Fave or Fail? (13-17 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! 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.

Fave or Fail? (30 Dec 2019- 3 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! A brand new year began and two new babies made their mark.

Faves

Dad Dilemma

vlcsnap-2020-01-04-15h37m03s635The most compelling story this week was David and Jacob continuing to struggle in the aftermath of the baby’s arrival on their doorstep. Although David had made an agreement to be the baby’s father no matter what, things were tense as they waited for the paternity results. It was revealed, quite surprisingly, that David is the father of Maya’s baby and there was a flood of relief and discomfort. As Jacob attempted to return to a normal teenage life, David struggled, not knowing if he could accept his son with everything Maya had done. There were some moving and thought provoking scenes as David battled his conscience and spoke to Eric about giving the child up for adoption before ultimately realising he did have the captivity to love the boy in spite of everything Maya had done to their family. This story has had interesting developments and I almost wish the struggle had lasted longer even if it had made David look heartless. I’m also intrigued as to how or if this will impact on Jacob’s recovery. So far he seems pretty unaffected by Theo, especially

Baby Drama

vlcsnap-2020-01-04-15h39m00s782It was baby central in Emmerdale this week as it wasn’t just David dealing with a newborn but Victoria too, as little Harry Sugden was born. After Victoria’s traumatic year, the birth of Harry was initially played for laughs but when he came into the world, Vic was panicked she would see Lee’s face and be unable to love him. Of course Vic fell in love at first sight and her world has been brightened by his arrival. There’s still the Wendy issue although I’m holding out a possibly futile hope that they’re going to let Wendy go full on Emma Barton style villain and embrace it rather than be the victim. This story though has been a welcome lift for Vic and it was nice to see her reunited with her friends for support as well as the addition of Aaron’s believable struggles with Harry’s arrival.

Liam and Leyla

vlcsnap-2020-01-04-15h38m26s238Too soon – you might argue! And I’d probably agree with you there. I was a bit fan of Bernice and Liam’s relationship so this rush to pair him up with smitten Leyla does seem too soon. Bernice has only been out the door five minutes. However, reservations aside there’s no doubt they did make the perfect comedy pair this week – although admittedly I find Liam’s scenes almost always brilliant. This week he stepped in to help with a kids party at the salon, impressing everyone with his unicorn hair and gel nail skills. This was the perfect acting role for Liam and we all know how much he loves the am dram. Leyla of course couldn’t contain her feelings but this set Liam off into a path of confusion. These too could be a good couple given time, but even if there’s no viable romance, they’ve at least proved how much good fun they can be on screen.

Jamie Bites Back

vlcsnap-2020-01-04-15h36m40s558Not long after his arrival, downtrodden Jamie retreated into dullsville and for the son of one of Emmerdale’s most formidable characters, he didn’t have much personality. However this week saw Jamie grow a backbone and gain a bit more bite as he began to pick up the pieces of his shattered life. First it was Graham he confronted and later Rhona as he tried to get her out of the vets by revealing her shocking behaviour to retrieve Millie’s DNA. There’s been something pretty self righteous and unlikeable about Rhona of late and it made an interesting change to see Jamie take action. With him being one of the suspects in Graham’s murder, it seems hopeful we might hold onto this more forthright Jamie for a little longer.

Mates Before Dates

vlcsnap-2020-01-04-15h38m04s230Kerry got a spot of the green eyed monster this week as she noticed Mandy flirting with Dan. I’m not opposed to the idea of those two as a couple but with Kerry and Mandy forging a friendship it doesn’t look like that’s on the immediate cards. While some viewers are finding it hard to move on from what Kerry did last year to laugh at her latest shenanigans, at least Mandy is making her more entertaining. This week they both got smashed and woke up in the barn, forgetting all about their salon duties. I think less is more with these two but their fraught love hate friendship could work a treat in the salon.

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2019 – Part Two (#10-1)

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Here it is, my run down of the Top 10 Best Moments in Emmerdale in 2019. You can read numbers 11-20 here, but below are the things I enjoyed most about Emmerdale this year.

