Fave or Fail? (10-14 Feb 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! 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.

Fave or Fail? (6-10 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! Moira’s drinking problems escalated this week and a new arrival made a big impression.

Faves

A Big First Impression

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

A Mother’s Love

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

Sarah’s Choice

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

Moira’s Turning Point?

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

Fail

Computer Says No

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

Emmerdale’s Worst Moments of 2019

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It’s been a divisive and controversial year of Emmerdale stories where big plots have had their ups and downs. Kim had a dodgy first few months settling back into the village and we lost nice guys Matty and Ryan to some dodgy toxic masculinity which came as a big blow to their popularity. Then there were characters who started with real promise like Billy and Will and Jamie, who then turned out just to be a bit dull.

But those aside, what were the worst moments overall in 2019?

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6 – Joe – dead or alive?

It feels like a long time ago now, but for the first few months of 2019, everyone was still banging on about what happened to Joe Tate. Viewers were left wondering if he was alive or murdered by Graham, while Cain and Debbie were torn apart with Cain believing he killed Joe with a single punch. Come March it was revealed Joe is in fact alive, but after all that ambiguity the climax was as flat as a pancake. Ned Porteous made a cameo only in photographic form (which screamed hasty rewrite) and disappointed many who were begging for his return. This story also meant the torment Cain went through was for nothing, it meant Graham’s agony and spiral into drink about ending the life of his best friend came from just letting him free, and Kim’s murderous intent fizzled into nothing. The Joe, Graham and Kim business was a muddled mess anyway but as we continued to watch Kim and Graham interact, the confusing backstories and rivalries made even less sense. Thankfully since Joe was revealed to be alive, everything has been brushed under the carpet and it felt like a weight lifted – phew!

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5 – Kerry and Amy

Chances are if you were watching Emmerdale in the summer, two of your most hated characters would have been Kerry and Amy. After splitting with Dan and reuniting with Amy, there was promise for Kerry and after all, she was one of the few highlights of the Amelia story last year. Then came a sudden and contrived dilemma from Amy – she needed money and fast. Kerry cooked up a plan to break into the factory and steal the charity money. As if this wasn’t bad enough, they eventually started a fire which destroyed the factory and killed Frank. Not content with those crimes, Kerry implicated Frank and then cosied up to Tracy to assuage her guilt. For over a month they kept their crimes secret, with minimal guilt beyond Amy’s repetitive “I feel terrible” refrain. After a showdown with Tracy, Kerry hit her head and was hospitalised and there was an attempt to say that this was her payback rather than actually owning up to the truth. With neither character leaving its no surprise that there was no confession and now, months on, it’s all been glossed over. Frustratingly however, Kerry and Amy’s attitudes and behaviour were so unlikeable and manipulative it might have sullied them for good. They were downright unpleasant to watch and if we were meant to feel sorry for them, it failed. Can we really laugh along with Kerry when there was no comeback for what she did to Tracy and Vanessa?

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4 – Maya anti-climax

Maya’s grooming and abuse of Jacob was Emmerdale’s biggest and most controversial story of 2019. It benefitted from moments of great high tension and suspense – particularly during the reveal of her behaviour in the Big Night Out episodes – and some solid performances. Louisa Clein especially was wickedly manipulative and the character deserved to go out with a big finale. Unfortunately though, justice for Jacob and a comeuppance for Maya was sorely lacking. Rather than the abuse be treated in the same vein as say Charity and Bails or Aaron and Gordon, with a victory for the victim and a satisfying (albeit unrealistic) sentence, Maya wasn’t even tried for the actual crimes she committed, but a lesser charge. In the lead up to her exit, Emmerdale told a muddled story with lines of dialogue that sounded like she and Jacob were some forbidden love story and with-holding his realisation that she abused him for months. Granted, the sentencing and Jacob’s reaction might be more true to life, but it didn’t make for a satisfying conclusion. By the end of the story, it was going in circles without any sight of a police enquiry or anything resembling a shocked response from the villagers. The teens were absent, as was Jessie, who all should have been playing key roles. The impact was completely wasted and with only the Metcalfe clan effected, it suffered from repetitive scenes and a really flat ending.

