The penultimate episode of Bryan Elsley’s Dates saw Sheridan Smith’s character Jenny, from episode two, on a date with Christian – played by Andrew Scott. I’m not at all jealous.
The pair met at an art gallery and, after an initially uncomfortable atmosphere, seeing a rude sculpture broke the ice and they began to laugh and joke over drinks. Between sips of her drink, Jenny told Christian about how her previous dates had been disastrous (including one potential suitor bringing along his poorly spider, so that he could look after it). Her bitterness over her ex-fiancé leaving her for another women was clearly still present, too, as she made references to her broken heart not only at this point but throughout the episode.
The chat over drinks appeared to go well – so well in fact that, two hours (or ten televised minutes) later they were in bed together – and they weren’t watching telly.
The fact that Jenny was at a low-ebb and wracked with self-doubt was palpable but Christian managed to restore that by assuring her that she truly is special. His compliment soon meant less, however, when he also stated that everyone, including criminals, is special and deserves forgiveness. The couple’s conflicting views on religion and remission soon came to the fore, and it was downhill from there as, while Jenny was searching in Christian’s wardrobes, his wife showed up, demanding to know who she was.
Realising that Christian was still on ‘that site’, his wife, Helen, packed his bags and threw him out, leaving him little option but to beg Jenny to let him stay at her house. Jenny’s kind nature meant that she at first said yes to the grovelling and tearful Christian, but she eventually saw sense and stated that she didn’t need to put up with his ‘bullshit’, before telling him – in no uncertain terms – where to go.
And I silently cheered for her.
BACK ON FORM
After a shaky episode last Wednesday, which was not to the usual standard of Dates, I really hoped that ‘Jenny and Nick’ would have been a return to what we had been used to: highly entertaining and gripping drama. And it was!
As always, Sheridan Smith was simply brilliant and it was worth the three week wait to see her as the lovely, hard done-by Jenny again. Just like her original appearance, I felt really sorry for Jenny and rooted for her all of the time, desperately hoping (perhaps more than the character was) that, after a catalogue of bad dates, Christian would be the one for her. Sadly, of course, he wasn’t but I was overjoyed when she stood up to him and saw her walk off with a look of satisfaction on her face.
I need to get out more.
Nancy Harris’s superb script followed the Dates trend, which I only actually realised existed tonight. Whenever a date seems to be going badly in this series, it ends well. Similarly, when a date is going well, it more often than not ends badly. I’ve never been the most perceptive of people, hence I only noticed this tonight and it seems to be true for every episode – if a couple have been getting along fine, it’s bound to end in tears. And, sadly, it did for Jenny and Christian.
A DIFFICULT CHARACTER
Jenny was once again a very sympathetic and seemingly vulnerable character but Nancy Harris managed to show her tougher, more no-nonsense side which increased my respect for her.
To reiterate, I must get out more.
Just like Jenny’s first date in the series, the closeted Nick, Christian was quite difficult to get the measure of. His moral preaching and apparent objection to all sin was in stark contrast to the web of lies that he had woven. On the other hand, his strong belief in forgiveness was explained – as a regular, married user of the dating site on which all of the series’ characters met, he obviously needed to be frequently forgiven by his wife!
Despite his theist views contrasting with Jenny’s atheist ones, he seemed ideal for her. It looked like he would finally be able to make her happy and confident in herself again – but he turned out to be a liar and cheat, just like Nick.
Poor Jenny, eh?
Thankfully it appears that last Wednesday’s episode was a mere blip and Dates is back to how it was. I loved ‘Jenny and Christian’ and would have liked to have seen more of him in particular: would he manage to worm his way back in with his wife and, if so, would he still continue to use the site? Actually, I would have liked to have seen him even before his date with Jenny: how many times did Helen have to find it in herself to forgive her cheat of a husband, and were there times when he got away with his adultery?
Sadly, tomorrow night will see the last in this series of Dates. It should be a good one, though: it looks like Mia’s lies and mind games are about to catch up with her as she is confronted by both David and Stephen.
Dates concludes tomorrow night 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 – @UKTVReviewer.
You can also see my recommendations for the coming week’s TV on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.