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10 – Jai and Laurel

Who could predict that one of Emmerdale’s latest favourite couples would be Jai and Laurel? This time last year we were finally free of the massively unpopular Laurel and Bob romance, but her new love with Jai has been a surprise hit. Early days for the pair was something of a sweet slow burn of crossed wires and a pretend kiss to get Jai out of a dodgy date, but now they’re finally together it just works. The actors have a good chemistry and their cuteness has been pretty sweet. Lately their merged family is under threat as Arthur cruelly bullies Archie – could this destroy Laurel and Jai’s relationship so soon? Hopefully not!

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9 – Vanity’s Engagement

2019 started in a hugely dramatic way for Vanessa and Charity when Vanessa was stabbed outside the pub by Lachlan’s dad Donny. After her brush with death, Charity was more convinced than ever of her love and decided to pop the question. What followed was a brilliantly humorous attempt by Charity to hijack an unsuspecting groom’s outlandish proposal at Home Farm to surprise Vanessa. Although it was classic Charity madness, Vanessa was less than impressed when she realised what Charity had done. Nevertheless Vanessa returned to Home Farm to hear Charity out and after some drunken rambling, the couple’s heart to heart lead to a real proposal. This moment had everything – laughs, vulnerability and a great script. Will their wedding be as similarly funny and romantic when it happens?

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8 – The Immediate Aftermath of Victoria’s Rape

I have some serious problems with how Vic’s rape story ultimately transpired but there’s no denying that the initial scenes in which Victoria revealed she’d been raped to Moira were outstanding. In the aftermath of Vic’s rape, Moira tried to help her understand she wasn’t at fault in any way with writing that deftly dispelled every myth and misconception surrounding the assault. Emmerdale made interesting choices in the beginning of the story, with Lee seemingly like the nice guy helping to walk Vic home before attacking her in her own home in brutal but effective scenes. The aftermath also featured stunning performances from the underused Isabel Hodgins and it’s a shame the story derailed so quickly.

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7 – Truth about Maya

It was the moment viewers were eagerly waiting for and when the truth about Maya came out, it was worth the wait. For months Maya had been grooming and seducing Jacob right under his family’s nose and after Liv’s discovery it was only a matter of time before the truth came out. The reveal took the centre stage of the Big Night Out episodes as Priya was the surprise witness to a kiss between the pair. The tension was delicious as Maya accepted a lift from Leyla, Tracy and Priya – although we had to wait a few weeks to find out what they’d actually done to her, suspecting she might be dead. The beginning of the end came with a gripping confrontation in the woods, but David learning the truth was equally compelling with a strong performance from Matthew Wolfenden and an uncomfortable but authentic range of emotions on display. With Maya and Jacob hiding out, there were some must-see twists and turns as the truth emerged, but disappointingly, the dramatic climax fizzled out and the conclusion of this story just didn’t live up to the gripping revelation.

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6 – Robert’s Exit

The end of 2019 also marked the end of Emmerdale’s most-shipped couple as Robron were torn apart due to the departure of Robert from the show. After his sister’s rape, Robert was unable to move past his need for revenge and when Lee’s torment of her continued, Robert saw red and hit Lee over the head with a shovel. For a while it looked like Robert’s charges would be minimal but things changed when Lee woke up and later died from his injuries. Facing the prospect of life behind bars, Robert went on the run, with Aaron by his side. With the desperate couple willing to sacrifice everything for their love, the reality of their future weighed heavily on Robert’s mind and he selflessly turned himself in, breaking Aaron’s heart in the process. Robert was sentenced to fourteen years inside and scheduled to be moved to the Isle of Wight and while Aaron was determined to hang onto their marriage, Robert made the crushing decision to cut all ties and allow Aaron to live his life. While Robert is a big loss to the show, Ryan Hawley gave some of his best performances throughout his exit and his exit managed to be both gripping and heart-breaking. Despite this story meaning the end of Robron, their epic love story was honoured in Robert’s final episode and the plot stayed true to their depth of feeling until the very end.

