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 Moira and Rhona went into business together and Billy was set up by Malone.
This fortnight saw the formation of a new business partnership which is brimming with potential. Much to Kim’s disappointment Rhona discovered she was due to inherit a substantial sum of money from Graham’s will (baffling for a man who was basically a butler for years but we’ll go with it) and she pondered her future. At the same time Moira struggled with the farm, gearing up to make a decision whether to sell it or not. And then these two great women, after working together and talking about their pasts, decided to go into business together. We’re used to soap characters sticking to a select group of interactions and rarely breaking from that mould, so the prospect of a new friendship and business partnership forming brings change and freshness for both characters. Butlers Farm has long felt stale and since the Nate travesty, Moira has lacked direction. The two actresses have already shown an engaging relationship with real chemistry and this will hopefully give the writers plenty of fresh material to work with. Great move!
There was awkwardness all round this fortnight as Belle found herself unable to avoid Andrea and was roped into attending her saucy lingerie party. As Belle winced her way through Andrea’s comments about her sex life with Jamie, things got worse when a panicked Jamie told her to stay away from Andrea and worried about the atmosphere at work. Jamie was a right dick this fortnight as he tried to get Belle fired but by the end of this week admitted she was all he wanted and he was struggling. Belle’s had her fair share of disastrous relationships but Eden Taylor Draper’s played Belle’s vulnerability and awkwardness well and her angst over her feelings for Jamie seem authentic. Belle and Jamie have the potential to be a cute couple but what this story really needs is to make the stakes seem higher. Jamie’s hardly spent any time with Millie and if his worries about custody is what’s holding him back from Belle, they need to make it more believable he would hold back on his true feelings.
It was one of the smaller plots this fortnight but as Brenda faced the guilt of her mistake, leading to Dan’s paralysis, there was no escaping the blame. This fortnight Mandy found the vital evidence that she needed, the label that proved Brenda’s culpability. As Brenda sweated, she gave Rodney control of the cafe and had surprising support from Eric. I’ve really enjoyed their scenes in particular as until now it wasn’t common for Eric and Brenda to share scenes and much like Rhona and Moira it is interesting to explore new character friendships. Interfering Brenda might not be everyone’s favourite character but Lesley Dunlop is a solid performer and so far her remorse and vulnerability has been well played but I could also see Eric leading her to make even more dubious decisions…
Whinging Wendy was back at it again this week, leaning on smitten Bob to help reunite Victoria and Luke. All very well and good if she was just an interfering granny wanting the best for Victoria, but with the Posner family history this is another misguided story. Victoria has repeatedly said she’s not ready to date again and has done what’s right for her, Luke might respect this but Wendy doesn’t seem to understand no means no. Maybe it runs in the family? Rather than respect Vic’s wishes, yet again Wendy was trying to manipulate the situation. Add that to her list of controlling and suffocating behaviour towards Vic. Enough is enough. If that wasn’t infuriating enough to watch, we then had to see Wendy robbed in the world’s most contrived theft all so she could cry over Lee again. It’s insulting enough we’re supposed to tolerate Wendy and accept her as a new mumsy gossip but the weepy reminders of her beloved Lee are sick making. If the Posners are going to be a permanent fixture then it’s time they were given space outside of Vic’s orbit.
The Wrong Fit?
The Malone plot continued this fortnight and only a few weeks in, it’s already starting to drag. There’s no denying Mark Womack is a charismatic performer but it’s hard to find any real menace in Malone when he pops up in different locations at the perfect time like a cartoon villain. He makes threats and uses his wealth of corrupt cops to pull strings but as a character he’s very 2D. Had Malone been brought in with a family or his corrupt ways been introduced slowly with a strong motivation, we might have found him more ominous. As it is, he seems invented just to cause hell for Cain and co and there’s no real doubt that they won’t lose to Malone – so where are the stakes? Will continues to be lifeless and dull, a far cry from the big drugs lord who Harriet had to investigate undercover and Billy might be a nice guy but like Will, he’s also a bit lifeless in this story. What’s more, this story just doesn’t feel like a good fit for Emmerdale and in fact has the hallmarks of a weak EastEnders plot. A story about a bent cop manipulating vulnerable villagers could have worked if Malone himself had been written with more depth, a life of his own, but this story is far from engaging especially as it seems unlikely he’ll change anything significant in the village.