Fave or Fail? (3-7 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! As Marlon’s hell continued, April ran away from home and a tragedy prompted Arthur’s shocking confession.

Faves

Pierce Gets Smarter and Scarier

vlcsnap-2020-02-08-12h27m49s551Pierce stepped up his plan of action this week and after overhearing Rhona’s distrust and dislike of Kim, he decided to embed himself into life at Home Farm with a crafty plan. The beauty of Pierce’s return is that he’s both smart and chilling, meaning you can forgive the slightly more outlandish “He’s behind you!” moments. This week Pierce was back lurking around Smithy Cottage, even going as far as talking to and touching Rhona while she was sleeping. Creepy as hell! But it would have got old and unbelievable quickly if that was all Pierce was up to, but luckily he had more up his sleeve than that. With the help of a cunning plan to make Kim believe she’d run him over and smashed his phone, Pierce got an invite inside Home Farm and there his manipulations continued. Sure, it’s a bit of a stretch to believe Kim would so readily trust a stranger to help with her son’s custody battle, but Pierce is convincing and charming enough for us to suspend disbelief and it’s fun for us to be privy to his real identity while the rest of the village is oblivious. The Graham murder aftermath continues to be great viewing.

Arthur’s Shock Confession

vlcsnap-2020-02-08-12h26m18s341The Thomas family had some very sad news this week as Laurel revealed that Sandy had died. These scenes not only provided some emotional performances from the brilliant actors within the Thomas family but it also sent Arthur into a spiral of guilt. Blaming himself for his grandfather’s death, Arthur ran away to the graveyard to talk to his dad and apologise. Arthur was at breaking point when Jimmy tried to comfort him and he eventually confessed all to mum Laurel, revealing that he had been the one to hurt Archie. These scenes were excellently performed by the consistently great Alfie Clarke and also Charlotte Bellamy who showed Laurel’s conflict between anger and guilt herself for not noticing Arthur struggling. I’m glad the Arthur/Archie plot didn’t drag on too long (though Arthur’s confession does feel a little isolated when we haven’t seen Archie for weeks) and it felt true to Arthur’s character to have him confess. I also enjoyed the extra strain this put on Laurel and Jai’s relationship there’s interesting potential there going forward if she eventually tells him the truth. Considering Ashley’s history of violence, I hope Arthur’s actions and his struggles won’t be brushed under the carpet because I think this is a worthy story to be told.

April’s Agony

vlcsnap-2020-02-08-12h25m28s848Another young actor took centre stage this week as Amelia Flanagan as April reminded us what a top performer she is. With Marlon still suffering in prison, April learnt she’d been lied to and could in fact visit him. Feeling betrayed, April ran away from home and soon the whole village went on the hunt for her. Meanwhile Marlon was inconsolable when he heard the news of her absence, making his imprisonment even harder to bear. Eventually April was found and it was decided she could go and visit. As the family tried to be strong, with their Free Marlon campaign, the situation isn’t looking any more positive and poor April likely won’t feel any better once she’s seen Marlon there herself. This storyline has provided some great performances and it’s been enjoyable to see Mandy, Billy and Bob in particular taking a supportive role in April’s life.

Pete’s Lowkey Exit

vlcsnap-2020-02-08-12h22m13s232This week’s episodes saw the start of Pete’s low key exit plot as he decided to make a new start away from Emmerdale. After working at Wylie’s Farm for a while, Pete was overcome with bad memories – this was, after all, the site of his father’s imprisonment at the hands of Emma. Pete felt a bit of a spare part this week as Tracy moved on with Nate under his nose and realised that there’s very little keeping him around anymore. Pete’s been in Emmerdale since 2013 so on one hand it feels a bit of a disservice to have such a muted exit, though on reflection, Pete’s been a less central character lately and it’s an exit true to the Pete’s history and with almost all his family gone, options are limited to give him a big send off. The scenes this week where he considered his future and reminisced about better, and also darker days, were well done and for a “taxi” exit, isn’t as rushed as they usually are.