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5 – Flashback episodes

There was a real buzz around Emmerdale’s much promoted Big Night Out episodes, but the real excitement began just a few weeks later as we got to see what really happened during that fateful night. Flashbacks have been overdone in Emmerdale lately but withholding what really went down for two weeks was just the right time to keep things gripping and keep us all guessing. Of all the flashbacks Billy’s was the weakest but even that managed its own twists and give us glimpses of the other storylines in the background. The thrilling showdown between Maya and the trio of Leyla, Tracy and Priya let to a brilliant blackly comic confrontation in a horror movie pursuit in the woods. Victoria’s strand was unsurprisingly the hardest to watch as what could have been a rom-com style episode had a horrific end, and knowing what was coming gave the episode an unbearable dread. Overall this was an exciting dose of episodes, giving Emmerdale back its must-see bite while these big stories played out.

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4 – Women’s Day Special Episode

Emmerdale celebrated International Women’s Day this year with an episode dedicated to the women of the Dales using a mostly all women crew too. Not only was this an inspiring decision behind the scenes, but the episode itself was full of pathos, joy and warmth. Emmerdale managed to use almost its entire female cast, interacting in surprising ways and having a wonderful community, character driven feel. There was also a surprise inclusion of Lisa with the sad reveal she was dying, but despite this the episode still managed to be funny and full of heart, instilling a sense of confidence and strength in being a woman. An episode with ambitions like this made me even prouder to be an Emmerdale fan. And hey, if it pisses off the backwards likes of Piers Morgan and co then it’s doing something right!

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3 – The Mere Existence of Liam Cavanagh

If there’s one character who’s made Emmerdale 2019 a joy to watch then it’s Dr Liam Cavanagh. Not only has he shared a sweet and funny romance with Bernice (a relationship so right for their characters I was sad to see end), but in his own right he’s managed to be both charming and laugh out loud funny. This year highlights have included his painfully awkward encounter with Cain, the discovery that he loves murder mystery roleplay – leading to a hilarious misunderstanding where Bernice thought he was a murderer – and of course his adventures in costume from the sheriff to the panto’s Farmer Christmas. Although Liam has lost his love, there’s potential with Leyla, but also his relationship with daughter Leanna and colleague Manpreet to explore. Liam’s the sort of character that easily feels at home in the village (he even made Bear briefly watchable) and Jonny McPherson’s natural charisma and comedic timing, he’s a character who consistently puts a smile on your face. If I could only make one wish for 2020, it would be more Liam!

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2 – Lydia’s past

There was one stand-out star of 2019 and that was Karen Blick as Lydia, effortlessly taking Lydia from kooky oddball with a big heart from tragic matriarch of the Dingles. This year we learnt more about Lydia’s tragic past, revealing that she had taken on a false identity and was really named Jenny Finn. As the remains of a baby were found by the school, Lydia turned herself into the police revealing she had buried her stillborn child there and kept it a secret all this time. Karen Blick’s performances were nothing short of incredible and together with Sam, they were the real jewels in Emmerdale’s crown this year. This story not only made Lydia more loved, but it also strengthened the bond between the couple. Giving Lydia this fleshed out backstory offered a believable explanation for her personality and the material, never short of gut-wrenching, proved what an incredible performer Karen Blick is. With the question of Huntingdon’s disease playing on her mind, I hope 2020 continues to give Karen the material she deserves.

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1 – Lisa’s death

We lost a real Emmerdale legend this year as Lisa Dingle passed away suddenly. We had only just seen her back in the village and in her rightful home when we lost her for good, after a warm and nostalgic big Dingle celebration. Lisa’s death was understated and fitting, following a sentimental wedding for her and Zak, which even featured classic Emmerdale band The Woolpackers. Despite Lisa’s death being a surprise to many viewers, we should have guessed Lisa’s time back in Wishing Well was limited considering her return almost felt like a goodbye tour. When her family came home to find her dead, there were impressive scenes as they grieved and supported each other. The aftermath was moving as it panned over their homestead and the funeral was a fun and quirky affair with pig races. Lisa also left behind letters for her family which told them what they needed to hear and was a fitting end for the matriarch of the family. The Dingles haven’t quite felt the same without her, but her final episodes were a beautiful tribute to her treasured character.

Thank you for all your support of The Woolie Weekly in 2019 and Happy New Year!

