Fave or Fail? (11-22 May 2020)

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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? (24-28 Feb 2020)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! 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)

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

Faves

Vanessa’s Nightmare

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

Perfect Performance

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

Forbidden Feelings

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

The Rebound Guy

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

Coming Back Fighting

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

Fail

Wendy Woes

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

Fave or Fail? (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? (19-23 Aug 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! Not one of Emmerdale’s strongest weeks but the best bits came from surprising little storylines.

Faves

Funeral Fractures

MEGA - Emmerdale_2019-08-23_396p.HDTV.x264-SS.mp4The trying times continued at Tug Ghyll this week as Tracy, Vanessa and Megan tried to organise Frank’s funeral. With many of the village wrongly believing Frank stole the charity money, not many were willing to say they would attend, which devastated Tracy and put her relationship with Vanessa under even more strain. There were some great performances too from Gaynor Faye (Megan) this week as she remained conflicted over her feelings for Frank and struggled with the reminders of losing son Robbie. Frank’s death has provided great material for the three main actresses involved and the injustice of everyone believing Frank to be guilty will provide real satisfaction when the truth comes out. Will we ever be able to look at Kerry in the same way – that’s the question!

Unlikely Friends?

vlcsnap-2019-08-24-20h29m26s883Sometimes the best moments in Emmerdale come from the most unlikely places. This week it was strange yet endearing partnership of Cain and Liam, as Liam went to the garage to get his car fixed. Cain, who isn’t known for his gang of mates, offered Dr C a beer and a surprised Liam accepted (after almost spilling the whole thing). After Cain hurt his hand the two had a funny and awkward chat – the extreme of chalk and cheese. The comic timing was spot on and the scene was made even better when Liam reported back his macho activities to a baffled Bernice and Diane. Will their paths ever cross again? Lets hope so!

Pub Wars

vlcsnap-2019-08-24-20h26m04s328Disaster struck at the Woolpack this week as Charity learnt the pub has dry rot and will be out of action for six weeks. While this hopefully means we’ll get treated to a glossy new makeover inside (the pub hasn’t had a refurb since the Cameron siege), it brought chaos to Charity’s door. First she had to persuade Paddy and Bear to move out, but then the bigger problem was business. Crafty Brenda took advantage of Charity’s misfortune and used her license to sell booze after hours, but this started war and Charity retaliated with a big booze up in the garden. This plot was a whole lot of fun, bringing out Charity’s snark and entertaining personality alongside Brenda’s dry one-liners, as well as giving the scenes a big community feel. The village isn’t the same without the pub, but at least we got some good scenes out of it.

Jacob’s Wellbeing

vlcsnap-2019-08-24-20h27m35s919Jacob had a difficult time this week as his poor GCSE results brought it all home just how much Maya’s grooming had impacted upon his future. As David and his merry band of exes tried to give Jacob some relaxed time in the garden to take his mind off it, they realised Jacob had been trying to write to Maya in prison. Later in the week, Priya’s efforts to comfort Jacob got misconstrued and he was furious at her for being a hypocrite. Thankfully Jacob realised he was in the wrong and perhaps there are glimmers here that he’s noticing how Maya warped his mind. Jacob hasn’t yet had the support he needs to cope with the aftermath of what Maya did to him and after a lacklustre resolution, could this mean we’re moving towards Jacob eventually getting some help?

Fails

Bonus Fails:

  • Paddy’s a funny guy with a great script and good physical comedy with Marlon. The stuttering has got old fast. Combine that with Bear’s illiteracy plot and it’s not a winner
  • So Matty’s storyline is over already? Story resolutions have been a bit iffy lately but this takes the biscuit! All of Matty’s crucial moments happened off screen!

Private School Privilege

vlcsnap-2019-08-24-20h26m30s093There was some dry old posh drama at Home Farm this week as the biggest problem seemed to be the local state primary or a fancy private school. The dilemma! It’s still a hard task to believe Jamie’s really the dad of a five year old little girl and rather than Jamie’s reticence about Millie’s childhood being as privileged as his having nuance, it just feels petty and pathetic. While Kim the panto villain doesn’t work, I’m not sure interfering granny is the best use of her either. Andrea too seems charismatic and could be a great character if only we could see her get out of the mansion. Does anyone really care which school Millie goes to? Perhaps if this were a brief comedy story and not one with endless scenes of Jamie sulking around the house, but this week it just felt like the same old story for Jamie and Kim.

