Fave or Fail? (13-24 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 Lydia and Sam finally got married and Vinny’s father arrived.

Faves

Lydia and Sam Get Married

vlcsnap-2020-04-25-17h06m00s039In these bleak times it was fortuitous timing to have the feel-good joy of Sam and Lydia’s wedding to watch. We really needed it! From the fun mishaps of the stag and hen dos where even Cain received a massage from the hunky masseur, to Lydia’s mum flirting up a storm with the whiskey expert. On the big day itself Lydia looked beautiful and after some emotional words with Samson, Sam was ready to marry his perfect match. Sam’s vows – comparing finding Lydia to rabbit catching – were amusingly apt and the big dance to Cotton Eye Joe was lots of fun. This was a fun and touching wedding and a satisfying special day for this couple that are now at the heart of the Dingle brood. This was perfect and heartwarming. A great tonic. 

Mandy’s Blast From the Past

vlcsnap-2020-04-25-17h05m22s843Mandy’s experience of the big wedding was less than happy though as she had bumped into Vinny’s dad Paul in the morning when hitching a lift. We’d already learnt a little about Paul (conveniently) just a few weeks before and as Mandy’s face fell it was clear she was dead against his reappearance in Vinny’s life. Having lied to him that Vinny had gone, it was only a matter of time before Paul learnt the truth and is now working alongside his son in secret. We don’t quite know the full story yet or what will happen when Vinny learns about Paul but this story has already given Mandy some meatier emotional material which Lisa Riley has delivered with real heart. Although the nostalgic comedy Mandy brings has been fun in small doses, it’s these vulnerable moments like the ones she shares with Lydia where Mandy really shines. Looking forward to seeing how this story progresses. 

Vanity Divided

vlcsnap-2020-04-25-17h09m27s516Vanessa’s chemotherapy treatment began this fortnight, triggering an intense mood within a family already struggling to cope with Vanessa’s illness this story so far has presented many of the ups and downs, the symptoms, hospital visits and emotional tolls that cancer can do to a family and Emmerdale have done a great job at touching on these issues. Having Vanessa get drunk and go viral was a clunky and silly way to show the division of coping methods her and Charity are taking but aside from this, their personal struggles and inability to communicate feels authentic. As Charity fights for the stable family life she’s finally found, it’s made sense she’s swung to full and sometimes smothering domestic protector mode. Equally, it’s completely believable that Vanessa doesn’t always want to be in the role of victim and ill person. This divide has made their conflict and relationship dramas successful and it’s a sign of how well written it is that you can empathise with both characters. There is no right or wrong way to behave or react in a crisis this difficult and I’m glad the writing is showing how cracks can appear and feel overwhelming before they are mended. 

Fails

Neanderthal Nate

vlcsnap-2020-04-25-17h03m04s545Before Jamie and Belle confessed their love for each other, things were strained between them as paranoid and guilty Jamie reacted badly to Belle dumping Ellis. Feeling threatened that their secrets would come tumbling out, he confronted her coldly in the street and treated her cruelly. Then, in comes Nate after his supersonic hearing and sixth sense in the cafe meant he was the one to join the dots and work out their secret and I groaned. Sure, Nate might be Belle’s family now that the Dingles have overlooked his scheme to break Cain’s family apart, but was he really needed in this story? His neanderthal reaction reduced Belle to a little woman who needed saving when the reality was she was doing a good enough job on her own without his interference. Not only did this seem like another effort from Emmerdale to make Nate the good guy by shoe-horning him in, but his aggressive reaction came across as hypocritical considering his affair not even six months ago. I think Emmerdale are attempting to draw parallels between Nate and Cain with their fists first attitude but Cain has the charisma and convincing vulnerability that Nate hasn’t achieved yet. Granted, Jamie was a dick, but Nate sweeping in to be Belle’s hero felt unpleasantly caveman and hypocritical. Surely this isn’t the way to make Nate a likeable part of the village?

