Monday, November 4, 2013

Through the Looking Glass - Review: 04.11.2013

Here's a small selection of music to help those one brain-celled fangirls mourn the death of one of Walford's two functioning psychopaths.

The second selection is particularly appropriate, because Oklahoma's Jud Frye was a Western version of Michael Moon - a cowpoke's functioning psychopath.

Ne'mind, fangirls, Ronnie's still walking the streets of Walford, and she's a worse psychopath than Michael ever was. The female of the species is always deadlier than the male, but then, Ronnie, like Michael, is a pretty person, and she has the creepy stalker shippers like the Digital Spy no-brainer who's so stuck on Samantha Womack that she uses Womack's daughter's name (lilirose) as her screen name. Slightly sickeningly creepy, n'est-ce pas?

Alice in Wonderland
(or I Don't Think We're in Kansas Anymore, Toto)

Friday's episode apart, this was, without a doubt, the best episode of the year. The writing, the direction, everything - apart from one small scene and a couple of remarks - was spot on.

Well done, Daisy Coulam, 

Alice tried to play hardball with a psychopath and a woman who's the product of an erratic upbringing, someone who learned at a very young age only to depend upon herself to make her destiny.

First things first, one of the biggest distractions in Alice's scenes were Jasmyn Banks's ill-fitting, over-large and probably very expensive veneers, which look like dentures to say the least. With those gnashers, she looks like the lovechild of Janet Street-Porter and Grandpa Alex Musgrove, late of Brookside.

Alice is either in shock, utterly naive or she's totally lost it - or maybe all three. How can she expect to be allowed to go home, after confessing to stabbing Michael Moon,even if she did so to protect Janine. She still stabbed a man, and if all the truth were told, Alice would still be charged with a crime.

I know Alice was innocent - unbelieveably so, but my sympathy for her character is scant. She walked right into this one blindly. Michael saw her coming and thought, "Easy pickings."

Please remember that Michael only always ever punched down, and that meant targeting women when they were in their most vulnerable states. For the benefit of those Digital Spy and otherwise numpties, who are singing his virtues (he had none), here is, once again, the list of his victims and their particular weaknesses, which prompted his manipulations-

  • Kat, who was sent to Michael in Spain, by Alfie, when he was imprisoned. Kat was alone, afraid, worried about Alfie and hiding a load of money which was wanted by thugs who were pursuing her. All it took was a bottle of wine, and she slept with him and got pregnant, scarpering the next day, (That's the original story, disregard all the subsequent Kirkwood-Newman retcons).
  • Roxy, who was lonely and living on her own with Amy, whilst her psycho sister was caught up in hiding a baby who wasn't hers.
  • Jean, who suffers from bi-polar condition and who doesn't know where either of her children are and who misses them. It always amazed me how the fangirls who praised Michael for being such a "good" parent, conveniently forgot how he scammed Jean mercilessly, even convincing her that Stacey was dead.
  • Janine, who was grieving her grandmother and,subsequently, Pat. Michael made mincemeat out of her during the early days of their relationship, harping on about the issues she had because of Frank. Later he took callous advantage of her fragile emotional state, after a traumatic series of events leading to their wedding, a premature birth and raging hormones resulting in post-natal depression.
  • And Alice, who had found her father, only to lose him within a year. She was lonely, sexually naive and basically naive about life, itself. He presented himself to her as a suave, sophisticated, if slightly weird man of the world. He played Alice like a kipper, preying on her emotions as a poor,victimised father being deprived of his child.
That is not a nice person.

Alice confessed everything to the police, including her willing participation in the scheme to deprive Janine of her daughter, detailing how they intended to drug Janine and make it appear as if she'd taken an overdose, yet at the same time she was at pains to describe how manipulative Michael could be. She even confessed that she loved him. She admitted to stabbing him, but to protect Janine.

Protecting Janine offers Alice no gratitude on Janine's part. Alice betrayed Janine, not once, but twice. When Janine was initially convinced to retain her as Scarlett's nanny, she proceeded on the sly to take Alice to see Michael. What pricked her conscience was the fact that Janine was kindness in itself to her, preparing special lunches, giving her bonuses and treating her to spa treatments at the salon. When Janine returned to Walford, she was persuaded to retain Alice yet again, and still she continued to plot with Michael. After Janine issued the injunction against Michael (for trying to choke her), Alice grew bolder and brassier, lecturing Janine on parenting and haranguing her about poor Michael's plight until she inadvertantly let slip the fact that she was sleeping with Michael - and that was gross misconduct and a sackable offence. 

