Sunday, September 18, 2016

EastEnders Review - Friday 16.09.2016

This was a very mediocre, very predictable, and in some ways very offensive episode.

Emotional Blackmail and the Friend You Can Never Trust. I hope, when all this ridiculous excuse for a storyline is finished, that Denise at least acknowledges what a totally untrustworthy gossip her so-called best mate, Carmel, is. But then, again, as I said, Denise showed a special kind of stupidity in confiding to a drunken Carmel of her plans to have the baby adopted. You would have thought she'd have learned from having sworn Carmel to secrecy about the pregnancy, itself, only to have her toddle right over to "Kushy" and tell him.

Carmel and Denise tonight were still proof of how this show is still all over the place and just as inconsistent as under DTC. Earlier this week, it was actually Carmel, who was talking good hard common sense about Denise's predicament with this baby. It was neither a crime nor a sin to consider abortion - and it wasn't too late, either. Now, she's out at the crack of dawn to reprimand Honey about the boxes outside The Minute Mart, and when she happens to spy Kim there, she doesn't let dust fall before she warns her that Denise is planning on having the baby adopted.

That's not someone who's genuinely alarmed and concerned about this fact - although, really, no one should be alarmed or concerned about this at all, because it's no one's business but Denise's; it's just some snide, little immature bitch of a woman who likes to stir shit amongst other people and when confronted, widen her eyes and protest that she was only trying to help Denise in her situation.

As more and more people begin to learn of Denise's pregnancy - vis-a-vis Whitney and Lee having run into her and Kim at the scan - so from the onset, Kim begins a campaign of sustained emotional blackmail, trying to make Denise feel guilty about deciding to give her baby up for adoption. Again, Denise's decision shows a special kind of stupidity.

She was always going to get that level of emotional blackmail from Kim over something like this. Remember the grief Robbie Jackson gave Sonia when she was sixteen and deciding to give Chloe/Rebecca up for adoption? Her reasons were twofold - that she wanted the child to have a better start in life than she had, in a situation with a loving mother and father; and so she could pursue her dream of going to nursing school. Yet Robbie persisted in nagging her about keeping the baby, reminding her that their mother "got by" having four children and no husband to sustain her. I also remember Sonia's powerful answer - that she didn't simply want to "get by." He even resorted to getting Carol to telephone her and ended with Carol slamming the phone down on Sonia.

Denise's reasons for not wanting to keep the baby are varied and are her own - and nothing to do with Kim. Kim plays the tired old sin line that anyone who gives a child up for adoption is betraying the child, giving away flesh and blood, failing family by sending a child off to be raised by strangers - ne'mind, that those "strangers" might be good, warm and loving people who would love the bones of that child as if he or she were their own.

Denise might use the rationale that she had raised her children, that they had gone and she was now entitled to a bit of "me" time, where she could pursue some interests of her own - like completing a GCSE course. (Someone as obtuse as Kim would only interpret that as giving up a child in order to get an education). But then, what has Kim ever accomplished in her life? Absolutely nothing. 

She's never achieved anything unless it was off the back of a man. Through Dexter, her ex, she got a restaurant, where he did most of the work; and through Vincent, she's got a nice home. Denise feels that at 47, it's not the time to be bringing a child into her life. She might also use the line of reasoning with Patrick that someone else would have far more to offer this child than she does, but the truth behind her reluctance to keep this child is simply because it's Phil Mitchell's child.

She hates Phil. And she's having the baby of a man she hates ... just as Libby was doing until she had an abortion. She could no longer have and raise that child - even though she also used the tempered argument that the baby didn't ask to be conceived and born - than Libby could have or would have done, but as long as she maintains this pregnancy in wait for having the child adopted, Kim is going to pursue her guilt tripping. This is sort of a kind of hypocrisy and payback for all the grief she gave Libby for the decision she made, but then, as she hissed at Kim - adoption and abortion are two different things.

But wait a minute ... it wasn't all that long ago that Denise had hunkered down to the idea of adopting and raising Jordan Johnson's son JJ. It broke her heart to give the child back to his mother, and then Libby rocked up, having an abortion, and Denise became the bully of all bullies in harassing her to keep the child. It was because of Libby's decision, after she left, that Denise threw herself a pity party at The Albert and drank herself silly enough with Phil Mitchell to crawl into bed with him.

All because she was lonely and wanted a child in her life. 

Well, be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

At least, Patrick wasn't playing judge and jury in this situation. He counselled her that whatever she decided to do, he'd stand by her decision.

The real shock story comes from Kim, but not about her brilliant idea to adopt and raise Denise's child. There's another strand of hypocrisy in Kim's and Vincent's dynamic regarding this. Kim pointed it out to a reluctant Vincent. Vincent presented his decision to father a child with Donna as a fait accompli, something that wasn't open to discussion with his wife and never considering the repercussions such a decision would have on her and their child, because of Donna's needs and the demands on his time for any child the two of them might have. Yet Kim never considered discussing this plan of action of hers with Vincent.

Instead, she fixed a romantic dinner for two and hoped to spring this decision on him when he was sufficiently softened by wine or sex not to argue with her delusions. Of course, there's another reason why Vincent wants no part of this set-up, and that's because he was present at The Albert that night when Denise and Phil were drinking - she stole a bottle of whiskey from under the bar, when he refused to serve either of them - and Vincent saw her leave with Phil. The moment she mentioned to Patrick, Kim and Vincent that she was drunk when the baby was conceived, Vincent knew exactly who the father was.

But the shocker wasn't Kim's decision to adopt Denise's child, it was how utterly emasculated Vincent has become. He was adamant that he was having none of this malarkey, yet he allowed himself to be dragged along to Denise's house with Kim (and where was Pearl, pray tell?) and said nothing when Kim stuck her oar into Denise's predicament, pressing the adoption line for herself; and he said, absolutely nothing. Not a word. When Denise, herself, pressed him, he actually could have put his hands up and swore off any involvement, but he tacitly allowed Kim to go on and on about this situation, still saying nothing.

I honestly think Denise simply wants to have the baby, put the child up for adoption, and then get on with her life. Kim hit a grain of truth when she tactlessly remarked to Vincent that the baby would spend a lifetime in foster homes - bi-racial children aren't high in demand, unfortunately, amongst people wanting to adopt; but Vincent was right to put her in her place by reminding her that Claudette was a foster parent, and whilst she's a murderer, she probably was a good foster mother, even if that doesn't make sense in the actual world.

One thing that Kim mentioned tonight about Denise making the decision to have the baby adopted, and then realising after four days or even four years that she'd made a mistake. She was right to remind her that once you have a child adopted, that's it. You have no rights - and Kim said that. That was spelled out explicitly to Sonia fifteen years ago - once you sign the adoption papers, that's it. You have no more rights over the child. In fact, adoption records are closed, so you don't even know where your child has gone.

