'Was Simon always this much of an awful human being? Or had a hiatus in London and a too-tight suit made him even worse? Why was he suddenly rich enough to buy a house out of a car advert? And why did he keep commenting on Gemma's clothing like some sort of budget Gok Wan?'
Did anyone else find themselves struggling to watch Tuesday night’s Doctor Foster through the fog of cartoon steam issuing from their ears? Namely, every time Simon Foster smirked his way on screen to give the knife he’d lodged in Gemma’s back another little twist?
Was he always this much of an awful human being? Or had a hiatus in London and a too-tight suit made him even worse? Why was he suddenly rich enough to buy a house out of a car advert? And why did he keep commenting on Gemma’s clothing like some sort of budget Gok Wan?
Doctor Foster season 2 episode one opens two years after the marriage destroying-affair has been revealed and the cheating couple have moved away. Our heroine Gemma (Suranne Jones) is happily going about her business in the fictional town of Parminster, her ex-husband and partner Kate far from her mind.
But then bright red envelopes begin to arrive on the desks and doormats of people close to Gemma, including her son Tom and good friend Ros. Inside the envelope is an invitation to a welcome back / wedding celebration party for Simon and Kate. After seeing Tom’s invitation, Gemma gets a courtesy text from Simon to say he and Kate are moving back to town to a swanky new postcode.
Someone less predisposed to shooting themselves in the foot might tap this postcode into Google Streetview for a quick snoop, but Gemma likes to live dangerously, so she drives to the house and has a real-life snoop through his big glass windows instead.
‘DON’T GO IN DON’T GO IN’ we all shout as Gemma decides to go in (even though the partly open door is a clear sign one of them isn’t far away). Of course she then gets rumbled by Simon a few minutes later when he comes up the drive. This is the on-steroids version of a bad encounter with your ex. Bumping into him with wet hair when you’re out for a tampon run? Small fry! Try being caught in the house he shares with his new wife having broken in to stroke the worktops.
We might assume at this point that Simon has hit his bastard high watermark, having already moved back to town and invited all of Gemma’s friends to a party celebrating the union that wrecked her life. But as it happens he’s only just getting warmed-up.
Let’s plot his comic book villain crimes in episode one, shall we?
He’s gone and got inappropriately rich
‘Were you surprised that we could buy here?’ Simon says to Gemma. You might remember from season one that Simon’s list of deceptions included secretly driving his and Gemma’s finances into the ground. A decent person might consider turning up two years later to buy the biggest house you can find just up the street from the ex-wife you nearly bankrupted is wildly inappropriate. Even though Simon assures Gemma that the flush of cash has come in since the divorce, only a total bastard would throw an indoor swimming pool into the mix so soon.
He keeps saying weird stuff about her clothes
‘Is that a new top?’ Simon remarks to Gemma, apparently at random, only to use this top as an illustration of how little Gemma has changed since she last saw him. Not in a ‘you look so young, the years haven’t made a mark!’ but simply to hammer home how staid she is (‘You’re right, that top – how old IS that top? I remember that top’) It’s not enough to ride roughshod over a woman’s mental health and happiness, but returning two years later to piss all over her wardrobe is apparently also part of the deal.
He’s flirting with her (outrageously)
‘You seem well’ Gemma remarks. ‘Yeah I am’ he replies, ‘Do you think about me?’ The chemistry between Simon and Gemma hasn’t gone away, but as the cheater and a newly married man the onus is on Simon to keep a lid on it. Instead, not once but twice in the episode he presses himself up against Gemma with an erection, including on the night of his wedding party, while his wife and child are downstairs.
He says things like, ‘You with anyone at the moment? I hear not’
He shrugs off his domestic violence
‘The last time we were in a room together you knocked me unconscious’, says Gemma when they meet. Any man with half a soul would look shamed at this, but Simon brushes it off with little more than a, ‘yes, yes, and I had to do community service and lost all my mates, what more do you want from me, you irritating woman?’
He tells Gemma to leave when she arrives at the party
Yes, it’s weird that Gemma turns up to the party with her first date in tow. No, she should not have come. But this doesn’t give Simon license to storm up and tell her to leave. Again, as the least wronged party, it’s basic etiquette for Simon to acknowledge Gemma’s arrival, offer her a glass of champagne and then politely ignore her.
He steals away the one thing Gemma has left
The correct course of action when Tom (apparently) comes to Simon off-screen after Gemma’s scene at the party to say he wants to move out from his mother’s house would be to gently suggest he stays put. Gemma has, after all, had literally everything else taken away from her already. But Simon isn’t that kind of guy. Simon is a bastard. So he turns up uninvited, with a new key he’s mysteriously had cut for himself, and whisks Tom away.
The appropriate course of action? All-out war.
P.S. Ros is a really bad friend
After assuring Gemma – apparently her closest friend – that she won’t be going to the Simon and Kate’s party, she goes to the Simon and Kate party. Ros is a crap friend.