Archives

Playing For Keeps—Season 2 Finale

The job of a season finale is to wrap up the season’s story arcs and set up new ones for the next season, if there is one. I felt that this finale only partially did its job.

Kath, Maddy, Kendall and Liam—The main focus of about two-thirds of the finale was about dealing with Liam. I was happy to see that Liam finally got his comeuppance, but due to his manipulative, sociopathic nature, it had to be done slowly and executed perfectly and I felt it was.

It starts with Maddy, Kath and Tahlia discussing the fact that Kendall could be the key to bringing Liam down or she may know nothing about the videos at all. All three agree to tell Kendall the truth if in fact she doesn’t know. Maddy calls Kendall and asks her to come over to her house but doesn’t tell her that Kath is there. Although Kendall isn’t happy to see her, she sticks around long enough to hear that the club matched Liam’s wages, they didn’t pay him more money, and that he told everyone that he left Perth because of her. Kendall reveals that Liam told her about Samira and Kath informs her she was 17 and on work experience, but Kendall says she doesn’t care and leaves. Maddy and Kath follow her outside to see her upset, and Kendall reveals she’s waiting for a taxi as she lost her licence. Kath offers to drive her home.

Kath drives her home and waits outside after Kendall goes in. Kendall calls her and asks her to come in as she thinks she has found something. She shows Kath Liam’s computer and hard drive, which reveals multiple videos with multiple women, including Samira, which horrifies Kendall. Liam bursts in on them, just as Kendall takes his hard drive. They try to explain their way out of it, but Liam realises what has happened straight away and goes after Kendall. Both Kendall and Kath run upstairs, with Kath falling down, however she manages to kick Liam down the stairs, which leads to him injuring himself.

Kath calls an ambulance and he is taken to hospital, where it’s revealed he is already under police guard. When Maddy arrives at the hospital, she reveals that the videos were of 24 women, including Samira and a coach’s daughter. Maddy tells them he’ll go to jail if the prosecutors do their job, they then see Liam being wheeled into surgery, under police guard, and he locks eyes with them.

Overall I enjoyed the execution of his comeuppance as it had happened quickly enough that it didn’t drag on, but it wasn’t rushed either. I also enjoyed that his comeuppance was two-fold: his sociopathic nature was finally revealed and made known to the police, and his future as a footballer is uncertain not only due to his actions, but also due to the injury from trying to attack Kath.

Maddy and Trav—Their subplot was minor but enjoyable. Maddy tells the girls at the beginning of the episode that her and Trav are still giving each other gifts, however they’ve become just as competitive as each other and now she’s stressing about it. Trav surprises Maddy with a home massage by a professional masseuse, and Maddy returns the favour by hiring a stretch hummer man cave for him to enjoy both before and during the launch.

Throughout the episode, it’s clear he is planning a big surprise for her that everyone is in on, and it’s revealed he wants them to renew their vows. This reveal didn’t surprise me, but I still found their impromptu ceremony with their vows consisting of them acknowledging and accepting their flaws enjoyable, funny and sweet.

Overall while this subplot was minor and a little predictable, it provided great comic relief throughout the episode.

Rusty, Shane, Jessie and Aaron—Much like Maddy and Trav’s subplot, the subplot involving Rusty, Shane, Jessie and Aaron was minor but enjoyable. Rusty and Shane’s relationship is progressing, and the tables are turned on Jessie when Rusty and Shane push her into dating Aaron. When Jessie goes to physio, only to find that Aaron asked another physio to take over, she thinks he’s rejecting her, however she successfully manages to ask him out at the CocoBean launch, which Rusty invites him to, and he says yes.

Much like Maddy and Trav’s subplot, the outcome of this subplot was predictable but still enjoyable to watch and also provided necessary comic relief.

Brian and Kath—They didn’t really have their own subplot, it was part of the Liam subplot. Kath realising that she wants to stay with Brian and letting him know when the Liam saga comes to an end was the perfect way for their relationship story arc to end. It was a little predictable, however I felt it was the best outcome and true to their characters as they decided to reconcile in the season one finale and they have always supported each other.

Tahlia—The subplot of the CocoBean launch came second to the Kath-Maddy-Kendall-Liam subplot. The first half of the episode involves her preparations for it and the start of the launch, with the second half of the episode revealing its success when Tahlia tells Jessie that CocoBean will be going international. During the night, Connor tells her he is planning to put himself up for trade at the end of the season after all the events of this season. This shocks Tahlia, but she seems to accept it and be happy for him.

Tahlia and Paige—Tahlia and Paige have a brief falling out in the episode. After Paige comes home after hooking up with Dan, she tells Tahlia about it and Tahlia tells her that she hasn’t gone in a new direction, meaning she hasn’t moved on from him. Paige tells her that Tahlia sets all these stupid rules and is lonely and sad without Connor. Tahlia tells her to leave and she does.

Despite their fight, Paige goes to the launch and tries to support her, however Tahlia ignores her at first. When she finds out Paige left because “she wasn’t feeling well”, she goes home to see her. Tahlia tells her that the girls have given her the freedom to be herself and that she shouldn’t shut herself off from happiness because of who she thinks she needs to be with Dan. This pep talk give Paige the courage to tell Dan she’s all in with the renewal of their relationship.

While this subplot didn’t add much to the episode, I enjoyed it as it has shown how far not only their friendship has come, but also how far Paige has come within the group.

Dan and Paige—The episode kicked off with Paige going to see Dan to tell him that she still loves him and they end up hooking up and rekindling their relationship, an outcome which didn’t surprise me at all. Their enjoyment of their rekindled relationship is marred by Paige’s self-doubt and later the revelation of Dan’s major gambling debts, which he accrued while he was out injured. The debts are so large that an intimidating bikie comes to the launch to get money from Dan, only to be stopped by the guys and Tahlia.

Just as Dan reveals his debts to Paige and they go to leave the launch, the bikie opens fire, aiming for Dan but hits Paige. The episode ends with Paige collapsing, Dan screaming for help and everyone coming over as an ambulance is called.

Unresolved story arcs/subplots:

  • The Board’s impending vote of no confidence against Kath.
  • Whether Connor does put himself up for trade and leaves.
  • Dan’s gambling debts.
  • Whether Paige survives the shooting.

