Episode Three: Emma and James
With James already a prisoner in his new home at Wylies and well aware just how disturbed his ex and future wife had become, James’s suffering and attempted escape was a horror/thriller inspired installment in the week. Tense, claustrophobic and a little bit bonkers, Emma and James’s episode was unbearably exciting and took us closer to the oncoming disaster around the corner.
Scene of the Episode
Was there a more iconic or shocking moment this week than Emma appearing, in her blood-splattered wedding dress holding a dead chicken and telling James that dinner wouldn’t be long? Okay – it’s totally mad. But Gillian Kearney is a real talent (this will be an ongoing comment in these posts just FYI) and she sold the absolute bonkers stuff with a perfect blend of grisly darkness and black humour. It’s a memorable moment in the episode – perhaps not the most heart-pounding or as tense as others – but it’s one that will forever stick with me. Plus, a consistent character trait of Emma’s from day one is that she can’t cook, so to have her so pre-occupied with dinner, burning it and then having to go and slaughter her own chicken just seemed somehow fitting.
Quote of the Episode
Emma: It’s supposed to be bad luck to see the dress before the wedding! But we don’t need to stick to all the traditions, do we?
James: No. Just as long as we keep the one where the groom’s trussed up like a hostage.
Watching James struggle to escape, hobble out of bed and down the stairs with his broken leg was grim viewing at its finest. You could almost feel his pain. Juxtaposing this with Emma in the DIY store looking like she was planning something brutal was genius. You had James shouting and screaming at the oblivious chicken man just as Emma was returning home. The tension was glorious.
The thing about Emma, why she’s such a compelling character and why Gillian has owned this week, is that she’s not just a crazy villain. She’s a broken woman struggling for control. When we saw Emma in this quieter, deluded moments, where James was keeping calm and playing along with her instability, that was really powerful viewing. You’re never quite sure just what Emma’s going to do next and the most frightening part is that she believed every word she was saying.
One of those unnerving moments was when, having drugged James, he regained consciousness to find himself in a suit and tied to a chair. As his vision unblurred he saw Emma dressed up like Miss Haversham in her old wedding dress, preparing dinner like nothing was wrong. It was the skewed normalcy of this scene and the way Emma snapped, telling James he had upset her in refusing to write his vows. Once again Gillian portrayed that on-the-edge temperament so well it ramped up the thrill factor.
James as a character has coasted along during his entire tenure on the show with very little gumption about him, meaning his scenes often came across as disinterested and passive. Luckily Bill Ward gave his best performance in this episode, particularly during the dinner scenes where he tried to play Emma and convince her that they still had a future. The scenes were chilling, with moments of black humour but were surprisingly full of real human drama as the pair discussed their relationship. Even though the episode had its outrageous moments, the conversations between unbalanced Emma and nervous James were gripping.
Speaking of gripping, those final confrontations as James made his attack and escaped only to be tracked down in the woods by Emma was incredible to watch. We knew James would have to end up by the Hotten Bypass somehow but we weren’t sure how until it happened. Having Emma emerge eerily from the mist, when she might have been lying dead in the kitchen, was a cliffhanger of movie proportions.
- Emma’s DIY store of choice? ‘Savage Hardware’ of course!
- Wylie’s looked run down at the best of times but add some fog and it was seriously spooky
- Finn’s DVD choice for his dad – Shawshank Redemption – was inspired
- Loved Emma’s definition of ‘marriage problems’
- James needed a better method of escape and help than just shouting HELLO! He tried it three times and it failed every time
- James complimenting Emma’s cooking as she fed him was funny in a very twisted way. Don’t lie, James. We all know it was awful
- The page ripped when James tried to cross out his ‘vows’. It’s a sign, said Emma and yes – as James quite rightly pointed out – it’s a sign he shouldn’t have to write with his mouth. Awkward
- Emma is like that famous Chumbawamba song (she gets knocked down…)
- Who knew Wylie’s was so close to the Hotten Bypass?