Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Bid Stink - Review:- Friday 03.07.2015

This was a good episode, with a lot of teasers, including a big one. I'm glad that Namwar gets moved to the fore for a bit - two likeable couples whom we can root for in Namwar and Startin, and the return of a stalwart ... but will we be getting the return of another stalwart, I wonder?

The Stink in the Room.

Sonia is on a power trip. She's on a subtle mission to displace Carol and to manipulate her into an inferior position in her own home. She was the embodiment of self-righteousness, the way she treated Carol when she and that vile piece of shit, Tina, returned. Sonia's head is so far up her arse and her snottiness so imbedded, that she wasn't above slagging Shirley off in front of Tina, and in the worst sniggery classixt sort of way, looking down her nose that Carol could even think of talkng to someone of Shirley's ilk, let alone bare her soul to her.

Oh, and where was Sonia's child in all of this? I saw Cindy, but for ages, there's been no sight of Rebecca for ages. She's certainly not with Martin, but I thought the beginning of the final scene in the kitchen between Sonia and Carol was eerily reminiscent of the scene in the lounge between Sonia and Rebecca when she psychologically manipulated the girl over donuts. This time, it was over doing the dishes.

Carol is manipulated into apologising to Sonia, so much so that by the end of the scene, Sonia's become the victim, and Carol's apologised for what Sonia's interpreted as Carol's selfsh actions. Sonia felt put out and displaced, insulted that Carol could articulate her fears to a woman of her own age, and not her "professional" daughter, who really has no comprehension, other than the medical science of it, of what Carol's going through at all. I hated her condescending little remark to Carol, dismissing her about only wanting to feel needed and wanted.

Sonia thinks buying presents and occasionally waiting on Carol hand and foot, as well as chaperoning her to hospital appointments is supposed to be understood by Carol as concern and caring. For Sonia, it's all about control. Besides, Sonia's first priority isn't Carol, it's her daughter.

Shirley got the line of the night:-

I'm not all claws and fiery breath. Underneath I'm all warm and cuddly.

This is Shirley at her best, and I've missed the Shirley of the one-liners.

Honestly, however, I don't know anyone who can bear Sonia and Tina. Natalie Cassidy, as evidenced by her last scene tonight, is arguably the worst actress ever to appear in the programme. She was bum-clinchingly embarrassing in that scene. In all her other scenes, she comes across as smug and mean.

However, just maybe we got a glimpse of the beginning of the end of Max, who appearsto have been living in filth for awhile. Doesn't Abi ever visit her father?

Namwar. Wait! Did I hear correctly? Was Shabnam speaking on the phone to Zainab, and did she actually intimate that Zainab was returning, if only for a visit? Tamwar was right in assessing that Zainab would react adversely to Shabnam's beating and even more adversely to her pregnancy. I hope it's true that she's coming to visit for her daughter's wedding. If Screaming Jean can make an appearance, so can Zainab.

Tonight was all about Tamwar and Nancy, opening up to each other and building a trust. We learned tonight that Tamwar has used his religion, just as Shabnam has used hers, to mask his deepest fears and insecurities from his physical scarring. Nancy was pitch perfect with him tonight, so I don't understand why Nancy was keeping it a secret from him about her epileptic seizures, unless her epilepsy has become the sort that can't be wholly controlled by medication.

I know a lot of people are on a massive downer about Tamwar and Nancy, but I can see now why Tamwar has been such a monotoned automaton for the past five years. He was deeply hurt by the events surrounding his burning to the point that he pushed his young wife away, and he's built up an idea of himself as a freak of some sort - he referred to himself as such tonight. I've said all along that Tamwar was depressed, but we saw tonight how he let himself and his personality go around Nancy. It's true that she's the first girl he's actually appreciated and who's actually appreciated him. I love the way he makes her laugh and how he smiles at that.

Good luck to the pair of them. They're a couple for whom to root.

Buster and the Donkey. Tamwar should have answered that phone. Somehow, I don't think Buster's going to open a fish stall on the market now, even though he waxed lyrical about it being the best time of his life. Vincent is going to give him another sort of fish to fry.

Stoppin' and Startin'. Ian Beale needs to wind his neck in. He's got no right to sit in judgement on Stacey as Martin's girlfriend, certainly not after what he and Jane the Queen have collectively done.

Stacey needs to really look at Martin. This is a man who really appreciates her. James Bye continues to come into his own as Martin, just a nice, sensible man who wants a peaceful life, surrounded by a family who loves him. He put his whole heart into his simple confession to Stacey:-

I just fancy you.

... and all she could do was look put out and keep refusing phonecalls from someone whom she'd convinced herself was Kush. Because of that thought, she couldn't really concentrate on Martin, and so she misconstrued his remark about wanting to understand what's going on in her head as him wanting to control her. She was totally knocked for six when he confessed that he knew about her bi-polar condition, and he wasn't put off by that at all. He just didn't know much about it. At least, he was honest. But then, Stacey's reaction is to cut and run ...

I can't handle this.

Can't handle what, Stacey? That the bigger man, whom you think of as the lesser one, understands you and loves you, wants to spend the rest of his life with you, and the man for whom you're horny knows nothing about your medical condition and would run a mile from you to avoid getting involved if he did know?

Martin looked relieved when she left. He's already spent his twenties getting emotionally downtrodden by his bitch of a wife. He's wary about any sort of similar involvement, and who can blame him?

