Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This was one truly unforgettable week with the shock death of Holly Barton – I’m still reeling!
Holly’s Tragic Death
In a tragic twist that no one was expecting (at least not so soon) Emmerdale was rocked by the sudden death of Holly Barton. In true soap fashion it happened at a time where everything had started going right for her. She was clean, fighting her addiction, had earned herself a great job working for Take a Vow and had begun a touching romance with Jai Sharma. So what a shock it was on what everyone had expected would be a standard Thursday double bill with (repetitive) Charity and Cain drama, that Moira found her daughter dead in bed. Only the day before I was feeling fond of Holly’s touching relationship with her mother and last week I was praising the new and heart-warming Jai/Holly romance and then suddenly she was gone. Holly has never been a favourite of mine but her death was executed in such a tragic and poignant way that no one could fail to be moved. The episode opened in rather an unusual way – we all should have guessed doom was approaching – with scenes of Moira walking the farm to Nina Simone’s Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, as Charity and Chas sang it to a grumpy Cain. Then as Moira took Holly a cup of tea (and she suddenly had more interactions with her friends than in the many months before!) we definitely realised something was up. This delayed sense of dread was gripping, making Moira’s discovery even more heartbreaking. Their mother-daughter relationship had been at the heart of Holly’s return so for Moira to find her and later, to climb in beside her and talk to her as if she were a scared young girl were especially effecting. It’s a crime that Natalie J Robb hasn’t been given any awards yet for her consistently brilliant performances and within this double episode alone she covered a whole spectrum of grief and if there’s any justice, these scenes will be remembered and rewarded in time.
It wasn’t just Moira’s plight that was so moving and effectively performed – it would be wrong to ignore Adam’s role in the episodes. All too often Adam Barton is on the sidelines of stories and rarely given a chance to shine but this week truly proved Adam Thomas is capable of tackling emotional and gritty storylines. From the cleverly silent scene of him hearing the news from wife Victoria, to him facing the brunt of Moira’s pain, to his confrontation in the pub with Cain that resulted in gutwrenching performances between both actors, he too gave complexity to the impact of Holly’s death.
A Wider Impact
One of the most successful aspects to the shock of Holly’s death was the wider effect it had on the rest of the village. It’s not uncommon to see tragedy and big events barely denting the rest of the village (helicopter crash? Pfft barely any aftermath) so it was a very effective decision to buck this trend. Many of the villagers are parents or have lost their children in tragic circumstances. We saw both Megan and Brenda mourn the loss of their children, we saw Cain spending time with Kyle (and reminding him about his shoelaces – a tying technique Holly had taught Kyle), Chas wanting to see Aaron and Vanessa rushing home to hold Johnny. All very subtle ways to show the impact of Holly’s death and all things that made the emotion and events feel so real. It wasn’t just parents that were affected – Jai was understandably rocked by the news and had to cover his true heartbreak. It was touching to see on Friday that the Dingles rallied round to help at the farm, that flowers and casseroles were delivered as the big families of the village came together. This is soap at its best – character based, believable responses, plots and character histories merging and powerful emotional drama at its core.
Away from the tragedy in the Barton household, it was nice to see a different side to Dan and Kerry this week. Most of the time they’re used for light relief, but as with most of Emmerdale’s funny characters, they’re capable of dramatic performances too. Now that Jimmy and Nicola have seemingly worked through their marriage problems (and btw those bereavement group scenes with ‘Ricola and Timmy’ were hilarious) and Kerry has agreed to (legally) marry Dan, you’d think everything was rosy. But unfortunately for Kerry, she discovered she was pregnant, with the soap classic “Who’s the Daddy?” dilemma. It’s nothing original and I don’t really want to see Kerry and Dan split, but Laura Norton has taken us away from the brasher side of Kerry this week and really impressed with her vulnerable portrayal. Sometimes Kerry can have a nasty edge so it’s been good to see her much softer as she struggles with her dilemma.
Running Round in Circles
Emmerdale caused a big stir this week for reasons other than Holly’s death and that was down to the misjudged plot of dog-napping. One of Ross and Charity’s idiotic schemes of course! It’s not this plot as such that gets my thumbs down (this is after all a soap full of criminals, including someone convicted of sexual assault, walk freely around the village every day…) but that the whole story felt flat and repetitive. How many of these similarly criminal schemes gone wrong have we had with Charity, and with Ross? Too many now. It’s just getting boring. Both characters seem stuck in a rut and I can’t help but feel something needs to shake them both out of their usual storylines. It was saved slightly because Charity and Ross are blessed with a decent amount of chemistry (and are connected by their adorable son) and sometimes it feels like Emmerdale would be better off exploring their relationship rather than the tired Charity/Cain pairing (oop controversial) or the yawnsome Ross and Debbie “love story”. It just all feels a bit ‘been there, done that’.