Fave or Fail? (20-24 March 2017)

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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! Sorry for the little blog break last week (but hey when your favourite soap destroys your favourite character and couple it kinda takes away the fun!) but I’m back. This week saw Emma lose her grip and Faith communicate (ish) with the dead. 

Faves

Killing It

Emmerdale - Who Heard Emma Confess to Murder - YouTubeI’ve long championed the talents of the brilliant Gillian Kearney, who plays Emma Barton, and with a week like last, I won’t be stopping anytime soon. Although many Emmerdale viewers are champing at the bit, dying for Emma to be caught and punished for her crimes, I just can’t help but want her to stay in the village for as long as possible. Emma is fascinating. Part fragile and unhinged and the other part devious and wicked, Emma balances so many emotions. Gillian plays Emma walking this line so brilliantly that there are times when you feel her every jittered panic and yes, even feel sorry for her. She can be cutting with just a look, fiercely protective over her boys and so very guilty too. But other times, like when she comes up against an enemy like Faith she’s ruthless and dangerous and that’s what makes her so watchable. I’ve really enjoyed this slightly bonkers religious fixation she’s attained too because it just adds to her struggle of trying to deal with her terrible actions. Emma acts with conviction, despite her guilt, believing now that she can be forgiven and needs to be for the sake of her family. But ultimately the way Gillian Kearney plays Emma means she’s someone I want to watch for a long time.

Stepmother Struggles

vlcsnap-2017-03-26-19h21m26s474I really enjoyed Carly’s storyline this week as she struggled with the responsibility of being in a relationship with a single dad. We’ve not seen anywhere near enough material for Carly since she joined Emmerdale but every time Gemma Atkinson is given something emotional or difficult she really sells Carly’s pain. This week little April choked and Carly froze, unable to help and reminded of the way she lost her own son. After initially finding it hard to patch up their little family, Carly was swayed by Marlon’s affection and April’s emotional speech about how she wished Carly was her mummy. It was all pretty touching but most of all I liked Carly’s realistic difficulties with the responsibility it gave her. Getting together with Marlon has always seemed like a sweet but rather unlikely pairing and her dilemma of choosing between a “grown-up” life with him and his family versus a fun adventure abroad is one that feels believable. By the end of the week we’ve seen Marlon realise she’s gone abroad after all and if Carly returns this could spell the end for them. While she seems happy there with them as her family, there are times where it looks as if her heart isn’t really in it anymore. I’m interested to see what happens when she returns.

Story Surge

vlcsnap-2017-03-26-19h20m57s466I’m sure we saw more of Harriet this week than we saw in the whole of 2016. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration but the local vicar was everywhere this week! First of all she had an awkward reunion with Ashley as she struggled to know what to say to him, similar to how his other friends felt. Then was her antagonistic involvement with Cain and his crimes (I think we can all see where this storyline is heading), her knocking down of Emma and then her comfort of Laurel in the church. It’s been great to see more of Harriet, because really you can’t go wrong with an ex-copper vicar who wears ripped jeans, can you? Harriet is definitely one of those forgotten characters whose long deserved a decent storyline and if the Cain situation transpires into some sort of unholy alliance then that should be interesting for a little while, before his inevitable return to Moira.

Fails

Calling My Bluff

Emmerdale - Faith and Emma Come to a Dark Arrangement - YouTubeOnce again we came tantalisingly close to Emma’s secrets being exposed this week, and it’s not like I really want her caught, but I can’t help but feel Friday’s twist was a bit of a cheat. All week Faith’s ungodly psychic night unnerved Emma, so much so she took solace in the church again. Unfortunately for her it looked as if Faith had heard her confession and was set ready to expose her in front of the whole pub. A fun Emma vs Faith rivalry had been set up all week and we were all under the impression that Faith knew that Emma was responsible for giving James a little shove over the bypass. But with Emma in hospital and panicked, she was ready to admit defeat and accept Faith’s blackmail requests believing that was the only way to keep her boys protected. Except the whole thing was a case of crossed wires as Faith revealed to Moira that she’d overheard Emma badmouthing her and had seen her attempts to bash her over the head – nothing to do with Emma’s James secret. When Emma found out at the end of Friday I couldn’t help but feel the whole thing was a fizzled out let down, a plot that served its purpose for a week only to reset. We haven’t progressed anywhere, nothing has changed with the Emma story, we only know that Faith’s guarding her own secret. I love Emma and I want to keep her on Emmerdale but this just feels like stalling.