Wherever Stacey went, Martin beat her home, just in time to welcome back Screaming Jean, who's about to marry Ollie ... I just realised now that there are two Ollies on this show. 

The Masterclass in Acting:- Review:- Thursday 02.07.2015

I gave the episode 8 out of 10. I thought its symbolism and linking theme of actual scar tissue impeding on a person's psychological make-up very significant and very well-done, with two characters who can only relate to scarring at the moment - Tamwar and Carol - and the fact that their down-to-earth pragmatists who make them see sense are Carter women. As well, there were the protracted, longer scenes between Linda Henry and Lindsay Coulson, arguably the show's two best and strongest actresses. It's ironic that Coulson is on the cusp of leaving the show, and it's only now she shares the semblance of a storyline and the screen with Henry.

The only shame is that the third really strong actress on the show, Diane Parish, is reduced to playing the Greek Chorus or the straight man.

There were even a couple of hints of things to come in some other romance storylines as well.

The downer of the piece was Tina stinking up the proceedings. 

Carol and Shirley. Bless EastEnders' heart, they have this way of making something seem that it's something, and then turn out to be nothing; but the audience is well familiar with such tricks. 

We knew the bra wasn't Carol's. It wasn't her type, and she's not the type to be so careless. Besides, as we now know, Carol wears prostheses.

Sadly, it was a bit of a contrived episode where Social Services were concerned - Shirley's angry with Buster, he's trying to phone or message her, and the landline rings. Kim tries to tell Shirley who's calling, but Shirley assumes and gives the caller an earful before realising that Social Services is ringing about the appointment.

Again, that was something we all saw coming.

However, this was a good vignette. It concerned two of the show's best actors playing two of the show's prickliest frmale characters, and it was well worth the watch, even if the final scene was a direct rip-off from the scene in the late 90s when Peggy is encouraged by her daughter-in-law, Tiffany, to look at her mastectomy scar.

It's very easy, if you're a woman to see the rationale behind Carol's lie, a lie that grew out of proportion. Nothing happened with Buster, but she wanted her mollycoddling, hypocritical family to know that she wasn't ready for the rocking chair by the hearth yet. At the same time, her lie is forcing her to recognise, psychologically, what the loss of her breasts mean to her as a woman.

The bluebottle in the ointment was the ever-present, over-riding presence of the whining, skulking freeloader named Tina, who instantly starts in, verbally attacking Carol about having slept with Buster. Her arguments and taunts to Carol show just how lacking in common sense and how utterly hypocritical Tina is, without even thinking about it. What a case of headuparseitis!

The best moment of the piece came when Tina self-righteously reminded Carol that Carol had actually broken up a relationship, because Shirley wouldn't have Buser back.

Oh, well, Sonia having a husband didn' stop you, did it?

No one dishes arse like Carol, but Tina's so caught up in her own self-importance that she follows that up with a taunt that Carol needs "to show more responsability. Yeah, and you'd know about that, wouldn't you, Tina? That's something you've never done before.

The cafe scene, where the Fox-Truemans enter into the accusatory spirit of things by joining Tina in baiting Carol, served two purposes:-

- We found out what we really expeced - that the bra belonged to Roxy and was the product of a bit of Afternoon Delight she shared with the rapist Dean. Their brief discussion, hunkered down in the café, about how the Fox-Truemans and putrid Tina were rounding on Carol for having wronged Shirley, was very interesting, even for its brevity. First of all, for a couple trying to keep their relationship a secret, the last thing they do is share a cuppa in a café frequented by everyone they know. Secondly, in this instance, it's Dean, the rapist, who shows a vestige of conscience in wanting Roxy to tell the truth about the ownership of he bra, because Shirley's bad reaction to events had scuppered her chances of any custody for Jade. But Roxy is adamant. She's getting a giggle about the fact that their secret deeds are getting blamed on others in the Square. The look on Dean's face when Roxy rejected his suggestion, was a subtle picure. 

Strike two, Roxy.

- Of course, the scene was necessary in order to set up the eventual confrontation between Shirley and Carol. Prior to finding out that Shirley was so upset at the thought of Buster having been unfaithful, that she made another bodge job of the meeting with the social worker.

A word about that meeting: The show has shown fortitude and good continuity in showing the same social worker. This was the man who handled Jay's case, amongst others. He's really the Marsden of the social work world. Of course, the entire episode centering around the confrontation between the show's best actresses was a contrivance from the get go, especially with the all-too-familiar scene of Shirley bottling it witn a figure of authority, and running, in some way, from her defeat.

In the meeting with the social worker, Buster tried too hard - emphasising his criminal record - nothing too serious, mind - and dropping the conversaion piece that Dean, Jade's father, had been accused of serious sexual assault - again, something that "wasn't true." Shirley, on the other hand, sat back and did nothing for England. Her demeanor, her body language, everything indicated she was on the outs with Buster. In fact, the only time she came alive was when the social worker mentioned that single people were able to adopt children. Shirley can't be thinking of binning Buster, can she?

The Shirley-Carol confrontation was a masterclass, from the moment Carol threw her prosthetic breasts on the table. This was a confrontation of two women who feed off their own fears. Carol has always been defined, not only by her children, but by whatever man was in her life. For so many years, she burned a candle for David, whilst taking whatever love was on offer. Now, with the loss of her breasts, her chidlren and grandchildren are consigning her to the role of elderly grandmother - feeding her soup and buying her shawls. Even presuming to speak for her in important matters as if she were nearing, if not achieving, senility.

