Fave or Fail? (17-21 Feb 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! Vanessa was revealed to have bowel cancer this week and Nate was shot accidentally by Cain.

Faves

Vanessa’s Ongoing Hell

vlcsnap-2020-02-22-11h11m19s523First things first. If you’ve spent the whole of Vanessa’s imprisonment complaining about her not untying herself, or wondering how she’s going to the toilet then you’re missing out on enjoying the story for what it is – an OTT soapy plot leading to the end of Pierce. And if you can’t do that (pfft), suspend your disbelief and enjoy the performances at least because those have been excellent. This week it was revealed Vanessa has just been diagnosed with bowel cancer and in a cruel twist of fate, Pierce was the only other person to know. This is what made the reveal of her health crisis even worse because now the stakes are even higher and being trapped with Pierce is another twist of the knife. He’s the very last person you’d want to share your news with. Vanessa’s tragic situation was beautifully played by Michelle Hardwick making me anticipate a superbly handled health story on the horizon which is the type of story Emmerdale does so well and is crying out for. Another plus point is that this kind of story ensures a great hook for viewers once the Pierce drama is over. Pierce continues to be chilling and Jonathan Wrather did an incredible job at being skin-crawlingly intimate with Vanessa, as well as using Johnny as a way to torture her. This week’s scenes, especially Monday’s episode, were uncomfortable and claustrophobic and so well performed. Forget the nit-picking, the Pierce story is still the most gripping story Emmerdale has.

Rhona’s Discovery

vlcsnap-2020-02-22-11h13m49s231Rhona was in pure detective mode as the fall out of Graham’s death continued this week but as she finally believed she had real evidence of Kim’s motive (the stolen motive), she was left reeling by Pierce’s card in her flowers. This discovery floored Rhona, unaware that Pierce had been let out of prison already, but this immediately set her mind racing. After speaking to an unhelpful police officer, Rhona speculated that Pierce might have been involved in Graham’s death, especially when she could finally pinpoint the weird happens at home (the open door, the smashed photo) to Pierce. It’s satisfying to see Rhona alone piece together the clues as the tension towards the climax ramps up and giving her this active, detective mode has stopped her sinking into the role of grieving girlfriend mourning an unlikeable guy and has give Zoe Henry a lot more to do and has positioned Rhona as the hero we can all root for.

Lingering Feelings?

vlcsnap-2020-02-22-11h14m50s855With the divorce papers signed, Moira was in a vulnerable position this week as rustlers threatened her livestock. There were signs however that there are still lingering feelings between her and Cain and later, when Cain needed an alibi, Moira put on her game face and covered for him without hesitation. And when Moira’s determined and steely, she’s got a power that’s more than a match for Cain. It’s hard to believe any other woman would have Cain’s back like she does. Despite last year’s affair tarnishing what Coira had in the eyes of many, they do make a well balanced couple and when the two had a quiet moment in the barn, the tension simmered like it always did. Could Coira be rebuilt or did we see signs that Moira will be left out in the cold in favour of Cain building a relationship with Nate? Even though Emmerdale would need to do some serious work to repair the damage done to both Cain and Moira’s marriage and Moira in her own right, it’s hard to imagine them working as well with anyone else.

Fails

Harriet’s House of Boredom

vlcsnap-2020-02-22-11h12m01s808Answer me this. How can it be possible that a household comprised of an ex-drug trafficker, an undercover cop turned vicar and an ex-heroin addict prostitute trying to reunite with her son be so damn boring? This week saw Dawn set up some play dates with son Lucas (a storyline so dry for Dawn’s character I almost wish she was on crack again) which turned to disaster when he started waving a real gun around. This was revealed to be Will’s gun, kept for protection because he’s inexplicably scared of bad guys coming after the family. Harriet was horrified that her ex-crim drug lord of a boyfriend who has since turned into a gentle bore could possess a weapon and then we watched as the pair had the same row the entire week. I was excited when Dean Andrews joined the show and even more so when the family’s complicated past was revealed but instead of exploring this dark and complex history and rebuilding trust, Harriet and Will were rushed back together in a lifeless romance and now even attempts to make the dull happy family set up have some drama completely fall flat when the writing for all three has diluted all the darkness and intrigue out of their personalities. This story is a complete yawn for all three characters when a look at their backstories screams potential.