And this is why adoption records are closed. Adoption always takes the interests and rights of the child into first consideration, and the last thing Social Services want is a birth parent making things difficult for the birth parents and for the child.

The Parents-to-Be and the Interfering Mother. Whitney and Lee were sweet, and it was quite moving seeing them see the first pictures of their baby in the scan, but I find it hard to invest in this story, especially as Lee is leaving. Him bringing her breakfast in bed, their talking about their child being a mini-me boy for Lee or a mini-me girl for Whitney was nice, as was the scene at the hospital.

What wasn't so nice was Linda, automatically assuming that her place in all of this was with Lee and Whitney, even thinking she was going to take them to the scan and be there during the event - just as Elaine had been there for Lee's scan, and Nancy's and Johnny's. I liked that Whitney was honest enough with Lee to say that she found his family a bit full-on at the moment. 

Too right. Once again, I don't think the Carters are SOC's favourite people. Linda was shown as being pushy and aggressive, and already Whitney is having words with her; but it's not wrong for Whitney to want a space of her own for her own core family - herself, Lee and their child. But Lee grew up in an multi-generational household. Until they were in their late thirties, his parents lived with his grandmother, Elaine. This is the set-up he's used to - living with his parents and his elderly aunt, and he's satisfied to bring his girlfriend and child into that environment. I wonder if this will be part and parcel of whatever split there is between Lee and Whitney.

The Darts' Match. Geraldine from The Feathers was really Rodney's Cassandra. They cheated. And Babe found out. Cassandra/Geraldine should be very afraid. 

Review - Thursday 15.09.2016 - The Red Herring Episode

That wasn't a bad episode, but neither was it a good one. In a curious way, it was watchable for all the wrong, but interesting reasons. With Masood leaving, with Sonia leaving and with the word being dropped today about Kyle bowing out the door, I had the distinct impression - Mitchells and Denise aside - that this was a cavalcade of characters whom either the audience deems bad or in whom the EP, himself, isn't remotely interested.

It's almost as if he were giving these characters one last gasp of exposure, in the worst sort of way ... before dropping the axe.

I Don't Think SOC Likes Carmel. Carmel was the whole backdrop to Denise and her newest situation, with the duff-duff being her admission to a very drunk and very loquacious Carmel, that she's going to have the baby and give it up for adoption.

First of all, in one respect, Denise showed a special kind of stupidity and a singular lack of common sense in telling such a major and highly secret decision to a woman who's sober brain has a disconnect with her gob, ne'mind its malfunction when she's drunk. Secondly, this is all a big red herring ...

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... simply because EastEnders doesn't do adoptions. Somewhere along the line:-

(a) Denise will have second thoughts and give up the notion.
(b) She'll get broody down the line and try to find who has the baby, which will entail telling Phil Mitchell so he can use his numerous contacts to find the adoptive parents.
(c) Phil will find out and take her to court.
(d) She'll just leave with the kid.

The only positive thing about Carmel as a character involved in all of this is that she's the only person to come up with a positive perspective on the option of abortion. Kim certainly expects Denise to have this child.

I don't get that attitude. Most women I know would rather gag a glassful of maggots than have the child of a man they hated and feared. So Denise doesn't "approve" of abortion. What about if a woman gets pregnant through rape? What if she were raped and found herself pregnant? What if this happened to one of her girls? Who'd want a reminder of a rape growing inside you?

This is something that's never going to happen in a million years with this character. Ever. Because that's the way she is. Somewhere along the line someone is going to clue Phil Mitchell in about this - most probably Vincent, simply because he was behind the bar the night Phil and Denise got drunk and staggered off together. I don't know. I give up. I get that Denise is popular with viewers, but I've only ever been able to stomach her in small doses. She had her moments with Lee Ross and Don Gilet, and after that, when she wasn't skulking about in the background, TPTB were wringing their hands and starting storylines/relationships concerning the character that were never finished for some reason or another - living with Ian Beale, abusing Patrick, drinking heavily, getting sucked into being involved with Jordan Johnson, bullying Libby. If the only storyline concerning this Everywoman sort of character is having her have Phil Mitchell's baby, then just wield the axe.

Because whatever way this turns out, it's yet another variation of a secret child motif.

This played out against the midlife crises concerns of Masood and Carmel. Masood is leaving, and we get the one requisite scene with Nitin Ganatra and multiple scenes with Bonnie Langford, wherein Denise acts as some sort of counsellor/mediator figure.

I wonder how long it will be before Carmel loses her job as "Market Enforcer," because all she does is lug a clipboard around and lolligag around Denise whining about how she hasn't got a man in her bed and how she's going to fare when her fuck-buddy Masood slopes off. In one of the other episodes this week, we saw her tick Buster off about the many violations he was committing on the market as a trader, but when you think of the fact that Buster was the man who knocked her sexual advances back, then that reaction to him makes perfect sense.

This job, for Carmel, is simply a way for her to cut a swathe through a gaggle of people and be noticed because she's someone they, as traders, need to notice and obey. The fact that she was so willing and ready to go with "the market boys" for drinks in The Albert would tell "the market boys" just what an ineffectual easy touch she is, especially considering how drunk she got. She's a drag on Denise, and you'd think this would dawn on Denise the way Tina's immature behaviour grated on Sonia. Denise's attempts to better herself, culturally and educationally, are meant with derision (Kim) or indifference (Carmel and now, surprisingly, Masood, who dismissed her studying of A Midsummer Night's Dream, as something he never had the time or inclination to read - and just months ago, he was angling to help her study).

Just when Denise takes two steps forward, it seems, Carmel shows up to make everything about her and drag her back into the mire. The Scandinavian English Lit teacher is a subtle rebuke to the ignorance of the local yokels, and Carmel's ignorance is highlighted by her drunken and offensively xenophobic comments concerning him:-

You're the English teacher? You're not even English.

People's innate prejudices come to the fore in drink, and Carmel, throughout this episode and in the previous one, has come across as less than likable. She's annoying, offensive, tactless, self-centred, nosey, interfering and untrustworthy.

Masood's scene was little or next to nothing - Denise jumping into the fray and telling him off about misleading Carmel. Masood is so taken aback by Denise's instant accusation of misleading Denise in order to get her into bed, leading her to think that they had some sort of relationship, whilst planning on going on his world tour anyway. Masood quietly pointed out that he said nothing of the sort to Carmel to indicate that he was thinking of staying. She could see his house was still up for rent, that he had removed Kamil from school. Anything else was a fantasy on Carmel's part. If Denise wanted to accuse of having a mid-life crisis, she just might want to look at her friend. Or, maybe, herself.

