Breaking news! It’s a sunny day in Tarrant which makes Charles and Gerald’s breakfast business conflab aboard Charles’ boat visually appealing. Charles, of course, is continuing to attempt to out-manoeuvre his father – maybe a new business associate, Serozawa, could turn out to be something of a lever or possibly David Lloyd might hold the key. He promises to spill some juicy information about both Ken and Sir Edward ….
I should have known it, the bright spell doesn’t last. After Tom and Avril return from a sail (business clearly, but they seem more relaxed in each other’s company than they have for a good while) Jan’s on hand to break the bad news. Ken’s cheque for the next instalment of the powerboat has bounced and it seems the Tarrant weather taps into their mood by darkening considerably.
Ken might be bouncing cheques and coming increasingly under pressure from the bank (Ken’s banker, Sir John, remains a firm associate of Sir Edward remember) but he seems curiously unconcerned. Feet up, reading a magazine, he affects an air of casual indifference whilst Sarah frets that Leisure Cruise’s days are numbered. I wonder if Ken has a plan or maybe he simply has the Jack Rolfe mentality – always content to wait for his luck to change.
Ken’s encounter with Sir John is an uncomfortable one, albeit masked with a veneer of courtesy. Sir John’s old-world charm never dims as he politely informs Kenneth why the bank has decided to call in Leisure Cruise’s loans. Sir John does suggest a way out though – if Ken can raise venture capital (from someone like, say, Allan Parker) the bank would be content.
At present it seems if Ken is being used as an unwitting pawn in the endless chess game being conduced by Charles and Sir Edward. The parallels between their manoeuvres and chess is an apt one – a few episodes earlier we saw Sir John playing several chess matches as his deliberations with Sir Edward continued, providing us with a not-so subtle visual signifier.
After indulging in some typically acid banter with Jan, a suited Jack’s heading off for a rendezvous. Vanessa’s the lucky woman and the pair of them share an intimate moment aboard a boat (where else?) . It’s obvious that, her marriage notwithstanding, Jack’s more than keen to restart their relationship (this would happen eventually, but she doesn’t pop up again until series five). I wonder if the original plan was to include Lana Morris in S4, but for some reason she wasn’t available? If not, then this is an impressive piece of forward planning.
Leo and Amanda seem to have both decided that their marriage was a mistake. They come to this conclusion on top of a windy hill whilst the incidental music plays out a synthy, sad refrain. Much as I love Simon May’s various bombastic sailing themes, some of the other music (such as this piece) are rather less successful. So I think this scene might have played better without any musical accompaniment. We finally maybe get a glimpse of the real Amanda – a confused young woman who admits that she doesn’t really know what she wants. Leo, sporting a bright blue jacket, is suitably mournful and doesn’t attempt to talk her around. He too, seems to have come to his senses.
Leo’s jacket is a thing of beauty, but that’s not the only fashionable treat on show. Charles is a vision in a white dinner jacket (clearly auditioning for James Bond) whilst Avril is glammed up as well as they, and the rest of Tarrant’s fashionable society, head off for the marina launch. But both are mixing business with pleasure (with Charles is there any other way?) as they entertain Hitoshi Serozawa (Vincent Wong).
Serozawa’s father was ruined by Charles’ father, so this explains why Charles is interested in bringing him on board. And when Serozawa catches sight of Sir Edward, it’s fair to say he’s not chuffed. Our clothes-watch continues with Jan, who looks rather stunning in a pink sleeveless dress with a jaunty hat. Hopefully the sight of her will take Sir Edward’s mind off the sight of the son of an old business enemy.
One more point about this moment. As Serozawa stares from a distance at Sir Edward, the music – jaunty jazz – doesn’t quite match the mood. This wasn’t soundtrack music of course, but it’s a slightly odd moment anyway.
Glyn Owen is just wonderful. Jack-related treats in this episode include his sheepish hangdog look when Tom catches him out in a lie (he claimed he was at a sales conference when in fact he was canoodling with Vanessa). But there’s even better to come – as a drunken Jack in full flight is a joy to behold. Here, with Leo and Bill as his willing drinking companions, he expounds his theory that the Howard men are all reasonable people whilst the Howard women (especially Jan) aren’t. Jack’s full-blooded assault on Sailing (he manages to encourage the rest of the locals in the Jolly Sailor to join in as well) is yet another top moment.
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Amanda was the anti-Abby. Apart from the obvious (both their names start with an “A”) they also had very similar backgrounds. Born into wealthy families, they were both indulged from an early age and possessed a driven, business-like father (who we can assume was rarely approachable) and a mother with whom they couldn’t really bond with (we’ve had plenty of evidence of Polly and Abby’s stuttering relationship whilst Amanda’s mother – in the brief moments we’ve spent in her company – has never seemed like the sharpest knife in the draw).
But whilst both had similar upbringings, from there on their paths diverged. Amanda became a hedonistic playgirl, desperately searching for something to fill the void in her life. Leo seemed to be the answer, but wasn’t. Abby didn’t take this route, her quest to find contentment took in various causes (notably animal rights) but it was the birth of her son which finally – after much anguish – seemed to centre her.
As for Leo, he’s spent the last few years denying that Abby was ever anything more to him than a good friend. Late last year it seemed as if he was finally going to tell Abby what he really felt, but at the last minute he backtracked. But here, for the first time we hear him tell Tom that Amanda’s not the woman for him, Abby is …..
This is a noteworthy moment which leads nicely into the final episode of series three.
Charles and Avril’s personal relationship seems to have hit a bump. She’s always been appalled at his ruthless business streak but has somehow managed not to let this interfere with their non-business life. But now, as Charles gleefully outlines the way he plans to bring his father to his knees, it’s plainly a bridge too far. She tries to tell him that any eventual victory will be a hollow one if he has no-one to celebrate it with.
But with Sir Edward also confident that he now has the means to bring Charles to heel, it’s fair from clear who will finally emerge triumphant. Will the season closer give us an answer or will their fighting spill into S4? Next time we’ll find out.