/shifting allegiances. Sir John Stevens is up first, telling Sir Edward that he’s managed to hang onto his position at the bank (although he forgot to mention that he’ll have to resign in six months time). So although it’s something of a hollow victory, it’s a victory nonetheless – but no thanks to Sir Edward, who threw him to the wolves without a second thought. But his partial triumph does allow Sir John to waggle his eyebrows in trademark fashion whilst telling Sir Edward that they probably won’t meet again.
The swooping camera movement, as Sir John’s car moves away, helps to isolate Sir Edward (who’s still reeling from Jan’s absolutely final refusal). But maybe he spies a kindred spirit in Polly. Or is their relationship purely business-related? Hmm, a little of both maybe. Polly might appear to primarily motivated by a desire to help William and Abby, but it’s plain that she’s also interested in helping herself. The last we see of them, they’re heading off to America in Sir Edward’s jet (with Polly looking very chic, compete with a stylish little hat).
But whilst Polly and Sir Edward are a new pairing, Polly and Jan have finally split up. They have a cracking little ding-dong, with Jan taking great pleasure in firing her. With Sir Edward as her new backer though, she’s probably not going to be down for long though ….
Ken’s on the up and up. Not even another visit from the menacing Roy (a wonderfully melodramatic scene) can dampen his enthusiasm for long. He’s got his eye on Sir Edward’s country pile (Sir Edward seems to want to sell – thereby excising his ghosts maybe) and (now that she’s free again) possibly Jan too. I’ve said it before, but surely Jan’s not silly enough to fall for his feckless charm? Maybe or maybe not. She certainly enjoys his company, so it seems that the fire still burns between them.
But the fire between Charles and Avril has long gone out. I think we’re meant to identify with Avril, but there’s not much to choose between them. Avril’s certainly gone on a journey since the start of series one – over time she’s changed from an idealist into a hard-bitten businesswoman, virtually Charles’ mirror image. He makes this observation to her – she’s just as much addicted to power as he is – and it’s telling that she doesn’t deny it. They have one last meal – at Tarrant’s ever popular eatery – where she delights in telling him that (via some share juggling) she’s now gained control of Relton Marine.
So Charles has been bested in business. But he’s not downhearted – Avril may have a majority shareholding, but she doesn’t have complete control. Expect this plotline to pick up again during series five.
Charles and Avril are history, but what about Abby and Leo? Prior to the big race in Guernsey, they have a quiet lock of the lips, but it does seem that once again Abby sees her future in America (where the saga of William continues to rumble on). As for Leo, he seems to be something of a loose cannon. Avril’s concerned that he’s being unduly reckless during his powerboat trials, although she isn’t able to convince him of this (not that she tries too hard). Avril and Leo do have a nice pouting scene as he glowers at the suggestion he’s pushing too hard.
Or maybe Avril’s simply mistaken. Jan doesn’t notice that anything’s wrong with him (although this could just be another example of Jan’s lack of interest/empathy in her son). Maybe Leo’s trying to prove something to Abby. Or does he just want to win the big race?
We’re in Guernsey. There’s a host of boats on the start line, but it quickly boils down to a head-to-head between Ken and Leo. Things drag on a bit, but eventually Ken crosses the line first. And then it’s revealed that this is only the first race, so we’ll have to go through the whole rigmarole again. Boo!
But the second race is rather more dramatic as Leo’s boat overturns and Abby – snapping from a helicopter – reacts with horror. It doesn’t look good for Leo’s co-pilot (taken away in a bodybag) whilst Leo himself is conscious, but immobile. This means that we’re in cliff-hanger territory – will Leo walk again? Tune in next series to find out.
Gerald’s problems also look set to run and run. I thought it was out of character for him to indulge in a spot of insider dealing – mainly because he’s (for a businessman anyway) so transparently honest. When the police come a calling, poor Gerald folds like a pack of cards. And they’re interested in Charles too!
The final scene is one of the most celebrated HW‘s moments. Ken, having won the race after Leo self destructed, finds himself alone on the quayside. Alone, that is, apart from Avril. His opening gambit (“why, Miss Avril Rolfe”) merely softens us up for an amazing scene from Stephen Yardley as Ken boasts that he’s beaten them all (ha, ha, ha). The sight of Ken, now all alone after Avril flounces off, toasting his success is a sublime touch and, like all the other dangling plot threads, sets us up nicely for series five.