Potential story arcs/subplots for season 3 (if the series is renewed):

  • Jessie’s possible playing career, as she is determined to play and hasn’t given up hope.
  • Outcome of no confidence vote and whether Kath remains president.
  • Outcome of shooting and Dan’s gambling debts.

Although the finale had plenty of drama and did its job in wrapping up some of the season’s story arcs, I was highly disappointed in it. For one thing, the writing was messy and rushed. Although Liam got his comeuppance, his motives still weren’t made clear or touched upon, the fight between Tahlia and Paige came out of nowhere, as did Dan’s gambling debts. With Dan’s gambling debts, I felt that this should have been revealed in the previous episode, rather than throwing it on the viewers at the last minute. I also felt that Liam’s motives for his behaviour should have been made clear as it would have provided much needed character development.

My biggest pet peeve was the finale’s ending. While Paige being shot provides drama, it bordered on soap-opera, which isn’t good. You could argue that most of the drama throughout the show’s history borders on soap-opera but what made the shooting different was the fact that the drama came out of nowhere and felt unrealistic. I didn’t appreciate the cliffhanger ending as it’s yet to be revealed whether the show will be renewed for a third season. If it is, it will provide a great story arc, if it’s not, it’s a shitty unresolved ending for a fantastic show.

Overall, I felt this was a solid season, especially with the exploration of the WAG’s lives outside of football and new drama in the form of Liam. After the mystery of Jack’s death was eventually solved, I wasn’t sure where the writers would take the show. I’m glad they went down this path.

I hope I’m eating my words and that the show is reviewed for a third season.

 

Stray Observations:

-Dan has moved out of Liam’s and is now living with Connor.

-Maddy is still having panic attacks.

-Connor has been with the Southern Jets for eight years.

 

Best one liners and interactions:

  • “He was giving me career advice!” “Was he now?” “That’s not a euphemism for anything!” (Jessie-Rusty-Jessie on Aaron)
  • “I’m going to face the firing squad aren’t I?” “You just give them hell on the way out.” (Kath-Brian on facing the Board)
  • “Sometimes when you try so hard to control everything perfectly, you’re blindsided.” (Maddy to Paige)
  • “Are you going to miss me?” “As much as your face misses a razor.” (Connor-Tahlia)

 

Playing For Keeps–Season 2, Episode 7

We’ve reached the penultimate episode of the second season and one thing this episode didn’t lack was drama as everything is reaching a head.

Connor, Tahlia, Kath, Brian and Liam—I thought I would start with them as the episode revolved around them. The episode kicks off with Connor, Tahlia and Kath having a meeting at Tahlia’s house to discuss what to do about Liam blackmailing Kath and Connor. During this meeting they question what to do and what Liam’s motives are, ending with an agreement to do nothing for now and see what happens.

After this meeting, Kath goes to see Brian to warn him and apologise, telling him that if the affair does come out, questions will be raised about their marriage. Brian says they will do what they always do and put on a united front, he then leaves to go to training. She then leaves to tell the Board everything. John tells her she has brought the club into disrepute and is facing a vote of no confidence, while Kath asks him why Liam left Perth in the first place.

Meanwhile during training, Brian angrily knocks Liam down and he retaliates by telling him he has copies of the texts between Connor and Kath. Brian calls Kath to tell her.

Things eventually come to a head when the team line up for the upcoming game is revealed and Liam is not on it, with Kath convincing the Board to tell the public he is out for soreness. This leads Liam to releasing the texts. When the article is made public, Kath calls her daughter, Ella, to tell her and apologise.

When Shane is over at Tahlia’s (which I’ll get to in a minute), he tells the girls that Rusty is playing his first game as captain, which forces Tahlia to tell the girls about the article and affair. She leaves to go and pick up Kath, just as she is swarmed by the press. They later arrive at the President’s Lunch showing a united front.

Liam shocks everyone by walking in with a newly-sober Kendall. Kath gets Maddy to talk to Kendall and Liam to find out how much she knows. She then talks to Bob and John, who get her to make a short speech and John announces he’ll be taking over the launch of the women’s team. Meanwhile the interaction between Maddy, Liam and Kendall doesn’t end well as Tahlia can’t help herself, going over to talk to them, where she finds out from Kendall that Liam told her that Tahlia hit on him. Tahlia calls him a sociopath.

While John takes the opportunity to act like a President, take credit for the launch of the women’s team, and milking Rusty and Shane going public, Tahlia makes her way towards the stage. After John finishes his speech, Tahlia gets on stage to make a speech of her own. Her speech forces the Board to investigate Liam, makes it clear that Jessie Davies was the pioneer for the Southern Jets women’s team, and she makes it clear to Liam that when the truth will be revealed, she’ll be vocal about it. This scares Liam and Kendall into leaving.

This subplot ends with Bob calling Kath in to tell her that John hasn’t been honest about Liam’s departure from Perth. He tells her that sexually explicit videos of Kendall were leaked, apparently from her account. Kath points out that players aren’t kicked out of clubs for stuff their girlfriends do. She asks Bob to keep the investigation into his behaviour active for as long as possible, while she gets to the bottom of it.

Overall I felt this subplot played out beautifully. Liam’s sociopathic behaviour escalated at a good pace—fast enough that it kept the subplot going and the viewers on their toes, but not too fast that it ended the subplot prematurely. I felt that this subplot has provided a great springboard for the finale, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes and most likely ends in the finale.

Jessie, Rusty and Shane—Jessie’s subplot revolved around her attraction to her physio Aaron, and assisting Rusty and Shane with going public. Jessie is having physio for her torn ACL, where she loses it a little at her lack of progress, and Aaron gives her some tough love, which she appreciates. When she meets with Maddy afterwards, telling her she experienced a moment of excitement, Maddy asks her if she’s attracted to her physio, which she denies.

When Rusty and Shane come over to tell her they are planning on going public, she is happy for them and calls Tahlia, asking her for help to start off the day. Despite the pressure she is under, Tahlia agrees and happily helps out, hosting pre-drinks.

The pre-drinks and game go well, with Rusty and Shane kissing in front of everyone after the game. Aaron talks to Jessie after the game, where Jessie introduces him to Maddy and they briefly chat. This makes her realise that she is attracted to him.

