Fave or Fail? (20-24 Jan 2020)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! After a week of the suspects vowing revenge on Graham, he was murdered by Pierce Harris.

Faves

Shock Return

vlcsnap-2020-01-26-11h07m02s107It was a week of twists and mysteries but the biggest surprise of all was the return of Pierce Harris, one of the village’s most chilling and manipulative villains. Pierce’s return helped to answer a lot of Graham’s shady behaviour and was satisfying for those viewers who had speculated Pierce might be involved ever since we heard he was up for release from prison. This week showed Pierce is just as twisted as ever and he’s played brilliantly by Jonathan Wrather. Not only does Pierce’s murder of Graham set off a new chain of events for the characters who are within his circle, but it could also lead to some exciting scenes as Pierce homes in on his targets. The village has needed an engaging villain so I’m glad to have one, for a short while at least.

Creepy Cliff-hangers

vlcsnap-2020-01-26-11h03m28s509Every episode in the run up to Friday left us guessing, each ending with ominous scenes of our main suspects. There was Al standing over Graham’s leaf covered corpse as Kim sat at home pondering whether she did the right thing; Jai with bloodied knuckles falling over; Charity and Ryan lurking by the bridge talking about no regrets; a bloody and grief-stricken Andrea; a pensive Jamie in a car; and Marlon in the woods after arranging to meet Graham. All these scenes were well constructed and intriguing, giving us that must-see element. As the episodes played out, Andrea and Jamie’s motives were strongest and their chilling cliff-hanger was by far the most effective, so much so I almost wish they’d been the killers themselves! What the rest of these suspects did on that fateful night remains to be seen.

Emotional Motives

vlcsnap-2020-01-26-11h05m06s315I’m not sure anyone started the week believing Marlon or Charity Dingle would go as far as killing Graham, but helped by some emotive heart-to-hearts with their loved ones and showdowns with Graham, you could see how they might be pushed. This week had some particularly impressive performances. Earlier in the week Charity was broken hearted to learn how her son Ryan had felt so trapped and vulnerable when Graham locked him in a shed. When she confronted Graham, her explosive fury transformed to something far quieter and deeper thanks to Emma Atkin’s performance, as Graham viscously insulted her in the street. Marlon too was tipped over the edge, paranoid about Graham’s involvement in his children’s lives, but it was his scenes with Rhona that were particularly impressive as he cried about his life being a mess. Mark Charnock and Zoe Henry delivered the scene beautifully with all their characters’ history before our eyes, until Rhona’s reveal that she was taking Leo to France meant their relationship imploded once more. Of the weeks more memorable moments, it’s these character reactions that really stood out as highlights.

Jai and Laurel’s Relationship Breakdown

vlcsnap-2020-01-26-11h04m18s519Jai’s drug issues escalated this week to give him a (fairly implausible) reason for wanting Graham dead. The HOP opening day was an unbelievable shambles, however, the success of Jai’s episode came in the strength of his scenes with Laurel. Getting high to cope with his day, Jai took cocaine and then agreed to pick Dotty up, but crashed into Graham’s car before he had the chance. Seething Graham revealed all to Laurel and when Jai tried to evade the truth, she revealed her devastation that he would sink so low and might have endangered her child and was still prepared to lie about it. These were some nicely acted scenes and effective fall out, even if Jai’s relapse felt contrived. Now that Jai doesn’t need to be a suspect, hopefully this story will play to its strengths and stay character led.

Fail

Style Over Substance?

vlcsnap-2020-01-26-18h58m08s484Even though everyone wanted Graham dead, the final episode of the week revealed they weren’t all as involved in his demise as it first appeared. With the week’s structure it might have been a little anti-climactic and even confusing to have all these timelines with unanswered questions, particularly when Graham and Pierce’s fight dragged on and edged towards a hammy action film finale rather than a thrilling conclusion. How many last breaths did Graham need? While there were plenty of moments where the “same week, different perspectives” paid off with fun moments of spotting things in the background and stories crossing over, as the week wore on, was it a bit repetitive and style over substance? When Emmerdale steps outside the box, it’s always going to be divisive, but this week seemed a bit overloaded with gimmicks, when really its cast of impressive performers are just as gripping if they tell a linear story.