Fails

Suddenly Smitten

vlcsnap-2020-02-08-12h25m53s771For some inexplicable reason Tracy found herself smitten with Nate this week and this latest romance is something I’m really hoping was just a device to get Pete to think about leaving. Even though the Moira affair is over, Nate continues to be a sticking point, especially since Cara has disappeared – and she was one person that might’ve made him a bit more interesting! But forgetting how boring and immature Nate seems, doesn’t Tracy deserve better writing? Tracy already had her empowered moment of realising Nate was a sleazy player, so why was she falling over herself after just one conversation in the shop? It’s true Tracy doesn’t have the best track record in choosing men (David, anyone?) but she’s gone from dates with Billy, a fling with Pete and now this with Nate all with little care to develop these connections. We all know Amy Walsh is capable of big things, so why is she continuously rushed into empty romances. Surely Tracy deserves a big love story, not just whichever single man is hanging around!

Rotten Romance

vlcsnap-2020-02-09-11h24m08s320In any other situation, the rom-com cuteness of Vic and Luke this week would have paid off. He got a chef job at the pub, despite being hopeless with anything else but a microwave and Vic was doe-eyed and smitten watching him mistake gravy for caramel sauce and take hours to cook a pizza. They have chemistry, a real spark, Luke is sweet in a helpless puppy way, and above all Victoria deserves a lifetime of happiness. So, why does the whole thing feel a bit icky and wrong? Even Luke’s cheese-tastic comments to baby Harry which Vic overheard on the baby monitor couldn’t hit the mark when you look at the bigger context. Of course Luke isn’t anything Lee, nor should he be judged on his brother’s crimes, but by having a relationship with him, Vic is tied forever to those memories and that family. And that’s without getting started on the Wendy issue. Even if you buy into the pair’s feelings for each other it seems like an impossible situation that just doesn’t feel realistic. It’s Vic’s choice to explore a relationship with Luke but as a writing choice it means never moving away from her trauma – Lee will always be there in the background, as an anecdote or a memory for the Posners. Vic does deserve happiness and a fulfilling romance, but with the brother of her rapist, a man who lives with his mother (a woman who repeatedly harassed, stalked, gaslighted and continues to make Vic’s trauma about herself) – this is a contrived and unbelievable situation and Victoria is worth more than her whole life being defined by her rapist’s family.

Fave or Fail? (27-31 Jan 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! 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)

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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! 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…

Fave or Fail? (13-17 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! As tension escalates in the run-up to Graham’s death, the mysteries keep coming.

Faves

Murder Mysteries

vlcsnap-2020-01-19-11h43m38s620As we inch closer to Graham’s murder, Emmerdale are sewing the seeds for a good old murder mystery. But with speculation and rife and motivations building, there are bigger mysteries afoot which make the intrigue even better. Monday’s episode saw Graham slyly listening to a voicemail on Rhona’s phone then deleting it, before heading off into the night and returning with blood on his hands. Did Graham murder someone? Who was the mystery caller? Is Graham being controlling or protective? Could that mystery caller be Rhona’s abusive ex Pierce? So many questions! Then there’s the missing passport – if Marlon didn’t take it, then who did? Even if the whodunnit itself has some clunky motives at least there is plenty of intrigue to keep us guessing. Bring on next week!

Closing a Chapter

vlcsnap-2020-01-19-11h42m01s060It was another week of emotional turmoil for Aaron – does it ever end? – as Pete passed on a message from Rebecca that Seb would no longer be visiting him and his family in the village. While this seems like a short-sighted story decision (being a dad gave Aaron fresh story potential) it was there to send Aaron into a further spiral, making unsafe choices surrounding his sex life. When confronted by Liv and Vic, he lashed out, which was a turning point making him realise he needed to get away for a while. This week’s scenes were nicely written and served as a bookend to the aftermath of Robert’s exit. Aaron’s grief of his life being over has been well handled and stayed true to the character and the relationship which has been central to his stories over the past five years. With Aaron admitting that he didn’t feel he could or wanted to get over Robert, he decided to get away for a while and this seems like a good way to have Aaron returning in a better place without it seeming rushed or out of character.

Getting the Balance Right

vlcsnap-2020-01-19-11h39m38s874Wendy continues to be a thorn in Victoria’s (and the audience’s) side but I was glad to see the writing for Vic taking a more active and positive role this week. After reaching out to Aaron, Vic realised she needed to seek extra help too and looked into counselling. While these might have been moments just to prompt Wendy’s enlightenment, I was glad Vic was still given scenes to show that Harry hadn’t magically made everything better and she was still struggling. Later in the week we got to see the chirpy Vic of old as she worked in the pub and tried to impress Jai to get the catering deal, showing that with the right balance, the aftermath of Vic’s rape can work when Vic herself gets the focus. She’s more than just a plot device for the Posners – let’s hope Emmerdale remember this!

