Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! The Bartons lost two of their own this week as Super Soap Week returned with comeuppance for Emma.
Emma Barton’s Breakdown
Gillian Kearney took centre stage in Emmerdale’s Super Soap Week as Emma Barton’s story came to an end and I am really going to miss her. As Emma battled with her conscience and ghosts in the form of James and Finn, Gillian gave incredible performances proving once and for all that Emma wasn’t just a villain but a deeply troubled and complex woman. Emma’s story this week veered into dark territories again, but I liked that her actions often echoed elements of past behaviour (such as keeping Finn captive like she did with James) and were never cartoonish or “bad” in the name of soap villainy. Her guilt, her desperation, her love for her family and her religious convictions made her into a fascinating, sometimes even sympathetic, character and while I wasn’t totally satisfied with the resolution, I’ve loved the journey of watching a character as multi-layered as Emma.
The Big Showdown
Monday and Tuesday’s big episodes were my favourite of the week as two powerful women came to blows when Emma revealed the truth about James’s death to her nemesis, Moira. Both Natalie J Robb and Gillian Kearney gave stellar performances during the confrontation which made the fire in the barn scenes all the more thrilling and intense. The claustrophobia and lighting in the barn added to the scenes of peril and also made the whole event feel more cinematic, much last like year’s big motorway crash. I almost wished the barn scenes could have played out longer as the big set piece of the week, and end on a pyrotechnic high.
Okay, so it’s probably the plot twist we all saw coming, but Moira got a huge shock this week as she gave birth to a baby boy right in the middle of Emma’s carnage. We’ve been waiting since before Christmas for this revelation and it didn’t disappoint, made even more exciting by the fact Moira’s waters broke right in the middle of the huge barn fire with only killer Emma on-hand to help. With the birth being totally unexpected and the father in question (though, if you read spoilers you’ll know who the daddy is!) then the fallout is sure to be long-lasting, giving Natalie J Robb a chance for some really gritty drama again. Hooray! She’s been far too underused this year as they attempted to keep the pregnancy a secret and I’m looking forward to seeing how the shock of this new child impacts upon her relationships too.
Poor Finn Barton lost his life this week after being caught in the crossfire of his mother’s unhinged actions. While the Bartons were preoccupied by Emma’s worrying behaviour and Moira’s pregnancy, it was left to Finn’s friends to really mourn him. In comparison to the rest of his family, aside from a spot of ill-advised stalking, Finn had a fairly tame and good-intentioned life (just don’t ask Kasim) so it’s obvious that his death would be the event to cause the most upset in Emmerdale. While I felt the death itself was a little rushed, Tracy and Eric’s emotional response gave his death the impact and heart it warranted, particularly as they talked about Finn and Val living it up in the afterlife together. Finn’s a loss to the village and the show as his nerdy comedy was a welcome relief amongst his brothers’ testosterone aggression and Joe Gill proved himself to be a great actor when faced with the more challenging material of late. It’s hard to say how the Barton boys will move on now that their family has become so fractured but it’s sure to be a lot less fun now that Finn’s gone.
The Final Fall
Sure Emma’s death was soap karma and echoed a very similar fate to her husband, James, but overall it was a disappointment for me. While it’s true we’re all in the dark about how exactly she came to die (fall, pushed, suicide?) the final scenes of her fall were choppy and marred by some slightly dubious special effects. Emmerdale can do arty now and again but Emma’s fall just looked a little amateurish and took away from what had been a thrilling and well-acted week for her. Perhaps when we get the full story of Emma’s final moments I’ll change my mind but for such a significant character, her death seemed like a bit of a non-event.
Last week’s Super Soap Week saw two days in real time stretched out over six episodes so perhaps it was only natural that this week’s events would feel chaotic. While the fast pace was high octane and thrilling in the first few episodes, later in the week characters began flitting from place to place in record time and it left certain aspects of the drama feeling rushed. Of course, there’s still an element of secrecy surrounding what really happened to Emma so some of the awkward pacing has reason but I can’t help but feel they tried to cram too much into the week’s events. Aspects such as Emma’s kidnap of the baby, Moira fleeing hospital and grabbing her gun, Adam getting arrested, all seemed like too much in a short space of time, and left some of the drama unable to breathe. Finn’s death was overshadowed by Emma’s disappearing act and because of this it felt like his brothers weren’t given ample screentime to let it have any impact. When we were losing two big characters – two from the same family too – in such a short space of time, it needed a less is more approach. Perhaps next year we need to extend this Super Soap Week to a fortnight, just to fit everything in!