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.

Scene of the Week (4-8 Nov 2019)

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If you read spoilers, you’ll have known it was coming, but there was something both excruciatingly awkward yet satisfying about my Scene of the Week choice – Moira discovering Cain had slept with Kerry. Determined to make her marriage work and continue living at Butler’s, Moira headed home after the fireworks. With Cain and Kerry having a drunk pity party their act was pure self-destruction and revenge on Cain’s part. When Moira saw the reflection of Kerry in the mirror, it was a stark reminder of the car crash that has become their marriage and was one of the first time I’ve felt sorry for the woman. With Cain throwing her cheating excuses back in her face to explain his one night stand it was both cutting and a little bit satisfying to see him get his own back. But ouch, Cain and Moira really are in tatters now.

Fave or Fail? (28 Oct-1 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! Robert’s sad final scenes aired this week as Mandy came clean about her scams.

Faves

The Last Goodbye

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-08h54m09s542Robert’s final scenes aired this week in what was a heart-breaking exit for the much-loved character. With Robert informed that he was being moved to the Isle of Wight, he made the painful decision not to tell Aaron, not wanting him to uproot his whole life while Robert served his 14 year sentence. Across the visiting room table, Robert and Aaron struggled with the lack of contact, expressing how much they missed each other. As Robert braced himself to reveal where he was being moved to, Aaron interrupted and Robert could no longer own up to the truth. With call backs and references to their love story, from “their” lay-by, a repeat of their phrase “You know/I know” and of course, the final, gut-wrenching play of their wedding song, this was a tribute to the couple and a love letter to fans. Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley’s chemistry continued to be powerful until the end, with Ryan delivering some of his best performances to date as Robert struggled to say his final goodbye. It was painful to see such a tragic ending to the show’s most popular couple and a character so memorable as Robert, but it felt fitting all the same. To also have Robert’s final act be one of selflessness, at a time where he was truly comfortable in himself, was the perfect end to his journey. His snark smugness, facial expressions and charm will be sorely missed.

The Aftermath Continues

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-08h57m41s553Following on from some huge weeks of drama, the fall out continued this week with engaging aftermath. After drinking himself numb, Cain escaped the village, surprisingly with Amy, throwing his wedding ring at Moira in the rain – ouch. When he returned he wanted her to pack her bags and the two had a face-off that showcased once more how naturally dynamic Jeff Hordley and Natalie J Robb are in scenes together. Bristling! Moira, despite defending herself to Cain’s supporters, still hasn’t been especially sympathetic but that’s mostly down to the affair taking place for nonsensical reasons in the first place! Then there was Chas and Paddy, coping with Faith’s exit and new baby Eve. Their moments have continued to be bittersweet as well as giving them some nice quieter moments to enjoy being new parents. That reprieve of happiness was much needed. Victoria saw Luke again, who admitted he believed her over Lee. These two have fantastic chemistry but it still doesn’t sit right that Emmerdale would tie Vic to her rapist’s family like this. Finally Aaron, whose week had a devastating end, but his wallowing and grief felt well done and believable but it was a lovely touch and a welcome change of pace to have him look after Seb and continue to explore his role as a parent. As the Cain and Moira dramas and Aaron’s heartbreak continue in the coming weeks we are bound to see more of these great performances soon.

Dingle Chaos

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-08h55m20s330Mandy was forced to come clean about her shady dealings this week as her and Vinny faced the infamous Dingle Court. Caught red-handed trying to steal Lydia’s money, Sam came down hard with the Dingle law and the family gathered to hear her case. Even if the whole Dingle Code stuff has been overdone, there’s always something entertaining about classic Dingle capers. It was a great twist to have Charity secretly involved (if only that had been left out of spoilers!) and fun to have her in the thick of a family scheme again. It’s still not completely clear the point of Vinny not being Mandy’s son (and why it matters) or if there are any more longer term plans for them, but her story is at least an amusing relief from the heavier stories in a way that feels classically Emmerdale.

Drug Bust-up

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-08h59m21s359The drugs story took a surprising turn this week, just as the comedy element had worn thin. After Archie had an accident, Laurel found Doug’s pot stash in the first aid box, but her first worry was that it belonged to Jai. She confronted him and the two had their first real argument, as he was horrified she would accuse him and then take it easy on the real culprit, Doug. It was still frosty between them the next day with Jai unwilling to forgive her, especially when she too had struggled to fight her addictions. This was a great way to give the pot plot more purpose and saw the relationship between Laurel and Jai truly tested. They’re a great couple but it seems only right that things aren’t too easy for them and the good thing about a fight is that we’re rooting for them to make things up. These were some nicely written scenes and it’ll be interesting to see if their pasts ever cause their relationship more problems.