Maybe the sudden interest in English Lit, by way of a sexy Scandinavian teacher (this EP's Aleks figure?), was the epiphany for Denise to realise that maybe a way out of a lifetime with Phil Mitchell's baby as well as a key to her own advancement would be the adoption route.

It'll never work, however.

I Don't Think SOC Likes Belinda. I was totally Team Sonia tonight when she dropped by the flat to talk with Martin that morning and got an earful of Belinda whingeing about Rebecca moving in.

Ummmm ... excuse me, but there is something that Belinda can do about this situation if she doesn't like it.

Move out.

She has her own business and must be earning enough money to afford a small flat of her own. As Martin pointed out, Rebecca moving in was Stacey's idea. She is Martin's daughter and has more right to live in that flat than either Belinda or Kyle. They are adults, she's a child. Besides, they're living cheek by jowl in a 3-bedroomed flat - Martin, Stacey and Arthur in one room, Kyle in another and Lily must be sharing with Belinda.

Belinda arrived on the scene anyway to tell Martin and Stacey that Alfie and Kat were pulling the plug on paying Stacey's rent, and a flat like that in that area of London would be expensive. The fact that Tina was whingeing about not being able to afford the Butcher-Jackson house would lead me to believe that, Belinda staying, the Fowler unit could move into that house.

She came across tonight as big-mouthed and tactless. And selfish. And once she was sussed by Sonia, she smarmed her way around, offering free nails for Rebecca, unsolicited advice for Sonia to tell Rebecca right away that she was moving to Kettering ... rip it off like a bandage ... and finally, sticking her foot in, unasked, and telling Rebecca, herself, that they would be "roommates."

I can't warm to Rebecca. Seeing her with the monotoned, gaggle-mouthed knobhead, known as Shakil, brings her right down into the mire. Hearing her refer to Sonia as "my stupid mother" just to look big and cool to Shakil (the only word in the English vocabulary he seems to be able to use), was jarring. I also didn't like her meltdown in the middle of the street, acting the drama queen, screaming out her family's business for everyone to hear. In the long run, Martin was right. It may have been better with all three of them - Sonia, Martin and Stacey - explaining to Rebecca why Sonia was going away for a new job and a new start whilst she would be staying in Walford, continuing at her school and in the middle of her exam year. It didn't help either for Belinda, who's no parent, herself, to make that adverse comment on "selfish mothers."

Belinda is one of those characters who started off well, soured quickly and devolved into a caricature dressed in retro late Forties fashion.

KatLite, but without either the tact or the heart.

I Don't Think SOC Likes the Carters. Well, I don't think he likes Mick, who came across as one Class A prick tonight. So Sonia breaking up with Tina is a "liberty," is it? As well as their indignation that Tina can't afford to stay in the Jackson-Butcher house, this is just a big shit-inducing fear on Mick's part that Tina and Sylvie will have to move in with them. I loved the way they all trooped down to the bar, leaving a pregnant Whitney to fend for herself with Sylvie, allowing Sylvie to escape down to the bar - no one tripped over their own two feet to get upstairs and relieve Whitney. Babe mouthed platitudes, but never moved.

And Mick got shirty and all passive-aggressive with Sharon because she cried off the darts match with Linda because of Phil's state. Doesn't Mick realise that Sharon has a dying and very ill husband? Yet everyone has to drop everything and humour Linda because she's worried about Ollie. This is the same old same old with Linda - she's upset/worried/depressed so everyone has to kowtow to humour her.

The Carters all came out, yet again, tonight as rank and rancid - passive aggressive bullies and pushy domineering. They run off to the pub and leave the pregnant girlfriend of their oldest son in command of a tetchy woman with dementia.

Quite a different picture from the group-hugging Walton family of DTC's era.

The Mitchells. The Ben-Phil dynamic continues to unfold, and Harry Reid impressed me, as did Steve McFadden with one exception - yet another scene where we have a Walford resident (Ben, Billy, Mick), who's got a vested interest in a relative who has a social/medical problem (Phil, Janet, Ollie), ranting and raving ignominiously at a qualified professional who's trying to offer them a modicum of information which just may help or inform them. Mick railed at the doctor because he couldn't tell him there and then that nothing was wrong with his son, that they had to know there and then. Billy rails at an educator, who only wants what's best, educationally, for his daughter - except that, because of educational cuts, she'll have to go to another school; and tonight, Ben rants at a doctor who's only trying to apprise him of the procedure Phil has to follow even to allow a liver transplant to take place, as well as informing him of the difficulties that can arise with both donor and recipient in this sort of procedure. She is duty-bound to inform him that liver transplant recipients have less of a long-term survival than any other sort of transplant recipients. Yet because she either tells him something he doesn't want to hear or cannot accommodate his demands, then and there, he makes a great show of snatching the information she printed from her hand and storming off.

The kitchen scene between Phil and Ben showed both actors at their best. Phil's assessment of his alcoholism was pretty stark and indicative of a real alcoholic's point of view. Drink comes looking for him, and what if five years down the line, he starts drinking again? Ben's sacrifice would be all in vain. I didn't like the "head of the family" reference, and above all, I don't like the way Phil is still treating Sharon, the way they are keeping her in the dark about all of this (the lie about everything in the hospital going well) and the off-hand way Phil treated her in their first scene. Sharon deserves better than that.

And the way Ben wiped away his mother's concerns on him donating part of his liver as irrelevant - but then he considers her irrelevant too.

I hope Phil chokes on his own liver. Or someone else's.
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Review - 13.09.2016

Considering this was written by someone who's arguably the worst writer on the show, this was a surprisingly good episode. It had the feel of an old EastEnders' episode, it had a community feel about it, and even the Mitchells were toned down a bit (but they still annoy me). It's funny how, under this producer, certain characters who never annoyed me before, now annoy me immensely - and those who annoyed be before, now annoy me even more.

Go figure.

More Family Values ... but Hang On, Someone's Missing. Wow, at least Phil and Ben included Sharon (and Denny) in the Mitchell family pow-wow, where he announced he was donating part of his liver to Phil - ne'mind, he doesn't know if he's a blood and tissue match, them's little fings.

But there's one person Ben hasn't told about this decision - his mother. Oh wait, I forgot. Kathy's off shagging Buster, which is why neither of them could make it to tonight's darts practice about which Linda was banging on and on and on and on again and again and again.

Sean O'Connor was left with a pretty thankless task of redeeming two primary families who have been turned into moral reprobates by the sniggering, giggling DTC, whose spies still remain amongst the backroom staff, and it's not an easy task.

