The second episode of Breathless reminds us of the sexcapades of the 60’s. Women’s liberation hadn’t even begun then, and the world was about to undergo major changes from pop art to music to how business is even conducted. We include a portion of a very good review of Breathless episode 2 below, but make sure you watch the episode before you read it or we’ll spoil your fun.
Spoiler Alert: This review assumes you have already watched episode 2 of ‘Breathless’.
Female viewers must be feeling relieved after every episode of Breathless because things are different now. The control exerted by social codes and above all, by male authority over women, tied them down to being little more than kitchen maids and baby makers. Male viewers I hope will agree with Mr Powell, the debonair doctor with a dark past, that to keep women this miserable makes no sense.
For women to become properly liberated after the Second World War took a strangely long time. Men must have been very afraid, perhaps more so in the upper echelons where a certain family life needed to be on display. As the Powells’ marriage with one sprog and one housemaid demonstrates – concealing beneath it some terrible truth.
Natasha Little gives the most plausible performance as the fearful yet restrained Mrs Powell, whether supporting her husband and son or confronting Iain Glen’s sinister Chief Inspector Mulligan. It’s enjoyable stuff, so I am not going to “Wiki” what British commandos were doing in Cyprus in ’53 and spoil the mystery.
The other main characters have a touch of caricature about them. Even Jack Davenport as Powell overdoes the jolly father role. He also overplays his perplexity in the presence of Nurse Wilson (Catherine Steadman) after some very minor encounters. Perhaps she represents the future and the challenge facing these Sixties social paragons, but I may be over-interpreting.
The Enderbys (Shaun Dingwall and Joanna Page) are most watchable in their struggle to achieve higher status, though sadly they have a sexual problem to solve too. Baby making in these days is certainly fraught with difficulties. Happily, pills for some women’s problems are now available if you know the right chap, which former Nurse Meecher, now Mrs Jean Truscott (Zoe Boyle), does. As a modern girl struggling with Sixties society, she is not telling her husband and – clap on the back for the man – neither is Powell. Or is he being all things to all people?
So the sexual charade of the Sixties continues, this time with Pippa Haywood popping up as the cheated on wife whom her husband wishes to quieten with a dose of Librium. He warns Mr Truscott (Oliver Chris), who hesitates to prescribe this: “We can go and see the top man.” Later his wife holds a scalpel over his mistress’s head as a different sort of warning – presumably the only justice available for the wronged woman. Of course her mention of Holloway immediately recalls Haywood’s recent outing in Prisoners’ Wives.
Breathess episode 2 reminded me of the the 60’s sexcapades — did it do so for you? Do you remember what it was like back then when the Beatles were just starting out and the world was still awakening to women’s rights? It was a fun time, and things have changed. Breathless brings it all back.