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 heartbreaking week that saw Aaron and Robert consider calling an end to their engagement, Nicola was top boss, DS Wise returned and Finn went way too far.
Marriage and Strife
When it comes to “power couples” – a staple in the soap world – Emmerdale have really lucked out when it comes to Aaron and Robert. Not only are they a fan favourite and brimming with palpable chemistry in everything from their fights to make ups, but their personalities and histories make for believable and complex conflict. Aaron’s insecurities and lack of trust stem from his tragic past and Robert’s history of cheating mean he’s never been Mr Trustworthy, but together the pair have forged an unbreakable love for each other. But this week they reached crisis point. With Aaron’s jealousy growing over the past few months it came to a head when Robert was caught out lying about his whereabouts. Whilst Aaron’s paranoia was unfounded it didn’t take long for the argument about trust to escalate and Robert temporarily called off the engagement. Heart crushing and beautifully acted! Like the fiery spats Cain and Moira have, Aaron and Robert’s scenes have that same undercurrent of temper as they both lashed out, hitting each other where it hurt. What was most engaging about these scenes was the level of depth explored in their arguments as they dealt with all the complicated issues surrounding trust, jealousy, insecurity and sexuality. Bisexuality is very rarely talked about on mainstream TV and the scripts seeing Robert defend his attraction to men and women again and challenge Aaron’s ignorance and insecurities, as well as display signs that he isn’t completely comfortable either were compelling. Scenes this week really dug into the psychology of both characters, giving Robron some of their best scenes since Super Soap Week.
The slow build of Rhona and Pierce’s story about control and abuse is one created with nuance and an undercurrent of dread that’s really serving to make it a success. Their story wasn’t a huge focus in the week, but as it operates in the background we’ve already begun to see Rhona making changes to her behaviour based on Pierce’s subtle hand of control. He dropped in comments about “the state” of her after the night out, offered to answer her phone and got it out of her bag, accused her of ridiculing him, avoided her and freezed her out to lower her self-esteem. And this is just the start of it. It’s chilling. This week saw Rhona be made to feel guilty for going out with her friends (something she hasn’t done a great deal of anyway) and she vowed not to go out and get drunk with them again like she had done at the Hunk Night and played exactly into his hands by isolating herself. I have a feeling this storyline is going to get even darker and more uncomfortable as time goes on.
Gabby and Ashley’s relationship, just like his relationship with Arthur, has been a real highlight of the dementia plot – even if Gabby has been a challenge at times. The tragedy that the Thomas family face is a heartbreaking one, especially for someone like Gabby who is old enough to recognise her father’s deterioration but wants to cling onto him and keep him in her life. As she looked after him this week, she was offered a small glimmer of his former self when he told her what a wonderful young woman she was becoming, but this was only a fleeting moment as she began to realise his illness was progressing and getting much worse. The harsh realities of this story are told in such a realistic and emotional way that it’s hard not be moved and it benefits greatly from not having too heavy a focus every week so that it isn’t too much of a hard watch.
Returning to our screens this week was dashing detective Jason Wise who we last saw being a dreamboat to Chas, after she struggled with her PTSD following their date. This week he was back to offer her another friendly ear and the support she needed as she broke down after Aaron’s arrest. Despite DS Wise’s suggestion that he help change Aaron’s statement, he was soon scared off by Pierce in an attempt to push Paddy and Chas closer. And while the sitcom silliness of Paddy and Chas has been fun at times, it would be nice for Chas to have someone as grown up and lovely as the handsome DS Wise. I’m rooting for them, and I’m petitioning right here to make Jason our regular resident detective.
I mentioned last week how much I enjoyed seeing Nicola get her business mojo back as she kicked Home James back into shape but this week she took it to another level as she got revenge on Rakesh and the Sharmas. Instead of going to the police about Rakesh’s arson (*grumble grumble*) she decided she’d rather be managing director of the sweet factory, lording it over the Sharmas and banning Rakesh from the premises. It was fun seeing Nicola screw over Jai, making him fetch her lunch and coffee, belittle Rishi and kick the workers into shape – especially the useless slacker Kerry. Not only was it great to see Nicola fighting strong, refusing to have the “broken” label attached to her, but it brought some much needed fun and a change of regime in the factory.
Like Mother Like Son?
Finn’s obsession with Kasim peaked to its most worrying level as this week he hired escort Nathan to make Kasim jealous and then really upped his clingy behaviour by stalking him to his house and confronting his dad. Yikes! You know it’s a worry when even his mother (who isn’t exactly known for her reasoned and rational behaviour when it comes to love) was worried about him. Smitten Finn is pinning so much on his relationship, when it helped him with his dad’s death, that he’s just not reading the signs, even when Kasim is telling him that he’s going overboard and looking crazy. Despite this plot making Finn’s unhinged behaviour get worse and worse, I’ve enjoyed the way it’s blurred into other plots and characters and it’s been interesting to see a bit more to Finn’s character rather than sitting on the sidelines of his brothers’ plots. Just how similar he is to his mother, time will tell, but I can’t help but wonder just how far Finn will go in his quest for Kasim’s love. Surely Kasim should be googling restraining orders right about now? He always seemed a bit too okay with Finn’s bedside vigil in the first place!
Rakesh’s arson secrets were exposed this week to Nicola, the woman whose life it has affected so greatly and while I’ve already mentioned how thrilled I was to see her fighting back in full authoritative power, I was mostly excited about the prospect of getting rid of Rakesh. I’ve long lamented Rakesh’s place in Emmerdale, the dead weight he is around Priya and the Sharmas’ neck, the personality vacuum he is, the boredom he brings to a variety of storylines. He’s dull, unengaging and I’ve reached the limit of patience with him. Really, what does he bring to the show? We even have Pierce now, bringing to the table the shady lawyer character, so we just don’t need him. Yet, instead of reporting Rakesh to the police and freeing us from his mundanity, Nicola decided to punish him in a different way. Gone now is my hope of getting rid of him and we’re not left with a slightly anticlimactic resolution to the underwhelming summer fire plot. Oh well, here’s hoping he just fades into the background this year.