The Bigger Picture

vlcsnap-2020-01-26-11h06m28s849For some viewers, Pierce’s return to murder Graham has been a divisive decision. The experimental week which set up five suspects actually revealed none of them was responsible, but saw a return of Pierce Harris, Rhona’s ex-husband and rapist. Despite complaints that the stylistic decisions of the week ended up being gimmicky, perhaps there’s a deeper question about the purpose of Pierce.  Bringing back a truly evil villain has its positives (see above) but when it diminishes the conclusion of a successful past storyline – is it worth it? Viewers who witnessed Pierce’s tenure first time round would have seen a sense of justice and closure for Rhona and her final scenes with him gave us a sense of her empowerment and strength to move on. But with this latest twist, all this has been undone and Rhona once again has her life in tatters thanks to Pierce. If his abuse and rape of her wasn’t enough torture, he returns to murder the man she loves. When we’ve recently seen Victoria, another of the village’s rape survivors, hassled, stalked and her life made a misery by her rapist and his mother, it feels a bit of a grim choice to be tormenting Rhona in a similar way. There’s no question that Pierce’s return is bound to end in a grisly way, but will it be worth turning the story into something sensationalist when his original story with Rhona told a relatable and real-life story with a fitting end? Time will tell…

Scene of the Week (20-24 Jan 2020)

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It was Pierce! So, after a week of cliffhangers and suspicious behaviour, Graham’s murderer was revealed to be none other than the evil Pierce Harris. Pierce’s return came as a surprise twist (unless you’d already been spoiled by the unfortunate leak on social media – oops) although savvy fans had already speculated he might be a potential suspect when his release from prison was revealed in a recent scene. While Pierce being the murderer might have been a divisive choice for the killer, this was an eerie and thrilling scene, made even better by having a true, chilling villain back in the Dales.

Fave or Fail? (13-17 Jan 2020)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! As tension escalates in the run-up to Graham’s death, the mysteries keep coming.

Faves

Murder Mysteries

vlcsnap-2020-01-19-11h43m38s620As we inch closer to Graham’s murder, Emmerdale are sewing the seeds for a good old murder mystery. But with speculation and rife and motivations building, there are bigger mysteries afoot which make the intrigue even better. Monday’s episode saw Graham slyly listening to a voicemail on Rhona’s phone then deleting it, before heading off into the night and returning with blood on his hands. Did Graham murder someone? Who was the mystery caller? Is Graham being controlling or protective? Could that mystery caller be Rhona’s abusive ex Pierce? So many questions! Then there’s the missing passport – if Marlon didn’t take it, then who did? Even if the whodunnit itself has some clunky motives at least there is plenty of intrigue to keep us guessing. Bring on next week!

Closing a Chapter

vlcsnap-2020-01-19-11h42m01s060It was another week of emotional turmoil for Aaron – does it ever end? – as Pete passed on a message from Rebecca that Seb would no longer be visiting him and his family in the village. While this seems like a short-sighted story decision (being a dad gave Aaron fresh story potential) it was there to send Aaron into a further spiral, making unsafe choices surrounding his sex life. When confronted by Liv and Vic, he lashed out, which was a turning point making him realise he needed to get away for a while. This week’s scenes were nicely written and served as a bookend to the aftermath of Robert’s exit. Aaron’s grief of his life being over has been well handled and stayed true to the character and the relationship which has been central to his stories over the past five years. With Aaron admitting that he didn’t feel he could or wanted to get over Robert, he decided to get away for a while and this seems like a good way to have Aaron returning in a better place without it seeming rushed or out of character.