Kerry’s Redemption

vlcsnap-2020-04-25-17h02m21s386Vanessa received support from an unlikely source this week as Kerry sat with her during her chemotherapy and after a frosty start, the two came to some sort of understanding. This was a strange turn of events, as since it was revealed that Kerry and Amy were the reason for Frank’s death last year, Emmerdale have swept it all under the carpet, with Tracy and Vanessa barely bothered and Kerry and Amy carrying on as normal. Tracy and Amy were even seen side by side in the pub with no reaction. But this week there seemed to be a half-hearted stab at a redemption for Kerry, as though Emmerdale have just twigged that viewers still aren’t happy that Kerry and Amy have got away with their involvement with Frank’s death scott free. However, the scenes this week all felt a little hollow and disingenuous considering it’s been months since they were caught by Tracy and we’ve seen not even a flicker of remorse since. As Charity raged at Kerry (and I was Team Charity on this one) for her two faced behaviour, a nurse revealed that Kerry’s been volunteering at the hospital. Sorry, what? This was a laughable way to make Saint Kerry seem like she’d had some off-screen remorse for her behaviour. Surely something like that would have landed as much more convincingly if we’d seen it, or it had even been hinted at in other scenes? Kerry has been likeable and kind in the past but if her and Amy are never going to receive proper punishment or backlash from the village about what they did (and it does feel like that time has passed) her redemption needed a lot more care than a throwaway comment and offscreen volunteer work. Even Vanessa’s forgiveness didn’t feel authentic, but a plot device to start a rift with Charity. Instead of its desired effect, this reminder of Kerry and Frank served not to redeem Kerry but remind the audience that this story thread was left with a fair from satisfying conclusion.

Fave or Fail? (16-20 March 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! This week Vanessa underwent surgery as part of her cancer treatment and Marlon suffered a heart attack.

Faves

Vanessa Starts Treatment

vlcsnap-2020-03-22-09h28m11s907Vanessa went under the knife this week in the first stage of her cancer treatment with her loved ones right by her side. While it’s difficult to watch a health storyline in current real world circumstances, so far Vanessa’s storyline has been handled really well showing the struggle with symptoms and the reality of life with bowel cancer. As Vanessa had to face the difficult reality of her future she wrote a will and visited a chemo ward. Her sisterly relationship with Tracy continues to be touching, but scenes with Charity this week were a real highlight as the writing found the perfect balance of humour and love in difficult times.

Marlon’s Health Terror

vlcsnap-2020-03-22-09h27m33s854Marlon suffered a shock heart attack this week as his trauma following prison has made both his mental and physical health reach breaking point. After taking a drive with Paddy, Marlon was rushed to hospital after experiencing pain in his arm and chest. Later, an emotional Marlon opened up to Rhona expressing how he felt his life was in tatters. With heartfelt dialogue and tender performances between Mark Charnock and Zoe Henry these were moving and authentic feeling moments between characters with a lot of history and who have suffered greatly in recent months. Even though the scenes were filmed before the world’s pandemic crisis, the dialogue felt very apt about a better future ahead meaning these scenes were even more poignant.

Arthur’s Bullying Continues

vlcsnap-2020-03-22-09h31m25s635The divisive Arthur and Archie plot continued this week after his cruel behaviour was revealed to everyone last week. Following from last week, Arthur was under the spotlight still, forced to apologise to Nicola and the Kings. But having been falsely accused last week when Archie hurt himself, he decided to get his own back and plant Sandy’s smashed ship in a bottle among Archie’s belongings. The family cottoned on quickly but despite an uneasy truce, Arthur still looks set on revenge for Archie’s lies. This plot has it flaws and while many are sad to see a sweet boy like Arthur turn into a bully, it’s a complicated family situation and the story benefits from some great performances at the heart of it. It’s unclear how this story will pan out but I hope soon the focus will shift to more attention on the psychology of Arthur’s problems and getting him help.

Fail

Vinny’s Backstory Secret

vlcsnap-2020-03-22-09h26m31s210This week we finally got to learn more about elusive Vinny, as he and Mandy opened up to the Dingles about his past. While it was very welcome to hear more about his backstory and give both him and Mandy some deeper, emotional material, the secrets of Vinny’s past fell a little flat. When he and Mandy first arrived it seemed like the writing was suggesting something much more intriguing about Vinny’s identity, with some viewers even speculating his parentage was linked to characters in the village. With both Vinny and Mandy desperate to keep it hush hush and not reveal that he wasn’t a “real” Dingle, surely there had to be some big reason? Well, this week with Mandy revealing Vinny’s sad backstory, they explained they felt they couldn’t admit Vinny wasn’t a Dingle by blood because he wouldn’t be accepted. Huh? This is the same family who gave Lachlan the Dingle welly to drink from and treated him as part of the family! This angst of his acceptance just didn’t ring true and was a disappointingly flat revelation and not the juicy secret that had been hinted at.