Overall I enjoyed this subplot, as it was sweet and well-executed, with Shane stealing every scene he was in.

Trav and Maddy—Their subplot was minor, mostly revolving around their attempts to give each other a gift or nice thing a day to make each other feel appreciated. Maddy gives him the house to himself for a few hours, and in return Trav sends her a bunch of flowers. Throughout the game, Maddy is waiting for a gift from Trav, however she doesn’t receive one. He surprises her when he comes home early, revealing he hasn’t had the time to be able to get her a gift. She tells him that being there for her is the gift.

Although this was a minor subplot, I enjoyed it as it provided a nice contrast to the Connor-Tahlia-Kath-Brian-Liam subplot.

Paige—Paige’s subplot was also minor, as she spent most of the episode in a self-imposed “quarantine” as she is feeling extremely guilty for hurting both Dan and Brody. Tahlia tells her that just because she made a mistake; it doesn’t make her a bad person. Tahlia also tells her that the “quarantine” needs to end at some point.

At Tahlia’s request, Paige moves her “quarantine” from the lounge room to her bedroom, where she overhears the start of the pre-drinks and decides to come downstairs to join the girls and Shane. Although she says she won’t leave the house, she changes her mind to protect people from Tahlia’s wrath. Despite her best efforts to leave before the game, she doesn’t and Dan sees her before she leaves. Dan asks Jessie where she went, and Jessie tells him she left, and that she and Brody broke up.

Dan goes to see Paige and tells her that her behaviour is sending him mixed messages and that she shouldn’t treat people she cares about this way. He tells her it’s too hard to have her in his life and leaves her in tears.

Overall I felt the quarantine part of the subplot was silly; however I felt Dan’s confrontation of Paige at the end of the episode was solid. Although Paige has been portrayed as a sympathetic character, with Dan’s confrontation, the viewers are forced to see her and her actions from his perspective. It is through this scene we see that Paige’s behaviour has been out of character and unfair towards Dan, and that he is right. I’m looking forward to seeing how their dynamic plays out in the finale.

 

Overall, I felt this was a solid episode with a strong major subplot that has provided a great springboard for the impending finale, with the minor subplots providing necessary comic relief and pacing. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out in the finale.

 

Stray Observations:

-Brian and Kath, and even the press keep referencing their two children, yet Kath only calls Ella about the affair going public. Their second child (a son I think) has never been seen or named.

-The Jets manage to get a much-needed win in their latest game.

-Even though it’s clear that Liam is a sociopath as Tahlia pointed out, his motives and end game are yet to be established.

Best one liners and interactions:

  • “You did a shit thing, but you’re not a shit person.” (Tahlia to Paige)
  • “You are right to punish yourself; you did hurt two innocent people with your wayward vagina.” (Tahlia to Paige)
  • “So what’s the plan? Pre-drinks? Pre pre-drinks? I could start drinking now!” (Shane to Jessie on the plan for him and Rusty to go public about their relationship)
  • “Send me Shane’s colour palette, we’re not going to half-arse this shit!” (Tahlia to Jessie)
  • “Could you sage this space, I don’t want a hangover of your mopey jew-jew.” (Tahlia to Paige)
  • “Yeah I’m good, I’m excited, I’m terrified.” (Shane to Tahlia when she asks him how he’s feeling on game day)
  • “You were a whirlwind of sequins and sass.” (Jessie to Tahlia on what she was like at her first game)
  • “I will not have another important day rear-ended by this incestuous clusterfuck.” (Tahlia to the girls as she is leaving to deal with the affair going public)
  • “The physio table, his hands, a…knee brace? It’s weird but it’s kind of kinky.” (Maddy to Jessie when Jessie mentions she had a dream about Aaron)
  • “I’m not going to lie; I thought you were going to rock up with a baseball bat, go full lemonade on this Lunch.” (Paige to Tahlia at the President’s Lunch)
  • “This speech is four lines long.” “Yeah, short and succinct.” “Best we keep it to a minimum.” “Best I don’t speak at all perhaps?” (Kath-John-Bob-Kath on her speech at the President’s Lunch)
  • “She’s pulled the pin hasn’t she?” “That grenade is well and truly airborne.” (Paige-Jessie on Tahlia)
  • “Never one to miss an opportunity.” “Grabs it with both hands.” (Maddy-Kath on John)
  • “Feels good, I’m basically running.” “Please don’t.” (Jessie-Aaron when Aaron asks her about her knee)

 

Playing For Keeps–Season 2, Episode 6

This episode had a lot of secrets and feelings come out in the open.

Paige & Dan—Her subplot focused on her conflicting feelings for Dan and the fallout of her sleeping with him in the previous episode. The episode kicks off with Dan calling Paige as she is starting to confess to Brody. She eventually confesses, which upsets both of them and Brody leaves. After Dan and Liam’s car crash (which I’ll get to), Paige confronts Dan about his involvement and tries to convince him that Liam doesn’t care about him. While Dan admits he misses her, she says that what happened between them was wrong and was a mistake, which makes things worse for them.

At the end of the episode, Brody tells Paige he wants to move past her hook-up with Dan, but Paige silently admits she doesn’t want to and he leaves again.

Trav, Brian & Kath—As the Jets record a sixth loss out of their so far 10-game season, it’s becoming clear as day to the public that Trav is struggling as a coach. Kath asks Brian to come on as a mentor, an offer Brian is reluctant to take up as he believes Trav needs the time and space to grow as a coach.

Brian at first goes to see Rusty, who seems reluctant to engage with him until Brian makes it clear to Rusty he wants to make amends with him, Rusty than embraces Brian as a mentor. When Trav informs Maddy of this, she isn’t thrilled and confronts Kath about it, however Trav is fine with and Maddy calms down when Kath promises her Brian is a mentor and nothing more.

Meanwhile Kath is once again dealing with pressure from the Board regarding Connor and Trav’s coaching. She deals with even more pressure when Brian asks Kath to let Liam play (after Liam asked Brian to talk to Kath for him). She faces even further pressure when Liam blackmails her (which I’ll get to).

Tahlia & Connor—The episode kicks off with Connor discovering his phone in his locker and immediately realising that Liam took it and put it back. Connor goes to confront him but is stopped as he has no proof of Liam’s actions.

