Love Child–Season 1, Episode 8

I saw this finale two years ago when it was aired and I was glad to hear at the time that there would be a season 2, because I constantly wondered throughout the season how everything would be wrapped up in eight episodes.

This episode did its job as a finale–it wrapped up the plots of the first season and opened up the door for the second. The job was done beautifully. Joan has passed her exam, Martha’s baby was adopted out by loving parents, both Annie and Eva find out the truth, Ben is operated on and we finally meet the mysterious Robert.

Gracie Gilbert’s performance was again spectacular as the unhinged mother. While throughout the season you sympathise with Annie, in this episode it was hard to sympathise with her, especially as her plot progressed. It was awfully convenient for both the McNaughton’s front door to be unlocked for her to be able to kidnap Rose (not to mention astounding that parents would leave a door unlocked when they have a baby!) and for Eva to be so willing to let Annie off the hook. I think the highlight of the plot was Annie and Eva’s interaction at the police station, this is the first time we see them together and they both tell each other the truth. This was a good choice by the writers’ as both sides of the story are told simultaneously, which allows the viewer to feel different sympathies for both characters. I also loved the writers’ choice to leave the question of whether Eva overheard Patrick and Joan’s conversation unanswered, this is clearly a question to be answered in the next season.

We finally meet the mysterious Robert (so he does exist). Clearly Robert is meant to be an unsympathetic character, however I do wonder whether he is a representation of the teenage boys who would have been in this situation. I liked Viv acting as the protective friend and questioning Robert, her questions were valid and of course, unanswered. I think the highlight for me in this plot was both Harriet Dyer’s performance as Robert is telling Patricia the truth of his whereabouts, and Martha confronting Robert at the bus stop. Like with the unanswered question in the Annie subplot, whether Robert and Patricia live happily ever after is left open for the next season.

The Ben operation subplot was my least favourite. While I’m glad Ben pulled through (obvious outcome) and Colin is clearly an unlikeable character, I felt that the conflict and love triangle dilemma between Shirley, Johnny and Colin was resolved too quickly. That being said I’m happy that Johnny and Shirley ultimately ended up together and that Matron subtlely gave them her approval. Again Ben’s fate is left open for the next season.

I felt that Joan was rightly put through the wringer in this episode. She has passed her exam and is officially a doctor, however she forever has the guilt of pretty much ruining a lot of lives, as Matron pointed out. I loved the much-needed confrontation between Matron and Joan as it was coming and needed. Much like the Eva and Annie interaction, it was set up in a way that the viewer is provided with different perspectives and what side the viewer is on, is up to them.

I felt that Eva returning Annie’s baby was an obvious outcome, however sometimes for finales those ones work best, a cliche is a cliche for a reason.

I’m looking forward to reviewing the next season.

Love Child–Season 1, Episode 7

This episode was again very solid.

The Melbourne Cup is only days away, I loved the writers’ choice to not only have the episode revolve around it but also to subtlely show the time lapse from the beginning of the series (five months).

Shirley’s baby is taking a one step forward only to be knocked two steps back, now that he needs a major operation. Several realities are setting in for Johnny and Shirley—the fact that they are broke, the demands of a premmie baby and the consequences of getting together. I’ve always loved Shirley, however in this episode it’s hard to feel any sympathy for her, especially in regards to the way she treats Colin. Colin is actually becoming a slightly more likeable character, especially when he shows his sympathy towards the baby. His ultimatum at the end of the episode was an obvious outcome, however considering the circumstances you can’t really blame him. Shirley’s decision to go back to him was equally as obvious and it conveniently adds drama for the finale.

I enjoyed the subplot of Martha’s impending birth, especially the birth itself. Only Martha could call a baby a pumpkin and cheer on a Melbourne Cup horse while giving birth, make it humorous and pull it off.