Misery Business

vlcsnap-2017-03-26-19h24m40s837If surveyed, how many Emmerdale viewers would say, “Do you know what I’d really like to see? More misery for Aaron. I just haven’t had my fill.” I’m going to go out on a limb here and say zero. A grand total of zero viewers are interested in seeing Aaron’s life mangled into the kind of hellish parody we’re reaching on screen and yet here we are. It doesn’t matter just how prettily Danny Miller cries, we’ve been here so many times. Last year Emmerdale told viewers there was light, justice and love available in the future of child sex abuse survivors. They were given accolades and acclaim for this. The last few weeks though seemed to give this message the middle finger. Having spent a year building a redemption arc for Robert Sugden, developing his relationships, his heart and creating a love story championed by legions of fans, Emmerdale thought they’d erase all that for some much needed upset in Aaron’s life. Long gone is Aaron’s heartbreaking prison ordeal and attention on his mental health struggles, long gone is these hard-hitting prison issues, long gone is his hope on the outside world, long gone is Robert’s fun and bantering relationships with Aaron’s family. Now all the focus is on Emmerdale’s most overused and most hated trope, the one night stand. With Aaron being released so soon and all these contemporary prison issues swept aside, the whole prison storyline seems like a cynical attempt to pile more angst onto an already angst-ridden couple. It’s sure to set Aaron’s mental health and Robert’s much-love character development back years – and can anyone, Robron fan or not, honestly say this is something they want to watch?

Scene of the Week (13-17 Feb 2017)

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Admittedly Finn’s behaviour has bordered on the ludicrous, out of character at worst, but there was a real turning point this week, one sold by the acting talents of Joe Gill and Gillian Kearney. While Finn’s weirdness has made his popularity nosedive, the scenes this week where Emma confronted her son’s bad behaviour and obsession with Kasim were particularly strong. Finn admitted that he was projecting the grief of losing his dad onto Kasim, that he hoped in holding onto Kasim he could hold onto his father. Finn admitting that he went a bit insane might be a bit of an understatement considering the divisive nature of his plot, but even though he might not have won back his likeability, Joe Gill made Finn’s confession raw and vulnerable and there was a certain blissful dramatic irony watching Emma comfort her son knowing that her actions are the root of her son’s downfall.

Emmerdale’s Top 20 Moments of 2016 – Part Two (#10-1)

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Winner of Britain’s Best Soap, Emmerdale is firing on all cylinders with some incredible storylines this year. I’ve already given a run down of the lowlights and my Top moments #20 to #11, but here’s my Top 10 moments in Emmerdale in 2016. Here’s to an ever better 2017!

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10. Andy’s exit

Everyone was shocked to hear that Kelvin Fletcher was leaving Emmerdale after twenty years of playing Andy Sugden and it still doesn’t feel quite right without him. With Chrissie on the warpath, Andy faced a bleak future of serving time for a crime he didn’t commit, made even worse when managed to break from his holding cell in court. Yikes. Sure, the whole escape fiasco was soapy and ridiculous but Andy’s emotional goodbyes with Bernice and brother Robert let Andy go out on a dramatic high. His final few episodes saw the Sugden brothers at their best – immature swipes at each other and a rocky history but ultimately full of love. Here’s hoping Andy doesn’t have to stay on the run forever!

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9. Remembering Edna Birch

Emmerdale legend Shirley Stelfox sadly passed away this year and Emmerdale honoured the iconic Edna Birch with a moving and fitting tribute. Ashley and Laurel returned with the upsetting news that Edna had passed, leading to a touching exploration of faith and friendship as Sandy in particular suffered with the news. The villagers gathered for her funeral and tried to find closure in their sad goodbye. There were some especially lovely scenes with Sandy and Ashley as they came to terms with her passing and left her infamous hat to float downstream on the river. Shirley and Edna will be sorely missed.

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8. Lawrence’s tragic past

We’d known since Lawrence’s arrival at the end of 2014 that he’d been imprisoned for homosexuality but it wasn’t until this year that the tragedy of his past had properly been explored. After marrying Bernice he seemed fairly content, even if he was unable and uninterested in being intimate with her, but that all changed when Chrissie’s paternity came into question and Ronnie Hale came on the scene. The scenes in which we learnt of Lawrence and Ronnie’s romantic past and Lawrence’s agonising prison torture were brilliant, giving us the insight into Lawrence background that had only been teased before. Hearing Lawrence talk about his love for Harold and the electric shock therapy he had suffered was a particularly poignant moment in this interesting story and one which reminded the audience of others who endured a similar background and was new ground for soap.

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7. Bernice’s doomed love life

This year saw Bernice cement herself as one of my favourite characters in the village with her glorious displays of laugh-out-loud comedy and tear jerking heartbreak. Having resigned herself to a sexless marriage last year, she battled with the reality of this when Lawrence wouldn’t admit to his past when former lover Ronnie returned to his life. The breakdown of her marriage and the pain of loneliness saw Bernice drunk drive a bulldozer into the Mill and later collapse in tears. Bernice had a horrible time of it and found comfort again in the arms of the man she pined for, Andy Sugden. It was an unlikely pairing but one with chemistry that had been bubbling for some time and besides, who doesn’t want to see Bernice happy? But with Andy on the run it couldn’t happen and Bernice was forced to let him go and team up with Robert to help bring down the Whites, giving us some hysterically memorable scenes of Bernice armed with clippers: “I WILL MAKE YOU BALD!!”