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2019 – Part One (#20-11)

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In a year that saw big exits, shock deaths and the end of Emmerdale’s two biggest couples, 2019 had lots of surprising moments. Here is my own look back at Emmerdale’s Best Bits of the year, starting with numbers 20 to 11. Come back tomorrow to see my Top 10 and a countdown of the year’s lowlights too. I’d love to know what you think so feel free to comment below!

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20 – Nicola’s Rise and Fall

Way back at the beginning of 2019, Nicola and Robert put their efforts into scamming Home Farm out of shed loads of cash. After that backfired, Nicola had a lot of making up to do with both her husband and the villagers she’d betrayed. Nicola’s acid tongue doesn’t always earn her many friends or fans, but there were some fun comedy moments in this story (like when she took Bernice hostage) and touching family moments too. The year got better for her when she got selected for the council – in a role completely perfect for her character – and we got to see her back on top. Nicola and Jimmy continue to be one of Emmerdale’s best and most believable partnerships and here’s hoping they both get good material in 2020.

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19 – Old School Feel

If there’s one noticeable improvement to Emmerdale this year then it’s the return to an old school feeling. Emmerdale’s USP in the soap world has always been its rural setting but in recent years that’s faded into the background. This year however there’s been a return to its roots with more farming and outdoors shots, Kim on her horses, and community events like the village panto. There’s still so much potential in exploring the dramas of a country village that I hope next year continues to make the most of the show’s unique setting.

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18 – Cain Learns the Truth

In October, an explosive secret was revealed when Cain learnt Moira had been having an affair right under his nose with farm hand Nate. It had been a challenging year for Cain, who had been bogged down in the Joe dead-or-alive storyline for months but his reaction to the Moira/Nate reveal was satisfyingly explosive. The best thing about Cain though is not just his avenging efforts (which this year ended up on a boat, implausible and outlandish and arguably too contrived for a punch-happy bloke like Cain) but his range of emotions. Cain’s pain and fury played out below his seething surface and Jeff Hordley’s performances ultimately are the reason he’s so popular. However unpopular the Moira and Nate fling was, Cain’s immediate reaction was one of the most gripping of the year.

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17 – Mandy’s Return

One of Emmerdale’s most iconic characters returned this year in the form of Mandy Dingle. Never far from chaos, Mandy’s first reappearance was far too brief but teasing enough that made viewers hope for a longer return. Later in the year she was back, scamming money from her family and revealing her part in a big casino heist and with son Vinny holding secrets of her own, there’s clearly more to come. Mandy’s return has been an injection of fun and nostalgia and she feels right at home at Wishing Well, even forming a great new bond with Lydia. It’s unclear how long she’s sticking around but there’s something comforting about her presence in the Dingles that makes me wish she’d stay for good.

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16 – Liv’s Jacob Discovery

It’s fair to say it’s been a hellish year for Jacob as he was groomed by Maya but the story as a whole was patchy. However one of the best parts of the story involved the addition of Liv, and running the Jacob plot alongside her exploration of her identity was an interesting choice. While Emmerdale haven’t put the asexual label onto Liv’s identity yet, she progressed further in the vocalisation of her feelings this year, leaning on Aaron and Robert for support. Making her the first person to discover Jacob’s relationship with Maya was a great twist making an already complex story more layered and gripping as she blackmailed the evil teacher too. Isobel Steele continues to portray Liv with real vulnerability and I hope, given the big topics thrown at her – drinking problems, asexuality, seizures – Emmerdale chooses one and gives it the focus it deserves.

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15 – Kim Finds Her Place

After Kim’s brief and divisive return in October 2018, fans were nervous about her permanent role in Emmerdale. Would it work? Would Kim be too panto? Her initial months in Emmerdale were met with apprehension. At first, bogged down with the bloated and retconned history of Graham and Joe it seemed as if Kim had been reimagined as a soulless mob wife, sending out hits and grimly trying to  blackmail Cain to sleep with her. It was an uncomfortable watch, but there were glimmers of hope. As Kim started to integrate and they dropped the Joe storyline there were signs they had plans for her beyond a cartoon villain. Eventually Home Farm reformed, and Kim reunited with son Jamie and met her granddaughter Millie and through all of this – and a friendship with Rhona – she found a heart. While the Tate household has not always been engaging to watch, Emmerdale have finally got the balance right with Kim, she’s both a great foe for the villagers but she’s more than just a campy “soap bitch”.

