Sunday, January 25, 2015

CarterTown:- Review:- Thursday 22.01.2015

After a promising first half-hour, even with all the secrets and lies coming to the fore, the second half-hour fell flat. The second half-hour was DTC's contingency plan and last-ditch effort thrown into making us sympathise with Shirley. 

Shirley cried. She's cried before. She pleaded. She's pleaded before, but until we hear Shirley address the reason why she abandoned Jimbo, Carly and Dean, I'll be hard put to find any sympathy for her. We're hardly about to get any reasons now, especially since Babe, to whom Shirley made some sort of veiled remark about Jimbo's birth some months ago, has been exiled outside the Carter fold.

The squalid history of the Carters centering around Shirley trying to clear her name as "the villain of the family" came across as extraneous, almost contrived, and clearly had a reason, but at the end of the day, the very fact that Shirley walked away from three very small children, cheated continuously on her husband and left him to bring up two children who weren't his and their own disabled son, clearly marks her as ... guess what? ... the villain of the family.

Sorry, Shirl.

The Kids Are Alright.

It just dawned on me as I watched this episode that the Carter kids and their parents were all just kids together, they were that young. Linda and Mick grew up fast, at last, after everything that happened at the copshop, and now the next big hurdle is telling the children, but that's not possible; because there's another big Carter surprise do being planned back at the Vic, with its purpose twofold: Mick's surprise birthday lunch (courtesy of Babe) and a farewell lunch for Sylvie, who was bound for some care home in Chislehurst.

There they all were, a rogues' gallery of gothic EastEnd descendents of Jack the Ripper, all sat in the Vic front room:- Stan, the errant patriarch; Sylvie, the mystery mother; Babe, whom we later found out didn't really have a given name at all; and Nancy and Lee. 

Sylvie was asking incongruent questions, like wondering if Shirley were "showing" yet. Nancy was acting like a putz and wondering where Shirley was and why she wasn't there. 

Nancy, who started out as such a promising and refreshing ingenue character on the programme, has regressed, in recent months to an overgrown parody of a twenty-one year-old with the behavioural instincts of a twelve year-old. We have the sing-songy voice, the spoilt child demeanour, and her conviction that Linda was the bugaboo behind the Christmas kerfuffle due to her having had an affair with Dean. That's as far as she's thought things. Now, she's taken her immature thinking to another level - she now thinks that Mick and Linda are going to split up, especially since their parents want to speak to them as soon as they return from wherever it is they haven't told the kids they are going.

For all Nancy and Lee are young adults in their twenties, they have been mollycoddled to such an extent that they have behavioural traits of much younger people. Linda, herself, has openly admitted that she wanted to keep her children as young as possible, thus, her babying them incessantly. It's ironic that the first to fly the coop is the youngest.

Try as they might to honour the birthday event, Mick and Linda were forced to speak to Lee and Nancy about what happened, and in the end, it was Nancy who could only voice what her mother couldn't say about what happened to her. The fact that she had been raped, and by Dean, was overwhelming.

Lee couldn't look at his mother, and the scene in the Vic cellar between Mick and Lee was, arguably, Danny-Boy Hatchard's strongest scene in months. The explosion of emotion against his father was palpable, as palpable as his desire to avenge Linda by beating the shit out of Lee. To watch father and son collapse, not once but twice, in each other's arms - the first time, the father comforting the son's anguish, followed by the father begging for the son's help and support in his own emotional turmoil - was a powerful scene and executed brilliantly by Hatchard and by Danny Dyer.

Lee's inability to look at Linda troubled me. It was as if he saw his mother as sullied or soiled in some way, but I was glad he eventually manned up and kissed her, acknowledging that what happened wasn't Linda's fault. I could tell that this bothered her, and maybe she was wondering if he saw her that way. And Nancy grew up instantly in the way she dealt with Dean, after he was ordered from the pub, as "scum", by Mick when he brought the collapsed Stan into the pub. The line of the night went to Nancy:-

Nancy: Oi, Dean ... stay away from my family.
Dean: He's my grandad, Nancy.
Nancy: She's my mother.

There was more than a soupcon of foreshadowing as both Lee and Nancy speculated about the paternity of the baby Linda's carrying. Lee reckons that the baby is Mick's, otherwise Mick wouldn't have "let" Linda have it. Nancy knows better and is worried - that's exactly what Mick would do, if the child wasn't his.

The Power of the Pub.

The overriding image I have of Shirley throughout this storyline is her standing in front of the pub and gazing in a welter of pride, greed and desire at her name on the brass plaque, naming her as licensee, above the door of the Vic.

That's what Shirley wants. 

The Vic denotes power and respect for Shirley. She had that, laterally, through her association with Phil, and now she has it again, in what she imagines is her own right. It isn't. Her name is there via the emotional blackmail she levied on Mick early last year. It was a cheap trick, and she doesn't want to lose that souce of perceived power and respect, as much as she doesn't want to lose Mick, and so she does, still, believe that Linda is lying.

