To ensure viewers didn’t miss out when Emmerdale episodes ran out, the production team made a bold decision to make a special set of six episodes. These special ‘lockdown episodes’, featuring very reduced cast and crew, had strict measures in place and tried to reflect the strange times we are experiencing during COVID19 and were all produced, written and shot in an impressive turn around.
Unsurprisingly, these different episodes were divisive, with some viewers not enjoying the change of pace but others embracing the show’s efforts to entertain us even in these challenging times. Rather than being ‘boring’ or ‘slow’, the episodes felt like mini plays, a back-to-basics look at the nuts and bolts of what soaps should be. Far from the stunt filled, plot centred, sometimes unrealistic, heightened drama of the soaps we’re used to, it was a return to character-led writing, simpler set-ups and a welcome focus on relationships and deeper emotions. More of this style of writing please!!
For someone like me who loves when regular Emmerdale takes the time to delve deep into characterisation, these special episodes were a treat and a resounding success. Here’s a brief look at the highlights of each episode.
Lydia and Sam
Sam: Good evening, slash, only just afternoon. FURLOUGHED! FURLOUGHED!
- Lydia and Sam have become the new head of the Dingles at Wishing Well, so it seemed only right that they were the first lockdown episode – and theirs was one of my favourites, as Sam tried to keep Lydia shielded at home, worried as she hasn’t had her Huntington’s test.
- At first, the novelty was a little hard to get used to – mentions of real-world phrases and aspects of the lockdown that had become so familiar to us felt weird (furlough, shielding, Click and Collect) – but it ended up being a comfort to have our favourite Emmerdale characters thrown into situations like our own. Some viewers found it a little too close to home, but I appreciated how relatable it was, and a far cry from some of the more outlandish soap we can get a bit fatigued by (Malone, anyone?).
- One challenge the cast and crew had to overcome was filming with social distancing. This was the most difficult when episodes featured onscreen couples who couldn’t get physically near, but filming is going to look like this for the foreseeable future so it’s something we’ll just have to get used to. Sure, there were a few moments where it was noticeable, but unless you’re a nitpicker, it was easy to get engrossed in the script and performances and overlook the distance.
- While newlyweds Sam and Lydia enjoyed some lighter moments in their episode (Sam in his hazmat suit was a real highlight) we also got to revisit Lydia’s Huntington’s storyline and even Sam got to talk about his hopes and dreams. Often, smaller character moments like these get lost under the big dramatic stories so it was a welcome change of pace. For characters like Sam and Lydia, it strengthened their relationship and added something a little extra to their characters which hopefully might inspire future stories.
Aaron and Cain
Cain: You look like a Weetabix!
- Much like Lydia and Sam’s episode, Aaron and Cain’s episode was sprinkled with some fun comedic moments – such as their early argument about Monopoly and the wearing of sheet masks, but their episode also had a dramatic dilemma at its heart as Cain wouldn’t talk about Moira and hid a letter from Robert, worried Aaron would go off the rails again.
- Cain and Aaron’s gruff, familial relationship is a fan favourite one, possibly because the two Dingles have a lot in common. This episode also proved how well Jeff Hordley and Danny Miller work together on screen as their characters rubbed each other up the wrong way. Even though Cain’s been busy using The Mill as a dodgy den while working with Malone, hopefully this episode might inspire some more clashing domestic Aaron and Cain scenes at home.
- While Cain dealt with his lingering feelings towards Moira, it gave hopeful Coira fans the tease that things aren’t really over – and with any luck after the audience response will convince the powers that be that Cain and Moira are meant to reunite…
- For Aaron, the episode was a nicely crafted bit of closure as he received a letter from Robert explaining his difficult decision to end their marriage. The letter had a lot of build up and conflict as Cain struggled to remember where he put it, giving the episode its drama, however the choppy style of the episode meant Aaron’s response to the letter felt a little rushed. Despite this, it seemed like a good attempt to close that chapter of Aaron’s life, while staying true to the significance of their relationship after so many years together.
Vinny and Mandy
Mandy: I thought we could do a duet, right? And stick it on that FlipFlop.
- Vinny and Mandy were one of the few lockdown episode participants to be slap-bang in the middle of an unresolved plot when filming paused, and they still had many Paul-shaped tensions to deal with as they spent their lockdown in the salon (one of the most contrived locations the writers had to make work!).