Fails

Oceans Emmerdale

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-08h55m56s762Emmerdale aren’t afraid to try something new stylistically, be it flashbacks, time shifts or even the amazing special episode dealing with Ashley’s dementia. But this week’s flashbacks were somewhat divisive with viewers. As Mandy told the Dingles about her casino scheme, including the arrival of “Red” (aka the fabulously dressed Charity Dingle), the audience saw a glossy Hustle-style sequence of scenes. I’m on the fence about these scenes, they were fun and made the telling of the casino plot more interesting, but I’m not sure it felt very “Emmerdale”. To me, if felt more like those comedy spin-off VHS tapes Emmerdale used to make and the style of it jarred a little, but was it alright as a one off? This is one thing I’m undecided about…

Pantomime Posturing

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-08h58m09s196With Kim, we can all take a bit of the high-camp panto villain, but this week, as she and Graham snarled and gurned at each other, it struck me that their dynamic at the moment is tonally an odd fit with the rest of the show. There’s always a place for different types of characters and dynamics, but alongside the brutal break up between Cain and Moira, and the emotional end of Robron, Kim and Graham’s cartoonish dramatics felt almost like they belonged in a different show. There are only so many backstories and convoluted histories we can hold in our heads all at once but Kim and Graham’s “I will destroy you!!” speeches lacked the grounding and authenticity that other characters in the show have. It was only when Kim shed tears and we started to see her as more human again that the story gained interest. The problem with the Home Farm lot is the ever-shifting backstories and that confusing lack of consistency makes it hard to care what’s happening in the present. To really care about these big moments of camp villainy and revenge, we need a real grip on who these characters are and the first obstacle is making them feel like “real” people.

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

Faves

Cain’s Carnage

vlcsnap-2019-10-27-10h46m50s408If there’s one character who owned the week, it was Cain Dingle. There’s a reason why Cain is so popular among viewers and ultimately it comes down to the brilliance of Jeff Hordley’s portrayal. This week was a blockbuster week for Cain as he learnt Moira was cheating. First he pummelled the wrong target (oops, poor Pete) and then on learning the real culprit was Nate, staged an elaborate (and let’s face it a convoluted/ridiculous) revenge plot. With Cain’s pain, fury and below the surface seething playing out perfectly in Jeff’s face, I’m not convinced the week needed a random boat explosion, when the showdown was satisfying on its own but the underwater scenes were visually impression. It’s unclear what’s next for Cain and Moira, particularly when her motivation to cheat was unsatisfying and unsympathetic, but the pair have undeniable chemistry even at war. Whatever happens, Cain’s total breakdown will be worth watching for Jeff’s performances alone.

Prison Pain

vlcsnap-2019-10-27-10h47m34s909Robert faced his sentencing this week in a plot thread that felt a bit lost in the show’s stunt week after last week’s thrilling focus. However this didn’t deter from the emotional performances as both Robert and Aaron tried to put on a brave face. As Aaron suffered alone at home watching a video from his husband, his prison break out plan abandoned after some tough and quite uncompassionate berating from his family, Robert faced his own despair in a prison cell. This heartbreak was a nice juxtaposition of scenes and Aaron’s dark mood clouded the rest of the week in a way that was fitting to the tragedy of the situation. The performances and grief following last week have been spot on, but my only fear is after last week’s great scenes, the momentum has been lost a little.

Faith Says Farewell

vlcsnap-2019-10-27-10h49m51s449We said goodbye to Sally Dexter this week as Faith, in a way that felt surprisingly final. Since it was announced Faith would be leaving the Dales, there was hope it was just a break, but the framing of Friday’s scenes felt like we might not see Faith again for a long time – if ever again. Even though her exit itself seemed rushed, especially with only a handful of characters available to say goodbye, Sally Dexter had a final week of big dramatic performances and not just the barbed comments and comedy she’s often been used for. Faith’s been quite brash and divisive but she’s also been someone who’s felt right at home from the start and fit into the village perfectly. From her troubled role as a parent to Chas and Cain to the touching romance with Eric, it was good to see both of these explored in her final episode. Faith’s been one of those great morally grey characters who can inspire empathy even in the worst of her behaviour. She’ll be a real loss to the show.

