This week the decision was made either by the Love Child team or Channel Nine (most likely the latter) to broadcast a ‘Love Child Movie Event’ for the first time in the show’s history.
Since the episode was a ‘movie event’ and therefore twice as long as usual, this review will be done character-by-character.
Viv and Annie–Their plot was the highlight of the episode for me. Viv trying to adopt her nephew so she could take him back to Australia was, like Annie stated, Viv becoming a mother again and boy was she a mother. The scene where Viv and Annie are forcefully evacuated and Viv is told that she can’t take her nephew with her was absolutely incredible and heart wrenching. Viv definitely had the scream and fiery look of a full-grown mama bear. My heart was racing throughout these scenes and they definitely moved me. Another highlight was seeing Annie as a reporter and a protestor, a welcome change to her usual role as the alternating responsible and irresponsible mother.
Bowditch and Martha–Their plot was the most understated. Bowditch giving Martha driving lessons was a highlight, especially as it provided much needed comic relief after the heartbreaking and intense Vietnam scenes. Their family lunch with Patty, Martha’s mother now known as Daisy, and Bowditch’s father, was as uncomfortable and filled with racial tension as expected, however I’m glad that it was about more than the racism and indication of that era. I found it interesting that the writers’ chose to have Martha agree with Bowditch’s father about how hard their married life would be and to have Bowditch’s father show his humanity. I also thought that Patty being included in Martha’s family was incredibly sweet and it was great to see Daisy again. Bowditch’s choice to give up his dream job for Martha was obvious, however you could feel his slight pain and the future that he envisioned for them both is something I can actually see. Another highlight for me in their plot was Bowditch standing up to his father, it’s nice to see a fiery side to this sweet character. I’m looking forward to their wedding next week.
Patty, Joan and Jim–Their plot was very chaotic and mostly sad. I mentioned in a previous review that I hoped that Patty wasn’t pregnant and in this episode my fears (almost) came true. I knew the writers’ would find a way to bring the tryst back up and this was the most obvious way. Throughout the episode, I was constantly wondering and worrying that Patty was pregnant and was highly relieved that she wasn’t. The tryst will be revealed to Joan soon enough, however I feel making Patty pregnant isn’t the right way to do it and as I said in a previous review, her character has changed for the better, making her pregnant again would be a step backwards. Meanwhile, I was surprised by the decision to have Jim run off with James. Joan’s stress and heartbreak was subtle and played out perfectly. Until I saw the previews for next week’s finale, I thought Jim was gone for good and that thought actually disappointed me as I felt it was anti-climatic and a slap in the face to his character. However I have the feeling he will be going forever, so next week’s finale will be interesting.
Shirley and Maggie–I felt that their plot was the ‘background plot’–you know it’s there and adds to the episode, but it’s not the most important one to pay attention to. I’ve felt that their story and relationship has been one big jigsaw puzzle with a piece being added every week. This week’s puzzle piece was Maggie’s understandable desire to know who her father is. Like with Patty’s pregnancy, I hoped Colin’s return was not to be and it wasn’t. I did wonder what the writers’ chose to do with Colin since Shirley chose Johnny over him, it was good to know that he moved on with his life and had a new family, but it’s a shame (although unsurprising) that it was at Maggie’s expense. Not to mention it proves even further how unlikeable Colin is, even off-screen. I enjoyed Shirley’s increasing presence as Maggie’s mother, this time scolding her for her behaviour at the anti-war protest. I’ve never seen Shirley scold anyone before and I actually quite enjoyed seeing that side to her. The previews for next week’s finale shows Maggie giving birth with Shirley by her side, which actually worries me since Maggie is barely showing and makes me question how the finale is written and paced. That being said, if I’m right and her birth scene does happen in the finale, I’m looking forward to seeing them going through it together and Shirley going full circle as a mother.
Chris and Matron–Their plot was the most entertaining. I felt that they actually had the most time together in this episode in the entire history of the show. I like the fact that they are bonding and seem to be growing closer (especially Matron calling him by his full name like most mothers would) and that they were helping in each other out. Matron’s fascination and love for the remote-controlled television was a hilarious running gag, not to mention it was nice to see her briefly act as immaturely as some of the Stanton girls do, for once, especially when Maggie ultimately calls her out on it. I also enjoyed seeing Matron and Maggie bond more, you can see the generation gap between them, it was almost like mother and daughter or aunt and niece. Matron has always had a favourite–in early season 1 it was Shirley, from late season 1 to season 2 it was Viv and this season it is Maggie. My theory has always been that this is the case because Shirley was nice to Matron when she was younger, Viv reminded Matron of herself before serving in the war and Maggie is Shirley’s child, but I’m digressing. I enjoyed their plan for Matron to pay for the TV she partially damaged, only for it to backfire. I hope that Chris and Matron’s relationship is developed further, once his and Annie’s baby is born.
McNaughton and Eva–Their plot was the smallest one. It’s nice to see Eva becoming a more likeable character in this episode, however I still don’t understand the purpose of her return. I enjoyed learning more about the drug that ironically put Eva at risk of a miscarriage. This plot wasn’t fully resolved, ending with the subtle reveal that McNaughton found out about Eva’s surgery, hopefully this plot is addressed and only briefly, in the finale.
Pete–I didn’t expect Pete to return and I was happy about this at first, considering his abrupt exit last season. However as the episode went on, I started to ask the same question about his return that I’ve asked about Eva’s–what’s the purpose for it? From what I’m seeing Pete has been corrupted and I’m wondering if he fits into the Jim subplot as he works in homicide and has been telling Joan to stay away from him. Whether Pete is corrupt or if there is something else going on hasn’t been fully resolved, I’m hoping this is resolved in the finale.
To conclude I want to say that this episode of Love Child was by far the best episode I have ever seen. I think what made this episode the best was its length, it seems that it really was two episodes aired at once, nevertheless, I chose to see it as a ‘movie’ for the sake of it being advertised as a ‘movie event’. The length has ironed out the biggest kink of the season–its overly plot filled episodes. It goes without saying that Sophie Hensser (Viv) and Gracie Gilbert (Annie) were the episode MVPs, with honourable mention going to Andrew Ryan (Bowditch).
As I said on Twitter, if this is the penultimate, I can’t wait for the finale.