Now, we're presented with Noble Ben, who reckons his decision is important enough to merit a large-scale family pow-wow, where he took centre stage to make the announcement. The Crown Prince is sacrificing part of his vital organ to save the King. We got a touching scene of Phil and Ben bonding on the sofa as Sharon and the Blisters discussed the arrangement over drinks at the Vic and where Sharon dispensed worldy wisdom to an increasingly annoying Linda.

Phil annoys me. Sharon annoys me - the way she swans around, almost as if she's floating, laughing and joking with murderers as if it were the most normal thing in the world. But the Mitchells are still rotten. Phil set Max up. Sharon flippantly dismissed Max landing in prison and scoffed at his threat to Ian. Ronnie's a fucking psychopath and a killer. These are not normal people. Oh, and did I mention that Roxy is the Mitchell's Tina?

In fact, I'm surprised she and Tina never became fast friends apart from that time they clubbed together and drank Billy's lekkie money.

But, lately, Linda's been annoying me more and more, and tonight, you just wanted to reach out and smack her. Banging on and on about the darts team and the honour of beating the competition in the name of the Vic. Sharon - again, dispensing wisdom - very nicely put her in her place. A winning darts team wasn't a true reflection of a successful pub - a pub full of punters, on the other hand, was.

I guess this is the beginning of SOC's redemption of the Mitchells.

Jane Wants a Return to Normality. Really, Jane? Sorry, but did you say that you wanted you and Ian to go back to being a normal couple?

Sorry, love, but normality stopped the night you dragged Lucy's body across the Common and dumped it. It came to a juddering halt when you fucked Ian right on the place where Lucy dropped dead. And it died altogether when you were forced to tell Ian what happened and when you both decided to protect widdle Bobby.

Jane wants to see Bobby. She's not stupid. She knows Ian like a well-read book, and she knows when he's trying to hide something from her. When she asks again about going to see Bobby, Ian has to tell her that Bobby doesn't want to see them, that he wants to keep his head down and do his time.

As bloody if.

Be afraid, Jane and Ian. Be very afraid. Because Bobby isn't just doing his time; he's spending all this time plotting about how he's going to make the two of you pay for dropping all the blame for Lucy's death on him. Yes, he killed her, but Jane moved her body and kept the whole deed a secret, and that's a very big crime; andr Ian kept the secret too. He was even prepared to see his younger brother go to prison for a crime he didn't commmit, in order to keep Bobby safe. So they should be in prison too. But they aren't, and widdle Bobby is probably very, very angry.

I find it incredibly arrogant that Jane can even consider normality after what she's done. She talks of visiting Bobby as if he were back at his posh school. A day out. Ian and Jane have simply whitewashed Lucy out of existence. She's a convenience, when necessary - to garn Ian sympathy or to use her name to commit credit card fraud - with the expatiatingly poor excuse that he felt good at seeing Lucy's name on some application, as if it gave him a pretend moment of thinking that she was still alive.

Ian's reverted to the same old cowardly, curmdgeonly weasel, someone so miserly and mean that he won't even allow his cousin's young daughter to have one Saturday off a weekend job to do the things that normal teenaged girls do. He was always thus with his poorer relations, and yet he had a hard time understanding why there was always so little compassion for him.

Although she should be in prison, it's curiously satisfying seen Jane imprisoned within the four walls of the house where Lucy died, sleeping on the spot where she was killed, bound forever to Ian, trapped in an armchair, unable to go anyplace, and increasingly becoming everyone's point of reference, even though she doesn't offer her pearls of wisdom. She can't run away from people seeking advice.

Tonight she had Sonia confessing that she didn't love Tina and wanted to leave her. Jane's advice is basically for Sonia to seize the day. Carpe diem ... because that option is lost to Jane. 

Sitting in her armchair, getting her enema changed, awake in her bed on the spot where Lucy died, you wonder if Jane ever regrets returning to Walford and to Ian.

Mutton Dressed as Lamb. Really, has there ever been a more self-obsessed, self-centred and selfish character on the show before Carmel? Carmel is the centre of her own special universe, where the sun revolves around her. You have to wonder how long she'll keep her "Market Enforcer's" job, the amount of time she spends swiggling through the market wearing yesterday's clothes, with a dreamy expression on her face. 

All that's lacking is a yellow post-it on her forehead reading Just Been Fucked.

God, I hate this shallow character. She plays all coy and reticent when her sons confront her about her absence at home the night before, she acts like what she's not - a giddy, self-centred schoolgirl with a secret she's just dying to tell. The woman Louise and Rebecca have more maturity. Her head is so far up her arse that she falls for the oldest trick in the book - the sweet-talk a man will give a woman just in order to get his leg over her. Basically, it wasn't Carmel hearing what she wanted to hear from Masood, it was probably Masood telling her what he thought sh wanted to hear in order to get what he wanted.

Look, I get that she's lonely, but from the first time she set foot on the Square, she was only ever about herself. It was she, more than anyone else, who propelled Kush in the direction which accounted for his marriage break-up and that she's so staggeringly self-obsessed that she thinks Masood would want to settle down forever with the woman who was partly responsible for his daughter's humiliation, is, frankly, quite astounding. 

Even if that clueless, incoherent knobhead of a youngest son gives a "whatever ... what he said" sort of approval to her involvement with Masood, Kush was totally sceptical about the association, much less about Carmel's fantasy confession that she and Masood were "an item."

So Masood used and abused her ... well, he used her. And, at the risk of sounding cruel, good on you, Masood, my old son. Because she cared nothing about your daughter's feelings when she started pushing Kush to break her heart and tell her about Arthur, she thought nothing about Martin or even Stacey's wishes when she started forcing Kush into a position with which he felt uncomfortable regarding Arthur - all because she wanted access to another human being whom she could raise to worship at her altar.

She was so convinced that Masood was about to give up his notion of traveling in order to stay there in Walford because of her. If Masood stayed in England for any reason, it would be for Shabnam. 

Bitch, please!

Sonia and the NuFowlers. Natalie Cassidy is on maternity leave, but the fact that Sonia is taking a new job in a new city has a sort of air of finality about it, and I wonder if this is really good-bye.

We've had to put up with three years of Sonia being unpleasant, interfering and unbearable, and just now at the end of everything, she's her old familiar self. It came with the realisation that Tina was a div who was using her - as she said - as a cook, a cleaner and a carer for Sylvie. In fact, Sylvie's presence is a constant reminder of the Carters' innate selfishness, how they can put a caring, compassionate front to the world, but when they really have to deal with a problem like an elderly relative in the throes of dementia, they begin to fray into a dozen excuses of how not to involve themselves.

Tina tells herself she's doing well by Sylvie, but she isn't. She feels good because Sonia makes Sylvie bearable. Sonia's always walking into situations where Tina's having a hard time dealing with Sylvie.

