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Playing for Keeps–Season 1 Finale

I’ll be reviewing the season finale character by character:

Connor and Tahlia—At the start of the episode it’s established that they have broken up with Connor leaving and Paige moving in (I’ll get to that in a minute). Despite their break-up, they didn’t really interact until the second half of the episode when Tahlia made the decision to auction off some of Connor’s stuff at the fragrance launch.

A highlight of this subplot for me was Tahlia bonding Diane. It’s a shame that they couldn’t bond when Connor and Tahlia were together and while their scenes together were hilarious, it’s not truly established why Diane wanted to be friends with Tahlia.

After the auction, Connor and Tahlia finally get closure and a resolution on their relationship by tearfully parting on friendly terms. Personally, I felt this was the right decision for the writers to make. Considering that there is hope for Brian and Kath’s relationship (which again I’ll get to in a minute), their break-up provided the perfect and realistic contrast to the situation.

Brian and Kath—Much like Connor and Tahlia, despite the tension between them, there wasn’t really all that much of a focus on them as a couple but more as parents when their daughter Ella (Ella Newton) finally arrives home. While Kath reaches out and apologises to Brian, he’s not sure if he can forgive her, and they only manage to play “happy families” with Ella briefly, breaking slightly when Ella announce her engagement to her unseen boyfriend and they both admit that getting married as teenagers was a mistake.

Once the truth comes out about Jack’s death (which again I’ll get to in a minute), Brian and Kath seem to let go of what’s happened and hope for their relationship is shown when Kath reaches her hand out to Brian and he takes it. Considering how long they’ve been married and the love they clearly feel for each other, and what Kath has done, I felt this outcome was a realistic and the right one.

Maddie and Trav—They were more in the background of the episode as the only focus on Maddie was on her work with Andrew and finding out how much of a criminal he was, when she was investigating his properties for his divorce. Whereas Trav was only focused on when Maddie ran into Johanna and found out she quit because she was appalled at how loud they were in the bedroom.

I loved the scenes between Maddie and Johanna, as well as Maddie and Trav. The love they feel for each other provides a great and necessary contrast considering the state of the other relationships. On another note, it would have been great to find out whether Trav decided to retire after his confrontation with Brian for benching him in last week’s episode.

Paige and Dan—The episode also starts with Paige packing her bags and moving in with Tahlia as her and Dan have also broken up. The fact that she moved in with Tahlia and Tahlia supports her in return and encourages her to move on with her life, shows how far they’ve come as friends, which is great to see.

While Paige and Dan also don’t interact with each other until the fragrance launch and even then it’s only brief. Paige and Dan really deal with their break-up when Paige is ready to leave to go home and then the UK. Dan begs Paige to stay but Paige tells him he’s where he needs to be. I’m glad that the writers avoided the cliche of the girlfriend staying after the boyfriend begs her to, not to mention that considering how bad things had become between them, their relationship ending was a realistic and obvious outcome. It also provided a nice contrast to Connor and Tahlia’s break up, as they didn’t cheat on each other, despite the temptation in the form of Brody. I also appreciated that Paige turned Brody down, as if she said yes, the other option when a relationship is in trouble or ended is also a cliche.

On another note, I was happy to see Paige finally stand up for herself as a teacher to Toni, and as an independent woman and human being when Andrew tries to force her to stay with Dan until the end of the season.

Jessie—The focus on Jessie wasn’t on her pregnancy rather Jack’s death after Connor confesses to her that he told Dan and Rusty to leave him in the water. First, she confronts Rusty for lying to her, and then Kath and Maddie basically accuse Andrew of killing him.

Although it seemed obvious and plausible that Andrew killed him considering his obsession with the club and his blatant homophobia, it is finally revealed that Brian accidentally killed Jack when he punched him after they had a brief fight, and the punch resulted in Jack’s head hitting the rock. While I could have lived with Andrew being the killer, having it turn out to be Brian by accident was a great and realistic final twist, especially as Brian has never been shown to be violent. The highlight of the conclusion of this story arc was not only finding out who killed Jack, but also the confrontation between Andrew, Brian, Jessie, Maddie and Kath.

