Episode Four: Ashley and Laurel; the plots converge
Thursday, part one. The big one. It began just like the others had, with one story in focus. This time it was Ashley and his heart shattering portrayal of dementia. This really was a masterclass in acting from John Middleton and a test for the tear ducts. But as we all knew, disaster was only minutes away – 17:27 to be exact – and when those other stories started coming together, wow. There’s never been a moment in soap like it. Without question THE best moment in soap I have ever seen.
Scene of the Episode
Often with big soap events they’re so hyped you’re left feeling a little underwhelmed even if the stunt is impressive. But despite all the press excitement and the information surrounding the big movie style stunt, the Emmerdale car pile up managed to exceed all expectations leaving me stunned and breathless just watching. Most of us managed to guess this is how the events would turn out but I don’t think anyone expected something as prolonged and brutal as we got. What was even better – and don’t get me wrong, the stunts were outstanding – is that we were so damn invested in every storyline and character and that made the horror of the crash even more intense.
Quote of the Episode
Arthur: I know you said you’d always love me, but you will forget me one day, won’t you?
Ashley: To tell you the truth, one day. I might. Hopefully not for ages yet. But one day. This, my brain, might. But I promise you, okay? I promise you that no matter what I say or do, this [my heart] never will.
John Middleton has been exceptional in his portrayal of Ashley’s decline for so long now but this episode really showcased his skill at subtle, nuanced performances. The close up shots and transitions were a fantastic technique to demonstrate what dementia does to the brain with the confusion of time and space, and Ashley’s grip on his world was shown through the smallest of details in John’s expressions.
I’ve always had a huge soft spot for little Arthur Thomas and he proved why in this episode as he tried to help his dad Ashley remember the christening and get ready for it. Their hug and conversation, where Arthur wrote a reminder on Ashley’s arm, were genuinely moving and a real gut-punch of emotion. Later he grew frustrated and upset because Ashley had forgotten again, which made me realise just how crushing it’ll be when Ashley does forget his little boy. Ouch.
Another moment which had me completely devastated was Ashley’s breakdown in the church. It was a scene which benefited greatly from the special cameras used, as the light came in through the stained-glass windows creating a beautiful glow on the scenes. Seeing a grown man cry because he had forgotten his daughter has to be one of the most heart-breaking moments of the whole week.
As soon as Ashley got into that car, we all knew doom approached. Once Ashley joined the Hotten Bypass we began to see different shots of the stories we’d already seen and knew the moment had come for them all to merge. There was a genuine sense of anticipation and excitement as the tension grew and grew waiting for that huge moment to take place – and it was the opposite of disappointing when it finally happened.
Emma and James’ final confrontation on the bridge in the mist, her still in the wedding dress, was a glorious moment. Gillian Kearney played Emma’s madness perfectly – the bitter, paranoid rage over Moira, her delusions that James still loved her – it all crackled with tension, particularly as the pieces had fallen into place and we knew James would end up falling off that bridge. Once he did and carnage ensued, Emma was a trembling mess rising from the mist to look down on the apocalyptic chain of events she’d started. Epic.
- Having the dodgy fuse in the Thomas household was a great way of having the alarm clock in Ashley’s room read the the wrong time and confuse him more – great little detail
- The exciting moment as all the plots began to intertwine was great fun – particularly as we got to glimpse scenes from a different perspective alongside other stories
- Ashley singing a hymn as he hit James – nice touch!
- Those car flips looked genuinely brutal and it’s a miracle Pierce survived being battered from all sides!
- Emma on the bridge scratching her legs in the middle of a breakdown is an image that will stay with me for a long time!