Quote of the Week (10-14 Feb 2020)

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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?

Fave or Fail? (3-7 Feb 2020)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! As Marlon’s hell continued, April ran away from home and a tragedy prompted Arthur’s shocking confession.

Faves

Pierce Gets Smarter and Scarier

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

Arthur’s Shock Confession

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

April’s Agony

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

Pete’s Lowkey Exit

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

Fails

Suddenly Smitten

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

Rotten Romance

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

Fave or Fail? (27-31 Jan 2020)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! A brilliant week of episodes following the aftermath of Graham’s murder, as Marlon was imprisoned and Pierce manipulated from afar.

Faves

Marlon Behind Bars

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h40m22s706Three cheers for the brilliant Mark Charnock this week whose emotive performances have impressed all week as Marlon’s world was turned upside down. With Pierce pulling the strings, Marlon’s chances of being found innocent seemed bleaker and bleaker and his expressions were haunted as he realised his fate. As the court decided he wouldn’t be granted bail, all Marlon’s hope had evaporated and this was particularly a struggle knowing how difficult April was finding life without him on the outside. Marlon was a broken man in his visits and his time spent with his useless solicitors as all evidence pointed against him. This is a great story to showcase Mark’s acting and it’s particularly effective as there’s nothing quite like a wrongly imprisoned character to galvanise viewers. The Free Marlon campaign begins now!

Rhona Turns Detective

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h39m17s835The aftermath to Graham’s death has been anything but a disappointment. I’d go as far to say this week was even better than last, as the big stories and secrets unravelled, we were treated to gripping developments and impressive performances. Having spent months being fairly cold and unlikeable, Rhona became a welcome key player this week as her grief over Graham didn’t restrict her to crying over her dead robot lover, but actually gave her a strong purpose we could get behind – finding the real culprit and saving Marlon. After coming face to face with Marlon, Rhona was convinced by his story and she sought to hunt the real killer. Zoe Henry’s performances made Rhona both sympathetic and heroic as she took on this dangerous quest. With viewers on edge about Pierces return, Rhona’s digging made the scenes even more stressful to watch as we anticipate the moment she discovers Pierce’s involvement. This story already appears to have undone the damage the writing did to Rhona’s character and now she’s back to being someone we’re really rooting for.

Lurking Pierce

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h38m33s208Emmerdale did a great job with Pierce this week. Rather than over use him and have him feature heavily, his appearances were sparse and teasing. Just enough to have us spooked and booing and hissing. This week we saw Pierce sending flowers to Rhona, deluded that they still have a future together. We saw his dingy apartment and his flat mate and there was of course that thrilling moment where we thought he might come face to face with Rhona. The good thing about this Pierce story is his meddling from afar means the audience is united in screaming at the TV for the characters to piece together the clues and that’s always fun. Pierce is a smart villain which makes his manipulation successful and the stakes much higher because the chances of him being caught seem slim. So far there’s been just enough menace and suspense to keep us guessing – here’s hoping it continues!

Secrets Uncovered

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h36m36s918Even though last week’s episodes revealed none of our suspects were in fact Graham’s killer, this week’s episodes had plenty of gripping aftermath and secrets to reveal. As Kim struggled with guilt and the fear of Al being found out, he managed to keep up the pretence that he was Graham’s killer. Charity and Jai’s secrets were revealed fairly swiftly but it wasn’t until later in the week we learnt Andrea killed Tip (sob!) and Jamie had slept with Belle. Jamie and Belle have been on most people’s radar for a while with their natural chemistry so learning they had got it on was a satisfying development and one that sets up plenty of interest as we move forward and they fight their feelings, especially with their families suspicious of each other lending itself to Romeo and Juliet comparisons. Here’s hoping for a slow burn of longing looks!

Sarah Confesses

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h35m09s761When Noah overheard Charity talking about Graham’s death, full of anger and tearful, he corrected her suspicions and revealed his recent hospitalisation had nothing to do with Graham and she should talk to Sarah instead. Horrified at what Sarah had been up to, Charity confronted her about the drugs. As Sarah tried to explain and revealed she’d turned Danny over to the police, the scene was incredibly well performed by Katie Hill and Emma Atkins. While this story has been lost a little in the intense Graham aftermath, the confrontation scene alone was worthy of praise and makes me hopeful that Charity and Sarah will once again get to work together with some challenging material in future.

