After a repetitive and predictable season so far, I’ve finally watched the best episode of this season.
As this is the penultimate episode, with the season finale set to air next week, this episode provided some springboards.
Hayley and Ajax—I’ll kick off my review of this episode with them as a good chunk of the episode focused on Hayley. Hayley’s first appearance in the episode is the moment she walks out of the trailer to face Ajax, who wants her to stop pole dancing, which she refuses to do. Later as she is practising her moves in the pole dancing studio, Rod comes in. While I thought he may have offered her a pole dancing job at the Pretty Titty, I was pleasantly surprised to hear him offer her a management role, which she accepts due to the money and her negotiations with him.
Hayley starts the job straight away, which results in Meryl, Matt and Charlie finding out before Ajax does. Once Ajax does find out, he goes to the bar, picks Hayley up and takes her home, much to her (and her girls’) chagrin. Hayley points out to him again that he needs to grow up and that she is making a lot of money for their family.
When Hayley eventually returns home, Ajax has packed a bag and has left her with the kids. She ends up taking the kids to work with her, with Rod looking after them in the back.
Later in the episode you see Hayley showing the miners the specific technique and moves involved in pole dancing, much to their chagrin, and she tries to get Hugh to find some spiritual peace by praying in the girls’ prayer circle that she makes them participate in before work. Meanwhile, Ajax wanders around the farm, before deciding to sleep on the couch in Matt’s house. The next day, at Ajax’s request, Hugh tries to help him get Hayley back, only to give him convoluted advice, which Ajax misinterprets and he ends up splitting with Hayley. Ajax ends up going to the Homestead, upset and seeks comfort from Meryl.
Overall I enjoyed the Hayley-Ajax subplot. I especially enjoyed seeing a different side to Hayley in her managerial role at the bar, standing up for herself to both Rod and Ajax, and I enjoyed how her personality, specifically her religious beliefs, seamlessly integrated with her management style. I didn’t enjoy Ajax behaving like a caveman, as it was out of character.
Hugh—The episode kicks off with Hugh waking up in Penny’s house, having no memory of his behaviour the night before. Jarrod angrily kicks him out of the house, which leads to him walking down the roads of Whyhope to try and get home. Penny finds him, picks him up and takes him to Betty’s house.
When he eventually comes to, he finds himself handcuffed to Betty’s bed, where she warns him that he will damage his relationship with his family and the community if he doesn’t change his ways. Hugh refuses to take her advice on board.
Later when he goes to see Meryl, she tells him in no uncertain terms that he is wasting his life and potential. He leaves, only to come back into the house to find Meryl collapsed on the veranda. He takes her to the hospital, believing she is having a heart attack, and on the drive there, Meryl makes him promise to bring the family back together if anything happens to her. While Meryl wasn’t having a heart attack (which I’ll get to), she makes him stick to his promise and he sets out to make amends with everyone.
While he is reluctant, he is eventually successful. When he tries to make amends with Hayley, he seems to have a moment of clarity while part of the prayer circle, when he admits to blaming everyone else for everything and he is tired of feeling like a failure. However this is short-lived when he asks one of the girls out moments after he finishes his prayer. Whether he is lying to Hayley or really did have a moment of clarity wasn’t made clear.
Overall it was nice to see Hugh not go on a bender for once and actually see him face the ramifications of having a bender. It was also nice to see him finally face the consequences of his actions over the course of the season, even if he was reluctant, and if his intentions and honesty in his amends were questionable. I also appreciated the writers having Betty use her alcoholism as a way to reach out to Hugh.
Meryl—This episode has Meryl deal with the ramifications of approving the opening of the Pretty Titty. First, she is kicked out of the CWA by Helen and then believing she is having a heart attack, only to find out she is suffering from Octopus Trap Heart (or Broken Heart Syndrome), a temporary heart condition. When Hugh tells her it’s a condition that is usually caused by stress, she admits that since Jim died that she doesn’t feel as tough as she use to be, and that the recent family troubles have taken a toll on her.
Meryl is eventually discharged, and her and Hugh organise a family dinner, which everyone except Hayley attends.
Overall I felt this was a good subplot as it showed a human side to Meryl.