Meanwhile Connor is struggling with his plans for his future, as he feels his days at the club are numbered. He later admits to Tahlia he now realises she was trying to help him by promoting him, as she did in the previous season’s episodes. Tahlia ultimately ends up helping Connor by providing his management ideas for sponsorship deals for his future.

Although throughout the episode it seems that sparks are flying between them, even more so when Connor tells Tahlia that he and Annabel broke up, nothing happens between them.

Overall I enjoyed their subplot, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they got back together, I think they are currently working better together as friends for now.

Maddy & Trav—This episode finally has Maddy deal with her anxiety by at first admitting to Kath about it, and then later admitting how she feels to Trav at the end of the episode. Before Maddy gets to this point, she takes a week off work and drinks heavily while on a night out with the girls.

Although this subplot was relatively minor, I appreciated that her anxiety was finally addressed, especially with Trav. I appreciated Trav’s apology to her for not paying enough attention, and him revealing to her how he feels about Brian becoming the club mentor.

Rusty—A highlight of this episode for me was the reappearance of Shane and the progress of the relationship between him and Rusty. Shane wants Rusty to meet his friends on a night out. While on his night out, a fellow footy player, Alex, comes up to him and thanks him for coming out to his team as it gave him the courage to do so.

Towards the end of the episode, Rusty meets up with Shane and tells him that he wants to be with him and initially shows reluctance due to his romance with Jack and its fallout.

Overall I enjoyed the character development not only in Rusty, but in his and Shane’s relationship.

Jessie—Jessie is preparing to do a press conference to be posted online for the impending membership vote, which the women’s team’s fate depends on.

While Bob tries to spook Jessie with the postal votes results showing more members are against than for the women’s team, it doesn’t stop her from winning over the members online, and the women’s team will be going forward. Bob admits defeat by telling Jessie she presented a compelling argument.

Overall I was pleased with how this subplot turned out, although I am wondering how much time has passed as Jessie was walking perfectly so soon after tearing her ACL.

Liam—Liam is becoming more and more unlikeable as the season progresses, this time putting his and Dan’s life, as well as the club’s reputation at risk. Liam takes Dan to a high stakes poker game, where he snorts cocaine. He then crashes his car, with Dan in it, whilst high and speeding. When they are caught, he throws the keys at Dan so he will take the blame. Paige eventually tells Kath that Liam was driving as Dan was on the phone to her the entire time.

While Dan initially covers for Liam, he eventually tells Kath the truth, which leads to Kath suspending Liam pending a full investigation into his behaviour over the previous two episodes.

After his attempt to get Brian to change Kath’s mind fails, Liam resorts to blackmailing Kath regarding her affair with Connor and threatens Kath by making it public.

Overall, while I find myself despising Liam’s character, I’m looking forward to seeing where the blackmail subplot and Liam goes in the remaining episodes.

 

Overall this was a solid episode with plenty of material to work with in the remaining episodes.

 

Stray Observations:

-Maddy has had panic attacks before.

Best one liners and interactions:

  • “The longer it takes, the more painful it’s going to be….like the Brownlow.” (Tahlia to Paige on confessing to Brody)
  • “The only time you should be seen in a bed is for an Armani underwear ad.” (Tahlia to Connor)

 

Playing For Keeps–Season 2, Episode 5

This episode had a lot of twists, turns and revelations.

Tahlia—The episode kicks off with Tahlia and Paige at yoga, where Tahlia’s mother, Narelle (Rachel Gordon) shows up unexpectedly. It’s made clear pretty quickly that Tahlia has issues with her mother and that they haven’t seen or spoken to each other in quite some time, and Tahlia thinks Narelle wants money from her.

Throughout the episode, Tahlia goes to see Narelle at the motel she’s staying at, the first time she does, it looks like they may be able to re-bond, the second time, after seeing Samira, she confronts Narelle for the way she treated her. It’s here it’s revealed that Tahlia’s stepfather threw her out of the house when she was 17 and Narelle didn’t defend her in any way.

Later, at the club’s Women’s team open day, Narelle tries to step up as a mother with the intention of confronting Connor for his part in the nude photo scandal, only for Tahlia to stop her. Narelle then tells her that people stuff up, and that she thought marrying Tahlia’s stepfather was the right thing to do. She also tells Tahlia that she shouldn’t spend her life being angry and bitter and to forgive. Whether Tahlia forgives her mother isn’t made clear, however she does manage to forgive Connor and mend his relationship with Annabel.

Overall I found Tahlia’s subplot compelling as it provided the opportunity to explore her backstory, which explained a lot about her. I found it to be solid and realistic character development without being too overwhelming. That being said, one thing I didn’t quite understand was why Tahlia would name her swimwear line after a pet name her mother gave her when she has so many issues with her.

Jessie—Jessie’s subplot focused on her determination to establish the women’s team, which lead to her asking the club to help at an open day. The boys (except Liam) are more than willing to help. Meanwhile, Jessie is also training at the club’s headquarters with Trav’s assistance. I personally enjoyed seeing them work together, as it’s the first time we’ve seen them interaction with any of the other WAGs.

Throughout the episode, Jessie is stressed at the thought of when Hayley is going to drop the “Georgie paternity” bombshell, especially when Hayley publishes an article on the open day, however when Hayley shows up, she reveals that their conversation was off the record and she is actually there to support her partner, Erica. I felt that this revelation was a nice little twist to their dynamic.

Jessie is in her element at the open day and even puts her own skills on display, something that has never been seen until now. Just after she makes a great mark, she screams and collapses in pain, with Rusty, Trav and Connor immediately coming to her assistance. It’s later revealed that she has torn her ACL, and Trav gently but firmly makes it clear that due to her age, years off the field, and the time it would take to get back to optimal fitness, her footy dreams are over. This devastating and unexpected twist ends Jessie’s subplot for the episode, which I enjoyed and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes next, I’m hoping she’ll become a women’s team coach, as they say “those who can’t do, teach.”

Throughout her subplot, she has also been a mediator between Trav and Maddy, encouraging both of them to support and be honest with each other, which I enjoyed. I especially enjoyed the conversation between Trav and Jessie in the seats at the empty footy field, which was reminiscent of Trav’s chat with Rusty at the same ground the previous year.

