Of course there was comedy. Throw a live and pretty aggressive ostrich into a country home full of antiques, stomping down pretty corridors and imprisoning two consenting pairs of adults – even if one of them is encumbered by an eight year old girl – and you’ve got comedy. Chuck in Lloydy at his most Lloydy-esque, alternating between pure Lloydy dumbness and an amazingly astute naive perception and all the ingredients were there, and I laughed as I always do.
But this week, with the end of the series peeking round the corner there was yet more of the pain of human existence, of things working themselves through for good or ill with the inevitability of, well, life, and its amazing ability to fuck with us.
Threre was no place this week for soon-to-be-ex-Sergeant Polson or the commission-resigned former-Lieutenant Rundle, but there was a space for the internally collapsed Mr Wang, who never wanted to run a restaurant and who is now wandering the Roman Holiday, almost permanently drunk and insulting his customers, leaving Eric as his pillar of stability. Until, that is, he overhears Ally mentioning to Spock that Dawn has gone off for the weekend with his ex-mate Hodge. It’s the old, old story and Eric explodes and races off in the Noodle Van.
And indeed it’s true. Except it’s not true that way. Jeanetta and Declan are married, and are moving to accomodate his new job. Firth hides where that’s to be until the back half of the episode, when Hodge is admitting to Mel his feelings about his ‘god-daughter’, who’s going to Manchester. Aw-hey, marra, it’s not like you’ll never see her again. No, this is the Manchester that’s ninety miles up the Pacific coast of America from San Francisco, and yes, he probably won’t see her again.
It’s a last weekend, Hodge and Kirsty, with Dawn to look after any ‘female’ issues. Two friends, both at odds with the same mate. Hodge can make it up with Eric but won’t, Dawn wants nothing more out of the whole of her life and can’t.
Where does the ostrich – whose name is Sandra, incidentally – come in? Well, as the tirtle suggests, she’s Diesy’s. An investment opportunity, the profit on the eggs. Except that Diesy’s been visiting Sandra, feeding her grain by hand, and when the company falls out with the farmer and proposes to move her to Belgium, Diesy steals her, with the aid and collusion of Lloydy (who else?) and that walking disaster, Mel. They stick her in the shed at Jeanetta’s place.
It gets complicated here, but Hodge has planned the perfect last weekend for himself and his daughter and instead of Dawn he ends up with Mel, iconoclastic, uncaring, unthinking Mel, fucking the whole thing up. Until it twigs in her head that she is messing things up by encouraging Kirsty to ignore Hodge and not do what he says.
Caroline Catz has already turned up to breakfast in a shortie dressing gown and now, just when Eric arrives, spoiling for a fight, she’s wandering around in one of Hodge’s t-shirts and nowt else (nice legs). It’s all to do with painting Lloydy’s van, you see. This is where Sandra breaks loose. Hodge, who is bare-chested because he hasn’t brought more than the one t-shirt scrambles intohis bedroom with Kirsty and Mel, whilst Dawn drags Eric into her bedroom. They’re all trapped until Lloydy saves the day with the most unlikely fake ostrich you could ever mention.
Hodge is hurting, badly. It’s all going wrong. But Mel, finally demonstrating an understanding of something more than booze and fags, sets out to smooth the turbulent waters she’s created, and begins an easing process that draws her and him together as two scruffy, damaged adults who are starting to see something more than bodies in each other.
Meanwhile, in bedroom number 2, Dawn is facing Eric’s jealousy with her own agonies. He thinks she’s there to shag Hodge. She’s demanding he show the evidence that Hodge’s things are in this room, pulling out empty drawers, throwing them on the floor, her voice cracking, preferring to face the ostrich than his suspicion. It ends where it has to end, in bed, slaking passion and relief, and with Dawn pointing out that Eric’s inability to wire plugs is no barrier to their marrying.
We’re nearly there. Things are binding up. Issues are resolving. Eric asks Hodge to be his best man. Lloydy philosophises that Sandra is Diesy’s substitute for his loopy little brother Lennie, who’s converted to Islam and is now working on a kibbutz (don’t think about that one too closely). Hodge’s trying to get Kirsty to keep the ostrich a secret from her mother. To do so, he has to swear something with her, as Kirsty has done with her best friend Rebecca. It involves a secret hand gesture and the words ‘You and me. Forever’. Hodge stumbles over these but braves up and says them. From outside, Jeanetta sees her daughter and the man who is the little girl’s unlikely but utterly devoted father together. She’s already having qualms about separating them. She turns to the Estate Agent and takes the house off the market. They’re not moving.
And that leaves one.