Fave or Fail? (11-22 May 2020)

faveorfail

Every week (every fortnight during the lockdown) I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Helpless Laurel called the police to scare Archie and Leyla slapped Leanna as their feud escalated.

Faves

A Family Dilemma

vlcsnap-2020-05-23-21h43m21s591As the fire blazed at Rishi’s birthday camp out, the Arthur and Archie situation continued to put a massive strain on Laurel’s life. Feeling scared about the escalation of Arthur’s behaviour, Laurel went to the extreme length of calling the police to help her make her boy see sense. With Archie aware that he’d made things worse by winding Arthur up, he confessed too, leading to even more frustration in the Thomas household. Arthur’s behaviour has been divisive among viewers, especially those missing him as a sweet little boy, however the performances and questions raised by this story have been well worth watching. It’s been great to see more of the consistently brilliant Charlotte Bellamy having something challenging to act and I’m sure there are parents watching who have faced similar struggles with their own kids and wondered helplessly how to make things right. It was also good to see Gabby get involved too as Rosie Bentham has been underused since Ashley died, and Kai Assi who plays Archie has been great too. But this story couldn’t be praised without mentioning Alfie Clarke who manages to make Arthur empathetic even when the writing doesn’t always paint him that way. Alfie’s done a great job of showing the psychological toll of Arthur’s behaviour, from the jealousy of Archie to the frustration and anger of not being believed. I hope we get to see more of Arthur’s journey moving forward.

A Glimmer of Hope?

vlcsnap-2020-05-23-21h41m56s779This fortnight saw Cain and Moira meet to sign their divorce papers and for Cain to collect his stuff. Despite 2019’s great trashing of what was one of Emmerdale’s most loved couples, it’s hard not to pine for the way it was between them. Arguably, Jeff Hordley and Natalie J Robb have the best chemistry in the show so even when things are tense between them, you still see those feelings brimming under the surface. After a moment of levity about a mixed tape Cain made, there was a frisson in the air and it was impossible not to wish things had thawed a little more. Sure, straight after they launched into another row, but it became obvious that the reason for the bitterness was the lingering feelings underneath. After Cain left, Moira’s pain was obvious, even though she put on a brave face in front of Rhona and with pining performances it just made me crave for the Coira back in their prime. It might be a long wait, but if Emmerdale know their strengths, surely they’ll reunite them.

Remembering History

vlcsnap-2020-05-23-21h42m17s463I was so glad to see Diane visit Vanessa this week and give her advice about dealing with chemotherapy. Newer viewers might not remember, but Diane also had bowel cancer in 2004 and then another cancer diagnosis in 2015, so it’s about time her paths crossed with Diane. It felt long overdue to involve these characters especially as Diane’s also Sarah’s gran (not that Emmerdale seems to remember that much either!) so it makes sense that Diane would be informed about Vanessa’s difficult time. Emmerdale’s at its very best when it remembers and uses character history in believable ways to contribute to current plots and with a new normal of filming episodes approaching where it seems likely episodes will be more character focused, we can only hope that we see more of these moments between characters who have shared ground.

Fails

Character Trashing

vlcsnap-2020-05-23-21h44m25s264I’ll openly admit I’ve never been a fan of Harriet’s character. Despite the ripped jeans and cool attitude, she’s been surprisingly boring for a woman who went from undercover cop to woman of the cloth. This fortnight she dumped boring Will, for his lies and putting their family in danger, but then almost immediately jumped into bed with the dodgiest man around – Malone. Sure, she took Will back, but then was spending the night in a hotel room with Malone but scowling about Will’s betrayal. You what, Harriet? I take no issue with Harriet being drawn to bad boys or even playing away in the vestry but with Malone? They might have history (another predictable turn of events) but this story is making Harriet look both stupid and hypocritical. Why dump Will and give him a hard time for his involvement in drugs and crooked cops when Malone is the ring leader? It makes no sense and it makes a mockery of Harriet’s principles. It was a hard enough stretch to believe Harriet could forgive the man who’d tried to crush her with a coffin, but we were told they had unresolved history. It seems lazy to do the same with Malone and frankly there isn’t enough chemistry in their scenes to believe she would be tempted enough to throw away so much for a man as dangerous as Malone. If there are any big Harriet fans left they might be wondering what just happened to the character they loved…

Fave or Fail? (30 March-10 April 2020)

faveorfail

Every week (every fortnight during the lockdown) I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This fortnight Moira and Rhona went into business together and Billy was set up by Malone.