The revelation of Brian accidentally killing Jack and Andrew resigning as President of the Southern Jets provided the perfect closure for this story arc.

 

Overall this was a solid season finale for many reasons. First and foremost, the stunning and realistic conclusion to the main story arc, however if there is a second season, which I’d love, I’m not sure where they’d go from here. Secondly, the conclusion of Connor and Tahlia’s, and Paige and Dan’s relationships was also realistic, with their heartbreak accurately portrayed. That being said there are a few loose ends, such as Jessie’s baby not being born, the identity of Connor’s biological mother, and whether Trav has retired from the club.

Overall this show’s first (and hopefully not only) season was solid with a well-written, well-acted and thrilling story arc, strong and engaging subplots, a talented cast and crew, and plenty of loose ends to base season two on.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reviewing Playing for Keeps and I hope that it’s renewed for another season.

Playing for Keeps–Season 1, Episode 7

Connor, Tahlia, Brian and Kath—Now that the truth of Connor’s affair with Kath is out, now he and Tahlia have to deal with the fallout. The episode kicks off with them in therapy. Despite their best efforts to try the exercises the therapist recommends, Tahlia can’t help herself and asks Connor questions, where he reveals he only proposed to Tahlia because she wanted him to.

Later on, after Maddie gets them together, Kath asks Tahlia for a truce as hers and Brian’s daughter, Ella, is coming home. However Tahlia refuses as she wasn’t given any warning about the affair.

At the President’s Lunch, Connor talks Kath and apologises to her and tells her that he plans on ending things with Tahlia. When Tahlia sees the two of them walk about to the Lunch together, she loses it and whispers the truth in Brian’s ear.

At the end of the episode, Connor and Tahlia talk and their relationship seems to be ending, however this is yet to be confirmed. Brian also asks Kath about Connor and she admits the truth. Having Tahlia reveal the truth to Brian is one of a few great springboards for next week’s finale.

Paige and Dan—Another great springboard for the finale is the further disintegration of Paige and Dan’s relationship. It starts off with Dan bribing Toni with tickets to the President’s Lunch to get her to rehire Paige. This is while Paige is at a job agency where the agent she speaks to tells her about opportunities in the UK. When Paige finds out the truth, they have yet another fight.

At the President’s Lunch, Toni gives her second ticket to Brody, which leads to him finally meeting Dan. While there is a hint of romantic competitive tension, the focus is more on Dan not remembering that Brody is Paige’s only friend, which leads to another fight and Paige again calling Dan out on the fact that the move and their lives only revolve around his football career.

On another note, as Paige is trying to rebuild her career, she comes up with the idea of teaching children maths through AFL stats, I think this is a good idea and I hope it’s addressed again in the finale.

The promo of next week’s episode shows Paige packing her bags and heading off to the train station and Dan telling her he doesn’t want her to leave. Although the last few episodes have been leading to this, the final events that lead to this are yet to happen, which I’m looking forward to seeing and the outcome.

Maddie and Trav—I felt they were more in the background in this episode but they still had solid moments. Maddie is representing Andrew in his divorce and finds out that he’s dating Rusty’s ex, Carly. Carly tries to apologise for her behaviour, albeit with a fake tone, and tries to act like the other WAGs but can’t pull it off.

Meanwhile Brian benches Trav, which angers both him and Maddie, considering Brian convinced him to play another year and what they’ve had to sacrifice. Trav later calls out Brian on this, whether Trav ends up retiring for good remains to be seen, but I felt this was the strongest moment in his character development as he is no longer the man-child seen in the first few episodes and this is the first time we’ve seen him stand up for himself.

Another strong moment for Trav was his reaction to Rusty telling him about his affair with Jack. Trav was shocked, but upset that Rusty felt he couldn’t tell him, which shows how important their friendship is to him and that he didn’t care that Rusty was gay.

