Like its predecessors, the third season premiere of Love Child was a cracker.
The first season premiere focused on building the show and its characters as it should, the second season premiere was all about celebration and tragedy in the new decade, this season premiere felt different to me, to me it was overwhelming yet subdued.
According to TV Week, one month has passed since the events of the second season finale. Stanton House is closed, Jim is still in jail and Shirley has turned 30. I personally loved the somewhat silly opening of the girls putting decorations together for Shirley’s birthday, it was a fun way to open the series, especially since it tends to open with celebration and end with drama. I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop throughout the episode.
I appreciated the blanks being filled in the premiere–Matron hasn’t been written out and is walking a tightrope between still being the same hardarse but also adapting as a grandmother, Annie and Chris are still together as are Martha and Simon, Viv is still working at the hospital, Patty’s business has become a success and Joan is trying to raise James on her own in the residents’ quarters, McNaughton’s a bit of an unknown at this point. I was happy to see all the main and recurring characters present in this episode, however I also felt it worked to their disadvantage as I was overwhelmed with the number of characters and their plots throughout the episode.
I felt that Joan and Viv were the right choice of characters to find Maggie in the now-abandoned Stanton House. They both believe in doing the right thing, even if that means having to break the rules and do the wrong thing on occasion. Due to her being close to Maggie’s age as well as her physical proximity, Viv was the obvious and best choice to bond with her. I also felt that Viv’s bond with Maggie has greatly shown her progression as a character: she’s becoming more responsible, has grown up a little but is still not a complete goody-two-shoes, I’m loving this new Viv as she’s almost come full circle.
I was surprised by the choice of making Joan infertile, at least possibly infertile. I thought it might not bother Joan in the slightest considering how progressive she is, however and ironically, she has embraced marriage and adoptive motherhood. Some may argue her character has regressed, but others may argue that she is simply a human being and she never stated outright that she didn’t want children. Her relationship with Jim seems good, however I’m not so sure if it’s going to last and it really wasn’t all that touched on in this episode, maybe later in the season.
My favourite part of the episode was the twist of Maggie being Shirley’s daughter. Truthfully it didn’t surprise me, I thought that she was Shirley’s daughter all along. If you’re an avid fan like me, you could recall in episode 5 of Season 1 when she gave birth to Ben that Viv discovered Shirley previously gave birth in 1956–14 years earlier. Maggie looked the right age (I’ll forgive the slight continuity error by the writers) and logically Shirley was the only person that made sense and was a real possibility. Shirley’s subtle reaction when Viv told her about the letter was fantastic and I’m looking forward to seeing where this plot goes. Truthfully Maggie turning out to be pregnant was more of a twist than who her mother is.
There were some subtle moments I enjoyed such as Patty’s successful business and her summarising how overwhelming it’s been for her, the phrase “I accidentally became successful” was brilliant and a typical Patty thing to say. I also enjoyed Matron manipulating her way onto the hospital board, this provides her with a new role which in turn provides her with a huge opportunity for character development. One subtle moment I didn’t enjoy was the beauty pageant in the background, considering the fact that it was interweaved throughout the episode, I thought it would serve a bigger purpose and was disappointed when it didn’t.
The dramatic ending scene with Maggie being forced to go back to the group home was absolutely heartwrenching. The look she gave to who I assume was the man running the place was perfect and made me wonder whether he was the one who impregnated her, which would be shocking. While Love Child has already covered the angle of a rape conception with Martha, she was an adult, if I’m also right about this, a molestation conception plot would be a different kettle of fish. Love Child is not Law and Order SVU and it is set in an era of less sensitivity, so it would be interesting to see how they would deal with that kind of plot (again if I’m right).
As I said earlier, I found this season premiere both overwhelming and subdued. I provided my logic for feeling overwhelmed with the amount of characters and their plots worked into the episode. I felt that the premiere was subdued due to only the small touches of tension and drama throughout the episode. Really the drama only kicked in towards the end, it wasn’t evenly distributed and I’m still not sure how I feel about it.
Overall this season premiere was an absolute cracker however I felt it could have been better, especially with its writing. I think a two-part season premiere would have ironed out the kinks.