Nate’s Forced Redemption

vlcsnap-2020-02-22-11h13m11s359It was inevitable from the moment Nate revealed he was Cain’s son, that one day they would build bridges and have a familial relationship. It didn’t matter that Nate arrived and helped tear Cain’s family apart, the pair would clearly embark on a journey of reconciliation. Despite the callous way Nate behaved, Nate seems to have developed a bit of a victim complex, sulking that he went been forgiven already and Emmerdale seem to be at great pains to prove that Nate’s actually a nice guy, Mr Misunderstood with abandonment issues. This hasn’t gelled that well with many viewers particularly those who, like me, loathed the whole affair plot. It’s quite a feat to have Cain soften towards someone who did what Nate did not even six months after the implosion of his marriage, even if Nate is his son. This week saw Cain accidentally shoot Nate believing him to be a rustler and cynics would say this was all a convoluted way to have Cain’s feelings shift rather than it happen over a longer period of time in a way that feels organic. It doesn’t matter whether Nate has a hundred fans in the Dingle family or he mopes around or he gets injured, a lot more work needs to be done making Nate an engaging character in his own right and not just contrived situations to illicit sympathy from both Cain and the audience.

Scene of the Week (17-21 Feb 2020)

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Ever since Pierce sent Rhona flowers with the creepy note attached, we’ve been waiting for the day she would discover it. The Pierce and Rhona confrontation is a ticking time bomb and now Rhona finally found his note, the climax is near. Having been hidden in plain sight all this time, Rhona was oblivious to Pierce’s return with the note used in Leo’s artwork until she found it fallen on the floor in my Scene of the Week. Zoe Henry played Rhona’s shock and horror absolutely perfectly and as the pieces fell into place, we could see Rhona making sense of her own paranoid behaviour in the last few weeks. Bring on the showdown!

Fave or Fail? (10-14 Feb 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! Vanessa and Pierce came face to face with horrifying consequences and Pete’s final episode aired as Anthony Quinlan left the show.

Faves

Vanessa’s Nightmare

vlcsnap-2020-02-15-19h58m21s418Pierce is unravelling and fast, as his delusional plan to reunite with Rhona was interrupted by coming face to face with Vanessa. Surely you realised it would happen sooner or later Pierce?! Desperate Pierce went to an extreme length to keep Vanessa out of the way and tied her up and gagged her, even going as far as keeping poor Johnny upstairs and away from his mum. As Vanessa feared for her life, the scenes between the two were tense and gripping, and their on screen history makes it all the more chilling. While Pierce’s panto villain plotting at Home Farm was fun we saw the brutal lengths he is really capable with Vanessa and it gave Jonathan Wrather a great opportunity to show Pierce unhinged and deranged. A brilliant and exciting watch as well as being uncomfortably grim viewing for poor Vanessa. Looking forward to seeing the thrilling climax of this story play out!

Perfect Performance

vlcsnap-2020-02-15-20h20m23s846If I was picking a stand out character of the week then it would have to be Vanessa, who had a truly awful week but was so watchable thanks to flawless performances from Michelle Hardwick. I’ve long bemoaned the fact Vanessa is one of the show’s most underrated characters who often gets overlooked when it comes to stories of her own – but could this be about to change? This week tensions were still high between her and Charity after her lies about Graham’s money. But as Vanessa struggled with the weight of this secret, she was tearful and strained in some quiet and subtle scenes. Eagle eyed viewers might have noticed Vanessa even take a mystery trip to the hospital suggesting her mind might be on more than just Charity’s wrong moves. As Vanessa’s week went from bad to worse Pierce appeared and Vanessa was plunged into a horrifying hostage situation. Fear is something difficult to put across on screen especially in such a heightened soapy situation but Michelle played it brilliantly and the adrenaline filled fight with Pierce was one of the show’s most desperate and real looking confrontations in a while. Can’t wait to see where this story goes.