Summer Stinker

Emmerdale - Moira and Nate Sleep Together Whilst Cain Is Away - YouTubeNate and Moira finally gave into “temptation” this week in what has got to be one of Emmerdale’s worst affair storylines in a long time. Yes, worse than Bob and Laurel. Yes, worse than Pete and Priya. A naughty roll in the hay with an alpha male might have earned Emmerdale legions of fans with Cain and Moira doing the dirty, but that story was popular because the actors at the helm had smoking hot chemistry. Nate and Moira are just plain awkward together. This week Emmerdale did their very best to convince us of all that sexy chemistry, lots of close up shots of skin touching, the characters breathlessly staring at each other with gawping mouths, Nate chowing down on Moira’s shoulder, cheap Mills and Boon style barn romping. Laboured is not the word! It seems painfully obvious Nate has an agenda but this is ruining Moira’s character and isn’t convincing in the slightest. Granted, Moira’s got frisky on the farm before, but nothing has felt as forced and clunky as this. Nate’s lines seem purposefully cliché, and maybe we’re supposed to believe Moira would sacrifice her marriage for a personality-free hunk doing his best to recreate her previous farm flings, but nah, not buying it. Nate doesn’t have the charm to pull off this seduction lark, he’s coming across as a creep, and worst than that, Emmerdale has thrown one of their most popular couples (and characters) under a bus for this rubbish.

Fave or Fail? (22-26 July 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! In the week that Bernice organised the Wild West event, Kim discovered Jamie and Rhona’s plot against her.

Faves

Love for Liam

vlcsnap-2019-07-28-11h35m05s324Surely one of Emmerdale’s best decisions in the past year was turning Dr Cavanagh from a guest character into a fully-fledged permanent addition? These past two weeks have been proof enough of his success. Actor Jonny McPherson recently described Liam as a combination between Hugh Grant and Alan Partridge and that seems to be a winning formula. This week saw the fall out of last week’s split with Bernice and Liam wasn’t being won round easily, giving her the cold shoulder in the pub and holding back on his enthusiasm for the Wild West event. As Jimmy was roped in to helping reunite Bernice and Liam, he faked symptoms of a rare disease and Liam’s sarcastic response to the “diagnosis” was genius. Also perfect was Liam’s deadpan delivery of “The murder was of our love, the murderer was you, the mystery was why you ever thought me capable of harming a single, glossy hair on your head.” Emmerdale have got an absolute gem on their hands with Liam. He’s got the posh fop air of a romantic lead while also being a slightly nerdy comedy character and he’s one of the best things about Emmerdale right now!

Village Shenanigans

vlcsnap-2019-07-28-11h36m22s159After last week’s disastrous misunderstanding, Bernice had some big making up to do when it came to Liam. Determined to win him back, she put her plans in motion to organise a village murder mystery event in his honour, giving proceeds to charity and choosing a Wild West Theme. Bernice doesn’t do things by half and she spent most of the week roping in other villagers to help – giving her plenty of amusing interactions with characters who could barely tolerate her antics like Debbie and David. Spoiler fans will know the Wild West event is centre stage for Emmerdale’s big summer week next week, but this event planning has already given us lots of great community feel scenes. From Bernice brainstorming for theme ideas in the pub, to trying to get David to persuade Eric to dress up, it was an enjoyable watch. Emmerdale should do more village events more often. Where have the county shows gone?

Crisis in the Factory

vlcsnap-2019-07-28-11h43m19s547The Sharmas were thrown into crisis this week, with Jai, Priya and Rishi all having confessions to make. Jai wanted to come clean about him and Laurel, Priya wanted her family’s support over her eating disorder relapse – but it was Rishi who was hiding the biggest secret. Desperate to help Manpreet with her mounting debts, Rishi had let the sweet factory crumble, forcing him to take a secret loan from Kim Tate. Of course, having seen the Wild West Trailer we all know this is going to end in disaster but I enjoyed the family scenes this week, especially those which saw Jai try to comfort sister Priya. Although some viewers might have always questioned how the Sharmas managed to keep a rural sweet factory in profit anyway, we could have done with seeing a bit more of Manpreet’s struggle in the run up to this shock reveal about the business! Will it survive after next week’s shock events?