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14 – Manpreet Settles In

This year Manpreet moved into the village and cemented herself as a regular character by marrying Rishi and giving the Sharma family a more serious focus. Manpreet is a breezy fun character and a nice dose of the ‘everyday’ rather than someone destined for extreme behaviour. She slotted in well to the village, both with the family and with her doctor role, which isn’t always easy for new characters to do. Rebecca Sarker is a really natural actress and her issues with money gave Manpreet a depth and even a little bit of a dark side. Manpreet helped lift the Sharmas out of their comedic rut and she’s been a little gem of a character with much more to her than meets the eye. Can’t wait to see what else they do with her in 2020.

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13 – Bob’s Homelessness

Cast your mind way back to January 2019 and you might remember that Bob was at the centre of one of Emmerdale’s most emotional stories. After the end of his disastrous romance with Laurel and struggling for money, it was a bleak Christmas for Bob. By January he was sleeping rough, struggling for food and so very isolated. After Harriet found him suffering from hypothermia, Bob was hospitalised and the truth came out to friends and family. Bob’s story was sensitively told and a timely reminder of how quickly a situation like his can escalate. Unfortunately Emmerdale skimmed over the aftermath and Bob is back, full of life, in the pub. It’s nice to have him back where he belongs but this was such a strong story that it feels like a missed opportunity.

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12 – Bernice’s exit

In a year of high profile exits, Bernice’s departure was one of the most poignant. Despite the unfortunate way it was squeezed into just two episodes, it was fitting and emotional that just as Bernice’s happy ending was within her clutches, she had to sacrifice it. Bernice’s exit story gave her that moment of growth and self-reflection. Her final episodes were the perfect blend of humour and serious emotion, giving her a great send off. She was a character like no other and she’ll be sorely missed – here’s hoping for a return one day!

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11 – Tracy after Frank’s death

Tracy was my stand-out star of 2018 with Amy Walsh delivering exceptional performances during the storyline that explored her past as a sex worker and split with David. This year Tracy was dealt a massive blow when her dad Frank died in the factory explosion and Amy Walsh continued to impress as one of Emmerdale’s best actors. As the question of the real culprit remained a mystery for a while and blame fell to Frank, Tracy’s determination to find the true thieves intensified leading her finally to the satisfying showdown with Kerry. As Tracy cycled through a range of emotions it was another masterclass from the brilliant Amy Walsh. What will the next year bring for Tracy?

Come back tomorrow for my Top 10 and my worst moments of Emmerdale 2019.

Fave or Fail? (16-20 Dec 2019)

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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! Aaron and Cain reached low points and Liv had another seizure.

Faves

Festive Fun

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h45m56s323The Emmerdale Christmas panto continued to be the gift that kept on giving this week as Leyla’s crush on Liam intensified and Kim stepped up to be the villain of the piece. There’s so much to enjoy about this story. It has a great sense of community, from director Manpreet’s heavy hand on the script editing much to the frustration of writer Bob, to Dan and Mandy teaming up to play Liam’s horse, to Rishi stepping up – of course – to play the dame. Rather than force the laughs by us seeing just the slapstick stage performances, we’re seeing the natural humour in the preparation and practice, the bickering and disagreements. It’s also fun seeing real life actors pretending to “act”, particularly Liam’s joyously camp murder-mystery inspired performances and of course Kim’s superb stepping up as the villain. Very meta and lots of fun. More community stories in the new year please!

Dingle Breakdown

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h47m52s569Since their marriages ended, Cain and Aaron have been united in sullen moods and angry behaviour, even turning back to crime. But there was something cold and guarded about these reactions suggesting there was a lot more pain under the surface. This week saw both characters break down and open up, with Aaron trying to swallow his grief and fail to move on, and Cain admitting to Charity that he didn’t think things would pass. Rather than seeing them explode with rage or make Wendy and Nate’s lives a misery, it was a welcome change to see them both human and empathetic again as they expressed how they really felt.