- Paul’s appearance and disappearance was the main tension Mandy and Vinny had between them, but this gave the pair of them time to talk about their past which was nice for us viewers who still don’t really know all that much about Vinny, and Mandy’s time away from the village. Although it feels like we haven’t heard the full story about Paul, this episode gave us more backstory about his abandonment of Mandy.
- Vinny has often felt a little bit like a Finn Barton replacement, but it was nice to use this episode to explore his character a little more and for us to see how close he and Mandy are.
- As Mandy questioned whether Vinny wanted to find his birth mum, she opened up with a tragic secret of her own, explaining why Vinny has been so precious to her. Mandy’s chaotic humour has always been fun, but Lisa Riley’s strength is also in emotional scenes, and the moment where she shared her traumatic miscarriage and infertility secret with Vinny was really powerful. It was tricky for this scene to not include Vinny comforting Mandy and the obvious moment was cut away from, but the emotional weight of this moment suffered a little from the choppy structure of the episode. I’m glad they’re giving Mandy something meatier to work with, I only hope that, with so many women in the village suffering from tragic motherhood/birthing stories, she realises that her worth isn’t centred around her ability to be a biological mother – and Lydia would be a good person to help with this.
Nicola and Jimmy
Jimmy: Jai’s always the one that’s putting those picture, whatchamacall-its. GIFs! That’s the one. Jai! You’re a middle-aged man, for crying out loud – grow up!
- I had high hopes for Nicola and Jimmy’s episode, being that I think they’re one of Emmerdale best couples – and most underused. It seemed as if Twitter agreed as many viewers cited this episode of their favourite lockdown of the time! As the Kings (with invisible kids) moved into Laurel’s to shield Rodney, Nicola aired her frustrations with life and Jimmy bore the brunt.
- Two of the challenges with this episode were that in reality, the King household would be chaos – homeschooling, Nicola’s council work and Jimmy trying to continue working – but the Emmerdale version, for obvious reasons, was a lot quieter. Secondly, we know Jimmy and Nicola are lovers and fighters and when they bicker, they usually make it up with snogging and role play. With that out of the picture, some of their arguments hit a little harder and felt a bit more forced, without the amusing make-up sessions.
- Still there was plenty of laughs in this episode – the failed wine delivery, group chats, the commentary and bitchy opinions on other villagers, keeping the world of Emmerdale alive even though we couldn’t check in with these characters ourselves. The odd moment where we heard their thoughts was a strange misstep in an otherwise entertaining episode of marital strife.
- A big plus of this episode was an uninterrupted episode of Emmerdale’s most underrated characters. With Nicola eyeing up a new work project, I really hope this means the Kings might finally get the story and the screentime they deserve. They are wasted.
Paddy and Chas
Paddy: Do you know what I’m going to do next time? I’m gonna get a cattle prod: TWO METRES!!
- Unpopular opinion alert: I think Chas and Paddy are better as friends – so I was a little apprehensive for a full episode of just the two of them, so I was glad their lockdown episode touched on a lot of the niggles I have with their relationship. As Chas found life under lockdown difficult, Paddy wanted to get things back on track, naive to Chas’s complicated feelings.
- One aspect of the lockdown episodes that I really enjoyed was how grounded they were in real-world struggles. We all love a bit of escapism, but often worries about money and jobs only crop up in a stories removed from real world struggles. (For example, you never hear Jimmy wondering how Brexit will impact the haulage business, do you?). But for Chas, the pub being shut – and their rival the Malt Shovel doing takeaways – made her worry for the future of her livelihood. This wasn’t just about her identity but about how this pandemic will impact upon people’s businesses. This was a good writing decision and an element I’d like to see seep into regular episodes more often.
- Chas’s struggles weren’t just about the pub, but also a sense that she’d lost track of who she was. While this worry also cropped up for Nicola, Chas’s felt more organic as her personality seems to have lost her spark lately. Since the Grace story, the writing for Chas has reduced her to some sort of self-righteous mother figure and nagging wife against Paddy the hapless fool. We rarely see her anywhere else besides the bar or the backroom and the Chas we know and love is a lot more than this! I’m hopeful that this recognition in the episode might lead Chas down a more interesting path post-lockdown.
- Her relationship with Paddy also seems to have hit a road-block. Perhaps it was purely for some tension in the episode, but this coupling does seem to have stifled them both, making their characters a bit stuck. Could this lockdown episode be hinting at a split? I think I’d prefer something new for both of them.
