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Love Child–Season 4 Finale

So here we are again…another Love Child finale were the series’ future is uncertain.

For those keeping score on the continuity front, it’s 2 December 1972 and Gough Whitlam has won the Federal election. It’s been three months since Laura passed away, just short of three months old. Other than the amount of time that passed between last season and this season, and the inclusion of International Women’s Day in the fourth episode, the continuity since then has been pretty tight.

As this finale was so intense and jam packed, I will write this review character by character.

Elena and Ed–Last week’s episode left Elena stood up at the altar and Ed being kidnapped by Marco. Thankfully Ed was put on a boat to go to Italy and nothing else, but the question put in the viewers’ minds was whether they would get their happily ever after. After a hilarious and haphazard rescue by Debbie and Simon, Ed made it on time for the birth and for a quick bedside wedding. I didn’t expect them to name their baby after Simon, especially due to their circumstances, however I loved that rather than dwell on it, they turned the incident into a positive. While I found Marco’s forgiveness a little too neat, I feel it was the best ending as realistically, Elena and Ed are married and the baby has been born, it’s done and what can he really do? Overall I loved that they lived happily ever after as they deserved it.

Debbie–I loved what the writers did with Debbie in this episode. She spends the first half rescuing Ed to ensure Elena’s happiness and once that’s done, she’s off to finish her final exam. She has a purpose and once it’s fulfilled, she’s able to develop further as a character. It didn’t surprise me one bit that Debbie was able to think so quickly on her feet and that she got the job done, not to mention the reveal that she only brought Simon with her to blackmail him into helping her. With all of these traits and her confidence during the exam, I think she has a bright future ahead of her.

Joan, Greta, and Greta’s husband–The biggest story of all was Joan trying to prove the baby switching and get her daughter back. The last episode left the viewers with Joan figuring out that Greta had her baby and in this episode she confronts her. The first scene between Joan and Greta was absolutely heartbreaking, with Marais and Mackessy giving spectacular performances. While I sympathised with Joan, I couldn’t help but feel that she was being quite selfish, yes Amy is her daughter but she couldn’t just take her away from Greta either. I liked that Greta’s husband was the one to believe her and push this plot along, especially as he was the one who had her arrested. The scene between him and Joan at Laura’s grave was as equally heartbreaking as the scene between Joan and Greta. I felt that the outcome was predictable, Amy being returned to Joan was always going to happen, but the way in which the writers’ pulled it off was genius. It actually reminded me of the season 1 finale when Eva gave Deanna back to Annie. Overall I felt this plot was perfectly executed with the superb acting and tight writing.

Rita–Rita didn’t have many scenes but her role in the episode was significant as her admission of witnessing Matron burn the missing file ultimately lead to the latter’s downfall. Rita’s way of confessing was a subtle reminder of her tender age and I’m grateful that she didn’t take Andrew’s suggestion to heart to go to Father Ross. I’m glad that the moment Rita witnessed Matron burning the file wasn’t completely forgotten by the writers.

Andrew–I liked how the focus was on him trying to help Joan get Amy back rather than his love for Joan, although you could argue that his feelings for her pushed him to help her. Dan Hammill’s acting was superb, especially during the confrontation scene between Andrew and Matron. I also enjoyed the writers’ choice to leave the fate of his and Joan’s romance unknown.

Matron and Father Ross–The question on every viewer’s mind would have been if Matron was going to get her comeuppance in this episode. I’d say the answer is sort of. I loved how Matron spent about three quarters of the episode deflecting the blame on to almost everyone around her until she was backed into a corner. What I loved even more was the fact that it was Father Ross of all people who backed her into the corner. What I appreciated about her behaviour was that it incredibly true to her character, she didn’t take responsibility until she had no choice, and just when you think she was going to with her final interaction with Joan, she doesn’t, instead trying to reveal her justifications and vulnerabilities of her own choices. I felt that Matron resigning in literally her own conference room was very fitting, but I also felt that her resignation meant that she really wasn’t facing the consequences of what she did. On another note, I didn’t like the romance between her and Father Ross, it didn’t really add anything to the episode or the series as a whole, not to mention due to the traditional role of Fathers, especially back then, I found it inappropriate. I did like the writers’ choice to have her decide to travel to Italy, as this enables for a new chapter in her life.