The main highlight of this episode for me was the Matron and Viv subplot. I liked how Matron’s mysterious outings from episode 4 were finally addressed and her background was ultimately revealed. Out of all of the episodes in the season so far, it is this one that she is the most human. I didn’t see the reveal of Chris being Matron’s son coming and I loved how of all people, Viv would be the one she would reveal her past to. I think this is because, out of all of the girls, Viv is the only who hasn’t been afraid to stand up to her. Their last interaction in the episode is a telling sign of an understanding between them and the beginning of a mutually respective relationship, which I’m looking forward to seeing in the future.

As much as I equally love Jessica Marais and Joan, it was refreshing and a welcome change to have her in the background in this episode. At least she was physically due to her impending exam, it was nice and telling to see her dad but not her mum present, especially after she moved out of home without telling them. It was an interesting choice to have her admit to the Annie and Patrick situations and that he supports her. I didn’t agree with her decision to tell Annie about her baby being alive, Annie was just starting to build a life for herself and move on, and Joan has completely knocked it down, without any regard for her feelings and life. I know it’s a moral gray area, but if it was me, I would not have told her, but if Joan didn’t, there would be no drama for the finale or a show at all.

I liked the writers’ choice to have Joan confront Patrick at the end of the episode, to set up the conclusion of the plot in the finale.


Love Child–Season 1, Episode 6

This episode is the start of the lies and secrets unravelling.

I think it was interesting but ultimately the right choice to have the unravelling happen two episodes out from the finale. There’s a part of me that thinks it will happen too quickly as it’s so close to the end, however if it happened before the halfway point, it would have dragged on for too long. It’s a catch-22, ultimately the writers took a leap of faith and I think they landed well.

Of course Joan and Patrick finally succumbed to their attraction and slept together. The interweaving of the love scenes with Phillip discovering Patrick’s actions was perfect.

The return of Shirley’s husband was bound to happen and of course it would happen at the worst possible time for her, it wouldn’t be dramatic if it was convenient for her. Ben Lawson’s performance as Colin was gripping and did a good job at subtlely hinting that he may be abusive. The scene between Johnny and Colin was spectacular, especially for Johnny of all people standing up to Colin, he really steps up as a papa bear, loving boyfriend and man.

The Viv and Martha subplot was nicely done, clearly Martha not finding her mother is setting up the subplot for later episodes where she will eventually find her, it is clearly not done.

The end of the episode was perfect, if looks could kill, Joan would have easily killed Patrick in five seconds.


Love Child–Season 1, Episode 5

This episode was the best in terms of dramatic stakes.

The protest scenes at the beginning of the episode were fantastic–realistic, dramatic enough and well done. The chase between Johnny and Pete ending in dramatic fashion, complete with the soundtrack stopping abruptly was perfect. It was the perfect set-up for the dramatic A-story of the episode.

The eventual reveal of the fight to Shirley and her going into labour as a result was a seamless dramatic transition. It was also perfect timing for the background of Shirley’s character to be revealed. Shirley giving up a baby at 15 in 1956 would mean that she’s 28 now, which proves my theory that she is older than the other girls and subsequently her relationship with the Matron is revealed. Ella Scott Lynch’s performance was spectacular throughout and her birth scene had me on the edge of my seat. I felt the outcome was predictable, however this isn’t a complaint. The fight scene between Johnny and Pete at the end of the episode was incredibly hard to watch, which means it was well done.

Meanwhile, the Martha and Matron subplot was a good, subtle B-story, which complements the A-story perfectly. Matron’s humanity is coming out more and more as the series progresses, this time with helping Martha get a job and giving her, her file, which was the perfect ending to a dramatic episode.

Meanwhile, the reveal of Patricia not really calling Robert for all that time, provides a hint as to their troublesome relationship, but it doesn’t serve the rest of the episode. Clearly this means it is opening the door for his appearance or at least elaboration from Patricia on their relationship, in later episodes.


Love Child–Season 1, Episode 4

Another solid episode. however for an episode that is marking the halfway point of the first season, it seemed a little flat, like a filler.

