This was the best episode of Playing for Keeps so far and I’ll tell you why as I review this episode character by character:
Tahlia, Kath and Connor—I’m starting with them as the episode mostly revolved around them. Tahlia is planning hers and Connor’s engagement party and as usual, is trying to make as big and pretentious as possible. Meanwhile, Connor is feeling some serious guilt and tells Kath he’s planning on telling Tahlia about their affair. Kath tries to persuade him not to, obviously to save her own arse, but of course, as Tahlia performs a romantic gesture for Connor in the form of simplifying their engagement party, and echoing Kath’s statement to Connor earlier in the episode in the process, and suggesting they get married that day, Connor tells Tahlia the truth.
Olympia Valance gave her most powerful performance in this episode from the moment Tahlia is told the truth. Valance’s ability to portray Tahlia’s simultaneous heartbreak and anger through her eyes alone was spectacular, let alone her facial expressions throughout the second half of the episode. Valance’s golden moment came when Tahlia quietly and angrily confronted Kath at the party and threatened to destroy her.
Ultimately, the fate of hers and Connor’s relationship lies in her hands and she makes the choice to marry Connor and have him walk down the aisle, which clearly gives her a sense of power and satisfaction over him and their situation. She also feels this power and satisfaction when she forces Kath to be in a photo with her and Connor. Although she hasn’t destroyed Kath yet or let the cat out of the bag, she is clearly going to in the remaining two episodes of the season and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing it.
Jessie and Nate—Another strong point of this episode was Jessie’s choice to not move to Queensland with Nate and embrace her future as a single mother expecting her second child. As this show revolves around the lives of the WAGs, it’s a stupid choice to have one of them and the show’s leads leave during the first season, and the writers know this, so I knew Jessie wouldn’t leave and I was waiting for the reason why to be revealed.
Firstly, Jessie reveals to the girls that the baby is Nate’s and not Jack’s, and how her and Nate met. They met 18 months ago when J.J. bit Nate’s daughter. Her and Jack’s marriage had been over for a long time and they planned to separate in the off season, and Nate knows the baby is his.
After this, Jessie encourages Nate to come with her to Tahlia and Connor’s engagement party as her date as a way for them to announce their relationship as the paps are on to her. However he is reluctant and upset that he told the other WAGs about him. When he promises to fix her kitchen sink tap and doesn’t, and doesn’t show up to pick her up to go to the engagement party, Jessie calls Nate out and he admits he’s not ready to go public.
Jessie firmly states it’s not her problem and finally goes public with her pregnancy when she changes from a black flowy dress, to a gold and black number proudly showing her blooming pregnant belly. The WAGs ultimately compliment and support her choice, even Rusty does, when she goes up to him, he compliments her and is her date for the rest of the night.
Overall I enjoyed Jessie’s subplot, especially when she stands up for herself and embraces her new life as a single mother, however I felt the exploration of her relationship with Nate was too fast, it was pretty much over as quickly as it started up. It would have been better if it was explored an episode or two earlier.
Maddie and Trav—Like with almost every other episode, their subplot was smaller and provided comic relief. Maddie and Trav hire a new nanny, unseen on screen, in the form of Adrian, who disappears before he can really get started as he walks in on Trav masturbating, where he and Maddie discuss their currently non-existent sex life due to their busy work lives. Later, as they are getting ready to go to the engagement party, Trav walks in on Maddie masturbating.
At the engagement party, Trav talks to Maddie in a bathroom where he tells her that he doesn’t want her to step back from work but rather that they get inventive in finding ways to be alone, such as the bathroom stall they’re currently in. They manage to finally have sex, just as Tahlia and Connor are getting married.
Watching their subplot, specifically when Trav admits his love for Maddie and admits he’s not asking her to step back from her career and is trying to find a realistic way to keep the romance alive, made me realise that actually they’re the sanest and strongest couple out of them all.
Paige and Dan—In the previous episode, there were hints of their relationship starting to breakdown, at the start of the episode they seem to have made up a little, as he kisses her goodbye everyday as she is calling for relief teaching jobs. In the middle of it all, she is sent pyjamas for free for a shout out on her social media page.
Although her promoting the pyjamas on social media isn’t shown, another aspect of her social media use is focused on when she suspects she has a troll. Tahlia gives her advice on trolls and advises her not to meet her troll in person, however Paige does anyway with Brody by her side, only for her troll to be an admirer. Paige tells Dan about this and he chides her as social media is still media. This leads to a fight between them about her social media use, their careers, which leads to Dan admitting his uncertainty about their relationship, however they don’t break up.
At the engagement party, they don’t apologise to each other per se but they admit they don’t want to lose each other. At this point their relationship is clearly under strain and there’s uncertainty about their future. With two episodes of the first season left, and with Dan meeting Brody in the next episode, it will be interesting to see whether their relationship will last or not.
Rusty—There was a minor but ultimately important focus on Rusty this week. At the beginning of the episode he is seen being interviewed on television about his coming out and the affects on the club and he is clearly working off a script. Later, Kath reaches out to him and Rusty reveals that he and Jack were in love and fought shortly before Jack died. This adds another piece of the Jack puzzle and this reveal explains a lot about Jack’s anger towards Rusty, and Rusty and Jessie’s friendship. Where this reveal, which didn’t surprise me, goes next remains to be seen.
As I said this was the best episode of Playing for Keeps so far as Connor and Kath’s affair, and Rusty and Jack’s affair was finally revealed, and the consequences of both can finally play out in the remaining episodes. This episode contained more character and plot development than in the previous episodes and I hope the writers kept this up in what’s left of the season.