This entire episode was leading up to her finishing with Tina and, heartbreakingly, handing her daughter over to Martin and Stacey to raise. The scene with Tina was justifyingly satisfying from Sonia's point of view. Tina was so caught up in herself and had taken Sonia so much for granted that the entire break-up came as a total surprise to her. Notice that Tina's assumption for the future consisted herself, Sonia and Sylvie - there was no inclusion of Rebecca. I'm glad Sonia held firm and stony-faced when Tina resorted to a childish tantrum at the realisation that Sonia was binning her. 

I just hope Tina and Sylvie don't stay in the Jackson-Butcher house. I'd quite like to see the NuFowlers live there. 

And how remarkable were Stacey and Martin, especially Stacey, how she encouraged Sonia to open up to her about her expectations and reservations about the new job - her primary worry being Rebecca moving and interrupting her studies. Stacey was first to offer her a place to stay - as long as she didn't mind sharing with Lily. Equally as remarkable was the way Stacey brought Martin around to thinking that Sonia wasn't being selfish at all, but one thing was niggling. 

Stacey remarked that Sonia had congratulated them when they told her they were expecting Arthur. She didn't. There was that infamous scene where Stacey and Sonia sat and dissed and speculated about Martin's ability to deal with someone having bi-polar syndrome as well as being pregnant. That was appalling, but yes, she did support Martin when Stacey was ill.

Rebecca's description of them all as a blended family was apt. I look forward to the NuFowler unit of Martin, Stacey, Rebecca, Lily and Arthur.

Decent episode. 

Review - Monday 12.09.2016

This show is in a state. Tonight's filler episode was, mainly, all about characters who'll be gone in the blink of an eye - Sonia, Buster, Masood and Lee, mostly. 

When there's an episode where the best character in the piece is Sonia and when the odious Carmel is the only character speaking sense, you know the writer of the piece has to be Katie Douglas.

Why is she still hanging around?

Can the Mitchells - Except Ben, Billy, Honey and Their Kids - All Fall in a Black Hole? I'm going to say something I never thought I'd ever say, but I hate Phil, and I hate Sharon. I hate the way he grunts about and how he is still closing her out of his life, and I hate the way she swans around the Square doing nothing.

Phil's obviously thinking about this liver transplant, which Ben suggested. Obviously, neither of them know much about a liver transplant from a live donor (hint, hint: If Phil Mitchell qualifies for something like this, then I need to move into the room reserved for me in Buckingham Palace), because Phil seems to be reading up on this on t'Internet. OK, so why does he close the laptop the moment Sharon walks into the kitchen?

She's his wife, for fuck's sake, and this is - as Vice-President Joe Biden would say a big fucking deal, yet he's keeping Ben's offer a secret from the only other person who should be party to every piece of information about his health status, it's dangers, and it's possibilities. She is, after all, his next of kin. If something happened to Phil, the first person the authorities would contact would be Sharon. Not Ben. Not Louise. Not Ronnie, but Sharon.

Yet all she's concerned about is the fact that the Transatlantic Tit got home OK; and Phil is still amazed that Mark didn't succumb to everything that was attractive about the Mitchells enough to stick around and get to know Grant. The boy summed it up best - he has a dad in the States, whom he wouldn't trade for anything. Besides, he has a home and a solvent family, and a university career in the US, whereas Grant and Courtney have next to nothing, and she's chucked uni. 

I sometime wonder exactly what the function of Sharon is in this programme. I know she's supposed to be the so-called Mitchell matriarch, but the best DTC, Lamb and Batten could do was make her a pale imitation of Peggy and have other characters remark on how much she sounded or acted like the dead woman. There was no need for that, and I hope SOC can get it right. Sharon can still be the female front of the Mitchells without resorting to Peggy's techniques. FFS, Sharon's been dealing with both Grant and Phil for over twenty years. This was the woman who left Walford the first time, leaving Grant crying on the pavement and having handed Phil his hairy arse. She could handle them just as astutely as Peggy did, but in her own way.

Since Peggy's death, however, she and Phil have been more or less a sick child and his mother. Apart from finding out the secret of Mark Fowler, which was basically chicken shit compared to what's transpiring in Phil's life at the moment and concerning Sharon as well, they've talked about nothing - not about his illness or his treatment or his options for the future or ... or even themselves. Maybe they're afraid to do so. 

Sharon isn't stupid. She knows how Phil has treated her; she surely knows how he's treating her now. The entire brouhaha about Mark included Sharon bringing up the fact that Phil had lied to her about Gavin and had tried to trick her into giving up the search for him; and Phil never even offered up the obvious defence that he was trying to protect her from Gavin. She didn't have to return to him, and you wonder now if she's doing all this as a favour to Peggy's memory or if she does, indeed, love Phil.

As for Phil, Grant put the Mitchell ethos into words. The wives - Sharon (for both brothers), Tiffany, Kathy, Kate, even Lisa, the mother of Phil's daughter - the all don't matter. It's the blood Mitchells who count; with that, you have to wonder and you have to accept that this was probably Eric's attitude toward Peggy, and Archie's attitude toward Glenda. Yet Peggy stayed and played the doormat, whilst Glenda fled (again, with a baby who may or may not have been Archie's son).

And now Phil's about to have yet another big secret to keep from Sharon, when he remembers what he did with Denise, or when she tells him. I would hope that's the straw that breaks the camel's back for Sharon.

I get it that Phil is sick, maybe dying; and the scene between him and Ben tonight was a good one. Ben left Phil to talk to the police with Les and Pam about Paul's case. Les and Pam have lost everything. Their lives are destroyed, and yet Ben is willing to undergo a serious operation so that his father might have several years more and a better quality of life than he's had. I suppose this is the propagated myth of "good Ben," because of the way Phil has neglected and abused the kid all his life.

In the general scheme of things, Phil grunting an spitting blood in the face of his son wanting to save him, juxtaposed with Sharon flitting her way around the Square delivering tidings from Michelle in America, proved almost a plot device to reveal to the audience yet another relationship which isn't going the way it should.

The Rotten Beales Caught in Rotten Rottenness with Each Other. I know we'd all love to see Jane in a prison hospital and Ian just in prison proper, but I suppose that there are different kinds of karma.

The Beale house is dark and miserable, and Ian's not so keen on dancing attendance to Jane now that he's seen exactly what kind of care her condition entails. Now we know why prissy, shallow Lauren made a face when Steven suggested she help with caring for Jane. 

Very telling that the first scene we saw with the Beales today took place in the makeshift bedroom that covers the place where Lucy Beale met her end, and that their subject of conversation was Bobby - Jane wanting to buy him some creature comforts for his room/cell at the YOP and Ian demurring from anything like that. Jane wants to talk and Ian wants to prop pillows, before he rushes off to some urgent business in the restaurant. It becomes even more urgent when the district nurse arrives to give Jane her daily enema. That's right. Ian's squeamish at the yuckier parts of caring for Jane. She most likely has a catheter for weeing and a bag to collect her wee-wee, but I can Ian being nasty-nice as well.