Noah’s Drug Dilemma

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h55m24s465Desperate to make Sarah see sense over Danny and the drugs, Noah was at breaking point this week. Stubborn and petulant Sarah continued to risk her life trying to impress slimy Danny, but a worried Noah was trying his best to look out for her and stop her making dangerous choices. By the end of the week feeling isolated and ignored, Noah sat alone and took the pills himself. Jack Downham’s a capable young actor and it’s good to see him get some emotional material again. Noah’s often felt pushed out and neglected in his family so it will be interesting to see if this is a turning point for those around him.

Liv’s Seizure

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h47m24s299Poor Liv had another seizure this week and could be facing an epilepsy diagnosis. Isobel Steele continues to be one of Emmerdale’s best young actors and her performance of the seizure and her fear and upset afterwards was really well done. Predictably it was Wendy that came to her rescue, but thankfully the focus was on Liv’s recovery and not Wendy’s heroics. The last time Liv had a seizure, the impact was brushed under the carpet fairly quickly, the collapse used in a plot device-y way, so fingers crossed it won’t be the same this time. Friday’s episode saw her worried about looking after Eve and hopefully this is a story that won’t just be used to inject a bit of Thursday jeopardy into the family. Given what a capable actress Isobel is, it’s about time she had a big ‘issue’ story with longevity.

Fails

Dawn’s Determination

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h52m30s910With Christmas approaching, Dawn’s mind has returned back to her son Lucas. It makes sense that she would think of him over the festive period, but there’s something about this determination of hers to get custody that doesn’t sit right. We’ve seen Dawn make a big recovery from her drug problems and create a stable life, but with her son settled and happy with a foster family – is it right he should be taken from that? It feels like we should be on Dawn’s side in this story but there’s an entitlement to her attitude that seems to paint a negative light on legal guardians. In the long run, I can’t see what stories a young son would offer to her character – I think she has more potential without him.

Nate’s Pity Party

vlcsnap-2019-12-21-10h54m52s098The violins were out for Nate this week as he sulked around the village wondering why he wasn’t welcome. Much like the Wendy story, it seems like Emmerdale are going out of their wait to paint Nate as the victim, when the reality is, he helped cause this friction. This week Cain decided to turn Kyle against Nate in the hopes of driving his estranged son from the village. The Dingles took pity on Nate and invited him to an Xmas movie night in a tone-deaf way that seemed designed to piss Cain off even more. But – is it any wonder? Cain might be a nasty piece of work at the best of times, but who can blame him for not wanting Nate around after everything he’s done? It seems by the end of the week the Dingles might have realised that Cain won’t be forced, not when his whole life has shattered, but the idea that they would take Nate’s side anyway feels convoluted. Nate came in with a mission to destroy Cain’s life – why are we supposed to feel sorry for him?

 

Scene of the Week (16-20 Dec 2019)

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It’s been a painful few months for Cain and Aaron so it felt only right that Cain was the one to try and reach out and help his struggling nephew in my Scene of the Week. The Aaron and Cain relationship is one that works well when they show their emotions, as often around each other they are guarded and hardened, and after their macho posturing recently, this week’s episodes lead to both characters showing their vulnerabilities again. With Cain finding Aaron alone and distraught in the forest, Aaron confessed his heartbreak of losing the family and future he’d so longed for with his husband. Going through similar struggles himself Cain put on a brave face and tried to reassure him things would get better and suggested Aaron return to counselling. This was a heartfelt scene of tender performances and writing that honoured both characters’ history.

Scene of the Week (9-13 Dec 2019)

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Luke finally gave the speech we’ve waited for this week where he told Wendy enough was enough and that he could not stay and stand by his mum. After a long confrontation with Aaron, Luke reached breaking point, pointing out to Wendy that her refusal to admit what Lee did was ruining lives and staying in the village without recognising her son’s horrific crime was never going to end the conflict. While Wendy’s move to the village is a horrible direction for the story to go given how Victoria feels, Luke at least feels like a decent character. We might not be any closer to a tolerable Wendy, but this Luke seen was satisfying and needed.

Fave or Fail? (2-6 Dec 2019)

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! Andrea suffered a miscarriage this week, giving Kim a change of heart and Lydia tried to put the past to rest.