Simon and Martha–Again they had smaller roles in this episode. I enjoyed Simon being cajoled/blackmailed into helping Debbie rescue Ed, and found his lack of improvisation skills and poker face hilarious. I also enjoyed seeing him in action as a doctor, and his joy at Elena and Ed naming their baby after him. When I saw the way Martha looked at him when he was holding the baby, I thought it would lead to her changing her mind about having children, so I was especially joyful at the reveal that she is already pregnant. Like Elena and Ed with their wedding and arrival of their son, Simon and Martha deserve the happiness of the impending arrival of their first child.

 

Overall I felt that this was the best season finale that Love Child has made so far, which is great on its own however it also worries me. Matron’s last line in the episode perfectly describes the situation with Love Child right now, “the future is wide open”. As I stated in last year’s season finale review, you can always tell when a show is uncertain about its future by the way the season finale written–necessary loose ends are tied up but there are some openings for story arcs next season (if there is one). A lot of loose ends were tied up but not a lot of new plots were set up, in fact there were only three noticeable future plots–Martha’s pregnancy, Joan and Andrew’s romance, and Matron’s travels.

In terms of the season itself, I felt the first half was completely off-kilter due to the excessive amount of main cast departures and continuity issues, however the second half was a significant improvement with superb acting and character development.

I really hope this isn’t Love Child‘s swan song.

 

Love Child–Season 4, Episode 9

So here we are again, at the penultimate episode of a Love Child season.

This season has been a rollercoaster, the acting has been superb and the writing has been mostly solid but also undermined with continuity errors. The job of the penultimate episode is to build up the drama and tension to lead into the finale, and this episode did a great job in doing so.

I’m relieved that the baby switching story arc is in the spotlight again as I mentioned in previous reviews that I thought it had been abandoned. I felt that Laura’s autopsy report was the most realistic path to lead Joan to realising that she was given the wrong baby. The path from the autopsy report, to the rubella tests, to the missing file, was perfectly executed.

The B story of Elena and Ed trying to get married was also well done. I wasn’t sure if Ed was going to return and I’m glad he did. I didn’t buy for a second that Ed giving Elena’s brother the money was going to solve everything and that they’d get their happily ever after. I appreciated that the writers threw in a red herring of Ed making the decision for him and Elena to live in Queensland, to throw the viewers off the real obstacle of Elena’s brother coming after him. I was actually screaming “No! Why?” when Ed was ambushed by Elena’s brother and his mates, but I’m looking forward to seeing the pay off in the finale.

On smaller notes, the writers’ decision to have Debbie go off the rails was brutal but well done. The subtle reveals of the extent of her self-harm to the climax of Matron finding her in the shower, was perfectly executed but also hard to watch. It provided some solid character development, but I’m unsure how I feel about the fact that her issues have been left unresolved, hopefully they will be in the finale. I did enjoy the brawl between Rita and Debbie as I didn’t see it coming, damn Rita can fight!

I also appreciated the reveal that Ed knew Simon ran him over, however I felt it was an anti-climatic resolution. Perhaps this was to provide room for the drama for Ed and Elena’s wedding and the baby switching story arc. I also felt that Zoe Ventoura’s appearance as Andrew’s war colleague really didn’t add anything to the episode. I also felt that Andrew, Joan and Martha make a great team at the hospital and I hope in future seasons (if there are any) that this dynamic is explored further.

Love Child–Season 4, Episode 8

This week I’m quite happy to eat my words from last week’s review–this episode was incredible.

Usually I write my reviews by plot, but for the second time, due to the intensity of the episode, I’m going to write this review by character.

Joan and Lawrence–Not a fan of their romance due to the speed at which it’s moving and the fact that it’s really undermining a season-and-a-half by pushing Jim out of the viewer’s minds completely. I did enjoy Lawrence slowly being revealed as a bit controlling of Joan and trying to decide what’s best for her, especially with Andrew calling him out on it. I’m relieved that Joan didn’t accept Lawrence’s proposal, not only because I’m not a fan of the plot but also because I believe it undermines her independent and progressive character. I did appreciate the continuity of Lawrence’s child with his former wife by revealing that he has a son, something I mentioned in my previous review.