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6. Emma Barton

Love her or loathe her, Emma Barton has had one hell of a year on Emmerdale and we’ve finally seen her fulfil the potential that’s been brewing since day one. Earlier in the year, when Emma lied about having a life-threatening illness (but then quickly confessed) I had high hopes for what the year would bring, as long as they didn’t make her too cartoony. I’ve been thrilled with how things progressed and while there were real moments of OTT crazy in Super Soap Week (chicken blood on the wedding dress for one) all of Emma’s extreme behaviour comes from a very real place. Gillian Kearney stole the show in Super Soap Week as she made Emma’s psyche (all she wanted was for James to love her, jeez!) gripping viewing. Sure, viewers are frustrated and want the truth to come out, but seeing the cracks appear and the horrifying lengths she’ll go to in covering up the truth are just cementing Emma as a real favourite of mine.

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5. Aaron and Robert becoming a proper couple

For beloved couple Aaron and Robert, 2015 was all about sex, violence, murder attempts, more sex and misery, but by the end of the year the love between them was thin on the ground. This year, however, saw a huge turnaround for the characters and their relationship as Robert offered Aaron unwavering and unconditional support throughout his childhood abuse revelations and the trial. Aaron drew great strength and comfort from Robert’s presence and reassurance, and needed him in ways he couldn’t lean on his family. In Robert too, we saw a refreshing new side as Emmerdale toned down the panto and restrictive villainy (we don’t talk about the teeth incident) and let him become more human – showing a wealth of love and loyalty in Aaron’s plight. It’s a testament to Danny Miller and Ryan Hawley’s chemistry that they were able to rebuild Aaron and Robert’s rocky relationship into a love story rooted for by so many. As the year progressed and Robron reunited, it was a joy to see their mix of passion and affection grow into a family unit, becoming one of the show’s best couples and their romantic journey in Super Soap Week (leading to a proposal) was a massive highlight of the year. Bring on the wedding!

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4. Holly’s Death

I’ll admit I was filled with dread when I heard of Holly’s return and those first few months – as she got involved with lightweight gangsters, made a move on Cain and got involved with petty revenge on Charity – did little to endear her to me. However, as Holly fractured the Coira powerhouse and turned back to drugs, the performances from Sophie Powles and Natalie J Robb shone as some of the best in the show. It was gritty, brutal and showed how destructive drugs can be to a family. Sod’s law had it that just as I had begun to warm to Holly and was fond of her surprising relationship with Jai (JAI – I liked Jai!!!), Emmerdale pulled out the rug from under us and Moira found Holly dead in her bed. We’d all been expecting an exit, but none of us saw that coming so soon! There was something eerie and different about the episode’s opening that left everyone curious, but kudos to Emmerdale for pulling off a true shock. Once again viewers were treated to stunning performances and the weight of Holly’s death made a huge impact, not just in the fictional world, but also to viewers who saw the reality of drug addiction at its worst, even when a person appears to be happy and coping. This was another moment which saw Emmerdale soaring in 2016.

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3. Aaron’s childhood sexual abuse

Another incredibly powerful and emotive storyline of 2016 was the reveal that Aaron had been repeatedly raped as a child by his father, Gordon. Gordon’s arrival in December 2015 sent Aaron spiralling into self-harm, resulting in him collapsing from septicaemia and eventually confessing about his abuse to Robert. By then we’d already seen consistently impressive performances from Danny Miller, but this storyline surpassed all of those, as time and time again he delivered each heart-crushing moment with a rawness that sent shivers down spines. The storyline was grim, uncomfortable and sickening at times but the script and the actors never shied away from the horror of the story and offered outstanding performances from all the main actors involved. With justice being served in a satisfying way, and Aaron having hope for a happier future, it felt like an unnecessary twist to have Gordon commit suicide, but ultimately this storyline was tackled in a moving and truthful way and seemed a fitting backstory in light of Aaron’s adolescent struggles.

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2. Ashley’s dementia

Ashley’s dementia was an obvious highlight towards the end of 2015, but this year has really seen its progression and the deterioration, particularly in recent months, has been an affecting and ground breaking storyline. At the heart of this storyline, John Middleton has played every moment of heartbreak with nuance and a real understanding of the tragedy involved in dementia. Getting a long-term illness right in soap is a difficult business, when the realistic speed of illness can jar with a pacey need for dramatic twists but Emmerdale has struck the balance just right. At every turn, we’ve seen the wider impact on Ashley’s family (on his children and their behaviour, on Laurel’s alcoholism and struggle to hold everything together – with all of these featuring stellar acting), his identity and faith – as well as sitting alongside the soapier elements such as Emma’s big secret. Ashley’s special episode was a superb decision by the producers, giving the audience a ground-breaking insight into life from the perspective of someone with dementia and highlighted all the strengths of this hugely important storyline.