Fails

No More Mr Nice Guy

vlcsnap-2019-07-28-11h35m50s288This week marked the start of a new storyline for Matty as Emmerdale tackles toxic masculinity. This is a current and fascinating topic and Matty’s a believable character to get sucked into a world of lad culture and damaging behaviour – but is he the right choice or character? It’s completely understandable that Matty would want to impress these football lads, being that he’s not very secure in his own masculinity, but Matty seems to work best when he’s a bit fun and cheeky and his vulnerable scenes surrounding his transition have been good too. Knowing Matty isn’t always the most popular character, making him so vile so quickly with his new friends isn’t going to earn him any new fans and might his realisation about this new lads come too late in making him sympathetic. It’s a shame too this story has seen his other friendships drift away as he, Ellis and Vic were a great trio and his new venture with Ryan was an enjoyable change too. It’s a great topic for a story but it could damage Matty’s likeability.

The Beginning of the Affair

vlcsnap-2019-07-28-11h42m50s484This week Moira gave into all that lingering temptation – those drawn out hand touches, Nate wandering around in a towel – and reciprocated Nate’s snog in the barn. It seems Emmerdale are hinting that there’s a lot more to Nate than meets the eye, but even so, it’s Moira’s sudden sexual interest in the cardboard cut-out farm hand that’s hard to buy into. Moira and Cain have always had a rocky marriage but since he supported her through her breakdown over killing Emma, you’d think they’d be stronger than ever, but Emmerdale’s engineered attempts to give them strife seemed forced. Cain upping and leaving without a word, Moira continually pissed off, even when he’s trying to make amends? It all feels clumsy and shoe-horned when the acting skills of Natalie J Robb and Jeff Hordley could easily give power to well written strain. Even Natalie, who makes sexy look easy, is struggling to give the scenes with Nate any sort of spark. A roll in the hay with a buff and shirtless farmer should be electric but it’s plain awkward, especially when Nate’s attitude feels predatory and creepy. Not to mention that when Cain and Moira reconnected on screen this week, even in light of Moira’s wandering attention, their brief sparks could burn the farm down compared to Nate’s whimper. I’m dreading the rest of the affair if it’s more of the same – the payoff better be worth it.

 

Fave or Fail? (17-21 June 2019)

faveorfail

Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! This week saw Maya face a year in prison and Pete cheated on Rhona.

Faves

Sweet Romance

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-11h55m14s996Between the dark and the sad plots, sometimes exactly what we need is something sweet and heart-warming and we had that in buckets this week as Jai and Laurel gave into their feelings. I’d have been happy to watch an even slower burn of this pair falling for each other, but their tension and unresolved feelings this week were really satisfying to watch, especially when they finally kissed. With Nicola trying to set Laurel up on a test date to up her game, we were treated to hilarious scenes with Jimmy and Laurel on a practice date after a case of mistaken identity, then in true rom-com style it was miscommunication after miscommunication as Jai and Laurel kept missing out on that elusive date. From stuttering doubts, to hints about a romantic date, all these two needed to do was talk! Even the day after their kiss things were weird between them, but thankfully their smitten smiles and Jai calling Laurel “amazing” seemed to seal a happy fate. Despite these two feeling very unexpected as a couple, it works, and the writing has kept it both awkward and endearing. Couples we can root for are the backbone of soap, so I hope Emmerdale know what a good thing they’ve got in Jai and Laurel and don’t rush it or ruin it anytime soon.

Sugden Split

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-11h56m20s214Siblings Victoria and Robert were at odds again this week after Victoria discovered that Robert and Aaron had gone to see Lee and had been fly-tipping with posters of his face, saying the word ‘rapist’. Once the police came knocking blaming her, Victoria wanted to wash her hands of Robert, furious that his revenge was making it harder for her move on. Struggling to cope with the thought of letting down his sister, Robert and Victoria eventually reconciled at their dad’s graveside. This week’s scenes were well balanced, giving time to explore both of the siblings’ emotions and showcased tender and believable moments between the pair. Actors Isabel Hodgins and Ryan Hawley continue to have a lovely rapport onscreen and in the run up to Ryan’s exit, it’s been fitting to explore their family relationship in this depth before we lose another Sugden.