Jai’s Relapse

vlcsnap-2020-01-19-11h42m33s037Readers of this blog will know my fondness for Jai (and especially his relationship with Laurel) has increased tenfold over the last year or so. Five years ago, Jai was in a very dark place and was – let’s face it – a really unlikeable arse. As Jai became one of the nastiest in the village, so began a coke habit, spiralling his life out of control. Fast forward a few years and Jai is a recovering addict with a good family life and relationship. This week however, with the unbearable (and unbelievable) pressure piled on by the disastrous outdoor pursuits business, Jai fell back into old habits and relapsed. This story has several flaws and it feels like a wasted opportunity to throw Jai back into addiction to give him a convoluted reason to murder Graham, when actually it could be a sensitive and emotional story instead. However, the performances are faultless and empathetic, especially when Jai confessed his temptation to Laurel, who has similar demons of her own. Thankfully Jai is a much more likeable character than he used to be, meaning however contrived this story is, we’re willing Jai to find his strength.

Fail

One Contrivance Too Many

vlcsnap-2020-01-19-11h45m05s197I’ve already had a grumble about whodunnit plots leading to out of character behaviour and clunky plot contrivances, and there was a fair few this week putting a dampener on the build up to Graham’s murder. Immediately after Christmas, Graham at least had the three Tates desperate to see the back of him, but now it seems to have lost momentum. So now we’ve had Ryan working for Graham (why?) and taking part in shady behaviour which felt OOC; Kim trusting Graham’s supposed good nature just for him to screw her over; Graham’s interest in Noah to return at an all too convenient time and the outdoor centre so poorly run that it’s completely unbelievable, all too push Jai back towards drugs. Maybe Emmerdale were loathed to make Graham hated by the entire village but they’ve had months to prepare for these motivations and yet a lot of them feel tenuous at best. Do any of the suspects really have a strong enough motive to murder? I guess we’ll find out next week.

Scene of the Week (13-17 Jan 2020)

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There’s nothing quite like an ominous scene full of dramatic irony to end a week! With next week’s heavily promoted whodunnit just around the corner, Friday’s final scene was a montage of the suspects, all voicing their motives to kill Graham. As Marlon, Charity, Jai, Kim and Al, Jamie and Andrea, all glowered, Rhona and Graham happily looked ahead to their future in France, blissfully aware of what’s ahead. This was the perfect teaser for next week’s drama and gave us an exciting taste of what’s to come. A cheesy and knowing nod to the whodunnit but lots of fun!

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2019 – Part Two (#10-1)

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Here it is, my run down of the Top 10 Best Moments in Emmerdale in 2019. You can read numbers 11-20 here, but below are the things I enjoyed most about Emmerdale this year.

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10 – Jai and Laurel

Who could predict that one of Emmerdale’s latest favourite couples would be Jai and Laurel? This time last year we were finally free of the massively unpopular Laurel and Bob romance, but her new love with Jai has been a surprise hit. Early days for the pair was something of a sweet slow burn of crossed wires and a pretend kiss to get Jai out of a dodgy date, but now they’re finally together it just works. The actors have a good chemistry and their cuteness has been pretty sweet. Lately their merged family is under threat as Arthur cruelly bullies Archie – could this destroy Laurel and Jai’s relationship so soon? Hopefully not!

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9 – Vanity’s Engagement

2019 started in a hugely dramatic way for Vanessa and Charity when Vanessa was stabbed outside the pub by Lachlan’s dad Donny. After her brush with death, Charity was more convinced than ever of her love and decided to pop the question. What followed was a brilliantly humorous attempt by Charity to hijack an unsuspecting groom’s outlandish proposal at Home Farm to surprise Vanessa. Although it was classic Charity madness, Vanessa was less than impressed when she realised what Charity had done. Nevertheless Vanessa returned to Home Farm to hear Charity out and after some drunken rambling, the couple’s heart to heart lead to a real proposal. This moment had everything – laughs, vulnerability and a great script. Will their wedding be as similarly funny and romantic when it happens?