Despite being mostly in the background, I felt that Maddie’s and Trav’s strong moments were minor highlights of the episode.

Jessie, Nate and Rusty—Although she’s not as much in the background as Maddie was, Jessie wasn’t exactly front and centre either. Andrew comes up with the idea to set up a foundation in Jack’s name to financially help Jessie, J.J. and her unborn baby. Jessie wants Kath to put a stop to it but Kath tells her she can’t do that unless she comes clean publicly.

Jessie ends up letting the announcement of the foundation go ahead only to make her announcement—she’ll be donating the funds to women and children’s shelters. This puts Andrew in his place as he’s clearly trying to bury his homophobia, although whether it was his or Carly’s idea wasn’t made clear.

Meanwhile Nate asks Jessie for forgiveness, which she considers, however he still doesn’t want to go public about being the baby’s father, which confirms Jessie’s decision was the right one. At the end of the episode, she takes Rusty with her to her ultrasound appointment and they find out the baby is a girl. Their moments at the appointment were sweet and a highlight of the episode with well-written jokes and their friendship solidified. Clearly she’s not due any time soon and won’t give birth during next week’s finale, unless the writers decided to do a time jump, which I doubt. Hopefully there will be another season and we’ll see the baby being born.

 

Overall this was a solid penultimate episode providing great springboards for next week’s finale.

Playing for Keeps–Season 1, Episode 6

This was the best episode of Playing for Keeps so far and I’ll tell you why as I review this episode character by character:

Tahlia, Kath and Connor—I’m starting with them as the episode mostly revolved around them. Tahlia is planning hers and Connor’s engagement party and as usual, is trying to make as big and pretentious as possible. Meanwhile, Connor is feeling some serious guilt and tells Kath he’s planning on telling Tahlia about their affair. Kath tries to persuade him not to, obviously to save her own arse, but of course, as Tahlia performs a romantic gesture for Connor in the form of simplifying their engagement party, and echoing Kath’s statement to Connor earlier in the episode in the process, and suggesting they get married that day, Connor tells Tahlia the truth.

Olympia Valance gave her most powerful performance in this episode from the moment Tahlia is told the truth. Valance’s ability to portray Tahlia’s simultaneous heartbreak and anger through her eyes alone was spectacular, let alone her facial expressions throughout the second half of the episode. Valance’s golden moment came when Tahlia quietly and angrily confronted Kath at the party and threatened to destroy her.

Ultimately, the fate of hers and Connor’s relationship lies in her hands and she makes the choice to marry Connor and have him walk down the aisle, which clearly gives her a sense of power and satisfaction over him and their situation. She also feels this power and satisfaction when she forces Kath to be in a photo with her and Connor. Although she hasn’t destroyed Kath yet or let the cat out of the bag, she is clearly going to in the remaining two episodes of the season and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing it.

Jessie and Nate—Another strong point of this episode was Jessie’s choice to not move to Queensland with Nate and embrace her future as a single mother expecting her second child. As this show revolves around the lives of the WAGs, it’s a stupid choice to have one of them and the show’s leads leave during the first season, and the writers know this, so I knew Jessie wouldn’t leave and I was waiting for the reason why to be revealed.

Firstly, Jessie reveals to the girls that the baby is Nate’s and not Jack’s, and how her and Nate met. They met 18 months ago when J.J. bit Nate’s daughter. Her and Jack’s marriage had been over for a long time and they planned to separate in the off season, and Nate knows the baby is his.

After this, Jessie encourages Nate to come with her to Tahlia and Connor’s engagement party as her date as a way for them to announce their relationship as the paps are on to her. However he is reluctant and upset that he told the other WAGs about him. When he promises to fix her kitchen sink tap and doesn’t, and doesn’t show up to pick her up to go to the engagement party, Jessie calls Nate out and he admits he’s not ready to go public.

Jessie firmly states it’s not her problem and finally goes public with her pregnancy when she changes from a black flowy dress, to a gold and black number proudly showing her blooming pregnant belly. The WAGs ultimately compliment and support her choice, even Rusty does, when she goes up to him, he compliments her and is her date for the rest of the night.