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1. Super Soap Week

Expectations were sky high for Emmerdale’s special week in October and as information and spoilers were drip-fed to us, excitement built. Surely it couldn’t be as good as we were hearing? Wrong! In breath-taking scenes, Emmerdale secured itself at the top of the soap game with a week that would be remembered as some of the best material in the soap genre. With each episode showing the same day from the perspective of different characters we had insight into characters in a way we’d never had before, allowing long scenes and meaty material showcasing the incredible talents of all the cast involved. For Emma Barton and Robert Sugden, these episodes offered real defining moments as the former reached her incredible and unnerving potential and the latter had his long awaited and important heart-to-heart about his bisexuality. The week had it all, like six blockbusters strung together – romance, comedy, horror, drama and action – and for the first time ever we got to see the Hotten Bypass! The episodes were shot with glossy film style cameras which gave the week a real movie feel and the epic stunts were jaw-dropping and awesome in the real sense of the word. The best thing about Super Soap Week is the way the stories interlinked and made everyone’s brains go into overdrive as we tried to piece the story together, meaning you had the urge to rewatch the episodes multiple times to pick up on all the details. It was truly unmissable and aside from the stunt (which was a huge spectacle in itself) the plot was driven by real character moments and a sense of jeopardy.

Fave or Fail? (21-25 Nov 2016)

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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! Hooray – a fairly good week with some fantastic performances.

Faves

Forgive and Regret

emmerdale-emma-claims-that-james-commited-suicide-youtubeEmma is THE character to watch in Emmerdale right now, with Gillian Kearney’s captivating performances making for enthralling viewing as Emma’s convincing lies are woven with elements of truth. This week saw Emma unravelling further and steal sleeping tablets in order to make it through the inquest. Even with her boys around her Emma was a mess but she delivered cherry picked truths to weave a story about James wanting to commit suicide. Devious genius really! The best part about Emma is that she can simultaneously anger viewers wanting justice but when she’s at breaking point and destroying herself with guilt, she actually invokes sympathy. It’s incredible. Some of the best scenes of the week were when Harriet was offering Emma guidance and support at the cemetery and then later in the church where Emma almost seemed to have an epiphany and begin to turn to God and the church’s notions of forgiveness. It was an interesting twist to see Emma embracing forgiveness and perhaps follow a pious outlook. Are we going to see Emma turn to religion in a worrying way or is the fun new rivalry against Cain going to cause even more carnage?

Mission Baby Barton

emmerdale-adam-amp-victoria-22nd-november-2016-youtubeI’m not counting any chickens (we all know what happens to chickens in Emmerdale) because something’s got to make Adam take a temporary exit from The Dales with his spider-eating alter ego busy in the jungle, but loved up Victoria and Adam is exactly what we all need. When it comes to Victoria and Adam Emmerdale have it just right. They are cute together, well suited – they just work. Their rows seem to be concluded in a sensible, grown up way with talking and listening. They’re fun together and with Vic on a baby making mission, it couldn’t be cuter. Sure, I’m expecting it to get out of hand with the apps and the fertility diet but I’m hoping it’s not beyond repair because Emmerdale need happy, believable couples right now, ones that we can root for against all the sadness and drama. We all need it.

Home Truths

emmerdale-joanie-finds-out-zak-kissed-lisa-youtubeHow brilliant was Joanie this week dragging Zak for all he’s worth? And she didn’t hold back either – liar, coward, cheat, bad father. In fact, it’s almost like I gave her the list! Joanie found out all about Zak and Lisa’s illicit kiss this week and tried to be pro-active into getting Zak away from Emmerdale and its temptations. It was great to see Joanie really lay into Zak for his shitty behaviour and this is probably the first time I could ever say I enjoyed Joanie’s character – I was close to wearing a Team Joanie t-shirt tbh. Of course by the end of the week delusional Zak had convinced himself and her that moving away was what they all needed to have a proper fresh start. I mean, maybe you should have thought about that about a year ago, Zak. Just saying.

Pierce’s Problems

emmerdale-pierce-smashes-a-mirror-out-of-rage-and-anger-youtubeI still can’t get to grips with Pierce and I’m not sure exactly who he’s meant to be, but I can’t deny that Jonathan Wrather gave some great performances this week as Pierce’s past came to light. After Pierce’s over the top outburst the other day (triggered also by an over the top comment by Liv) where he scared Rhona and smashed the mirror, you’d think she’d be running for the hills. In fact, considering she lives with her young son and the level of Pierce’s volatile unpredictability is still fairly unknown to them both, she probably should still be running. However, putting those issues to one side, Pierce’s scenes with both Rhona and Paddy showcased an interesting dynamic yet still left plenty of questions. Some of those questions were picked at during the counselling session but long scenes of exposition and backstory don’t always work when you’re dealing with a slippery character such as Pierce who has had a very short history on the show. Luckily Jonathan Wrather gave it his all and Pierce’s backstory certainly carried more weight than the poor attempt given to Rakesh’s history the other week. Time will tell with what we can expect from Pierce. I’m still unsure.