Faves

New Partnerships

vlcsnap-2020-04-11-20h43m53s824This fortnight saw the formation of a new business partnership which is brimming with potential. Much to Kim’s disappointment Rhona discovered she was due to inherit a substantial sum of money from Graham’s will (baffling for a man who was basically a butler for years but we’ll go with it) and she pondered her future. At the same time Moira struggled with the farm, gearing up to make a decision whether to sell it or not. And then these two great women, after working together and talking about their pasts, decided to go into business together. We’re used to soap characters sticking to a select group of interactions and rarely breaking from that mould, so the prospect of a new friendship and business partnership forming brings change and freshness for both characters. Butlers Farm has long felt stale and since the Nate travesty, Moira has lacked direction. The two actresses have already shown an engaging relationship with real chemistry and this will hopefully give the writers plenty of fresh material to work with. Great move!

Forbidden Feelings

vlcsnap-2020-04-11-20h45m10s889There was awkwardness all round this fortnight as Belle found herself unable to avoid Andrea and was roped into attending her saucy lingerie party. As Belle winced her way through Andrea’s comments about her sex life with Jamie, things got worse when a panicked Jamie told her to stay away from Andrea and worried about the atmosphere at work. Jamie was a right dick this fortnight as he tried to get Belle fired but by the end of this week admitted she was all he wanted and he was struggling. Belle’s had her fair share of disastrous relationships but Eden Taylor Draper’s played Belle’s vulnerability and awkwardness well and her angst over her feelings for Jamie seem authentic. Belle and Jamie have the potential to be a cute couple but what this story really needs is to make the stakes seem higher. Jamie’s hardly spent any time with Millie and if his worries about custody is what’s holding him back from Belle, they need to make it more believable he would hold back on his true feelings.

Blaming Brenda

vlcsnap-2020-04-11-20h56m01s455It was one of the smaller plots this fortnight but as Brenda faced the guilt of her mistake, leading to Dan’s paralysis, there was no escaping the blame. This fortnight Mandy found the vital evidence that she needed, the label that proved Brenda’s culpability. As Brenda sweated, she gave Rodney control of the cafe and had surprising support from Eric. I’ve really enjoyed their scenes in particular as until now it wasn’t common for Eric and Brenda to share scenes and much like Rhona and Moira it is interesting to explore new character friendships. Interfering Brenda might not be everyone’s favourite character but Lesley Dunlop is a solid performer and so far her remorse and vulnerability has been well played but I could also see Eric leading her to make even more dubious decisions…

Fails

Posner Problem

vlcsnap-2020-04-11-20h52m00s628Whinging Wendy was back at it again this week, leaning on smitten Bob to help reunite Victoria and Luke. All very well and good if she was just an interfering granny wanting the best for Victoria, but with the Posner family history this is another misguided story. Victoria has repeatedly said she’s not ready to date again and has done what’s right for her, Luke might respect this but Wendy doesn’t seem to understand no means no. Maybe it runs in the family? Rather than respect Vic’s wishes, yet again Wendy was trying to manipulate the situation. Add that to her list of controlling and suffocating behaviour towards Vic. Enough is enough. If that wasn’t infuriating enough to watch, we then had to see Wendy robbed in the world’s most contrived theft all so she could cry over Lee again. It’s insulting enough we’re supposed to tolerate Wendy and accept her as a new mumsy gossip but the weepy reminders of her beloved Lee are sick making. If the Posners are going to be a permanent fixture then it’s time they were given space outside of Vic’s orbit.