Overall I enjoyed Jessie’s subplot, especially when she stands up for herself and embraces her new life as a single mother, however I felt the exploration of her relationship with Nate was too fast, it was pretty much over as quickly as it started up. It would have been better if it was explored an episode or two earlier.

Maddie and Trav—Like with almost every other episode, their subplot was smaller and provided comic relief. Maddie and Trav hire a new nanny, unseen on screen, in the form of Adrian, who disappears before he can really get started as he walks in on Trav masturbating, where he and Maddie discuss their currently non-existent sex life due to their busy work lives. Later, as they are getting ready to go to the engagement party, Trav walks in on Maddie masturbating.

At the engagement party, Trav talks to Maddie in a bathroom where he tells her that he doesn’t want her to step back from work but rather that they get inventive in finding ways to be alone, such as the bathroom stall they’re currently in. They manage to finally have sex, just as Tahlia and Connor are getting married.

Watching their subplot, specifically when Trav admits his love for Maddie and admits he’s not asking her to step back from her career and is trying to find a realistic way to keep the romance alive, made me realise that actually they’re the sanest and strongest couple out of them all.

Paige and Dan—In the previous episode, there were hints of their relationship starting to breakdown, at the start of the episode they seem to have made up a little, as he kisses her goodbye everyday as she is calling for relief teaching jobs. In the middle of it all, she is sent pyjamas for free for a shout out on her social media page.

Although her promoting the pyjamas on social media isn’t shown, another aspect of her social media use is focused on when she suspects she has a troll. Tahlia gives her advice on trolls and advises her not to meet her troll in person, however Paige does anyway with Brody by her side, only for her troll to be an admirer. Paige tells Dan about this and he chides her as social media is still media. This leads to a fight between them about her social media use, their careers, which leads to Dan admitting his uncertainty about their relationship, however they don’t break up.

At the engagement party, they don’t apologise to each other per se but they admit they don’t want to lose each other. At this point their relationship is clearly under strain and there’s uncertainty about their future. With two episodes of the first season left, and with Dan meeting Brody in the next episode, it will be interesting to see whether their relationship will last or not.

Rusty—There was a minor but ultimately important focus on Rusty this week. At the beginning of the episode he is seen being interviewed on television about his coming out and the affects on the club and he is clearly working off a script. Later, Kath reaches out to him and Rusty reveals that he and Jack were in love and fought shortly before Jack died. This adds another piece of the Jack puzzle and this reveal explains a lot about Jack’s anger towards Rusty, and Rusty and Jessie’s friendship. Where this reveal, which didn’t surprise me, goes next remains to be seen.

 

As I said this was the best episode of Playing for Keeps so far as Connor and Kath’s affair, and Rusty and Jack’s affair was finally revealed, and the consequences of both can finally play out in the remaining episodes. This episode contained more character and plot development than in the previous episodes and I hope the writers kept this up in what’s left of the season.

 

 

Playing for Keeps–Season 1, Episode 5

This episode went to great lengths to provide a contrast in the relationships of the main players by kicking off with Connor & Tahlia and Brian & Kath waking up in bed together, and a flashback to Paige’s drunken antics after she got home from her night out in the previous episode, setting the smoke alarm off with her sausages just as ASADA (the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority) arrive at their door.

I’m going to continue reviewing this episode character by character.

Connor and Tahlia—Their subplot didn’t focus on Connor’s mysterious background rather Tahlia’s ambition to launch a male fragrance based on Connor—both the person and his fame. After dealing with the fallout of Rusty coming out, Connor lashes out at Tahlia for the wardrobe choices she is making for him, and she calls him out on whether he is being homophobic and it turns out he isn’t. She later respects his desires not to be a part of the fragrance or launch by having it be about Connor being an “every man”.

