Sunday, September 18, 2016

Review - Thursday 15.09.2016 - The Red Herring Episode

That wasn't a bad episode, but neither was it a good one. In a curious way, it was watchable for all the wrong, but interesting reasons. With Masood leaving, with Sonia leaving and with the word being dropped today about Kyle bowing out the door, I had the distinct impression - Mitchells and Denise aside - that this was a cavalcade of characters whom either the audience deems bad or in whom the EP, himself, isn't remotely interested.

It's almost as if he were giving these characters one last gasp of exposure, in the worst sort of way ... before dropping the axe.

I Don't Think SOC Likes Carmel. Carmel was the whole backdrop to Denise and her newest situation, with the duff-duff being her admission to a very drunk and very loquacious Carmel, that she's going to have the baby and give it up for adoption.

First of all, in one respect, Denise showed a special kind of stupidity and a singular lack of common sense in telling such a major and highly secret decision to a woman who's sober brain has a disconnect with her gob, ne'mind its malfunction when she's drunk. Secondly, this is all a big red herring ...

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... simply because EastEnders doesn't do adoptions. Somewhere along the line:-

(a) Denise will have second thoughts and give up the notion.
(b) She'll get broody down the line and try to find who has the baby, which will entail telling Phil Mitchell so he can use his numerous contacts to find the adoptive parents.
(c) Phil will find out and take her to court.
(d) She'll just leave with the kid.

The only positive thing about Carmel as a character involved in all of this is that she's the only person to come up with a positive perspective on the option of abortion. Kim certainly expects Denise to have this child.

I don't get that attitude. Most women I know would rather gag a glassful of maggots than have the child of a man they hated and feared. So Denise doesn't "approve" of abortion. What about if a woman gets pregnant through rape? What if she were raped and found herself pregnant? What if this happened to one of her girls? Who'd want a reminder of a rape growing inside you?

This is something that's never going to happen in a million years with this character. Ever. Because that's the way she is. Somewhere along the line someone is going to clue Phil Mitchell in about this - most probably Vincent, simply because he was behind the bar the night Phil and Denise got drunk and staggered off together. I don't know. I give up. I get that Denise is popular with viewers, but I've only ever been able to stomach her in small doses. She had her moments with Lee Ross and Don Gilet, and after that, when she wasn't skulking about in the background, TPTB were wringing their hands and starting storylines/relationships concerning the character that were never finished for some reason or another - living with Ian Beale, abusing Patrick, drinking heavily, getting sucked into being involved with Jordan Johnson, bullying Libby. If the only storyline concerning this Everywoman sort of character is having her have Phil Mitchell's baby, then just wield the axe.

Because whatever way this turns out, it's yet another variation of a secret child motif.

This played out against the midlife crises concerns of Masood and Carmel. Masood is leaving, and we get the one requisite scene with Nitin Ganatra and multiple scenes with Bonnie Langford, wherein Denise acts as some sort of counsellor/mediator figure.

I wonder how long it will be before Carmel loses her job as "Market Enforcer," because all she does is lug a clipboard around and lolligag around Denise whining about how she hasn't got a man in her bed and how she's going to fare when her fuck-buddy Masood slopes off. In one of the other episodes this week, we saw her tick Buster off about the many violations he was committing on the market as a trader, but when you think of the fact that Buster was the man who knocked her sexual advances back, then that reaction to him makes perfect sense.

This job, for Carmel, is simply a way for her to cut a swathe through a gaggle of people and be noticed because she's someone they, as traders, need to notice and obey. The fact that she was so willing and ready to go with "the market boys" for drinks in The Albert would tell "the market boys" just what an ineffectual easy touch she is, especially considering how drunk she got. She's a drag on Denise, and you'd think this would dawn on Denise the way Tina's immature behaviour grated on Sonia. Denise's attempts to better herself, culturally and educationally, are meant with derision (Kim) or indifference (Carmel and now, surprisingly, Masood, who dismissed her studying of A Midsummer Night's Dream, as something he never had the time or inclination to read - and just months ago, he was angling to help her study).

Just when Denise takes two steps forward, it seems, Carmel shows up to make everything about her and drag her back into the mire. The Scandinavian English Lit teacher is a subtle rebuke to the ignorance of the local yokels, and Carmel's ignorance is highlighted by her drunken and offensively xenophobic comments concerning him:-

You're the English teacher? You're not even English.

People's innate prejudices come to the fore in drink, and Carmel, throughout this episode and in the previous one, has come across as less than likable. She's annoying, offensive, tactless, self-centred, nosey, interfering and untrustworthy.

Masood's scene was little or next to nothing - Denise jumping into the fray and telling him off about misleading Carmel. Masood is so taken aback by Denise's instant accusation of misleading Denise in order to get her into bed, leading her to think that they had some sort of relationship, whilst planning on going on his world tour anyway. Masood quietly pointed out that he said nothing of the sort to Carmel to indicate that he was thinking of staying. She could see his house was still up for rent, that he had removed Kamil from school. Anything else was a fantasy on Carmel's part. If Denise wanted to accuse of having a mid-life crisis, she just might want to look at her friend. Or, maybe, herself.

Maybe the sudden interest in English Lit, by way of a sexy Scandinavian teacher (this EP's Aleks figure?), was the epiphany for Denise to realise that maybe a way out of a lifetime with Phil Mitchell's baby as well as a key to her own advancement would be the adoption route.