Family Impact

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-12h01m08s369One of the strongest aspects of the Jacob and Maya storyline, besides Louisa Clein’s fantastic performances, has been Emmerdale showing the impact of her abuse on both Jacob and David, and their relationship. This week Emmerdale took the surprising decision to have David attend a counselling session to talk about his complex feelings about what Maya had done. Much like the immediate aftermath of David learning about what Maya did, David’s response has been one of conflicting emotions, guilt, blame, pain and all the rest and that feels like an authentic reaction in situations like this. Currently Jacob isn’t the position to believe counselling is right for him, but in time hopefully Emmerdale will show a multi-layered response to Jacob’s future, with family, friends, therapists and social workers involved.

Fails

Maya Meets Her Fate

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-12h02m05s682After months of their most controversial and important storyline playing out, Emmerdale’s Maya finally faced the courts and exited from the show. Due to Maya facing a lesser charge than the one she actually committed, Emmerdale had to walk a fine line between realism and a satisfying narrative conclusion. Unfortunately, while Maya’s charge rang true to her convicted crime, after watching her manipulations and twisted grooming of Jacob, a twelve month sentence felt like an unsatisfying conclusion to the story we watched. While Emmerdale’s focus on aftermath has concentrated on Jacob and Maya, there’s been an anti-climatic aftermath when it comes to the rest of the community. A local teacher grooming a pupil should be huge, but it’s lacked any wider impact and sadly that’s left the conclusion feeling not only a little flat but repetitive. Rather than extend the story by asking questions about how Maya’s behaviour has impacted Jessie, Liam, Leanna and the other teens, even Maya’s mum who has been mentioned, we’ve only seen the same cyclical rows between Jacob and David. There are only so many times Jacob can scream and shout “I love Maya!” before it becomes a bit tiresome to watch. Emmerdale has a long history of taking a really important story and handling it with care and elements of the Maya and Jacob story have been fantastic, but since the Big Night Out episodes, it’s loss its way, sadly leaving us with a rather flat conclusion.

Signs of Trouble?

vlcsnap-2019-06-23-12h03m26s743Nate continued his lothario ways this week and got a soaking in the pub, but eventually got on the right side of Amy when he rescued Kyle from danger. Foolishly Amy, Nate and Moira decided to keep Amy’s lax parenting a secret from Cain and we could all guess how he’d react when he found out! This turn of events, leading to a rift between Cain and Moira and turning Nate’s reputation around all felt a bit predictable and yet formed a significant part of this week’s storylines. Amy and Nate dominated scenes (still failing to see what his appeal is!) and not only is their romance low on chemistry, but it seems Nate actually has his sights on Moira instead. Whether his intentions are purely sexual, or if there’s something else at play here, remains to be seen but the idea of Cain and Moira splitting over this isn’t a pleasant prospect. Nate’s interest in Moira was delivered in heavy-handed and lingering shots of hands touching and despite Cain and Moira’s marriage being on rocky ground recently, does any Emmerdale fan have the appetite to watch them split for someone as charmless at Nate? Not only do Natalie Robb and Jeff Hordley have some of the best chemistry on the show, they’re beloved by viewers too. It doesn’t feel like that long ago since Coira were split for months and with Zak and Lisa gone, Robron on their way out, the last thing we need is another fan-favourite pair separated. If Nate does come between them, then let’s hope there’s a bigger story at play here and not just Moira getting down and dirty with the farmhand. Been there, done that.

Fave or Fail? (1-5 April 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! In the week that Debbie learnt Joe was alive, Chas and Paddy had good news.