Marlon, Al and Ellis
Al: You’re too tall! I can hear your arms and legs flapping through the air!
- I’ll be honest, Marlon’s lockdown episode with Al and Ellis was the episode I wasn’t that excited about, but one that surprised me in a good way. Since the recast Ellis has been written as pretty dull and Al’s characterisation after stirring things between Jessie and Marlon had been a bit flat too so this was a good chance to delve deeper into their dynamic. The stage was set for maximum conflict as Ellis invited Al to stay with him and Marlon.
- One drawback of this lockdown episode was that it felt a bit contrived to have Marlon living at Debbie’s place and the whole of Charity and Vanessa’s brood elsewhere, but the reasoning just about worked.
- It was an interesting spin to have Marlon wary that he had the virus, as I’m sure a lot of viewers panicked about a cough in the early days in lockdown. The direct references to things like the NHS rainbow and clap for carers was a little cheesy in this episode, as it had been in others, but it worked when Marlon used it just to be passive aggressive towards Al.
- As with all the episodes, the comedy was a little hit and miss, but this was balanced with Marlon finding it hard to be away from the kids and Al snapping when working from home became just too difficult with the distractions (been there!).
- This episode worked wonders for Al, fleshing him out with an emotive backstory and making him seem far more layered as a character. He’s often been written off as a bit dull, but this episode proved there’s potential there, if the writing is good. As he and Marlon came to some sort of truce I could actually see them as sort of reluctant, antagonising friends – it could be fun.
The Woolie Weekly’s regular recaps return every fortnight.
This lovely scene between Marlon and Rhona after the christenings was a touching follow-up to last week’s scene where the two talked of their recent troubles and Rhona planted a kiss on Marlon. Embarrassed Rhona wanted to forget about it, but Marlon wanted to clear the air, knowing the pair of them had suffered enough without dwelling on a mistake. Their ill advised kiss happened at a time when they were both vulnerable and seeking comfort but it was good the characters recognised this and how easy it would be to slip back into a relationship that neither wanted. I liked the way it avoided going down the predictable route, instead focusing on the characters’ history and friendship. Marlon’s hug offer then cheeky “Kiss?” was the perfect light-hearted way to lift the moment and showed off Mark Charnock and Zoe Henry’s lovely chemistry. Could Marlon and Rhona be revisited in future? Maybe. I probably wouldn’t be against it. But for now, this was a welcome and uplifting line drawn.
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 Vanessa underwent surgery as part of her cancer treatment and Marlon suffered a heart attack.
Vanessa Starts Treatment
Vanessa went under the knife this week in the first stage of her cancer treatment with her loved ones right by her side. While it’s difficult to watch a health storyline in current real world circumstances, so far Vanessa’s storyline has been handled really well showing the struggle with symptoms and the reality of life with bowel cancer. As Vanessa had to face the difficult reality of her future she wrote a will and visited a chemo ward. Her sisterly relationship with Tracy continues to be touching, but scenes with Charity this week were a real highlight as the writing found the perfect balance of humour and love in difficult times.
Marlon’s Health Terror
Marlon suffered a shock heart attack this week as his trauma following prison has made both his mental and physical health reach breaking point. After taking a drive with Paddy, Marlon was rushed to hospital after experiencing pain in his arm and chest. Later, an emotional Marlon opened up to Rhona expressing how he felt his life was in tatters. With heartfelt dialogue and tender performances between Mark Charnock and Zoe Henry these were moving and authentic feeling moments between characters with a lot of history and who have suffered greatly in recent months. Even though the scenes were filmed before the world’s pandemic crisis, the dialogue felt very apt about a better future ahead meaning these scenes were even more poignant.
Arthur’s Bullying Continues
The divisive Arthur and Archie plot continued this week after his cruel behaviour was revealed to everyone last week. Following from last week, Arthur was under the spotlight still, forced to apologise to Nicola and the Kings. But having been falsely accused last week when Archie hurt himself, he decided to get his own back and plant Sandy’s smashed ship in a bottle among Archie’s belongings. The family cottoned on quickly but despite an uneasy truce, Arthur still looks set on revenge for Archie’s lies. This plot has it flaws and while many are sad to see a sweet boy like Arthur turn into a bully, it’s a complicated family situation and the story benefits from some great performances at the heart of it. It’s unclear how this story will pan out but I hope soon the focus will shift to more attention on the psychology of Arthur’s problems and getting him help.
