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.

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)

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! 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?

 

Fave or Fail? (9-13 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! This week Archie ran away from home after further bullying from Arthur and the villagers decided to put on a panto.

Faves

Panto Fun

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h45m17s638Community stories can often be thin on the ground in current Emmerdale so this week’s Christmas panto story was a joy. In a small village where everyone knows each other, this season is the perfect time for lots of characters to get together, even those who aren’t usually involved. This story gave Manpreet a chance to embed herself more in the village, beside her GP role, and we could also forget that Bob was involved with the show’s most hated character while he relished in his creative role. It was also a lot of fun to see the actors pretending to act on stage, some even doing a bad job. We haven’t seen a panto in the village for a while and so far it’s been everything warm and fun and Christmassy. Unlike the village nativity from two years ago, centred around Chas and Paddy’s forced humour, it’s been much more fun to see the rehearsals and preparation and not just rush straight to a costumed performance. It has shades of the community spirit from classic Emmerdale and that can only be a good thing.

Archie’s Anguish

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h46m00s801Archie’s story escalated this week and really tugged at the heart strings. While the writing for this storyline feels rushed and extreme at times, little Kai Assi is doing a brilliant job at showing Archie’s absolute fear and hopelessness. It was impossible not to want to reach into the screens and hug him this week as he saw his only option was to run away. Feeling completely alone, Archie’s anguish was very emotive and is one of the reasons why this story is working.

Arthur’s Anger

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h44m46s540Apart from my Scene of the Week choice, there was another scene which really stood out and was one of the highlights of the Archie and Arthur story. It was clear that Arthur attached a lot of significance to Christmas when it came to remembering his late dad. With that in mind Laurel organised a special festive gathering to decorate the tree, with Arthur ready to place the final decoration on the tree – a special decoration he once made for his dad. Arthur’s world shattered when Archie ran in and broke the decoration in the scuffle. You could feel Arthur’s pain and hurt and so much of that was in the brilliant performance from Alfie Clarke. There are times when the writing over-simplifies Arthur’s bullying as reasonless cruelty, but when we see Arthur’s perspective and a young boy still struggling with grief, the story is so much better for it.

Jimmy and Nicola United

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h47m31s657The Archie plot isn’t perfect but it does have many elements that are successful. With the great performances from both the young children and the parents, it’s been great to see characters like Jai, Laurel, Jimmy and Nicola get something really meaty story-wise. There was a nice reminder this week about what a great couple Jimmy and Nicola are as Nicola was unflinching in her support of her husband. Solid couples are thin on the ground at the moment, but there’s something so genuine about Jimmy and Nicola that makes their scenes feel authentic.

Chemistry Calling

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h44m00s035When Jamie arrived it looked like Emmerdale were paving the pathway for another Dingle and Tate romance, as he and Belle flirted. All that changed with the arrival of Andrea and Millie and it was a struggle to buy into Jamie the family man. Even though that angle has improved in recent weeks with Andrea and Jamie’s loss and the Millie paternity saga giving us many scenes of doting dad Jamie, we saw the sparks return with Belle this week. Ellis is back on the scene with a new face and it’s too early to tell if he and Belle have chemistry – but does that even matter when Belle and Jamie’s chemistry is so palpable? With Jamie’s rather flustered comments at the Christmas party giving Belle something to smile about, there’s surely too much potential there to squander?

Fails

Escalating too Fast?

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h50m03s681Despite the Archie and Arthur storyline having many positives and being one of Emmerdale’s strongest stories of the moment, it has some flaws in its execution. Perhaps its down to impatient viewers or the way modern TV drama has to compete with boxsets, but something is lost in the sensitivity and nuance of a challenging story like this when it escalates so quickly. Maybe viewers don’t want months of Arthur’s troubling behaviour building to bullying, but the whiplash from the kind boy who has a conscience, to the tough bully needs to be told carefully. Likewise Jai and Laurel turning against Jimmy, a man they’ve known in years and, in Laurel’s case, a close friend borders on unbelievable and hollow when it happens so fast. When Emmerdale’s airing six, sometimes seven, episodes a week, they have the luxury to take their time telling this, but the speed the situation has escalated feels like they’re anxious about viewers interest. Sometimes these stories don’t need extreme behaviour shifts and twists, they just need to unravel more slowly.

Befriending the Enemy

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h50m29s748You have to feel for Bob. He’s just managed to shake off the memories of the hated Bob and Laurel affair and last year’s (all too brief) homelessness story did wonders in repairing fans’ love for Bob. But now, even in the midst of a fun panto plot, he’s taken Wendy’s side. Granted, he was telling her he couldn’t support her over Victoria, but surely even by empathising with her and comforting her, he was doing just that? The Wendy plot continues to be misguided and an unpleasant watch, but characters we know and like shouldn’t be dragged into it otherwise it means dragging them down with her.

Fave or Fail? (21-25 Oct 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! Emmerdale pushed the boat out (literally) for its big stunt and Chas gave birth.

Faves

Cain’s Carnage

vlcsnap-2019-10-27-10h46m50s408If 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.

Prison Pain

vlcsnap-2019-10-27-10h47m34s909Robert 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

vlcsnap-2019-10-27-10h49m51s449We 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

vlcsnap-2019-10-27-10h52m35s674In 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.

Fails

Bonus Fail

  • 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

vlcsnap-2019-10-27-10h49m27s269Some 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.

Twist Shock?

vlcsnap-2019-10-27-10h51m21s558So, 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.

Fave or Fail? (21-25 Jan 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! Bob resorted to sleeping on a park bench this week and piggy delight Spamela ran riot.