It'll never work, however.

I Don't Think SOC Likes Belinda. I was totally Team Sonia tonight when she dropped by the flat to talk with Martin that morning and got an earful of Belinda whingeing about Rebecca moving in.

Ummmm ... excuse me, but there is something that Belinda can do about this situation if she doesn't like it.

Move out.

She has her own business and must be earning enough money to afford a small flat of her own. As Martin pointed out, Rebecca moving in was Stacey's idea. She is Martin's daughter and has more right to live in that flat than either Belinda or Kyle. They are adults, she's a child. Besides, they're living cheek by jowl in a 3-bedroomed flat - Martin, Stacey and Arthur in one room, Kyle in another and Lily must be sharing with Belinda.

Belinda arrived on the scene anyway to tell Martin and Stacey that Alfie and Kat were pulling the plug on paying Stacey's rent, and a flat like that in that area of London would be expensive. The fact that Tina was whingeing about not being able to afford the Butcher-Jackson house would lead me to believe that, Belinda staying, the Fowler unit could move into that house.

She came across tonight as big-mouthed and tactless. And selfish. And once she was sussed by Sonia, she smarmed her way around, offering free nails for Rebecca, unsolicited advice for Sonia to tell Rebecca right away that she was moving to Kettering ... rip it off like a bandage ... and finally, sticking her foot in, unasked, and telling Rebecca, herself, that they would be "roommates."

I can't warm to Rebecca. Seeing her with the monotoned, gaggle-mouthed knobhead, known as Shakil, brings her right down into the mire. Hearing her refer to Sonia as "my stupid mother" just to look big and cool to Shakil (the only word in the English vocabulary he seems to be able to use), was jarring. I also didn't like her meltdown in the middle of the street, acting the drama queen, screaming out her family's business for everyone to hear. In the long run, Martin was right. It may have been better with all three of them - Sonia, Martin and Stacey - explaining to Rebecca why Sonia was going away for a new job and a new start whilst she would be staying in Walford, continuing at her school and in the middle of her exam year. It didn't help either for Belinda, who's no parent, herself, to make that adverse comment on "selfish mothers."

Belinda is one of those characters who started off well, soured quickly and devolved into a caricature dressed in retro late Forties fashion.

KatLite, but without either the tact or the heart.

I Don't Think SOC Likes the Carters. Well, I don't think he likes Mick, who came across as one Class A prick tonight. So Sonia breaking up with Tina is a "liberty," is it? As well as their indignation that Tina can't afford to stay in the Jackson-Butcher house, this is just a big shit-inducing fear on Mick's part that Tina and Sylvie will have to move in with them. I loved the way they all trooped down to the bar, leaving a pregnant Whitney to fend for herself with Sylvie, allowing Sylvie to escape down to the bar - no one tripped over their own two feet to get upstairs and relieve Whitney. Babe mouthed platitudes, but never moved.

And Mick got shirty and all passive-aggressive with Sharon because she cried off the darts match with Linda because of Phil's state. Doesn't Mick realise that Sharon has a dying and very ill husband? Yet everyone has to drop everything and humour Linda because she's worried about Ollie. This is the same old same old with Linda - she's upset/worried/depressed so everyone has to kowtow to humour her.

The Carters all came out, yet again, tonight as rank and rancid - passive aggressive bullies and pushy domineering. They run off to the pub and leave the pregnant girlfriend of their oldest son in command of a tetchy woman with dementia.

Quite a different picture from the group-hugging Walton family of DTC's era.

The Mitchells. The Ben-Phil dynamic continues to unfold, and Harry Reid impressed me, as did Steve McFadden with one exception - yet another scene where we have a Walford resident (Ben, Billy, Mick), who's got a vested interest in a relative who has a social/medical problem (Phil, Janet, Ollie), ranting and raving ignominiously at a qualified professional who's trying to offer them a modicum of information which just may help or inform them. Mick railed at the doctor because he couldn't tell him there and then that nothing was wrong with his son, that they had to know there and then. Billy rails at an educator, who only wants what's best, educationally, for his daughter - except that, because of educational cuts, she'll have to go to another school; and tonight, Ben rants at a doctor who's only trying to apprise him of the procedure Phil has to follow even to allow a liver transplant to take place, as well as informing him of the difficulties that can arise with both donor and recipient in this sort of procedure. She is duty-bound to inform him that liver transplant recipients have less of a long-term survival than any other sort of transplant recipients. Yet because she either tells him something he doesn't want to hear or cannot accommodate his demands, then and there, he makes a great show of snatching the information she printed from her hand and storming off.

The kitchen scene between Phil and Ben showed both actors at their best. Phil's assessment of his alcoholism was pretty stark and indicative of a real alcoholic's point of view. Drink comes looking for him, and what if five years down the line, he starts drinking again? Ben's sacrifice would be all in vain. I didn't like the "head of the family" reference, and above all, I don't like the way Phil is still treating Sharon, the way they are keeping her in the dark about all of this (the lie about everything in the hospital going well) and the off-hand way Phil treated her in their first scene. Sharon deserves better than that.

And the way Ben wiped away his mother's concerns on him donating part of his liver as irrelevant - but then he considers her irrelevant too.

I hope Phil chokes on his own liver. Or someone else's.
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