Vinny’s Backstory Secret
This week we finally got to learn more about elusive Vinny, as he and Mandy opened up to the Dingles about his past. While it was very welcome to hear more about his backstory and give both him and Mandy some deeper, emotional material, the secrets of Vinny’s past fell a little flat. When he and Mandy first arrived it seemed like the writing was suggesting something much more intriguing about Vinny’s identity, with some viewers even speculating his parentage was linked to characters in the village. With both Vinny and Mandy desperate to keep it hush hush and not reveal that he wasn’t a “real” Dingle, surely there had to be some big reason? Well, this week with Mandy revealing Vinny’s sad backstory, they explained they felt they couldn’t admit Vinny wasn’t a Dingle by blood because he wouldn’t be accepted. Huh? This is the same family who gave Lachlan the Dingle welly to drink from and treated him as part of the family! This angst of his acceptance just didn’t ring true and was a disappointingly flat revelation and not the juicy secret that had been hinted at.
Andrea Confronts Kim
Andrea seemed as if she’d lost a few brain cells this week as she trusted a complete stranger to help her bring down Kim. With Andrea desperate to prove Kim’s involvement in Graham’s death, thus ensuring she had custody of Millie, she was blinded in her futile mission, not realising Kim was scheming behind her back. Andrea’s grand plan was, of course, all a set up. Kim plotting could have been entertaining but Andrea and Jamie’s repetitive arguments, forgiveness and rejecting of Kim feels like a never ending story we’ve seen time and time again. The stakes are low in this story because we know Jamie and Kim will be back living as mother and son again soon enough (we’ve seen this fall out before!), and Andrea and Jamie are hardly the couple we care about when plenty of viewers prefer Jamie with Belle! Individually these characters have the potential to be part of engaging stories but the merry-go-round with and against Kim isn’t doing them any favours.
Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Kim incurred the wrath of several villagers over Graham’s funeral and DI Malone arrived and threatened Will.
Kim’s Many Layers
It was another week where Kim shone, delivering both campy soap bitch antagonism in the village, as well as showing us her heart. Although I always struggled to buy into her bizarre relationship with Graham when he was alive, her grief this week, combined with her guilt about planning to have him killed, felt the most believable she had ever been about her complicated feelings for him. It’s this type of balance that was missing in her initial return in 2018 and it finally feels like the show has remembered that beyond the pantomime Kim enjoys, there’s a heart in there, however steely. There also continues to be something enjoyable about the way she insults, riles and antagonises various members of the village and does so without giving a f. Despite her fall out with Rhona, I’d still like to see them re-find a kinship because a war over who knew Graham more is tedious when he was a character who changed more than the weather.
I’m going to be a little cautious about singing a newcomer’s praises so soon, because newbies have recently started strong and then petered out, but I was excited by DI Malone’s arrival week. He’s started on solid ground, charismatic and wicked, subtly making dangerous threats and being generally ominous. There’s also another intriguing side to him because he’s a crooked cop, meaning he knows how to put on a good performance and the stakes are high. He already knows Harriet and his police role means he has a frightening level of power and the ability to get involved with a number of villagers. Multiple connections means his character has potential to go in a number of directions and although Will might not be the most engaging character now, a strong antagonist could help. On paper Malone has everything to be the show’s next big villain, let’s hope he lives up to that potential!
Vanessa’s story continued this week as she stayed firm in her wish to keep her cancer secret. Despite Charity trying to persuade her otherwise, finding it hard herself to maintain a facade of strength, Vanessa was adamant. There were some strong scenes as Vanessa reflected an attitude which I’m certain many cancer survivors could relate to – that she didn’t want the cancer to become her identity or be victimised. So far this story has done a great job at subtly showing both the physical symptoms but also the psychological and emotional. It’s only a matter of time before more people know about Vanessa’s situation, but I hope we continue to get this intimate focus on Vanessa’s feelings as it’s a refreshing change to see her central in a story.