Faves

Well-rounded Kim

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h43m54s325Top of the highlights this week is Kim, who seems to have hit her stride, almost a year since she made her full return to the village. Early months indicated Emmerdale weren’t quite sure what to do with her and the brief panto stint last year didn’t help much – and nor did the Joe and Graham muddle. Now, with tangible motives and a family around her, Kim feels a lot more well rounded. I really enjoyed that she was a big part of the village this week, funding the lights and having a sense of power that is reminiscent of the Home Farm contingent of old Emmerdale. Rather than cartoonishly making people’s lives misery, it was welcome to see Kim’s ruthless attitude towards Wendy whilst being sympathetic towards Victoria’s plight. Similarly her war with Graham is more watchable now it’s about something relatable – her son and granddaughter. There was also an element of fun too, with Harriet scamming her to give the light fund to the homeless instead, and this has helped to make her more than just a outlandish soap bitch, but more of a believable character and that can only benefit the future of Home Farm.

Lydia Deals with the Past

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h41m26s341After another emotional week for Lydia, Emmerdale are surely paving the way to give Karen Blick some award nominations next year? This week Lydia struggled with the pressure of her newly found biological family and the news that she could lay her son to rest, now that she had his ashes. Feeling suffocated by her mother, Lydia opted to scatter the ashes with just the Dingles (or the few that turned up!) and later asked for space from her mother and sister, acknowledging there was no quick fix to her years of feeling isolated and abandoned. As much as I liked the casting for Lydia’s family and it gave her character new dimensions, I’m glad Emmerdale didn’t rush to make them close, with everything forgiven. However with the Huntington’s test still looming, I’m interested to see what happens next now that Lydia’s drawn a line under her new family – will they just be forgotten about? Stories lately have felt a little stop start and I hope Lydia’s doesn’t go the same way.

Upset Uncle

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h40m31s225Noah was in full protection mode this week as his concern for Sarah grew. Since her secret pill popping at the party, he’s been suspicious of her new friend Danny and the reckless way she’s been behaving. This week saw Noah spying on her and later confronting Danny about her health. Bratty Sarah was furious at Noah for damaging her street cred, despite Noah tearfully telling her how worried he was. I’ve always been a big fan of Noah and he’s been absent for some of this year so it’s been good to have him taking a prominent role in this storyline. I like his sensitivity and big heart, helped by Jack Downham’s vulnerability in the part. Spoilers indicate Noah’s got some gritty material ahead which is something to look forward to.

Jamie and Andrea’s Grief

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h43m06s819I was impressed and surprised by the performances this week as Jamie and Andrea came to the forefront of the show with their tragic miscarriage story. While this heartbreak was a way to trigger Kim’s change of heart for the first time it actually made me believe in their relationship, bonding them closer. Both characters have felt a bit flat since their early promise and the scenes this week suggest they are capable of much more, especially if it means delving more into their relationship in a more emotional way, separate from the convoluted history.

Fails

Losing Support?

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h45m57s005Moira continued her drunken spiralling this week, losing an ally in Pete and losing grip on herself when she repeatedly turned to the bottle. There was some friendly support from Vanessa, but with Matty away and Pete now working with Nate, Moira’s completely on her own and in this state losing work and access to the kids. Unfortunately though, this time round, Moira just isn’t very sympathetic. When she’s had drunken meltdowns before, when she lost Holly and after Emma’s death and the PND she experienced after having Isaac, Moira’s had our sympathies and support – but this time I’m not so sure. Moira’s cheating was clumsily handled and almost universally hated by viewers so it’s no real surprise her self-pitying meltdown isn’t quite hitting the mark. She might be on self-destruct, but what the scenes lack is a sense Moira is taking responsibility for what happened, instead what we’ve been seeing a rather cold and unsympathetic Moira and she’s difficult to root for.