Andrew and Jennifer–This subplot worried me a little at first, I was worried that Andrew would turn out to be the father of Jennifer’s (his best friend’s wife) baby, because how many times have we seen that cliche unfold. Thankfully I was wrong and Andrew’s feelings towards Jennifer were survivor guilt rather than unrequited love, which again would be another cliche. Jennifer naming Andrew as her baby’s godfather was a nice ending to this subplot.

Debbie, Alan, Elena and Rita–I didn’t see the twist of Alan and his wife (forgive me I can’t remember her name) adopting Debbie’s baby coming. It’s a slightly disturbing twist, but a genius one. Sophia Forrest’s acting was absolutely incredible and she has a hell of a range going from heartbroken, to drunk and heartbroken, to scared and to heartbroken again, in the space of a few scenes. The concern and love for Debbie from Elena and Rita was perfectly portrayed, and as much as my heart broke for Debbie, I’m looking forward to seeing what the next chapter of her life will bring.

Viv and Matron–I knew last week that Viv would be the character leaving, the people who do the promos make these kind of things too obvious. That being said, considering that the three girls are too new to leave, Matron and Joan are too crucial to the show to go without, Martha and Simon are settled in their lives, and most of the original cast have already departed, it only made sense if Viv left. It didn’t surprise me that Viv left to travel the world as it’s true to her character, a character that I feel lost her spark this season. I’m happy that like with Patty, the writers at least gave Viv a proper departure, especially as she was the first character the viewers ever saw. I enjoyed the subtle references to Matron’s sadness over Viv leaving, again as it’s true to her character and their relationship. I especially loved the moment Viv quit, as the sheets she was holding was a great metaphorical torch hand over to Rita, who was clearly being set up to be her replacement. With Viv now gone, Martha is the only remaining original Stanton House girl, something Martha points out herself. Martha pointing out that she’s the only remaining original Stanton House girl is probably the only closure that the viewers will get on Annie’s and Shirley’s departure.

Martha and Simon–Barely used in this episode, but considering that the previous two episodes were about them and as much as I love them, it’s only fair.

 

Overall this episode was incredible and a huge improvement on last week. I’m looking forward to reviewing the remaining two episodes of the season, especially as it finally re-addresses the baby switching story arc, which I thought had been completely abandoned. I can’t wait to find out how this season will wrap up and whether they’ll be another one.

 

 

Love Child–Season 4, Episode 7

I’ve said in my reviews throughout the season, in particular the first three episodes, that the writing has been off kilter, and it was in this episode however in a different way. Rather than the writing of the plots being off kilter, in this episode it was the writing of the characters.

Almost every character strayed from their true selves in this episode and while it would normally be interesting, I felt it was off putting due to the writing problems that have been present and ignored throughout the season.

While I enjoyed the introduction of Joan’s former fiance, Dr Lawrence Faber (Ronan Keating), I felt that the rapid development of their relationship from tense exes to lovers was unrealistic and very-unlike Joan. While Joan has made impulsive decisions in the past, especially with Jim (who has pretty much been forgotten now), considering how much she has grown as a character, not to mention the fact that she was in a love triangle in the previous two seasons, I felt that her decisions with Lawrence were off putting and cliche.

Despite the general continuity problems with the show this season, the continuity with Lawrence was pretty good–Joan’s abortion and Lawrence’s marriage were addressed, the child he had with his former wife was not. I’m glad that Lawrence didn’t leave purely because the start and progression of this plot felt rushed, however I hope the love triangle aspect of this plot isn’t given a lot of attention as it’s starting to get old.

There were two strong subplots in this episode–Rita’s life post-birth and Martha and Simon being blackmailed. As Rita was only starting to be truly developed in the previous episode, it was nice to see the focus on her again, especially now that she has given birth. It was nice to see her as a nun, but it was better to see her end up becoming a trainee nurse. While I found the outcome predictable, I did appreciate this development in her and Viv going full circle in helping her get a job through Matron.

I felt that the subplot of Martha and Simon being blackmailed added a nice mysterious touch to the episode. I felt it was a natural progression in this story arc as it has mostly been too easy for the two of them to get away with the hit-and-run. It was obvious during the fire alarm scene that it was an inside job. It was too easy to be Ed and Matron, that being said it surprised me that Debbie turned out to be the blackmailer, especially considering her progression over the season. Although the blackmail was resolved, I feel that this story arc isn’t finished yet.

