This episode took an unexpectedly dark turn.
While the promos had been indicating that something horrible would happen to baby Laura, I know from previous experiences that the promos have been misleading and what you think is going to happen almost never happens. This was one of the rare times where what I thought was going to happen actually happened.
The A story of Laura’s failing health and eventual death was played out incredibly well with the right combination of concise writing and spectacular acting. I felt that this plot drew out the best performances from Jessica Marais (Joan), Sophie Hensser-Bloom (Viv), Miranda Tapsell (Martha), Dan Hammill (Dr Patterson) and Andrew Ryan (Simon). What I thought was the best part of their performances was that they complemented each other as the actors clearly worked as a team. I also enjoyed the bittersweet moments of Viv and Martha looking after Joan, showing that the relationship between the three of them had come full circle with the former being the nurturers now rather than the latter.
While I did enjoy the International Women’s Day March scenes and the subsequent consequences, I felt that this plot was undermined and cut short by the Laura story. The presence of International Women’s Day in itself presents a huge continuity problem, which I was hugely disappointed in (Laura was born on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June, International Women’s Day is in March). I also loved the brief reference to the legendary song ‘I Am Woman’ in the first few minutes, which I felt perfectly summed up the premise of the episode.
I felt that Matron’s behaviour was simultaneously in and out of character. Matron’s choice to keep her mistake a secret even after Laura died from the hospital was true to her manipulative nature, however I felt that her confession to Father Ross (Matt Day) was out of character. Although Matron would naturally confess at some point, I felt that the confession coming out at this specific moment in time was only to add drama to the already heart wrenching and dramatic plot. While there is nothing wrong with this, I felt it was cliche and a little forced. On a smaller note, I didn’t see the subtle reveal of Father Ross being a board member coming.
One character development of Matron that I’m enjoying is her lashing out at the new Stanton House girls only for Debbie to call her out on it every time. Speaking of Debbie, I really felt for her during her interaction with her older and married lover who is clearly never going to be with her. It’s also a shame that Elena, Debbie and Rita were pushed into the background, however the moments that they were in the spotlight were fantastic, especially during their interactions with Joan and Elena trying Vegemite.
Overall I felt that this episode served as a mid-season finale of sorts. Laura’s death and Rita’s observation of Matron burning files will kick off the ramifications of Matron’s mistake, and Martha and Simon’s conflicting desires of having a family still haven’t been explored and I believe will be a great story arc for the remainder of the season.
This episode was spectacular, however I feel that the season so far has taken a dark turn with two deaths and a melodramatic story arc being set up all in the space of four episodes. While any TV show needs to grow and develop as it progresses, I personally feel that this season of Love Child has gone off too quickly in another direction with no real transition to prepare the viewers.
That being said I’m looking forward to reviewing the second half of the season.