Fail

Frankly Disappointing

emmerdale-bobby-punches-frank-in-the-gut-and-demands-his-money-youtubeWhen Frank’s panic eyes came out last week after bumping into old foe Bobby and we saw him get nervous it seemed like we were going to get some answers about Frank’s dark and shady past. However this week, when Bobby showed up in the village and got cosy with gullible Tracy to unnerve Frank, we learnt the real truth behind his tall-tale imprisonment story and it was pretty disappointing. Frank has had moments of real charm and edge so to learn that he’s just your bog-standard conman just seems pretty predictable and not as dark and devious as I’d hoped. Perhaps we’ll get lucky and he’ll have more deadly secrets lurking underneath his smooth charisma but so far it’s been a bit of a let down.

Scene of the Week (21-25 Nov 2016)

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“We’ve just got to live the best life ever and not waste a single second of it. Not just for them, but for us.” Who’d ever thought these wise words would come from the mouth of Adam Barton? Not me that’s for sure. The Barton family collective have had a hellish year after Holly and then James’ death and through all that this was a very welcome change of pace to see two of the Barton boys reflect on life and death and the process of grieving. As a miserable Pete struggled to see the point of life, dwelling on the things his father would miss out on, Adam reflected on how he was grateful to spend time with his sister again and the importance of family. It’s not often you see these scenes of quiet contemplation, particularly with these two characters, but in what’s been a patchy aftermath to the crash, it was needed.

Scene of the Week (31 Oct -4 Nov 2016)

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Possibly one of the most twisted and harrowing scenes to watch in a long time, Emmerdale made this an easy choice for Scene of the Week. Gillian Kearney and John Middleton are two of Emmerdale’s stand-out performers lately and to see their storylines come together in a dark and gripping way is compelling viewing. With Ashley as the only witness to Emma’s involvement in the crash and his memories hazy at best, Emma did everything in her power to confuse and distress Ashley to ensure her secrets are kept. The most deliciously evil thing about Emma as a character is that outwardly she is soft and the perfect angelic nurse, but her behaviour in this scene was truly shocking. Unnerved and upset by Emma’s continuous switch of the conversation, Ashley broke down in tears crying like a child only for Emma to hug him. Kudos to John Middleton for making Ashley’s upset so raw and uncomfortable that this scene was genuinely distressing.

Fave or Fail? (24-28 Oct 2016)

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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! In the aftermath of James’s death, the Bartons and the characterisation of female characters (barring Queen Emma) suffered!

Faves

Broken Bartons

emmerdale-the-police-want-to-question-emma-about-jamess-death-youtubeIt’s no surprise that in the immediate aftermath of last week’s crash that the Bartons were a broken family and Emma in particular was a mess as she tried to deal with her involvement in James’s death. Once again Gillian Kearney played Emma’s behaviour – from jittery state to her calm innocent act – to perfection and I loved how there were moments where her resolve broke and she almost confessed to her part in the accident. The blood splattered wedding dress played another iconic role as she burned the evidence of it outside the now very cursed Wylie’s Farm as her boys remained oblivious to her part in their dad’s death. With Emma’s breakdowns about how much she loved James and how sorry she is, surely it’s only a matter of time before someone gets suspicious, but hopefully not too soon – Emma continues to be one of the most interesting characters in Emmerdale!

Rare and Precious Smiles

vlcsnap-2016-10-30-10h03m13s923With James dead, Rhona in agony and Ashley bewildered and confused at least someone had reason to smile after last week and that person was Aaron Dingle. I’ve long bemoaned Aaron’s lack of happiness so what a real pleasure it was to see him with a soppy grin on his face, engaged and surrounded by loved ones as he recovered in hospital – even if he couldn’t remember how he got that ring on his finger. With everything Aaron’s gone through in his depressing life, especially when you recall his life-changing struggle with his sexuality, it’s a joy to see him content and confident, excited to marry the man of his dreams. Robron’s touching heart to heart made my scene of the week already but it was a reminder too of just how far they’ve come as a couple and despite Chas’s excitement I think she’s going to be great fun as Robert’s mother in law from hell. Bring it on!

The Final Breakdown

emmerdale-cain-walks-away-from-a-screaming-charity-youtubeThe breakdown of Cain and Charity’s reunion and Cain’s love for Moira resurfacing seemed inevitable from day one, but this week saw it finally come to a head as Cain realised he couldn’t leave with Charity as planned. Even though Charity’s clingy reaction didn’t seem to belong to the woman we know and love, the scenes in which Cain realised he needed and loved Moira, and not in the same way as Charity, were powerfully performed on the roadside. Despite Jeff Hordley’s brilliant on-screen partnership with Emma Aktins, the tension between Cain and Moira is almost unbearable and even though it might take him a long time to work for Moira’s love again, those two seem like they’re destined to be together in the long run.