Andrea Confronts Kim

vlcsnap-2020-03-22-09h30m46s912Andrea seemed as if she’d lost a few brain cells this week as she trusted a complete stranger to help her bring down Kim. With Andrea desperate to prove Kim’s involvement in Graham’s death, thus ensuring she had custody of Millie, she was blinded in her futile mission, not realising Kim was scheming behind her back. Andrea’s grand plan was, of course, all a set up. Kim plotting could have been entertaining but Andrea and Jamie’s repetitive arguments, forgiveness and rejecting of Kim feels like a never ending story we’ve seen time and time again. The stakes are low in this story because we know Jamie and Kim will be back living as mother and son again soon enough (we’ve seen this fall out before!), and Andrea and Jamie are hardly the couple we care about when plenty of viewers prefer Jamie with Belle! Individually these characters have the potential to be part of engaging stories but the merry-go-round with and against Kim isn’t doing them any favours.

Scene of the Week (16-20 March 2020)

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In another week of emotional scenes for Vanessa, there were some really impactful moments between her and Charity. With Charity realising the kind of partner she needed to be, she arranged for a visit to the chemo ward and took Vanessa there via wheelchair. After checking out the biscuit stash, the pair shared a tender moment in the corridor where Charity pledged to be everything to a tearful Vanessa needed, and she agreed to open up more. The heart-to-heart wasn’t just emotive, but was still sparky and full of the chemistry that drew fans to Vanity in the first place. Lovely moment.

Fave or Fail? (2-6 March 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! Kim incurred the wrath of several villagers over Graham’s funeral and DI Malone arrived and threatened Will.

Faves

Kim’s Many Layers

vlcsnap-2020-03-08-10h27m13s717It was another week where Kim shone, delivering both campy soap bitch antagonism in the village, as well as showing us her heart. Although I always struggled to buy into her bizarre relationship with Graham when he was alive, her grief this week, combined with her guilt about planning to have him killed, felt the most believable she had ever been about her complicated feelings for him. It’s this type of balance that was missing in her initial return in 2018 and it finally feels like the show has remembered that beyond the pantomime Kim enjoys, there’s a heart in there, however steely. There also continues to be something enjoyable about the way she insults, riles and antagonises various members of the village and does so without giving a f. Despite her fall out with Rhona, I’d still like to see them re-find a kinship because a war over who knew Graham more is tedious when he was a character who changed more than the weather.

DI Dodgy

vlcsnap-2020-03-08-10h29m44s728I’m going to be a little cautious about singing a newcomer’s praises so soon, because newbies have recently started strong and then petered out, but I was excited by DI Malone’s arrival week. He’s started on solid ground, charismatic and wicked, subtly making dangerous threats and being generally ominous. There’s also another intriguing side to him because he’s a crooked cop, meaning he knows how to put on a good performance and the stakes are high. He already knows Harriet and his police role means he has a frightening level of power and the ability to get involved with a number of villagers. Multiple connections means his character has potential to go in a number of directions and although Will might not be the most engaging character now, a strong antagonist could help. On paper Malone has everything to be the show’s next big villain, let’s hope he lives up to that potential!

Secret Struggle

vlcsnap-2020-03-08-10h26m09s660Vanessa’s story continued this week as she stayed firm in her wish to keep her cancer secret. Despite Charity trying to persuade her otherwise, finding it hard herself to maintain a facade of strength, Vanessa was adamant. There were some strong scenes as Vanessa reflected an attitude which I’m certain many cancer survivors could relate to – that she didn’t want the cancer to become her identity or be victimised. So far this story has done a great job at subtly showing both the physical symptoms but also the psychological and emotional. It’s only a matter of time before more people know about Vanessa’s situation, but I hope we continue to get this intimate focus on Vanessa’s feelings as it’s a refreshing change to see her central in a story.

Fails

Custody Battle

vlcsnap-2020-03-08-10h27m37s233It was another battle of words this week as Andrea and Jamie had another boring spat over Kim’s role in Graham’s death and Millie’s custody. Does anyone really care about their marriage? They’ve always been a weird match and when their arguments just result in the same circular row about Kim, with Jamie whinging for England and changing his mind about his mother every five minutes, it’s impossible to believe they were ever happy together. The stakes aren’t exactly high, especially when neither of them have had any meaningful scenes with Millie lately and most viewers seem to prefer Jamie’s chemistry with Belle far more than with Andrea. Andrea’s quest for truth also struggled with the same pointlessness of Marlon’s story this week. Pierce killed Graham, we all know it now and he’s been locked away. So why the angsting over what Kim planned when she actually had no involvement in his death? Andrea won’t get anywhere with proving the truth. Surely if Andrea wants real dirt on Kim, she’d be better off digging up the past!