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3 – Bear Wolf and the Wrestling

We all know when it comes to humour, it can be really hit and miss. But a real low of Emmerdale in 2019 was the character of Bear Wolf and his excruciating wrestling shenanigans. After Mandy’s brief return at the start of the year, Paddy’s paternity was in question and he went looking for his biological father, an infamous wrestling letch known as Bear Wolf. I’m not convinced Paddy needed any big family discovery story and certainly not one that involved such a loathsome and unfunny character, but his quest took him as far as Belfast. Anytime wrestling was involved, it was an embarrassment to watch, laboured and painful at times. On paper the hilarity of a grown man in a wig and a costume calling himself Bear Wolf might have sounded comedy gold but the reality was one of the worst moments of 2019. Since those scenes Bear has toned down and has all but slotted right into Paddy’s family and you can just about forget how woeful his introduction was.

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2 – Mishandled Rape Aftermath

The immediate aftermath to Victoria’s horrifying rape was Emmerdale at its best. However, what followed has been misjudged and uncomfortable viewing with poor Victoria used as a passive torture victim in her own storyline. Victoria has had barely any agency in this story beyond the odd line of empty dialogue and at times the writing for her has been horrible, even seeming to side with her rapist over her brother. Tying in this story with Robert’s exit meant repetitive scenes of the siblings reaching an understanding, only for Robert to interfere, and the constant harassment by Lee and Wendy without contacting the police meant Vic’s decisions often bowed to the cogs of the plot, rather than narrative choices which empowered her. Now with Wendy in the village acting like a victim, the framing of the story is all wrong and continues to force Vic to live in the constant hell of what Lee did to her. She didn’t get justice, and still she’s continuously punished. This story quickly derailed and given Emmerdale’s successful history of handling rape stories with sensitivity and care, it’s been an even bigger disappointment. It also felt an especially cruel choice to give a character who always wanted to be a mother a baby in such terrible circumstances. Victoria deserved better than this.

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1 – Nate and Moira affair

Without question the worst story of 2019 was Moira and Nate’s affair. Not just was this story loathed by fans but it dragged on for months and tarnished its main characters in the process. Cain and Moira had a rough start to the year, but even that couldn’t begin to explain why Moira’s head was turned by the new and creepy farmhand who had less personality than a stack of hay bales. Cain and Moira’s turbulent marriage might not have worked the same since their split and reunion in 2018, but they were loved by viewers and Jeff Hordley and Natalie J Robb’s chemistry was unmatched. So why trash it? Emmerdale followed a predictable path of Moira cheating with Mills and Boon style romps in the barn, but with sub-zero chemistry, all it did was remind viewers of Moira’s scorching fling with Cain way back when. With Moira’s weak motivation to cheat, the story threw her character under the bus, jeopardising her marriage and family for nothing, all the while viewers suffered through week upon week of supposedly sexy hook ups and on-off arguments. As for Nate, viewers long suspected he had ulterior motives but with no hints that he had a mission in mind, he came across as vapid and dull, but when he revealed himself as Cain’s son we were supposed to become suddenly interested just because he was Cain’s. Alas, it did not magic him an engaging personality. Even with a clunky backstory for his mother and Cain, sympathy was thin on the ground. In an attempt to make Nate likeable and fit in Emmerdale have now framed Nate as the lonely victim and he’s even won round the Dingles, as for the audience? Jury’s out.

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.

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? (25-29 Nov 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! This week saw Bernice leave the village (nooo!) instead of getting married to Liam and there was shock after shock for the Tates.

Faves

Bye Bye Bernice

vlcsnap-2019-12-01-15h11m42s007Very sadly this week saw our favourite village drama queen, Bernice, leave the show. Readers of this blog will know that Bernice has always been one of my favourite characters in Emmerdale but bias aside, I think she’ll be a real loss to the show. Despite viewer complaints that Bernice’s exit was rushed and perhaps unbelievable I think it was a great exit, even if it was crammed into two episodes. It felt quite fitting that forever unlucky in love Bernice had to sacrifice her happy ever after to go and care for daughter Dee Dee who has been neglected due to Bernice’s self absorbed bubble. The exit gave Bernice her growth moment, showing she could be selfless and a good mother against the odds. Samantha Giles has always given Bernice the perfect blend of kooky-craziness in her humour and yet had buckets of likeability and there were plenty of more serious moments that she nailed. Her exit gave us both the outlandish humour but also managed to be very emotional as Bernice made her big sacrifice. There are few actors or characters that can do the big comedy moments and yet bring so much pathos to serious stories. Overall the exit two parter had minor flaws and as a whole, it was a great send off for Bernice, giving her meaningful goodbyes and that bittersweet sacrifice that saw her leave tearfully, knowing she was doing the right thing. You’ll be really missed Bernice!