Shirley knows that she's being shafted by the family with Sylvie's visit, and she's determined to crash the proceedings. Dean's uncertain that she believes him and questions her.

Why wouldn't I believe you? I'm your mum.

Whatever doubt there was in Shirley's mind about Dean's innocence has been obliterated by her determination to see Linda as a liar, who's doing this to split the family and rein in Mick onside. Her first attempt sees her being stopped in her tracks by Stan, who wants a peaceful life. Once again, we get that arrogance:-

It's my home and my business.

No, Shirley. Mick's chucked you out. You were only there on his grace-and-favour, and you only have a 1 per cent stake in the business, and that's really Stan's money.

The scene between Timothy West and Ann Mitchell deserves mention. In point of fact, Ann Mitchell gave an, albeit brief, but beautiful performance tonight, quite poignant and gentle in Cora'sreminiscences, especially the bit where she wished for one more day to spend, hearing her husband laugh. When her voice caught in a sob, it was wonderfully emotional, especially since she put her own feelings for Stan aside to advise him to seize the day for another chance with Sylvie.

New Trailer Trash in Town.

Poor, pitiful Shirl. Caught between a rock and a hard place, which is probably how she got up the duff with Mick.

I was curiously unmoved by Shirley's tale of woe. I'll give it to her that she had it rough. I had always thought the Brannings were trailer trash, scrubbed up in suits, pretending to be middle class (more of that below), but the Carter clan had them beaten. There's a distinction between the two types of underclass where I come from. The Brannings are on the upper level, being trailer trash. The Carters are found on the lower level. They are, simply, as my late mother would call them "poor white trash."

So Shirley got up the duff by Buster, but hang on a minute, we're talking about the mid-Seventies, here, and Shirley didn't know what her monthly period was when it started because Sylvie hadn't told her? Hel-loooo?

I know a girl can start her period anytime between the ages of 10 and 14, and if Shirley started at the lower age end, I can understand her not having been told and being frightened, but if she started later, surely there would have been some sort of sex education at school, at least biological reproductive lessons as a science, so she would know where babies came from. So a fourteen year-old Shirley, who was running around and hanging out with Buster had no idea that if Buster put his peewee in her doinky that they'd make a bay-bee? This was London in the 1970s, not Appalachia in the 1850s.

Shirley's memory of thinking she was dying when her period started at school and being told by a teacher is a direct lift from Stephen King's Carrie (naughty Daran Little), and even moreso, the reminiscence of Sylvie throwing a pregnant, teenaged Shirley down the stairs is another lift from EastEnders of the 1990s, when Tiffany Raymond Mitchell reminisced about Terry Raymond, her dad, throwing her down the stairs after she got pregnant by a teacher at her school.

Yes, Shirley had it rough, and I do feel sorry for her for having to live in that Gothic horror show that was Babe and Sylvie doing the EastEnd's version of a cross between Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

And Sunset Boulevard ...

That's why I feel sorry for her. I feel sorry that she was manipulated by Babe - the most astounding white trash revelation of the night was that Babe actually and truly has no name. She is just Babe. I feel sorry that she was mistreated and emotionally manipulated by Sylvie. I feel even sorrier that she got involved with a Neanderthal like Bloodvessel.

I'm also astounded at the revelation of the single delight that is Tina, who's turned out, really, to be the only adult in the room.

But to an extent, I'm Team Mick here. Mick is the man he is in spite of his upbringing and not because of it, and if anyone was the making of him into the man he is, it was most likely Elaine Peacock, who responded to one child impregnating her only child by taking him in and literally raising him as her own. It's Linda who gives Mick his sense of decency and good. He got precious little of that from his family.

So Stan was a drunk and a womaniser. Sylvie took out her frustrations on her child. And Babe manipulated herself into the position of Family Fixer. Babe was, effectively, the Derek of the Carter tribe. A psychopath, who's taken advantage of Sylvie's Alzheimers to use her to re-establish Babe's position of power in the family and as jealousy for Sylvie marrying Stan.

Another line of the night goes to Stan:-

You're jealous because I chose the swan instead of the ugly duckling.

Mick has every right to be angry at this all-around deception and right to level that anger at Shirley. Because once Sylvie left and they'd got Mick and Tina back from care, there was no reason why Shirley couldn't reveal who she was to Mick. There was nothing to stop her, except the result of hurting Stan's feelings, and as Stan later told Mick, he'd always be his dad in his heart. Shirley married a good man, and Kevin would easily have accepted Mick as his own. But as Mick said, Shirley went onto have more children with Kevin and abandon them all, and Kevin. Why? This has never been addressed and never will be, and that's a shame.

Small piece of bother here as well. According to Mick, Shirley showed up, drunk, at Johnnie's christening, which would have been about 1995.Dean would have been 8 years old, and Shirley would have been long gone. Are we to assume, then, that Kevin broke all contact with Shirley's family? Because Linda referenced having seen Dean several times when he was a kid, and Shirley had gone from his life before he could toddle, so that would beg the belief that Kevin may have kept in contact with her family. Stan was, after all, his children's grandfather. So if he'd come to Johnny's christening, he'd have found Shirley, whom he;d looked for from time to time during his kids' childhoods. When Johnny was christened, Jimbo would have been fifteen.