Another Dingle War

vlcsnap-2020-03-08-10h30m40s460Did anyone else suffer from a headache this week with all that shouting? The aftermath of Graham’s murder rumbled on this week when Rhona, for contrived reasons, told Marlon about Charity and Ryan and the stolen money. With Marlon already in a bad place after prison and seeing the effect on April, this sent him over the edge and there was an all out war amongst the Dingles. Considering the efforts the family had put into the Free Marlon campaign, Marlon disowning everyone and ranting seemed disingenuous and overblown. Sure, he suffered inside and was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, but the story would have benefited more from showing the intensity of his suffering inside or even giving April a harder time with the bullying to show us how badly Marlon was damaged from his experience. The impact has been lost somewhat meaning his behaviour has felt over the top and hard to empathise with, even when we acknowledge the wrong behaviour of his loved ones. After all, the real enemy here was Pierce and even coming clean about the stolen money probably would have done little to help Marlon considering the evidence against him, so the time spent this week arguing about Graham’s murder felt overblown when the killer has been found and is back in prison. The reason for the blame seem pretty tenuous. Dingle wars also feel a little tiresome when they’re frequent and resolved with little consequence not long after. The whole family is hypocritical and full of dodgy behaviour, it’s about time they gave the “code” a rest. Perhaps Marlon will have an epiphany and acknowledge the real reason he is shutting everyone out is because he can’t unleash his fury at the real perpetrator Pierce, but Pierce seems to have been all but forgotten about so we live in hope…

The Woolie Weekly will be taking a week’s break. See you again for another week’s highlights on Sunday 22 March.

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? (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? (27-31 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! A brilliant week of episodes following the aftermath of Graham’s murder, as Marlon was imprisoned and Pierce manipulated from afar.

Faves

Marlon Behind Bars

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h40m22s706Three cheers for the brilliant Mark Charnock this week whose emotive performances have impressed all week as Marlon’s world was turned upside down. With Pierce pulling the strings, Marlon’s chances of being found innocent seemed bleaker and bleaker and his expressions were haunted as he realised his fate. As the court decided he wouldn’t be granted bail, all Marlon’s hope had evaporated and this was particularly a struggle knowing how difficult April was finding life without him on the outside. Marlon was a broken man in his visits and his time spent with his useless solicitors as all evidence pointed against him. This is a great story to showcase Mark’s acting and it’s particularly effective as there’s nothing quite like a wrongly imprisoned character to galvanise viewers. The Free Marlon campaign begins now!

Rhona Turns Detective

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h39m17s835The aftermath to Graham’s death has been anything but a disappointment. I’d go as far to say this week was even better than last, as the big stories and secrets unravelled, we were treated to gripping developments and impressive performances. Having spent months being fairly cold and unlikeable, Rhona became a welcome key player this week as her grief over Graham didn’t restrict her to crying over her dead robot lover, but actually gave her a strong purpose we could get behind – finding the real culprit and saving Marlon. After coming face to face with Marlon, Rhona was convinced by his story and she sought to hunt the real killer. Zoe Henry’s performances made Rhona both sympathetic and heroic as she took on this dangerous quest. With viewers on edge about Pierces return, Rhona’s digging made the scenes even more stressful to watch as we anticipate the moment she discovers Pierce’s involvement. This story already appears to have undone the damage the writing did to Rhona’s character and now she’s back to being someone we’re really rooting for.

Lurking Pierce

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h38m33s208Emmerdale did a great job with Pierce this week. Rather than over use him and have him feature heavily, his appearances were sparse and teasing. Just enough to have us spooked and booing and hissing. This week we saw Pierce sending flowers to Rhona, deluded that they still have a future together. We saw his dingy apartment and his flat mate and there was of course that thrilling moment where we thought he might come face to face with Rhona. The good thing about this Pierce story is his meddling from afar means the audience is united in screaming at the TV for the characters to piece together the clues and that’s always fun. Pierce is a smart villain which makes his manipulation successful and the stakes much higher because the chances of him being caught seem slim. So far there’s been just enough menace and suspense to keep us guessing – here’s hoping it continues!

