Given the dramatic events that have rocked this series of Lip Service from the very start, it’s almost a relief that the finale ends as quietly as it does (violent police raid and opening night debacle, notwithstanding). Rather it revels in the quieter, deeper misery that seems to surround its characters, leaving a future that feels full of foreboding.
Lexy (Anna Skellern), perhaps the most emotionally stable of the girls – and certainly the least affected by Cat’s death – tries hard to navigating the turmoil around her. She’s caught between two sides of herself though. Does she go for Sam (Heather Peace), the one she was instinctively attracted to, or does she try to be happy with Tess (Fiona Button) and let someone love her more than she loves them for a change?
She can’t really stop the Tess option from sounding like settling, even though she seems to be well aware that being with Sam could mean heartbreak. When Sam calls, however, Lexy finds herself going to her – with the level of pain in Sam’s voice, no friend wouldn’t – but in the long walk to meet her it’s clear, Lexy knows what this could cost her.
Sam is a changed woman: devastatingly sad, less confident, overwhelmingly angry. She’s no longer convincing anyone that she’s holding it together; definitely not her work partner, Ryder, who ends up paying the price for her distraction. When Lexy arrives though and Sam finally starts talking, right down to the sordid truth about her relationship with Cat, we can hope that she’s turning a corner.
In lighter scenes, Nora (Sinead Keenan) and Ed’s (James Anthony Pearson) repartee of bitterness is a delight and there’s even a glimpse of humanity in petty, evil Nora when Tess finally stands up to her. Tess does get the acting success she’s worked so hard for. If only she would revel in it rather than pining after Lexy!
Despite things coming to a head for him last week you get the impression that Hugh (Stuart McQuarrie) will never change. Somehow still deluding himself that his ex-wife would be better off with him, his heavy drinking and harassing behaviour mean the play is a horror show – almost as painful as dinner with Lauren (Neve McIntosh) and Jo (Valerie Edmond), while Lauren sits there with evidence of her infidelity with Sadie on her wrist.
Sadie (Natasha O’Keefe), whose fake smiles are brighter than ever, starts to weaken as Lauren becomes more affectionate. Gone is the kinky titillation – they’re moving into steamier, more treacherous waters. Lauren seems to be falling under the spell of Sadie’s vulnerability (who hasn’t?) but panics at the last minute, unable to sacrifice her life with Jo.
Sadie’s disappointment sends her spiralling back into her life of crime and taking off into the darkness with ex-lay Janice. It’s sadder still because Sadie finally seemed to be fitting in better with the flatmates as they all get ready to see Tess’s play.
Self-sabotage and missed opportunity again hold sway for the Lip Service girls it seems, so await Series 3 with trepidation, and hope, if you dare.
Aired at 9pm on Friday 25th May 2012 on BBC Three.
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