Matt and Charlie—I felt that the Matt and Charlie subplot was a little silly. They spent most of the episode trying to figure out how to bring more business to The Brewery, now that they are competing with the Pretty Titty. First, they disguised themselves as miners and went to the bar on a reconnaissance mission, only to discover to their shock that Hayley works there. They also come up with the idea of hot, topless, male waiters.
Their idea seems to be working as they manage to hire some miners, only to be foiled by Rod. This forces them to have Matt, Hugh and Ken work as the hot, topless, male waiters. It eventually leads to success as the rumours of their waiters have spread across town, and the miners from the Pretty Titty eventually show up as Hayley’s demonstration of the pole dancer’s techniques are boring them.
As I said I felt this subplot was a little silly, however it redeemed itself a little by having minor connections to other subplots, such as their reconnaissance mission leading them to discover that Hayley is working at the bar, hiring Ken as a waiter due to his pole dancing skills, and their rowdy night turning the troubled Penny and Jarrod away.
Penny—In this episode, Penny struggles with her feelings towards Jarrod and Hugh. She struggles with Jarrod’s decision and aggressive action in throwing Hugh out of their house, and Hugh’s reluctance and insincerity to make amends for his actions the previous night. Meryl points out to Penny that marriage is hard work and that she found a good husband in Jarrod, as well as her conflicted feelings as a parent towards Hugh, which proves to Penny that Hugh has never changed as a person.
Before Penny and Jarrod go out to The Brewery, Penny comes home to see Jarrod packing a bag. I thought he was leaving and she actually says “please don’t tell me you’re leaving”. He says no, informing her that his superiors at the mine’s head office want to see him. He wants them to pretend nothing is wrong so they can have a nice dinner together before he has to leave, Penny agrees to this, Jarrod tells her he loves her, but she doesn’t say it back. This is another clue that they are clearly not meant to be.
After Jarrod leaves, while she is on the road, Hugh calls her as he hasn’t managed to make amends with her. She says she forgives him, but he echos a statement she made back to her, about not being able to apologise properly if you don’t know what you have to apologise for. This leads her to tell him about his declaration of love he made to her in the previous episode.
This episode ends with Penny’s car being hit by another car, as she questions Hugh on whether he meant his declaration of love for her.
Overall I felt this was the best episode of the season as it showed major character development in Hayley, provided springboards for the finale in the form of Hayley and Ajax’s relationship problems and Penny’s car accident, and ended in an exciting cliffhanger to keep the viewers intrigued enough to watch next week’s finale. This was also a solid episode with some of the funniest one liners and interactions the show has ever delivered.
I’m looking forward to watching the finale next week.
Running gag—Hugh constantly asking people “Do I need to apologise to you?”
-Betty lives in an old, converted church.
Best one liners and interactions:
- “What are you doing here?” “Hugh, you’re in my house.” “What am I doing here?” (Hugh-Penny-Hugh when he wakes up at the beginning of the episode)
- “You have a lot of apologising to do…to every single person in your life.” (Penny to Hugh)
- “Where did you get handcuffs?” “They were Darren’s.” “Betty, you naughty little girl.” (Hugh-Betty-Hugh when he finds himself handcuffed to Betty’s bed)
- “I thought ‘she’s handled Meryl all these years, she can handle anything!'” (Rod to Meryl on hiring Hayley as the Pretty Titty manager)
- “This kitty’s about to kick you in the nuts.” (Charlie to Rod)
- “You have a beautiful heart, literally speaking not metaphorically.” (Hugh to Meryl on her heart after her suspected heart attack)
- “Dying epiphanies are supposed to be about yourself, that’s the rule.” (Hugh to Meryl)
- “You need a cellmate, marriage is a life sentence.” (Meryl to Penny)
- “We love you too Hugh, you’re just an idiot.” (Charlie to Hugh)
- “I know where you are, I’ve been there, and if you’re not careful, you’re going to suddenly sober up, and you’re going to find yourself on a private jet to Papua New Guinea, engaged to a rapper called Lazy Eye, and you’ll have not idea how you got there.” (Betty to Hugh on his drinking)