Aftermath for Jai

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h35m56s674Jai had a troubling start to the week when he woke up in the garden of the Sharma house, his hands still covered in blood. When news spread of Graham’s death, Jai expected the worst, only to find that he had attacked Jimmy and the door of the van on the night in question. It was refreshing to see this story reject sensationalism by having Jai and Jimmy’s war reignited with Jimmy going to the police or being a bloody pulp. Instead the Kings, Jai and Laurel discussed the situation and Jai’s issues frankly and Jai checked himself into rehab straight away. With Jai’s relapse seeming quite rushed I have hopes his recovery will take its time and as much as I love them together, hopefully Laurel won’t rush to forgive him either.

Fail

Charity Makes the Same Mistakes

vlcsnap-2020-02-02-11h41m49s041As with all good murder mystery stories each character had a secret on the night of Graham’s murder. It was revealed this week that Charity and Ryan had stolen Graham’s money which, when revealed, caused a rift between her and Vanessa. After their wedding was cancelled, Charity seemed fairly dismissive of Vanessa’s hurt and that was even before she started lying about her whereabouts! No wonder Vanessa was pissed off! When Charity confessed that while Graham was getting murdered, she and Ryan were stealing Graham’s cash, Charity’s excuse of wanting payback and the money seemed a little tone deaf when a lack of honesty had caused her split with Vanessa not so long ago. While this rift provides the pair with an interesting conflict of loyalties, particularly as Vanessa wants to confess and support Rhona, if this familiar argument has arisen between them so soon after the last, how will it be resolved again in a satisfying way that stays true to their characters? We know, and Vanessa knows, Charity loves a scheme and it seems unlikely she will ever be law abiding and honest forever, but it would be interesting to see their conflicts exploring new ground, rather than Charity just repeating her mistakes when she’s promised otherwise.

Scene of the Week (27-31 Jan 2020)

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Actors Mark Charnock and Zoe Henry shone this week but it was the scene where Marlon begged Rhona to believe him as she visited him in prison was a real stand out. As Marlon pleaded with Rhona to recognise that he wasn’t capable of murdering Graham, he asked her to remember their history and see through her grief to acknowledge that he was being set up. As Rhona tearfully told him she wanted to believe him, Marlon was adamant that she was his only hope of finding the real killer now that he was being set up. This scene was a gripping showcase of two underrated actors at their very best and a highlight of a great week of episodes.

Fave or Fail? (20-24 Jan 2020)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! After a week of the suspects vowing revenge on Graham, he was murdered by Pierce Harris.

Faves

Shock Return

vlcsnap-2020-01-26-11h07m02s107It was a week of twists and mysteries but the biggest surprise of all was the return of Pierce Harris, one of the village’s most chilling and manipulative villains. Pierce’s return helped to answer a lot of Graham’s shady behaviour and was satisfying for those viewers who had speculated Pierce might be involved ever since we heard he was up for release from prison. This week showed Pierce is just as twisted as ever and he’s played brilliantly by Jonathan Wrather. Not only does Pierce’s murder of Graham set off a new chain of events for the characters who are within his circle, but it could also lead to some exciting scenes as Pierce homes in on his targets. The village has needed an engaging villain so I’m glad to have one, for a short while at least.

Creepy Cliff-hangers

vlcsnap-2020-01-26-11h03m28s509Every episode in the run up to Friday left us guessing, each ending with ominous scenes of our main suspects. There was Al standing over Graham’s leaf covered corpse as Kim sat at home pondering whether she did the right thing; Jai with bloodied knuckles falling over; Charity and Ryan lurking by the bridge talking about no regrets; a bloody and grief-stricken Andrea; a pensive Jamie in a car; and Marlon in the woods after arranging to meet Graham. All these scenes were well constructed and intriguing, giving us that must-see element. As the episodes played out, Andrea and Jamie’s motives were strongest and their chilling cliff-hanger was by far the most effective, so much so I almost wish they’d been the killers themselves! What the rest of these suspects did on that fateful night remains to be seen.

