Daniel Coonan's leaving, and he's singing like a bird. Coonan, who had a short shelf life as Carl White, is a Hackney lad, member of the RSC, who's watched EastEnders from the get go.
What he says has bearing, because people like Coonan, long-time viewers, seem to "get" EastEnders in a way the current crew - since EastEnders 2.0 began in earnest in 2006 - don't.
Add to this that Coonan, a long-time viewer, is also a highly trained classical actor.
Coonan bemoans the fact that EastEnders no longer sports a real bad guy, but his comment confused a lot of viewers because in the next breath, he mentioned that the show was in dire need of someone like Frank Butcher.
But wait ... Frank was never a bad guy. True, but he wasn't a good one entirely either.
And this is what Coonan means ... From the beginning, the show was fronted by an Alpha male figure - not one hundred per cent good, but not really dodgy bad either. This man fronted the centrepiece of the show - meaning, he was landlord of the Vic. Think Den Watts, who was locked in an abusive, loveless marriage, a serial philanderer with a penchant for young girls who were barely legal. His one saving grace was his love for his adopted child, Sharon.
Or Frank. Frank was a man who fell head-over-heels in love with Pat when they were both youngsters, and he was engaged to June, whom he married. June died, leaving him with three young children, the youngest of whom he farmed out repeatedly. Frank was larger than life, but he didn't know when to stop spreading himself thin, and when the going got tough, Frank got going, abandoning a family to fend for themselves. He left Pat in debt and in danger of losing their house, and he embezzled from Peggy.
Or the Mitchell brothers, with their long association of familial violence and alcohol abuse. Grant was an abusive husband to Sharon, who sought sexual solace with Phil, who loved her.
But the thing about all of these men was that, whilst they may have done despicable things, they were also capable of great kindness and compassion.
The word here is "nuanced."
It can be argued that the last nuanced person like this was Steve Owen, the edgy nightclub owner who stood in opposition to Phil Mitchell in the Square, in the wake of Grant's leaving. We knew Steve could be dark, and he certainly came from an abusive background, but Mel was his redemption.
I think Harwood, with Max Branning, and Santer, with Jack Branning, attempted the nuanced bit, but somewhere along the way, this got lost, so what we got was a serial adulterer locked in a dysfunctional relationship who easily makes do with whatever woman is on hand, and a plank of wood.
Carl White actually had some potential to be such a nuanced character. We knew enough of his background to know his mother was a hard piece of work, his father was weak, and both boys were caught up in the drugs' game. Plenty of backstory there, but TPTB gave up, especially the latest Messiah, and Carl is simply there biding time, amongst a myriad of other characters on whom we've given up because they're either simply too unlikeable or they're leaving.
Ne'mind. It's too tedious to comprehend complexities of personality. Things are so much easier in black and white, and that's the message the show is conveying.
A Girl with Your History.
"A girl with your history ..."
Nice one, Carol. You hit a real winner there, out of the park. Not.
Of course, Carol, you'd be more than aware of Sharon's history, which is damned sight more tragic or just as much so, as any of your motley brood.
Of course, Carol, you were there, dancing with Alan, the night of the Sharongate reveal ...
Of course, Carol, you were part of the great shunning of Sharon in the wake of that reveal, the only people not following the lead dictated by the Mitchells and Kathy being Michelle Fowler and David Beale's mother, Pat.
Of course, Carol, you would know all about shunning and punishment, because you did as much to three of your children - Bianca, for bonking your umpteenth fiance, the fifth man by whom you would have had as many children; Sonya, for daring to put a child up for adoption so she could follow a career dream and so the child would have a better life than she could give her; and Robbie, for failing to stop Sonya from doing that.
When your oldest daughter was on the street with young children and homeless, you put the phone down on her.
So, yes, Carol, how big it was of you to remind Sharon that, apart from Dennis, she was really and truly alone. Did you know how she'd nursed her mother through the last throes of alcoholism? Did you know how she lost her father twice? Or how her husband was murdered when she was pregnant with his child?