Maddy—While Maddy’s subplot was minor in comparison to Tahlia’s and Jessie’s, I feel that hers is the beginning of a major one if not in the next episode, the remaining ones after. While Maddy’s struggle to balance her roles as a coach’s wife, mother and lawyer have been made clear this season, this is the first episode that is starting to show the toll the balancing act is having on her mental health.

Maddy’s interview with integrity didn’t go well and she forgets to make Abby’s costume for school, which sets off her first panic attack. During the attack, Trav comes home and Maddy manages to pull herself together before he can see her. After seeing Jessie, who tells her that Trav has a lot of pressure on him and needs her support, Maddy has another panic attack outside of Jessie’s home as she leaves, which is much worse as now her hands are shaking. Again she manages to pull herself together.

Although I didn’t enjoy seeing Maddy suffer, I’m looking forward to seeing where the writers take this in the remaining episodes.

Paige, Dan & Samira—Paige spends the episode getting to the bottom of the Samira drama, especially after Samira drops out of work experience suddenly. She eventually finds out from an unhappy Dan (after Kath asks her to speak to him) that Liam slept with Samira, an unsurprising revelation. She tells Kath moments after Liam speaks with her and lies to her, but interestingly doesn’t put the blame on Dan, like I thought he would.

Paige eventually goes to see Samira to talk to her about it, and Samira tells her what happens and is embarrassed by it. She also says that Liam said nice things to her and she shouldn’t have listened, which seems to imply that Liam raped her, however this isn’t made clear.

As Paige is trying to deal with the situation, she constantly discusses it with the girls and it ends up becoming a heated issue. Kath and Maddy try to remain diplomatic due to the pressures on them and lack of proof, while Paige and Jessie are outraged, and Tahlia is dismissive as both of them were of consenting age. Paige asks Kath to call Liam and the boys out with this and the nude scandal. Kath orders Trav to call a meeting on the matter after Liam and Connor start a brawl when Connor confronts him and Liam makes a dig at Tahlia.

After the meeting, Dan angrily confronts Paige at her and Tahlia’s home. Dan confronts her for butting in and Paige calls him out on being manipulated by Liam. Dan tells her it’s none of his business and reminds her she wanted out and Paige admits she still cares about him, they kiss and end up sleeping together. Just as they are getting dressed, Tahlia comes home.

Overall I enjoyed Paige’s subplot involving Samira, however I felt her interactions with Dan and them sleeping together was predictable.

Kath & Brian—Kath and Brian’s subplot was also minor and mainly revolved around their reluctance and ultimate backing out of telling their kids about their impending divorce. Brian also has interactions with Bob, who wants him to control Kath and Jessie, and prevent the establishment of the women’s team, which Brian refuses to do.

Liam— Liam is becoming more and more unlikeable as a character as his true colours are slowly starting to show, especially when it comes to the women’s team and starts a brawl with Connor after making a dig at Tahlia. The episode ends with him putting a phone in Connor’s locker, whether it’s someone else’s phone or Connor’s isn’t made clear.

 

Overall this was a solid episode with a lot of build-up for the remaining episodes.

 

Stray Observations:

-Narelle found Tahlia via her Instagram hashtags.

-Tahlia had a stepfather who died a year earlier.

-Jessie doesn’t iron her clothes, Rusty irons his.

-Rusty and Shane are still dating.

-Liam’s 26 years old.

-Connor has never met Narelle.

-Maddy & Trav’s kids names are Mitchell and Abby.

-According to Trav, Abby only eats carrots in stick form.

-Diane sent Tahlia an apology gift for apologising for the nude pictures.

 

Best one liners and interactions:

  • “If this blows up in my face at least I did it to myself.” (Jessie to Rusty on coming clean about Georgie’s paternity)
  • “Samira isn’t you.” (Paige to Tahlia)
  • “This is the pre pre-work brekkie.” (Paige to Brody)
  • “Connor, Dan and Liam, that’s a love triangle I wasn’t expecting.” (Tahlia to the girls)

 

Playing For Keeps–Season 2, Episode 4

Tahlia–I felt it was best to start my character-by-character review of this episode by focusing on the star character. This episode revolves around the nude photo scandal, which happened due to Connor losing his phone and not deleting the photos remotely quickly enough.

The scandal is first bought to life when Rusty and Liam notice the boys fighting over a phone at Liam’s casino party, and Rusty demands they hand the phone over to find out what’s going on, and he in turn hands the phone to Connor. Connor tries to warn Tahlia by calling her, however she ignores his call and finds out for herself via her phone notifications.

The girls immediately support her, and Tahlia reveals to Kath that she sent the photos to Connor during a dry spell, which her and Connor were experiencing due to Connor and Kath’s affair. Tahlia warns Kath that he may have stuff on his phone about her too, however nothing in that regard eventuates.

Meanwhile, Diane suggests to Tahlia that she maintain a “dignified silence” on the matter, bluntly telling her “my money, my rules”. However this solution doesn’t work, so Diane’s Plan B is to issue an apology. Tahlia rightfully points out that she’s done nothing wrong, however Diane reminds her that her major retail deal is at stake. When the media attention on the scandal turns nasty, Tahlia asks Diane to issue the apology.

Later, when Tahlia is launching the swimwear range, she is wearing one of her signature outfits which is showing off her shoulders, only to be told by Diane (acting on behalf of the big guns) to cover up. When she gets a leading question from the MC who is supposed to be asking softball questions, Tahlia finally and firmly stands up for herself. Later Connor properly apologises to her.

Towards the end of the episode, Liam approaches Tahlia and asks her to admit that they have chemistry. However Tahlia firmly stands up to him, finally making it clear there needs to be boundaries between them and that she doesn’t want to have a relationship with him.

Overall I felt this was a strong subplot as it touched on the issues of consent and double standards. It also touched upon control, especially when Diane took control over the situation, and she later told Tahlia to cover up at the launch and she sleeked her hair back, only to remove her jacket and loosen her hair when she finally stood up for herself.

Maddy, Kath and Oliver–Maddy is struggling with balancing her role of coach’s wife with her legal career, which is further complicated when the club’s Integrity Operations Manager informs Kath of someone betting against the team. The Integrity Operations Manager tells Kath that the plunge in the team’s odds happened before the announcement of Dan’s injury, and the investigation will focus on the plunge in odds, and major bets placed during that time and anyone who may have game sensitive information.

