This episode introduced two new characters and explored the ramifications of the electoral fraud.
The introduction of Penny’s solicitor sister, Celia (Ella Scott Lynch), provided a breath of fresh air for the season. Her interactions with Penny at the beginning of the episode provided some one-liner gold and gave a nice insight into their relationship, however I felt her disposition as the “fun sister” to be cliche. I liked the juxtaposition between her interactions with Meryl and Hayley as their solicitor, and her interactions with Penny as her sister. With these interactions she plays a little dirty, both being a hindrance and a help to Meryl and Penny respectively. The most interesting part of her interactions with Penny was her revealing that Mark wasn’t always the perfect husband that Penny made him out to be. This revelation makes Penny’s reluctance to give in to her feelings for Hugh clear to the viewer and it actually makes sense now. I appreciated the writers’ choice to have Celia encourage Hugh to go after Penny, rather than going down the cliche route of being a one-night stand or a romantic obstacle.
The ramifications of the electoral fraud was interesting and finally came to a rather anti-climatic conclusion. What I enjoyed the most about the subplot was the moral dilemma thrown at Meryl by Celia, especially as it was the first one that has been thrown at her. It has already been made clear to the viewers that Meryl is corrupt and manipulative, however we have all been left to wonder exactly where she would draw the line, and in this B story we are finally shown—she draws the line at Hayley. Hayley and Meryl have always worked as a strong unit and when tempted to save her own skin by throwing her little protege under the bus, she actually does the right thing. For the first time Meryl is redeemable and likeable and I loved this moment. However I felt that her stepping down as mayor to prevent further consequences after episodes of build-up, was anti-climatic and fell flat too fast.
The introduction of Sergeant Darren (Uli Latukefu) was brief and unsatisfying, especially as the electoral fraud case was closed in the same episode. I especially loved the fact that he took Meryl’s advice on buying knitwear, hopefully we see more of him in the future.
The ending of the episode with Meryl overacting a heart attack and Hugh subsequently overacting his saving of her was hilarious.
Overall I believe this was the strongest episode of the season.
–Hospital Drama: Ally, a Norwegian backpacker trapped in a farming vehicle and her subsequent complications.
–Dora sighting: Behind Meryl while she is talking to Matt and Charlie at the farm.
–A Place to Call Home alumni, Jenni Baird (Regina), as Norwegian backpacker, Hilda.
-Apparently Betty speaks Norwegian, knows about a hospital-style hangover cure, and owned a burlesque house in Shanghai.
-Celia teaching Ken how to pole dance involved nominating him as the pole.
-Ken’s sexual escapades with Celia involving the use of yoghurt and bananas and just stopping short of asphyxiation.
–Best one liners:
- “My husband died, that’s not a rut it’s a gaping hole” (Penny to Celia)
- “It’s very early in the morning for judgement and abuse” (Penny to Celia)
- “Dinner tonight, bring condoms, I mean wine” (Celia to Hugh)