Faves

Don’t Mess With Moira

vlcsnap-2019-04-07-15h03m38s923There’s something I find completely compelling about Moira and Cain’s relationship, and as they battled Kim’s grim blackmail plot, we saw their relationship put to the test. Actors Natalie and Jeff put everything into their scenes so that even the smallest, silent scene carries so much weight. Their chemistry is some of the show’s best. They might have spent the last few years coping with various accidental murders, but at the heart of it, these two are just really solid characters and their marriage is as angsty and tumultuous as all good soap couples. This week we got to see more of feisty Moira as she struggled to cope with the thought of Cain sleeping with Kim, even breaking down in tears at the thought of their sacrifice. When he didn’t go through with it (and his turning down of Kim was very satisfying) the doubt was a challenge for them both, but it was even more rewarding to see Moira go after Kim head on and shove her against the wall. Moira certainly isn’t someone Kim should mess with and I love her for that.

Mr Wolf

vlcsnap-2019-04-07-15h04m37s203Paddy’s birth father Bear Wolf crashed back into the village this week, wrecking Grace’s memorial garden in the process. But strip away the embarrassing Lycra and wrestling gimmick and Emmerdale might actually have a decent character on their hands. Yes he’s a sleazy chancer, lying about his injury to get sympathy and a place to stay, but Bear offers something a bit different to the village and to Paddy’s character. His scenes with Dr Cavanagh were amusing too, as Liam had to keep referring to him as Mr Wolf. Will he be everyone’s cup of tea? Unlikely, but I wouldn’t be opposed if Emmerdale had plans to make him long term.

Kim’s Softer Side

vlcsnap-2019-04-07-15h04m07s514The mention of Kim’s son’s name this week was like flicking a switch. Once the folk at Home Farm had stopped pontificating about Joe, it was time for Graham to play his trump card and mention the elusive Jamie (or James Tate to you and me). You’d think Graham might have used him as leverage earlier in trade for his precious Joe, but it seems Jamie is Kim’s true Achilles’ heel – and every good villain needs one of those. If Kim’s really going to live up to her potential then we need to see her become more fully rounded, not just making threats and cartoon one liners. She might have her horses, but we need to see more of Kim’s human side, her down time and Jamie could be the answer to that. Here’s hoping we’ll get to see this aspect of her personality soon!

Bonus Faves:

  • I’m on the fence about newbie Aiesha. She seems a hybrid of Leyla and early Priya, but toned down she could be good fun.
  • Another great scene with Jack Downham this week as Noah learnt Joe is still alive

Fails

Relationship Breakdown

vlcsnap-2019-04-07-15h03m04s454This week saw the end of Dan and Kerry’s relationship in what might be the world’s worst timing. Not only was it Dan’s birthday, but he was also dumped straight after proposing. Awkward! The signs have been there for some time, but I have mixed feelings about their separation. On the one hand, Kerry’s long been the best part of the Spencer family and has been a bit of a long-suffering spouse, but on the other hand, she’s had her fair share of unlikeable moments too. Dan and Kerry were something of a bit of an Emmerdale staple couple and as relationships don’t last that long, it was good to see a fairly happy relationship in the long term – they’re much-needed in a soap. With Dan not wanting to upset Amelia, he wants to play happy families, but Kerry’s already close to breaking point and I dread the thought of more rows in the Spencer household. Surely this family is one more suited to something a bit more comedic? It’s been all doom and gloom for them lately. Dan and Kerry might have out grown each other, but at the same time, they still seem suited? Who else will put up with them?

Nonsensical

vlcsnap-2019-04-07-15h02m35s269I feel like I’m complaining about Graham every week, but this week’s episodes were another reminder of his pointlessness. Since the reveal of Joe’s fate, Graham’s dramatic drunken spiral makes even less sense and recent attempts to explain it away haven’t helped the cause. Graham’s explanations don’t add up. What’s really stopping Graham from conducting secret phone calls or visiting Joe? There’s no reason to it. He’s got quite the cosy set up with Kim letting him live at Home Farm, so it’s hardly fear that’s holding him back from keeping contact with Joe. If it’s some enduring love for Kim, I’m not buying that either. This storytelling for Graham was once enigmatic and intriguing, now it’s an incoherent, inconsistent mess. Emmerdale might think they’ve got this stoic, ex-SAS mystery man on their hands, but with no real ties to the village, and confusing characterisation, Graham’s a real weak link in the village right now.