Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Emmerdale pushed the boat out (literally) for its big stunt and Chas gave birth.
If there’s one character who owned the week, it was Cain Dingle. There’s a reason why Cain is so popular among viewers and ultimately it comes down to the brilliance of Jeff Hordley’s portrayal. This week was a blockbuster week for Cain as he learnt Moira was cheating. First he pummelled the wrong target (oops, poor Pete) and then on learning the real culprit was Nate, staged an elaborate (and let’s face it a convoluted/ridiculous) revenge plot. With Cain’s pain, fury and below the surface seething playing out perfectly in Jeff’s face, I’m not convinced the week needed a random boat explosion, when the showdown was satisfying on its own but the underwater scenes were visually impression. It’s unclear what’s next for Cain and Moira, particularly when her motivation to cheat was unsatisfying and unsympathetic, but the pair have undeniable chemistry even at war. Whatever happens, Cain’s total breakdown will be worth watching for Jeff’s performances alone.
Robert faced his sentencing this week in a plot thread that felt a bit lost in the show’s stunt week after last week’s thrilling focus. However this didn’t deter from the emotional performances as both Robert and Aaron tried to put on a brave face. As Aaron suffered alone at home watching a video from his husband, his prison break out plan abandoned after some tough and quite uncompassionate berating from his family, Robert faced his own despair in a prison cell. This heartbreak was a nice juxtaposition of scenes and Aaron’s dark mood clouded the rest of the week in a way that was fitting to the tragedy of the situation. The performances and grief following last week have been spot on, but my only fear is after last week’s great scenes, the momentum has been lost a little.
Faith Says Farewell
We said goodbye to Sally Dexter this week as Faith, in a way that felt surprisingly final. Since it was announced Faith would be leaving the Dales, there was hope it was just a break, but the framing of Friday’s scenes felt like we might not see Faith again for a long time – if ever again. Even though her exit itself seemed rushed, especially with only a handful of characters available to say goodbye, Sally Dexter had a final week of big dramatic performances and not just the barbed comments and comedy she’s often been used for. Faith’s been quite brash and divisive but she’s also been someone who’s felt right at home from the start and fit into the village perfectly. From her troubled role as a parent to Chas and Cain to the touching romance with Eric, it was good to see both of these explored in her final episode. Faith’s been one of those great morally grey characters who can inspire empathy even in the worst of her behaviour. She’ll be a real loss to the show.
Light and Shade
In among all the high drama this week was Chas giving birth in the pub toilets with only Marlon to hand. Scenes of someone giving birth in the wrong place at the wrong time are done often in soap, but these were lifted by the reliably amusing Marlon and of course the drunken chaos of Mandy and Bob next door. In fact those two, plus Lydia, would be a great full time addition to the bar staff. Every big week needs a lighter story and this worked well, especially when Chas and Paddy’s joy felt earned after last year’s tragedy.
- It seems like someone at Emmerdale had a short term memory this week! First Chas managed to learn Moira had cheated on Cain twice, once in the first Thursday episode, then again at the end of the second episode. Baby brain or a mistake slipping through the net? Then Chas chose the name “Eve” for her new baby, totally forgetting about Eve Jenson who was her mortal enemy and cheated with Carl. Would you really name your child after someone you hated? Seems like Emmerdale forgot all about that big story. Finally, the discovery Faith had been involved in preventing Cain from knowing about pregnant Cara was baffling as we’d already seen how Faith had abandoned her kids when they were very young – so how did her involvement work? Considering the special flashback episode dealing with Cain and Faith’s past was less than two years ago, this seems like a really clunky mistake. When the big twist doesn’t gel with established canon, it weakens the satisfying element of a twist!
More Torture for Victoria
Some viewers had already predicted that cute hospital guy Luke would have some sort of dark connection to Lee, but I was naively hoping that Emmerdale wouldn’t go down such a convoluted and cruel route. Wrong. The glimmer of hope and happiness for Vic was not to be, which considering what she’s suffered through this year feels particularly mean spirited. This week she discovered Luke was Lee’s brother, another spawn of the vile Wendy’s and so Vic’s chance for a fresh start away from her trauma and her rapist is not to be. Isn’t this a bit needless? If Vic couldn’t have justice, then a clean break, empowered against Lee’s awful mother would have been a start. I fear Emmerdale will explore a relationship between the two and try and soften Wendy that way but Victoria deserves much better.
So, Nate is Cain’s son, eh? Who’d have thought it? Well…quite a few viewers to be honest. Was there ever going to be a twist big and shocking enough to please every viewer? Probably not. But there was something uninspired about this predictable route and I’m not convinced it made trashing Moira and her marriage worth it. Perhaps if Emmerdale had worked harder to establish Nate as a character in his own right, or avoided the repetitive affair scenes by having his seduction more prolonged and subtle, perhaps if we as viewers had been in on Nate’s motivation and secret then the gut-punch for Moira and Cain might have meant more. Perhaps if we’d seen hints of Nate’s ulterior motive or even Cain growing to like him so his betrayal and hatred hit with more impact. As it was after the budget blowing stunt, the impact of the secret unravelled quickly in a series of confusing and dull exposition scenes about a character we’ve never met (Cara), that made the backstory of Cain and Faith’s relationship muddled (Faith WAS around in his life apparently and Shadrach was a racist) and wasn’t as exciting as it might have been if we’d been in on the shock all along. Not to mention the fact that Cain is interesting enough without another secret child being brought into the equation – we’ve only just had Ryan and Charity. What Emmerdale seems to have assumed is that Nate is automatically interesting because he’s Cain’s son, but if they want us to be interested in another father/son bonding journey, then they’re going to have to make a bit more effort to write Nate as more than just a plot device.