Sometimes, the Carter backstory ca 2014-2015 doesn't add up with the Carter-Wicks backstory 2007-2008, and that niggles.

So, Mick forgives Shirley, again. That's natural of Mick; he's a compassionate, forgiving person. But I'm glad he isn't going to think of her as his mother; that would mean having to think of Dean as his brother, and that would stick in his craw.

And is Shirley now allowed back to work in the Vic, as long as Dean doesn't show his face? TMahat's going to play out really well. Not. This storyline is going to last until the birth and paternity reveal of the Carter baby.

The turn-up for the books was Stan asking Tina and Mick to assist him in dying. Please. No. I know assisted suicide is a big issue these days, but the last thing the Square needs is one, or even two more killers in its midst. 

There's a killer amongst them ... that tagline is true in that, in that assembly of characters posed in the picture, there are, actually a fair few killers.

Ma Mitchell and Mr Sleaze.

Step up to the plate, Sharon, as spokesman and force behind the Mitchells. Peggy, when she arrives, will be flabbergasted.

W-e-e-llll! I say! I never thought you had it in you, Sharon. Oi, you! Billy and Roxy! Call yourselves Mitchells!

Sharon finds out that Ben's been a stupid boy.

Loved the scene where Ben's found out, and Jay keeps levelling zingers about Ben's big-man behaviour in the background. Ben's only pithy excuse was that Max tried to take the R and R and The Albert, but Ben stopped him doing it. As if.

Sharon is shocked Max knows about Nick being alive and still wants to hold onto what is rightfully Phil's. The highlight of the episode was when she smacked the shit out of an unkempt Max, who's mourning Emma, having received notice of her funeral. Max loved Emma for about five minutes ... no, wait, Max had sex with Emma for about five minutes. He ruined her career and seriously obstructed the police investigation. He's either feeling sorry for himself and guilty about his treatment of her, or he is, simply, as Lauren perceptively put it, cruel. Lauren is even more shocked that Abi knew that Nick was alive and that she allowed her father to con Ben the way he did. All Abi can do is protest that her father used her to get close to Ben.

Another good Daran Little line:-

Lauren: But, like, when Phil Mitchell gets out, he'll break your legs.
Max: Phil couldn't break wind now.

Max is a total asshole, and nobody plays assholes like Jake Wood. He even looks seedy. But remember one thing: the Brannings are always losers, and Max is cocky thinking that Phil and the comatose Ice Queen are the real power force in the family. He doesn't know Sharon, who survived Grant and who is the daughter of the Daddy of them all, Den Watts.

Loved her line to Ben in their final scene - the key is to let Max think he's won, and then hit him hard. If anyone can accomplish a feat like that and squeeze Max Branning's balls until they're peanuts, it's Mrs Phil Mitchell.

Wish we'd seen more of that. 

Good episode anyway, and I hope Mick's desire never to see Sylvie's or Babe's faces again was sincere.

Carter-Centric:- Review:- Tuesday 20.01.2015

Another outstanding episode, essentially a four-header, and one that shows exactly how much the show is on fire at the moment. Every one of the four major protagonists in this tale stepped up to the plate, and the storyline was enhanced by the splicing together of both Linda's version of events and Dean's.

After tonight, I'd definitely say there is no doubt that Dean knew exactly what he'd done. He may have tried and failed to manipulate Linda into thinking their sex had been consensual, but he had no problem in convincing Shirley, and surprisingly, Shirley, for all the wrong reasons and with all her pejorative maternal history, emerges as the character for whom you ended up feeling the sorriest, because the poor dumb bitch was being played and duped at the one time in her life she wanted to be thought of as a good mum.

It'll all end up in the gutter.

An Innocent Man - Mick:-

I put my hand up to admit it: I wasn't best happiest at the prospect of Danny Dyer fronting EastEnders. I was wrong. He's one of the best things about the show right now, and if Mr Dyer wanted to use this genre to prove to other people that he wasn't a one-trick pony of a Cockney geezer gangsta, he's proved all his critics wrong.

Dyer played an absolute blinder tonight.

I was worried, when this storyline emerged, that Mick wouldn't believe Linda. She'd left it a long time before telling what had happened, and by that point in time, as the police pointed out, it came down to a matter of he-said-she-said and of proving whether there had or hadn't been consent. As close as Mick was to Shirley during the time he thought her his sister, and considering the fact that he'd spent the entire year putting her needs and demands before Linda's, I thought the die was cast.

Instead, Mick is sticking with Linda. They've been together since they were, respectively, fourteen and fifteen years old; they were parents as children, themselves, and I would doubt there would be anyone who would know the other so exclusively as Mick knows Linda and as Linda knows Mick.