Brian and Kath—Brian and Kath’s subplot only briefly focused on their recently closed marriage before focusing on Brian keeping Rusty’s sexuality a secret from Kath. Kath is angry as they never keep secrets from each other because apparently her own current hypocrisy doesn’t count as Brian is not aware of it yet. Brian meanwhile is surprisingly letting Kath walk over him due to the fact that he didn’t want to betray Rusty’s trust. Their subplot ends on a fight and Kath looking for a key to one of Brian’s locked drawers and being unable to find it. What is in the drawer or what she’s looking for remains to be discovered, but I’m sure it will be.

Trav and Maddie—Once again Trav and Maddie’s subplot provides the comic relief for the episode, this time in the form of them having to cope without their beloved and super competent nanny, Johanna, as she is taking time off. In the middle of this, Trav’s guilt over giving Jack the pills that he ended up overdosing on is eating him up. Maddie and Brian ultimately tell him that coming clean won’t make any difference, however he does become absolved of his guilt when he comes clean to Jessie and she tells him that Jack had “dabbled” in the same drugs not long after the grand final and doesn’t blame Trav for his death. Their subplot switches back to comic relief when Johanna returns and tells them she’s leaving as she met a man.

Nate and Jessie—This episode also focused Nate and Jessie’s secret relationship, specifically Nate trying to persuade Jessie to move with him to Queensland. There area few unanswered questions in regards to their relationship such as how it started, why she cheated on Jack with him, and/or whether her and Jack had an open marriage like Brian and Kath. Another question is whether Jessie will move with him as that was left unanswered in this episode.

Dan and Paige—This episode focused on a deterioration in their relationship with Dan’s unhappiness at Paige joining social media and then publicly posting her support for Rusty, which ends up going viral. Dan thinks that Paige is hijacking Rusty’s personal life to build a social media following, and Paige’s reasons for joining social media aren’t made clear. The deterioration reaches the point where Dan leaves for his next game without saying goodbye and ignoring her calls. I feel like this deterioration is cliche and leading to one of them, most likely Paige, cheating on the other. I say Paige because Brody clear likes her and she’s oblivious to it, which is another cliche. In the middle of it all, Paige is fired for filming Yasmin in the pub after the latter dobs her in.

Rusty—Rusty’s subplot was the highlight and main focus of the episode as he initially disappeared following his coming out and later returns. First, Brian, Kath, Connor and Club President, Andrew, having an emergency meeting to figure out what to do with the story of Rusty’s coming out. In this meeting, Andrew shows his true homophobic colours, Brian stays relative silent, while Connor and Kath are supportive of Rusty and try to prevent Andrew from taking too much control over the situation.

Of course, the press conference goes well only for Andrew to crumble and show his true colours at its conclusion. The most interesting part of this subplot was everyone’s reaction to both Rusty’s coming out and the subsequent fallout, including Rusty’s own reaction. Trav is angered that Jack apparently hated Rusty for being gay (although this is yet to be confirmed, I wonder whether the two of them had an affair), Tahlia is not surprised as Rusty never hit on her, and Rusty’s disposition starts to improve as he sees Jessie and for the first time we see them joke and smile together, and later he returns to training, where Brian and the boys (with the exception of Andrew) welcome him back with open arms. Why Rusty came out to Jessie first and how they became close is yet to be revealed. This subplot ended on a good note with the cheer squad ultimately enhancing Paige’s social media post with the game day banner showing their support.

 

Overall this was a decent episode, however I am wondering where the rest of the season is going now that Jack’s death has been ruled as accidental and Rusty has come out and has managed to find peace.

Playing for Keeps–Season 1, Episode 4

Surprisingly this episode didn’t focus on the inquest or Rusty’s lying on the stand, instead this episode focused more on character development:

Maddie and Trav—Their subplot was brief but interesting. At Jack’s wake she mentioned that she was struggling with the additional responsibilities in her new job and in this episode it’s actually focused on as she manages to find pseudoephedrine to keep her awake so she can do all of her work. When Trav comes home and sees her, he is able to see it straight away, where they talk about his own similar past, where he reassures her that she’ll manage her career and family.

