The Secret Daughter–Season 2, Episode 5 + Season 2 Finale (20 Good Reasons + Hearts on Fire)

So the Seven Network decided once again to air two episodes of The Secret Daughter at once, and this week we have the penultimate episode and season finale aired together.

These episodes dealt with Gus’ life threatening heart surgery, Marc’s app launch, and Marc and Billie’s developing relationship.

At the start of the double episode, Billie holds off dealing with her career because of her concerns over Gus’ surgery. Overall I felt that the Gus subplot alternated between being full of cliches and turning these cliches on their head. For example, Gus suffering a complication that could have killed him is a cliche but he lived albeit with the uncertainty of whether he suffered brain damage. The biggest example of this is Gus waking up not knowing who Billie is only to reveal he was joking to lighten the mood. Throughout this subplot, I wasn’t sure whether Gus was going to live, I thought it would be an obvious outcome, however it would have been a cliche if he died. Overall I’m glad he wasn’t killed off.

I found the Eclipse subplot to be more interesting. In the penultimate episode we are finally told what Eclipse was—-a business deal involving a Walperinga mine, which lead to Jack buying the hotel via insider trading. The irony of Gus knowing about the mine and having briefly known Jack was a nice touch.

I felt the kids’ choice to ultimately posthumously turn Jack in was an obvious outcome and I enjoyed how it lead to a downfall of sorts for Susan. The question of how much of a gold digger Susan is, if she is one, was raised again and more so in this episode than any other. While Billie points out Susan did love Jack and have a daughter with him, she is also very quick to marry Andrew to take over the hotel and hold on to the Norton riches. Nick’s betrayal after Susan laughs off his marriage proposal was a nice and necessary touch to her downfall. In regards to her downfall, I felt Gordon played it incredibly well, especially as I thought a few times throughout the episode that Susan would commit suicide.

I felt that Susan accidentally setting the fire in the cellar and Billie saving her was predictable but also well done. I thought that the whole hotel would burn down which would get everyone out of hot water but also leave them with nothing. One letdown of this subplot, as well as the episode ending, was the lack of clarity of the consequences of Jack’s actions, but I’ll come back to the ending.

The Marc and Billie subplot provided some great comedic moments, however it wasn’t interesting overall due to the predictability of the outcome. They were going to get together, it was only a matter of time and circumstance, in this case Marc’s app launch and Gus’ surgery. Fields and Sweeny had great comedic chemistry, with Gus seeing right through Marc and providing him with a suggestion to calm his nerves, and calling each other by other names when Gus recovers.

In regards to the finale, season and possible series ending, I didn’t see it coming at all. Chris and Vivienne purchasing the Walperinga pub instead of a house was a nice twist, and conveniently provides a home for the Nortons after the fire. I felt that the ending as a whole was a good full circle, with the series as a whole ending where it started—-Billie singing at the Walperinga pub with her band, however with the slight difference that she now has a family around her and that they have changed each other’s lives for the better. Although Susan tells Gus she’s bored as Billie is singing away, even she has a small smile on her face.

Overall these two episodes were well done and the season as a whole was an improvement on last year’s, especially with Billie’s confirmation as a Norton, however it did feel rushed. Although I felt this way due to the Network’s choice to air the season over three weeks, rather than anything to do with the writing itself.

I’m hoping this isn’t the last season, however if it is, The Secret Daughter has certainly gone out on a high note.


Stray Observations:

-Aunty’s brief descriptions of the Nortons and Layla based on what Billie has told her about them sums them up perfectly—–charmer (Jamie), workaholic (Chris), spirited sister (Harriet) and best friend (Layla).

-Gus has given Susan the nickname of “Susie”.

-Matt’s declaration of love to Layla was the funniest one I have ever seen on TV.




Sisters–Season 1, Episode 5

So Edie’s secret is out or at least to Tim anyway.

While Edie’s secret was bound to come out eventually, I was surprised by the writers’ choice to not only have Edie reveal her secret of her own volition but also to have the majority of the episode revolved around it. While it was never in Julia to spill her secret, I was honestly expecting her secret to come out via the cliche method of a stranger or a work colleague exposing it. By having Edie expose her secret to Tim, the ramifications of it are dealt with on her own terms, which is more interesting by far than having the choice taken out of her hands.