His concern for her, and the very fact that he felt her pain were most evident in the voiceover scene where Linda is talking about the rape, and Mick is sat in the foyer of the police station, seemingly, feeling everything Linda went through and rocking back and forth in silent pain. Very evocative and very powerful scene. There is no doubt in Mick's mind of Linda's innocence in all of this, and also, there is no doubt in Mick's mind that he feels guilt as well - that's what was meant when he tearfully apologised to her for letting her down, when the atmosphere in the police station, whilst waiting for her to finish her statement, became so turgid he had to leave and he left in tears.

He wasn't just apologising for not being there when she, herself, rushed from the statement room (for the same reason, that's how much in tune she and Mick are with each other), but for letting her down on that day, for deeming it all-important and first and foremost to run away looking for Shirley, who'd actually committed a crime, and leaving Dean in the Vic with Linda, specifically, with instructions for Linda to emotionally babysit him.

Dyer's performance was raw but excellent, especially when Linda informed him that what had happened had changed the pair of them. Significant was the remark Linda made to Mick about how this wouldn't go away or be solved by pretending to be normal and make cakes and have parties. It was truly as if their eternal childhood had gone forever, and they'd been brutally pulled into adulthood, not only by what Dean had done, but by the fact that Dean had been brought back into their lives by Shirley.

The Pretty Flamingo - Linda:

I always found it odd and a bit quaint that Mick and Linda should have as their song something from nearly fifty years ago - timeless music, yes, but not of their generation.

I was much impressed with Linda tonight. As she entered the police station and began to speak with the policewoman assigned to her case, I was steeling myself for the ubiquitous change of heart, the one look at the video room and Linda clutching her stomach and stuttering ~ I ... I can't do this. Not now~ before dashing out, past an open-mouthed Mick. 

But she didn't, and that surprised and pleased me. 

This has bothered Linda now for so long, and she's kept it bottled inside her for the very reasons that were shown at Christmas, it was as she said. She was afraid of what would happen, but as soon as she acknowledged that fear, she realised that it could be met.

Now that she'd told Mick, now that they'd had time away from the place where all this had happened, she was of a clearer and more determined mind. The first hurdle had been to make a statement to the police. The second is to tell her children.

The irony of all of this was that two crimes were committed the day Linda was raped. Dean raped Linda whilst Mick was frantically trying to find poor pitiful Shirl, who'd committed a crime, herself, that day. She'd shot a man. Mick wasted all that time chasing after a sullied rainbow and then begging the victim and his wife not to prosecute Shirley, and his own wife was hiding a secret of a heinous crime committed against her.

Juxtaposing Dean's version of events with Linda's was effective in that it revealed to the viewer that Dean knew exactly what he was doing when he raped Linda and why he did it.

For once, the writing room stuck with facts and didn't embellish. Linda told everything - from how and why Dean turned up out of the blue, to the belief that he was Mick's nephew, to the bonding between him and Linda's children. She told about him fondling her arse the day of the photoshoot and the kiss, which came about the time of Mick's involvement with Ian and Rainie.

The policewoman in all of this was a masterclass in victim support and Linda's constant apologies and explanations for not saying anything about Dean's inappropriate touching and his behaviour resulted in the police officer encouraging her and telling her that she believed her.

Especially effective were Linda's two relations of the rape - the first, when the enormity of the event was closing in on her, and she told how she was forced onto the table, how she was focused on the flowers - lavender, a tyoe she'd always liked - how she was paralysed with fear, which surprised her, because she'd always thought that, in a situation like that, she'd fight and scream, yet she was numb with fear and did nothing. The enormity of having to admit to that overwhelmed her, and she had to rush from the room.

The momentary fear she felt when she didn't see Mick at first was palpable, but when she found him, she was able to draw strength from him and imbue him with that selfsame strength.

Her second attempt at relating the events of the rape was more graphic - in detail, how Dean subdued her, ripped her panties off and raped her, and all she could hear and all that was in her mind were the words to the song, hers and Mick's song, Pretty Flamingo. This is a constant reminder to Linda in her own home. There's wallpaper featuring a flamingo design in her bedroom.

Relaying the events leading to the rape was an accurate depiction as well - how she tried to comfort Dean maternally, how she did tell him that she loved and cared about him as a mother would, but how, after witnessing an exchange between her and her children, Dean's manner changed, as if he wanted to show her that he wasn't one of her children. Rape is, after all, a sexual crime of power and control.

More importantly, and now the police have evidence from Linda's phone, is the way Dean behaved afterward - I'd forgotten he'd sent her a text, saying no one need ever know, but I thought they'd have gone more into the detail of the way he tried to make it sound as if Linda had consented, when she hadn't.

All in all, Kellie Bright gave an amazing performance.

Liar - Dean:-

Dean has one big issue: rejection. When he's rejected, he reacts adversely, and tonight we see that he still has problems relating to women, as evidenced by his awkward come-on to the client just leaving his salon.

As I said, juxtaposing his version of events with Linda's proves that he knew all along what he'd done to her. That was evident the day after the event, when he was sitting alone in the salon, literally scared shitless at what had happened. When he realised that Linda had said nothing, he seized the moment - carpe diem - and sought to psychologically manipulate her into believing that she'd consented to having sex with him, or, at least, that her silence was tacit consent.