Light and Shade

vlcsnap-2019-10-27-10h52m35s674In among all the high drama this week was Chas giving birth in the pub toilets with only Marlon to hand. Scenes of someone giving birth in the wrong place at the wrong time are done often in soap, but these were lifted by the reliably amusing Marlon and of course the drunken chaos of Mandy and Bob next door. In fact those two, plus Lydia, would be a great full time addition to the bar staff. Every big week needs a lighter story and this worked well, especially when Chas and Paddy’s joy felt earned after last year’s tragedy.

Fails

Bonus Fail

  • It seems like someone at Emmerdale had a short term memory this week! First Chas managed to learn Moira had cheated on Cain twice, once in the first Thursday episode, then again at the end of the second episode. Baby brain or a mistake slipping through the net? Then Chas chose the name “Eve” for her new baby, totally forgetting about Eve Jenson who was her mortal enemy and cheated with Carl. Would you really name your child after someone you hated? Seems like Emmerdale forgot all about that big story. Finally, the discovery Faith had been involved in preventing Cain from knowing about pregnant Cara was baffling as we’d already seen how Faith had abandoned her kids when they were very young – so how did her involvement work? Considering the special flashback episode dealing with Cain and Faith’s past was less than two years ago, this seems like a really clunky mistake. When the big twist doesn’t gel with established canon, it weakens the satisfying element of a twist!

More Torture for Victoria

vlcsnap-2019-10-27-10h49m27s269Some viewers had already predicted that cute hospital guy Luke would have some sort of dark connection to Lee, but I was naively hoping that Emmerdale wouldn’t go down such a convoluted and cruel route. Wrong. The glimmer of hope and happiness for Vic was not to be, which considering what she’s suffered through this year feels particularly mean spirited. This week she discovered Luke was Lee’s brother, another spawn of the vile Wendy’s and so Vic’s chance for a fresh start away from her trauma and her rapist is not to be. Isn’t this a bit needless? If Vic couldn’t have justice, then a clean break, empowered against Lee’s awful mother would have been a start. I fear Emmerdale will explore a relationship between the two and try and soften Wendy that way but Victoria deserves much better.

Twist Shock?

vlcsnap-2019-10-27-10h51m21s558So, Nate is Cain’s son, eh? Who’d have thought it? Well…quite a few viewers to be honest. Was there ever going to be a twist big and shocking enough to please every viewer? Probably not. But there was something uninspired about this predictable route and I’m not convinced it made trashing Moira and her marriage worth it. Perhaps if Emmerdale had worked harder to establish Nate as a character in his own right, or avoided the repetitive affair scenes by having his seduction more prolonged and subtle, perhaps if we as viewers had been in on Nate’s motivation and secret then the gut-punch for Moira and Cain might have meant more. Perhaps if we’d seen hints of Nate’s ulterior motive or even Cain growing to like him so his betrayal and hatred hit with more impact. As it was after the budget blowing stunt, the impact of the secret unravelled quickly in a series of confusing and dull exposition scenes about a character we’ve never met (Cara), that made the backstory of Cain and Faith’s relationship muddled (Faith WAS around in his life apparently and Shadrach was a racist) and wasn’t as exciting as it might have been if we’d been in on the shock all along. Not to mention the fact that Cain is interesting enough without another secret child being brought into the equation – we’ve only just had Ryan and Charity. What Emmerdale seems to have assumed is that Nate is automatically interesting because he’s Cain’s son, but if they want us to be interested in another father/son bonding journey, then they’re going to have to make a bit more effort to write Nate as more than just a plot device.

Fave or Fail? (7-11 Oct 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! Kerry’s health took a turn for the worst and Vanessa stayed in a prison cell overnight. 