On smaller notes, I was disappointed that Lawrence didn’t make any discoveries in Laura’s file however I appreciated that her death was touched upon, as it hadn’t been addressed in the last few episodes. I was also disappointed that Kate and Viv’s feelings were barely addressed and their potential relationship was pretty much thrown away.

Overall this episode felt out of place in comparison to the previous two episodes, I hope the remaining episodes improve and get back on track.

Love Child–Season 4, Episode 6

What a rollercoaster this one was!

The repercussions of Simon’s actions were explored in this episode. Thankfully I was wrong and Ed wasn’t killed off, since we’ve had two deaths this season another one would be excessive. Like Simon, I was also expecting the truth to come out and major consequences to be dished out, however, for now, there were none. I love the exploration of this conscience catch 22 of what would be worse–the truth coming out and be subjected to the nasty consequences you expected, or having the opportunity to get away with it because there are no evidence or consequences showing themselves.

I did see Ed taking a turn coming, but I’m grateful he woke up and I’m looking forward to seeing him throughout the remainder of the season. I felt that having Simon breakdown in his car was the perfect end to the plot in this episode, as realistically there is no other way to react. That being said I don’t buy for a second that this plot is over, I think it will show itself again later in the season.

The highlight of this episode for me was the focus on Rita. This season of Love Child has either focused on Joan, or on Debbie and Elena’s evolving friendship, Rita has always been present but in the background and her character has never been explored in depth.

I knew Rita’s circumstances would be explored eventually and it doesn’t surprised me that they weren’t explored until she was just about to give birth. My mother and I had a theory that Rita was raped and that her immaculate conception story was her mind’s way of protecting her from remembering the trauma. When her mother showed up, the theory that she was raped/molested by her stepfather immediately came to me and I was right. While I did find this revelation to be a bit of a cliche, I did appreciate the writers inserting Luke in as a red herring.

A smaller subplot that kicked off in the episode that I’m sure will be explored in the remaining episodes of the season is Viv’s crush on and her kiss with Kate. I didn’t see Viv having the crush, rather than the other way around, coming. I loved the writers’ choice to not give Kate the opportunity to respond so the ramifications will pay out later on.

On a smaller note I did love the moment Viv spotted the fare for a Sydney-London flight for $450 and was immediately outraged…what a difference 45 years and inflation makes.

Overall this was a solid episode with spectacular acting, especially from Darcie Irwin-Simpson (Rita) and Andy Ryan (Simon).

 

 

 

Love Child–Season 4, Episode 5

After last week’s heartbreaking episode, it was nice for this episode to be on a slightly lighter side.

I did appreciate the focus on Elena and Martha this week rather than having Joan front and centre. I did appreciate that Joan’s grief was touched upon but kept in the background, especially as it’s not very often that the show has episodes revolve around secondary major players.

The A story of the father of Elena’s child, Ed (Travis Jeffery) appearing was solid and inevitable. Generally the boys/men who get the Stanton House girls pregnant are immature or just plain jerks, so it was refreshing to see Ed genuinely care about Elena and their baby. Not to mention it was nice to see Elena’s happier side after the stress she has endured.

Ed’s effort to win a fight to pay off Elena’s family’s “debt” was a bit of cliche, of course he was going to win and of course him and Elena weren’t going to get their happily ever after, but I’ll get to that.

I actually felt that the B story of Martha and Simon’s dinner party was stronger than the A story. Martha’s efforts to be the perfect housewife were adorable, not to mention it shows how far she has progressed as a character. I found Katrina Retallick’s cameo as Margaret Fulton hilarious, but also a little odd, especially as it was Love Child‘s first attempt at incorporating a fantasy element into their plots.

Just like with Ed’s fight, I found Martha telling Simon that she’s on the pill just as the dinner party starts and the subsequent tension that follows to be quite cliche, however the tension was played beautifully and Andrew Ryan portrays a drunk and wronged husband, alternating between being cringeworthy and funny, perfectly.