Forbidden Feelings

vlcsnap-2020-02-15-20h16m53s990Belle and Jamie got closer this week and shared their first onscreen kiss as Jamie moped about the situation with Andrea and Belle offered him support. These two continue to have a nice chemistry and a believable attraction (far more than their respective relationships). This week though there was another obstacle thrown at them when Kim saw their kiss and warned Belle off. Belle stood her ground in a great scene with Kim but continued to be conflicted about what to do about Jamie. These two have great potential if they keep it slow burn and obstacles are a good thing, otherwise if the only thing keeping them apart is upsetting Ellis – it’s a bit of a weak reason. The higher the stakes the more we’ll root for them.

The Rebound Guy

vlcsnap-2020-02-15-20h14m19s791Liam and Leyla decided to make a go of things this week, after growing even closer as they planned David and Theo’s gathering. Despite their flirtations, one person who wasn’t a fan was Liam’s daughter Leanna who warned him not to be the rebound guy lurching from woman to woman. She has a point! This was an amusing scene as Leanna gave Liam a dressing down about his disastrous relationships and suggested he be alone for a while. Liam is a naturally funny character who has fun interactions with almost everyone and although I’m not as fond of his dynamic with Leyla as I was with Bernice, they’re a fun couple. Now they’ve decided to make a secret go of things I’m hoping they find their own unique direction rather than the same heightened comedy set ups that Liam shared with Bernice otherwise they might just feel like a poor imitation than loveable in their own way.

Coming Back Fighting

vlcsnap-2020-02-15-20h18m28s026Moira was back in the village this week and she returned with a strong attitude, determined to make a fresh start. The first scene we saw her was the powerful woman we know and love, gun toting and giving the rustlers what for. Although Matty wasn’t keen to brush things under the carpet, Moira wanted to reunite with the kids and keep things civil with Cain. It’s hard to know where the future lies for Moira and her relationship with Cain. The week ended with her signing the divorce papers but when the two of them hint towards their lingering feelings it’s hard not to feel the pull of Jeff Hordley and Natalie J Robb’s chemistry. On the other hand, Moira’s fallen into a bit of a rut after the Nate debacle so a new direction would be welcome. Maybe it’s time we had a new farming family and Moira found a new role in the village?

Fail

Wendy Woes

vlcsnap-2020-02-15-20h15m16s374For a show like Emmerdale, which has a fantastic track record of well told, sensitively handled stories that cover important topics, it beggars belief how far they are going out of their way to try and get the audience to sympathise with Wendy. Wendy isn’t a rapist, but her treatment of Victoria just months after her horrific attack was harassment. She intimidated, gaslighted and stalked Victoria to the point she felt she had to move away. Even when Lee died, Wendy forced Victoria to relive her trauma again and again by moving in a few doors down. This behaviour is inexcusable and unforgivable and yet rather than tell an empowering story of Vic finding her life again, almost all of her recent screentime has been putting words in her mouth that excuse Wendy’s behaviour. Rape survivors shouldn’t have to forgive their rapist or their cruel family. It doesn’t make them a bad person. And yet Emmerdale continue to paint a harmful image of the “good victim” who is forgiving and empathetic. The narrative is: Vic has forgiven Wendy because she’s a “good person”. What about survivors who can’t and won’t? Wendy says she saw Vic was a “good” person so could see she wasn’t lying – but this choice of dialogue is harmful for survivors who carry a stigma and an image of being promiscuous or aren’t your typical “good person”. Telling a story about a mother who learns the awful truth about her son’s behaviour could have been a great story and I have to believe Emmerdale had those good intentions but the reality has been a horrible watch. If Wendy and the Posners were brought in as a new family and we got to know them and it was only later we learnt Lee was a rapist, we’d be on the same journey with Wendy and empathise ourselves. As it stands it seems like Emmerdale have bent over backwards to absolve Wendy and deny Vic an empowering journey in order to force this story. It’s stomach churning to watch Wendy portrayed as a victim, sobbing over her son and his innocent childhood when we saw the horrifying rape Victoria faced and the way the Posners bullied her afterwards. Whether it’s realistic for the mother of a rapist or not, the narrative has been ill conceived at every turn, stealing Vic’s agency and forcing a concept that the Posner family deserve a second chance because they are Harry’s biological family. Why? It doesn’t work. It’s disheartening to see this unwatchable, harmful writing continually tarnishing the show’s excellent reputation for crucial stories.