It’s eventually revealed that Oliver placed a large bet against the team. Maddy informs Trav of this, revealing that he was able to do so due to gaining sensitive information from her talking about what was happening and attending the President’s lunch. Trav is angry and storms off, later refusing to talk to her when they are in bed. Maddy later confronts Oliver, and he reveals he needed the money as he is in debt from his divorce. She tells him to get himself together and not to use her to do it, she also tells him he’s off the case they are working on and she’ll make sure the firm won’t work with him.

Overall I felt this subplot was predictable, but it mostly addressed what Oliver was up to in previous episodes. I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out in future episodes.

Jessie—At the end of the previous episode, Jessie decided that she would launch the Jets’ women’s team instead of joining the Eastern Dragons women’s team. To do this, Jessie has asked tabloid reporter, Hayley Faulkner, to do a profile on her to provide publicity for the team to be launched. During the profile, Jessie does a photo shoot, where it’s revealed her personal fashion style is more “sporty chic” than glam, which was refreshing.

Prior to publication, Hayley sends Jessie proofs where Hayley brings Georgie’s paternity into question in the article. Jessie asks Hayley to remove it from the article and she does, however when the article is published and after Kath happily sees it, she tells Kath it’s time for the truth to come out and isn’t afraid of it coming out anymore. Kath also tells Jessie that she won, as the article has led to the Board deciding to hold a membership vote on the establishment of the women’s team.

Overall while this subplot was relatively minor, it does provide a good first puzzle piece of the women’s team starting, not to mention it had an element of fun with the photo shoot, and it came to an unexpected end when it leads to Georgie’s paternity being focused on.

Paige and Dan—Their subplot was minor as Paige finally revealed to Dan that her and Brody have hooked up. Dan is clearly upset and tries to hastily exit from their hang out session, only to run into a skateboarder and be knocked down. His ribs are fractured due to the incident and he is forced out for six weeks. From then on, things are awkward between them, even more so when Paige brings in Brody’s student, Samira, for work experience at the club.

At the end of the episode, Dan asks Paige for space so he can deal with their changed dynamic. This request upsets Paige, the next morning against Tahlia’s advice, she goes to his place to see him, only to see Samira leave and Dan call out to her as she left her jacket behind, implying that they have slept together.

Overall I felt that their subplot needed to happen, as their dynamic change is finally addressed, however more complications are added when it appears Samira and Dan have hooked up. Whether they did, and if so, if he hooked up with her out of revenge remains to be seen.

Kath and Brian—When the scandal breaks, Kath calls Brian and says “it’s time and people are starting to ask questions”, however what she is referring to isn’t touched upon. At the end of the episode, Brian has returned home and Kath tearfully embraces him. Where their relationship goes from here and what Kath was referring to during their phone call remains to be seen.

 

Overall I felt this was a solid episode, especially with the Tahlia subplot as it touched on timely and important issues, and provided important and necessary character development with her. While the other subplots were minor in comparison, they each provided important puzzle pieces for them to develop in future episodes.

 

Stray Observations:

-Tahlia buys Diane a copy of “Post Feminism for Dummies” after she finally and publicly stands up for herself.

-Up until their loss, the Jets were undefeated. In the game featured in this episode, the Jets lost by 48 points. Rusty and Liam played well, Connor didn’t.

-Jessie hates the press and up until now, hasn’t done press in years.

-I like how Trav voices his concerns of how into weaponry the kids are when he picks up their toy guns, but then later dismisses his own concerns by pointing out the toy guns have foam ammo.

 

Best one liners and interactions:

  • “Do you like my home casino?” “I’m surprised you didn’t make them wear bunny ears.” (Liam to Connor, and Connor’s response to him regarding the women hired to work at the party)
  • “Remember the house always wins.” “Good thing he lives here.” (Connor to Dan and Liam’s response to him)
  • “I could kill him, I could actually kill him.” (Tahlia to the girls on the photos being released due to Connor losing his phone and not deleting the photos quickly enough)
  • “I could kill him, I could actually kill him.” “No jury in the world would convict you.” “It’s my professional opinion to tell you that isn’t remotely true.” (Tahlia-Paige-Maddy)
  • “For a silent partner, she’s being pretty bloody loud.” (Tahlia to Paige on Diane)
  • “I realise dignity and silence are two concepts you are unfamiliar with.” (Diane to Tahlia)
  • “You know how you get a bikini body, Mike? You get a bikini and put it on your body.” (Tahlia to Mike, the MC, interviewing her when he makes a jibe about her body)
  • “I’m not sorry, because I’ve got nothing to be sorry for. Those photos were stolen and published without my consent, something I’m still entitled to no matter how famous I or the people I use to sleep with am. The saddest part is there’s literally thousands of photos out there, taken with my full permission, so whoever’s getting off on these photos, it says a lot more about them then it does about me. I may not be every mother’s dream role model for their daughter, but I will not be anyone’s punching bag, I deserve better, we all deserve better.” (Tahlia to Mike)
  • “I see congratulations are in order.” “I also accept champagne and expensive gifts.” (Liam-Tahlia)
  • “I’m just a guy sitting in front of a girl, asking her to dinner.” (Liam to Tahlia)
  • “Sort your shit out, but don’t use me to do it!” (Maddy to Oliver)
  • “I broke a lot of hearts, closed a lot of doors, but all in all they’re both really happy for me.” (Brody to Paige on telling his exes about their hook up)

 

Playing For Keeps—Season 2, Episode 3

This episode had a lot of twists and turns and is starting to foreshadow trouble that will clearly happen down the road.

Kath—Kath is starting to feel the pressures of being President with the first game of the season. John, who is still on the Board, is clearly sexist and dismissive of her ideas, but actually has nothing to contribute himself. She feels extra pressure from Jessie, when she asks Kath to launch a women’s team for the Southern Jets, which ultimately leads to conflict between them when Kath can’t deliver, despite them seeing eye to eye on it.

Their conflict ultimately reaches a head when Jessie confronts Kath at the end of the first game. Kath tries to tell Jessie that she doesn’t understand the pressure on her, which is a valid point, and Jessie unfairly tells her she is just like Andrew. When they meet for coffee the next day, they apologise to each other, but both stand their ground. Jessie tells Kath that “it isn’t over”, and Kath says she knows and tells her to do what she needs to do. One of the many clever twists in this episode was Jessie calling her Eastern Dragons friend, Edwards, to decline her offer to join the club as she will be starting the Southern Jets women’s team.