Secrets Uncovered

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h36m36s918Even though last week’s episodes revealed none of our suspects were in fact Graham’s killer, this week’s episodes had plenty of gripping aftermath and secrets to reveal. As Kim struggled with guilt and the fear of Al being found out, he managed to keep up the pretence that he was Graham’s killer. Charity and Jai’s secrets were revealed fairly swiftly but it wasn’t until later in the week we learnt Andrea killed Tip (sob!) and Jamie had slept with Belle. Jamie and Belle have been on most people’s radar for a while with their natural chemistry so learning they had got it on was a satisfying development and one that sets up plenty of interest as we move forward and they fight their feelings, especially with their families suspicious of each other lending itself to Romeo and Juliet comparisons. Here’s hoping for a slow burn of longing looks!

Sarah Confesses

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h35m09s761When Noah overheard Charity talking about Graham’s death, full of anger and tearful, he corrected her suspicions and revealed his recent hospitalisation had nothing to do with Graham and she should talk to Sarah instead. Horrified at what Sarah had been up to, Charity confronted her about the drugs. As Sarah tried to explain and revealed she’d turned Danny over to the police, the scene was incredibly well performed by Katie Hill and Emma Atkins. While this story has been lost a little in the intense Graham aftermath, the confrontation scene alone was worthy of praise and makes me hopeful that Charity and Sarah will once again get to work together with some challenging material in future.

Aftermath for Jai

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h35m56s674Jai had a troubling start to the week when he woke up in the garden of the Sharma house, his hands still covered in blood. When news spread of Graham’s death, Jai expected the worst, only to find that he had attacked Jimmy and the door of the van on the night in question. It was refreshing to see this story reject sensationalism by having Jai and Jimmy’s war reignited with Jimmy going to the police or being a bloody pulp. Instead the Kings, Jai and Laurel discussed the situation and Jai’s issues frankly and Jai checked himself into rehab straight away. With Jai’s relapse seeming quite rushed I have hopes his recovery will take its time and as much as I love them together, hopefully Laurel won’t rush to forgive him either.

Fail

Charity Makes the Same Mistakes

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h41m49s041As with all good murder mystery stories each character had a secret on the night of Graham’s murder. It was revealed this week that Charity and Ryan had stolen Graham’s money which, when revealed, caused a rift between her and Vanessa. After their wedding was cancelled, Charity seemed fairly dismissive of Vanessa’s hurt and that was even before she started lying about her whereabouts! No wonder Vanessa was pissed off! When Charity confessed that while Graham was getting murdered, she and Ryan were stealing Graham’s cash, Charity’s excuse of wanting payback and the money seemed a little tone deaf when a lack of honesty had caused her split with Vanessa not so long ago. While this rift provides the pair with an interesting conflict of loyalties, particularly as Vanessa wants to confess and support Rhona, if this familiar argument has arisen between them so soon after the last, how will it be resolved again in a satisfying way that stays true to their characters? We know, and Vanessa knows, Charity loves a scheme and it seems unlikely she will ever be law abiding and honest forever, but it would be interesting to see their conflicts exploring new ground, rather than Charity just repeating her mistakes when she’s promised otherwise.

Fave or Fail? (20-24 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! After a week of the suspects vowing revenge on Graham, he was murdered by Pierce Harris.

Faves

Shock Return

vlcsnap-2020-01-26-11h07m02s107It was a week of twists and mysteries but the biggest surprise of all was the return of Pierce Harris, one of the village’s most chilling and manipulative villains. Pierce’s return helped to answer a lot of Graham’s shady behaviour and was satisfying for those viewers who had speculated Pierce might be involved ever since we heard he was up for release from prison. This week showed Pierce is just as twisted as ever and he’s played brilliantly by Jonathan Wrather. Not only does Pierce’s murder of Graham set off a new chain of events for the characters who are within his circle, but it could also lead to some exciting scenes as Pierce homes in on his targets. The village has needed an engaging villain so I’m glad to have one, for a short while at least.