The exposure of Edie’s secret enables for humorous scenes of sisterly bonding with another reveal, a surprising one, that Roxy is still a virgin, as well as providing a distraction from the IVF scandal. As this is episode five and there are two more to go, I think it was a good time in the season to have the distraction and to enable serious character development.

I felt that the soundtrack choices in the moments leading up to Edie telling Tim the truth were excellent, Edie’s collapse and subsequent almost catatonic state was thrilling, and Amanda’s anger at Edie’s naivety justified. Despite the good portrayal by all three actors, I felt Edie’s request to Julia to not sleep with Tim was unreasonable, and that Tim’s reactions and choices were entirely unrealistic altogether until the moment that he broke down in Carl’s office. One writing nitpick I have about this whole A story was the fact that no explanation was given as to why Edie cracked in the first place. The most obvious explanation would be her declaration of her feelings to Amanda, however this isn’t made crystal clear.

On smaller notes, I felt the scene between Isaac and Julia didn’t really add anything to the episode as the ramifications on the Institute that Isaac mentions never actually played out. I also felt that the introduction of Abraham as the possible first IVF child was also a letdown as it was never confirmed whether he was the first child, and he is never mentioned again in the episode once he has been introduced.

An interesting and underrated moment in this episode for me was the moment that Roxy was called out for stealing Julius’ pain medication by Oscar only for Kasey to cover for her. This moment shows that Oscar is more observant than he lets on, possibly due to working in aged care, as well as the fact that, at least for now, Kasey has no intention of taking advantage of Roxy’s problem. This moment is especially important as Edie and Roxy unsuccessfully try to get Julia to deal with Kasey’s unwillingness to take the DNA test.

Overall this was an interesting episode but not a spectacular one, especially as there was a great amount of potential for subplots and story arcs that weren’t explored, it felt like a filler that is paving the way for the final two episodes.


Stray Observations:

-I was seriously bothered by the fact that Edie was lying on the floor and no-one bothered to call an ambulance to make sure she was okay.

-I’m also seriously annoyed by the fact that Kasey still hasn’t been confirmed as another sister.

-Julia’s nickname for Edie is “Eeds”.

-Ron makes a reappearance but Diane doesn’t.

-Julia pays another visit to her mother’s grave.

-Genevieve’s Huntington’s Disease diagnosis isn’t touched on in this episode.

-While Carl is clearly a bit of a jerk he is not a complete jerk as he doesn’t take advantage of Roxy, that being said I would have liked to have known why he wasn’t interested in her.

Best one liners:

  • “In jail…you know how we feel about that” (Oscar to Julia on visiting Abraham).
  • “I’m a virgin, I don’t know why” (Roxy).
  • “You two are in for a shitty couple of months” (Genevieve to Tim and Edie).
  • “If it’s any consolation, you two would have had lovely children…with extra hands” (Oscar to Julia on her and Sam).

The Secret Daughter–Season 2, Episode 3 + 4 (Rear View Mirror + Just Another Love Song)

So this episode was a double episode apparently.

This episode took the characters and the focus back to Walperinga as Layla has organised for the old band, Cardiac Arrest, to play at the pub with Billie. While they’re all there, they also run into Gus in the most hilarious way, but I’ll get to that.

I liked the writers’ choice to break the season up with the change of scenery, especially as it enabled Billie to run into Gus and for the truth about his failing health to finally come out. While I was expecting a cancer diagnosis, I was actually pleasantly surprised for the reveal to be a genetic health condition as a cancer diagnosis would be a bit of a cliche. Billie’s efforts and pleas to get him to have surgery were heartbreaking and well played.

Another interesting aspect of the episode was Chris and Billie reading and trying to figure out her contract with the record company. While Chris and Billie have had brief scenes together, this is the first time that we see them having in-depth conversations and interactions. Despite his tough exterior and initial distrust of her last season, Chris clearly loves Billie and cares deeply about her professional well-being by warning her of the contract risks, going with her to Walperinga to help her understand it within the time limit, and trying to re-negotiate it altogether. I enjoyed the scenes in the car between Chris, Matt and Billie, as Chris reveals the contract risks to Billie, showing how much their relationship as siblings has progressed.