The performances between Jonathon LaPaglia, Maya Stange and Jessica Marais, throughout the Rose subplot were brilliant. Jonathon LaPaglia’s performance as the new father trying to reassure Eva that she was a good mother was sweet and interesting, considering their parenthood circumstances. Maya Stange’s performance as the terrified new mother to an adopted child was realistic and well done and Jessica Marais’ performance as the sympathetic midwife was also spot on. I felt that the scene not only played out the situation almost-realistically (minus a few points for Patrick’s absence to find out family history from Annie), but also subtlely referenced rather than stating outright, the clear love triangle they are all in. The revelation that Eva and Patrick had a baby who died was surprising and also partially explains Patrick’s motives.

The Martha and Mr Wilder subplot was the best plot in the episode. The plot was intense, expanded on Martha’s character by establishing her background and the circumstances of her pregnancy. The revelation of Martha’s rape wasn’t a surprise as it was fairly obvious, but the tension between Martha, Matron and Wilder was played out incredibly well and redeemed the lack of surprise from the rape revelation.

I did enjoy the Viv and Bernie subplot. It was interesting to see the reveal of another one of her family members. Her parents drugged her and sent her away, her brother is on her side, albeit unsympathetic at first, sweet and ultimately hypocritical when his own secret comes out. However the clear difference between her brother and their parents is her brother’s ability to take responsibility for his actions and family and inevitably leave. I loved the irony of their childish plan to run away together and equally loved when they changed their minds and took responsibility for their actions. Their final and brief scene together at the end of the episode was incredibly sweet.

Brief highlights of the episode that also need to be mentioned are signs of Matron’s humanity in the way she dealt with both Viv and Martha, Matron’s mysterious outings and the cocktail party. These brief highlights balance out the seriousness of the subplots perfectly.

Overall a solid episode and while it is clearly a filler, it’s still a good set up for the second half of the season.

Love Child–Season 1, Episode 3

This episode was solid with a lot of revelations and twists.

A highlight for me was the subplot revolving around Patricia and her mother. Both Harriet Dyer’s and Lucy Bell’s performances were spectacular. From the awkwardness of first seeing each other, to Patricia getting her hopes up only to have them taken away, to the inevitable but powerful confrontation between them at the end of the episode. I especially loved the first glimpse of Patricia as a fiery and strong character. I believe she’s one of those people who’s soft on the outside but tough on the inside, I hope this isn’t the only glimpse of this quality within her. I also appreciated Bell’s performance of the concerned mother, showing an insight into what some of the parents, particularly mothers, must have felt when they sent their daughters off to these homes in this era.

I’m loving the slow build up of Joan’s rebellion against the system. So far Joan has voiced her disgust at the system, in this episode she has finally stated outright that she believes the system needs to change. Despite the fact that I agree with her, she does the step over the line several times by snooping in Carol’s office and by blackmailing Carol into giving Annie a fair go (interesting and brilliant choice).

The revelation of the reason behind Joan’s relationship breakdown and her return to Sydney was subtle and well-done. Jessica Marais plays the shocked and subsequently drunk wronged woman well, I also found Patrick’s reaction to her revelation interesting, considering his actions re Annie’s baby.

Another highlight of the episode was Johnny getting high, painted and streaking in the beginning and Matron chasing him away with a broom.

Gracie Gilbert’s performance was spectacular again with her finding happiness while taking action to turn her life around, as well as portraying realistic devastation at the news of her baby’s “death.” I wonder how many mothers in the real world were told this news during the forced adoption era?

Overall a solid episode with a hell of a twist at the end.

Love Child–Season 1, Episode 2

This episode was solid and a lot less packed than the pilot, which I appreciated.

A couple of weeks have passed, the Moon Landing is around the corner, Shirley’s in-laws are in town and Annie is trying to return to a normal life.