Sticking Around

vlcsnap-2019-12-01-15h08m22s579Is there an Emmerdale newbie more loveable than hapless Liam? We might have to swiftly overlook the grim moment he punched Jacob last week and find some way to forgive him, but besides that, he’s by far one of the best new characters in the show. I feel like I’ve been singing his praises forever but each week he manages to be charming and funny in a way that makes his character so appealing. This week saw the end to his relationship with Bernice (even if he doesn’t know it yet) and his overly dramatic and slightly strange reaction – like eating their wedding cake and making a Bernice themed advent calendar – is enough to put a smile on your face. His stag do antics were entertaining and although his main anchor to the village is gone I have faith he’ll continue to be a great addition to the show. He has real personality and a quirkiness which makes him different from other arrivals who have sometimes suffered from dull scripts. There’s plenty of mileage in his relationship with Leanna, his colleague friendship with Manpreet and the men who celebrated his stag. While it was a real shame to lose the flirtatious and fun Cavastock, I’m really glad Liam’s sticking around.

Tate Twists

vlcsnap-2019-12-01-15h13m24s141There was plenty of twists and turns for the Tates this week as Kim’s bitterness drove her to destroy Graham’s new relationship with Rhona. Revealing to a packed pub that she and Graham were married was a brilliant moment and rather enjoyable to see devilish Kim at work. Later though, Graham had a trump card of his own to play, shocking Kim that Millie might not be her flesh and blood after all. Kim’s reaction to Andrea’s betrayal was disappointingly muted as she vowed to get a DNA test but as she threatened to tell her oblivious son the truth, Jamie and Andrea had news of their own – she is pregnant. All these surprising turns were good at keeping viewers on their toes and seeing Kim play dirty in clever ways was lots of fun. The only reservation about these stories is that apart from Kim, the Tate household, Graham included, are all just a bit dull. We’re months in and I still don’t feel emotionally invested in these characters. And even Kim could do with a breaking point now and again and if learning the granddaughter she’s grown to love might not be hers then what will crack her facade?

Fails

The Monotony of Money Woes

vlcsnap-2019-12-01-15h14m59s695One of the biggest plots this week was Dawn and Billy’s investigation over what Al was really up to. After seeing Al get whacked last week Dawn soon discovered that Al was completely broke and had borrowed money from the local criminals we saw Cain and Aaron get mixed up with. Dawn and Billy’s sweet romance last week worked because it was light and fun and casual but this week they both got bogged down into a story that wasn’t very interesting to watch and turned Billy back into a bit of a moaner. Besides, are money trouble stories ever very interesting? Especially when they involve cartoonish gangsters. Worst of all this story has squandered Al’s initial potential as the charismatic manipulator and it’s not helped that he’s stuck in an office (the lifeless Sharma factory set) doing very little. Of course, Ellis’s abrupt exit might have ruined their early plans for Al, so we have to hold out hope that they inject a bit of life back into him when Ellis returns. My hopes are pinned on Al becoming a new smart villain. Think Declan Macey.

Unlikeable Messes

vlcsnap-2019-12-01-15h15m49s919As the aftermath of Moira’s affair with Nate rumbles on, it doesn’t get any more watchable. Sadly the discovery of Nate being Cain’s son hasn’t made him more interesting and his glum looks around Wishing Well aren’t making him sympathetic but just seem like he’s throwing himself a pity party, with Belle his sole fan. No sob story in the world could give him charisma and his motivation for ruining the family and then sticking around seems clumsy at best. Then there’s Cain, the victim in all this, but written as even more of a caveman than usual. His reluctance to let Nate be part of the family is one of the more understandable character reactions and yet others react to him as unreasonable. But just to make Nate seem even more of the wounded soldier, Cain lashes out at him and the rest of the family in ways that are inexcusable. Then Moira, feeling sorry for herself, drinking and failing to make amends, desperate to get rid of Nate but unwilling to really recognise her part in the destruction of the family. I don’t have much sympathy for any of them now and I am dreading the increasingly desperate ways to embed Nate into the Dingles and have Cain accept him. What next? Nate saves Monty from a burning building? Nate donates an organ t

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.

