In tonight’s Dates, Gemma Chan starred as Erica, a young woman who, struggling to confront her sexuality, meets up with Kate (Katie McGrath).
After engaging in small talk, Erica briefly mentioned that her ex-partner was a man – a fact that Kate was immediately irritated by. Having had her lifestyle choice rudely rubbished by her date, Erica decided to flit out of the club but was stopped by Kate, who convinced her to stay and get drunk.
A dance and a kiss later, the pair woke up in bed together, where Erica confessed that she is often economical with the truth and only dates and sleeps with men in order to prevent her family from discovering her sexuality. Once again, this angered Kate, who encouraged Erica to simply say ‘I’m gay’ – after all, ‘it’s just words’. Once Erica had said the words that Kate wanted to hear, they both agreed to get something to eat.
Seems like a bit of an anti-climax, doesn’t it? Well, I deliberately haven’t included the ending in my overview just in case you happen to be reading this and haven’t seen this episode yet. The ending is so good that I simply wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone.
The truth is that Dates is just too good for Channel 4 to toss around the schedules like this. We had three episodes last week, and just two this week and next. Bryan Elsley and co’s creations deserve a solid spot which will allow viewers to know exactly when Dates is on, and not have to continually check TV guides for the next instalment. Perhaps it’s down to the fact that each episode has been written by someone different but Dates has been consistently brilliant and even with ‘Erica & Kate’ (which wasn’t my favourite episode so far) I can’t help but enthuse.
Philippa Langdale’s direction on this episode was particularly notable as it truly fulfilled the triad of attributes which Channel 4 have given to Dates, that being, ‘witty, sexy and emotional’. The episode buzzed with excitement, mirroring that of Erica as she embarks on only her third lesbian encounter, and had a particularly sexy feel to it. The style of filming really added to the tone of the story.
As always, the characters were intriguing, too. Just like on many of the preceding episodes of Dates, we were first met with a couple with contrasting personalities and approaches to the date. From the moment Erica tentatively entered the club and was grabbed by Kate, it was clear that we were going to be watching one quite timid and one confident woman get to know each other.
From very early on, there seemed to be something of a power struggle within Erica and Kate’s relationship: Erica tried to be the strongest by attempting to walk out of the club and leave Kate on her own but it was in fact Kate who was ultimately the dominant force as she convinced her date to stay and have a few more drinks and even all but forced her to confront her true feelings.
Just like Mia, from earlier in the series, Kate had something of a jealous nature which gave her an air of self-importance and impatience. To be honest, I struggled to find the words to describe Kate as she seemed such a complex character – being quite forthright with her opinions by telling Erica in no uncertain terms that she disapproved of her flirtations with bisexuality, yet danced with another man in the hope of making her jealous. Just as I was about to concoct some sort of wordy, deep description of Kate, however, Erica provided me with the perfect phrase: ‘an angry lesbian with a dick complex’. I couldn’t have put it better myself.
To reiterate, ‘Erica & Kate’ wasn’t my favourite episode of Dates so far but I am certain that it had the best climax and, like Nick from Episode Two, I am intrigued to find out whether, on her next date, Erica will confront and be open about her sexuality.
Then again, she’ll be on a date with someone called Callum – so it doesn’t seem likely…
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.