Getting the Balance Right

vlcsnap-2020-01-19-11h39m38s874Wendy continues to be a thorn in Victoria’s (and the audience’s) side but I was glad to see the writing for Vic taking a more active and positive role this week. After reaching out to Aaron, Vic realised she needed to seek extra help too and looked into counselling. While these might have been moments just to prompt Wendy’s enlightenment, I was glad Vic was still given scenes to show that Harry hadn’t magically made everything better and she was still struggling. Later in the week we got to see the chirpy Vic of old as she worked in the pub and tried to impress Jai to get the catering deal, showing that with the right balance, the aftermath of Vic’s rape can work when Vic herself gets the focus. She’s more than just a plot device for the Posners – let’s hope Emmerdale remember this!

Jai’s Relapse

vlcsnap-2020-01-19-11h42m33s037Readers of this blog will know my fondness for Jai (and especially his relationship with Laurel) has increased tenfold over the last year or so. Five years ago, Jai was in a very dark place and was – let’s face it – a really unlikeable arse. As Jai became one of the nastiest in the village, so began a coke habit, spiralling his life out of control. Fast forward a few years and Jai is a recovering addict with a good family life and relationship. This week however, with the unbearable (and unbelievable) pressure piled on by the disastrous outdoor pursuits business, Jai fell back into old habits and relapsed. This story has several flaws and it feels like a wasted opportunity to throw Jai back into addiction to give him a convoluted reason to murder Graham, when actually it could be a sensitive and emotional story instead. However, the performances are faultless and empathetic, especially when Jai confessed his temptation to Laurel, who has similar demons of her own. Thankfully Jai is a much more likeable character than he used to be, meaning however contrived this story is, we’re willing Jai to find his strength.

Fail

One Contrivance Too Many

vlcsnap-2020-01-19-11h45m05s197I’ve already had a grumble about whodunnit plots leading to out of character behaviour and clunky plot contrivances, and there was a fair few this week putting a dampener on the build up to Graham’s murder. Immediately after Christmas, Graham at least had the three Tates desperate to see the back of him, but now it seems to have lost momentum. So now we’ve had Ryan working for Graham (why?) and taking part in shady behaviour which felt OOC; Kim trusting Graham’s supposed good nature just for him to screw her over; Graham’s interest in Noah to return at an all too convenient time and the outdoor centre so poorly run that it’s completely unbelievable, all too push Jai back towards drugs. Maybe Emmerdale were loathed to make Graham hated by the entire village but they’ve had months to prepare for these motivations and yet a lot of them feel tenuous at best. Do any of the suspects really have a strong enough motive to murder? I guess we’ll find out next week.

Scene of the Week (13-17 Jan 2020)

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There’s nothing quite like an ominous scene full of dramatic irony to end a week! With next week’s heavily promoted whodunnit just around the corner, Friday’s final scene was a montage of the suspects, all voicing their motives to kill Graham. As Marlon, Charity, Jai, Kim and Al, Jamie and Andrea, all glowered, Rhona and Graham happily looked ahead to their future in France, blissfully aware of what’s ahead. This was the perfect teaser for next week’s drama and gave us an exciting taste of what’s to come. A cheesy and knowing nod to the whodunnit but lots of fun!

Fave or Fail? (6-10 Jan 2020)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Moira’s drinking problems escalated this week and a new arrival made a big impression.

Faves

A Big First Impression

vlcsnap-2020-01-11-18h22m37s445Nate’s mum Cara arrived this week and already she has elevated the Nate saga, making it far more engaging. It’s early days for the character but she is enigmatic and seems to have a distinct personality compared to anyone else in the village. At first, as a stranger, Cara took Moira to the hospital before her real identity was announced in a satisfying showdown. It was refreshing to see her give Nate a talking to about his behaviour as she made both Moira and her son accountable, but perhaps the real potential lies with her and Cain. Their first meeting bristled with tension but we later got to see chemistry between them as they discussed their past. Rather than their discussion feeling laboured with exposition, the actors made their characters’ former relationship come to life – could lingering feelings return? Cara’s exactly what this story needs and with a great actress in Carryl Thomas I can’t wait to see more of her.