Emotional Motives

vlcsnap-2020-01-26-11h05m06s315I’m not sure anyone started the week believing Marlon or Charity Dingle would go as far as killing Graham, but helped by some emotive heart-to-hearts with their loved ones and showdowns with Graham, you could see how they might be pushed. This week had some particularly impressive performances. Earlier in the week Charity was broken hearted to learn how her son Ryan had felt so trapped and vulnerable when Graham locked him in a shed. When she confronted Graham, her explosive fury transformed to something far quieter and deeper thanks to Emma Atkin’s performance, as Graham viscously insulted her in the street. Marlon too was tipped over the edge, paranoid about Graham’s involvement in his children’s lives, but it was his scenes with Rhona that were particularly impressive as he cried about his life being a mess. Mark Charnock and Zoe Henry delivered the scene beautifully with all their characters’ history before our eyes, until Rhona’s reveal that she was taking Leo to France meant their relationship imploded once more. Of the weeks more memorable moments, it’s these character reactions that really stood out as highlights.

Jai and Laurel’s Relationship Breakdown

vlcsnap-2020-01-26-11h04m18s519Jai’s drug issues escalated this week to give him a (fairly implausible) reason for wanting Graham dead. The HOP opening day was an unbelievable shambles, however, the success of Jai’s episode came in the strength of his scenes with Laurel. Getting high to cope with his day, Jai took cocaine and then agreed to pick Dotty up, but crashed into Graham’s car before he had the chance. Seething Graham revealed all to Laurel and when Jai tried to evade the truth, she revealed her devastation that he would sink so low and might have endangered her child and was still prepared to lie about it. These were some nicely acted scenes and effective fall out, even if Jai’s relapse felt contrived. Now that Jai doesn’t need to be a suspect, hopefully this story will play to its strengths and stay character led.

Fail

Style Over Substance?

vlcsnap-2020-01-26-18h58m08s484Even though everyone wanted Graham dead, the final episode of the week revealed they weren’t all as involved in his demise as it first appeared. With the week’s structure it might have been a little anti-climactic and even confusing to have all these timelines with unanswered questions, particularly when Graham and Pierce’s fight dragged on and edged towards a hammy action film finale rather than a thrilling conclusion. How many last breaths did Graham need? While there were plenty of moments where the “same week, different perspectives” paid off with fun moments of spotting things in the background and stories crossing over, as the week wore on, was it a bit repetitive and style over substance? When Emmerdale steps outside the box, it’s always going to be divisive, but this week seemed a bit overloaded with gimmicks, when really its cast of impressive performers are just as gripping if they tell a linear story.

The Bigger Picture

vlcsnap-2020-01-26-11h06m28s849For some viewers, Pierce’s return to murder Graham has been a divisive decision. The experimental week which set up five suspects actually revealed none of them was responsible, but saw a return of Pierce Harris, Rhona’s ex-husband and rapist. Despite complaints that the stylistic decisions of the week ended up being gimmicky, perhaps there’s a deeper question about the purpose of Pierce.  Bringing back a truly evil villain has its positives (see above) but when it diminishes the conclusion of a successful past storyline – is it worth it? Viewers who witnessed Pierce’s tenure first time round would have seen a sense of justice and closure for Rhona and her final scenes with him gave us a sense of her empowerment and strength to move on. But with this latest twist, all this has been undone and Rhona once again has her life in tatters thanks to Pierce. If his abuse and rape of her wasn’t enough torture, he returns to murder the man she loves. When we’ve recently seen Victoria, another of the village’s rape survivors, hassled, stalked and her life made a misery by her rapist and his mother, it feels a bit of a grim choice to be tormenting Rhona in a similar way. There’s no question that Pierce’s return is bound to end in a grisly way, but will it be worth turning the story into something sensationalist when his original story with Rhona told a relatable and real-life story with a fitting end? Time will tell…

Fave or Fail? (13-17 Jan 2020)

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Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! As tension escalates in the run-up to Graham’s death, the mysteries keep coming.

Faves

Murder Mysteries

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

Closing a Chapter

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

Getting the Balance Right

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

Jai’s Relapse

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

Fail

One Contrivance Too Many

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

Scene of the Week (13-17 Jan 2020)

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