It was another battle of words this week as Andrea and Jamie had another boring spat over Kim’s role in Graham’s death and Millie’s custody. Does anyone really care about their marriage? They’ve always been a weird match and when their arguments just result in the same circular row about Kim, with Jamie whinging for England and changing his mind about his mother every five minutes, it’s impossible to believe they were ever happy together. The stakes aren’t exactly high, especially when neither of them have had any meaningful scenes with Millie lately and most viewers seem to prefer Jamie’s chemistry with Belle far more than with Andrea. Andrea’s quest for truth also struggled with the same pointlessness of Marlon’s story this week. Pierce killed Graham, we all know it now and he’s been locked away. So why the angsting over what Kim planned when she actually had no involvement in his death? Andrea won’t get anywhere with proving the truth. Surely if Andrea wants real dirt on Kim, she’d be better off digging up the past!
Another Dingle War
Did anyone else suffer from a headache this week with all that shouting? The aftermath of Graham’s murder rumbled on this week when Rhona, for contrived reasons, told Marlon about Charity and Ryan and the stolen money. With Marlon already in a bad place after prison and seeing the effect on April, this sent him over the edge and there was an all out war amongst the Dingles. Considering the efforts the family had put into the Free Marlon campaign, Marlon disowning everyone and ranting seemed disingenuous and overblown. Sure, he suffered inside and was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, but the story would have benefited more from showing the intensity of his suffering inside or even giving April a harder time with the bullying to show us how badly Marlon was damaged from his experience. The impact has been lost somewhat meaning his behaviour has felt over the top and hard to empathise with, even when we acknowledge the wrong behaviour of his loved ones. After all, the real enemy here was Pierce and even coming clean about the stolen money probably would have done little to help Marlon considering the evidence against him, so the time spent this week arguing about Graham’s murder felt overblown when the killer has been found and is back in prison. The reason for the blame seem pretty tenuous. Dingle wars also feel a little tiresome when they’re frequent and resolved with little consequence not long after. The whole family is hypocritical and full of dodgy behaviour, it’s about time they gave the “code” a rest. Perhaps Marlon will have an epiphany and acknowledge the real reason he is shutting everyone out is because he can’t unleash his fury at the real perpetrator Pierce, but Pierce seems to have been all but forgotten about so we live in hope…
The Woolie Weekly will be taking a week’s break. See you again for another week’s highlights on Sunday 22 March.
Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! Rhona bravely took down Pierce in their final showdown and Vanessa revealed her diagnosis to Charity.
The Big Showdown
Rhona came face to face with Pierce this week in an hour long episode that didn’t disappoint. Read below for reasons why this episode was so gripping overall, but a special mention has to go to the incredible scenes between Rhona and Pierce themselves. From the moment Rhona stepped into Mulberry, nerves were shot, especially the chilling moment Pierce searched Rhona for any recording devices. Zoe Henry delivered exceptional performances as Rhona lived through her terror, conscious of Vanessa and Johnny’s plight too. Later, she was even more impressive as Rhona tried to play Pierce and pretend they just needed a good meal before leaving. As Rhona reminisced about their relationship, you could still sense her unease as she put on a good show. Rhona’s bravery was powerful to watch and the gripping dynamic between Zoe Henry and Jonathan Wrather meant it was hard to look away. Some of Emmerdale’s best work this year.
Vanessa’s New Agony
There’s one story that we’re going to be talking about for months and has the potential to be huge come awards season and that’s the progress of Vanessa’s cancer. I’m thrilled Michelle Hardwick is getting the opportunity to showcase her stellar acting talents in this emotional storyline. This week, after finally being freed from Pierce’s clutches, Vanessa had to face her difficult journey ahead. There were tearful scenes as Vanessa hid her secret until finally she was able to tell Charity. Understandably Charity struggled with the news and her guilt at having not been concerned about Vanessa’s disappearance and she began to distance herself. Not only does this offer Emmerdale the chance to explore a serious real world health issue and all its realistic symptoms and side effects but it also brings a new challenge to test Vanity instead of the familiar stories of Charity messing up. This story has potential to explore Vanessa as a character in her own right, her fears of losing Johnny and step forward to be the lead in a storyline. It’s had a brilliant, emotional start and I’m sure it’ll be one of 2020’s highlights.
I’ve already talked about how good the Rhona and Pierce showdown was, but overall, Tuesday’s hour long special had everything you could want in a soap. Vanessa’s continued kidnapped carried on being anxiety-inducing, especially when Pierce as good as admitted she’d had her use. Similarly the stakes were high when we saw that poor Johnny was in a bad way. There was no second guessing in this episode as after Kim interrupted and was tied up herself, the episode had us hooked. Outside armed police seemed frustratingly slow with their drones and thermal detection but it was all edge of your seat stuff. I loved the way Rhona’s cleverly live-streamed Pierce’s confession in a brilliantly unexpected move, and I also enjoyed the surprise use of tranquiliser to take Pierce down. Upstairs, we lived through the horror with Kim and Vanessa but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Kim in a new light and the way she tried to get Vanessa to concentrate and survive. All round this was a fantastic episode and even though it was double the length of a normal episode, I didn’t want it to end.
