Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! New year but not so happy, as Matty faced a horrific attack and Dawn overdosed.
Matty’s New Year Hell
Showing Matty facing a transphobic attack, and his emotional and physical struggles in the fall-out, was original ground for Emmerdale this week, but a story worth telling. I love stories that dig deep into a character and this story did just that. Alongside Matty’s resilience, he leant on his support network and aired his pain in a series of emotive conversations. Enjoyable stories also use supportive characters in interesting ways and Cain was a welcome, refreshing presence in Matty’s life. It was also a smart move to link Matty’s desire for revenge with Cain’s PTSD over Joe’s death and use this as a bridge between stories. We’re used to seeing Matty as a happy, well-liked guy in the village so the attack really resonated and the fear in Ash Palmisciano’s performance was chill-inducing – hopefully an eye-opener for viewers ignorant to transphobia.
Tender Loving Care
Without question Bernice and Liam’s relationship is one of my Emmerdale favourites and this week was a perfect example as to why. After Bernice’s age obsession and amusing health kick (in which poor Liam faced a future of quinoa), she took things too far and got Kerry to inject her face. After hospitalisation her relationship with Liam was fragile after her stupid mistake but after a brief wobble he called her beautiful and perfect, wishing she would realise he loves her as she is. As the pair realised he’d said those three special words they shared a kiss. I’m a sucker for their sweet and funny romance and unlike other Dales couples, their love has blossomed into something that feels right for both characters. There’s enough personality and comedy in this partnership for it to last and last, and I would love to see them make a go of this troublesome big happy family!
I loved seeing Bernice’s family rally round her this week in the wake of her horrible allergic reaction. Not only did this give Samantha Giles something serious to get her teeth into, but I enjoyed all the conflicting personalities in the big family scenes. One of the week’s most surprising and touching moments was Nicola and Leanna bonding, as Nicola opened up to the meddling teen, in an effort to stop Leanna trying to split up Bernice and Liam, telling her how she’d devastated Rodney by trying to ruin his relationship. With Leanna’s own backstory making her more sympathetic this week, she shared a touching scene with Bernice as the two made progress in forming a bond. This week was full of great character moments and conversations and this story had plenty.
A Change in Cain
Several Emmerdale fans mentioned it this week – but it was a funny turn of events when viewers are sympathising with poor beaten-to-death Cain, because he was unable to use his trademark violence – and all because Cain thinks he killed Joe with one punch! We’re so used to seeing Cain pulping someone black and blue that seeing him be the target was shocking viewing. The change was quite a shock, and an interesting direction for him, but not one I hope will last. It’s not one of my favourite stories, particularly as the warmth from Cain and Moira’s marriage seems to have evaporated since she became a mob wife, but Jeff Hordley’s shaken performances have been well worth watching.
Not only has Dawn become an engaging and likeable new character in the village, she’s even brought Harriet to life. I don’t want Emmerdale to rush their almost mother-daughter reunion, and nor do I want it to be as on/off as Charity and Ryan’s is, but good scripts and poignant moments as the women shared their history have helped to flesh out Harriet’s character so she’s less of a cardboard vicar. Even as Harriet revealed their connection to others, I felt invested in her attachment to Dawn and her guilt and even though the box of memories has never been seen before, I could buy into Harriet’s recently written backstory as having always been an element of why she became a vicar. I’m surprised by how good this story is, but I don’t want a quick fix after years of resentment from Dawn.
- The Matty/Vic/Ellis supportive trio is one I hope lasts and lasts – I hope their romantic intentions don’t get in the way of this great threesome of friendship.
- Ryan and Dawn’s budding relationship is really endearing – don’t rush this Emmerdale!
- The final episode of 2018 had a really good New Year’s Eve feeling – lots of celebration, a heart-warming moment for Charity and Ryan and a horrible moment for Matty to kickstart a new story.
- I know its purpose was to trigger Bernice’s paranoia, but did Priya’s flirtation with Dr C have to be so embarrassingly over the top? All her porno moans reminded me of that terrible time she was at her worst with Pete. Ugh.
- Charity’s hypocrisy over Dawn might have been to protect Ryan but her lack of empathy felt particularly prickly after everything she went through last year. And did we really need a repeat of her on/off developments with Ryan? Just as things were looking up!
Mums at War
Billy’s arrival has already caused quite a stir but the fall-out is really missing the mark. The root of the problems is the history between Aaron and Billy, but instead of letting those characters resolve their past or prolong their rift, Emmerdale has opted for the least interesting path of all and let their whiny mothers fight it out, acting as if their sons are helpless children. Both Jessie and Chas’s personalities grate when they’re looking out for their “boys” and it’s more like mums at war in the playground, both blindly raging on. Headache inducing. Emmerdale has a good story here for Jessie’s desperation for Billy not to become a statistic, but instead of this driving the story it’s her insistence that Billy has done nothing wrong and that Aaron is also a thug. Billy might be trying to change, but us viewers saw the impact of Aaron’s prison bullying and it’s not easy to watch it being dismissed so easily by those who are Team Billy. Marlon too is in a tough position, but asking us to invest in his support of Billy against the Dingles requires a firm belief in the “true love” he has with Jessie and I don’t think I’m there yet. Billy? Aaron? Ellis – does this affect his job or his relationship with Vic? Robert – who uncharacteristically beat Billy? Nowhere to be seen. The really gritty, interesting dynamics here are just being passed over.