As she rhetorically asked Shirley, why shouldn't she have a breast reconstruction, if she wanted it? Indeed, why not? Women face deep psychological crises when they lose the physical manifestaions of their femininity - their breasts to mastectomies and their uterus to hysterectomies. Jane the Queen, before she became a sociopath, had a woeful time even visiting Tanya, newly birthed of Oscar, because she knew she'd never be able to have a child. Both she and Carol, I daresay, felt and feel less womanly.

The pivotal point of the discussion came when Shirley recalled her own brush with breast cancer, and admitted the fear she felt- so strong that she didn't go back for her result until a month after the result. 

I ran. It's what I do.

That was the single most truthful line to come from this episode and to come from Shirley's mouth. She runs from anything adverse that might affect her, because she's afraid that it will beat her. She runs from responsibility and reasons the running by blaming the person wronged. Ian Beale deserved to have his restaurant burned because he was Ben's brother. Stuff like that. She's a coward. She admitted it.

And yet, she turned counsellor for Carol, who needed reassurance of her womanhood, hitting the depths by referring to herself as a "freak," the second time that term was used in the episode. Shirley stepped up and forced Carol to face her demons, to look at herself in the mirror and acknowledge that she was still the same person she was before she had the mastectomy. Shirley's great for giving wonderful advice to others, and I mean that most sincerely, but she can't take the same advice on board.

Now, I think she's fully thinking about adopting Jade without Buster, more's the pity.

Tamwar and Nancy. I'm lost with this one. Aparf from seeing the beginning of Lee's storyling, I'm at a loss to wonder why Nancy's so cold to Tamwar. She's got a secret. She said she'd seen a doctor, and for one brief moment, I thought - OMIGOD, another pregnancy; but it's not. She and Tamwar haven't had sex, as pre-marital sex is against his religion, even though that didn't bother him with MyAlice.

However, Tamwar is another one who's bothered, emotionally and physically, by scars - specifically, the scars on his back from the fire. Nancy has epilepsy, as we saw her having an attack at the end (comforted by the adorable Lady Di). She admitted that she'd been under a lot of pressure lately, helping her mother with the baby et al, and obviously that brought on the attack; but I want to know the reason for her cooling on Tamwar, when last week, she was right there at his side, almost a member of the family. In fact, Masood referred to her as a "keeper," to Tamwar.

Is she conflicted about what she witnessed with Kush?

Speaking of Kush ...

The Beginning of the End or the End of the Beginning. I hope that was the end of Stacey and Kush looking hornily at each other, but I fear it isn't. I think it is the beginning of Stacey's bi-polar and key storylines. Ian Beale slays me. He allows his cousin to book the entire restaurant for a romantic evening with his girlfriend, and then stands around making snide comments like an old maiden aunt. 

I hope Stacey does marry Martin. I relish the thought of her handing Ian his fat arse.

Oh Carol - Review:- Tuesday 30.06.2015

After giving this episode a 7 out of 10, I watched it again. It really is a very good filler episode, once again, subtly hinting at what's to come in the future. It's very true that the show is treading water at the moment, in anticipation of the autumn when the established Big Guns take over, along with the Big Star who'll link Kathy to Sharon and show the Mitchells up for the amateurs that they are; but it's treading water in a DTC way, rather than the TunaGate, SnakeGate and Shaggerman sagas of Newman summers.

This episode was all about dynamics.

Shabnam/Kush/Stacey/Martin and Their Accompanying Satellites. It's been established that Stacey and Kush are the offending parties in what looks like yet another love triangle/square saga; but I can't help but think that this is an introduction to a bi-polar episode for Stacey, a grounding for her permanent relationship with Martin, which will see her integrated into the show's original family; and I think that it will be a study in the nuanced character of Kush, who - at the end of the day - turns out to be yet another weak-willed man, unable to think for himself and wanting just an easy life.

First of all, I want to discuss Stacey and Shabnam, the latest in EastEnders' ongoing study of female friendships. They are, indeed, the Sharon and Michelle of their time. I know, without a doubt, that someone is lurking about and ready to jump from the woodwork, wagging a cyber finger in my face to tell me a million ways why I'm wrong, but this is my opinon. Not only are they the natural successors to Sharon and Michelle, they are also the successors to the likes of Tanya and Jane the Queen.

Theirs is a friendship of inequality. Both women think the other has something the other hasn't. To Stacey, Shabnam has a perfect life - the hunky boyfriend which Stacey wants, and a family who loves her. For Shabnam, Stacey's got the freedom Shabnam's always craved and a daughter who loves her. Just like Sharon and Michelle, it's a friendship based on jealousy and betrayal.

The fact that I think Stacey is veering towards a bi-polar episode is that she's not thinking clearly. On the one hand, she desperately wants Kush - wantshim, not loves him - yet she identifies herself sincerely as Shabnam's best friend, and she cares deeply about her - deeply enough to apologise sincerely for having said some ugly things to her. She's not even identifying the fact that, should Kush choose her over Shabnam, that Shabnam would even want to be her friend; yet she's all too aware of the self-hatred and low esteem issues Shabnam has as a result of her secret (Roya/Jade).