Lost the Plot

vlcsnap-2019-12-08-10h42m19s643Wendy moved into Emmerdale village this week in another twisted turn to this continual torture of Victoria. As Wendy continues to blather on about her innocent son, it appears some villagers have completely lost the plot. Wendy’s support of Lee and harassment of Vic began long before Lee’s death, so to hand-wave her behaviour as grief or as a grandmother who just wants contact is sickening beyond belief. Even characters like Chas, who should be unflinching in support of Victoria, defended Wendy and bonded over the “bad behaviour” of their sons. Yes, that’s right, comparing the survivor of childhood rape to a rapist. What is Wendy’s narrative purpose in the village beyond more hell for Victoria and to plunge Aaron into a bigger meltdown? Are we supposed to feel sorry for her? To paint Wendy as a victim – her house vandalised and unwelcome – and putting empathetic words in the mouths of characters who should know better is completely tone deaf and unless she becomes the show’s next deranged nurse then these latest developments are a hard pill to swallow from a show that has had a strong history of empowering their rape survivors.

Fave or Fail? (11-15 Nov 2019)

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! A big row split the Dingles this week and Arthur’s bullying of Archie intensified.

Faves

Team Charity

vlcsnap-2019-11-16-19h11m49s300The Dingles are a big family of hypocrites and this week was proof enough that they change their family rules when it suits! Charity had a tough week, and while some of it might have been of her own making, I was firmly in the Team Charity camp when it came to the Dingle divide. Sure, Charity has a chequered past – which Dingle doesn’t? But I was cheering her own when she lashed out at Cain and Aaron when Moses got kidnapped. One of the reasons Charity is such a good character is that she’s multi-layered and flawed, meaning she’s empathetic even when she’s done wrong. Perhaps it was the feisty performance of Emma Atkins as Charity fought her corner, or her vulnerable fear at the thought of losing Moses, but my sympathies were with her all the way. Neither Cain or Chas are parents of the year so their arguments against Charity were weak and it was right that Charity got to call out Cain for his pathetic behaviour – she might be one of the few able to get through to him. It’s unclear how long this manufactured animosity with Chas will continue, but give me Charity’s “messy but trying” outlook over Chas’s “holier than thou” any day!

The Big Split

vlcsnap-2019-11-16-18h53m55s836It was all over for Charity and Vanessa this week and while their split didn’t get the focus it needed towards the end of the week, the story still had some great scenes. As Vanessa learnt the truth about Charity’s dealings, she gave her the opportunity to tell the truth, but when Charity didn’t own up to the stolen money, Vanessa called time on their relationship. As Charity tried to defend herself, Vanessa veered between anger and sadness, making comparisons to her mum’s relationship to Frank’s dodgy dealings. There was great fire in their row proving that a bit of juicy conflict can bring out the best in an onscreen partnership and with Charity and Vanessa’s different outlooks on life, keeping that contrast will give them plenty of potential in future. There were also some lovely follow up scenes as Vanessa tried to put on a brave face and was comforted by Noah and Sarah. We haven’t seen much of Noah lately but as he’s been through countless partners of his mum, it was touching to see his bond with Vanessa. More of that please!

Arthur Boils Over

vlcsnap-2019-11-16-18h53m16s103I’ve real mixed feelings about Arthur’s current storyline. On the one hand, exploring the psychology of a child who hasn’t coped with the loss of a parent is a worthy and unique story to tell. However, I can’t help but feel Friday’s episode pressed fast-forward and turned an interesting slow burn into Emmerdale’s next demon child. Saying that, Arthur Clarke is one great actor and despite Arthur’s bullying is still empathetic at times. Particularly during Ashley’s birthday picnic, Alfie did a fantastic job at showing Arthur’s struggle and his need for someone to spot what he’s going through. Some of the writing has me concerned this story will get sensationalised too much too soon, but fingers crossed the performances can hold it together.

Fail

Dingle Bad Boys

vlcsnap-2019-11-16-18h52m49s845With both Cain and Aaron’s marriages over and the pair of them struggling to cope, they teamed up for some dodgy business this week. This partnership had a lot of potential but in the end, it all felt a little flat. There was no real jeopardy when it came to Moses’ capture (we all knew he’d be safe and well) and as events escalated their shrugging reactions and poor excuses of an apology were cold and cruel. Things got even worse when Chas bent over backwards to defend the two, with the men resembling more sulking teenagers than heartbroken husbands. But the biggest gripe in this was a lack of emotion. They both might have faced a big loss in their lives but playing irresponsible hard men lacked warmth. Obviously both of them can be resistant to opening up, and no one wants to see endless blubbing scenes, but more cracks in their bad boy bombast would have given the plot a welcome heart.