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Series / The Halcyon

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The Halcyon (2017) is an ITV series set in a luxury hotel, The Halcyon, during World War II, specifically in 1940. It follows a large cast of characters who include hotel staff to aristocrats to outsiders. It starred Steven Mackintosh, Olivia Williams, Ewan Mitchell and Hermione Corfield.

The show was cancelled by ITV after only one season.

The Halcyon includes examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Theresa is one for Toby in episode five.
  • Accidental Murder: Lady Hamilton bashes D'Aberville over the head with a paperweight in self defence in episode eight, killing him
  • Almost Kiss: Occurs between Emma and Freddie in episode one.
  • Always Identical Twins: Averted Trope. Freddie and Toby are most certainly not identical.
  • Anguished Declarationof Love: Adil gives several to Toby, which Toby either ignores or reacts angrily towards. Then, Toby gives one to Adil when interrupting Adil's suicide attempt.
  • Benevolent Boss: Mr Garland qualifies as one. He looks out for his staff, going so far as to help Max track down his family who escaped France and arrived in England.
  • Betty and Veronica: In this scenario Emma is Archie, Freddie is Betty, and Joe is Veronica.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Due to the cancellation of the series, it's a bittersweet ending. The hotel is bombed and most characters escape, including Mr. Garland, Emma, Freddie, Joe, and Lady Hamilton among others. But Sonny is stated not to have come out, and Betsey appears to collapse and is quite possibly dead. Max also goes back into the hotel to help rescue others and it is unknown if he makes it back out. On the other hand, Toby manages to prevent Adil from committing suicide and he declares his love for Adil and the two share a tender moment. D'Aberville is also dead which means Toby and Adil are no longer at risk of being outed.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: This is Freddies logic behind breaking it off with Emma, as he's afraid he will cause her too much pain if he is killed in action one day. However he does not clearly explain this to her, using their different social backgrounds as an excuse, leaving her heartbroken anyway.
    • Though genuinely angry at Adil, there are shades of this to Toby demanding Adil resign. If Adil wasn't around when the people Toby called to report D'Abberville for treason came, then, there was a chance Adil's reputation and Adil himself would remain safe.
  • British Brevity: The entire series is only eight episodes long.
  • Bury Your Gays: Averted, Toby manages to stop Adils suicide before it's too late.
  • The Chanteuse: Betsey qualifies as one. Lord Hamilton even calls her one in the first episode.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In episode five, Peggys daughter Dora demonstrates that she knows to hide under the table in the kitchen if the air raid sirens go off. Later in the episode when there is a bombing raid, Peggy and Mr Garland come home to find the house is rubble, but Mr Garland notices bricks moving around the area where the table was, and it is revealed Dora is alive and hiding under the table saved her life.
  • Closet Key: Adil is this for Toby
  • Coolest Club Ever: The Cafe De Paris in episode two is this, Betsey states it's her goal to sing there.
  • Curse Cut Short: A funny example in episode four, Lady Hamilton asks Robbie, Billy, and Kate how Gone with the Wind ends, as she left the cinema early. Billy is about to quote the famous line from it, but Robbie coughs and Billy quickly substitutes "Damn" with Fig.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Mr. Garland seems to have one, in episode two it's implied he possibly had a gambling problem in the past. It's expanded on in episode five. He saved a fellow soldier from being killed for desertion by killing the solider who was about to execute him. He fled and changed his name from Sam Green to Richard Garland. This past comes back to haunt him, and D'Aberville later finds out about it and uses it to threaten Mr. Garland.
  • A Death In The Lime Light: Billy gets the most focus in episode six, the episode in which he is also killed off.
  • Dead Star Walking: Lord Hamilton, played by Alex Jennings, is killed off in episode one.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Happens with Lady Hamilton over the course of the series, noticeably helped along by D'Aberville. By episode eight, she even seems to respect Mr. Garland. This trope also crosses over with Break the Haughty in this case.
  • Disposing of a Body : In episode eight Mr. Garland hides D'Abervilles body as he tries to dispose of it, but some investigators prevent him from doing so. The body is ultimately destroyed when the hotel is bombed, meaning any evidence that Lady Hamilton killed D'Aberville is gone.
  • Driven to Suicide: In episode eight, Adil does this as he fears his sexuality and relationship with Toby will be exposed, which will possibly get him and his family deported. Thankfully, Toby manages to save him.
  • Dying Dream: The sequence where Betsey sings A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square and sees Sonny across the street seems to serve as a sort of one for her, but it is left somewhat ambiguous if she is definitely dead.
  • Ensemble Cast: There are several main characters and various different sub plots for most of them.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Emma's occurs in episode one when she is serving drinks in Lord Hamiltons meeting. His mistress, Charity, makes a speech about supporting Nazi ideals and how Jewish immigrants steal jobs. After several drink refills, Emma 'accidentally' spills some on Charity, and she asks her father how he could just stand there and listen to her. For the rest of the series, Emma is shown to dislike injustice and tries her best to fight against it.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Mr. Garland and Lady Hamilton seem to be this by the end of episode eight most likely because Mr. Garland helped Lady Hamilton conceal D'Abervilles dead body. Friends may be a strong word, but neither act hostile towards the other anymore.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: In episode one, Emma catches Betsey sleeping in one of the hotel rooms, she asks her "What if I'd been someone important?" later in the episode, Betsey is taking a bath in another hotel room when Lord Hamilton walks in and catches her. She manages not to get fired, however.