With Pierce’s arrest, finally came some good news for Marlon as it was revealed to him he’d be released from prison. When Marlon got the news, Mark Charnock’s acting was excellent as he slowly dealt with this life changing moment. It wasn’t all joy though as after his release it was a struggle to return to normality and Marlon broke down after the ill advised party. He also shouted at Mandy after she got the press involved and had some making up to April to do. It seems like Marlon’s return to the village might not be as straight forward as he first thought and although it would be good to see back the happier Marlon we love, I’m glad we’re seeing the aftermath of his traumatic time locked up for a crime he was innocent of.
- There were so many stand out single scenes this week outside of the ones mentioned above it’s hard to mention them all in my faves. Marlon and April, April and Rhona, Chas and Charity, Vanessa and Rhona. All wonderful heart to hearts between characters with history together. Vulnerable, well acted and well performed – character focused drama at its best
- If it weren’t for Nate, Cain and Cara would be really watchable. Their chemistry means when they reminisce, their history feels palpable
- There was more progress on the Cain and Moira front this week as Moira bigged Cain up to Cara only for him to overhear. Later in a dialogue free scene Moira removed her wedding ring in a moment that was the first real tender moment where we saw Moira’s regret. It worked well and certainly made me pine for what they’ve lost
- Okay, it would have never happened in real life but that moment Marlon was released and Pierce arrived at the prison and they locked eyes was brilliant. I got chills.
- I felt for Mandy this week as she broke down feeling useless in Marlon’s campaign and it was nice to see Lisa Riley play something emotional and not just loud mouthed and comedic
Calm After the Storm?
Life for a soap character moves fast. Just look at Nate. Shot one minute and out of hospital the next. However the aftermath for Rhona after Pierce’s return this week was a little lacking. The climax of his return was perfect, thrilling viewing but watching Rhona’s scenes a few days on you’d be hard pushed to believe she’d suffered any sort of trauma. Both Marlon and Vanessa are dealing with their new ordeals but mentions of Pierce are thin on the ground. The village barely blinked to hear he was out of prison and had caused so much misery. Rhona herself has now moved on to warring with Kim over Graham’s funeral and has hardly had a look in when it comes to her own trauma. I was cautious that this return might make Rhona suffer but so far it feels jarringly opposite – the man who raped her and made her life hell, returned, murdered her boyfriend and held her best friend hostage. Surely this should have sent Rhona back to a dark place? It feels a bit of a waste of Pierce’s return if there is no real immediate fall out for Rhona and she slots right back into petty squabbles with Kim over Graham (who cares?). It feels particularly disappointing when the original ending to the Pierce and Rhona story was so empowering and uplifting for Rhona’s character. This new conclusion in the end didn’t quite work as well.
This week we saw another taxi exit as Doug made a hasty decision to uproot his whole life and move to Australia having only arrived home the day before. Was the jet lag messing with his head or what? Yes, Doug was a moany old so-and-so, interfering, grumpy and the rest but he was unique in the village with a distinct personality. There aren’t many older villagers left and Doug brought variety, working well with a range of characters and particularly troubled youngsters like Gerry and Liv. I can’t help but feel, even if Doug wasn’t a favourite, he was part of the furniture and it’s a shame to lose him from the fabric of the village. There isn’t anyone else quiet like Doug and it’s a shame his rushed exit was so lacklustre. Sure, no one expected explosions or dramatic hi-jinx but having been in the show for so long, Doug deserved a better send off. He didn’t even get a final pint in the Woolie.
Marlon: So nice to be able to smile at someone without having a “like me, please don’t kill me” connotation. I just keep saying Cain’s name in a loud braggy way.
Rhona: What’s it like being so well connected?
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.
Pierce Gets Smarter and Scarier
Pierce 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
The 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.
Another 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
This 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.
For 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!
In 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.
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.
Marlon Behind Bars
Three 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
The 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.
Emmerdale 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!
Even 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!
When 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
Jai 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.
Charity Makes the Same Mistakes
As 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.