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8 – The Immediate Aftermath of Victoria’s Rape

I have some serious problems with how Vic’s rape story ultimately transpired but there’s no denying that the initial scenes in which Victoria revealed she’d been raped to Moira were outstanding. In the aftermath of Vic’s rape, Moira tried to help her understand she wasn’t at fault in any way with writing that deftly dispelled every myth and misconception surrounding the assault. Emmerdale made interesting choices in the beginning of the story, with Lee seemingly like the nice guy helping to walk Vic home before attacking her in her own home in brutal but effective scenes. The aftermath also featured stunning performances from the underused Isabel Hodgins and it’s a shame the story derailed so quickly.

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7 – Truth about Maya

It was the moment viewers were eagerly waiting for and when the truth about Maya came out, it was worth the wait. For months Maya had been grooming and seducing Jacob right under his family’s nose and after Liv’s discovery it was only a matter of time before the truth came out. The reveal took the centre stage of the Big Night Out episodes as Priya was the surprise witness to a kiss between the pair. The tension was delicious as Maya accepted a lift from Leyla, Tracy and Priya – although we had to wait a few weeks to find out what they’d actually done to her, suspecting she might be dead. The beginning of the end came with a gripping confrontation in the woods, but David learning the truth was equally compelling with a strong performance from Matthew Wolfenden and an uncomfortable but authentic range of emotions on display. With Maya and Jacob hiding out, there were some must-see twists and turns as the truth emerged, but disappointingly, the dramatic climax fizzled out and the conclusion of this story just didn’t live up to the gripping revelation.

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6 – Robert’s Exit

The end of 2019 also marked the end of Emmerdale’s most-shipped couple as Robron were torn apart due to the departure of Robert from the show. After his sister’s rape, Robert was unable to move past his need for revenge and when Lee’s torment of her continued, Robert saw red and hit Lee over the head with a shovel. For a while it looked like Robert’s charges would be minimal but things changed when Lee woke up and later died from his injuries. Facing the prospect of life behind bars, Robert went on the run, with Aaron by his side. With the desperate couple willing to sacrifice everything for their love, the reality of their future weighed heavily on Robert’s mind and he selflessly turned himself in, breaking Aaron’s heart in the process. Robert was sentenced to fourteen years inside and scheduled to be moved to the Isle of Wight and while Aaron was determined to hang onto their marriage, Robert made the crushing decision to cut all ties and allow Aaron to live his life. While Robert is a big loss to the show, Ryan Hawley gave some of his best performances throughout his exit and his exit managed to be both gripping and heart-breaking. Despite this story meaning the end of Robron, their epic love story was honoured in Robert’s final episode and the plot stayed true to their depth of feeling until the very end.

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5 – Flashback episodes

There was a real buzz around Emmerdale’s much promoted Big Night Out episodes, but the real excitement began just a few weeks later as we got to see what really happened during that fateful night. Flashbacks have been overdone in Emmerdale lately but withholding what really went down for two weeks was just the right time to keep things gripping and keep us all guessing. Of all the flashbacks Billy’s was the weakest but even that managed its own twists and give us glimpses of the other storylines in the background. The thrilling showdown between Maya and the trio of Leyla, Tracy and Priya let to a brilliant blackly comic confrontation in a horror movie pursuit in the woods. Victoria’s strand was unsurprisingly the hardest to watch as what could have been a rom-com style episode had a horrific end, and knowing what was coming gave the episode an unbearable dread. Overall this was an exciting dose of episodes, giving Emmerdale back its must-see bite while these big stories played out.

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4 – Women’s Day Special Episode

Emmerdale celebrated International Women’s Day this year with an episode dedicated to the women of the Dales using a mostly all women crew too. Not only was this an inspiring decision behind the scenes, but the episode itself was full of pathos, joy and warmth. Emmerdale managed to use almost its entire female cast, interacting in surprising ways and having a wonderful community, character driven feel. There was also a surprise inclusion of Lisa with the sad reveal she was dying, but despite this the episode still managed to be funny and full of heart, instilling a sense of confidence and strength in being a woman. An episode with ambitions like this made me even prouder to be an Emmerdale fan. And hey, if it pisses off the backwards likes of Piers Morgan and co then it’s doing something right!

