Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Sisters and Brothers - Review:- 27.12.2016

In my honest opinion, which doesn't count for much as far as the Millennials are concerned, this was the best episode of the week. It was laden with overshadowing, most of it overt, but Anna Karen is always a joy to watch, and I'm glad the show hasn't forgotten Auntie Sal, now that Peggy is kaput. And, of course, the best actor in the show is back, Jake Wood.

There were so many genuinely good elements to this episode ... and then it was spoiled from being a perfect ten by Denise's miserable mug stinking up the place, and her atrociously snobby daughter in the bargain.

Even Millennial Michelle was watchable, but only for all the standard stock reasons.

Let's begin with her.

Millennial Michelle Watch. If the fanbois are going to read this and piss their knickers, then I want to get it out of the way first. It's not bad, snowflakes, so just read what I say for comprehension, and then toddle off to your safe place and fume to yourselves.

Jenna Russell is a good actress, but she isn't Michelle, and the character, herself, isn't even Michelle. She's just another returning character with a secret - in other words, a bog-standard, common-and-garden soap character. Sure, she hangs out with Michelle, she even encourages her to wean Phil for a night and enjoy Ronnie's hen party - although how the hell Denny functioned upstairs with all that racket downstairs is beyond me. 

But then we got the little smidges of hints that something wasn't quite right in Millennial MIchelle's universe. First, she turned down a Tarot reading by Auntie Sal - funny that, it reminded me so much of Ethel and her tea leaves. She not only turned down the offer, when everyone else was participating out of fun, she flatly refused, after Sal, who admitted, herself, that she wasn't really trained in the reading of the cards, intoned as how the cards never lie.

Then she took herself off to sit and brood on the staircase, and when silly Tina came by, concerned about Millennial Michelle's longer than usual face, Michelle cryptically replied that she had far too many things going on in her own life now that precluded her from being the life and soul of the party, or words to that effect.


Is she ill? Is there trouble afloat at home? Just what? Because Susan Tully's Michelle, apart from keeping really big secrets, like betraying Sharon's trust with her father and her ex-husband, was pretty open about airing her grievances. Yes, she'd have backed Sharon and interposed herself onto Sharon's situation with Phil and his health, but on the way to the hospital, or at least in the waiting room, she'd have come clean to Sharon as to the real reason she was in Walford.

And no mention of Pauline yet. She remembered Auntie Sal, however, and that was unusual - because by the time Peggy arrived, a woman whom Michelle casually hated, by the way, Michelle wasn't long leaving Walford, and I don't remember Sal having put in an appearance during the short time that Michelle's and Peggy's residences overlapped.

The Max Attack. It's not often that the show is graced with its best actor and its best actress. Tonight we were privileged to have Jake Wood and Linda Henry in attendance. 

Wood is easily, head and shoulders above the rest of the actors on the programme, and to whit, he even makes lesser actors, performing opposite him, look good. Scott Maslen tonight and Jacqueline Jossa are prime examples of two who raise their game when in scenes with him.

One thing stood out tonight - and that's that the person who knows Max better than anyone else is his brother. Everyone else is buying Max's contrition, his desire to move on and his forgiving nature, except Jack. Jack smells a rat, and he wants to know what Max is about; so suspicious is he that he forbids Max to attend his wedding.

Max spends most of the episode attempting to reconcile with his two daughters, and I am very suspicious of that. To begin with, that self-entitled, spoiled brat of a little piece of shit, Abi, actually has her head up her fat arse so far that she doesn't exactly remember things the way they occurred.

Lauren is thick,and she still doesn't understand why Max disowned her when he left Walford in the back of a police car, but Abi's recollection of events is skewed. (Sigh ...) I suppose Abi is like countless other Millennials, who make up their own facts to suit their purposes.

Here's a reminder - Abi remarks that she and Lauren forgave Max for everything. You what? Abi had long parted ways with Max before either he or she was accused of killing Lucy Beale. She left in a big stink well before Lauren left with Peter for New Zealand, and that was at the beginning of 2015. Prior to that, during that autumn, Abi had left in a jealous strop, and invited herself to move in with Ben.

Whilst Phil was languishing in prison, after having been set up by Nick Cotton, Abi had her feet firmly under the Mitchell table, and when Phil ensured that Max was utterly humiliated when he returned to Walford (for gypping Ben), the Mitchells bought Abi's loyalty with a new car - wonder what happened to that? Abi chose Ben over Max - just as Lauren ultimately acknowledged to Jane that she had chosen Peter over her father.

