Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! In the run up to Christmas, Ashley’s special episode proves that Emmerdale’s showing us the very best in soap.
The Dementia Special
Emmerdale have had an outstanding year and if their award cabinets aren’t waking up the country to the fact that it’s on top form, then hopefully episodes like Ashley’s special will do the job. Emmerdale employed a range of excellent techniques to try and showcase life with dementia for the audience, really helping to portray the struggle and confusion life can take when you can’t see the world as others do. As Ashley tried to get home to his mother, a hipster record shop baffled him, but luckily the shop worker was a good man and gave Ashley some spare clothes and tried to help him. Along the way Ashley met with people he saw (and the audience saw) as strangers, but through clever reflections and subtle signs, they were revealed to be familiar characters, recast. These recast actors had a real challenge on their hands but they fitted seamlessly into the story, managing to inhabit these well-loved characters in their own way. The episode also had nods to Ashley and Laurel’s past, such as her bumblebee pin (the costume she wore when she first arrived in Emmerdale) and Ashley’s desire to stop Laurel leaving for Finland – a storyline that happened in 2004! The episode also featured scenes shot in Esholt, the first time since 1998, and the old Woolpack pub. Not only did Emmerdale go to an incredible effort to tell Ashley’s story in a fresh and creative way, but it was told with real emotional punch and if there is any justice then they will surely pick up awards for this storyline in the new year.
Fighting Fire with Fire
Many Emmerdale fans have been missing the winning partnership of Cain and Moira (Coira to the initiated) ever since they split earlier this year, but this week saw them temporarily reunite and the scenes were electric! With Moira on full meltdown mode, even going as far as to sleep with her own nephew(!), she refused many of Cain’s attempts to help, despite him telling her he just can’t stop caring about her. After Moira drove drunk and fessed up to her liaison with Pete in an effort to push Cain away, the pair’s tension exploded, giving us an impressive display of the fiery on-screen chemistry between Jeff Hordley and Natalie J Robb and reminding everyone why they’re so popular. With the destructive and vicious extent of their passion on show, there were harsh words exchanged, slaps thrown, tears and Cain’s violence resurfacing. After their history together and a tumultuous year behind them, it’s no wonder their scenes were so tempestuous but their confrontation really did unleash all the frustration that’s been building. Moira brought out a better side to Cain, but it seems like neither of them are in a good place right now and their happy marriage seems out of reach, but as we saw at Christmas there does appear to be some hope left…
Caught in the Middle
You’ve got to feel for Leyla this week. Even though she didn’t help herself when it came to meddling in Tracy and David’s life, it’s clear she’s worried about her makeshift little family. Leyla’s pinned all her hopes on a happier future with handsome and straightforward (or so she thought) Pete, but I bet she didn’t think she’d be contending with Pete’s own Auntie for his affections. YIKES. There was an enjoyable level of awkward irony as we watched oblivious Leyla suggest Pete and Moira “kiss and make up”, but as the week progressed it was easy to feel sorry for her. As the audience reeled from the Pete and Moira sleeping together shocker (which – OMG! – was such a surprising reveal), Leyla remained in the dark, focused on her lovely relationship with Jacob. The two shared some really touching this scenes as he tried to encourage her to share Christmas with their family and she supported them in the hospital. I can’t help but think Leyla needs someone much lovelier than flaky Pete and his cursed family.
Broken Marriage, Broken Record
It’s no secret that Jimmy and Nicola’s marriage is one of my favourite pairings in the Dales. They’re funny, compatible and kinky at times! But lately their on and off fights and make ups seem never ending and we must have had a variation of the same fight about six times in the last six months. With Nicola’s paralysis and the jumble of kids they’ve seemingly collected, you’d think there would be a much better selection of heartfelt drama they could tackle, but instead we get a lot of the same fights with Nicola and Jimmy stuck in cartoon roles of nagging wife and buffoon husband. Sure, I like this dynamic and I like Jimmy hopelessly arriving at her door with an enthusiastic “Nico!” and buying her completely unromantic presents, but I’m tired of their repetitive make ups and break ups. I’d be hopeful for the future after the Christmas Day episode, but with Nicola finding out she’s wearing Pearl’s lost necklace, Jimmy’s been kicked to the curb again.
Come back tomorrow evening for my review of Emmerdale’s Christmas special!