Where she isn't very nice naturally is where Martin is concerned. Stacey is lonely and afraid. For the first time in her life, she's genuinely without family back-up and support. She wants a fella, and where she can't have Kush, she's used this frustration on confusing Martin, by coming onto him in a sexual way. I don't think she dislikes him. I genuinely thinks she's fond of him. They bonded over having lost fathers at a very young age.

She sends out so many mixed signals to Martin - telling him she's not interested, then sleeping with him; having comfort sex, then binning him - that I'm glad he finally ascertained that he just may be being used as the available body whenever Stacey felt in the mood and the couldn't come up with anyone else.

Now suddenly, it's Stacey who's socially gauche, thinking Martin is gauche enough and desperate enough to welcome her into his arms simply because she wants him.

I'm not someone you can just jump all over when the mood takes you ... I need more.

Martin's actually not being stupid here, even though TPTB have previously depicted him as a dolt. It's easy to assume that he's probably been emotionally abused and tortured by that cold-smiling evil bitch of a wife, Sonia .

At the end of the day, all he wants is a woman who loves him, and he's, understandably, wary of Stacey, who binned him off as a friends-with-benefits in the morning, and now wants a full-on relationship in the afternoon.

Tonight, more than ever before, we got a glimpse of what and who Kush really is, and we got that from the comment made by his mother, when she found out about Shabnam's pregnancy, after Masood's misplaced rant, wondering why Shabnam was so ready to welcome this child and not Jade, who was out there, and alive and rejected by her mother. Taken aback by Masood's litany about Shabnam shaming the family and her community, Kush implores Carmel for support and is shocked by her reply, reminding him that marriage is one thing, but a child changes everything. A child binds you to the mother for life, no matter what changes occur, and changes DO occur. When Masood distinctly reminds Carmel that Kush bears a responsibility as well in this, Carmel shortly replies ...

That's what I'm afraid of.

Kush bolted. Right to Stacey, and made another remark that let us have a big insight into his character.

Nothing is happening the way it was planned.

What, exactly, was planned? I would imagine that Kush would continue sleeping with Shabnam without commitment, and that he'd met Stacey, who reminded him of his first wife, and he'd try her out as well, but fail to commit. Then, when he'd destroyed their friendship, he'd move on and move onto someone else. This is a man who, clearly, doesn't want a committed relationship, much less a child, and Stacey offers him the common-sense solution, by lobbing the ball of decision right back into his court. 

He's got to get his priorities right, because teasing Stacey whilst he was engaged to Shabnam isn't fair to them both. In one fell swoop, Kush takes the nice guy route and chooses Shabnam.

Tamwar garnered the line of the night:-

Bagsy not telling the news to Mum.

At least, after Masood's initial outburst, Shabnam got the opportunity to sit down with him and explain why she could accept this baby, when she couldn't accept Jade. When she was pregnant with Jade, she was alone and the child was a result of a drunken encounter. Besides, with Jade, things were too messy, too much time had gone by and too much damage hed been done to ever allow their relationship to be normal. There is also the unsaid truth about what life for Shabnam would have been like as an unwed mother in her parents' home during the year they were ostracising her brother for being gay.

At least, finally, Masood accepts her rationale, and in return, she agrees to report her beating to the police and to give her blessing to Shirley's custody battle for Jade.

Granny Carol, Grandad Buster and The Assorted Assholes Who Surround Them. Carol has always been accused of being selfish. It's a Branning trait, which she wears as a badge; but she's also committed to her family and a dedicated mother and grandmother.

I don't think the attraction between Buster and Carol is a love affair, more than that, it's a quiet friendship. Buster has turned out to be a patient and wise man. He's now decided that, even though Shirley and Dean left the foster carer with a bad taste in his mouth about their suitability for caring for Jade, Buster has a point to prove. He's good at judging character, and for too long, when Shirley falls at the first hurdle, she bolts. Now he's determined to approach custody for Jade via Social Services, but he's being thwarted by Shirley, who's difficult to broach.

He genuinely likes Carol, and unlike any man whom she's known before, I think he sees her first, as a person in her own right, and then as a woman. It's the person he's encouraging. It's also not Carol's fault she's surrounded clowns to the left of her and jokers to the right. She's still a young woman. Both Carol and Shirley are, in fact, fourteen years younger than Kathy, who's not only a grandmother, but also a great-grandmother-to-be.

There never was a more offensive character in the programme than vile Sonia. Everything from her patronising, insincere smily whenever she imposes her will and person on Carol. Carol wasn't capable of attending her appointment alone; there, Sonia took it upon herself to designate herself as spokesperson for Carol's life. It was Sonia who decided that Carol really didn't want a breast reconstruction, and when Carol challenged her on that, Sonia's assumption was that Carol had binned David when he suggested that. (No, you dumb shit, that wasn't the reason Carol ended it with David;she ended it with David because she realised that David could never commit to her fully, and that she'd been nurturing a schoolgirl dream of him all her life).

Now, however, with the removal of Carol's breast, her signature identifying part of her body as a sexually active female are gone, so Sonia is ready for Carol to move onto the next level - Granny Carol, sipping soup in a corner in her rocking chair whilst wearing her granny shawl and being mentally incompetant to act on her own behalf.

Anyone notice how Sonia's taking over a house that isn't hers?

