Wow, the legacy characters continue to fall by the wayside. EastEnders has already lost Janine Butcher, and Lucy Beale has just shed her mortal coil. Bianca's leaving in the autumn, and over on Coronation Street, the soap the Millennials are bashing right, left and centre at the moment, the Big Daddy of all legacy characters, Peter Barlow, will be departing the show.
I know some people will wail and gnash teeth to hear it, but Barlow is played by a seriously good actor, and his departure will be the equivalent of Bianca, Janine, the Beale twins and whatever Mitchell is hanging about, leaving collectively.
Another interesting coincidence is that Peter Barlow, son of the show's longest-serving character, is a twin, whose sister was killed off-screen.
Oh well, at least Corrie are brave enough to kill off their version of Stacey Slater.
That said, this was a seriously good episode, in terms of photography and direction, if not acting. (Please, let's face it, the seriously anorexic Hetti Bywater couldn't act her way out of a polyethelene bag, if her life depended on it). On its own, I liked the episode. I'll go as far as to say that I think it was the best DTC has produced since taking over, and if he's doing with the Lucy storyline what I think he's doing, it's going to be bloody brilliant.
Since his arrival, I think he's had one thing in his sights - the 30th Anniversary episode, and I think this will ultimately tie together the interspersed storylines concerning Carl's death, Nick's "death" and Lucy's real death. Some people might not like the resolution, but it's got its purpose, and, as the producer says, it will make sense.
My one criticism is that this storyline is so plot-driven that it's easy for the long-term viewer to spot how established characters have had personality transplants in order to accommodate the storyline. I'd love for Treadwell-Collins to work on characterisation more.
The Surprising Highlight.
Oddly enough, I was glad to see Libby, and that's amazing because I thought the character so much of a general pain-in-the-arse the first time around, I was dreading her po-faced presence, even for one episode. Maybe it was the location shots of Oxford, a place I always find uplifting (because critical thinking is valued there), but also, I think it was more that someone was seeing Denise in a sympathetic light, enough so that she was honest about what was happening to her in her relationship with Ian. I found the scene in the research assistant's office between Denise and her daughter the most affecting scene in the whole piece.
I feel genuinely sorry for Denise, who now realises her mistake in getting involved with Ian, where she put former impressions aside and now realises that everything everyone said about him and his treatment of his wives was true.
Several people have questioned these scenes and the one-off appearance of Libby, but I understood the significance. Denise has been feeling more and more insecure about her feelings for Ian and her place in the Beale family, especially since the Cow came home.
She's been sidelined and made to feel an outsider. I wouldn't be remiss in detecting a slight whiff of subtle racism here, especially considering Ian's tactless oven glove gift at Christmas, as well as his eagerness for Jane to be part of the family portrait advertising his new junk food joint, rather than Denise.
Denise is longing for someone with whom she can air her insecurities - someone who accepts her and whom she can trust. Zainab has gone. Shirley is immersed with her retconned family at the pub. Patrick is on holiday in Trinidad, and Kim is working a cruise ship. Chelsea is in Spain.
It was only natural for her to share her doubts and fears with Libby, and for Libby to respond so well. There was some nice continuity with a reference to Chelsea, highlighting her laziness, but commending her for finding a career in Spain. And this is part of the gist of Denise's relationship with Ian: Despite all the adversity surrounding Denise's daughters - one's father a wife-beater who was killed by a subsequent husband, the other's father a serial killer, and their shared step-father killed in a car accident, both girls have turned out well. Chelsea, for all her shallowness, laziness and self-absorption, now has a career in a salon in Spain. Libby is a research assistant working on her masters at Oxford.
Ian's kids have barely achieved their A-Levels. One spent a year doing nothing but surfing in Devon and now works on the family fruit and veg stall. The other is dishonest, entitled and self-absorbed. She's also dead now. Ian has no right to look down his nose at Peter's association with Lola Pearce.
