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.
The Big Showdown
Rhona 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
There’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.
I’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.
With 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.
- 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
Calm After the Storm?
Life 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.
This 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.