Shirley dealing with her in-laws visiting unexpectedly was filled the right amount of tension and expanded her character. Ella Scott Lynch’s performance was brilliant, displaying realistic anxiety, accurately portraying the collapse & injuries and the way in which she revealed that she had given up a baby before, hence her relationship with the Matron. I also enjoyed Ryan Corr’s performance, showing Johnny’s love for Shirley by carrying her all the way to the hospital, despite the risk of exposing their secret.

I enjoyed the footage and references to the Moon Landing, as well as its service as a plot device. Its service as a plot device was to establish setting and provide the opportunity for character development, with the revelation of Viv’s brother in Vietnam and the budding friendship between her and Patricia, despite the rockiness presented in this episode.

Gracie Gilbert’s performance was again spectacular with Annie trying to return to a normal life. I can’t imagine how painful it would have been for the victims of forced adoption to try to return to or even forced to return to a “normal” life. The ending of her running away back to Stanton House and wanting her baby back was obvious, but it was played out very well and lead to the perfect dramatic ending of the episode, I’m looking forward to seeing where they take this storyline.

Meanwhile it’s more obvious that Joan is going to ruffle feathers, this is especially obvious at the beginning of the episode with Joan providing contraception classes and Matron’s quick actions in shutting it down, only just stopping short of threatening Joan. I was happy that Joan decided to move out of her parents’ home, as she was in need of independence and was clearly confined under her parents’ roof–emotionally as well as physically. The interaction between her and her former boyfriend, Phillip, was amusing but fell a little flat.

Overall a solid episode and much easier to digest than the first.

Love Child–Season 1, Episode 1

The pilot of Love Child had to be one of the most compelling and packed pilots that I’ve ever seen.

We are introduced to every single major character–Joan, the progressive and optimistic midwife, Frances Bolton, Matron of Stanton House, Dr Patrick McNaughton the charming obstetrician, Shirley Ryan, the mysterious older Stanton House resident and Johnny, Shirley’s draft resisting boyfriend. Last but not least, I can’t forget the main girls–Annie Carmichael, who is about to pop, Martha Tennant, a wisecracking Indigenous resident, Patricia Saunders, the doe-eyed sweet princess and Viv, who kicks off the series. Most of the introductions are subtle, so subtle that you have to read the credits to find out their last names.

The choice to have the series kick off with Viv having sex with a mystery man, presumably her boyfriend, wasn’t shocking or inappropriate, it was obvious and necessary. I felt that if the series kicked off with Viv arriving at Stanton House and working backwards would have been cliche and clunky, not to mention the series doesn’t aim to sugarcoat. Although it wouldn’t have been shocking for the time and context, I nevertheless found it astounding that parents would drug their own child to avoid shame. I felt that the subtle reveal of Viv being taken into Stanton House and Stanton House itself was done well.

I liked the writers’ choice to have the cold open be so sombre and contrast it with Joan’s introduction in sunny King’s Cross with optimism in her eyes and stride. I also liked her subtle introduction to Johnny and Shirley, as well as the emotional contrasts between Joan and Matron. I also liked the writers’ choice to not only introduce all the actors but also quickly provide some insight into the characters. Prime examples include hints of Joan’s reasons for coming back to Australia, by showing her upset at the sight of her engagement ring and only just stopping short of graduating with a medical degree, as well as the mystery revolving around the much-older Shirley.

I felt that the insight into what the victims of forced adoption were faced with, was done extremely well. Gracie Gilbert’s (Annie) performance was absolutely spectacular, seamlessly alternating between realistically powerful and heartwrenching at the right times.

I thoroughly enjoyed the humour in the Mike Jagger scenes, which establishes the setting of the series–July 1969. Sophie Hensser’s performance was also spectacular, playing almost every emotion on the spectrum. I enjoyed Viv giving her Mike Jagger picture to Annie, especially after their rocky start.

I loved the twist at the end of McNaughton adopting Annie’s baby, I’m looking forward to seeing where this storyline goes.

Overall this pilot was compelling and packed, however a little too packed with all the characters introduced at once and the multiple subplots and back stories. That being said I loved it.