Moving on to Episodes 6 and 7 of Channel 4’s latest Brian Elsley creation, Dates, and we’re beginning to see some elements of character development and dramatic justice. This will presumably bring us rather nicely up to the final shows. I mean dates.
Episode 6 took us off once again for dinner with Erica (Gemma Chan). This time, however, having admitted her sexuality to her brother, she has been packed off on a date with a man by the name of Callum (Greg McHugh). Loutish, arrogant, opinionated and seemingly not the sharpest knife in the cutlery drawer, their Chinese restaurant meeting gets off to a bad start. His constant referrals to the Chinese restaurant staff as ‘these people’ doesn’t exactly help matters, and that’s before you even consider the fact that Erica doesn’t actually fancy men. As we’ve by now come to expect from the series, though, a bad start to a date does not necessarily mean a bad end. And, sure enough, surprisingly understanding about Erica’s situation as he is, Callum teaches her how to stand up for herself a little more. Thus, as with Episode 5’s date with David and Ellie, an odd sort of friendship emerges.
Episode 7 was a little more unusual, not quite following the format of previous storylines. Stephen (Ben Chaplin) took centre stage once more, as he waited for Mia (Oona Chaplin) to join him at a swanky hotel penthouse for what the Buffery team can only assume to be a jolly good game of Scrabble. It soon becomes clear, however, that Mia has changed her mind, and won’t be turning up after all. This throws the slightly controlling Stephen off guard, causing him to gatecrash the hotel’s conference in search of ‘an adventure’. He finds precisely that adventure with an attractive stranger, getting up to all sorts of hijinks in an attempt to forget about the beautiful Mia. Smarmy and selfish character that he is, though, he doesn’t entirely get his own way. In fact, she gives him rather a run for his money.
These were two sharply contrasting episodes, with the first showing a stronger side to one recurring character, whilst the second showed the weaker, sleazier side of another. The developing friendship between the stereotypically meek Chinese girl and loud Scot in Episode 6 was heartwarming and touching to watch, as it was clear both were gaining genuine life lessons from the other’s company. Episode 7 mainly served to re-cast would be lothario Stephen in a less favourable light than before, perhaps giving us a useful insight into the reasons behind Mia’s decision.
Both episodes, however, reflected the fact that by now we’ve come to like the show’s recurring characters, and are emotionally invested in their stories and futures.
Tonight’s episode sees Jenny (Sheridan Smith) give dating one more try as she meets Christian (Andrew Scott).