When she managed to convince Janine to re-hire her a third time, she was willing, at least, to drug her employer and to kidnap her employer's child, not realising that Michael Moon was setting her up to take a murder rap, whilst he absconded with the child.

Now, Janine is carrying on where Michael left off, but with good reason. Michael was ultimately using Alice as a tool, taking advantage of her blind devotion to him, to turn her into a murderer, at least in the eyes of the law. Janine was getting back at this pithy, prissy little girl for betraying her and for trying to kill her.

You know, Tamwar was right. He was glad to be shot of Alice, who treated him like a piece of shit. He was well out of all her machinations with Michael, and he was relieved. Top man.

Go ask Alice ...

The Queen of the Night
(or I Blame Whitney).

Yes, I blame Whitney.

First, let me say that Whitney's one of the characters whom I'd love to see leave Elstree for the last time, but each time I see her interacting with Janine, I change my mind; because I really like their dynamic.

I was surprised to see Janine taking refuge at the Butcher-Beale-Jacksons, the way Carol (who happens to be Alice's aunt) usually treats her. Still, David is her step-brother (so is Phil Mitchell, by the way).

It was blatantly obvious that Janine was in shock from the get go. For what it's worth, and there are those who would never believe in anything other than "evil Janine" (and those are people who insist that John Yorke's era was the golden age of the programme), Janine is not totally heartless. She is more than capable of showing empathy. She cares about and looks after her family (Bianca and her brood) and friends (Billy and Lola), all of whom take advantage of her.

Is she guarded? Yes. She, herself, admits to having had trust issues. (For the record, Janine's tales of Brazilian toyboys upon her return, were lies, concocted to see Michael's reaction. She later let it slip in a meeting with the solicitors, that she'd been having treatment for PND and also for her various psychological issues as a result of her upbringing.

Put it this way: previously, Michael got to Janine by mentioning her father. Janine now knows to fight back in his attempts to undermine her self-esteem, by mentioning his mother.

In my opinion, Janine stabbed Michael in self-defence. There was no intent. She was shocked when he rose after Alice stabbed him, and when he reached for the knife, she grabbed it and killed him, in self-defence, because Michael would, most definitely, have killed her. And thought nothing of it.

In fact, I think Janine initially found the whole ordeal at the police station horrific. You'll note that her injuries - the bruises on her neck and arms, as well as the superficial stab wound on her arm - were being photographed. Her panic attack wasn't feigned. She was decompensating. It was only when the police allowed her to sit with Whitney and Scarlett that Whitney's homily convinced Janine what she had to do.

Consider the dialogue during this scene, which consisted of Whitney and Janine literally talking at one another.

Whitney was imploring Janine to look at Scarlett, that Scarlett needed her mother, that Janine had to go ahead for Scarlett's sake.

Janine was back being psychologically manipulated by Michael from beyond the grave. She says she doesn't deserve Scarlett, that Scarlett is better off without her, that her family is cursed, mentioning Frank and Ricky and their abandonment tendencies. She cannot look at Scarlett because, she says, Scarlett has Michael's eyes. Then she mentions Pat's death and the look of peace on Pat's face as opposed to the disturbing open-eyed death stare of Michael Moon.

But somehow, Whitney gets through to her, and convinces her that Scarlett needs her. And that kicks Janine into self-preservation mode. She's not just protecting herself, she's ensuring that she's there for Scarlett, of whom Michael and Alice conspired to deprive her. It's then and then only that she decides to land Alice in it.


And that's rare coming from me, who believes in the soap opera code. I think that Janine will get away with this, and rightly so. Whatever you think of the character, she's an important legacy character and essential to the history of the soap. There will always be a place for Janine, daughter of Frank, stepdaughter of Pat and Peggy, on the Square. As for Alice, I fear that she, and her brother, are insignificant characters - superfluous and retconned characters in an unpopular family too big for itself. Their father was also unpopular, and they've outstayed their welcome. This time next year, no one will be mentioning their names.

Alice is going to prison.

One surprising thing to come out of this storyline is the way TPTB should have used David Witts and didn't. He shouldn't have been forefronted the way he was, as a male ingenue and love interest; but as Alice's brother and someone devoted to his sister, he comes through as all right. There was even a soupcon of Derek in his explosion at the cop shop.

Welcome to the House of Fun.

That would be the Vic.

True, Alfie was the only relative Michael had in the Square. True, Michael betrayed him in the worst way, but Alfie,even though he was angry with Michael a great deal of the time, always forgave him, and - as he said - this was no way for anyonen to die.

