Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Tale of Two Babies - Review:- Monday 16.01.2017

I'll give Sean O'Connor credit for one thing - no one has produced a thematic EastEnders, the way they did it in the 80s and 90s, the way he has managed to do so. 

I thought the obvious juxtaposition tonight between two MItchell babies, actually, was significant, and the contrasting endings were obvious: Phil lost the opportunity to be a father to his natural son, whilst Jack gained the opportunity to keep his wife's baby son, a child to whom he had no right. In point of fact, Phil had no real right to the baby in question either, as he wasn't married to Denise; but the difference between the two situations is that Jack views Matthew as Ronnie's legacy - her only child, whom he'll love as his own because of the love he had for her - and Phil views Denise's son as an extension of himself and the Mitchell legacy.

The Blood Mitchell. Denise has got to be one of the most unpleasant, ungrateful people in the show. I know she has a huge fan base, and most of those people view her as "quirky" or spikey, but she's just bloody rude and unpleasant to everyone. She was even upleasant to Patrick, who's done nothing but support her, against his better judgement, through this pregnancy.

But this is the way she's always been - unpleasant, rude, condescending and arrogant to most people in the Square. And people are nice to her, which I can't understand. Chelsea was very much like Denise in her treatment of people. Take friends, for example.  The Denise-Carmel dynamic reminds me of an middle-aged version of Chelsea and Preeti. 

At best, Chelsea treated the ineffectual Preeti like a mildly amusing doll; at worst, she treated her like an annoying pest. It's the same with Denise and Carmel. Most of the time Carmel, who's all about herself anyway, wants a companion to listen to her bang on and on about herself, she nabs Denise, who makes a face and then proceeds to get drunk. Mind you, Denise is always making a face about something, and it's usually indicating boredom or disgust or disapproval. Her face-making isn't gurning the way Jacqueline Jossa or Tillie Keeper gurn to disguise the fact that the really sorta kinda aren't very good at their craft, but certainly Diane Parish has made Denise's unpleasant face-making a signature piece of her characterisation. And there really isn't any need for that, because Parish is an adequate actress. At other times, whenever Carmel has done something thoughtful for Denise, as a friend, she's turned up her nose at the effort - and she does that for pretty much anyone. Thing is, when people do ignore her, she throws herself a pity party and lives to regret it, usually ending up snogging someone she shouldn't or going to bed with them, the way she did with Phil Mitchell.

Actually, the more I think about her little dance with Phil, which came as a result of a massive drunk which was a culmination reaction to JJ being taken away from her and to Libby refusing to give into her bullying and continuing with her plan to have an abortion, and to her feeling massively sorry for herself because she was on her own again, and because her silly, simpering sister bagged a man and a baby and big house, the more I think this was karma for the way she treated Fatboy a few years ago. Fatboy was dead serious about this relationship, even asking her poignantly if she were just using him for sex - and in the end, that's exactly what she did.

I get it that the sound of babies crying on the maternity ward was reminding her in the episode of what she was giving up, but she was so bloody flippant and unpleasant to Patrick, and he didn't deserve what he got at all.

On the Mitchell side of the coin, there was the irony of Phil asking Sharon if he could adopt Dennis. I wondered how long it would be before he broached this subject, even mentioning the fact that Dennis Rickman was the boy's "real" dad. As things stand, tragically, Dennis Rickman is little more than Denny's birth father. Phil's been the mainstay of his formative years and, unfortunately, his role model; but it's clear that he loves Phil and that Phil loves him. Any other time, and Sharon would have willingly embraced Phil's obvious effort to make Dennis a fully paid-up member of the Mitchell tribe, but she well remembers Phil's remark about "blood Mitchells" and does what she did years ago regarding Lisa's secret about Louise.

I must admit, I was wondering how Sharon would react to all of this tonight, and I wasn't disappointed by the fact that that, as I expected, Denise showed only surprise when Phil and Sharon entered her room, but no shame in the fact that Sharon knew about her dirty little secret. Line of the night to Shazza:-

A word of advice: If you want to keep something a secret, don't go talking about it in public loos.

I actually thought Sharon carried this leg of the episode. When she has material like this, there's no one better than Letitia Dean - the relatively quiet way she was forced to tell Phil about the existence of a child who was the result of a liaison about which he remembered nothing. She knew she had to tell him about this, especially when Phil forced her hand by announcing that he wanted to adopt Dennis; Sharon knew it would only be a matter of time before he was aware of this child's existence; she also knew what his reaction would be when he learned of the baby, and it reflected what he felt for Dennis, and that's a little sad. Phil might love Dennis, he may even love him as if he were his own son; but in the face of the existence of another "blood" Mitchell, Dennis doesn't stand a chance. He was the second choice option for Phil, and when Sharon and Phil adjourned to talk about whatever options Phil thought he might have, I thought Sharon played Phil brilliantly.

Because it was Patrick who was the only person who thought about what this child would mean for Sharon and was concerned by the fact that neither Phil nor Denise was even considering how the existence of this child might affect Sharon, whom Patrick pointedly referred to as Phil's "wife."

Sharon didn't rant and rave at Phil. She kept her calm, even when they adjourned to talk amongst themselves about the child; and it was Sharon who put  both Phil and Denise in their places when they had a confrontation in the corridor of the maternity ward, with Phil demanding to see the baby and Denise shouting the odds. As Sharon reminded them, they got themselves into this predicament, and now it was down to them to extricate themselves, like adults.

I don't think for one instant Sharon wanted to take responsibility for this baby, the way Phil was asserting that he wanted to take the child. It was certainly rich of him to announce that, expecting Sharon to go along with his plan. What woman would want to raise her husband's child, who was the result of a cheating one night stand? And, listen, this was cheating. Phil and Sharon may not have been living together at the time, but they were still legally married, and any liaison he had with any other woman who wasn't his wife was exactly that: cheating. I thought she tackled the situation very well, with astute reverse psychology.