I don't think for a moment Carol slept with Buster. She wouldn't be that careless to leave behind a bra and it was obvious that she wasn't without her prostheses whe she returned.I think, however, Buster encouraged her to seek some quality time for herself and also told her it wasn't too late in her life to pursue her dreams.

Since Diane has become a straight man to Kim and Shirley, I liked Shirley's quip about the bra being two sizes too small for Kim, but it was the sort of thing Roxy might wear.

And, please, let's stop the rehabilitation of the rapist. However, I give Shirley kudos for admitting that Buster thought if Jade and Dean were re-acquainted, they, as grandparents, had to be a part of her life. Smart call.

Dean needs to go. 

The BabyTrap - Review:-Monday 29.06.2015

I know the big guns are out to pasture until the next big blockbuster return occurs, and I know Love Squares and baby stories aren't the most popular thing at the moment; and I know the long, lost child/parent/relative has been overdone in extremis, but the show is using some of it's strongest actors at the moment, and even though you might have to complain about the storylines, the actors make things watchable.

Besides, there was some wonderfully subtle beginnings of other storylines and one not-so-subtle storyline.

A Tale of Two (or Three) Children. Without being subtle, it's more than obvious that Shabnam is supposed to be the object of our sympathy, and it's interesting to see Shabnam's and Stacey's friendship evolve. In many ways, it's like the friendship between Sharon and Michelle. I know some people are going to disdain this observation, but it's my observation, and I'll explain the similarities. 

It wouldn't surprise me if DTC intended Stacey and Shabnam to have a friendship on the level of that between Sharon and Michelle. Yes, before anyone gets blisteringly pedantic, I do know that Sharon and Michelle had known each other since childhood, and that Stacey and Shabnam only have a friendship of a few months; but Stacey has always made friends almost instantaneously and just as instantaneously, they became close friends (Ruby Allen, Danielle).

Something Stacey said tonight to Martin echoed vestiges of Sharon's and Michelle's friendship. Stacey was feeling guilty about having told Shabnam some awful things. When Shabnam was breaking down and saying how she was afraid of being a bad mother or incapable of feeling anything for her child, Stacey lost her temper and invited Shabnam to leave this child on another doorstep. Of course, we know Stacey is conflicted about Kush, but as she explained to Martin, Shabnam, in her perception, has this perfect life. Stacey had earlier bombarded Shabnam with the rhetorical question, insinuating that Shabnam thought Stacey had life easy because she felt all the maternal feelings and love a woman is supposed to feel when their child is born. Shabnam is basing all of this on the fact that she felt nothing when she saw her six year-old daughter, never imagining that the reason she felt "nothing" was due to the fact that she was in a state of shock after her beating, amongst other things.

A lot of the friendship between Sharon and Michelle was based on jealousy and misconceptions of the other's lifestyle situation. There was also an element of betrayal there as well. Michelle was jealous of Sharon, because her parents gave her everything she wanted. She was, indeed, the spoiled princess. Sharon, on the other hand, was jealous of Michelle, because Michelle had a warm, loving family environment, where Sharon was the mediator between two warring parents - an alcoholic mother and a cheating father - both of whom loved Sharon to bits, but hated each other.

And Michelle betrayed Sharon, not once, but twice. Very few people would forgive their best friend for shagging and getting pregnant by the friend's dad; yet Michelle almost felt that she was entitled to Sharon's friendship after Vicki's birth, and later went onto shag Sharon's ex-husband and leave the Square pregnant with his child, a fact about which Sharon is ignorant to this day.

That Stacey genuinely likes Shabnam and cares about her as a friend, a good friend, is without a doubt. But her first assumption, when she saw Shabnam upset in the Minute Mart tonight was to assume that she didn't want to go through with the engagement or the wedding. That was wishful thinking and would have given Stacey a free pass to move things up a gear with Kush. Yet she was still sympathetic to her when she began to talk about everything else that was happening to her.

Chief amongst her worries was the fact that Buster had begun to lobby her about seeing Jade, not for her own benefit, but in order that he and Shirley would have a better chance of obtaining custody of the child. Then there was the matter of her pregnancy, and her dichotomous feelings and worry about that cut into the high moral code that Stacey still maintains.

Yet the fact remains that Stacey thinks Shabnam has a perfect life. She has her family around her, so she has emotional support, and she's engaged to a man who loves her. Shabnam, on the other hand, envies Stacey not only her freedom from such constraints,but also the fact that she's able to love unconditionally her daughter and is actually a good mother, which Shabnam is convinced that she will never be.

What Stacey doesn't fully realise is that Shabnam is in a dark place at the moment, and has nurtured self-hatred of herself for the past six years, ever since she abandoned her daughter. She had absolutely convinced herself that no one could ever love her, so the barrier came down and she hid behind her religion, with her hijab a mask as much as Dean's beard masks his real skewed self. Now that her secret is out, since Day One, Shabnam has had Masood shouting the odds, telling her how ashamed he he was of her, calling her any and all amount of names for doing what she did and for not doing what he wanted her to do. He's undermined her and gone behind her back. Now she has Buster using her as a lifeline in order to get Shirley something that Shirley wants - a child to redeem her desertion of Jimbo.

