Love Child–Season 4 Finale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Here Come the Habibs–Season 2, Episode 5 (The Kidney)

This episode was different to the others…it was understated.

Usually the episodes have clear A and B stories and revolve around a scheme (usually Toufic’s) gone awry. However this episode focused purely on one story, with the jokes pulled back. Perhaps this is due to the serious subject matter.

Unfortunately I found the premise of the episode predictable—I knew that Fou Fou’s diagnosis would have turned out to have been a mistake from the first minute, however I was interested in seeing it played out. I felt Fou Fou trying to spoil Mariam and the kids was incredibly sweet and true to his character and I wasn’t surprised that Mustafa spilt the beans, but I felt that everyone’s reaction to the news was hilarious.

I also found the reveal of Jack being a blood type match for Fou Fou  and Olivia using the situation to buy the house back, predictable. That being said I enjoyed how scheming Olivia was in this episode, especially as she was quite zany as opposed to her usual over-the-top serious. I also enjoyed the fact that the ending of the episode left Jack’s fate unknown.

Meanwhile the Elias and Madison (kind of) relationship is touched upon, with Madison trying to drop subtle hints to Elias that she wants to be with him, and Elias finally admitting that he feels the same, only to chicken out. The series has always taken the unconventional route with their relationship by not having them get together straight away, and drawing out their attraction without the cliché obstacles. I have always appreciated this but I am questioning how long this is going to go on for.

Overall I enjoyed how understated this episode was, however I feel it was undermined by its predictability.

 

 

Stray Observations:

-The name mistake at the beginning of the episode was good, subtle foreshadowing.

-The interior of the Habib’s home was on display in this episode, I think they have good taste.

-Fou Fou summing up Toufic in one sentence—“crazy schemes make him happy.”

Toufic’s invention for this episode—downloading Fou Fou’s brain so his personality lives on in the computer.

-Best one liners:

  • “It’s the other big C” (Jahesh)
  • “Shut the door you’re letting the WiFi out” (Toufic)
  • “I’m not racist, I’m O’Neillist” (Fou Fou)

 

 

Speechless–Season 1, Episode 18 (D-I–Ding)

This was a unique episode due to the fact it was in one location and since it was unique, this review will also be unique as I will be doing it character by character.

Maya, Ray and Heather–The episode kicks off with Maya trying to squeeze into a tough parking spot, although she successfully does so, she leaves little room for everyone to get out of the van. Maya squeezes out of the van when Ray notices a ding in the car next to them–Ray believes Maya dinged the car, Maya believes she didn’t, and Ray insists on leaving a note. However the conflict between them kicks off when Ray leaves a note behind her back. I enjoyed the fact that the writers lead the viewers to believe that Maya would be in big trouble, only for Maya to team up with the car’s owner, Heather, to teach Ray a lesson. What I enjoyed even more was the fact that it all lead to Ray making his own and much bigger ‘ding’ later on, and the reveal that Ray never gives Maya the benefit of the doubt.

Jimmy and Dylan–I loved the character development with Jimmy as Dylan reveals to him exactly how many promises he has broken to her and his efforts to make up for it. It’s not very often that we see Jimmy and Dylan team up and the way they did was well done, I especially enjoyed how sneaky Jimmy was with the switch of the Banjo Cola and the root beer. I thought that the ending of their subplot with Dylan not enjoying the taste of the Banjo Cola as much as she use to, was perfect and realistic.

JJ–JJ’s subplot was given less time, however it was significant in that it peeled back another layer of the metaphorical onion–how JJ deals with people who treat him like crap because he has a disability. I think it was typical of JJ’s character to get even with this man by giving him a taste of his own medicine and act as he stated “an object in his way”. It was enjoyable to watch as the man definitely got what he deserved.

Kenneth–My favourite part of the episode was the reveal of Kenneth moonlighting as the supermarket’s weekend manager and how he was watching the events between the other characters unfold rather than being a participant. I felt that the reveal of his second job so he can continue working for the DiMeos and make ends meet to be true to his character, and I loved his reactions and questioning of each character’s antics, as well as making the staff participate in them. I enjoyed the fact that Kenneth is the character with the most power in this episode, especially as he isn’t given much of it when he is working for Maya. I also enjoyed how significant his role in this episode was to the other characters’ subplots–he reveals that Maya did not in fact ding the other car, that Ray never gives Maya the benefit of the doubt, he puts his staff in place in regards to the Banjo Cola, and commends JJ on standing up for himself. I felt that his choice to let the DiMeos leave without paying because it’s more beneficial for everyone to be true to his character, and it perfectly concluded the episode as the family were going to leave the supermarket at some point.

 

Overall this was a solid and understated episode with the singular location, simple premise and character driven plots. I hope there are more episodes like this in the future.

Speechless–Season 1, Episode 17 (S-U-R–Surprise)

I think this was the best episode so far. I’ve come to this conclusion due to the extensive amount of character development in this episode.