Scene of the Week (10-14 Feb 2020)

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This heart-stopping moment is the second Vanessa came face to face with her worst nightmare and my Scene of the Week. It was only a matter of time before lurking Pierce bumped into someone he recognised – it’s a small village after all! But with him believing he was close to reuniting to Rhona, the last person he wanted to come across was Rhona’s BFF Vanessa. The moment when these two enemies locked eyes was a brilliantly gripping moment, made even better including Johnny because the stakes suddenly got a lot higher.

Fave or Fail? (3-7 Feb 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 Marlon’s hell continued, April ran away from home and a tragedy prompted Arthur’s shocking confession.

Faves

Pierce Gets Smarter and Scarier

vlcsnap-2020-02-08-12h27m49s551Pierce stepped up his plan of action this week and after overhearing Rhona’s distrust and dislike of Kim, he decided to embed himself into life at Home Farm with a crafty plan. The beauty of Pierce’s return is that he’s both smart and chilling, meaning you can forgive the slightly more outlandish “He’s behind you!” moments. This week Pierce was back lurking around Smithy Cottage, even going as far as talking to and touching Rhona while she was sleeping. Creepy as hell! But it would have got old and unbelievable quickly if that was all Pierce was up to, but luckily he had more up his sleeve than that. With the help of a cunning plan to make Kim believe she’d run him over and smashed his phone, Pierce got an invite inside Home Farm and there his manipulations continued. Sure, it’s a bit of a stretch to believe Kim would so readily trust a stranger to help with her son’s custody battle, but Pierce is convincing and charming enough for us to suspend disbelief and it’s fun for us to be privy to his real identity while the rest of the village is oblivious. The Graham murder aftermath continues to be great viewing.

Arthur’s Shock Confession

vlcsnap-2020-02-08-12h26m18s341The Thomas family had some very sad news this week as Laurel revealed that Sandy had died. These scenes not only provided some emotional performances from the brilliant actors within the Thomas family but it also sent Arthur into a spiral of guilt. Blaming himself for his grandfather’s death, Arthur ran away to the graveyard to talk to his dad and apologise. Arthur was at breaking point when Jimmy tried to comfort him and he eventually confessed all to mum Laurel, revealing that he had been the one to hurt Archie. These scenes were excellently performed by the consistently great Alfie Clarke and also Charlotte Bellamy who showed Laurel’s conflict between anger and guilt herself for not noticing Arthur struggling. I’m glad the Arthur/Archie plot didn’t drag on too long (though Arthur’s confession does feel a little isolated when we haven’t seen Archie for weeks) and it felt true to Arthur’s character to have him confess. I also enjoyed the extra strain this put on Laurel and Jai’s relationship there’s interesting potential there going forward if she eventually tells him the truth. Considering Ashley’s history of violence, I hope Arthur’s actions and his struggles won’t be brushed under the carpet because I think this is a worthy story to be told.

April’s Agony

vlcsnap-2020-02-08-12h25m28s848Another young actor took centre stage this week as Amelia Flanagan as April reminded us what a top performer she is. With Marlon still suffering in prison, April learnt she’d been lied to and could in fact visit him. Feeling betrayed, April ran away from home and soon the whole village went on the hunt for her. Meanwhile Marlon was inconsolable when he heard the news of her absence, making his imprisonment even harder to bear. Eventually April was found and it was decided she could go and visit. As the family tried to be strong, with their Free Marlon campaign, the situation isn’t looking any more positive and poor April likely won’t feel any better once she’s seen Marlon there herself. This storyline has provided some great performances and it’s been enjoyable to see Mandy, Billy and Bob in particular taking a supportive role in April’s life.