Not only has Dean tried to manipulate Linda (and failed), he now realises that he has to manipulate Shirley, an easier task.

He's taken aback by Shirley's momentary frisson of doubt about the events. Shirley's clearly worried about the fact that Linda had told her that she told Dean to stop it, and that Dean continued. Faced with her doubt, Dean's quick on his mental feet to remind her, after she informs him that only she and his grandfather were fighting his corner, that he's been alone and on his own for years now and didn't need her.

Time enough alone in the salon convinces Dean that he's better having Shirley fight his corner than being on his own. After all, the name of his game is divide and conquer.

So Dean's version of events to a Shirley eager to lap up any adverse information on Linda regarding her behaviour towards and cuckholding of Mick, is to play up Linda's role as the predator. In Dean's version, Linda was always flirting, always provocative. Linda did the chasing and Dean was the innocent - a flattered innocent, yes, but who was he to turn down something offered on a plate, which is what Dean's convinced Shirley that Linda did.

The crux moment of the episode came when Shirley asked Dean, at the same moment that the police woman asked Linda, if Linda said "no." Dean said that Linda said nothing, that she was positively encouraging in her advances, and Linda categorically said that she'd tried to stop Dean's advances.

Dean strung up Shirley like the proverbial kipper, even playing the poor, wronged boy who wasn' believed and who has to run away, which stops Shirley in her tracks and makes her declare her belief in his version.

It's mete to know that what tipped Dean ultimately over the edge was Shirley running out of Walford after having shot Phil, leaving Dean crying pitiably, telling her he loved her and begging her not to leave him.

Like I said, Dean has rejection issues and those stem from his dear old ma.

Shirley:- Of all the characters in tonight's episode, Shirley was the saddest. If Dean has guilt issues, Shirley's ridden with guilt over having abandoned Dean. She's always ridden with guilt over having abandoned Dean, especially when Dean's about. This time, however, she's ridden with guilt over possibly preferring her secret son to the son who's begging her for some love and attention.

(Note: Kevin is "Kevin" now and not "Dad" to Dean anymore. After an hour spent in the company of a criminal, Buster Bloodvessel is now "dad" to Dean. Carly, on the other hand, has been quietly forgotten).

Shirley is bound and determined to stand by Dean, but she's conflicted by the fact that Linda told her she'd told Dean to stop when he started making unwanted advances. That niggles her for some reason, and she confronts Dean with this, which he categorically and, ultimately, convincingly denies. She's also conflicted because siding with Dean means being in opposition to Mick, who's choosing to believe Linda. For Shirley, as she stated tonight, this is her opportunity to be there for Dean, to have his back, especially since she's never been there for him at various times in his past. This is a chance to prove herself a mother for Shirley, and the absolute irony of this will be that she's duped by the son, whom she's abandoned so many times, and her secret son, her Number One son and his wife, won't be too quick to forget whom Shirley chose to believe and why. What Dean fed her tonight was a diet designed to enhance her already grounded dislike and distrust of Linda.

I hope this entire storyline doesn't end with Mick hugging Shirley and telling her everything is fine and welcoming her back into the family fold. Linda would have something to say about that, and I would imagine Linda has a long memory. This is a long road back, if ever, for Shirley.

Very good and powerful episode. 

Carter Week (Again): Review - Monday 19.01.2015

This wasn't a bad episode. I was in the mood for EastEnders to be good on Blue Monday, after a day of listening to Cole Porter songs to keep away the blues, and it didn't disappoint, except for one niggly little bit of retconning. Grrrrr ....

It was Carter-centric, yes, but it concerned the Carters about whom I care the most ... and then some. 

It Was Just One of Those Things, Fatboy.

Is it Fatboy's destiny forever to be someone's gigolo? First Denise, who bins him, now sorry Sonia, who was supposed to have gone to work, but who, somehow, ended up sitting on a wintry bench with Tina, who - for once - had better things to do than listen to Sonia obsess about her favourite subject, herself. 

It's the morning after the day before, and Sonia is uneasy around Fatboy. Fatboy is uneasy around Sonia. If Sonia were drunk, then Fatboy was surely drunker, which makes Sonia's big-mouthed cry after Tina ~ as if I'd sleep with someone like Fatboy!~ look both pathetic and as stupid as she is. As if Fatboy would want to sleep with someone like you, Sonia. How much does it take to remind you that you've been dumped? Dumped by your husband before you could do the dirty and dump him, because he'd probably got wind of the trash-talk you spread around about him, and now, you're too ashamed to even tell your co-workers that (shall I say it again?) you've been dumped.

Though it was cruel, I'm glad Fatboy - and I love how Carol calls him Arthur, just like Dot - got to hear you at your best. At least Tina's grown up now, and has more things to worry about than palling around with the resident sadsack.