Max accused Lucy on the stand of killing Lucy Beale, not to get even with her for testifying against him, but because at the time, he genuinely believed that she did kill Lucy - although, I see that his remark tonight about everyone else knowing the truth about Lucy wasn't lost on Lauren, who really should be ashamed of herself. 

So they wrote him a letter, "forgiving" him. For what? Abi treated him like a piece of shit,and when Lauren came back, allegedly to clear his name, she did jack shit - one day she wanted his name cleared, the next day she wanted him imprisoned - and when she did get around to telling the truth, she ran slam-bang into a bent copper with a conflict of interest. Instead of shouting to the rafters, she stuck around long enough for Max to suss that she'd known who had killed Bobby for about a year and had said nothing.

They "forgave" Max? They both should be on their knees begging his forgiveness. Instead, Abi snipes demands and Lauren is living with the enemy.

I'm glad Dot was at home when Max called around. I was afraid she'd be out and about, but a scene between Wood and June Brown,when she's not in head-bobbing mode, is always watchable, because it's bound to touch upon Max's tetchy relationship with Jim. Max was never Dot's favourite - mainly because he wasn't Jim's favourite - but her talk with Max tonight was honest, forthright and encouraging. She acknowledged that Jim had made a pig's ear of bringing Max up, and that Max, himself, had never forgiven Jim for some of the things he'd done; but she assured him that Abi would come around eventually for Max. 

The irony of that situation is that Abi clung to the Mitchells in a relationship largely built on deceit on both her and Ben's part, and when the truth was out, the Mitchells slung her hook, and she was humiliated - just as they had humiliated Max.

I'm still waiting for Max to find out that Phil nobbled the jury against him, and it was interesting to note that Martin's ire is up about Stacey seeing Max. I'm Team Martin here. Stacey has form, and Martin is right to be annoyed.

The Magic Moment ... When Shirley and Sharon finally bury the hatchet and become frenemies. That was a smart, but obvious, piece of dialogue. You knew the moment Shirley said that Phil was lucky and Sharon deliberately misunderstood her remark, thinking she meant he was lucky to have got a liver, that Shirleys' rejoinder would be that Phil was lucky to have Sharon.

Letitia Dean has often stated that she;d like to see a Sharon-Shirley friendship, and at the moment, instead of dredging up Millennial Michelle, I'd like to see Sharon and Shirley become friends. 

The Criminal Mind. I thought Mick was more intelligent than that. He's an East End pub landlord, and in this day and age, you don't go putting it about to all and sundry - and, above all, a stranger who says he's a "friend" of Lee's, that you've over-ordered booze for New Year's Eve.

Of course, considering that Shirley and Tina had been dispatched to top up the depleting supply of booze at the hen party and they chose to pilfer from the Vic's cellar, either Mick isn't going to miss the booze or he'll think Shirley and Tina took it, and tell them they haven't paid enough for what was missing, and then he'll twig that something is missing.

I must admit I wondered why Whitney had suddenly decided to bury the hatchet and move on from her righteous ire with Lee from the night before, and at the end, we finally knew - she thinks she's pregnant again. This is really, the last thing Lee wants or needs, and once again, it wasn't an accident. Whitney used no precaution, and went right ahead and got up the duff - ne'mind they live in a bedsit they can ill afford, and Lee's makng mincemeat when he's not stealing or deceiving.

So, in Whitney's eyes, at least Lee can do something right.

And now he's being blackmailed by Oz, threatening to tell all to Mick because he has Lee, literally, over a barrel (pun intended). To watch Lee squirm when Oz showed up at the Vic, claiming to be a mate and then asking about Ollie and Whitney, was a picture. But at the end of the day, Whitney has forgotten all of the events of the previous day, because she's now got what she really wanted all along - a baby.

The Sisters. Above all, this episode was heavy with an emphasis on siblings. Not only was the focal point on the Mitchell sisters, who are about to bow out in a big way on New Year's Day, but we also had the tensions about their father being resolved with the Branning sisters, and we had light moments from the Carter sisters. We even had a brother act represented in Max and Jack.

But this episode belonged to the Blisters. Redolent with obvious overshadowing, this actually had the effect of making the viewer feel sad and anxious at the thought that this time next week, they'll be dead, actually dead.