While Phil used the same reasoning as the insipid Kim, about "strangers" raising a child who had a family, Sharon quietly asked Phil if he loved Dennis, and if he considered Dennis his own. When Phil replied in the affirmative, she reminded Phil that this unknown couple who were adopting the baby, were just like Den and Angie when they adopted Sharon - and I'm glad that Sharon's backstory has now reverted to her being adopted by Den and Angie and not traded by Gavin to Den for a place in a bank robbery gang. Those people will love and accept the child as much as much as Den and Angie loved her. Den and Angie were flawed people in a toxic marriage, but there was no denying that they loved Sharon unconditionally.

Phil's reasoning about what would happen if the couple broke up or if one of them died, how would the child fare then? That was a stupid question. Life goes on. The same thing could happen to a natural child born into any family. As Sharon reasoned, they wouldn't be able to give the child back, and besides, Phil could die at anytime. Still, she promised to stand by Phil in whatever he decided to do about the child, and she even vowed to help him fight for his rights.

I don't think she was sincere about that. I think she knew that if she dug in and opposed him in his efforts, he'd plough right ahead, like a bull in a china shop, and pursue trying to get the child. I think she also realised that if the baby were around, considering Denise had said that she had tried not to, but had come to love the child, that it wouldn't be long before there was some sort of bond forming between Phil and Denise. So she played along, until Phil realised that what Denise had said all along was basically true. Phil is a man in his mid-fifties. By the time the child would be a teenager, he'd be in his seventies.

And I realised in this episode that the real reason Denise was giving the child up had nothing to do with fearing Phil's interference. She simply disliked him too much. Libby was smart. When she accidentally got pregnant by a man with whom she had nothing in common, rather than have the child and establish a bond with this man which couldn't be broken via the child, she had the baby aborted.

In this episode, Denise's dislike of Phil was visceral. The way she sneeringly called him an alcoholic, as if this were a life choice and not a valid disease, and as if she isn't one to reach for a bottle the minute life doesn't go her way! She was three sheets to the wind when she went to bed with an equally drunk Phil. At least, she was honest enough to admit that she was too old to be dealing with a young child, that she had a poorly-paid job (even though she was living in the type of property which, in that part of London, would bag half a million quid) and that she wanted to move ahead; that the couple who had agreed to adopt the child could give him a better life, they were younger and would grow with the child, pointing out that by the time the kid would have reached his teens, she'd be in her sixties.

That was pretty understandable and reasonable, although older women have children every day - Kathy and Zainab were the same age when they gave birth to Ben and Kamil.

But I thought it was pretty harsh of her to bang on about how well her two girls had turned out and to browbeat Phil about Ben and Louise. Phil is a big part of Ben being the way he is, but then so is Kathy, who virtually abandoned him at a young age. And as for Louise, to be fair, for years, on two occasions, Phil didn't know Louise's whereabouts. Her mother kept her whereabouts from him for years, and for all of that, Louise, apart from being obnoxious, seems pretty well-adjusted to me. Denise's kids are nothing to brag about - Chelsea was lazy, self-obsessed, arrogant, dishonest and quick to jump into bed with a man minutes after meeting him. Who can forget her encounter with Jack in the toilets of the Argee Bahjee? Or the fact that she served time in prison for perverting the course of justice. (Just like Sharon and Jane, Denise destroyed evidence of Chelsea's lie and was pretty content to see an innocent man go to prison). Libby has always been a snobbish pill.

At the end of the day, Phil decided to let the child go, and the final irony came as he and Sharon left the hospital as the social worker and her team were coming to collect the baby.

Baby Cotton. Hallelujah! Dot's remembered Charlie, although precious good that will do. Jack's moved into the anger side of grief now, assailing Dot for telling Ricky stories about Ronnie and Roxy being "with the angels". (Note to Glenda: Matthew is not Ricky's brother, and he isn't Amy's brother either. He is their cousin).

At least Dot remembered that Matthew had a father and a living one at that. She has a right to let Charlie know what has happened, because Charlie has a right to his son. She says that he hasn't been answering his phone and perhaps had changed numbers, so why can't she contact Yvonne? Certainly she would know where she was, wouldn't she? In this age of globalisation and the internet, it shouldn't be hard to trace either of the two.

Instead, Glenda convinces her that Jack needs Matthew and that Matthew needs to be wth this family. Well, maybe; but Matthew is only two years old. Were he to go live with his father, it might be a bit of an adjustment, but he's so young, he wouldn't remember an of the Amy-Ricky association, much less, his mother, who left most of the childcare to Charlie when she was alive anyway.

i would think that Jack is clinging to Matthew because he is Ronnie's son, and the last link to her that he has.

I did enjoy the scenes between Dot and Glenda and Dot's picking up on Glenda's tacit disapproval of Jack's direct way of telling Ricky that Ronnie and Roxy wouldn't be coming back.

So Jack gets to keep a baby to whom he has no right, whilst Phil loses the rights to his natural son.

The Carter Situation. Clock Whitney and her closeness to Mick. Her body language, her actions, everything with regard to him intimates that she wishes to be more than just a daughter-in-law. Her facial expression and her attitude when she and he were leaving to go to the Cash and Carry was proprietorial in a way in which only Linda has the right. Something will brew between them in Linda's absence.

Babe susses something, which is why she was quick to put Whitney in her place, but I think Babe will lose Mick's licence when it's found out that she's serving drink before legal hours during the breakfast buffet.

Is it on the cards for Sharon to become the licencee again?

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