As for Tina, I'm amazed at the fuss and bother surrounding a readymade family who weren't even in touch with each other a year ago, ruminate and worry about a mother they hadn't seen in donkey's years, who's suffering from Alzheimer's and has to go into a care home. (Quick find, for Babe, quicker than in real time, considering all the research and such that Social Services would have to do, as Sylvie obviously doesn't have a pot in which to piss, so the Social would pick up all her expenses.) Tina hasn't seen her mother since Tina was a toddler, and Mick's only just coming to terms with the fact that she isn't even his mother.

I'm actually Team Tina here, especially since she's appeared to have grown up a bit since the departure of Tosh. At least she didn't rise to the continuous walking whine that is Sonia.

Mr Mitchell Regrets.

Dot's a conniving sneak, and to think she's deceiving one of her oldest friends, Sharon. She's even deceiving her grandson. Dot's awfully good at playing the dotty old lady, head-bobbing in the extreme, and begging Sharon not to involve Charlie, who's more than willing to step up to the plate and assume responsibility for the fraud he perpetrated with Nick.

Sharon was one of the stars of the show tonight, and she's slotting in very nicely as the Mitchell matriarch, standing up to Ritchie, sacrificing Phil's Jag in order to go the route for another bail hearing. Of course, the snag in the piece is the fact that Yvonne's gone AWOL, because it was Yvonne who'd made the witness statement and planted the dodgy evidence on Phil. She didn't blink when Ritchie made that insulting remark, implying that Phil was now officially small fry.

She stood her ground with Phil, as well, convincing him to let her go this route, revealing that Charlie wasn't a copper (something Phil had suspected), and reminding him that if Charlie went to prison and Ronnie didn't wake up, the baby would be without parents. She even sounded Peggy-esque when she showed him the picture of the latest Mitchell scion ...

Look at him. That baby is a Mitchell.

Sharon even threw Dot's plight in for good measure, reminding Phil that if he were finding prison hard, Dot wouldn't last a day, which obviously was the selling point for Phil, and makes Dot's final scene, where she's packing food and provisions for the hidden Nick and lying so easily to Charlie about going to the shops, all the time with a sly smile on her face, totally despicable.

Girls on Top.

Stacey and Shabnam continue to evolve into something for which EastEnders is most famous - close female friendships. Yes, we know that Shabnam is interested in Kush. Her remark about men like Kush needing to be taken down a peg speaks as if Shabnam has had some sort of pejorative experience with men.

She's obviously tricking him into believing that she's a novice in running, and then there's that line to Stacey about how she ran an hour a day whilst in Pakistan to keep her weight down. I'm very interested in knowing what Shabnam's secret is, and I hope it's worth waiting for.

What Is This Thing Called Love? The Return of the Carters.

First, let me get a retcon rant out of the way, because this was the only thing which spoiled this episode. Shirley's gift to Mick was some memorabilia about West Ham playing West Bromwich Albion(?) back in 1984, when Mick was 8 - which means that Mick was born in 1976. Stan referenced him, Mick and Shirley as having gone as a threesome to that game, which prompted Dean to make a remark, wondering if Shirley were making up for lost time as Mick's mother.

In 1984, if Mick were 8, then Shirley would have had a four year-old son and have been married to Kevin for as many years. She would also have been pregnant with Carly at the time. I guess Kevin must have been left to deal with the disabled tot, whilst Shirley went off to the Hammers with Stan and Mick. 

Dean is still suspicious of Shirley's devotion, and the stars of this vignette were totally Kellie Bright and Danny Dyer. Mick totally believes Linda, but I deplore the secret Linda's keeping from her children, although I understand her reluctance to tell them the truth. Stan and Tina know the truth, and Mick's beginning to wonder if they actually believe that Linda had actually been raped.

Something like this has never even entered Nancy's or Lee's mind. Nancy's firmly convinced that Linda's had an affair, based on her knowledge of an unwanted kiss, and Lee doesn't know what to think. They know that the story concocted by Mick and Linda - that Dean tried something on with Linda and then started trash-talking her, Mick got wind of it and beat him up - is a lot of codswallop. To Shirley's credit, she didn't reveal anything to Nancy, but in what was probably the best scene of the piece, she was arrogant to the extreme in refusing to leave the Carter household before Mick returned.

Kellie Bright gave a fantastic performance - vulnerable, yet quietly strong in the face of Shirley's arrogance and passive aggressive bullying, going so far as to state as fact that Linda had strayed, had an affair with Dean and was not crying rape in order to keep Mick onside. Linda doesn't bite that for an instant. In fact, she goes as far as telling Shirley that Dean raped her, right in the room where they were at that time - the kitchen - she asked him to stop, and he didn't, and her children were downstairs at the time. 

For a brief moment, there was a flicker of fear in the wizened face of Shirley Queen of Scrotes - fear that maybe, just maybe, Linda might be telling the truth.

I know my son, asserts Shirley. But does she really know either of them?

She abandoned Dean when he was a baby, and she didn't clap eyes on him again until he was nearly a man. She spent a matter of months, on and off, in his life, before he went to prison and returned, angry and, most probably, abused. She was unaware that Dean has, for a long time, had problems relating to women - from the cack-handed attempts he made to get Dawn Swann interested right down to his creepy obsession with Linda and his rather sad and tragic interest in Stacey, and all of his problems relating to women came from dear old mummy - or her absence thereof.