This episode took a little bit of a dark turn towards the end from the moment that the dinner party ended. I’m interested to see how the consequences of the fight between Martha and Simon, especially on Simon’s end, play out in further episodes, or whether it will be forgotten completely with the added drama of Simon hitting Ed with his car. I felt that moment perfectly tied both the stories together and will be a great, dramatic story arc for the remainder of the season.

On smaller notes, I found Joan’s breakdown with Andrew assisting her and Joan kissing him in return, to be reminiscent of when Patrick helped Joan into bed after getting drunk at a work party back in season 1. While I do appreciate these subtle moments, I also think it’s best to leave past plots in the past and focus on improving the continuity in the present plots. For anyone keeping score on the sloppy timeline of this season, two weeks have passed since baby Laura’s death, and Simon and Martha have been married for almost a year therefore the season 3 finale was set almost a year ago.

I also loved seeing inside Simon and Martha’s house, which I’m sure will provide a nice dose nostalgia to viewers who grew up in the 70s. I also appreciated the subtle moments which displayed character development such as Elena’s English clearly improving, Elena giving Martha an apron, and Debbie comforting Elena in the middle of the night when Ed didn’t show up.

The episode ending with the ambulance arriving to treat Ed was a great underplayed cliffhanger as his fate hasn’t been revealed. I personally thought Simon killed him but I hope I’m wrong, especially as the season has already had two deaths, another one isn’t necessary as the season is dark enough already.

Overall it was a great episode and it will be a great spring board for the remainder of the season.

Love Child–Season 4, Episode 4

This episode took an unexpectedly dark turn.

While the promos had been indicating that something horrible would happen to baby Laura, I know from previous experiences that the promos have been misleading and what you think is going to happen almost never happens. This was one of the rare times where what I thought was going to happen actually happened.

The A story of Laura’s failing health and eventual death was played out incredibly well with the right combination of concise writing and spectacular acting. I felt that this plot drew out the best performances from Jessica Marais (Joan), Sophie Hensser-Bloom (Viv), Miranda Tapsell (Martha), Dan Hammill (Dr Patterson) and Andrew Ryan (Simon). What I thought was the best part of their performances was that they complemented each other as the actors clearly worked as a team. I also enjoyed the bittersweet moments of Viv and Martha looking after Joan, showing that the relationship between the three of them had come full circle with the former being the nurturers now rather than the latter.

While I did enjoy the International Women’s Day March scenes and the subsequent consequences, I felt that this plot was undermined and cut short by the Laura story. The presence of International Women’s Day in itself presents a huge continuity problem, which I was hugely disappointed in (Laura was born on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June, International Women’s Day is in March). I also loved the brief reference to the legendary song ‘I Am Woman’ in the first few minutes, which I felt perfectly summed up the premise of the episode.

I felt that Matron’s behaviour was simultaneously in and out of character. Matron’s choice to keep her mistake a secret even after Laura died from the hospital was true to her manipulative nature, however I felt that her confession to Father Ross (Matt Day) was out of character. Although Matron would naturally confess at some point, I felt that the confession coming out at this specific moment in time was only to add drama to the already heart wrenching and dramatic plot. While there is nothing wrong with this, I felt it was cliche and a little forced. On a smaller note, I didn’t see the subtle reveal of Father Ross being a board member coming.

One character development of Matron that I’m enjoying is her lashing out at the new Stanton House girls only for Debbie to call her out on it every time. Speaking of Debbie, I really felt for her during her interaction with her older and married lover who is clearly never going to be with her. It’s also a shame that Elena, Debbie and Rita were pushed into the background, however the moments that they were in the spotlight were fantastic, especially during their interactions with Joan and Elena trying Vegemite.

Overall I felt that this episode served as a mid-season finale of sorts. Laura’s death and Rita’s observation of Matron burning files will kick off the ramifications of Matron’s mistake, and Martha and Simon’s conflicting desires of having a family still haven’t been explored and I believe will be a great story arc for the remainder of the season.

This episode was spectacular, however I feel that the season so far has taken a dark turn with two deaths and a melodramatic story arc being set up all in the space of four episodes. While any TV show needs to grow and develop as it progresses, I personally feel that this season of Love Child has gone off too quickly in another direction with no real transition to prepare the viewers.

That being said I’m looking forward to reviewing the second half of the season.