Later on he admits to her that he gave Jack drugs shortly before he died, which adds another piece to the puzzle of Jack’s death, especially as the coroner confirmed that his death was an accidental combination of a drug overdose and the head injury he sustained during the training exercise.

Brian and Kath—This episode also further explores Brian and Kath’s marriage as Rusty reveals to Brian that he knows about his affair with Lauren, which subsequently leads to Brian ending their 18-month affair. Brian tells Kath about it and they discuss their open marriage, revealing that they both agreed on it and Brian asks Kath whether she’d agree to close their marriage again, which she eventually does after hooking up with Connor again.

Kath speaks to Lauren at the pub and tells her that Brian did care about her and was even in love. This provides another interesting insight into Brian and Kath’s marriage as not only is it open and Kath knew about Lauren, but she also cares about Lauren and the relationship she has with Brian, which turns the “other woman” cliche on its head, which I appreciated.

Paige and Dan–There wasn’t really much of a focus there, other than the contrast emphasised between the pretty friend of Tahlia’s flirting with Dan at the event and Paige sitting at home eating Nutella out of the jar, and Paige subsequently fighting with him about it when he comes home. When Paige reveals that she has no friends due to the WAGs ditching her and her inability to bond with the other teachers at her school, Dan encourages her to get out more and is later happy for her when she makes up with the WAGs.

Paige, Lauren and the WAGs—Once Rusty reveals to Jessie that Carly went to the press with the affair rumours, the WAGs immediately apologise to Paige, where she takes the opportunity to ask them to have drinks with her. Interestingly, Kath sets rules for the night, which provides a small insight into what life is like for them in the public eye.

Having them go to an old quiet pub, one that Paige suggested, was hilarious considering it provided a great contrast to the lives they live and the type of places they would usually frequent. It is here Tahlia reveals that she knows her way around pubs as she was raised in them by her single mother. Being in the pub also results in Paige catching a student that she’s tutoring trying to drink, the student tries to film and publicly humiliate her and Paige in turn films her in a pub when she’s underage. Ultimately, Tahlia solves her problem by taking the student’s phone away and deleting the footage, putting the young girl in her place.

I did enjoy these scenes as it shows the ladies bonding and provides an insight into them that isn’t about their lives as WAGs. I especially enjoyed them unknowingly bonding over the demise of Brian and Lauren’s affair.

Rusty—There was also a lot of character development with Rusty in this episode. He spends most of the episode acting out of hand by showing up late and vomiting at training, hiding drugs in his locker which Trav sees, which ultimately leads to a fight between the two. Rusty takes things too far, punching Trav and immediately regrets it but Trav doesn’t accept his apology.

After Trav catches Maddie on her drug high, he receives a call from Rusty and goes to see him at the field. Rusty opens up and reveals how he feels about Jessie, or so we think. His revelations seemed to be thrown out the window when Rusty reveals to Neil that he’s gay on the record.

Honestly this revelation surprised me because it came completely out of left field and seemed out of character. There’s been no obvious hints that Rusty is gay, however it could possibly explain his behaviour, his closeness with Jessie could possibly be that he came out to her or she found out about it somehow, and the conversation that Paige overheard could have possibly been about his secret. However to me, using it to cover the affair seems more realistic, albeit a slap in the face to all closeted gay men out there. I’m hoping I eat my words on that last sentence as, if he is gay, it makes his character and his reasons for lying at the inquest more compelling.

 

Overall this was a solid episode with compelling and much needed character development.

 

Stray Observations:

-Trav has the ability to casually hide and carry two full beer bottles in his jumper pockets.

 

Best one liners:

  • “I’m not loving seeing you in a boob sandwich!” (Paige to Dan)
  • “Clear as rum…white rum.” (Paige to Kath)
  • “It’s like a car crash in your mouth and I love it!” (Tahlia describe Paige’s special drink)
  • “I feel like I’m breathing through my eyes!” (Maddie to Trav whilst high on pseudoephedrine)

 

 

Playing for Keeps–Season 1, Episode 3

Since a lot happened in this episode, I’m going to be reviewing it character by character.