What Shabnam doesn't realise is that Stacey wants her fiancé. She hasn't said she loves him, she simply wants him for shagging purposes, and because she can't have him, Stacey is throwing a massive pity party. I am still holding to the premise that this is the start of a bi-polar episode. When Stacey confessed to treating Shabnam badly tonight, and she felt badly about it, Martin was comforting her as a friend and nothing else. It was Stacey who chose to make the first move there,and as Shabnam was telling Kush below on Arthur's Bench, that she was five months pregnant with their baby, Stacey was more than likely conceiving another grandchild of Pauline, Arthur and Jean.

In between all of that, we had Shirley shouting the most horrible odds at Shabnam. She wasn't willing to wait for Buster's gentle persuasion; instead, Shirley does her usual party trick of kicking the door down, figuratively - banging aggressively on the Masoods' door, and forcing her way inside.

Shirley: Can I come in?
Shabnam: No
Shirley (pushing past her): It wasn't a question.

How bloody presumptive! Who does this woman thinkshe is? She should have some modicum of compassion. The girl has just been kicked within an inch of her life. She can barely move for the pain, she's pregnant (unbeknownst to Shirley), and her hormones are all over the place. She's scared shitless that commitment-shy Kush, who was difficult in coming to terms with marrying her, would dump her in a New York minute once he finds out about the pregnancy. She's worried about her non-reaction to Jade and worried that she might feel the same way about this child, and in the middle of it all, Shirley comes barging into her house, into her space, rabbiting on about how she wants to know Jade, how she wants to know what books the child reads etc, as soon as Shabnam observes that perhaps the child is happy where she is, Shirley lets rip with the worst thing she could ever say to Shabnam:-

You'd make a terrible mum, but one day you'll wish you welcomed that girl with opened arms, and it will kill you.

Says the mother who tried to drown her oldest child and who walked out on her other three, not even bothering to come to the funeral of the disabled one. Shirley has no idea of the self-hate and recrimination Shabnam's imposed upon herself, and if she bothered, actually, to sit down and think about it, she's done the same as Shabnam, but in a different way. 

I feel so sorry for Shabnam at the moment, being second-guessed and undermined from both sides, by Masood, who decided on the erstwhile advice of Roxy, to call the police, against Shabnam's wishes, and by Buster and Shirley, who are using her for their own end.

Stacey uses Martin for comfort sex, and based on Martin's reaction when he sees her staring out the window - he turns over, literally shrugs his shoulders and goes to sleep - I think he realises this as well. He's not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I suppose he's decided to take whatever is on offer from Stacey.

They made a baby today, however. You can bet on it.

The Godfather and the Grandfather. So as much as Vincent reminds Patrick of Paul, now it seems that Patrick reminds Vincent of his own father. But does he, really? Was that just a line that Vincent wanted to sink in on Patrick as much as Patrick wanted the limited bonding of the dominoes game to sink in on Vincent?

The visit to Dot was simply weird, and I though it was just another way to give June Brown her limited appearance situation whilst she is off for fourteen months or seven months or four months or however long she's having off. Dot is the best-dressed prisoner in the jail,and she's happy. Not just happy, but clap-happy almost. She has a cellmate who's an arsonist (how long before this person shows up in Walford when Dot returns?)

Dot's not at all pleased about Patrick having deserted Denise and Kim to hunker down in her house - mainly, because she's afraid that she'll lose the house again, if Patrick is classed as a sublet; and she tells him, abruptly, that he's not no business sulking on his own when he could be looked after and cared for by family, the people who love him. That's said after Patrick admitted that he thought he and Dot could understand each other because of the similarities between Nick and Paul Trueman.

But Dot was just strange. Her family homily was even stranger, considering how she blew hot and cold with Jim's family as it pleased her, and then took Charlie in with all his lies and pretensions when she didn't know him from Adam. Remember that double-edged sword of a remark she made some weeks ago:-

That Charlie Cotton ... he'd lie his socks off.

Of course, the line was meant to refer to Charlie, her feckless husband, but the camera immediately panned to Charlie the ball-less dirtbore.

Between Dot and Vincent, that did the trick. Patrick's home.

Oasis. How nice a man is Buster? You get the impresssion that, even though he's gone whole hog for the custody case (to please Shirley), he'd like a respite from all the histrionics involved. Spending time with Carol offers him a kind of peace. He's attracted to her, simply because she's the anti-Shirley. She talks to him about her children, and he appreciates the fact she's always been there for her children, just as she appreciates that family members often enter into a family dynamic in unorthodox ways.

He genuinely likes Carol and compliments her naturally, which is something Carol needs to hear now. She's just had a double mastectomy, and the hospital is contacting her now for reconstructive surgery. Losing your breasts, like losing your uterus, ofttimes makes a woman feel she's lost her femininity; yet there was Buster, urging her to buy a flowery top, complimenting her on her looks, teasing her about wearing leathers and looking like Marianne Faithfull. And enjoying a cup of tea, instead of dancing to Shirley's tune.

It takes Carol's mind off her impeding decision regarding her surgery.

Something Wicked This Way Comes. Did we just see the awful future of the relationship that is Dean and Roxy? 

Roxy's ignorance at what was behind the attack on Shabnam was a perfect, but subtle, example of white privllege, unable to comprehend that Shabnam's attack was for a reason Roxy would never suffer or comprehend. She urges Masood to override Shabnam's reluctance and to contact the police and gives him a hug of support before he goes on his way, leaving her to control the Masala Masood stall.