His relationship with Billie is not the only character development we see in Chris, in fact this episode was almost entirely devoted to it. As Matt continues to watch the video made by their late mother, he discovers that Chris wanted Jack’s approval and Chris discovers that Matt is still watching the video to his horror, which leads to him starting a physical fight with Matt. The fight scenes between them were both funny and hard to watch in their realism, especially as Chris has never been shown as violent. The most enjoyable moment of these scenes was ultimately Billie pulling them both by the hair to break the fight up.

Despite his limited scenes, Gus stole every single one of them with his both hilarious and heartbreaking antics. I certainly didn’t see the reveal of the fact that his doctor is also Layla’s mum coming,  however I also felt that Gus’ desire to die and subsequently changing his mind when he hears Billie sing was a cliche.

When Chris, Matt, Billie and Layla return, they are blindsided by the arrival of Matt’s ex-girlfriend, Anna. While I know Susan brought her back into the picture purely to get her way, in writing terms Anna’s introduction was forced and rushed to enable the equally rushed inevitable break-up between Matt and Layla. I felt that the hiking scenes were only inserted for the purpose of the break-up.

Anna’s return isn’t the only thing that four of them are blindsided by, while it’s of no surprise to the viewer, the record company’s true colours and intentions are inadvertently revealed to Billie, Chris and Layla, which predictably but rightly results in her tearing up the contract. Due to the obvious outcome of this subplot and Marc’s request earlier in the episode to have her sing at his event, I see a record contract through Marc coming.

Throughout it all Harriet and Susan’s deteriorating relationship is faintly present throughout the episode with Harriet’s choice to throw a party when Susan leaves and the subsequent consequences, and Susan’s dinner and hook-up with the potential hotel buyer, Andrew Weston. I appreciated the writers’ choice to have their relationship in the background of this episode as it didn’t really add to it, however Susan’s actions, especially of Andrew’s cliche proposal, will eventually play out in a later episode, most likely the finale. I also appreciated the writers’ choice not to focus on Marc and Billie’s developing relationship, as I felt it would have taken away from the Walperinga subplot.

Overall this was one of the best episodes of The Secret Daughter that I’ve seen to date due to the change of scenery, change of focus, and character development with Chris, as well as the development of the sibling relationship between him, Matt and Billie.


Stray Observations:

-Gus riding a lawn mower and eventually jumping over the fence into random people’s backyards, complete with snatching a snag at a BBQ and being hosed down, has to be the funniest police chase I’ve ever seen.

-I enjoyed watching Chris chugging beer in the pub along with Billie’s subsequent reaction.

-Billie didn’t interact with Harriet and Susan at all, at least not directly and on her own, in this episode.

Best one liners:

  • “I always knew how easy he was on me but I didn’t know how tough he was on you.” (Matt to Chris on Jack as a father).

The Secret Daughter–Season 2, Episode 2 (Respect)

This episode picks up where we left off and focuses more on the minor characters–especially Harriet and Layla.

Harriet’s anger at Susan for her ignoring her needs, as well as her treatment of Billie, comes to a head when she looks into “divorcing” Susan and trying to sell her share of the motel–both of which she tries without success.  Interestingly when she has the chance to get away from her mother in a realistic and more successful way, she reconsiders, which I’m hoping is played out later as it was left unresolved in this episode.

The bigger focus was on Layla trying to find independence and ultimately remove the label of “gold digger” that Susan put on her in the previous episode. I felt that her dissatisfaction with her life at the hotel and her attempts to find work were portrayed realistically for the most part, with the exception of the scene at the gardening shop which I felt was predictable. I appreciated the outcome of Billie and Layla moving out into their own place as it provides potential for character development and for great scenes away from the hotel.

The most interesting aspects of the episode for me were ultimately the ones that weren’t fully explored–Chris’ career dreams and Katrina, Jack’s first wife and the boys’ mother. Obviously her video diaries will lead to some sort of twist or obstacle in the overall story, however this is yet to be revealed, I did enjoy Chris’ and Matt’s reaction to seeing their mother again, especially Chris’, as Katrina was never mentioned and Chris’ character development wasn’t really explored in the previous season. I’m looking forwarding to seeing these aspects explored further.