Meanwhile throughout the episode, Kath is receiving updates and encouragement from Brian.

Overall I felt Kath’s subplot was one that had to happen and was dealt with in a realistic manner. A highlight for me was when the conflict between her and Jessie came to end in an unexpected but healthy manner.

Jessie—Since I’ve just spoken about Kath and her conflict with Jessie over a potential Southern Jets women’s team, I felt it was fitting to continue this review by talking about Jessie. Jessie is now well into her training regime with a friend on the Eastern Dragons women’s team, Edwards. Edwards offers her the chance to train with and eventually join the team, something Rusty is against as it is “sleeping with the enemy”. Despite the temptation to join the club, which is present throughout the episode and enhanced by Kath’s inability to start a Southern Jets women’s team, Jessie takes it upon herself to start a women’s team for the club.

Overall I felt this was the best ending for her subplot, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes and to see Jessie with a focus outside of her family.

Maddy—This episode provides an insight into how Maddy balances her personal and professional lives. Her and Trav are struggling slightly but are still making their new roles and lives work (even if her children don’t like her cooking and are impatience when it comes to getting their breakfast). This episode also marks the first appearance of her office, and a friend of hers from her law school days, Oliver Jensen. Throughout the episode, there is sexual tension present, especially as Oliver clearly likes Maddy, and Maddy seems tempted, however she doesn’t act on it.

Although Maddy invites John to game day and she says he’s not a fan of footy, he is clearly getting involved somehow, as shown by telling a unknown person on the phone that “he’s in”, after he was seen mingling with John on game day.

Oliver is clearly going to cause trouble for both Maddy and the club, and I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of trouble that will be.

Overall while Maddy’s subplot was minor in comparison to Kath and Jessie’s, I liked the exploration into Maddy’s life—both personal and professional.

Tahlia—Tahlia’s subplot was as compelling as Kath’s and Jessie’s, and did consist of similarities with Jessie’s. Both Jessie and Tahlia have career dreams albeit different ones. Tahlia’s dream is to launch her own swimwear line, which seems to be hitting a snag as the public want Tahlia to model the swimwear line, not own and promote it.

When Tahlia wants to use the house as leverage to fund the swimwear line, she discovers that there is a caveat on the Deed—she can’t do anything to it or with it until her and Connor’s divorce is finalised. She goes to see Diane to convince her to get rid of the caveat but Diane refuses.

When Tahlia outlines her plan with Diane the first time, Diane suggests to her that she study business and commerce whilst she waits for the divorce to be finalised, however Tahlia shuts this down. When Tahlia provides Diane with specifics on her plans, Diane tells her she wants to invest, but Tahlia laughs this off.

Later, Tahlia meets Connor’s new girlfriend, Annabelle, who lets Tahlia know in an obvious but not nasty way that she isn’t one to be messed with.

Later Tahlia agrees to have Diane as a silent partner, and they negotiate a deal they ultimately agree on. I’m looking forward to seeing where Tahlia’s swimwear line goes, and how Tahlia and Diane will make their business relationship work.

Paige—There actually wasn’t much of a focus on Paige, if anything she was more in the background. Paige’s subplot revolved around whether to take things to the next level with Brody. They end up going on a date which becomes awkward as the first game of the season plays nearby, making it feel like Dan is on their date with them.

Although they are resistant to admitting how awkward things are, they ignore the subject until the end of the date, which ultimately clears the air for them to take things to the next level and hook up.

Overall I felt Paige’s subplot was a little underwhelming due to its predictability, however I am looking forward to seeing where it goes.

 

Stray Observations:

-At the beginning of the episode, the ladies are at the premiere of the film, Ride Like A Girl.

-A month has passed since the events of the previous episode.

-Dan is living with Liam.

-Kendall and Liam have broken up.

-The name of Tahlia’s swimwear line is Coco Beam, which is revealed to be the nickname her mother has given her.

-This episode revolved around the first game of the season, the Jets ended up winning.

-Annabelle’s a doctor who is specialised in orthopaedics. She operated on Connor’s knee and knows about Tahlia’s issues with her swimwear line and Diane.

 

Best one liners and interactions:

  • “You’re adorable when you do understatements.” (Maddy to Jessie)
  • “So, tomorrow?” “I’m familiar with it.” (Brody-Paige)
  • “I haven’t told Dan yet, I’m waiting for things to be serious before I do.” “Sounds like a whole lot of admin to me.” (Paige-Tahlia)
  • “Can you believe I became a barrister?” “Well it was either that or professional alcoholic.” “I tried, they wouldn’t have me.” (Oliver-Maddy-Oliver)
  • “Unless I decide to streak across the field, he won’t even notice I’m there.” (Paige to Brody on the possibility of Dan noticing her absence from the game)
  • “Can I tempt you with breakfast?” “Unlikely” (Maddy-her children)
  • “How’s mum life?” “Deeply fulfilling and completely exhausting.” (Oliver-Maddy)
  • “How do I look?” “Insane as always.” (Tahlia-Paige)
  • “Get out!” “It’s my house!” “Not according to Diane.” (Paige-Tahlia-Paige when Tahlia comes into Paige’s room after she hooked up with Brody)
  • “Should we shake?” “We sure as shit ain’t going to hug.” (Diane-Tahlia)
  • “So….how did it go?” (Tahlia to Paige and Brody after they hooked up)

 

 

 

Playing For Keeps—Season 2, Episode 2

I’ve decided to keep my character by character reviews going with this season.

Liam and Kendall—Despite the events at the end of the previous episode, Liam and Kendall weren’t really focused on in this one. Liam comes out of the incident with six stitches, no glass in his skull and no sign of concussion, while Kendall tearfully admits she hit him with the glass. Kendall, although still aggressive, seeks Maddie’s help in getting into rehab. Maddie helps her, and her and Kath go to see Kendall and Liam. Liam is reluctant to let Kendall go, however Kendall stands her ground, and heads to rehab. Despite Maddie’s and Kath’s efforts to keep Kendall going to rehab out of the press, it’s made public anyway. Although progress has been made with them, I’m still suspicious of Liam, why would he be so reluctant for Kendall to go to rehab?