The singular disrespect with which Ian treats Denise is heart-breaking. He can't tell his fiancée about finding drugs that his daughter has? Denise's assessment was apt - imagine if Ian had a child at Oxford.
Denise is part of his family now, and she also had a child who was heavily involved in drugs. Yet, instead of involving her in this crisis, he lies to her and shoves her away. But then, Peter and Ian have been lying to Denise since she and Ian began their relationship. Despite all of that, I don't think Denise is a suspect in Skeletor's death. Denise returned home in a cab from the station after Lucy had left the Beale house. She rang Libby and left a message saying she was ending the relationship with Ian the next day. When Denise turned the photo of Ian and Lucy down, she was blotting out Ian from her sight and her life. This has nothing to do with Lucy.
A Man of Constant Sorrow.
Another discrepancy with which I have to find fault is Ian's depiction in all of this. Ian Beale may be many pejorative things, but his brother David hit the nail right on the head a few weeks back when he lauded Ian for putting his family first.
Ian would do anything for his children. Is he a good parent? Far from it. Far too often during DTC's previous tenure, Ian's method of buying himself a peaceful life was throwing money and material possessions at his children. But where Lucy gave him grief, Ian was proud to promote and support Peter.
Instead of the spiel we were given in what was to be the last scene ever between Ian and his daughter, Lucy was never "the one." That accolade went to Peter - his athleticism, his business acumen, his dependability. And that so continued when Peter returned this time. He was the decent chap, supportive of his father and a buffer between Ian and Lucy, who proved to be just as dishonest as each other.
Now Peter's the miserable-looking loser on the stall, the socially gauche Tim-nice-but-dim snob trying to control Lola, the oaf wolfing down cereal at the breakfast table. And so much for DTC saying parents would cease to be seen through the eyes of their children. This is exactly what we've been seeing with Ian and the twins, especially in the scene where Ian confronts Peter with evidence that Lucy's had cocaine and dashes off to confront her.
Dad, I got this.
What? Peter's better equipped to challenge Lucy on this score? Peter doesn't even live there anymore. The truth is, there is no set or established way to confront your child with such a discovery, no textbook with guidelines for such a shock. Ian is right to be upset. Lucy is living in his house where there are also young children. She lives under his roof, she abides by his rules, especially since it's doubtful he charges her room and board, which he should. And so much for Peter's condescending assessment of Ian's handling of the situation. Peter would have done what, exactly? And this is his sister, not his child.
I'm not in favour of the personality transplant tacked onto Peter since DTC's arrival. I actually liked his romance with Lola, but the Beales are being separated from the Mitchells for a reason at the moment, and I'm certain, as this storyline progresses, we'll come to understand why.
The other criticism I have is Bywater's acting. Suffield wasn't the greatest actress, but she had Lucy's Cindy hard edge down pat. And as she got older, I felt she could have grown into the role. Suffield's Lucy didn't like Ian - that was obvious. Many children don't like one or both of their parents, but Suffield's Lucy realised one thing - that Ian loved her unconditionally and would do anything for her, and she often used that fact to her advantage.
Bywater's Lucy is an entitled little bitch of a moaner, who feels that, even after scamming her old man out of his businesses and treating him like a piece of shit in his own home, he should continuously give her positive re-inforcement. She doesn't like Ian either and has trash-talked him all around Walford, to white trash like Max Branning, who further trash-talked him; yet she feels Ian doesn't like her. I wouldn't like her either.
And I find it amazing that Lucy could spend all night wallowing around on cushions on the floor of a restaurant and still have those false eyelashes intact the following morning.
This entire episode set up other possible people with motives for her killing - the main ones being Whitney and Peter. Obviously, Peter's now become super-sensitive also, having spent the last couple of months talking to Ian as though he were an idiot. He's now upset to hear that Ian only rates him good enough for the stall or the caff, and storms off with his ego hurt.
What happened to all the plans for the Beale twins to go to university? Don't parents want better for their children in Walford?
That's Peter Lucy's running after and texting, but who texted her back?