So that remark was well out of order, the remark about there being three of the here and three at home. And, yes, it was nice of David to remember that Sharon, being a mother, would be inclined to believe her child. Just look behind the bar at Kat Moon for evidence of what happens when a mother (Viv) doesn't believe a child is being hurt by an adult.
Once again, Sharon would be well within her rights to report this sort of bullying and intimidating behaviour by the family of the woman who's bullied and threatened her son in public.
That's another thing Carol should remember too - that Whitney can be very select and economical with the truth, when it concerns her.
Case in point, see below ...
As you can see from the first clip, Whitney was offering it to Connor on a plate. But by the time the second clip comes around, and she finds out that Connor had been bonking Walford's most promiscuous granny, Nana Carol, she's changed her tune. Now it's big bad Connor.
Whitney's neglected to tell either David or Carol what she's actually done regarding this incident with Dennis. Yes, the child lied, but Whitney didn't do herself any favours by calling him poison in front of his mother and by speaking to him as if he were a piece of shit on the playground the first day. Add to that, her negligence in duty of care when he hurt himself and her bullying and threatening him outside of the school dynamic in a way that can only frighten a child - not once, but twice, the last time within earshot of Ava the Magic Negro, who's duty-bound to tell the authorities what she heard and how she observed Whitney's bad behaviour.
Same old same old with the Walford Mattress. Please note that the one thing which swayed Whitney onto Team David was when he handed her a fistful of money. As Carol says, "money doesn't solve everything," but when you're a chav slut like Whitney, it's all that matters.
David's bought his way into this family situation. Let's see how long it is before he's chasing after a woman who doesn't have a neck and decolletage like raw skinned chicken.
The Clueless Beales.
Because she's being snookered from both sides now. Ian's lying to her about his lie for Carl, and Cindy's snookered her into an entire new wardrobe at Ian's expense.
By the way, has it been conveniently forgotten that Cindy scammed £10,000 from Phil Mitchell?
I don't like hairy Cindy the Greek, and I don't feel she has any part in the real Beale dynamic. She simply isn't a Beale, and Ian handed her upbringing over to Cindy's mother and her weird sister. Why is she here? She's a minor. She's fourteen, so there would have to be some legal transfer of parental authority to Ian, such as making him her legal guardian.
I mean what if she
cuts herself shaving in the morning, catches her balls in the zip of her trousers hurts herself and has to go to hospital, does Ian have the guardian authority to sign surgical treatment forms on her behalf?
So all the time Ian's paying the little bitch a tenner to hide his lies to Denise,Denise is playing the good cop who wants to be liked and suggests a whole new wardrobe at Ian's expense, because that's what it's all about, innit? It's how you look and how pretty you are, your character doesn't count. That's the message of EastEnders these days.
Of course, Denise will find out she's been doubly snookered. The Brannings' legal bills won't go away, and hairy Cindy the Greek mouthbreather has ten grand ferreted away, which will be handed over in due course, which Denise will find out about and also about Ian's monumental lie.
Why do I see a black taxi for Denise looming on the horizon?
Doesn't this just about sum up EastEnders?
Somebody's Not Comfortably Numb.
Here's an honest question: I know Lunazepam is a made-up drug, but it's clear from the website that it's a pharmaceutical available on prescription. Yes, you can order drugs online, but the websites usually ask for proof of a repeat prescription - the number on your repeat script - before dispensing drugs, so how in the hell were these drugs ordered?
EastEnders, you got some 'splainin' to do.
So now we know what we've all suspected - that Michael will send Alice blithely off to "drug" Janine, leaving a bottle of pills by her bedside, telling Alice that Janine will "think" she took a load of them, when in reality, he's setting Alice up to kill Janine,and planting all the evidence on her - whilst he scarpers, ostensibly with Scarlett.
Hang on ... is Alice that stupid to think Janine is that stupid? If this were a simple drugging, Janine would know full well that she never ordered nor was she prescribed sleeping tablets.
Alice is deluded about Michael, but she is still possessive of enough conscience to respond to a call from her brother, whom she thinks that, after tonight, she'll never see again. (Note: the writer's insistence on referring to Joey as "monkey-boy" allegedly received a fair number of complaints of a racist nature).
