Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Mummy and the Cow - Review:- 12.12.2014

Here's a song for Jane:-

There's only one thing that kept me from giving this episode a full nine ...

That, coupled with the fact that, once again, a parent is viewed through the eyes of an entitled, recalcitrant child, and made to apologise for being a parent.

I Am the Resurrection and the Light. John Altman's the hero of the piece, and his latest incarnation as Nick is one of the many things that has set the show afire this autumn. His last appearance back in 2010, with the insipid Dottie/Kirsty storyline was a damp squib, and I thought Nick a tired caricature of a character, but Altman's tour de force this time has been a hoot and filled to the brim with suitably black humour.

Line of the night from Nick to Ian:-

Whaddya gonna do? Kill me? I'm already dead. But Ma, she prayed so hard for a miracle, I got sent back.

I can't remember when I've genuinely laughed at EastEnders, but thanks to John Altman, I am now, although I had a hard time believing that Nick would have forgotten Pete Beale's name - after all, Pete was the one whom Dot called to nail an addicted Nick into his room all those years ago. 

The banter with Ian was genuinely good conversation, especially how the reminiscence of Pete brought on the apt father and son analogy, with a heavy, but subtle foreshadowing on Ian's part ...

Nick: Like father like son.
Ian:: Is that like it is with you and your son? Is he a thieving, murdering low-life as well?

(Oh, Ian, you know not what you've said! Just remember how subtle DTC is with his foreshadowing and his clues - just sayin').

That whole scene was just redolent of foreshadowing entertwined with the most incongruous normality. Example? Yvonne telling Ian that Dot and the rest of them were dealing with Nick's non-death "as a family" and then popping off to put the kettle on.

Totally surreal, as much as the conversation between Dot and Ian was poignant and true to the continuity of history that exists between the Beales and Dot.

The Beale, Fowler and Watts families always patronised poor Dot and the unfortunate turn of events that gave her Nick as a son, and Ian continued that patronising, albeit patronising out of love and concern. Yes, Nick had always hurt her, always let her down, and she couldn't trust him. Ian urged her to do something he should have done and didn't - go to the police about Nick's non-death, even after Dot explained the cock-and-bull story about gangsters being after Nick and Charlie thinking that Nick pretending to be dead would solve the problem. If Dot were afraid to go to the Old Bill, Ian would go, and it was when Ian said this, that Dot dropped her moral bombshell.

Ian had lost a child, and Dot thought she had also lost a child, but had discovered that she really hadn't, and whilst she knew full well what Nick had done all her life and how it affected her, but she couldn't express the joy at having her son sat on the sofa in the front room rather than in some coffin. Then Dot hit home by reminding Ian that she knew he would do anything for his own children, which gave Ian pause for thought.

Left alone with the macabre remnants of her family, Nick suggests that they all make ready for Christmas - after all, Dot always wanted a full house for Christmas.

Dot should be careful what she wishes for. I think she now realises that.

The Co-Dependent Beales. The last time DTC was around, we had Max attempting to discipline Lauren for stealing his credit card and buying a camcorder online. He wanted her grounded for three months, but Tanya, playing the good cop parent, undermined him and in the end, he ended up apologising to Lauren.

Guess what?

Yep, Ian ends up apologising to Peter, stumbling tearfully up to Peter the Prick's martyr face on the stall and whimpering I'm sorry.

Really? Really, Ian? And if that isn't enough, we had the ubiquitous bonding scene of Ian and pricky Peter sitting at the Beale table with Ian tearfully explaining in a schmaltzy way all this bunkum about how from the moment they were minutes old, the twins were two and now there was only Peter ...


And that's supposed to make Boy Wonder feel better? I'll tell you what did make him feel better - Ian admitting from the getgo that he always gets it wrong, and Peter's response?

I know.

That's right. Peter agrees with Ian that Ian always gets everything wrong, and Peter grants him his blessing, forgives him and comforts him in his arms. (Ian's big on comfort).

Then we finish the whole schmaltz thing off with the cobbled-together Beale family - Ian the weak paterfamilias, Peter the Prick, the godawful Cindy, who has no right to be there and who can't even bear to have her infant daughter by her side during the day as she sits on her lazy skanky arse and flips through teen magazines, Leave-It-to-Beaver-Bobby and the Patron Saint of Interference, Undermining and Smugness ...

... who'd just returned from her Ava mission of trolling the streets of Walford, and comforting and feeding confused, old ladies. All gather as Bobby the Beaver ceremoniously chooses the first decoration to go upon the Beale Christmas tree, which just happens to be Lucy the Dead's special favourite.

Pass the bucket, please ...

Even Ian's latest secret is hidden behind yet more spoiling of his appalling children. Bobby-the-Beaver demands mince pies, and Ian trudges off to make Bobby's wish, his command, leaving behind Jane smiling smugly at the thought that she has been proven right, again. I want someone to smack the shit out of this awful, awful woman. Nick peering suspiciously out his window spurs Ian to run to the one person to whom he must spill the secret of Nick's resurrection ... Sharon and Phil, who are about to act out the words to the song Santa Baby, complete with Sharon's lipstick smudged all over Phil's gob.

(Sharon and Phil seriously buy Christmas presents from the market?)

Well, let's take a head count. Who now knows Nick is alive?

Dot, Yvonne, Carol and now Ian, Phil and Sharon. Well, that's pretty much all of Old Walford. Wait ... Ronnie and Charlie.

The Blisters. Where Aleks and Roxy were once mildly interesting, now they are pretty much filler stuff, which borders on the truly bizarre. Charlie presuming to lecture Aleks on his behaviour is pretty rich, considering the scams Charlie's been dealing, himself. He may or may not have been involved in a big robbery. He certainly faked a death, and that's fraud. He's imitated a policeman. He may or may not have killed someone - that remains to be seen.