The other culprit is Whitney, and here the unusual dynamic of friendship between Whtiney, Lauren and Lucy comes to the fore. Lauren has been friends with Lucy since they were kids. Lauren became friends with Whitney when Lucy was away from the Square. Lucy and Whitney have always only had an uneasy truce of a friendship. The truth is that Lucy doesn't like Whitney. Yet Lauren should have owed tactful loyalty to both. Instead, she not only tells Lucy that Lee snogged Whitney, she tells Whitney that Lee spent the previous night sleeping with Lucy, which fires Whitney's ire, hence the wordless "look of death" moment between Whitney and Lucy.
Taking all that into consideration, I don't think either Whitney, Peter, Lauren or Max are her killers, and certainly not Abi.
Lucy's killer, however, is a woman.
The Cow Comes Home.
No one has been annoying me as much as SuperJane, Queen of the Cows.
A couple of months ago, she coldly informed the Beale kids, one of whom is her son, that she was no longer a part of their family and that they should defer all further concerns about their father to Denise.
Now she retroactively claims parenthood over Ian's trio of children. She adopted Bobby. She is nothing more than one of a bevy of stepmothers to the twins. If anything, the stepmother they bonded with and who was with them through their formative years was Laura.
Lucy and Peter, especially Lucy, treated Jane like a piece of shit, and Ian let Jane know from the get-go that the kids were his children. The twins treated her with a type of disdain which ranged from muted (Peter) to open (Lucy). Bobby ran rings around her. She couldn't even take a bottle of ketchup from a four year-old, instead watching in open-mouthed, bug-eyed horror (who can ever forget Laurie Brett's signature comic horror face?) as Bobby demolished the decor in the Beale house with a ketchup bottle. And let's not forget that a couple of months ago, Jane succinctly informed the Beale kids that she was no longer a part of that family dynamic and that they should defer to Denise from now on.
And when Jane divorced Ian and left Walford, didn't she leave, calling herself "Jane Clarke?" Ah, but wait ... that was Bryan Kirkwood, that doesn't count. Now she's Jane Beale again, and referring to Masood, the man with whom she's now sleeping and leading to believe they have a relationship, that these children are her "babies." Good for Masood for his quip What does Denise think of that?
As soon as Denise was safely in Terry's cab, Jane was doing that stupid "creeping" run she always affected into Ian's house, asking about Lucy and not even presuming to chastise Ian for not discussing this with Denise. Instead, it's we'll take her for breakfast.
What is it, you dumb bovine bitch, that you don't understand when Masood tells you that those kids, Bobby apart, are not your concern?
I hope Denise smacks her stupid, bug-eyed face.
And I want to hear Masood say this to her face:-
The Missing Link.
Santer and DTC are infamous for their subtle hints at these sort of murder mysteries. Remember Santer being worried that his very subtle and brief tips to Stacy being Archie's killer? And they were very subtle hints, indeed.
What was the purpose of those two brief scenes with Ronnie tonight, wafting through the pub "looking for Phil" and exchanging words with Charlie Cotton. Ronnie is a secret murderer, who has form in moving bodies from one place to the next. Charlie Cotton, if - indeed - that is his name, is a policeman. I don't think Charlie is either a policeman or a Charlie or, indeed, Dot's grandson. In fact, I don't even think Nick, who is alive, is aware of what's happening in his name. I do believe the other clue lies in "charlie".
I believe that "Charlie" provided Carl (another derivative of the name "Charlie") with Charlie and that Carl's killer found this out after having killed Carl. There's no way Ronnie Mitchell, now completely without morals, is making a mint from a backstreet fight club. She wouldn't hesitate to push drugs, as long as the Mitchells, themselves, weren't involved,and she wouldn't hesitate to kill another 20 year-old blonde - as long as the victim wasn't a Mitchell.
Charlie and Ronnie are each other's alibis. There are your killers.
Watch this space. Fasten your seatbelts. It's gonna be a bumpy (and long) flight.