The Wrong Fit?

vlcsnap-2020-04-11-20h49m26s780The Malone plot continued this fortnight and only a few weeks in, it’s already starting to drag. There’s no denying Mark Womack is a charismatic performer but it’s hard to find any real menace in Malone when he pops up in different locations at the perfect time like a cartoon villain. He makes threats and uses his wealth of corrupt cops to pull strings but as a character he’s very 2D. Had Malone been brought in with a family or his corrupt ways been introduced slowly with a strong motivation, we might have found him more ominous. As it is, he seems invented just to cause hell for Cain and co and there’s no real doubt that they won’t lose to Malone – so where are the stakes? Will continues to be lifeless and dull, a far cry from the big drugs lord who Harriet had to investigate undercover and Billy might be a nice guy but like Will, he’s also a bit lifeless in this story. What’s more, this story just doesn’t feel like a good fit for Emmerdale and in fact has the hallmarks of a weak EastEnders plot. A story about a bent cop manipulating vulnerable villagers could have worked if Malone himself had been written with more depth, a life of his own, but this story is far from engaging especially as it seems unlikely he’ll change anything significant in the village.

Fave or Fail? (24-28 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! Rhona bravely took down Pierce in their final showdown and Vanessa revealed her diagnosis to Charity.

Faves

The Big Showdown

vlcsnap-2020-02-29-13h57m28s473Rhona came face to face with Pierce this week in an hour long episode that didn’t disappoint. Read below for reasons why this episode was so gripping overall, but a special mention has to go to the incredible scenes between Rhona and Pierce themselves. From the moment Rhona stepped into Mulberry, nerves were shot, especially the chilling moment Pierce searched Rhona for any recording devices. Zoe Henry delivered exceptional performances as Rhona lived through her terror, conscious of Vanessa and Johnny’s plight too. Later, she was even more impressive as Rhona tried to play Pierce and pretend they just needed a good meal before leaving. As Rhona reminisced about their relationship, you could still sense her unease as she put on a good show. Rhona’s bravery was powerful to watch and the gripping dynamic between Zoe Henry and Jonathan Wrather meant it was hard to look away. Some of Emmerdale’s best work this year.

Vanessa’s New Agony

vlcsnap-2020-02-29-13h59m30s997There’s one story that we’re going to be talking about for months and has the potential to be huge come awards season and that’s the progress of Vanessa’s cancer. I’m thrilled Michelle Hardwick is getting the opportunity to showcase her stellar acting talents in this emotional storyline. This week, after finally being freed from Pierce’s clutches, Vanessa had to face her difficult journey ahead. There were tearful scenes as Vanessa hid her secret until finally she was able to tell Charity. Understandably Charity struggled with the news and her guilt at having not been concerned about Vanessa’s disappearance and she began to distance herself. Not only does this offer Emmerdale the chance to explore a serious real world health issue and all its realistic symptoms and side effects but it also brings a new challenge to test Vanity instead of the familiar stories of Charity messing up. This story has potential to explore Vanessa as a character in her own right, her fears of losing Johnny and step forward to be the lead in a storyline. It’s had a brilliant, emotional start and I’m sure it’ll be one of 2020’s highlights.

Gripping Climax

vlcsnap-2020-02-29-14h11m00s113I’ve already talked about how good the Rhona and Pierce showdown was, but overall, Tuesday’s hour long special had everything you could want in a soap. Vanessa’s continued kidnapped carried on being anxiety-inducing, especially when Pierce as good as admitted she’d had her use. Similarly the stakes were high when we saw that poor Johnny was in a bad way. There was no second guessing in this episode as after Kim interrupted and was tied up herself, the episode had us hooked. Outside armed police seemed frustratingly slow with their drones and thermal detection but it was all edge of your seat stuff. I loved the way Rhona’s cleverly live-streamed Pierce’s confession in a brilliantly unexpected move, and I also enjoyed the surprise use of tranquiliser to take Pierce down. Upstairs, we lived through the horror with Kim and Vanessa but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Kim in a new light and the way she tried to get Vanessa to concentrate and survive. All round this was a fantastic episode and even though it was double the length of a normal episode, I didn’t want it to end.

Marlon’s Freedom

vlcsnap-2020-02-29-13h58m28s948With Pierce’s arrest, finally came some good news for Marlon as it was revealed to him he’d be released from prison. When Marlon got the news, Mark Charnock’s acting was excellent as he slowly dealt with this life changing moment. It wasn’t all joy though as after his release it was a struggle to return to normality and Marlon broke down after the ill advised party. He also shouted at Mandy after she got the press involved and had some making up to April to do. It seems like Marlon’s return to the village might not be as straight forward as he first thought and although it would be good to see back the happier Marlon we love, I’m glad we’re seeing the aftermath of his traumatic time locked up for a crime he was innocent of.

