RECAP & REVIEW: This is England ’90 – Episode 3 (‘Autumn’)

So what happened?

Essentially, everything fell apart. Lol and Woody decided to invite their family and close friends around for lunch before Combo was due to be released from jail and come to stay with them, in order for her to come clean about killing her father and how he’d been prepared to take the blame for her. Naturally the stunned silence soon gave way to disbelief and then anger as Kelly refused to accept that her Dad’s death had been precipitated by him raping her best friend, Trev, and then attacking Lol when she went to confront him after years of being abused by him herself. With them unable to calm her down, and her unwilling to admit to herself that she too was molested by him, she storms off and leaves the couple to be confronted by Milky, who, understandably, refuses to have his daughter living in the same house as the man who beat him up and left him for dead in a racist attack a few years earlier. In spite of their protestations that Combo has changed since he’s been in prison, he insists on having his little girl over to stay with him and apparently has some sort of attack planned for the ex-con that he postpones at the last minute because it’s not the right time to go ahead with it.

Combo's (Stephen Graham) release from prison has opened a can of worms.
Combo’s (Stephen Graham) release from prison has opened a can of worms.

Amongst all the darkness, there were welcome shards of light too. After being God knows where for a week, Kelly finally landed at Harvey and Gadget’s flat where they both rallied round her after finding out what had happened with her sister, even uncharacteristically running a hoover over the place to make it more accommodating for her. There was also movement in the impasse between Shaun and his Mum this week as they headed off together to meet up with some of his Dad’s old army friends and their spouses, his hilarious indignation at the fact he’d been born in Scotland, was therefore Scottish and that unbelievably she’d never told him aside. The icing on the cake came in the form of his acceptance letter onto the photography course after someone else had dropped out. Amidst all the anxiety over their revelations, Woody and Lol had something to celebrate as well, when he proposed to her with a ring fashioned out of bright green plasticine, whilst their new house guest enjoyed the new found freedom of being able to take a bath upstairs.

Lol (Vicky McClure) and Woody (Joe Gilgun) contemplating an uncertain future after their revelations and surprise engagement.
Lol (Vicky McClure) and Woody (Joe Gilgun) contemplating an uncertain future after their revelations and surprise engagement.

The Verdict?

If I had to describe ‘Autumn’ in two words they’d be ‘intensely moving’. The twenty minute scene around the dining room was a masterclass in improv acting by all involved, and is sure to be etched into the minds of many people who watched for years to come. It really did pack a powerful punch in it’s realistic portrayal of how sometimes those who are inextricably linked are the least equipped to be able to communicate with each other, and how emotions can cloud judgement. It was also great to see¬†Stephen Graham back as Combo with his unassuming gravitas, although with his return comes the sense that things are about to change irrevocably and not for the better. I desperately want to see these characters have some sort of a happy ending, especially Lol and Woody who have just given themselves another chance to actually go through with their wedding this time after the failed attempt four years previously, but with Milky’s temper apparently about to explode in a violent fashion, and Kelly yet to reveal her own abuse to her family and friends, to me¬†this episode had the whiff of a Shakespearian tragedy about to unfold. I just hope I’m wrong.

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