A Mother’s Love

vlcsnap-2020-01-11-18h23m53s899Charity felt guilty this week when she discovered Graham had taken Noah to hospital when he was unwell, and Graham belittled her parenting efforts. Charity’s relationship with Noah has always been complex and arguably the most interesting of all her relationships with her children so it was good to explore that this week. After his recent hospitalisation over the drug taking, Charity poured her heart out to Noah, eventually expressing how much she loved him and how sorry she was for not vocalising it. Feeling rejected and unloved, Noah needed more reassurance and these were some beautifully performed and written scenes – a real highlight of the week.

Sarah’s Choice

vlcsnap-2020-01-11-18h22m24s122The scales fell from Sarah’s eyes this week as she realised that Danny had been lying to her about the drugs and exploiting her feelings for him. Earlier in the week Danny had been in full manipulation mode, even appearing with cuts and bruises to show how desperate he was to clear his debts with the dealers. But conflicted Sarah, repeatedly encouraged by Noah to do the right thing, was torn between her feelings and what was right. As it soon became clear Danny was only using her and lying about his injuries, Sarah made the decision to turn him into the police. Emotional Sarah confessed all to Noah, who was quick to reassure her that she’d done the right thing. Sarah turning him in was a genuinely surprising moment and the performances from Katie Hill were excellent, especially as she told Noah that she really liked Danny and it hadn’t made her feel better. The conclusion of this story was well written, with Sarah’s mixed feelings pleasingly not making the end too neat.

Moira’s Turning Point?

vlcsnap-2020-01-11-18h25m44s769Moira’s breakdown has been a divisive story in the Dales with some viewers finding Moira unlikeable and not the character they recognise. Despite this, it looks as if Moira has reached a turning point, even if she’s still just as bitter! Sympathy for Moira seems to come and go, but I’ve no doubt that she could return to the strong character she was, thanks to Natalie J Robb’s consistently good performances. This week in her hospital bed she seemed small and vulnerable, eager for her life to get back on track and earn Cain’s forgiveness, but with Nate still around and now Cara, it soon sunk in that they won’t just be able to forgive and forget. Like all soap characters who slip down an unrecognisable path (remember Finn’s stalker storyline?) a break from the village often works its magic to “reset” the character and spoiler fans will know Moira will soon be off to Nanna Barton’s – so can we expect the return of the woman we know and love(d)?

Fail

Computer Says No

vlcsnap-2020-01-11-18h24m27s008A soap whodunnit is always full of exciting probabilities as we try and piece together the clues, but the only downside is the murder victim always has to make a lot of enemies first! This week saw tensions ramp up between Graham and Marlon and Graham and Charity. While these are believable tensions, you can sense their reactions have been cranked up a little to lay the foundations of them being suspects. This week we saw Graham steal from the outdoor pursuits company in a scene that was teeth itchingly contrived, all to build him a big list of enemies. Graham eavesdropped on Ryan and Priya talking about pets and passwords only for it to be followed by the world’s clunkiest scene where Ryan accidentally revealed the account password. As anyone knows passwords these days often require symbols, numbers and capital letters at least so it was a real stretch of believability that Kim would have such a weak password. Not to mention it made Ryan look really naive and stupid quite frankly, for a so called computer expert. No, it wasn’t a major story of the week but it’s unbelievable little things like this which can make a story fall apart. Surely they could have found a smarter way for Graham to steal the money and keep Ryan involved?

Scene of the Week (6-10 Jan 2020)

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It might have been the moment we all saw coming after Moira was rescued by a stranger, but it was still very satisfying to see the big reveal at the middle of the hospital corridor – Moira’s saviour was Cara, Nate’s mum. As a furious Moira railed against Nate’s appearance at the hospital, especially having reached rock bottom, glamorous Cara turned Moira’s anger into indignation. It was a great scene and the perfect introduction for Cara and Carryl Thomas.