On smaller notes, Gus has returned to Walperinga and his seemingly failing health is yet to be addressed. Also, I feel that Marc and Billie’s burgeoning relationship, if you will, is developing too quickly and that the writers are quickly demolishing the tension between them. I did enjoy their scenes in the bar, especially with the writers’ choice to turn the “man saving woman from a brute” cliche on its head by having Billie save herself and then make it clear to Marc that she doesn’t need saving. That being said while no viewer likes sexual or romantic tension to drag out, at the same time it’s not satisfying if it’s demolished too quickly. I also enjoyed Billie’s photo shoot at the studio, however due to the boss’ demands to have her photos severely altered in PhotoShop, specifically to lighten her skin, I see a sad betrayal-like outcome on the horizon.

I felt that the episode’s ending of Susan about to tell her solicitor of her plans to cut everyone out of the estate shows a lot of promise for future episodes–both for this developing story arc and for Susan’s character, especially as Harriet is calling her out on her behaviour and her jealousy of Billie is becoming transparent.

Overall this was one of the most interesting episodes I’ve seen, especially as the focus was more on the minor characters rather than the main players.



Stray Observations:

-The requests to have Billie’s photos severely altered in PhotoShop provides a sad but realistic glimpse into the expectations of women and their looks in the entertainment industry.

-The Walperinga Band (forgive me I can’t remember their name) that Billie was a part of makes a reappearance.

Best one liners:

  • “I like you so much better now that we don’t have to pretend” (a drunk Susan to Billie).
  • “You’re a shocking liar, honesty suits you better.” (Marc to Billie)
  • “For future reference, I don’t need saving.” (Billie to Marc)



Sisters–Season 1, Episode 4

This episode mainly revolved around Julia, Edie, Roxy and even Genevieve, being interviewed for a piece on the obvious A Current Affair spoof, Sunday Spotlight. I felt Natasha’s (Jane Hall) calls to everyone was a nice thread throughout, with it coming to a hilarious head when the piece airs with Genevieve’s anecdote on Edie’s experience at a nudist beach and her apparent subsequent obsession with penises. When Roxy wanted to promote her single on the show, I was expecting a reveal that she doesn’t have singing talent, however it was nice to see that she does have talent and it lead to the disastrous but hilarious piece ending on a happy note. Overall, the Sunday Spotlight subplot provided hilarious moments, but between Genevieve’s interview, the lack of content from the girls themselves and Roxy’s oddly inserted single promotion, it didn’t really come together to form a coherent piece of journalism, even though it was fictional.

Meanwhile, Julia is digging deeper into the IVF scandal and actually formulating a formal timeline of each IVF child through Julius’ photo gallery, with her and Isaac deducing that Julius was using his own sperm from 1978 until 1987. To me this was the most interesting development in the episode and it left me wondering whether both the first and last child will show themselves next week, especially as it was a bit of a letdown that they weren’t revealed this week. Another letdown was the question of why Julius started using his own sperm being left unanswered.

Just as I was feeling disappointed that Kasey didn’t appear in this episode, especially as the previous one revolved around her, sure enough she showed up at Julius’ physio session with Oscar. Again it hasn’t been established whether she actually is Julius’ child due to her reluctance to take the DNA test, I’m wondering how long that’s going to be dragged out for, not to mention I find it unrealistic that Julia would allow her to stay with them if she’s so reluctant to prove herself as her sister. However Kasey is emerging as an interesting character, despite the fact that her character is currently “flat”—she’s a little odd, possibly a con artist, yet she hasn’t shown any malicious intent towards anyone, despite her reluctance to prove she is another sister. That being said whether she uses her witnessing Roxy stealing Julius’ pills to her advantage remains to be seen.

Another interesting aspect in this episode was Zanetti’s choice to have discovery of Edie’s secret touched on but not directly addressed, through Tim’s inadvertent guess and suspicions of Edie’s true sexual nature. Tim asking Amanda about her “gaydar” and Edie’s sexuality, and subsequently quitting her job added some great tension, however I found the opportunity for Edie to reveal herself only to end up deflecting to be a cliche.