As for Mick, there was a subtle remark about his birthday which put paid to Shirleys' involvement - the fact that Elaine used to make his birthday cakes and the birthday lunch. Seems as if Elaine were more of a mum to Mick than Shirley was.

Decent episode

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Party's Over.

I've only just watched this episode. Having 8 puppies ready for new homes takes time in the evening (2 left to go), so I was bushed by the time all the usual domestic duties had been done.

Sharon Marshall is usually a good writer (and should write more episodes), but once again, Friday's is the weakest of the week. Whenever there's a do at the pub, for whatever reason, it usually results in a weak episode. Still watchable, however, but infuriating.

There was a curious sense of déja vu about this episode. Was it only a year ago, when Linda initiated what had been a tradition at her other pub, a Ladies' Night? Carol had just been diagnosed with cancer, Kat was pregnant and expecting twins, Denise was Ian's fiancée, Cora was drunk.

Just look at how things have changed now. Oh, and Shirley Queen of Scrotes reluctantly admitted that Linda was good for Mick.

I was never so happy to see two people than I was to see Mick and Linda at the end of that episode. 

Party's over, Your Majesty.

Can't ya just hear Fatboy sing? Oh, and it was really an evening chock-full of Queens - a drag queen, Shirley Queen of Scrotes and the Queen of Bovine. (Sorry, Fatboy, but "curvaceous" Jane is only curvaceous in a sirloin sort of way).

He Shoots, He Scores! He Gets the Consolation Prize.

Well, TPTB have obviously forgotten that Carol is breast-less, and since there's been no talk of reconstructive surgery, you'd think they'd do a better job in flattening her out. No matter how loose the clothing is, the perceptive viewer can still cop sight of the fact that Carol has two very pronounced mounds topping her upper front midriff section, and I don't think they're prostheses.

Used correctly, Arthur is a sweet character, but they have to get away from him being every older woman's stud muffin. He relates well to older women as maternal figures - Dot and Carol - but he's not above servicing some of the cougar-types. I really enjoyed his relationship with Denise, and I feel there's something to explore there, because I think there's a genuine attraction, and it would do the show well to portray a relationship between a much older woman and a younger man. I still remember the when the Fatboy-Denise initial relationship began, when he asked, quite poignantly, if Denise were merely using him.

Well, he got used in this episode. Instead of comforting Denise, who's lonely and who was thoughtlessly insulted by the Queen of Bovine, who stated that Ian was only marrying her again because there was no one better. (How I wanted Denise to smack the living cowshit out of her, the smug bitch). 

Instead, Arthur ends up with everybody's consolation prize - Nurse Sonia, who's not allowing herself to be pursued by Tina, a character who took a step backwards in development tonight.

First of all, why is Tina even worried about Sylvie going to a care home? Sylvie hasn't been present during the majority of Tina's life and obviously didn't give her a second thought. Now, all of a sudden, she's insulted by the fact that the rest of the family, most of whom weren't even on speaking terms this time last year, want the absent mother to be even more absent from their lives, and Tina is still being treated as "the kid." Well, if you've dressed, looked, behaved and acted like a five year-old, even throughout the years you were a mother, how do you expect to be treated?

Tina is clearly attracted to Sonia, who's clearly attracted to her, and Sonia is also in full-on victim mode. Oh-woe-is-me-I'm-getting-a-divorce-I'm-a-failure... As far as the failure of Sonia's marriage to Martin is concerned, I'd say she's more than 50 per cent correct, but Tina fuels her victimhood even more.

If your marriage didn't work out, he's not the right one for you.

(And, of course, you are, Tina). What a load of bullshit! When a marriage breaks down, usually, it's the fault of both people. Martin may have been, in Sonia's view, a negligent husband - both have been unfaithful - but I don't imagine poor, pitiful Sonia has helped matters any, the way she willingly and openly trash-talked him to all and sundry (mostly Tina) during last year. Now, she's feeling mightily sorry for herself because they mutually decided that their marriage wasn't working - this was after Sonia admitted that she wanted more than Martin could give, and Martin was more than willing to give into this selfish woman's demands. 

Martin has their child. Has their been one word from Sonia about missing Rebecca or wanting her to be with her? She didn't even put up any resistance to Martin saying he wanted custody? That's how much Sonia cared for a child she fought so hard, and even broke the law, in order to get her back. Instead, she'd rather kick up her heels, steal charity money and have a good time, living with Mummy as if she were a child again. She doesn't even deserve the name of Fowler, and I hope TPTB do link Martin, when he returns, with Stacey, just to see Sonia screw up her face in an open-mouthed cry.

So Arthur, who's leaving the Butcher-Jackson abode, did, indeed score tonight, but with the consolation prize of someone who'll use him for casual sex, because she's too afraid to admit her real sexuality.

Arthur is too good for the atrocious Sonia, and you know what? So is Tina.