I get it that we're supposed to feel sorry for poor, pitiful Jane, who wants some quality time and human contact with Ian other than him prissing about plumping pillows and doing house-cleaning.

Like Sharon, Jane isn't stupid. She knows that Ian's getting on with whatever tasks he has at hand as a way of avoiding dealing with her on a personal level, which is typical Ian the weasel. However, I'm not sympathetic with either of these two. This is the price they paid for harbouring a murderer and for sending an innocent man to prison. They'll pay an even bigger price when Bobby turns sixteen and gets out of prison, considering the way they threw him under the bus and how Jane's concerned about buyin him creature comforts as a way of making amends.

She was pretty astute when she talked to Sonia tonight and referenced her first husband David who died from Huntingdon's Disease. When you're married to someone with an incurable condition, it's not long before the roles of husband and wife devolve into patient and carer. When that happened with Jane and David, at one point - the night he died - she was sleeping with Ian Beale. Maybe she's thinking that Ian might hike himself up to some kerb and sample the latest wares, or that he'll find comfort with someone else closer to home.

Consider the Beale house - with Jane almost begging to be treated like a human being, Ian studiously avoiding her, sneaky Steven with his hand in the till, shallow dippy Lauren up her own arse and too stupid to fathom why Max wants nothing to do with her, and Kathy, so desperate for a normal relationship with a man that she sleeps with the first man who's nice to her. Is that really a happy household?

What worries me is that Max will return, intent on revenge and then see sad, pathetic Jane in her wheelchair, and his heart will melt.

The Other Side of Paradise. There's another break-up on the horizon: Sonia doesn't love Tina anymore. Boy, it didn't take long for the apple to fall from that tree. Maybe she should have spoken with Tosh, who could have told her how much of a big, irresponsible child Tina is. She feels absolutely no guilt at all in leaving Sonia to look after Sylvie, even after Sonia's returned from an over-long night shift, and needs to get some sleep. Instead, Tina whines about Sylvie being in a bad mood before running off to work at the cafĂ©.

It's odd that Sonia should come over likable now that she's about to leave the show for awhile. She first started being likable again when she involved herself with Martin and his new family. I actually don't think of Sonia either as bi-sexual or as a lesbian. Sonia just wants someone to love her, and I honestly think she regrets leaving Martin now. She was ready enough to snog him some months ago when problems with Tina first came to light. Tina's selfish immaturity has at last begun to get to Sonia. 

Tina and her concerns have to be first with Sonia. She's jealous of both Martin and Rebecca. She cannot comprehend that Sonia and Martin will always have a bond in that they have a child, or that Martin isn't butting into their business when he speaks out in Sonia's defence. She is the mother of his child, and yet she thinks nothing about interrupting a private conversation between Rebecca and Sonia, demanding Sonia's undivided attention.

The entire Carter clan use Sonia as an unpaid carer for Sylvie, and it's Sonia who has to take the brunt of Sylvie's abuse. 

I suppose this was Katie Douglas's idea of a comic moment having Sylvie ask Dot ...

Who are you, old crone?

But Dot was right in telling Sonia not to leave it any longer in dumping Tina. At the end of the day, Sonia's offered a way out. This is the beginning of Natalie Cassidy's maternity leave.

Baby Story I: Overaged Teenagers. I'm talking about Denise and Carmel. Look at their situations - Denise gets knocked up after a drunken one-night stand. Carmel is having sex with a man who isn't remotely serious about having a relationship with her. One's the party girl who gets up the duff after getting drunk, and the other is the girl so desperate for affection she'll substitute that for sex with someone who doesn't want to get serious.

I wonder - is Denise Catholic? She purports to be an atheist, but long after people have left the church, the stigma of guilt sticks with them. She voices concerns, which are natural enough, to Carmel - how both her daughters are grown and how she's probably too long in the tooth to be dealing with a baby full-time, how she's just now seriously begun her studies again, and here she is getting pregnant; and also how she has to work as well. To all of that, Carmel offered the first piece of sensible advice she's ever offered.

Denise should seriously consider abortion. There's all of the above to consider and more. Denise hates the baby's father. She would rather put nails in her eyes than get him involved; but I think Vincent knows very well with whom Denise got drunk on the night she conceived, and it's only a matter of time until Phil Mitchell finds out. She hates the baby's father and doesn't want him involved, yet she'll stick around the Square where she'll see him - and more importantly, his wife - on a daily basis. Denise is one of the few characters left on this show with a moral caliber; how can she not look at Sharon and feel some modicum of shame? Even Kim said that her excuse of being drunk wasn't enough.

With all of that to consider, who would want to have the child of someone you hated? Who would want to have Phil Mitchell's baby, knowing what would transpire when the truth would out?

Is Denise one of these anti-abortion pro-life bigots? You wonder what she would counsel Libby, had Libby been raped and found out she was pregnant? Is she one of these people who would whine about it not being the baby's fault or parrot the deplorable Rick Santorum in advising Libby to take a lemon and make lemonade? What if she had been raped? Would her anti-abortion belief kick in there as well?

In a normal circumstance, any woman in Denise's position would be on the phone making the earliest appointment possible with the abortion clinic, especially since she only has a few weeks before the procedure can't be done. But noooooo ... this is Diane Parish's big storyline, so we have to give her centre stage for something which - considering what happened to Kathy, Michelle and Lisa or even Tiffany - will result in her running off to Spain with the sprog ... or getting killed in the effort.

If this is the only sort of big storyline the show could offer this actress, if this is really the only sort of storyline which validates her character, then maybe it's time for TPTB to re-think her future on the show.

In the meantime, she plays matchmaker to the odious Carmel and Masood. It's Carmel's first day as Market Inspector and apart from dancing about Masood with her clipboard, she did little else, except threaten Buster. Oh, wait ... Buster's leaving too, so Carmel was the meat between a departure sandwich.

Unless there's a surprise in store and Carmel swans off with Masood, there's little point in starting them on some sort of romance, other than being fuck buddies. He's going. As far as we know, she's staying (more's the pity). I liked Buster's description of her - five feet on a barrel of nothing. Except when she screeches.

Baby Story II: What Was That All About? We know Buster is leaving. We know Lee is leaving. So we get some sort of half-baked storyline about Lee obsessing on learning how to change nappies on a baby, whilst Buster re-locates his pitch and tries to sell mussels when Russell the Mussel Man is doing that up the market.