  • Glamorous Wartime Singer: Betsey pretty much is this trope.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Downplayed due to the fact it is World War II and there is rationing, but there are stand out examples such as some of Betseys dresses, noticeably her dress for the hotels fiftieth-anniversary celebration.
  • Guile Hero: Mr Garland qualifies as one. During the series, he is shown using his connections to solve various problems and he is not above lying to solve problems either.
  • In Medias Res: The first two minutes of episode one show the fiftieth-anniversary celebration of The Halcyon Hotel, which end when a bomb hits the hotel. It then jumps back about eight months and the remaining episodes lead up to the party. Episode eight shows the party once again, but this time we see the aftermath of the bomb hitting the hotel.
  • Interrupted Suicide: In episode eight, Toby gets to Adils apartment just in time to switch off the gas and save him.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Joe O'Hara, the American reporter staying at the hotel qualifies as one. In episode one he exposes a secret meeting held at hotel by Lord Hamilton which discussed possibly allying with Nazi Germany.
  • Irony : Mr. Garland uses his contacts to get Peggy's son Billy a safe position in the army that's very near the hotel. But in episode six he is killed off while on duty there.
    • Adil is amused, if somewhat sympathetic, towards black Sonny's love for white Betsey. He declares it'll never happen. Then, he himself enters a taboo relationship with white, upper-class, male Toby.
  • Love Martyr: Before Adil went along with D'Abberville's demands, he and Toby had a happy, healthy relationship, but he was willing to be this even before things went really bad. When they were caught in a compromising moment, he tried to get Toby to claim he (Adil) was making unwelcome romantic/sexual advances towards Toby; this would have seen him, at least, fired, and at worst, thrown in prison, but it would have largely saved Toby's reputation. After he went along with D'Abberville's demands, in part to protect his own family, he suggested that, to free Toby, he'd lie to the police that he had simply stolen from Toby and given the information to D'Abberville. Toby, however, refused to let him sacrifice himself, and arguably, his demanding Adil resign was done so that Adil wouldn't be investigated once the people Toby was planning to call about D'Abberville came around.
  • Man on Fire: A very graphic example is shown in episode five when Peggy and Mr Garland see a man engulfed in flames running down the street and collapsing during the bombing raid.
  • The Mole: In episode six, D'Aberville is revealed to be a Nazi spy.
  • Papa Wolf: Mr. Garland, noticeable in episode five when he makes it very clear Freddie will regret it if he hurts Emma ever again, despite the fact Freddie is his boss.
  • The Place: The hotel is called The Halcyon.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Charity, Lord Hamilton's mistress is a Nazi sympathizer, Chef is openly racist to the Austrian Jewish chef Max and Mr. D'Aberville who is a Nazi and is homophobic towards Toby and Adil.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Mr. Garland is this, and is shown to be a fair manager on many occasions.
  • Red Herring: In episode eight, Betsey and Emma discuss whether she'd pick Freddie or Joe. During the conversation, Betsey proposes a situation where the hotel is on fire and Emma can only save one of them. At the end of the episode when the hotel is bombed, Emma, Freddie, and Joe all escape mostly unscathed, it is Betsey and Sonny who quite possibly die.
  • Romancing the Widow: The subplot between Lady Hamilton and D'Aberville.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying: The hotel is shown hosting many lavish functions over the series despite the war going on. This also seems to be the attitude of some of the more well off characters. While the war does happen, many want life to continue on as before, and in some episodes the air raid siren goes off and characters refuse to go down to the basement to shelter because it would ruin the event they are at. They are also still demanding food at before the war quality despite the fact Britain is on rationing. However, the reality of the war slowly starts to seep in as the series goes on. Perhaps summed up best by the tagline of the series: 'Dark Days, Bright Nights'.
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: On the first episode, Lord Hamilton catches the Betsey bathing in his room. After exchanging some Snark-to-Snark Combat Betsey provocatively stands up and asks him for a Modesty Towel, with the camera focusing on a shot of her bare behind.
  • Straight Gay: Toby and Adil qualify as this, neither are overtly camp.
  • Stepford Smiler: Lady Hamilton is one, putting on a cold front for the world, but she is shown to be very bitter and angry and sad over many things including her husband's infidelity.
  • Tone Shift: A minor one, but episode five takes place on the day The Blitz began, which signals a change in tone. While the war was ongoing in the first four episodes, it doesn't have any truly drastic effects on the characters lives, but from that episode onwards, the war starts to have a much bigger and more immediate effect on the lives of the characters.
  • The Unfavorite: Toby is this to his father, Lord Hamilton, who goes so far as to call Toby's life "pathetic".
  • Wham Shot: At the end of episode eight, Betsey finishes singing A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. We hear Emma yell out her name, and Betsey is shown lying on the pavement with blood running from her head.
  • Wartime Wedding: There is one in episode five, though the wedding isn't between any of the regular characters, rather, it serves as a backdrop for some of the events of the episode.
  • Wicked Cultured: D'Aberville is this, and is shown discussing paintings with Lady Hamilton at one point.
  • World War II: The setting of the series, specifically May - December 1940.