Bonus Faves

  • There were so many stand out single scenes this week outside of the ones mentioned above it’s hard to mention them all in my faves. Marlon and April, April and Rhona, Chas and Charity, Vanessa and Rhona. All wonderful heart to hearts between characters with history together. Vulnerable, well acted and well performed – character focused drama at its best
  • If it weren’t for Nate, Cain and Cara would be really watchable. Their chemistry means when they reminisce, their history feels palpable
  • There was more progress on the Cain and Moira front this week as Moira bigged Cain up to Cara only for him to overhear. Later in a dialogue free scene Moira removed her wedding ring in a moment that was the first real tender moment where we saw Moira’s regret. It worked well and certainly made me pine for what they’ve lost
  • Okay, it would have never happened in real life but that moment Marlon was released and Pierce arrived at the prison and they locked eyes was brilliant. I got chills.
  • I felt for Mandy this week as she broke down feeling useless in Marlon’s campaign and it was nice to see Lisa Riley play something emotional and not just loud mouthed and comedic

Fails

Calm After the Storm?

vlcsnap-2020-02-29-14h04m19s745Life for a soap character moves fast. Just look at Nate. Shot one minute and out of hospital the next. However the aftermath for Rhona after Pierce’s return this week was a little lacking. The climax of his return was perfect, thrilling viewing but watching Rhona’s scenes a few days on you’d be hard pushed to believe she’d suffered any sort of trauma. Both Marlon and Vanessa are dealing with their new ordeals but mentions of Pierce are thin on the ground. The village barely blinked to hear he was out of prison and had caused so much misery. Rhona herself has now moved on to warring with Kim over Graham’s funeral and has hardly had a look in when it comes to her own trauma. I was cautious that this return might make Rhona suffer but so far it feels jarringly opposite – the man who raped her and made her life hell, returned, murdered her boyfriend and held her best friend hostage. Surely this should have sent Rhona back to a dark place? It feels a bit of a waste of Pierce’s return if there is no real immediate fall out for Rhona and she slots right back into petty squabbles with Kim over Graham (who cares?). It feels particularly disappointing when the original ending to the Pierce and Rhona story was so empowering and uplifting for Rhona’s character. This new conclusion in the end didn’t quite work as well.

Fast Farewell

vlcsnap-2020-02-29-14h00m16s674This week we saw another taxi exit as Doug made a hasty decision to uproot his whole life and move to Australia having only arrived home the day before. Was the jet lag messing with his head or what? Yes, Doug was a moany old so-and-so, interfering, grumpy and the rest but he was unique in the village with a distinct personality. There aren’t many older villagers left and Doug brought variety, working well with a range of characters and particularly troubled youngsters like Gerry and Liv. I can’t help but feel, even if Doug wasn’t a favourite, he was part of the furniture and it’s a shame to lose him from the fabric of the village. There isn’t anyone else quiet like Doug and it’s a shame his rushed exit was so lacklustre. Sure, no one expected explosions or dramatic hi-jinx but having been in the show for so long, Doug deserved a better send off. He didn’t even get a final pint in the Woolie.

Fave or Fail? (17-21 Feb 2020)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Vanessa was revealed to have bowel cancer this week and Nate was shot accidentally by Cain.

Faves

Vanessa’s Ongoing Hell

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

Rhona’s Discovery

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

Lingering Feelings?

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

Fails

Harriet’s House of Boredom

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

Nate’s Forced Redemption

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

Fave or Fail? (10-14 Feb 2020)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Vanessa and Pierce came face to face with horrifying consequences and Pete’s final episode aired as Anthony Quinlan left the show.

Faves

Vanessa’s Nightmare

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

Perfect Performance

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

Forbidden Feelings

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

The Rebound Guy

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

Coming Back Fighting

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

Fail

Wendy Woes

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

Fave or Fail? (6-10 Jan 2020)

faveorfail

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

Faves

A Big First Impression

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

A Mother’s Love

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

Sarah’s Choice

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

Moira’s Turning Point?

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

Fail

Computer Says No

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

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?