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3 – The Mere Existence of Liam Cavanagh

If there’s one character who’s made Emmerdale 2019 a joy to watch then it’s Dr Liam Cavanagh. Not only has he shared a sweet and funny romance with Bernice (a relationship so right for their characters I was sad to see end), but in his own right he’s managed to be both charming and laugh out loud funny. This year highlights have included his painfully awkward encounter with Cain, the discovery that he loves murder mystery roleplay – leading to a hilarious misunderstanding where Bernice thought he was a murderer – and of course his adventures in costume from the sheriff to the panto’s Farmer Christmas. Although Liam has lost his love, there’s potential with Leyla, but also his relationship with daughter Leanna and colleague Manpreet to explore. Liam’s the sort of character that easily feels at home in the village (he even made Bear briefly watchable) and Jonny McPherson’s natural charisma and comedic timing, he’s a character who consistently puts a smile on your face. If I could only make one wish for 2020, it would be more Liam!

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2 – Lydia’s past

There was one stand-out star of 2019 and that was Karen Blick as Lydia, effortlessly taking Lydia from kooky oddball with a big heart from tragic matriarch of the Dingles. This year we learnt more about Lydia’s tragic past, revealing that she had taken on a false identity and was really named Jenny Finn. As the remains of a baby were found by the school, Lydia turned herself into the police revealing she had buried her stillborn child there and kept it a secret all this time. Karen Blick’s performances were nothing short of incredible and together with Sam, they were the real jewels in Emmerdale’s crown this year. This story not only made Lydia more loved, but it also strengthened the bond between the couple. Giving Lydia this fleshed out backstory offered a believable explanation for her personality and the material, never short of gut-wrenching, proved what an incredible performer Karen Blick is. With the question of Huntingdon’s disease playing on her mind, I hope 2020 continues to give Karen the material she deserves.

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1 – Lisa’s death

We lost a real Emmerdale legend this year as Lisa Dingle passed away suddenly. We had only just seen her back in the village and in her rightful home when we lost her for good, after a warm and nostalgic big Dingle celebration. Lisa’s death was understated and fitting, following a sentimental wedding for her and Zak, which even featured classic Emmerdale band The Woolpackers. Despite Lisa’s death being a surprise to many viewers, we should have guessed Lisa’s time back in Wishing Well was limited considering her return almost felt like a goodbye tour. When her family came home to find her dead, there were impressive scenes as they grieved and supported each other. The aftermath was moving as it panned over their homestead and the funeral was a fun and quirky affair with pig races. Lisa also left behind letters for her family which told them what they needed to hear and was a fitting end for the matriarch of the family. The Dingles haven’t quite felt the same without her, but her final episodes were a beautiful tribute to her treasured character.

Thank you for all your support of The Woolie Weekly in 2019 and Happy New Year!

Fave or Fail? (9-13 Dec 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 Archie ran away from home after further bullying from Arthur and the villagers decided to put on a panto.

Faves

Panto Fun

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h45m17s638Community stories can often be thin on the ground in current Emmerdale so this week’s Christmas panto story was a joy. In a small village where everyone knows each other, this season is the perfect time for lots of characters to get together, even those who aren’t usually involved. This story gave Manpreet a chance to embed herself more in the village, beside her GP role, and we could also forget that Bob was involved with the show’s most hated character while he relished in his creative role. It was also a lot of fun to see the actors pretending to act on stage, some even doing a bad job. We haven’t seen a panto in the village for a while and so far it’s been everything warm and fun and Christmassy. Unlike the village nativity from two years ago, centred around Chas and Paddy’s forced humour, it’s been much more fun to see the rehearsals and preparation and not just rush straight to a costumed performance. It has shades of the community spirit from classic Emmerdale and that can only be a good thing.

Archie’s Anguish

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h46m00s801Archie’s story escalated this week and really tugged at the heart strings. While the writing for this storyline feels rushed and extreme at times, little Kai Assi is doing a brilliant job at showing Archie’s absolute fear and hopelessness. It was impossible not to want to reach into the screens and hug him this week as he saw his only option was to run away. Feeling completely alone, Archie’s anguish was very emotive and is one of the reasons why this story is working.

Arthur’s Anger

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h44m46s540Apart from my Scene of the Week choice, there was another scene which really stood out and was one of the highlights of the Archie and Arthur story. It was clear that Arthur attached a lot of significance to Christmas when it came to remembering his late dad. With that in mind Laurel organised a special festive gathering to decorate the tree, with Arthur ready to place the final decoration on the tree – a special decoration he once made for his dad. Arthur’s world shattered when Archie ran in and broke the decoration in the scuffle. You could feel Arthur’s pain and hurt and so much of that was in the brilliant performance from Alfie Clarke. There are times when the writing over-simplifies Arthur’s bullying as reasonless cruelty, but when we see Arthur’s perspective and a young boy still struggling with grief, the story is so much better for it.