The hug is witnessed by Dean, who immediately thought that there was a connection between Roxy and Masood and appears at her side, passive-aggressively intimidating her, trying to find out if there were anything between her and Masood. When Roxy tried to make his jealousy a joke, you could see the severe control issues almost bursting from Dean. Dean controls she whom he loves, and it's his way or the highway, and when he whispers a sexual suggestion to Roxy, she laughs and refuses him. She's working.

Big mistake, Roxy.

Here's Another Fine Mess - Review:- Friday 26.06.2015

Actually, I thought this was the best - and arguably the most poignant - episode of the week. In every respect. The only letdown was the protracted presence of Liam the Lug, the giant slug.

The Coward, the Sneak and the Big Twist. Spot the single biggest moral coward (and otherwise) in Walford. His name is Kush. Caught between the proverbial rock and the hard place where his brain is lodged between his legs. Credit to him for pulling back just as Stacey was trying to strip him down and have him on the kitchen floor. Methinks that Kush has been in this situation before and knows he's onto a hiding to nothing. Cheaters most generally always get caught, and you have to think he's either too afraid or that he genuinely does think too much of Shabnam to put her through such misery.

It's interesting that it's he who pulls back from going whole hog on the situation, yet Stacey's still concerned with only herself and how this affects her.

Do you think I want to do affairs? I've been there.

Yes, but, you dozy mare, this is yet another man who's committed, to whom you think you are entitled. I have to keep telling myself, convincing myself, that maybe Stacey's beginning the onset of a bi-polar episode, because this entire incident shows her in an extremely bad light. As Kush kept reminding her from the onset, she was Shabnam's friend, until at the end, he reminded her forcefully that she was, indeed, Shabnam's friend, but not his. I did sense a heavy déja vu in the final scene between Kush and Stacey at the hospital, because it strongly brought to mind the similar scene, also at Walford General, between Charlie and Roxy, when he warned her to stay away from him.

Stacey reckons she can stay away, but - as she rightly questions - can Kush? Because, make no mistake, Kush led in this warped relationship, the moment he decided to take advantage of Stacey's vulnerability immediately after Kat's and Alfie's departure, when he thought Shabnam had dumped him and he needed his ego (and something else) stroked.

Of course, we know that Kush is going to continue to buzz around Stacey, especially with the news the viewers and Shabnam got in the final duff-duff. I must say, that's a turn-up for the books. I know Shabnam slept with Kush ages ago - and by ages ago, I mean she should be showing by now, so I'm assuming that, on the QT and off-screen (where so much of the non-Carter action of the show), Shabnam's recently, within the past month or so, been sleeping with Kush. Well, she did enter into the relationship, initially, after Kush cried and gave the audience the first edition of the "dead wife speech", and thus it became a "friends-with-benefits" arrangement.

Before I comment on what became the ethos of this storyline, I'm amazed by the abrupt change in stance by Nancy. Kush and Stacey arrived, together, at the Community Centre, and Nancy was distinctly giving Stacey the fish eye, after warning her to stay away from Kush. From Stacey's visible squirming and the constrained and constipated look on her face, it's good to know she still has a soupçon of a conscience about betraying her friend, as well as being shit-scared by Nancy's moral stance.

There was then the juxtaposed dichotomy of bigotry on both sides of this situation - from the girl gang member, hissing at Shabnam to "go home," to Bushra's bigoted reaction to Stacey being included in the Iftar event. She could just about stomach Tamwar's association with Nancy, and she wanted to use the occasion to preach and educate about Islam. As Tamwar remarked, most of the people there attended what looked like a food bank, for something to eat, and Masood handed Bushra her arse, yet again, by welcoming Stacey - whom Bushra insisted on calling "Sarah" - to the event.

And, beautifully and subtly underplayed, in the midst of this scene, we have Cora, dishevelled and looking more the worse for wear, meanders silently through the gathering into the ladies' room, unseen and unrecognised by anyone.

Of course, the crux of this storyline was the purely accidental, very poignant and utterly ethereal meeting between Shabnam and her daughter. It was a very affecting scene - and it even included the ubiquitous Carter involvement. The camera pulling back slowly from a stricken and collapsed Shabnam lying by the seesaw in the playground, to show the back of a young child watching her intently.

Double-edged sword line of the night, undoubtedly went to Jade, as she watched Shabnam regain consciousness:-

I thought you were dead.

This remark being followed by the child approaching Shabnam and gently stroking her hijab in an act of comfort was not only extremely moving, you simply had the eerie feeling that the child knew who Shabnam was. Considering that, until this moment, Jade had been proving to be a mouthy, quirky and smart-arsed child - obviously her mother's daughter - with Shabnam, she seemed to show a softer side. Yes, it could have been compassion at seeing someone so injured and beaten up, but it was a mature reaction and charged with subtle recognition.

And, of course, when Mick - Jade's uncle - appeared, decided - upon seeing how seriously Shabnam was hurt - to call an ambulance, and asked the child's name, the moment she said her name was Jade, Shabnam's face was a portrait. With the risk of sounding corny, it was as if the child were her mother's guardian angel.

That's what made Shabnam's admitted reaction to Stacey so shocking, that she felt nothing when she saw the child. There was no immediate love, no maternal yearning, but there are loads of reasons for this. Shabnam gave birth to Jade under isolated and traumatic circumstances. She was conflicted about having had a child, in secret, out of wedlock and outcast. Of course, deep down, she loved the child; she loved her enough to leave her on the doorstep of people she loved and trusted, and she developed the relgious veneer, and the shield of the hijab, to mask her emotions and move on. She's not brought the child up. She's the incubator, and coming in contact with her, under an unusual and, again, a traumatic situation, heightens all her fears and insecurities.