It's only natural that Kat and Alfie would bond in this particular instance. Michael was family, and - yes - he was Tommy's birth father; but I do wish the Moons would get over this obsession about Tommy "knowing" his father. 

Tommy knows his father - Alfie. Michael provided the sperm. He took no interest in Tommy at all. Scarlett was his child. Either Alfie is Tommy's father - the man who grieved him when he thought he was dead, the man who's sat up with him at night when he was teething or sick, who looks after him and loves him, the man whom Tommy calls "Daddy - or Michael is. Michael avoided Tommy like the plague, and I couldn't understand why, on the night he died, Kat was egging Michael onto see "his boy" in action. Michael wasn't interested; he couldn't even call Scarlett by her name until Janine returned to Walford.

At least, Kat and Alfie acknowledged that at times they hated Michael and that he didn't give a rat's arse about anyone but himself; but he was, at the end of the day, family.

Speaking of which, hanging about the Vic like a bad smell and stinking up the place, was the Square's remaing psychopath. Who the fuck does Ronnie think she is? Who is she to wonder why Alfie is grieving? Michael was a class A prick, but he was the only family Alfie had in the Square, and as a Mitchell would acknowledge, blood is thicker than water. This was a time of shock and grief for Alfie, and whatever had transpired between him and Michael was none of that plastic-faced bitch's business, and she had no right and no tact or respect in saying what she said to Roxy.

And she's the one who's feeding Roxy's suspicions about Kat and Alfie. Kat is as much alone in whatever grief she feels for Michael as Alfie. It's only mete she should seek him out for some sort of innocent comfort and also to expound upon her guilt about not having paid enough attention to Alice and her obsession with Michael. With whom was she going to discuss that? Carol? Kirsty?

Ronnie needs to check her entitlement at the door. Bitch.

The Youth of Today.

What is Newman's EastEnders without a scene depicting Walford youth? Fatboy and Poopy-La-Dim sat together in the pub discussing Alice's plight was believeable, if only because they, of all, the characters in this saga, recognised Michael for the psychopath he was, but Lauren, sitting with Tamwar, with whom she'd never associated?


That was like rounding up whoever was available at the time - oh, we'll get Lauren because she used to sleep with Joey, we'll get her to verbally comfort him. Or, ooh, Tamwar, we'll have him there because he used to date Alice.

As I said before, that was an interesting take Tamwar had on Alice. It's good that not everyone regards her as sweet and innocent, as much as Poopy-La-Dim, who now describes herself as Alice's best friend who knew her better than anyone, likes to declaim.

Actually, back to the near-beginning of this episode, which harkened back to the episode in 2010 when Billie Jackson met his demise, with the camera focusing on Joey checking his telephone after a night out, and finding umpteen messages from Carol, panicking and having the camera follow him through the market, with first Fatboy and then Tamwar, with great difficulty, directing him to Carol's house.

And finally, I thought David's attempt to rationalise Alice's situation was a bit callous in the Vic, saying that Janine has had a dodgy past with men. David has been away from Walford for 16 years. When he left, Janine was a child. Unless Carol spent a lot of time pillow-talking in a bad way Janine's romantic history during the two weeks David was around after Pat's death, he'd have no way of knowing what Janine got up to. As well, he should remember that he didn't have a pot in which to piss when he showed up after Pat died, and it was Janine who paid for the funeral and Janine who's provided a roof for David's daughter - something he couldn't do.

Very good episode, and coming from me, that's a compliment. Much better than Friday's and the duff-duff was chilling.


  1. "Alice is either in shock, utterly naive or she's totally lost it - or maybe all three."

    All three I suspect. As for her brief - it was telling that David/the Jacksons hired him and not Janine. It was the solicitor that needs to be sacked for letting her confess in the first place - he never uttered a single word. There's no way that would have happened.

    So finally the little snide bitch got what we longer term viewers knew would eventually come from screwing with Janine. The only part of these episodes that I don't like are the completely over the top dramatics. Joey running the square with no-one telling him what was happening.

  2. @ Emilia,

    Janine is my favorite character but we have a different opinion on the stabbing and after events. Janine hesitated slightly between picking up the towel and stabbing Michael - she knew what she was doing including the timing, while Alice was at the door.

    I agree that she appeared to be in shock at the Butchers [I was also surprised to see her on their sofa after their birthday snub to her]. I think the panic attack was faked. One of the reasons I like Janine is that she can be very calculating and this was part of her stitch-up of Alice - to pretend that she was in shock that she had lost her husband in such violent circumstances.

    Buy hey thats just my opinion and how I saw it - or wanted to see it.