Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Maya’s grooming of Jacob took more sickening turns, and Pete moved out of Rhona’s house.
Once again it’s the fallout from Rhona’s accident which makes the top of my Emmerdale best bits. Since Emmerdale made the surprisingly magic decision to pair up Pete and Rhona, I’ve been impressed not only by the couple’s natural chemistry, but by the grown up and complex way they’ve explored their relationship. So often you see couples hook up with no thought for the impact on children or the longer term wishes of the individuals in the relationship and when characters have children, this just doesn’t feel very authentic. Pete and Rhona’s relationship has been different in that aspect as from early on, Pete’s relationship with Rhona’s son Leo has been important and well explored. The Pete and Leo relationship, which has seen Pete learn Makaton to bond with him and gain his trust, has been a big and heart-warming hit with viewers and this week we saw more of it as Pete and Rhona agreed to take a break. While both Rhona and Pete were reluctant to separate, Rhona knew they wanted different futures so the two of them made tough decisions while still making sad, longing looks at each other. There was plenty of awkwardness and Pete’s break with Rhona also meant a sad conversation with Leo. Emmerdale’s made this difficult situation feel believable and compelling – and that’s without even mentioning Rhona’s ongoing struggle with pain killer addiction. You can empathise with all parties and there’s a whole lot of tenderness involved. It’s a winner.
Watching Jacob and Liv’s budding relationship it hurts to know that without Maya messing with Jacob’s head, he and Liv could be a pretty sweet couple. Liv’s laid back personality fits with Jacob well, and his sensitivity means he’s attune to her feelings and understanding about her asexuality. Without Maya in the picture – they’d be good for each other. Therefore it’s heart breaking to watch them both trying, both liking each other, but with Jacob’s head all over the place. Maya’s grooming has a much wider impact than just on Jacob, she’s got everyone under the thumb and when her behaviour comes out, Jacob and Liv are going to be big casualties. This week’s scenes were tough watch, particularly seeing how Liv’s heart is on the line, and how much Jacob genuinely likes her and doesn’t want to hurt her, all the while trying to keep in Maya’s good books. Both young actors are giving vulnerable performances and you just know that the resolution to this story is going to crush them both.
Playing Hot and Cold
With multiple stomach-churning developments this week, you can’t deny that Emmerdale are doing a successful job in showing just how twisted Maya is. This week was Jacob’s 16th Birthday and after an aborted attempt to sleep with him, Maya blew hot and cold in trying to keep him eager, while continuing to cover up their secret. Louisa Clein’s great performances make Maya maddening to watch, especially seeing how she manipulates everyone in Jacob’s life to keep them on side. Her innocent protestations show exactly how a predator like her operates and the authenticity of her part is what makes this story so horrifying to watch. It’s grim viewing to see her gleefully seduce a child and try and ignore reminders of his age, but if this story is prompting awareness of the hidden signs of grooming, then it can only be a good thing.
Custody of Kyle
Kerry got dragged into the exhausting Dingle divide again this week as Debbie warned her Kyle wasn’t safe with Cain. On the surface we can all well believe Kerry would go gung-ho in protecting Kyle, but it’s a bit of a stretch when she’s barely interacted or mentioned him in a year. Of course, this is all just in preparation for Amy’s eventual return (another character forgotten until it’s convenient to remember her) but perhaps Emmerdale would have made it easier to invest had Kerry mentioned her family months ago, rather than this feeling like a rushed justification for Amy’s return. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Kerry’s going to have more to do than just be a hanger-on of the Spencers, but this story has felt a bit hollow.
Short on Sympathy
As the Cain “killed” Joe saga drags on, it’s a struggle to have any sympathy for any parties involved. On paper, believing your dad killed your fiancé should make you the ultimate victim, but with the Dingles standing by Cain and protesting his innocence, and Debbie refusing to tell daughter Sarah the truth, Debbie’s anger and upset falls on deaf ears. But as both Cain and Sarah criticise Debbie’s parenting, it’s difficult not to see their point. No matter how many scenes Debbie cries in, she doesn’t have the sympathy she ought to. Is this because she’s quite a sullen, cold character who’s difficult to like, whose crimes have been overlooked, or is it because the tables have turned? Debbie’s usually priority number one when it comes to the Dingles, but now Cain’s the person they’re protecting. It’s a struggle to truly sympathise with Cain being shut out by her too, because the accident of Joe’s death – while not his fault – came with months of cover up. Cain’s not likely to face justice and wants them all to move on, yet at times it’s as if he’s expecting Debbie to shrug off his role in Joe’s death like it’s nothing. This storyline is such a repetitive, endless mess with no conclusion in sight. If Graham’s involvement doesn’t come out soon I fear we won’t ever see the back of this.