Even moreso, she's caught in a fit of conscience at Janine's, especially after that grand Charlie Brooks soliloquy ruminating on her past and, in particular, her marriage to Barry and the fact that Barry really loved her. I would say, however, that I didn't think her second "marriage" to the elderly David was even a marriage. I thought he died before the ceremony was complete.
Another thing that aided Alice's fit of conscience was opening the locket Janine had received in the post, and which Michael had taken mistakenly. It was a gift, obviously from Diane, with a picture of a toddler Janine and a young Diane inside.
I loved Brooks's assessment of her marriage to Michael. She may have loved him once, but she realises now he never loved her, although I would debate her assessment that Michael doesn't love anyone but Scarlett and that he doesn't love himself. I would say that Scarlett is his obsession, the one true human who's a blank slate and whom he's got the opportunity to mould into his own image; and I would say that the only person that Michael does love is himself.
The final scene was purely a revelation that Michael Moon is a functioning psychopath. When he loses control of a situation, he lashes out and reveals his true condescension and disdain for the person whom he's been targeting, in this instance, Alice.
Alice will do just about anything for Michael, but she won't murder. She does recognise that not only is Janine Scarlett's mother (although she was willing to spirit her away), but she's most likely realised that it would be her arse that would rot in prison for this offence. I would hope she would have been appalled by Michael's reaction to her discovery of his indended murder, if only by his choice of words - the fact that murder was brilliant or that he referred to Janine, the mother of his child as "the animal."
That was chilling enough, and I would hope all those clueless little girls begging for a boyfriend like Michael would now realise that you seldom get out of a relationship like that alive.
When all else fails ... (Line of the night, displaying Michael's psychopathy) ...
You're my acolyte!
he resorts to pure insult, but the kind that transfers what his father actually thinks of him to the situation between Alice and Derek - that she's pathetic. (One year on, and Derek is still with us).
Michael's scream of rage at the end may have been OTT, compared to Dominic Power's brilliant end to Cameron Murray on Emmerdale a week ago, but it was befitting the instant rage of a psychopath.
It's just a shame that the show is so fucked up now on all fronts that this won't get the proper viewing figures it deserves, but then, the rest of the show, as evidenced in this episode is, as I said, fucked up.
Poverty, Thy Name Is Branning.
Last year, it was the Butcher-Jacksons, this year, we're all meant to feel sorry for the poor, collagened, boob-enhanced and fat daughters of Max Branning as they struggle to make ends meet whilst their father is unjustly imprisoned.
Does anyone feel sorry for them? How about the performance of ...
THE. WORST. ACTRESS. EVER. TO. APPEAR. IN. EASTENDERS ...
I mean, I keep expecting her to burst into Fantine's lament from Les Miserables ...
She's the heroine of the piece, dontcha know? Another of Newman's cack-handedly obvious redemption assignments, whilst the only iconic and original female character left in the show is rendered totally contemptible. Still Lauren is the right side of forty, the right size and pretty in a cosmetically enhanced way, so she's the go-to girl who counts.
And please, how out of order is Cora the Hag-with-the-Fag? She offers nothing to that household, and - by rights - Max Branning should have kicked her skanky old putrid arse out. Yes, she's the children's grandmother, but when Tanya left them with her earlier this year, she used the household money to buy booze and fags. When Abi was left with her when Tanya and Lauren left, she bought no food but partied with Patrick.
Now, she's shouting the odds and dictating to Kirsty, even accusing her of stealing money after berating Lauren for selling off the car lot stuff. Hey ... wait ... she sold the stock for £1500. There was £1400 in the tin at the Branning house, and Joey was splashing out on drinks at the Vic. Am I to assume that Lauren only granted Joey one hundred quid commission?
I couldn't help but notice how many departing characters are now getting dialogue beyond their wildest dreams and for no reason.
Billy and Kat.
Says a lot when the banter between Billy and Kat is one of the highlights of a dire episode. Kat calling Billy "Stumpy" and Billy's eulogy about suffering for football was really quite amusing. Just.