Creepy Cliff-hangers

vlcsnap-2020-01-26-11h03m28s509Every episode in the run up to Friday left us guessing, each ending with ominous scenes of our main suspects. There was Al standing over Graham’s leaf covered corpse as Kim sat at home pondering whether she did the right thing; Jai with bloodied knuckles falling over; Charity and Ryan lurking by the bridge talking about no regrets; a bloody and grief-stricken Andrea; a pensive Jamie in a car; and Marlon in the woods after arranging to meet Graham. All these scenes were well constructed and intriguing, giving us that must-see element. As the episodes played out, Andrea and Jamie’s motives were strongest and their chilling cliff-hanger was by far the most effective, so much so I almost wish they’d been the killers themselves! What the rest of these suspects did on that fateful night remains to be seen.

Emotional Motives

vlcsnap-2020-01-26-11h05m06s315I’m not sure anyone started the week believing Marlon or Charity Dingle would go as far as killing Graham, but helped by some emotive heart-to-hearts with their loved ones and showdowns with Graham, you could see how they might be pushed. This week had some particularly impressive performances. Earlier in the week Charity was broken hearted to learn how her son Ryan had felt so trapped and vulnerable when Graham locked him in a shed. When she confronted Graham, her explosive fury transformed to something far quieter and deeper thanks to Emma Atkin’s performance, as Graham viscously insulted her in the street. Marlon too was tipped over the edge, paranoid about Graham’s involvement in his children’s lives, but it was his scenes with Rhona that were particularly impressive as he cried about his life being a mess. Mark Charnock and Zoe Henry delivered the scene beautifully with all their characters’ history before our eyes, until Rhona’s reveal that she was taking Leo to France meant their relationship imploded once more. Of the weeks more memorable moments, it’s these character reactions that really stood out as highlights.

Jai and Laurel’s Relationship Breakdown

vlcsnap-2020-01-26-11h04m18s519Jai’s drug issues escalated this week to give him a (fairly implausible) reason for wanting Graham dead. The HOP opening day was an unbelievable shambles, however, the success of Jai’s episode came in the strength of his scenes with Laurel. Getting high to cope with his day, Jai took cocaine and then agreed to pick Dotty up, but crashed into Graham’s car before he had the chance. Seething Graham revealed all to Laurel and when Jai tried to evade the truth, she revealed her devastation that he would sink so low and might have endangered her child and was still prepared to lie about it. These were some nicely acted scenes and effective fall out, even if Jai’s relapse felt contrived. Now that Jai doesn’t need to be a suspect, hopefully this story will play to its strengths and stay character led.

Fail

Style Over Substance?

vlcsnap-2020-01-26-18h58m08s484Even though everyone wanted Graham dead, the final episode of the week revealed they weren’t all as involved in his demise as it first appeared. With the week’s structure it might have been a little anti-climactic and even confusing to have all these timelines with unanswered questions, particularly when Graham and Pierce’s fight dragged on and edged towards a hammy action film finale rather than a thrilling conclusion. How many last breaths did Graham need? While there were plenty of moments where the “same week, different perspectives” paid off with fun moments of spotting things in the background and stories crossing over, as the week wore on, was it a bit repetitive and style over substance? When Emmerdale steps outside the box, it’s always going to be divisive, but this week seemed a bit overloaded with gimmicks, when really its cast of impressive performers are just as gripping if they tell a linear story.

The Bigger Picture

vlcsnap-2020-01-26-11h06m28s849For some viewers, Pierce’s return to murder Graham has been a divisive decision. The experimental week which set up five suspects actually revealed none of them was responsible, but saw a return of Pierce Harris, Rhona’s ex-husband and rapist. Despite complaints that the stylistic decisions of the week ended up being gimmicky, perhaps there’s a deeper question about the purpose of Pierce.  Bringing back a truly evil villain has its positives (see above) but when it diminishes the conclusion of a successful past storyline – is it worth it? Viewers who witnessed Pierce’s tenure first time round would have seen a sense of justice and closure for Rhona and her final scenes with him gave us a sense of her empowerment and strength to move on. But with this latest twist, all this has been undone and Rhona once again has her life in tatters thanks to Pierce. If his abuse and rape of her wasn’t enough torture, he returns to murder the man she loves. When we’ve recently seen Victoria, another of the village’s rape survivors, hassled, stalked and her life made a misery by her rapist and his mother, it feels a bit of a grim choice to be tormenting Rhona in a similar way. There’s no question that Pierce’s return is bound to end in a grisly way, but will it be worth turning the story into something sensationalist when his original story with Rhona told a relatable and real-life story with a fitting end? Time will tell…