The purpose of a season premiere is similar to the purpose of a season finale. The season finale’s job is to conclude the season’s story arcs and set up potential new arcs for the next season. The season premiere’s job is to commence new story arcs for the new season and to follow up on the potential plots set up in the previous season’s finale. By this logic, this premiere did about half its job.
Usually when a season premiere kicks off, especially second and beyond, the writers make a choice for a period of time to pass in the fictional world to give themselves wriggle room to kick off new arcs. In this case, four weeks have passed, which I think is a sufficient amount of time. I liked the writers’ choice to kick off with Hugh visiting Floyd and Penny at Bondi rather than at Whyhope, as it’s a smooth continuation of the vague last five minutes of last year’s finale. I also liked the writers’ choice to have them in a “non-relationship”—their friendship has clearly improved, they clearly have feelings for each other, but are also clearly not ready to face it and are living in blissful denial.
I also liked the reveal of Hugh’s other reason for being in Sydney–his artificial heart being transplanted into a human for the first time–which provided a nice throwback to the previous season. I felt that Hugh’s sense of failure when the patient ultimately died was true to his character, however I didn’t feel that the artificial heart moments really added anything else to the episode as a whole.
Back in Whyhope, Meryl has become mayor by a mere 11 votes, or so we think. Meryl’s disdain at the smell and colour of the mayoral robes was true to her character, and so was the reveal that she has hidden boxes filled with ballots. While we are yet to find out the context behind the hiding of the ballots, which will make a great story arc, Hayley’s attempts to hide them and her subsequent issues with her conscience were both true to her character and hilarious. I know her choice to hide rather than burn the boxes will come back to haunt both her and Meryl at some point.
Matt and Charlie are still separated with Matt apparently hiding out at some mystery location. The reveal of him actually staying at the local motel was predictable, however the cliche was kind of prevented by Matt revealing that he was originally staying in another town before coming back home. I found Charlie’s clingy then hilarious attempts to get Matt to come home realistic, however the highlight of this subplot for me was that it didn’t totally work at first as Matt snuck in to make the beer. I felt that Matt’s choice to ask Charlie about the B&S Ball incident was forced and only put in place to add further conflict–a writing necessity sure, but it didn’t feel natural. I mentioned in my review of last year’s finale that I hoped the writing of their relationship would be sorted out this season. Based on this, I feel that there’s still some work to do but since it’s only the premiere, I’ll give it a pass for now.
Meanwhile at the hospital, Nora is making everyone’s lives hell, but to me the most interesting development in her character is the reveal that she is clearly an incompetent doctor. However the reasons behind her incompetence are clearly going to be this season’s biggest story arc. It will be interesting to see how her character develops as the season progresses. In the meantime, Aoife has departed for India. While I enjoyed Shalom Brune-Franklin’s performances last season, I feel that since the relationship between her and Hugh had run its course, that she really had no further purpose in the show, so it made sense that she was written out. I’m just hoping that the writers don’t take Hugh down the same path with her replacement, the green but strong Mia (Brittany Clark). That being said I appreciated that Aoife made an appearance via Skype to give her a proper goodbye and that her and Hugh are on good terms.
I enjoyed the brief reveal of Penny dating a resident at her hospital. This will add some nice, necessary but also cliche conflict to the Hugh-Penny non-relationship.
Overall this season premiere was solid, but not spectacular. Other than the Matt and Charlie subplot, the writing was concise with nice throwbacks to the previous season, and the acting superb. I’m looking forward to reviewing the rest of the season.
–Hospital Drama: A woman giving birth not realising she was carrying triplets as it was “a bit hard to get into town” for ultrasounds.
–Dora sighting: Near the dam where Charlie was making her “alluring” video for Matt.
-There was no explanation for the hilarious appearance of the ram in Hugh’s office.
–Throwbacks to season one: Hugh’s artificial heart, Jim’s blood disorder, the pharmaceutical rep that has casual sex with Hugh, the reveal of Ajax being Hugh’s son, and the B&S Ball.
-Ajax is clearly the most perceptive in the family as he noticed Jim’s fatigue before his collapse at the wheel.
-Matt is clearly the stealthiest family member with his methods of both preventing Charlie from waking up and letting her know that he was there.
-I didn’t really like Nora’s sexual harassment of Ken and the fact that it was meant to be hilarious. If the roles or rather the genders in this situation were reversed, no-one would be finding it funny.