Fails

The Real Charity Dingle?

emmerdale-cain-walks-away-from-a-screaming-charity-youtube-1Emmerdale have got a serious problem right now when it comes to their female characters and unfortunately it’s having a really negative impact on one of their best: Charity Dingle. You can’t deny the scenes where Cain left Charity were incredibly well acted and it’s a testament to Jeff and Emma’s chemistry that they’ve made the Charity and Cain scenes watchable – even if in this story they’re hard to root for – but Charity is not the strong woman she should be. We’ve all seen that she loves Cain and is desperate to have the complete family package but in her quest she’s ignored so many signs that this isn’t what he wants. Charity isn’t desperate or pathetic and she should be gutsy and fiercely independent. Instead we’ve seen her lose her spark in her mission and instead of seeming vulnerable, she just doesn’t seem herself. Would she really scream and sob at him before faking her own suicide? Charity’s better than this, she’s deserves better than to have her whole character dependent on Cain’s (lack of) affection. Sort it out, Emmerdale.

All the Women, So Dependent

emmerdale-chrissie-slaps-rebecca-and-rebecca-slaps-her-back-youtubeTwo other females also suffering under Emmerdale’s treatment of women are sisters at war Chrissie and Rebecca. Following on from last week’s truly epic episodes we had a tiresome and unpleasant plot about two rich girls sniping at each other over daddy’s money and Robert – a man who didn’t want either of them. It was a real come-down story wise and worse than that, it reduced two supposedly feisty women to slapping each other in the pub and making their relationship solely about money and men. The Whites are a divisive and antagonistic family with privileged characters who are hard to relate to, but the desperation and spitefulness coming from both women hasn’t made their scenes an enjoyable watch either. The Whites seem to be stuck in their own bubble and before Rebecca’s arrival, there were hopes she might bring something fresh to the table – but if all their plots are going to revolve around money, paternity and who got screwed over by Robert worse, then maybe someone else needs to shake up the Whites. Failing that, there hasn’t been a fire at Home Farm in a while…

Super Soap Week Review: Episode Six

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Episode Six: The hospital and the end

What a week! I can honestly say I’ve never seen a week of soap this good. It was ambitious, cinematic, beautifully shot, written and acted and it made me feel very proud to be an Emmerdale fan. The episodes deserve to be treasured, watched multiple times and talked about for years to come. It didn’t really matter than the week’s victim was fairly predictable because the construction of the week was anything but ordinary. With three villagers looking close to death we finally got all the answers but it wasn’t until the final minute, making us all sweat a bit more than we should on an October evening. Congratulations Emmerdale for a bloody brilliant week of episodes which showed the rest of the soap world what can be done.

Scene of the Episode

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If you breathed during this scene – aka the one where everyone flat-lined – then congratulations because I certainly didn’t. So we already knew they’d be saving the final scene to reveal who died but they certainly toyed with us by teased three characters looking like they might croak. First Aaron, just after he’d agreed to marry Robert no less but THANK GOD the symbolic artsy funeral scenes revealed him to be alive, well and holding Robert’s hand with his engagement ring on. Then a wide-eyed and unconscious Rhona and finally, the actual death of James Barton much to the upset and horror of his family – minus Ross. The funeral scenes in the rain were beautifully shot and the suspense of these three “deaths” were expertly done, giving me that real heart in mouth feeling.

Quote of the Episode

Emma: Why? Why couldn’t you just love me? And marry me and grow old with me and the boys?

Favourite Bits

vlcsnap-2016-10-23-19h05m49s335Ryan Hawley gave a stand-out performance in the hospital aftermath during the final episode of super soap week. Robert was a broken man wandering the hospital and consumed with guilt and heartbreak for not being with Aaron in the ambulance. He hadn’t even had the chance to propose properly and you could see it was killing him. The scenes in which Chas and Liv discovered his plans to propose and tried to give him hope were crushing, particularly when Robert berated himself for wasting so much time. There were times last year that Robert was underwritten as the cold hearted villain but this week we saw whole new depths and Ryan really sold Rob as the grieving hero at the end of the week.

vlcsnap-2016-10-23-19h06m06s595There’s a real sense of excitement following these big episodes and none more so than the big question – is Ashley going to remember Emma was there and will anyone believe him? He won’t be a reliable witness and his memory is understandably sketchy but there was a palpable layer of tension when he bumped into Emma in the corridor but just as we were lead to believe he might remember seeing her, he offered to pray for her instead! You’ve got away with it for now, Emma!

vlcsnap-2016-10-23-19h11m01s407I sound like a broken record now, but it was another gripping performance from Gillian Kearney as Moira confronted Emma in the car park of the hospital. Natalie J Robb is an amazing actress too so seeing the two of them together – when we know Moira is the root of all Emma’s issues – held so much power. Emma was vulnerable and on the verge of a breakdown as Moira confronted her and something tells me that there’s going to be even more brilliant scenes of these two in the future. I’m glad they didn’t have Emma try and kill off James like a panto villain – she loved him and her desire for the perfect family has destroyed her. At the end it was quite heartbreaking to see that all she wanted was James’s love and forgiveness.

vlcsnap-2016-10-23-19h12m09s167It was dropped as a bit of a bombshell moment in the episode but what a shock it was when Pierce revealed to Paddy that Rhona had suffered a heart attack. It’s not clear how dark and shady Pierce is but the future of his, Paddy and Rhona’s relationship is definitely one to watch.

vlcsnap-2016-10-23-19h13m05s888The moment everyone’s been waiting for – Aaron said “yeah” to Robert’s proposal. It was tragic, romantic and a huge moment of relief and happiness in the episode. This week has really cemented Robron as the power couple of Emmerdale and I’m stupidly excited to see them get married – they really deserve happiness together.vlcsnap-2016-10-23-16h59m18s431

We saw flashes of the moody funeral throughout the week but it was even better seeing it in full alongside the slow reveal of the teased death victims. Honestly I can’t say I’ll miss James but what an amazing exit he had.