Aleks convinces him to be the go-between and broker a meeting with Roxy, whom he misses. I've no doubt Aleks misses Roxy. I've no doubt he'd miss Marta too, if Roxy had scarpered and Marta were refusing to see him, within an arm's length. Aleks loves the one he's with, and if Marta had ordered him home to the marital bed, he'd have chosen her over Roxy. After all, Marta is the mother of his child and his wife, and he was no more ready to divorce her than he was to give up Roxy, as long as one didn't find out about the other.

Now, he's missing Roxy, who's nearby and accessible, but he needs to explain himself.

Now, here's the other brazen bit about this storyline - Roxy's planning a baby shower for Ronnie. Seriously. These women utterly have no shame. You'd think with everything that's gone before with Ronnie, especially the babyswap debacle, she'd want a quiet birth with little celebration. Who'd attend her shower anyway? Sharon, of course. Lola? She'd be creeped into going. Stacey? Don't think so. The Carters? I mean, Shirley at a baby shower?

Of course, the road to true love is long and winding, like The Beatles song, and Roxy shows up at the Market Office looking like an ageing, spoiled brat only to find Aleks not there. Later, he explains to her that he was called away because Ineta got into a fight at school, that someone had called her a dirty gypsy, and he had to start being a real dad. Once again, Aleks is leaving Walford, and once again, we know that Roxy will stop him. 

Well, Marta abandoned Ineta to be educated in England by her father, and she may just find that Roxy, within the next five years or so, will have turned her into the next potential Queen of Ibiza ... or in other words, a slapper.

Mum's the Word. OK, I am not the biggest Linda Henry fan, but she nailed the show tonight. This is a storyline I find intriguing. Hand up, how many sussed that Sylvie was suffering from dementia (Alzheimers, actually) and was being concealed and cared for by Babe?

It wasn't difficult to note that Babe was hiding something in her house/flat/coven. There was, of course, the fluttering curtain seen from an upstairs window months back. Then there was Babe's extra half of stout offered to an unseen guest, and finally, a cryptic phonecall to a neighbour, explaining that someone got confused near bedtime.

The reunion scenes between Mick, Shirley and Sylvie were poignant and very moving, especially if anyone has ever had to deal with a relative suffering from Alzheimers. It's been referenced that Sylvie physically abused Shirley, but one of the very early signs of onset Alzheimers is erratic behaviour and often violent behaviour at that. It may have also been a sign of early onset when Sylvie abandoned the family.

Quite clever, as well, of the writers to use Alzheimers as a mask to hide the fact that Sylvie not only doesn't remember Mick as her son, she knows he isn't her son. Alzheimers victims have moments of lucidity and near-perfect long-term memories which are clear about some things, but not others. Simply put, Sylvie would know and assert correctly and adamantly that she had no son, and she wouldn't be expected to know Mick, having left when he was a baby. She may not remember, however, the circumstances surrounding Mick's birth - i.e., that he was Shirley's child and she presented him to Stan as their son. She certainly remembered Tina, with a jolting remark that totally unnerved Shirley - How's the baby? (Long pause) Little Tina? Because, of course, Tina would have been Sylvie's baby.

But Sylvie's insistence that Mick isn't her son, that she doesn't remember him and her confusing him with a beau could all be masked by the Alzheimers as well. Sometimes Alzheimers sufferers remember certain people and not others or their existence. Her insistence to Mick that she had no son could easily be explained away by both Babe and Shirley. Especially poignant was Shirley's fruitless efforts to manipulate Sylvie into "remembering" her "three" children - Shirley, Tina and Mick - and Sylvie insisting that she only had two kids.

Another facet of Alzheimers which the divine Daran Little got correct is the sufferer's propensity to make inappropriate remarks. About Stan:-

'Ere, he never was up to much in bed. Climbing atop of yer and stinking of fish. I've had better.

On Shirley:-

Never much of a looker. Still, it wasn't your looks the boys were after.

Sylvie set the cat amongst the pigeons, and just when I was beginning to imagine a Carter overkill, suddenly, they are interesting again in a different way - Shirley, desperate, lest Sylvie spew the truth about who she really is in relation to Mick; Mick, desperate to get to know the woman he thinks is his mother. Mick's lacked a mother's affection all his life and now he thinks to make this up by bringing this shell of a woman into a house full of strangers, which will only cause torment and disruption, not only to her, but to Stan also. The brilliant scene of Sylvie, alone and lost, in the market square perfectly captured the fear and confusion of many an Alzheimers victim.

And then there's Babe with a backstory which may or may not be true - that Sylvie was diagnosed with Alzheimers five years ago, and that she's been with Babe for two of those five years, and that Babe, as she warned Shirley, was only looking out for Sylvie in order to protect Shirley - or rather, her secret about Mick. That makes me believe that Sylvie has been with Babe for more than five years, and that she's been manipulated into staying away from the family. Because Babe is always so truthful. Not.

The highlight of this storyline was Linda Henry's evocative reminiscence of thinking she'd seen Sylvie in a nightclub some years ago, thinking she'd even heard her voice, and then relating hos Shirley had gone into the loos to vomit.

This is going to be an interesting relationship, and it's mete that the character of Sylvie will only be recurring. Alzheimers eventually leads to death, and the subject hasn't been broached since Frank Butcher's mother, Mo, was diagnosed with hit back in the early nineties. The actress is well cast and resembles Linda Henry, and it's now evident that there's a family history of female abandonment and rejection - and violence and alcoholism - that should be explored.

The only thing that spoiled this was the fact that Sylvie was taken under the wing of Walford's latest Avenging Angel

Good episode. Well written.

No comments:

Post a Comment