Faves

War Against the Wyatts

vlcsnap-2019-10-12-21h44m49s870The fallout of Tracy and Vanessa’s discovery about their dad’s death continued this week, which was full of strong performances and satisfying, tense moments, even if it has had a somewhat divisive response from viewers. With Kerry hospitalised, Tracy and Vanessa spent much of the week switching scripts, one minute Tracy was guilt ridden and blamed herself, unwilling to turn Kerry and Amy in, then she was gung-ho about going straight to the police. Then it was Vanessa’s turn to flip-flop too. Perhaps this was an attempt to get viewers to question the big issues of blame, guilt and accidents, though some were left feeling like Kerry and Amy have got away with it. With soap being a fast moving genre, there’s a chance it won’t be long before they’re sharing a civilised drink in the Woolie, or perhaps Kerry and Amy will save the sisters’ lives in an attempt to redeem them. Whatever the long term outcome, the moments where Tracy and Vanessa were allowed be furious and indignant at the Wyatts were the most enjoyable and hopefully Kerry and Amy will face a little more justice than just a bump on the head!

Wedding Favours

vlcsnap-2019-10-12-21h37m16s860This week we had more comedy at Take a Vow as Bernice and Liam competed against Lydia and Sam with the type of humour Emmerdale does best. With the couples vying for the prize, they had to come up with a perfect theme for the wedding and decorate a table. Lydia and Sam opted for a Yorkshire theme while Bernice and Liam let their fantasies run away with them and went full Jane Austen, costumes the lot. As the horny pair got carried away, they ended up wrecking Sam and Lydia’s table in the process and winning by default. The antics of these two never fail to amuse (which makes Samantha Giles’s aka Bernice’s approaching exit even harder to take) and Jonny McPherson continues to be one of Emmerdale’s biggest comedic assets. With the guilt getting to them, they gave Sam and Lydia their prize instead, with Bernice still managing to be her tactless self, suggesting they were a bit of a charity case. Take a Vow is a business that we don’t see do much but with all the weddings in the village could easily be used more for fun stories like this. Next stop, Leyla and Andrea trying to rein in a village bridezilla?

Rhona and the Robot

vlcsnap-2019-10-12-21h35m44s863It’s early days for Rhona and her budding romance with Graham and while I’m not totally sold, I can see potential.  Before their relationship became exhausting doom and gloom, Rhona forged a surprising chemistry with Pete and now it looks like there are similar sparks with Graham. It hasn’t quite reached the same levels with Graham yet, but it looks like Rhona could be the one to break him out of the robotic mode. What Graham needs is something about him that is more believable, more human. Giving him a real relationship with someone grounded, in the heart of the village, could work – after all we’ve had years of Graham now and he still doesn’t feel like a living breathing person. There is of course the Kim factor which could spoil things but knowing how good her scenes with Rhona have been, seeing them head to head might not be such a bad thing.

Fails

Angry Amy

vlcsnap-2019-10-12-21h41m26s810One character who won’t be popular with many viewers after this week’s events is Amy. With Kerry critical in hospital, Amy had harsh words for Tracy, blaming her for her mum’s condition. But with Kerry making a fairly quick recovery (okay, slow in soap standards) Amy’s insistence that Tracy’s actions made them even didn’t really wash. There were plenty of times in this story where Amy was the remorseful one, but lately she’s almost been ruthless and cold-hearted in their fight to evade any police involvement. Perhaps if Emmerdale had spent more time showing Amy’s desperation for money, leading to the accident, then Amy’s excuses might have held more weight, but the way she treated grieving Tracy and Vanessa this week was hard to watch. It might take a while for Tracy and Vanessa to move on and forgive her, but I think the audience might take even longer…

Moira Merry-go-Round

vlcsnap-2019-10-12-21h47m00s062I can’t tolerate any more of this Nate and Moira storyline and I reckon not even seeing Cain’s murder eyes or an eleventh hour twist about Nate’s identity can save it any more. This week Moira’s shameless attitude about her affair pissed off Pete and once again she ended things with Nate, only for – you guessed it – her to snog his face off at the end of the week. How many times has this happened now? Moira’s plummeted from one of the show’s strongest characters to one I’m struggling to watch. Her motives make no sense and her lust for Nate is even harder to believe set against her genuine, palpable chemistry with Cain. Then there’s Nate, who lurches from predator to charmless bore who now claims to be in love with her. It’s impossible to tell whether he’s genuine (and a massive creep) or playing a game. But with the same repetitive story beats taking place week after week, it’s a struggle to care. Moira should be the character we connect with, that we’re empathising with, but even the most ardent Moira fans must be finding it hard to recognise her. To make matters worse, Emmerdale appear to be investing everything into this story, putting it front and centre almost every week, despite it baffling or putting off most viewers. Will the climax and Cain’s revenge be worth all these months of a terrible storyline?