From Ronnie's remark to Honey about this being her last wedding (literally) to the terrible Tarot cards chosen by Roxy - the Fool, the Devil and Death - to Sal's soliloquy about missing Peggy, the closeness of sisters and how difficult it is when the first of a pair dies, to the actual poignant last scene of Ronnie and Roxy huddled together on the sidewalk outside the Mitchell house, if you had no inkling of the fate about to befall them, you'd certainly realise from this episode that both are about to die.

Sal is a self-taught Taroist, or she would have been at pains to assure Roxy that the Death card doesn't necessarily mean death literally (although in this instance, we know that it does), but it can also mean the death of a relationship or it can signify a person moving from one aspect of their life to another.

 I know Ronnie's deserving of karma - she's been due leaving Walford in a box for a long time, and I abhorred the fact that this EP, whilst killing her off, also tried to normalise her as just another Yummy Mummy character settling down with Jack and three ready-made kids, when we all knew that she was a psychopath and a murderer. I also know that, until tonight, the tables were turned, and it was propagated, mostly by Jack, but reinforced also by Ronnie, that it was always Roxy who upturned and destroyed any and all relationships Ronnie had, when it was always the other way around. 

The instance of their first coming to Walford was due to Ronnie interfering in a relationship Roxy had of which she didn't approve. Ronnie never approved of any of Roxy's relationships. Tonight, however, we got a proper tip to the way the Mitchell dynamics actually were - with Roxy sussing that Honey had been dispatched to check on Roxy's preparations for the hen night and remarking that this was another example of Ronnie being a control freak; and finally, there was their heart-to-heart on the sidewalk outside the house, when Roxy expressed anxiety at the fact that Ronnie was moving to Ongar and leaving her, and Ronnie actually relented and asked her to move with them to Ongar - evidence that Roxy, the eternal child, was incapable of living without her sister to influence and to control her life. Ronnie's created the child-woman who won't grow up. 

Ronnie makes this decision without asking or consulting Jack, who - at the moment - has a pretty low opinion of Roxy (when he, himself, is no moral arbiter). She just assumes she'll be able to bring Jack around to the idea. Although Ronnie will be one of the Yummy Mummies of whom she plans to make light, she'll be a property developer's wife, but what will Roxy do? Well, pretty much of nothing except hang out and hope to find a man of substance and wealth, as you do.

But we know how all of this is going to end - the sisters will go out together, and I'm sure now that both of them will die. Ronnie deserves that fate, Roxy doesn't.

The Fly in the Ointment. Why is it every time Libby Fox pops back up on the show, I get the urge to reach through the screen and smack her smug face? I can't decide who is the most slappable at the moment - her or Abi Branning. Wait. They both are.

But more annoying than Libby at the moment is her putrid mother. A commentator on Walford Web put it aptly when she described Denise as doing nothing but walking around, rubbing her belly and with a face like a smacked bum. When she isn't looking shifty and miserable, she's being condescending and pedantic - cf: the remark she made to Kush at the Christmas Dinner about Pip and Estella, and when he didn't understand the reference to Great Expectations, she tutted sneeringly and remarked that he really should read more.

Bitch, shut up. You're just getting a flaming GCSE in literature. You can't even construct a sentence that's grammatically correct, and you wouldn't have such an interest in this course if you didn't fancy the teacher.

Denise has come off badly in this episode, as well as being eminently stupid. She hasn't told Libby that she's putting the baby up for adoption; she hasn't told Kim; and she hasn't told her mother - Emerald, sometimes Ada - that she's pregnant. (Please, God, no, they're adding to this abysmal dynamic).

It smacks of someone wanting attention - like all this secrecy, even though she's denying it , points to her eventually keeping the Holy Child, and all this avoidance of Phil will only mean that somehow he'll find out - so all this talk of moving on together between Phil and Sharon is just horseshit - because this is going to upset that apple cart.

I've long felt that Denise is a spent character, and she should have left with her two worthless daughters in 2010. But that's another unpopular opinion. Still, the show had to put in the ubiquitous Denise scene tonight, just to remind us that she's pregnant and near her time. It wasn't enough to show her sitting, slouched on the sofa with her belly up in the air, we had to have the lame remarks about back aches and the like. It spoiled an otherwise flawless episode.

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