Fave or Fail? (4-8 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! As Lydia met her estranged sister, a spiralling Cain and Aaron started their own destructive team.

Faves

New Family Secrets

vlcsnap-2019-11-10-08h55m02s263With lots of big Emmerdale stories winding down, it was interesting to see a new story start this week with Lydia. After Karen Blick’s impressive performances during the summer, as the truth of Lydia’s past came to light, it’s welcome news to see her get a continuation of this story now. After Mandy’s identity theft story, the Dingles discovered Lydia’s benefactor was her mother, but when Lydia went to the house she came face to face with her estranged sister (amazing casting!). But it was soon revealed to the audience that Lydia’s mother was not dead, as the sister had said, but very much alive. This was a fantastic moment of intrigue and would be the perfect way to give Lydia more depth. Although she makes a great matriarch within the Dingles, bringing in her family would be a great new story for Lydia. Can’t wait to see where this goes!

Big Heartbreak

vlcsnap-2019-11-10-08h57m57s300Poor Aaron had one hell of a week Oblivious to Robert saying goodbye last week it was one shock after another when Aaron realised first that Robert had been moved to the Isle of Wight and blocked all contact and later, had filed for divorce. This brutal severing was inevitable being that Friday last week marked the end of Ryan Hawley’s tenure in Emmerdale, but in Robert wanting Aaron to have a life, meant heartbreak for him. Spiralling Aaron lashed out at Lee’s brother Luke, ranted at the insufferable Wendy (deeply cathartic) but most of all did what Danny Miller does so well – an absolute emotional breakdown. Viewers might be over the tears, but after a five year love story, he’s due a flood.

The End of Coira

vlcsnap-2019-11-10-08h59m21s595It was all over for another Emmerdale couple this week as Cain and Moira had a sit down chat about where it all went wrong. With the foundations of Moira’s affair weak and unsuccessfully told, sitting and hearing her explanation felt quite hollow and unconvincing, but at least Cain wasn’t having any of it either. Regardless of the story, Jeff Hordley and Natalie J Robb made the aftermath worth watching. With Cain’s car crash behaviour leading him to bed Kerry it looks like it really could be the end of the line for Coira. But what next? It’s hard to imagine them moving on to anyone else in the village!

Arthur’s Meltdown

vlcsnap-2019-11-10-08h56m25s757It’s only the beginning of what appears to be a big new story for young Arthur Thomas but I’m already intrigued. If you’ve read upcoming spoilers you’ll know Arthur’s jealousy and struggle to adapt to Laurel’s new relationship will start a dark story for him, but we saw more of its beginnings this week. Arthur has already tried to sabotage Laurel and Jai’s relationship and Friday’s episode saw him explode with rage, feeling ostracised from his own family and angry that Jai was trying to take his Dad’s place. This feels like a very real psychological and emotional trauma for a young boy who worries the world is forgetting the importance of his late father and I’m interested to see how this story goes. Alfie Clarke is one of Emmerdale’s best young actors so he’ll be able to handle what could be tough material.

Fails

The Wrong Message

vlcsnap-2019-11-10-08h59m55s056Whenever soaps do a rape or sexual assault storyline, there’s always a character brought in to defend the rapist. From Pierce’s mother to Bails’s wife, we’ve seen it before. But when justice occurs, the defender realises the truth, or is at least shut up. There’s no question that there are “Wendys” in the world, mothers who believe their rapist sons are innocent, especially vindicated when they get away with it. Where Emmerdale have gone disastrously wrong is an attempt to victimise Wendy, even going as far as having Victoria apologise and take pity on her. Wendy stalked her. Harassed her. Tormented her. Forced her way into Victoria’s life. Blamed her. Wendy is not a victim. She is not sympathetic. She has never seen Lee’s behaviour for what is was and has never apologised for what the family have put Victoria through. This framing is incredibly damaging to the message Emmerdale were trying to tell with the rape storyline. Wendy (and in turn Lee) should not be forgiven and it’s damaging to write Vic as being “the stronger person” because she can. The writing for Vic at times since this story began has sometimes seemed to mistake empowerment and courage for forgiveness and understanding. Finding closure should not mean accepting Wendy or empathising with her. The writing this week made Vic almost indifferent to her brother’s fate, like he’d gone away for the weekend, while she seemed more bothered about Wendy’s upset and Lee’s funeral. From a story with such a strong beginning, it’s veered completely off track.