While I’m yet to receive confirmation that next week’s episode is the season finale (I suspect it isn’t due to the network not promoting it as such or whether my count of what episode we’re up to is off), I am getting the impression that the end of the season is coming as certain tensions and story arcs are coming to head, specifically the Edie story arc. In this episode, Edie’s secret nearly comes out, her mother reveals that she has Huntington’s Disease (and therefore it’s possible Edie has it) and she realises she has fallen for Amanda. I didn’t see the Huntington’s Disease reveal coming and it will be interesting to see it played out.

Overall this was a mostly solid episode, an improvement on last week, however there were a few too many letdowns, specifically the lack of reveal of the first and last IVF children, whether Kasey is another sister, and why Julius started it all in the first place.


Stray Observations:

-Interestingly Ron and Diane didn’t make an appearance (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall seeing them), I thought this would be the episode where they would want to be front and centre.

-Genevieve makes possibly the most hilarious reappearance after not being present in the previous episode.

-Sam makes a reappearance with the reveal that his marriage has broken down, however whether this is because his wife found out about his encounter with Julia in the pilot wasn’t made clear.

-Genevieve’s anecdote on Edie’s nudist beach experience made me think of the penile impression scene at the beginning of Bridesmaids.

-Not that I condone drug use/abuse, but Roxy is funny when she’s high.

-Julia cleaning up nasty graffiti at her home was another subtle reference to the consequences of the saga.

-Both Julius and Julia visited Julia’s mother’s grave.

-Loving the bonding sessions between Oscar and Julius, I hope we see more of them.

Best one liners:

  • “In aged care we call this fake sleeping” (Oscar on Julius).
  • “Making up is good” (Roxy to Edie and Julia after their first fight as sisters).
  • “It was circumcised, it did look aggressive” (Genevieve on Edie seeing a penis for the first time at a nudist beach).

The Secret Daughter–Season 2 Premiere (Always on My Mind)

As it has been a year since the season 1 finale aired, I had to re-read my review on it to be able to review this episode, even though Mauboy provided a voiceover summary of the season at the beginning.

My review of the finale focused on Harriet’s misguided actions and mistakes to keep Billie around, Susan pretending to be nice to Billie in an effort to avoid a lawsuit by her, Billie performing in Jack’s Bar in front of a record producer (portrayed by INXS’ Kirk Pengilly), Billie finding out that she’s not a Norton and discovering it was okay for her to have feelings for Jamie, Billie running away with Gus, and Susan lying about her departure to Jamie.

The episode kicks off with Billie and Gus travelling home on the train and apparently according to Susan, a couple of weeks have passed since the finale. I’m not sure if this is a continuity error (especially as there are unfortunately a few in this episode) or whether Billie and Gus just took their sweet time getting back home.

I felt it was an interesting choice to have the episode briefly focus on Billie finding another side to her family through her mother, unfortunately I felt it was just a distraction away from the Norton side of things. It felt forced and awfully convenient, especially the moment Aunty tells Billie to go back to the city. That being said, the moments from this brief subplot paid off with subtlety throughout the episode, with the warm welcome Billie received from her mother’s side of the family contrasting beautifully with her tension with Susan. I felt that the photo of Billie as child confirming that she is in fact a Norton was a nice throwback to the pilot, not to mention a full circle way to provide the confirmation.

Meanwhile back in the city, it’s revealed that Hannah’s actions in last year’s penultimate episode and finale are now common knowledge to Chris and Jamie. I actually enjoyed the moments of sibling bonding between Chris, Jamie and Billie throughout the episode, as it was something that couldn’t be touched on last season due to the uncertainty of whether Billie was really a Norton. I also enjoyed the moments between Billie and Susan as they are finally addressing Susan’s hatred for Billie. Billie’s choice to stick around wasn’t a surprise, there would be no season if she didn’t. These moments contrast beautifully with tense moments between Susan and Harriet, as Harriet inadvertently exposed Susan’s airport lie to the family.

