Inevitably this episode was going to deal with the fallout of Patty’s death.
I liked how the episode focused on the unanswered questions of Patty’s death rather than the emotions. While the emotional reactions and grief were addressed, it was done with subtlety. With Martha feeling guilty, Viv feeling sadness and disbelief, Matron lashing out in anger, and Joan feeling a subdued sadness, all of the emotions associated with grief were perfectly balanced out.
The crux of the episode–finding out what happened to Patty–was well written and spectacularly acted. I liked the slow elimination of suspects from Elena’s brother who was too obvious a suspect for it to actually be him, to the pathological lying Craig, and Mandy’s pimp. The slow elimination of subjects, the possibility of Patty’s death really being accident raised multiple times, and the moments of emotional outbursts by Martha and later Simon, were well balanced and paralleled perfectly.
I felt that the reveal of Patty’s death actually being an accident was both a bit of a let down and the perfect outcome. I felt it was a let down due to the promos and dramatic build up in the previous episode, however I felt it was the perfect outcome as it is more believable for her death to be an accident rather than a vicious murder, especially with Patty’s simultaneously sweet and strong nature. With this revelation, Martha is finally able to let go and grieve properly, with the moment of her letting go and breaking down performed spectacularly by Tapsell. I’m also relieved at the closure of the subplot, as quick as it was, as Love Child is a period not a crime drama. If Martha spent the whole season investigating Patty’s death it would tire the viewer.
Meanwhile the subplot of Elena’s brother discovering her pregnancy and the shame she felt was also well written and acted, however it would have thrived more if it hadn’t been overshadowed by the Patty plot. I enjoyed the clear character development between Elena and Debbie. Sophia Forrest displayed her acting chops by providing a much needed comedic moment with her Matron imitation, and showing Debbie’s emotional side when she convinced Elena to come down from the ledge (even though the fact that Elena wouldn’t die was obvious–no writers would kill a lead in one episode and a new character in the second).
The baby switching subplot was only touched upon, which suited me just fine as the focus needed to be on finding out what happened to Patty. I’m also looking forward to finding out exactly where Jim has run off to and I’m glad that the writers cleared up whether Joan knew where Jim was.
Overall this episode was never going to match up dramatically to the previous episode, however they came very close with the balanced amount of drama and emotions.