Jimmy and Nicola United

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h47m31s657The Archie plot isn’t perfect but it does have many elements that are successful. With the great performances from both the young children and the parents, it’s been great to see characters like Jai, Laurel, Jimmy and Nicola get something really meaty story-wise. There was a nice reminder this week about what a great couple Jimmy and Nicola are as Nicola was unflinching in her support of her husband. Solid couples are thin on the ground at the moment, but there’s something so genuine about Jimmy and Nicola that makes their scenes feel authentic.

Chemistry Calling

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h44m00s035When Jamie arrived it looked like Emmerdale were paving the pathway for another Dingle and Tate romance, as he and Belle flirted. All that changed with the arrival of Andrea and Millie and it was a struggle to buy into Jamie the family man. Even though that angle has improved in recent weeks with Andrea and Jamie’s loss and the Millie paternity saga giving us many scenes of doting dad Jamie, we saw the sparks return with Belle this week. Ellis is back on the scene with a new face and it’s too early to tell if he and Belle have chemistry – but does that even matter when Belle and Jamie’s chemistry is so palpable? With Jamie’s rather flustered comments at the Christmas party giving Belle something to smile about, there’s surely too much potential there to squander?

Fails

Escalating too Fast?

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h50m03s681Despite the Archie and Arthur storyline having many positives and being one of Emmerdale’s strongest stories of the moment, it has some flaws in its execution. Perhaps its down to impatient viewers or the way modern TV drama has to compete with boxsets, but something is lost in the sensitivity and nuance of a challenging story like this when it escalates so quickly. Maybe viewers don’t want months of Arthur’s troubling behaviour building to bullying, but the whiplash from the kind boy who has a conscience, to the tough bully needs to be told carefully. Likewise Jai and Laurel turning against Jimmy, a man they’ve known in years and, in Laurel’s case, a close friend borders on unbelievable and hollow when it happens so fast. When Emmerdale’s airing six, sometimes seven, episodes a week, they have the luxury to take their time telling this, but the speed the situation has escalated feels like they’re anxious about viewers interest. Sometimes these stories don’t need extreme behaviour shifts and twists, they just need to unravel more slowly.

Befriending the Enemy

vlcsnap-2019-12-14-13h50m29s748You have to feel for Bob. He’s just managed to shake off the memories of the hated Bob and Laurel affair and last year’s (all too brief) homelessness story did wonders in repairing fans’ love for Bob. But now, even in the midst of a fun panto plot, he’s taken Wendy’s side. Granted, he was telling her he couldn’t support her over Victoria, but surely even by empathising with her and comforting her, he was doing just that? The Wendy plot continues to be misguided and an unpleasant watch, but characters we know and like shouldn’t be dragged into it otherwise it means dragging them down with her.

Fave or Fail? (4-8 Nov 2019)

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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! 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.

Fave or Fail? (28 Oct-1 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! Robert’s sad final scenes aired this week as Mandy came clean about her scams.

Faves

The Last Goodbye

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-08h54m09s542Robert’s final scenes aired this week in what was a heart-breaking exit for the much-loved character. With Robert informed that he was being moved to the Isle of Wight, he made the painful decision not to tell Aaron, not wanting him to uproot his whole life while Robert served his 14 year sentence. Across the visiting room table, Robert and Aaron struggled with the lack of contact, expressing how much they missed each other. As Robert braced himself to reveal where he was being moved to, Aaron interrupted and Robert could no longer own up to the truth. With call backs and references to their love story, from “their” lay-by, a repeat of their phrase “You know/I know” and of course, the final, gut-wrenching play of their wedding song, this was a tribute to the couple and a love letter to fans. Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley’s chemistry continued to be powerful until the end, with Ryan delivering some of his best performances to date as Robert struggled to say his final goodbye. It was painful to see such a tragic ending to the show’s most popular couple and a character so memorable as Robert, but it felt fitting all the same. To also have Robert’s final act be one of selflessness, at a time where he was truly comfortable in himself, was the perfect end to his journey. His snark smugness, facial expressions and charm will be sorely missed.