Stray Observations

  • The flashbacks to the crash worked really well for Emma and Ashley’s narratives at the start of the final episode
  • Ross being absent (too busy shagging) is going to give Mike Parr some really great material when Ross discovers James is dead and he wasn’t there
  • Loved Adam and Vic crossing over into two storylines – hopefully more of this happens next week when news spreads
  • The rippling tension between Pierce and Paddy worked uncomfortably well when they talked about Rhona’s next of kin
  • Robert’s romantic attempt to retrieve the ring might’ve been foolish but it finally got him a hug from future mother-in-law Chas and considering their history, their scenes were especially moving
  • James’s death was framed in a very similar way to John’s and it just makes you realise how much tragedy the Bartons have been through. It’s going to be even worse when they realise what Emma did!

Super Soap Week Review: Episode Five

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Episode Five: Bypass Aftermath

I don’t know about you but I barely survived that thirty minute gap between episodes on Thursday. The second episode of the night picked up straight after the horrific collision to find our favourites all in varying states of hell. Ashley and Emma locked eyes over the wreckage, Paddy and Pierce struggled trying to work together for Rhona’s survival, Finn was the on-site hero oblivious to his unconscious father in the road and Aaron and Robert panicked as they awoke to their car at the bottom of a lake. This episode was outstanding. I stopped breathing at several points.

Scene of the Episode

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There’s something very grim about watching someone trapped and drowning and Emmerdale brought this into our homes on Thursday night just to get our hearts racing a bit harder. We’re used to seeing Aaron Dingle as brave and fearless but seeing him face death like this was a torturous watch. With water sloshing over the camera and the in-car shots you really felt the claustrophobia alongside Aaron and Robert as their desperation to escape heightened. There’s nothing quite as painful as the heart-rippingly tragic “I love yous” when someone thinks they’re going to die and watching these two, who had been so close to happiness, fight for their chance was agonising. Thank god for Robert’s determination and kiss of life. This scene was traumatic in all the best ways a drama should be.

Quote of the Episode

Paramedic: Was there anybody else in there?!
[long and evil pause]
Pierce: No.

Favourite Bits

vlcsnap-2016-10-23-17h28m32s752God, that opening. There was something so stressful and unsettling in the quiet of the disaster. Unconscious people, the sound of vehicles smoking, the bubbles underwater of Aaron and Robert’s sinking car. Emmerdale managed to create a real sense of danger and jeopardy in these episodes quite unlike the helicopter crash when most villagers removed themselves from the wreckage pretty quickly. Once again there were some beautiful shots, particularly as Ashley and Emma made eye contact through the fog. Chilling! Luckily for Emma, Ashley’s unlikely to remember her being there.

vlcsnap-2016-10-23-17h25m18s479Having other villagers come to the scene gave the episodes a real community feel, especially having the usually comedic Finn right in the thick of it, which was even harder knowing that he was oblivious to his dad’s condition. Massive kudos to Joe Gill in his devastation when he did find out as Laurel broke the news – his cries for his dad were haunting. But out of everyone, Finn would be my choice of hero – what a star he was, saving lives and being calm and supportive of Ashley.

vlcsnap-2016-10-23-17h27m20s578Paddy managed to keep himself talking and entertained even though he was close to passing out but the tension between him and Pierce over Rhona was strained as they tried to save her life. Although it seems like Pierce is madly in love with her, his villainous dark side materialised in the jaw-dropping “You bastard” moment that I really loved – when he didn’t tell the paramedics about Paddy’s condition. Of course he played the hero later but it showed us just what he’s capable of!

vlcsnap-2016-10-23-17h26m36s006Robert and Aaron regained consciousness to find themselves in the worst possible situation underwater and Aaron was still panicked about Lachlan in the boot. After some heartbreaking scenes reminiscent of Jack and Rose in Titanic, Robert managed to save Aaron’s life and get him to shore, before diving back in to rescue slippery Lachlan. Luckily Adam and Vic were on hand for moral support but the whole thing was tense beyond belief. It was great to see Robert so calm and heroic in his desperate rescue attempts but his exhausted heartbreak and anger at Lachlan almost made me wish he’d finish Lachlan off for good. vlcsnap-2016-10-23-17h27m54s846Would it be such a loss?