Jessie and Rusty—The episode kicks off with Maddy going to see Jessie and discovering a positive pregnancy test in the trash. Although this isn’t touched on until later in the episode, the focus shifts to Rusty’s girlfriend, Carly, at Kath’s house during the next footy game. Carly reveals Rusty has dumped her whilst she’s drunk and hurling insults at Kath and the other WAGs, which leads to Paige taking her home and Carly tells her she thinks Rusty dated her to cover his affair with Jessie.

After Carly and Paige’s interactions, which included Rusty confronting Carly in front of Paige, the news of Jessie and Rusty’s affair becomes public, where Jessie proceeds to confront Paige and even leads to Dan questioning whether she’s trustworthy. After Kath brings up the “rumour” of the affair, Jessie admits Paige came to her as well.

Meanwhile in the middle of this, the inquest is started up again with Rusty having to testify where he lies on the stand, which adds another piece to the puzzle but also doesn’t solve the mystery completely as Connor is now becoming the prime suspect.

The episode ends with Jessie lying to Maddy and telling her the baby isn’t Rusty’s, only for her to call him on her way out of Maddy’s place to meet up with him and break the news.

Tahlia and Connor—Tahlia and Connor’s relationship drama comes second to Jessie and Rusty’s as Connor’s mother, Diane, is introduced. By introducing Diane, the viewers can finally get to know her as a character and see what the strained relationship between her and Tahlia is really like.

Diane is clearly very pretentious, or at least comes across that way, but in comparison to Tahlia is more cultured. Tahlia in return reveals that she comes from a working class family and comes up with the idea of “radical honesty” between them. Tahlia reveals to Diane that she doesn’t like the painting she bought for them and keeps it in the garage until she visits, while Diane reveals she doesn’t think Tahlia is suitable for Connor as she was unfaithful. It’s later revealed that Connor and Tahlia cheated on each other (whether this was during a break in the relationship isn’t made clear).

Connor leaves to see Brian but ends up hanging out with Kath where they end up having sex, which smashes my earlier theory that Kath is Connor’s biological mother. Connor later returns home where he apologies to Tahlia, tells her he will reveal the truth to Diane and offers to wreck the painting, only for Tahlia to stop him as the painting is worth a lot of money.

Kath and Brian—In this episode it’s revealed that Kath and Brian have an open marriage, or at least they know about the other cheating.

Kath goes to see Adam, where he tries to start a relationship with her again only for Kath to remind him that it’s a fantasy and that’s what she pays him for. Adam ends up calling her out, telling her that while being with him carries no obligations, walking away from Brian and the club also carries no obligations for her. On this note, Kath ends her arrangement with Adam, which clearly saddens her and she goes home to wait for Brian. This all while Brian spends the night, a good one, with Lauren which provides a great contrast to the end of Kath and Adam’s arrangement.

Before she hooks up with Connor, she reveals to him that cheating, or at least communicating to each other about it, has helped hers and Brian’s marriage.

Maddy and Trav—In this episode, Maddy has finally found an Au pair that she likes and does a good job in Joanna, which leads to Trav becoming the comic relief in this episode as he’s mad at the kids learning how to play soccer and then at her for washing his “lucky socks”. At the end of the episode he tells Maddy that he’ll apologise to Joanna for his behaviour and that it was never about the socks, but his grief, which Maddy tells him she knows already.

A highlight of their subplot for me was Trav comforting Jessie by opening up about his own grief through the video game he was playing as it shows there’s more to him than the man child that he appears to be.

Paige and Dan—The episode actually didn’t focus much on them, other than Dan finding out how much Paige spent on the high end clothes she purchased in the pilot, and Paige being accused of telling the story of Jessie and Rusty’s affair to the press.

Kath, Maddy and Tahlia question Paige and her honesty after the story breaks, which she obviously didn’t give, however other than Kath borderline threatening her, their questioning of her trust wasn’t explored in this episode, but I know it will be later.