Faves

Bob without Hope

vlcsnap-2019-01-26-17h03m25s399I have to commend Emmerdale in their speedy turn around in making Bob empathetic again. Bob was always a character I enjoyed but we really saw the worst of him during the Bob and Laurel debacle and I wondered whether I’d ever like his cheeky charm again. Cleverly Emmerdale has done a good job in showing down-on-his-luck Bob’s situation getting worse and worse and his pride holding him back from asking for help. Bob’s story has emotionally shown how quickly someone’s life can crumble and how even when working, they can find themselves destitute and homeless. With Bob feeling pressurised from all angles, he kept up a façade of normalcy so the warning signs were missed by friends and family. This story has built nicely and this week it came to a heart wrenching conclusion when Bob found himself in hospital. Performances by Tony Audenshaw and Lesley Dunlop were fantastic, helping to rebuild the pair’s fractious relationship and it was nice to see the ‘man club’ briefly reunite to help lift Bob’s spirits. Seeing Bob in such a bad way was a tough watch but I hope things don’t end there. Bob’s feelings of insecurity and inadequacy could highlight pertinent issues in male mental health struggles and as it’s one of their strongest stories for a while, it’s worth continuing.

Casual Becoming Serious

vlcsnap-2019-01-25-22h13m28s500I was firmly on the fence when it came to deciding who I wanted Victoria paired off with, but after umming and ahhing between the slow-burn friends turned lovers romance with her and Matty or the funny and endearing romance with Ellis, the latter might just have swayed me. This week saw Vic panic she was pregnant and despite their no-strings arrangement, Ellis seemed ready to step up to the plate if needed. The scenes were a lot of fun as the whole family got involved, but the resolution was much sadder for Victoria. While she knew Ellis and her were too new a couple and too different to have a kid, she still longs to be a mother after her failed attempts with Adam. Actress Isabel Hodgins gave a hugely emotive performance as Vic wept for the negative result and the realisation that all those issues about Adam, motherhood and her future were still unresolved. I like that there’s been no quick fix for her and that she’s still struggling in the fall out, even with lovely Ellis on her arm. As for these two? I really love them together and I actually think they could work well in the long term, even if Robert’s machinations might cause problems. It might be too soon for babies, but happiness for Victoria is top of my wishlist.

More Manpreet

vlcsnap-2019-01-26-17h06m54s257The Sharmas are some of Emmerdale’s most underused characters, but with Manpreet moving into the village, I’m hopeful we might see more of all of them soon. Manpreet has such a breezy, fun loving attitude to life and she’s a welcome addition to our screens. No only does she seem smitten with loveable Rishi but she’s got great chemistry with Jai and Priya too. This week saw her consider moving closer to Emmerdale for work, and the siblings tried to get Rishi to ask her to move in with them, a plan which eventually played off. Manpreet is a nice dose of the ‘everyday’ rather than a newbie destined for villainy or outrageous behaviour, but maybe it’s because of that she’s fitted in well. I can only hope this leads to more screentime for the Sharmas and less sitcom side stories!

Real Talk

vlcsnap-2019-01-25-22h15m41s984When Moira returned to the village this week after a brief trip to see Nana Barton, she found reassurance in a surprising chat with Aaron. In the midst of this bloated Cain and Joe story, Moira’s lost her way as a character and it’s hard to remember her as the down to earth farmer she was. Luckily, this scene with Aaron in the café was a welcome return to that, with Aaron helping her to see that despite Cain’s nightmare behaviour he really does love her. There’s nothing I enjoy more in Emmerdale that characters with shared experiences having a chat and if anyone knows about nightmare husbands then it’s Aaron. With him and Moira reflecting on the strained relationship at Butler’s farm, it just made me long for the scene partners we don’t usually see. Aaron and Moira have a shared history and they’re family, but we barely see them together. Conversations like these are a good way of not only keeping onscreen relationships fresh but they ground the characters in some much-needed reality.

Fail

Murder Mind Games

vlcsnap-2019-01-26-17h09m48s881The “Cain murdered Joe” plot is so messy I’m struggling to find any real enjoyment from it, despite loving most of the characters on Team Cain. With both Cain and Moira being killers (or “killers” in Cain’s case) the arguments in Butlers have felt far too blasé and seem like a game of murder Top Trumps. Moira’s reactions have been cold and detached like a bizarre mob wife, willing to support Cain regardless, but surely even Moira, with Emma’s blood on her hands would struggle with this? Even Faith, whose love for her son is high, seems willing to overlook what he’s done, despite the fact by the end of Joe’s tenure in Emmerdale he was liked by most of the Dingles. Only Matty was willing to acknowledge that this was a terrible crime, but even he was berated by Moira and co for betraying the family, even though his reaction seemed like the only sane one between them. Debbie’s barely frosty, chilled out enough to be cosy with Faith who hasn’t made her support of Cain a secret and this seems completely out of character when she was willing to leave the village for less a few years ago. With everyone unfussed about Cain being a murderer, or desperate to believe his innocent, there are zero stakes. What’s the point? What will change for Cain if Graham reveals the truth or if Joe rocks up – apart from Debbie cracking a smile maybe? And with Graham undoubtedly set to feature heavily when Kim returns, it doesn’t seem like he’ll be found out any time soon. If Emmerdale were unwilling to commit to Cain being completely destroyed and disowned in a story that saw him go down for a crime he didn’t commit then they shouldn’t have bothered. I can’t see a resolution here that will satisfy, I just hope we can forget this story ever happened ASAP.