Gillian Kearney stole the end of the episode with her shattering screams of distress when she returned to Wylie’s. In a panic she began packing her belongings until Finn called. We saw what an actress Emma could be when she needed to as she gathered herself together to answer his call, but the brilliant twist to finish the episode? James was still alive!!!

Stray Observations

  • Cluck cluck cluck – loved the way chickens featured all week
  • If the rumours are true that the guy Finn rescued is going to become his love interest then Finn’s a lucky guy – cute!
  • Trust Paddy to make jokes during a near death moment
  • Laurel’s horror movie scream was chilling but her off-hand comment that it was James in the road not Ashley was unintentionally hilarious. The shade!
  • Poor Ashley clutching the teddy and remembering the christening 😦
  • “I’m not leaving you!” // “I love you. Please just go.” – yes readers, that’s the sound of my heart breaking into a million pieces
  • Robert looked like a sexy merman when he went back to save Lachlan
  • Lachlan emerging safe on the backs and watching on was another “Ooh ya bastard!” moment (hate him, but loved that moment!). How did he get out that boot?!
  • What. An. Ending!

Super Soap Week Review: Episode Four

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Episode Four: Ashley and Laurel; the plots converge

Thursday, part one. The big one. It began just like the others had, with one story in focus. This time it was Ashley and his heart shattering portrayal of dementia. This really was a masterclass in acting from John Middleton and a test for the tear ducts. But as we all knew, disaster was only minutes away – 17:27 to be exact – and when those other stories started coming together, wow. There’s never been a moment in soap like it. Without question THE best moment in soap I have ever seen.

Scene of the Episode

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Often with big soap events they’re so hyped you’re left feeling a little underwhelmed even if the stunt is impressive. But despite all the press excitement and the information surrounding the big movie style stunt, the Emmerdale car pile up managed to exceed all expectations leaving me stunned and breathless just watching. Most of us managed to guess this is how the events would turn out but I don’t think anyone expected something as prolonged and brutal as we got. What was even better – and don’t get me wrong, the stunts were outstanding – is that we were so damn invested in every storyline and character and that made the horror of the crash even more intense.

Quote of the Episode

Arthur: I know you said you’d always love me, but you will forget me one day, won’t you?
Ashley: To tell you the truth, one day. I might. Hopefully not for ages yet. But one day. This, my brain, might. But I promise you, okay? I promise you that no matter what I say or do, this [my heart] never will.

Favourite Bits

vlcsnap-2016-10-23-14h03m30s814John Middleton has been exceptional in his portrayal of Ashley’s decline for so long now but this episode really showcased his skill at subtle, nuanced performances. The close up shots and transitions were a fantastic technique to demonstrate what dementia does to the brain with the confusion of time and space, and Ashley’s grip on his world was shown through the smallest of details in John’s expressions.

vlcsnap-2016-10-23-14h04m59s304I’ve always had a huge soft spot for little Arthur Thomas and he proved why in this episode as he tried to help his dad Ashley remember the christening and get ready for it. Their hug and conversation, where Arthur wrote a reminder on Ashley’s arm, were genuinely moving and a real gut-punch of emotion. Later he grew frustrated and upset because Ashley had forgotten again, which made me realise just how crushing it’ll be when Ashley does forget his little boy. Ouch.

vlcsnap-2016-10-23-14h07m12s737Another moment which had me completely devastated was Ashley’s breakdown in the church. It was a scene which benefited greatly from the special cameras used, as the light came in through the stained-glass windows creating a beautiful glow on the scenes. Seeing a grown man cry because he had forgotten his daughter has to be one of the most heart-breaking moments of the whole week.

vlcsnap-2016-10-23-14h08m56s296As soon as Ashley got into that car, we all knew doom approached. Once Ashley joined the Hotten Bypass we began to see different shots of the stories we’d already seen and knew the moment had come for them all to merge. There was a genuine sense of anticipation and excitement as the tension grew and grew waiting for that huge moment to take place – and it was the opposite of disappointing when it finally happened.

vlcsnap-2016-10-23-14h14m15s699Emma and James’ final confrontation on the bridge in the mist, her still in the wedding dress, was a glorious moment. Gillian Kearney played Emma’s madness perfectly – the bitter, paranoid rage over Moira, her delusions that James still loved her – it all crackled with tension, particularly as the pieces had fallen into place and we knew James would end up falling off that bridge. Once he did and carnage ensued, Emma was a trembling mess rising from the mist to look down on the apocalyptic chain of events she’d started. Epic.

Stray Observations

  • Having the dodgy fuse in the Thomas household was a great way of having the alarm clock in Ashley’s room read the the wrong time and confuse him more – great little detail
  • The exciting moment as all the plots began to intertwine was great fun – particularly as we got to glimpse scenes from a different perspective alongside other stories
  • Ashley singing a hymn as he hit James – nice touch!
  • Those car flips looked genuinely brutal and it’s a miracle Pierce survived being battered from all sides!
  • Emma on the bridge scratching her legs in the middle of a breakdown is an image that will stay with me for a long time!