Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Isaac’s christening lead to a lot of heartache and soul searching this week.
Lately Emmerdale hasn’t been afraid to push the boundaries of the soap genre and the success of its efforts to tell stories in different and creative ways only confirm why it’s picking up awards regularly. Friday’s episode saw a tight focus on the story thread of Moira and Cain’s role in Isaac’s life and took us back in time to see the struggles Cain and Chas faced with their own parents, Faith and Shadrach. Like the Ashley special episode last year, the Emmerdale casting team were spectacular in their choice of perfect actors for the younger versions of Faith, Shadrach, Cain and Chas with the adults in particular bearing a striking and uncanny resemblance to their counterparts. Reflecting on Cain’s childhood, Jeff Hordley gave a hugely emotional performance, with Cain’s heartbreaking past helping to explain how much of a struggle he’s facing in the present day as a father to Isaac and Sally Dexter continues to be a brilliant on-screen presence, in both comedy and tragedy. Together they make a believable mother and son duo which made the scenes all the more poignant. Far from being gimmicky, the flashbacks helped to flesh out the backstories of characters we’ve known for a long time and gave more weight to the struggles they’ve suffered, which before now we’ve only known through being told rather than seeing it first-hand. When Emmerdale takes creative risks like this the quality feels heightened, like we’re watching something beyond the tag of ‘soap’ and makes the drama feel fresh and novel, showing that these new approaches really pay off.
Eric and Faith’s relationship really became something special this week. For all their to-ing and fro-ing, with miscommunication and Rodney’s interference, the pair finally expressed the strength of their feelings for each other and slept together in some moving and beautiful scenes. The joy of Eric and Faith is that their connection feels real and their own private struggles – whether it’s a shared grief or Faith’s insecurities about her body – were told sensitively and poignantly. It feels like ages since we’ve seen a love story played out between an older couple, but the touching way Eric and Faith’s story has been told, it’s been almost impossible not to fall in love with them too. My heart melted with Faith said Eric made her feel special, and his calling her beautiful and saying she brought colour back to his existence was wonderful. Here’s hoping they go the distance – they deserve it.
Almost every week I want to heap praise onto Natalie J Robb’s acting. As Moira continues to struggle with her post-natal depression Natalie plays the scenes with such an effective dazed disconnect. This week Moira’s difficulties became more apparent to her family as she even went as far as giving Isaac to Adam and Vic, telling them that she couldn’t keep him and couldn’t deal with being a mother again. Moira’s grief and guilt over Holly is tied so intensely to Isaac that Moira’s been unable to bond for fear that she might lose him too. Moira’s breakdown this week was a wake up call to her loved ones who’d been oblivious and almost dismissive of her distant behaviour and Natalie made that inner battle of Moira’s so vivid and raw. I’m glad they’re continuing to show the impact of Holly’s death on Moira’s life and that Isaac hasn’t been a quick fix to that grief or to her estranged marriage with Cain. It’s a difficult watch, but one Natalie sells so well.
It’s a testament to Zoe Henry’s acting that Rhona’s heartbreak was so effective this week, as she discovered Paddy had moved on and was with Chas. As if their slobbering PDAs weren’t bad enough! Granted, it was Rhona’s choice not to reunite with Paddy after the trial, but his and Chas’s sudden teenage fixation with each other does seem a little on the hasty side and is a bit of a hard watch – even more so for Rhona. So why the “Fail” category this week? Simply because it hurts to see Rhona crushed like that when she’s had a really tough year. Plus, it seems inevitable that the great Chas and Paddy love affair will crash and burn at some point (like it always does) so it seems even more unnecessary to put Rhona through this.
Victoria was right this week when she talked about cute baby overload in the village. But it’s not the squidgy little faces that are a problem, it’s that there feels like there are too many baby plots all at once. Moira’s post-natal depression has been wonderfully told so far, but it’s not just the parenting stories with Isaac we are watching – it’s Rebecca and Robert with Sebastian, Adam and Vic wanting to adopt too. Last week Robert had his moment of being a reluctant father and then this time it was Cain’s turn. And this heavy baby focus is without mentioning Jai and Megan’s concerns over Eliza. All the baby plots serve a purpose when it comes to explore issues with their parents, but did we really need so many baby plots all at once?