Shabnam has spent the past six years hating herself and trying to regain respect for herself. Then there's the race hate beating and her child rescuing her, ending with the discovery that, again, she's pregnant, unmarried and - unbeknownst to her - with another creep as the child's father, and she's thrown down the well of self-doubt again.

I'm glad, in the midst of this storyline, the show is alluding to race hatred and racism coming to the fore again, especially against Asians, but I have to admit that, whilst Masood was beating on the broken drinks machine, when Tamwar gave a final smack to it, I thought, for a moment, he'd walk away and a drink would dispense.

Gee, Tamwar could have been the Fonzarelli of Walford.

A Kid Called Jade. I liked her. She's smart-arsed and intelligent, and she had Shirley and Dean played. Dean is confronted with the result of a drunken shag, a child about whom he's waxed lyrical since finding out that she existed, and he totally bottles it. He is forced to admit to himself that he doesn't want the responsibility of this child, he cannot even talk to her. He literally had to be physically prompted by Shirley to speak to his daughter and all he could come up with was ...

"Y'all right?"

Jade had his shallowness pegged from the getgo.

That my dad?
Can't he speak for himself?

She was canny enough to know that Shirley had no toys for a child in the house, wasn't interested in colouring books, and so she brought her own game. I'll have to say it for Shirley, and in her favour, she genuinely tried with the child, tried to reach out to her, but this is a child who's been in care, and parentless, all her life. She certainly has Shabnam's edginess and brittleness. She's wary of these strangers who are her blood relations, and she's holding them at arm's length, testing them.

Shirley made the mistake of assuring Jonathan, her carer, that she and Dean were well-equipped to deal with Jade's CF, admitting that Dean's brother had the disease. Yet when Jade asked where Jimbo was, neither could bring themselves to tell her he was dead, and Dean decided then and there that he wanted out of he situation.

In the meantime, Buster is bonding with Carol in the cafe, admitting to her that Shirley had kicked him out when he refused to support her insistence in bringing Dean into the equation about their grandchild. He's right. Jade's mother doesn't want to know about her, and Dean was entering into this situation for all the wrong reasons. The kid was better off in care.

In fact, they couldn't even control her movements in the home when she was visiting, because she disappeared - and was found by Mick, guarding her mother.

So far, so good in the realism. Jonathan the carer is well within his remit in not supporting this shower for custody. As he said, he's seen kids in crisis better behaved than the war going on between Dean and Shirley. Dean doesn't know what he wants. He's a rapist, with rejection and anger issues; and I think he felt or had conditioned himself to feel that Jade was going to reject him, and the kid, who's perspicacious, picked up on his creepy vibes. Shirley wants the child as atonement for Jimbo, and it was mete that Jade heard Dean accuse Shirley of not even coming to Jimbo's funeral.

What was audacious was Buster's volte face in the end, promising to back Shirley's efforts for custody of the child. Because of the blood tie. Well, as we saw tonight, sometimes blood counts for nothing. As the wife of an adoptee, who's traced his biological parents, trust me. I know.

Mr Funk's Donkey Dinner. The two most positive male characters in the programme at the moment have to be Buster and Patrick. 

Patrick is a bloody joy and an icon. He won't be bought by Vincent and sees right through his lies. Vincent can easily spin yarns that the idiotic Kim will believe, and she'll believe Vincent over Patrick now; but Patrick has been there and done that with Paul. 

The pivotal moment in their scenes came when an exasperated Patrick, not believing either the lies about Vincent's vast sums of money coming from The Albert or his malarkey about his one song cut as a rapper and the money being "royalties," referred to Vincent as "boy."

Gosh, this brought back memories of Paul Trueman!

Patrick doesn't stint in saying exactly what he thinks of Vincent, even to calling Kim a fool for getting involved with him. When Denise, who had a classic line about Vincent doing the club tours ~ What did they call you in Ibiza ... Mr Funk?~ tries to calm Kim's reactions and justify Patrick's concerns, Kim has a zinger for Denise ...

Says the woman who was married to two psychopaths.

Before he'll stay one minute in the house of which he's half-owner, he'll leave (for Dot's and Fatboy) rather than live with scum.

Until that moment, Richard Blackwood had been bearable. But once he got into gangster mode - the remark about old men being set in their ways and the hard man attitude to whomever that holdall full of money was destined, he became, not Donkey, not Mr Funk, but Mr Funkey.

Go Now.

The more I see Carol, the sadder I become that she'll soon be leaving our screens. The more I see of Liam, the more I wonder when he can go. He's so dismal and monotoned. And stupid.

It's the economy, stupid! Carol's hospitality to Cindy is borne of kindness and compassion, but the reality of the situation is that she has to provide for another mouth to feed, and that costs money; so it's right that Jane is financially supporting this. Maybe this lame-brained dolt would like to go without his meals so Cindy can eat and cost his grandmother nothing. If he's so concerned with providing for Cindy, maybe he should get his fat arse a job and contribute to the household economy.

So he's threatening to tell Cindy about Carol's arrangement, knowing that Cindy will kick off and not want this? Really, Liam? Are you that stupid? Apparently so.