 

Overall this was a solid episode as it was the first one to explore the cracks in each of the WAGs’ lives in a realistic manner, and another piece of the Jack puzzle was added through Rusty’s lies at the inquest.

 

Playing for Keeps–Season 1, Episode 2

Now that the pilot has come and gone and the premise has been established, the show can now focus on its main story arc—the mystery of Jack’s death.

The episode kicks off with Jack’s memorial service, where Rusty is drinking too much and Paige comforts Jessie. When Brian and Kath go home the press are waiting for them and Brian loses his cool, while Kath tries to calmly steer them away, later telling Brian to pull his head in. These moments provided a good insight into how the coach, players and the WAGs handle the press.

Brian reveals to Kath that Jack’s death may not have been an accident as the cause of his head injury doesn’t match with boys’ recount of the events. Jack’s autopsy report shows that he had oxycodone and xanax in his system when he died and he asks Lauren about it. She proceeds to tell him that no competent doctor would prescribe that combination, and Jack tells her he’s not questioning her competence and he’s trying to protect her, she tells him she doesn’t need protection. These moments, as well as her phone call the previous night while Brian’s at home with Kath, and her staring at him from a distance after the first game is over, are the only moments where their affair is touched on, but I digress. Who gave Jack the combination of the meds is one question that’s raised, that’s yet to be answered.

Meanwhile Paige manages to make a few blunders in this episode—telling Jessie that she saw and overheard her and Rusty talking at Brian’s barbecue, which she also tells Dan about, she also starts her first day at her new high school teaching job where her students mock her about a photo of her at Tahlia’s launch that went viral and she has a fight with them (off screen), and she tries to get her boss to meet the players at the lounge only to forget to take her pass with her, and misses being there for Dan. I would have liked to have seen Paige’s apparent fight with the kids, but overall there was some great character development with her.

Tahlia’s subplot was the most interesting one as she finally reveals to Connor that she knows he was adopted, and simultaneously inadvertently reveals this to his mother as Connor forgot to hang up after finishing his phone call with her. Again, I would have liked to have seen what would have been the dramatic fight between them unfold, nevertheless it ended on a good note with Connor admitting to Tahlia that he doesn’t know why he didn’t tell her, and Tahlia reassuring him that she doesn’t care where or rather who he comes from.

Maddy’s subplot wasn’t addressed as much as Paige’s or Tahlia’s. Maddy is having trouble adjusting to her new role at work and Trav goes behind her back and signs on for another year with the club, throwing their plans into disarray. Maddy gets a bit of payback during sex with Trav, a topic that Paige brought up at the beginning of the episode. I’m hoping Maddy and Trav’s relationship is delved into further as the season progresses.

This is also the first episode where a game is played as the season has started, where a minute silence is held for Jack, Paige experiences the corporate box for the first time, and Dan ends up kicking the winning goal in the last few seconds. The green screen effects were a little too obvious, but other than that the minor focus on the game added another layer to the show.

In the final moments of the episode, Brian reveals to Kath that the inquest will be announced next week, and of all people, Dan is the one to reveal that Jack was still alive after his kayak overturned. He also revealed it was Connor’s idea to leave Jack behind floating in the river, and that Dan pushed Rusty out of the way and tried his best to revive him via CPR. This adds another layer to the mystery and confirms the findings of the autopsy report. Personally, I think it’s too easy for the murderer to be Rusty, but I could be wrong, as it was Connor’s idea to leave Jack behind, he’s also a plausible suspect.

Overall this was a solid episode with great character development and slow but fantastic progression on the mystery of Jack’s death.

 

Best one liners and interactions:

  • “I really like your lack of bullshit” “it’s not a conscious choice more of a default setting” (Jessie–Paige)
  • “Red or white?” “I don’t care I love it all!” (Jesse–Paige on wine)
  • “Don’t eat the avocado, I needed something green for show” (Paige to Dan on the breakfast in bed she made him)
  • “I went with a different approach…I started a fight” (Paige’s answer to Kath’s question on how she supported Dan on the morning of his first game).