Buster was right. Rather than reading about nappies in books, Lee should practice on his baby brother. This all led to a rather sweet conversation between Lee and Whitney about the baby scan and worrying about if something is wrong with the baby - which, I guess, is foreshadowing Mick and Linda's impending appointment about Ollie.

Yet another mediocre episode.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Review: 09.09.2016 - Thank God That Shower Is Over

Apart from being a bit preachy in some instances and a bit of a history lecture, this was easily the best episode of the week. The best part about this was it felt a lot like the EastEnders of old. The worst part was still the reconstruction of Sharon's attitude towards Grant and of Grant's history as a father.

At least we got rid of the worst impression of an American since the show gave us Vicki Fowler. There must be only one British school in America, where its sports programme includes gridiron football, with a programme good enough to get him a sports' scholarship. He'll have to hurry back to the US, however, and hope his affected British accent keeps him in good stead with the Dean at his university as well as his gridiron coach, because classes started last Monday.

We not only saw Grant leave the Square tonight, and it sounded as if this were a final good-bye, we saw Courtney go with him ... and Jay left.

I haven't looked, but I imagine the forum is in meltdown. I don't think this is the last you'll see of Jay, however. We had the theme of fathers and sons and brothers, and two different sides of the gay equation.

And we had the divine Michael Cashman.

Continuity Plus ... Daran Little's Done His Homework. Of course, Daran Little's first love is Corrie, and when he worked for that show, his episodes were pitch perfect, not only in writing, but in the immaculate research he put into his episodes. 

He did the same tonight here - little things that were really major things, like Colin using a walking stick: When Colin Russell left Walford, he'd just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis; or Dot's resistance to same-sex marriage.

Many people are too young to remember Dot when she first appeared on the Square. She was a Bible-bashing fundamentalist Christian, who lectured everyone's lax morals and could only see the good in a son she'd appallingly brought up. She was a casual racist and was shocked at Colin's and Barry's relationship. This was during the time when AIDS was at its height in the 80s. People are, however, capable of changing their opinions about things, however - as a very reasonable Sonia stated tonight, everyone's entitled to their own opinions (they're just not entitled to their own facts). As Dot grew to know Colin, she grew to like him, and the two became fast friends. He was the first character on the Square to educate Dot about tolerance, although as late as 2010, she was still making vaguely racist remarks to Mercy Olumbummi.

A lot of the Twittersphere accused Dot of homophobia. She isn't homophobic. She's just guided by her Christian beliefs. Whatever the Bible says, most of it, Dot takes as guidance. Tonight, she quite clearly stated that Colin was her friend; she was conflicted in her belief that, according to the Bible, marriage is something that occurs between a man and a woman, for the purposes of procreation. And Colin was brilliant in dealing with that situation - they reminisced about the past, and he told her that he wasn't asking for her approval, just to be there for him on his wedding day, What touched Dot was Colin admitting that his parents disowned him after finding out that he was gay, but Dot stuck with him, in friendship, throughout, and he was saying that having her there would be almost like having his mother attend.

Dot, like Pat and Shirley, is one of a long line of EastEnders' abysmal mothers who make a right mess of bringing their own children up, but do justice in bringing up other people's. Pat had an edgy relationship with both her sons, but was as good as a mother to Ricky Butcher and Ian Beale. Shirley abandoned her children, yet took on Ben Mitchell and Jay. Dot produced Nick, but she's cherished by her Branning stepchildren, especially Jack and all of their children, especially Sonia and Abi.

Just as Colin had ways of subtly educating Dot with gentle (and positive) manipulation, he did the same today. Having told Sonia that she would never attend any same-sex wedding she would have, she eventually was persuaded by Colin's remarks to attend the wedding and was struck by how happy and in love Colin and his new husband Eddie seemed to be. At last, Dot could finally admit that love is really love.

However, this gave Sonia the opportunity to admit something we'd suspected for a long time - she doesn't love Tina. I suppose that Tina was fine for a fling, but once she actually lived with her, the feathers, the five year-old's wardrobe, the childishness, the fecklessness all got to her. Tina hates to see Sonia give any sort of attention to anyone else, even if they are family. I clocked her rationale in yesterday's episode when she reminded Tina that Dot was family, pointedly inferring that Tina was not. I guess we're getting to the point of Natalie Cassidy leaving for maternity leave (since she had her baby a couple of weeks ago). It's almost a shame, because I like Sonia when she is like this. Tina definitely brought out the worst in her, and whilst I don't approve of domestic violence, it's easy to see why Tosh was driven to distraction by Tina's antics.

Colin paid a visit to the pub for a public service announcement, which had to be introduced by a Carter. (They had to have a Carter involved in this in some way, and so Johnny stepped up to the plate). Notice the glaring omissions in the Carter clan? Mick and Shirley. I imagine when this was filmed, Danny Dyer was right in the middle of his marriage preparations, and Linda Henry was probably on her annual two-month sojourn to her home in Greece.

This was the preachy, history-lesson bit, where Johnny told Colin the story behind why Paul had died, and Colin came forward with his history of Albert Square in the 1980s and what he and Barry had to endure. (He seems to have forgotten about Guido). That was the only later Brookside moment in all of this, but Daran Little provoked a niggle here, when he had Sharon enter a virtually empty pub, look right at and right through Colin. She was the only character left from his time on the Square in that scene, and you'd think TPTB would have remembered that and had an encounter between the two, but I guess that didn't fill TPTB's agenda for either character.

I know Lord Cashman is a politician and activist now, but I'd love to see him and Eddie set up residence on the Square at sometime. Still, it was nice seeing someone from the era when EastEnders was real.

And It's Good-Bye from Him ... Seriously, this looks like it for Grant, and I actually hope it is. He, as well as Sharon, were all over the place during his various turning-ups. I have to say that the only genuine moment he looked like Grant to me was during that scene with Letitia Dean - the "moment" scene during Peggy's last hurrah. Like a lot of other characters, Grant had to leave the Square to find happiness; and when he returned a decade ago, he'd had psychological counselling, had attended an anger management course and was a doting dad to his young daughter. But people didn't like the mellow, metrosexual Grant, so this time, it seems as DTC and co went for the madman version, and failed epically.

Grant and Phil were at loggerheads and had been for sometime, it seemed. It also seemed that Phil had acquired literally all of Grant's money in order to pay off Kathy, who - at the time - was planning on leaving Gavin, but who was really filching the money on behalf of Gavin. According to Grant, Phil took everything, including Courtney's trust fund money - and that still begs the question ... Where is this damned money? Obviously, it went along with the £100k Sharon handed over to Gavin, and a hold-all filled with cash was left by the police on the mezzanine of the "estate" which Gavin bought and where Auntie Margaret died. What happened to that money?