Paige and Tahlia—Much like Liam and Kendall, the subplot on Paige and Tahlia was relatively minor. Tahlia is trying to build her career up, starting with promoting herself on daytime television and having to inform the host that her and Connor are no longer together. When Tahlia returns from the TV studio, her and Paige talk about Tahlia’s plans to release a swimwear line (even though, as Paige points out, summer is ending) and Paige hanging out with Dan. Tahlia encourages Paige to have a one night stand. While they are out at a nightclub, Paige runs into Brody and Tahlia runs into Liam. Although Paige tries to have a one night stand with Brody, she resists his kiss at her apartment, and days later she only ends up kissing him on his doorstep and then leaving. She also tries to be friends with Dan, including telling him about her one night stand plan, but not mentioning that she is referring to Brody.

Maddie and Trav—Their subplot is also relatively minor as the only time they were focused on was when they were arguing about Kath’s run for the club’s presidency, with Trav expecting Maddie to stop her, and Maddie telling Trav that she can’t put her life on hold for the club.

Jessie and Rusty—Other than Kath’s run for presidency, I felt the Jessie and Rusty subplot was the most interesting one of the episode. Their friendship generally revolved around their connection to Jack, especially last season, but now that the mystery of Jack’s death has been solved, there is room for their characters and friendship to develop further, which was proven in this episode. While they are hanging out at their regular cafe, Jessie encourages Rusty to go out with the barista, Shane, who has been flirting with him. Although Rusty doesn’t feel ready, Jessie gives him a push. Rusty also pushes Jessie to get back into training, where it’s revealed that she was also an AFL player in the women’s league before having her children. Although Rusty is resistant, the date goes well and he’s glad Jessie pushed him, while Jessie starts training again.

Kath—The major focus of the episode was Kath’s decision to run for the club presidency after she finds out at a board meeting that John, the current president, is planning on having an alcohol company sponsor the club. No-one believes Kath can or should be president, but for different reasons. Brian and Trav oppose it but don’t really have the guts to admit their clear reasons why they are against it, the girls support her but don’t think she has a chance due to her lack of experience and qualifications (they admit that on paper, Maddie has a better chance). Her only supporter, unknown to her, is Rusty, who tells Jessie he thinks she’d be a great president.

While Brian tells Kath he is against it as he wanted distance from the club and wanted to do something for himself, Kath points out that their relationship has always revolved around his career and she has been part of the club for over 20 years, and wants to put her experience to use. Their relationship is clearly at breaking point and Kath says it isn’t working anymore, Brian quietly agrees to leave.

Meanwhile Kath meets with Bob, the board member who had the idea for the alcohol sponsorship and outlines her plans for the club, which includes other sponsorship that would bring in the same amount of money that the alcohol sponsorship would. Bob admits that he likes her and that he knows about her “behind the scenes work” for the club which includes getting Kendall into rehab.

When the story about Kendall going into rehab breaks, John meets with Liam and Trav and refuses to tell Kath, but she confronts him anyway. While Liam and John try to throw Kath under the bus, Kath threatens to out John as a liar if he does it publicly.

The girls are shocked to find out via the news that Kath has been successfully voted in as club president but are nevertheless happy for her. Brian also has a drink with her when she gets home, congratulates her and tells her that she’ll do a great job before he leaves.

Brian, Trav & Connor—Although they weren’t in the spotlight per se, there was a strong focus on them. Brian and Trav were heavily against the idea of Kath being voted in as president (Connor’s views on this weren’t made clear). Trav basically demands Maddie to talk Kath out of it but she refuses. While Brian is against it as he wanted distance from the club and do something for himself, however he does congratulate her and support her when she is voted in.

On another subject, at the beginning of the episode, Trav holds a press conference where he announces the club’s leadership team: Connor is still the captain, with Rusty and Liam as vice captains. Connor clearly had a problem with Liam in the previous episode, and in this one he addresses it with Trav when he tells him that Liam has a bad attitude and asks about his injury. It will be interesting to see whether Connor’s suspicions and negative feelings towards Liam will escalate as the season progresses.

Themes—This episode was unlike any other in a sense that a theme was present throughout the episode: sexism. While there have been times where sexism was touched upon, this episode deliberately focused on it when Kath wanted to run for the club’s presidency. Brian’s and Trav’s reactions to it come from a place of selfishness, although they don’t say outright that Kath shouldn’t run because she’s a woman. While the girls support her, but doubt her chances due to her lack of experience, nevertheless they do celebrate her win.

While the main men (with the exception of Rusty), as well as John, don’t support Kath’s run for presidency and try (and fail) to stop her, in contrast, Kath’s win ends up inspiring the girls to pursue their own goals–Paige kisses Brody, Tahlia launches her swimwear line promotion against her agent’s advice, and Jessie starts training again.

While not a theme, a television motif was present at the beginning of the episode with Maddie and Kendall watching Liam and the press conference on Kendall’s television, as well as Paige watching Tahlia when she was on daytime television.

 

Overall this was one of the best episodes I’ve ever seen, especially with the writers choosing to focus more on the girls’ lives and careers outside of the football world.

 

Stray Observations:

-Rusty hates press conferences.

-Paige got a permanent job at a St Helga’s School.

 

Best one liners and interactions:

  • “Sit down, shut up and listen!” “I am sitting down.” (Tahlia-Paige)
  • “You have to keep all your emotional eggs in one basket. Where are your eggs right now?” “In my ovaries, thank you.” (Tahlia-Paige)
  • “I’ve had one night stands before.” “In this postcode?” (Paige-Tahlia)
  • “Confident, sexy. I could have mounted the TV.” (Maddie to Trav on his performance during the press conference)
  • “Liquid life!” (Paige’s reaction to Dan bringing her coffee)
  • “This is the first time we’ve been alone, conscious, together all week.” “We had a date on Thursday night.” (Maddie-Trav)
  • “I’m not sure if I’m ready to date.” “Well, I better call the celebrant and tell him the wedding’s off.” (Rusty-Shane while on their date)
  • “You friendzoned your one night stand? I cannot get my head around that.” (Tahlia to Paige)