It didn’t surprise me that Kirk Pengilly didn’t reappear as the record producer and that another opportunity to start a singing career was presented to Billie, as it’s a reason to keep her in the city and with the Nortons. Unfortunately I felt that her dance performance in the record company’s office was cheesy and over-the-top.

On smaller notes, I appreciated that Billie and Jamie’s feelings were addressed especially at Layla’s hand, although I found it weird that Layla and Jamie would still date after that. My favourite moment of the episode was actually Layla locking Jamie and Billie out so they can deal with it, and her subsequently watching them via the CCTV cameras, alongside Chris at the reception desk. I also loved Billie and Jamie’s thumbs up to the camera, knowing that they were being watched. I also appreciated the hints of Gus suffering from a yet-to-be-identified serious health condition, which will obviously be explored this season.

The addition of James Sweeny to the cast as the wealthy Marc Laurent will hopefully provide a breath of fresh air to the series. I felt Marc and Billie’s first and second meetings to be cliche, and apparently he’s been introduced as a love interest for Billie, so it will be interesting to see how this is played out throughout the season.

Overall I felt this was a good but not great season premiere, I felt that the closure of the Billie-Jamie subplot and the confirmation of Billie as a Norton after all of the sample-swap drama from last season, was messy. That being said, I’m looking forward to seeing what this season will bring.


Stray Observations:

-The train that Billie and Gus were travelling on certainly looks nicer than those on offer through NSW TrainLink.

-The little girl that Billie’s Aunty says is her niece would actually be her second cousin (continuity error).

Best one liners:

  • “It’s easy to be good on you” (Jamie to Billie).
  • “I guess that goes for you too” (Aunty to Gus in regards to his place in Billie’s mother’s family).

Sisters–Season 1, Episode 3

So there’s a potential new sister.

In all honesty Kasey’s (Emily Barclay) appearance was a real let down. She only appears sporadically throughout the episode, being an imposition to Julia, and whether she is Julius’ daughter is never established. While the writers would be leaving this open to keep the arc going, I felt that the build up and the lingering feeling weren’t established well enough or strong enough to justify dragging it out.

I felt that Julia feeling overwhelmed at the situation was predictable, as it was inevitable and hinted at in the previous episode. I also felt the scenes with her trying to find relief fell flat, as the outcome of trying to hook up with a man who turned out not to be her sibling, only for him to be married with a family, was predictable. However these predictable moments redeemed themselves, when they lead to the most surprising moment of the episode of Julia catching Edie and Amanda in the act on her way home.

I felt that the MVP of this episode was Roxy, the focus was more on her whilst Julia and Edie were really in the background this week. Roxy genuinely tries to look after and have fun with Julius, with her own problems resurfacing in the process as she is becoming addicted to drugs again, which comes to a head when Ron sees this (but not Diane) when she returns to work.

On smaller notes, the brief emotional moments involving Mr Browning added another side to the IVF saga, by exploring how paternity would be made clear for an IVF child who has died. It was also an interesting moment for Julia as she steps up and is there for a stranger, rather than someone she knows, who is affected by the saga. I also felt that the parallel of Tim and Julia’s history and sexual tension, and Edie and Amanda’s sexual tension and kiss was executed perfectly. Also Roxy and Julius getting high, and the reveal of the origin of Tim’s “cleaning in undies” fantasy were the comic highlights of the episode.

Overall this episode wasn’t terrible but it did fall a little flat, in all honesty it felt like a filler.


Stray Observations:

-Roxy getting Julius into Snapchatting was gold.

-WWJD, no not Jesus, What Would Julia Do?

-Roxy got her “princess with a hammer” wishes at work.

-Genevieve (Catherine McClements) didn’t appear in this episode, but judging by the promo it looks like she’s going to cause trouble next week.

-Ron and Diane only appeared briefly and surprisingly Ron was the one to make the biggest decision in regards to the class action.

-Roxy felt like a middle sister when she was sitting between Edie and Julia at breakfast and trying to get them to be more optimistic.

Best one liners:

  • “I’m driving a car with no brakes heading into a tidal wave of shit” (Julia).
  • “Date guys whose DNA tested negative, easy!” (Isaac to Julia on how to avoid accidentally dating another sibling).
  • “I’m just a lady that’s really good at avoiding her own life.” (Julia)