Grant's return this time should have been for drawing a line under Sharongate. It was obvious from the "moment" scene that there was still a spark of attraction between them. Sharon even went looking for him that evening and found Phil instead. She also was sneaking around during the time Ben first disappeared after Paul's death, making secret phonecalls and text messages to Grant, and when he did show up, he declared his love for her. That was when the character assassination began in earnest on Grant - and you can always tell when a character is never going to appear again because they get a character assassination - Zainab, Zoe, Michelle ... and now Grant, but it's done fully on screen and in sight of everyone - which makes a change, since so much happens off-screen now, like Colin's wedding and Paul's funeral.

Suddenly, after Phil found out about Sharon's "moment" with Grant, Grant became a broken person, a dangerous person, a loser, someone out of control, who'd lost everything, and a bad dad, to boot, because Courtney, who started out so well and so Tiffany-esque, suddenly became a rotten old Mitchell, spouting anti-police rhetoric and pejorative family values.

Sharongate was sacrificed for the Secret Son venture, and tonight's episode picked up where last night's left off, with Grant and his secret son having a drink in the pub. Once again, things were all over the place. Grant asked Mark if Michelle ever mentioned him, and Mark said no ... directly in contravention to what was implied earlier this week, when Mark told Grant how Michelle was always lambasting him. Strange.

Also, we got a glimpse of the happy homelife in Florida. Mr NoName is calm, probably almost to the point of non-existence, where Michelle is always shouting her mouth off and losing her temper. Not a great thing to do in the South like that, unless you want your teeth knocked out or a gun shoved in your face. According to Secret Son, he's just like his mother, to the point that NoName Tim keeps telling him to calm down. Wow, Michelle sounds like a real piece of work. But this kid showed none of that sort of behaviour. What turned Grant on a dime was when Mark said he had the best dad in the world, and he wouldn't want another. That's when Grant realised the difference between being a father and being a dad.

So maybe Mark isn't as stupid as he looked. He put two and two together and came out with four, as we learned later.

There was something else that was a bit off-kilter in the subsequent scene between Sharon and Grant touched on Sharon's aborting Grant's baby, when he asked about their child, the one, in his words, "that you got rid of". The last time this was addressed was when Sharon told Grant a decade ago when he returned with Phil to the Square and she was married to Dennis. NuGrant accepted Sharon's abortion as the best decision she could make; now he, accusingly, asks her if she ever thinks of that child, who'd be roughly Mark's age by now.

One of the best parts of this vignette was seeing Jane get handed her arse by Sharon and Ian, for interfering. As either Ian or Sharon pointed out, revealing Grant's paternity to Mark would only have destroyed a family dynamic in Florida that was not only established, it was happy; and that information should only come from Michelle and only if she wanted to impart it.

Jane's pithy reply to that was pathetic - that Mark was an adult and she thought he had a right to know and decide for himself. 

Bitch, please. As Peter Beale told you back in 2015, you are nobody's parent, and your judgement is shite. You're the one who watched an innocent man go to prison, who would have tolerated your husband's brother going to prison, to save a child who ended up braining you. And then you were too cowardly to accept responsibility for your role in Lucy's death, instead throwing Bobby fully under the proverbial bus.

Woman, that kid is coming for you, and you have no right to render any sort of judgement on this situation. It's none of your business.

In the end, it was Sharon, who admitted to Mark that Grant was his father, but only after he'd guessed it. For a moment, I thought he wanted to stay, but Sharon pulled the onld "Grant-is-Broken-and-He'll-Destroy-You" line, and the wuss followed through. I hope he never returns. He's the last thing we need, and the new Mitchells, this time around, have failed to impress.

And It's Good-Bye to Him: Brothers in Arms. As much as this was a show about fathers and sons, it was also a show about brothers, actual and spiritual.

Arguably, the best scene in the episode occurred between Phil and Grant, after Phil went out for a walk to the Arches after having attended Paul's funeral with Ben. This was after he'd told Ben how proud he was of his reading, and how it took guts for him to stand up beside Paul's coffin and speak. He also took that opportunity to speak honestly to Ben about his health, actually telling Ben that he was dying. I'd never noticed before the jaundiced make-up Steve McFadden was wearing in these two episodes. He genuinely looked ill.

The Phil-and-Grant scene was one of the few times that Grant has been brutally honest, and I feel he put the Mitchells dynamic into the proper perspective. Grant admitted what was really the truth about the Mitchells, that without Peggy, there really was nothing left for him in Walford. He actually admitted that neither of his wives - neither Sharon, the love of his life, nor Tiffany, the mother of his child, mattered as much to him as Peggy and Phil did. No mention of Sam, but at least this was out in the open.

Now Peggy was dead, and Phil was dying. He told Phil some brutal truths, especially about the fact that Phil had seemed to roll over and accept his fate. The difference between the Bruvs, and Grant knows it, is that Phil has a lot to live for, and I think he hit the nail on the head. A lot of Phil stumbling around and accepting his fate, almost wanting to die, has been his reaction to and grief for Peggy's death. That's been selfish of Phil. It takes Grant to remind him that he has a wife who loves him and a son and daughter. After all, Mitchells are fighters. 

He also puts Phil right about Phil's wanting Grant to impose himself on Mark, as his father. Grant pointed out that the boy told him he already had a father, and Grant couldn't argue with that. Instead, he needed to repair ground with the child he'd raised from infancy, his daughter. 

The flaw in this was that his reunion with Courtney was rushed. He simply reminded her that he was her father and that he loved her, and one day she would need him. That's all it took for her to chuck uni and head back to Portugal with the few grand Phil had handed him, saying this was all he had.

I guess Grant must have sold or given his BMW SUV to Sharon, because she was driving Mark to the airport in it. So maybe he got a few more quid.

Meanwhile, almost imperceptibly, Jay left, telling Ben that no matter where they were, they would always be brothers. I have a feeling that this isn't a real departure for Jay. He's drawn to the Mitchells like a drug, and if this were his good-bye, it was certainly a surprise and remarkably downbeat.

The thing ended, a bit unbelievably, with Ben offering Phil his liver - well, part of his liver; but I would have thought Phil was not a prime candidate - age and health-wise - for a live liver transplant. 

The Cokers. Of course, we didn't see Paul's funeral, but the playout at the wake was heart-rending. This is exactly what happened with Les when Lawrie died. His way of containing his grief is to throw himself into his work. He's afraid to show emotion, when Pam wants comfort. Her grief was raw, and the only time she could speak was to speak to Ben, because she felt that Ben was suffering the same as she.

I realised tonight how much I'm going to miss the Cokers, but I also realised how this part of the show was a mirror to Dot and Colin. It took the death of Paul to realise that both Les and Pam now needed Les to revert to "Christine."

I'm going to miss them.