I especially enjoyed the character development between Kenneth and Jimmy. While Kenneth’s role when he is not attending to JJ has been explored in previous episodes, this is the first time that the dynamic, or rather non-existent dynamic, between Kenneth and Jimmy has been explored. I felt that the initial awkward moments between them were realistic and their attempts to find common ground hilarious. I enjoyed the BBQ scenes between them and liked the twist at the end of the episode that their common ground was (lightheartedly) insulting each other. I hope their dynamic is explored in future episodes, especially as Kenneth’s dynamic with Maya is a more serious one, whereas with Jimmy he can relax.

I also enjoyed another layer of the metaphorical onion that I’ve been speaking about in my previous reviews, being revealed with the exploration of JJ’s independence for the first time. I felt that JJ’s resentment about being treated as if he was the younger son was realistic and well done. I also enjoyed JJ’s adventure being shown in glimpses throughout the episode, especially the moments where he is seen quickly overcoming obstacles. These moments show how independent and intelligent JJ really is and I hope this is also explored in future episodes.

I loved the character development between Dylan and Maya in this episode, as their relationship really hasn’t been given the spotlight it deserves. I felt that Dylan’s feelings towards a surprise party for her thirteenth birthday were a mystery that had to be solved, and I loved the writers’ choice to have the obvious answer be a red herring. I loved the reveal that Dylan wants Maya all to herself, rather than Maya not being around, as well as the reveal that Dylan tries to be the “easy child” for Maya’s sake. I felt the ending of this subplot was incredibly sweet.

On smaller notes, I found Maya’s seduction techniques to try and have another child were hilarious and I loved JJ’s unique way of standing up for Ray. Although I found the fact that Ray and JJ forgot Dylan’s birthday to be unrealistic.

Overall this was the best episode I’ve seen so far and I think I can safely label it as a favourite.

Love Child–Season 4, Episode 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here Come the Habibs–Season 2, Episode 4 (Middle East Side Story)

This episode was a definite improvement to last week.

I believe this episode had the most character development in the series to date. The A story focused on Mariam and Fou Fou’s marital dynamic, and Jack and Mariam’s friendship. With the B story the focus is on Layla’s campaign for school captain, and the unlikely and until now unexplored dynamic between her and Olivia.

I stated in a previous review that I hoped to see “Middle East Side Story” in a further episode and thankfully it was. What I enjoyed the most was that the musical was the foundation for exploring Mariam and Fou Fou’s marital dynamic, as well as Jack and Mariam’s friendship, as these dynamics have never fully been explored before.

I enjoyed the exploration of Mariam and Fou Fou’s marital dynamic as they are usually in the background of the series, with the kids’ antics being front and centre. Many of the show’s married viewers, especially women, would have related to Mariam’s frustration at no-one helping out with the housework while she was doing something for herself. I appreciated that Mariam called Fou Fou out on his behaviour and in turn, Fou Fou trying to change his way of thinking, not because I’m a woman but because it shows a marriage between equals. Usually in sitcoms the husbands are portrayed as idiotic and the wives in charge and constantly annoyed by them. While there is nothing wrong with this on its own I feel it’s been overdone, so it’s nice to see that it’s not the case here.

Meanwhile Jack and Mariam’s friendship was briefly explored last season with the invention of the Anzaclava, so it was nice to see both their friendship and the Anzaclava make a reappearance in the same episode. I appreciated that the kiss on stage between them was awkward to prove that there was no sexual tension between them, which again is something that is overdone in other shows, and it lead to my favourite moment of the episode. I found Fou Fou and Olivia’s kiss hilarious, especially Fou Fou declaring that he “too can play that game” and just going for it.

I found that the B story was solid, especially as Layla is another character that hasn’t been fully explored. I appreciate that the school scenes provides another location for the series to explore, especially since the series’ focus has generally been on the “war” between Olivia and Fou Fou at their homes. While Layla is clearly a strong woman, it’s nice to see another side to her, especially a vulnerable one. While she’s popular it’s obvious that she feels she doesn’t fit in, and I loved how she spoke up and did something about it. Layla’s plausible solution to her problem by running for school captain is refreshingly realistic and a great contrast to Toufic’s over-the-top business ideas.

Layla’s campaign strategies and promises were typical of her character and while I don’t condone Olivia’s behaviour, it was nice to see her go after someone else for a change. How Olivia is still President of the P&C when Madison is no longer at school is beyond me, but considering the pay off, I’ll give it a pass. I found the reveal of Olivia sabotaging Layla by hiding the ballot box in her car to be predictable, but I hope that the writers show Layla in action as school captain in later episodes.

Toufic, Jahesh, Elias and Madison were in the background in this episode, which I personally didn’t mind as they are usually front and centre. I also found it a little ironic that Toufic’s latest business venture wasn’t front and centre, as it was his most successful one to date. I found that the requests that Wogalong were receiving added subtle but necessary humorous moments throughout the episode, and the pay off with the forbidden speaker sales and the Anzaclavas being sold was well done.

 

Stray Observations:

  • Toufic’s invention for this episode–The Wogalong business.
  • Best one liners–“Lebanese Meryl Streep!” (Fou Fou) and “Beirut Barbie” (Olivia).
  • Apparently Layla constantly refers to her classmates as posh zombies.
  • Typical Jack overdoing the stage make-up.

 

 

 

 

Love Child–Season 4, Episode 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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