First seen in Monday’s opening episode, Oona Chaplin reprised her role as the feisty Mia in tonight’s Dates, alongside Ben Chaplin – who often resembled Steve Coogan, which was quite distracting at times.
In my review of the first episode, I wrote, ‘we discovered very little about Mia, therefore making her very difficult to warm to as the only evident character traits were her jealousy and arrogance’. I did speculate, however, that this may change in tonight’s episode and we may find out a little more about her. It turns out that I was right, as within five minutes of the programme beginning it was revealed that Mia is an escort – and she certainly had no qualms about discussing her and Stephen’s previous encounter in intricate detail. After having sex in an alleyway (classy) they escaped the posh restaurant scene, went to a pub and then finally arrived at Stephen’s place of work: the hospital. Here, Mia masqueraded as a nurse and, despite reservations from Stephen, administered antibiotics to an elderly patient. Unfortunately, just as Mia deliberated over whether to continue dating Stephen or go back to David, the patient died, despite efforts from doctors to resuscitate her.
Never mind, though, because Mia claims that it was the fault of neither herself nor Stephen and was more interested in finishing off the night with a peck on the cheek.
As always, this was a really enjoyable episode of Dates. Now that I know the episodes aren’t going to have the fastest of paces, I just relish both watching the chemistry between the two partners grow and predicting whether their time together will be successful. I haven’t guessed correctly so far.
Actually, having said that, I may have predicted one correct outcome as I thought that tonight’s date would go well and it did – sort of. We were left with neither the promise of another meeting nor the confirmation that Mia and Stephen would never be seeing each other again. It was odd but certainly the most successful of the dates so far – and considering this one saw accidental homicide, that’s quite an achievement! After all, the biggest event we’ve seen so far in the series is buggery in the gents’.
We may have seen Mia before but she was so changed in this episode that it was as if we were watching a completely different person. She just seemed a lot more relaxed with Stephen than she did with David – presumably because she had pretty much complete control of this situation, whereas she did not on Monday. Her control may have contributed to her more candid nature in this episode, as she appeared to be concealing a secret when we first saw her, but tonight that secret was revealed: she’s a prostitute. Oh, sorry, ‘escort’.
Mia’s candid nature did not mean she was any more likeable, though. Her blasé attitude to her aforementioned job and frivolity in the hospital, which includes her willingness to risk a patient’s life by injecting them with drugs, was despicable, just as her treatment of David was on Monday.
Stephen wasn’t much better, though. Initially he seemed quite the talkative, cocky charmer but was soon silenced by Mia recognising him from when he had paid her for sex some time ago. He showed an utter lack of professionalism when he allowed his date to treat a frail patient but got his comeuppance in some way when he failed to revive her (the patient, not Mia…).
In the previous two episodes we’ve only seen couples who were incompatible – one was always nervous and kind while the other was secretive and deceptive. However, Stephen and Mia are well matched: they both have related secrets and a reckless nature which can often hurt others. Oh, and they’re not particularly likeable, which is important. Their past could have made their date somewhat awkward and prevented them from getting to know each other properly but it ended up having the opposite effect as they gelled better and quicker than the couples we’ve seen so far in the series.
I feel I should say that I’m aware that I take Dates a little too seriously and perhaps analyse it so meticulously that it could appear that I think it’s real. For the record, I don’t – I just bloody love it.
Ben Schniffer’s script made for another great episode in what is shaping up to be a great series. I’m disappointed that Mia and Stephen’s story has brought us a third of the way through this series of Dates but am looking forward to watching the other episodes (despite the fact that we have to wait until next Tuesday). In fact, my enjoyment of Dates has encouraged me to watch some more programmes related to Channel 4’s Mating Season, such as Dawn O’Porter’s How to Find Love Online (next Tuesday) and documentary series First Dates (next Thursday). So if I treat these fictional first dates as if they’re real, God knows what I’ll make of genuine ones.
Dates will be on over the next few weeks at 10:00pm on Channel 4
What did you think of Dates? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Feel free to comment below or tweet me about this or any other TV show – @UKTVReviewer.
You can also see my recommendations for the coming week’s TV on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.