The Queen of Bovine Is Really Mean.

Jane goes to Ladies' Night because the Great Bromance which is Alfie and Ian, plus Bobby the Beaver, have taken over her couch and her pizza. The poor oppressed murderer accomplice to a murder woman is stuck ironing all of the Beale family's clothing, so she takes herself off to the Vic, where she sits with, respectively, a nosey old gossip (Pam), a drunk (Cora), a religious fanatic (Shabnam), a sensible woman (Stacey), the help (Denise) and a dirty girl (Kat) and lords it over all of them.

She is so convinced of her own superiority that she, unthinkingly, insults Denise by remarking that Ian's only marrying her twice because there's no one better in Walford for him to marry, dissing Denise to her face and never thinking of what she said. Maybe Denise should have replied that there's no one in Walford stupid enough to marry Ian Beale, and that Jane - who left Walford the last time, calling herself Jane Clark, is the only one who'll put up with Ian.

There were a lot of unthinking insults which went on at that table - Denise's remark about a morgue as Carol sat close by, was another one, but I was glad to see the two women resolve their differences in the ladies' room.

If Denise is drinking too much, it's because she's supporting Patrick on her own. Is there an element of self-pity here? Perhaps, but Denise didn't ask for or deserve the appalling treatment the Beales meted her. 

Is it me or is Kim proving refreshing this time around. Line of the night goes to Denise, when Kim objected that she had spent the previous night looking after Patrick and hadn't had a night out in ages. 

You've spent the past year having a night out.

Kim's baby is due in April, but we all know that the child will arrive early  which means we might get a sight of Mr Hubbard. In fact, Kim's reasons for going out were quite amusing - that she hadn't told Walford of her enceinte condition, and that it would give the residents time and inclination to heap gold, frankincense and myrrh (as well as vouchers) on the baby's head. Loved Denise's apt remark that Kim was no virgin, but at the end, I liked it that Kim subtly advised Denise to drink some water, and Denise acknowledged how glad she was to have Kim back.

The fact that Kim had been away for more than a year was brought home by her remarking how strange it seemed not to see Kat and Alfie behind the bar. Whe Kat grudgingly asked about Alfie, Jane remarked that Kat could visit him whenever she wanted, which prompted her to try the dirty girl routine with Kush, who seemed to tolerate her presence, but didn't encourage her. In fact, he literally shoved her off his lap.

It was quite telling to see her leave the pub and make her way home to her squat alone and looking miserable, whilst later, when Jane told Alfie that Kat asked about him, he took heart from the measure. The dirty girl is going to be a tough nut to crack. From the get go, she was openly rude to Tamwar, who was doing his Asperger's Syndrome tonight, and even rude in a comment she made about Shabnam.

Kat's lost any moral high ground she had over Alfie's scam with her dirty girl behaviour earlier.

The Queen of Scrotes Is Not The Queen of the Vic.

You just knew that, at the end of this episode, Mick and Linda were going to make an appearance.

Shirley is one manipulating bitch. She has no right to bring Dean into the Vic to live, and actually, Dean was right for once - he is 27 years old. She isn't going to undo by this gesture, something and someone she ignored for a lifetime, and he does have a room at Denise's. Actually, no. He still has a flat, because he was the principal tenant at the flat where Stacey and Kat are squatting. And the Vic is more the home of Nancy and Lee than it ever is of Shirley. This is a business in which she owns ONE PER CENT. She is living there ONLY by Mick's good graces. It's just that - a grace-and-favour abode, so she is clearly taking liberties here.

Her manipulative reasoning to Nancy didn't get past me either. Takings are down. Am I right in assuming that the Carters, generally, haven't been that successful with the Vic this year? Certainly not with that bitter, wizened old crone looking like vinegar behind the bar. In fact, this is one of the few times I've seen Shirley work in HER business. The rest of the time, she's propping up the bar with a drink. And all the pep talk with Nancy resulted in was Nancy purporting to Shirley the wrong end of the stick in her assumption of what happened between her parents and Dean. Based on Nancy's knowledge that Dean kissed Linda, she's assumed an affair, which would explain why Mick would go batty, and that's all the ammunition Shirley Queen of Scrotes needs.

Because as has been reiterated, Shirley's real measure is to get Linda out of the picture and reign supreme as Walford Matriarch of the Vic, to show both Dean and Mick how Linda was an adverse influence on them both and assume command. Stan, in his dotage, will believe anything. It's impossible to believe that a year ago, these people were barely talking to one another. Now they've got the absent mother (a meme in CarterVille) ready to be committed, the granddad is dying and is seeing everything through rose-coloured glasses, Shirley's the self-appointed Queen of the Vic and a "proper landlady" ready to resume motherhood on two sons she's abandoned - why does she never mention Carly?- and she's even managed to control Mick's two children.

So, one year later, Denise is drinking, Carol is breastless, but alive, Kat's a dirty girl again with three kids, and Cora's still drunk.

The real line of the night went to Mick.

The party's over.

Let the games begin.