Pete’s Lowkey Exit

vlcsnap-2020-02-08-12h22m13s232This week’s episodes saw the start of Pete’s low key exit plot as he decided to make a new start away from Emmerdale. After working at Wylie’s Farm for a while, Pete was overcome with bad memories – this was, after all, the site of his father’s imprisonment at the hands of Emma. Pete felt a bit of a spare part this week as Tracy moved on with Nate under his nose and realised that there’s very little keeping him around anymore. Pete’s been in Emmerdale since 2013 so on one hand it feels a bit of a disservice to have such a muted exit, though on reflection, Pete’s been a less central character lately and it’s an exit true to the Pete’s history and with almost all his family gone, options are limited to give him a big send off. The scenes this week where he considered his future and reminisced about better, and also darker days, were well done and for a “taxi” exit, isn’t as rushed as they usually are.

Fails

Suddenly Smitten

vlcsnap-2020-02-08-12h25m53s771For some inexplicable reason Tracy found herself smitten with Nate this week and this latest romance is something I’m really hoping was just a device to get Pete to think about leaving. Even though the Moira affair is over, Nate continues to be a sticking point, especially since Cara has disappeared – and she was one person that might’ve made him a bit more interesting! But forgetting how boring and immature Nate seems, doesn’t Tracy deserve better writing? Tracy already had her empowered moment of realising Nate was a sleazy player, so why was she falling over herself after just one conversation in the shop? It’s true Tracy doesn’t have the best track record in choosing men (David, anyone?) but she’s gone from dates with Billy, a fling with Pete and now this with Nate all with little care to develop these connections. We all know Amy Walsh is capable of big things, so why is she continuously rushed into empty romances. Surely Tracy deserves a big love story, not just whichever single man is hanging around!

Rotten Romance

vlcsnap-2020-02-09-11h24m08s320In any other situation, the rom-com cuteness of Vic and Luke this week would have paid off. He got a chef job at the pub, despite being hopeless with anything else but a microwave and Vic was doe-eyed and smitten watching him mistake gravy for caramel sauce and take hours to cook a pizza. They have chemistry, a real spark, Luke is sweet in a helpless puppy way, and above all Victoria deserves a lifetime of happiness. So, why does the whole thing feel a bit icky and wrong? Even Luke’s cheese-tastic comments to baby Harry which Vic overheard on the baby monitor couldn’t hit the mark when you look at the bigger context. Of course Luke isn’t anything Lee, nor should he be judged on his brother’s crimes, but by having a relationship with him, Vic is tied forever to those memories and that family. And that’s without getting started on the Wendy issue. Even if you buy into the pair’s feelings for each other it seems like an impossible situation that just doesn’t feel realistic. It’s Vic’s choice to explore a relationship with Luke but as a writing choice it means never moving away from her trauma – Lee will always be there in the background, as an anecdote or a memory for the Posners. Vic does deserve happiness and a fulfilling romance, but with the brother of her rapist, a man who lives with his mother (a woman who repeatedly harassed, stalked, gaslighted and continues to make Vic’s trauma about herself) – this is a contrived and unbelievable situation and Victoria is worth more than her whole life being defined by her rapist’s family.

Scene of the Week (3-7 Feb 2020)

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Laurel was pensive this week when she revealed to the kids the sad news that their granddad Sandy had passed away. This scene was beautifully done. With Gabby being older, she understood quicker than bewildered Arthur, who then immediately believed he was responsible. As the sad news sunk in, we were reminded just what brilliant actors these three are. It’s been a while since the whole Thomas family have been involved in something so emotional and grounded. Sometimes it’s the quiet scenes that really reflect real life which are the most impactful.