The Aftermath Continues

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-08h57m41s553Following on from some huge weeks of drama, the fall out continued this week with engaging aftermath. After drinking himself numb, Cain escaped the village, surprisingly with Amy, throwing his wedding ring at Moira in the rain – ouch. When he returned he wanted her to pack her bags and the two had a face-off that showcased once more how naturally dynamic Jeff Hordley and Natalie J Robb are in scenes together. Bristling! Moira, despite defending herself to Cain’s supporters, still hasn’t been especially sympathetic but that’s mostly down to the affair taking place for nonsensical reasons in the first place! Then there was Chas and Paddy, coping with Faith’s exit and new baby Eve. Their moments have continued to be bittersweet as well as giving them some nice quieter moments to enjoy being new parents. That reprieve of happiness was much needed. Victoria saw Luke again, who admitted he believed her over Lee. These two have fantastic chemistry but it still doesn’t sit right that Emmerdale would tie Vic to her rapist’s family like this. Finally Aaron, whose week had a devastating end, but his wallowing and grief felt well done and believable but it was a lovely touch and a welcome change of pace to have him look after Seb and continue to explore his role as a parent. As the Cain and Moira dramas and Aaron’s heartbreak continue in the coming weeks we are bound to see more of these great performances soon.

Dingle Chaos

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-08h55m20s330Mandy was forced to come clean about her shady dealings this week as her and Vinny faced the infamous Dingle Court. Caught red-handed trying to steal Lydia’s money, Sam came down hard with the Dingle law and the family gathered to hear her case. Even if the whole Dingle Code stuff has been overdone, there’s always something entertaining about classic Dingle capers. It was a great twist to have Charity secretly involved (if only that had been left out of spoilers!) and fun to have her in the thick of a family scheme again. It’s still not completely clear the point of Vinny not being Mandy’s son (and why it matters) or if there are any more longer term plans for them, but her story is at least an amusing relief from the heavier stories in a way that feels classically Emmerdale.

Drug Bust-up

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-08h59m21s359The drugs story took a surprising turn this week, just as the comedy element had worn thin. After Archie had an accident, Laurel found Doug’s pot stash in the first aid box, but her first worry was that it belonged to Jai. She confronted him and the two had their first real argument, as he was horrified she would accuse him and then take it easy on the real culprit, Doug. It was still frosty between them the next day with Jai unwilling to forgive her, especially when she too had struggled to fight her addictions. This was a great way to give the pot plot more purpose and saw the relationship between Laurel and Jai truly tested. They’re a great couple but it seems only right that things aren’t too easy for them and the good thing about a fight is that we’re rooting for them to make things up. These were some nicely written scenes and it’ll be interesting to see if their pasts ever cause their relationship more problems.

Fails

Oceans Emmerdale

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-08h55m56s762Emmerdale aren’t afraid to try something new stylistically, be it flashbacks, time shifts or even the amazing special episode dealing with Ashley’s dementia. But this week’s flashbacks were somewhat divisive with viewers. As Mandy told the Dingles about her casino scheme, including the arrival of “Red” (aka the fabulously dressed Charity Dingle), the audience saw a glossy Hustle-style sequence of scenes. I’m on the fence about these scenes, they were fun and made the telling of the casino plot more interesting, but I’m not sure it felt very “Emmerdale”. To me, if felt more like those comedy spin-off VHS tapes Emmerdale used to make and the style of it jarred a little, but was it alright as a one off? This is one thing I’m undecided about…

Pantomime Posturing

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-08h58m09s196With Kim, we can all take a bit of the high-camp panto villain, but this week, as she and Graham snarled and gurned at each other, it struck me that their dynamic at the moment is tonally an odd fit with the rest of the show. There’s always a place for different types of characters and dynamics, but alongside the brutal break up between Cain and Moira, and the emotional end of Robron, Kim and Graham’s cartoonish dramatics felt almost like they belonged in a different show. There are only so many backstories and convoluted histories we can hold in our heads all at once but Kim and Graham’s “I will destroy you!!” speeches lacked the grounding and authenticity that other characters in the show have. It was only when Kim shed tears and we started to see her as more human again that the story gained interest. The problem with the Home Farm lot is the ever-shifting backstories and that confusing lack of consistency makes it hard to care what’s happening in the present. To really care about these big moments of camp villainy and revenge, we need a real grip on who these characters are and the first obstacle is making them feel like “real” people.