Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Funeral Episode - Review: Friday 20.01.2017 Part I

I'm not a big fan of EastEnders' funeral episodes, to say the least. The best funeral episode, I thought, was Frank Butcher's, but a lot of the others were either sensationalistic (like that of the minor character Trina) or downright disrespectful (Pat's funeral was more about the Brannings than it was about her).

I found it highly amusing that the funeral took place on the day of America's funeral, when Donald Trump took over to drive the thing into the ground. So much of EastEnders reminds me of Trump at the moment, it almost hurts to watch it.

Daran Little wrote both episodes tonight, and as much as he's my favourite writer on the show, these were pretty mediocre fare.

The Funeral March. Every wedding isn't without unnecessary drama, and so it is with every funeral. This one, curiously, combined the Mitchells and the Brannings in their grief. I found it The Branning contingent was much depleted - Max and Jack. Lauren played babysitter (what happened to the web design career?) and Abi was a no-show all around, but to me, the episode just emphasised how selfish and immature a man Jack really is. 

I get it that the show is trying to depict him as she selfless, sacrificing father, but he isn't. He simply isn't. I do also get it that he's grieving Ronnie, but a Ronnie that Sean O'Connor has given far too much respect to as a character. It jarred me hearing Honey remark in this episode that Ronnie had the kindest heart of anyone she'd ever known, when she didn't. Ronnie was a psychopath, who obsessed on her sister and who transferred the sexual obsession she may have had for Roxy to Jack and fixated on that. She was obsessed about having a child, and when she finally had one, she consigned his care to his father, who bored her. Just last New Year's Day 2016, Jack was ticking her off because she'd forgotten that it was Matthew's birthday.

She'd killed two men, and often threatened others by warning them that they didn't know of what she was actually capable. I wonder if O'Connor cleaned up Ronnie's image before killing her off to assuage her legion of fanatical fans who thought she could do no wrong, the ones who were positively certain that she'd killed Carl White in self-defense, when I find it hard to defend yourself against someone who's bending over a car boot with his arse up in your face, unless he'd had a curry the night before and you're defending yourself from his flatulence. I guess Ronnie just couldn't stomach Carl's farts so she dropped the boot lid on his neck.

You bastard! She screamed. You've farted in my face!

Yes, I do get that Jack is grieving, but my sympathy is wearing thin with him at the moment. The kids have gone from asking endlessly if Ronnie or Roxy are returning to accepting the fact that they aren't. Now, at the eleventh hour, as the Mitchells and what's left of the Brannings assemble, Jack decides, not only that the children shouldn't attend the funeral, but also that he's not going either.

On a day when the Free World celebrated the ultimate spoiled manchild ascending, EastEnders gives us Jack Branning screwing up his face and asserting that he isn't going to Ronnie's funeral, simply, and that's that. I suppose we were supposed to feel his pain at the thought of his wife being shoved away into the cold. cold ground; but Jack's actions came across as those of a spoiled brat rebelling against something he was supposed to do.

All of this played out in real time, with the likes of Honey, Glenda, Phil, Sharon and Auntie Sal, no relation to either of the Blisters (being from Peggy's side of the family), who never misses a knees-up for a wedding or a funeral, sat in the dining room end of the front room passing judgment without compunction.

No amount of friendly coercion from Glenda or gentle yet abrupt manipulation from Jack could induce Jack to budge, so it was down to Dot, once again, to persuade Jack, reminding him that she didn't want to go to Jim's funeral, and she knew that the body in the box wasn't the Jim she'd known and loved, but she felt it her duty to accompany him on this one last journey.

Sal, meanwhile, leaves her acerbic tongue for Glenda, continuing with a litany of criticism about Glenda crying at the death of her daughters, shouting out how she'd abandoned them, accusing her of making everything always about her.

In the end, the funeral was yet another Walford funeral, with Ronnie literally canonised in death and Roxy going along for the ride, Phil reading a schmaltzy poem, allegedly written by Ben, about Ronnie and Roxy forever being with everyone and Donna arranging for an Ibiza-style club number with everyone jumping and dancing about. A fitting end for a psychopath in her mid-forties and her childwoman sister. And Sal's decision to say a few words about how wonderful the Blisters were and how Glenda abandoned them. Quite a change from Sal's earlier opinion of the Blisters, if you remember this:-

Sal was always criticising the Blisters, but since Ronnie returned from prison, in Sal's eyes, the could do no wrong. 

We got the full whack of Ronnie's burial - and I was surprised to realise that Ronnie was actually 43! - but almost nothing of Roxy's, other than to note that they were both being buried in the same grave, with Roxy on top of Ronnie, which was ironic, since Ronnie had always managed to come out on top of Roxy and would, literally, have liked to physically have accomplished that also.

No, poor Roxy got short shrift; instead, we saw Jack, unable to take the full brunt of Ronnie being put away in the ground, repair to the church to find Dot with the kids and to be confronted by Glenda, who's announcing that she wants to raise Matthew. 

I must admit, throughout this episode, especially the scenes at the funeral, I kept hoping we'd get a surprise visit from Charlie. Dot's been in touch with Yvonne, and Charlie loved his son. There's no way he'd not want his child. That was a pretty weak premise.

Watching from the Windows. And so the continuing story of the victimisation of Denise continues. Kim is a bully and a bitch. Because I don't trust this storyline for one moment, I'm confused as to how we're meant to view this situation. I don't know if we're supposed to be Team Denise and understand her motives, or if this is yet another sleight of hand by TPTB, who have spent years bemoaning the fact that blood family outweighs adoptive family anytime. I can't tell you how much I hate the line about an adoptive child being "brought up by strangers."

I do understand that it was a huge step for Denise to put her baby up for adoption, and I understand her motives. In an age where older mothers are the norm, some women, especially those who had their children when they were relatively young, feel that it isn't fair on either the child or themselves when they have a baby late in life. Besides, with Chelsea and with Libby, Denise was, at those times, in a stable relationship with each of the fathers in question. 

As it's been reiterated again and again, Kim doesn't have to agree with Denise's decision to put the baby up for adoption, but she should respect and support her decision. I hate the way she keeps going on and on about the baby being "raised by strangers". However, it was good to see Denise actually apologise to Libby for the way she bullied and berated Libby about her abortion. It took her seeing Ronnie's and Roxy's funeral cortege to realise that life is too short to leave out necessary apologies. That was honest of her, and it was honest of Libby not to pull any punches and to tell her how bad Denise made her feel. She actually did to Libby what Kim is trying to do to her. I really wish someone would smack Kim, the way she pushes up her nose and purses her lips as if she's so perfect from her great height. 

She's an abysmal mother. Pearl is an appendage, and Vincent seems to do most of the hands-on child care.

The Continuing Destruction of Lee. Whitney's a sly, little bitch. She doesn't seem that bothered about the fact that she's spent the night at the Vic, away from Lee, dressed in Linda's pajamas and sleeping in Linda's bed. In fact, it's easy to pretend that she is actually Linda in situ.

Her game is to cozy up to Mick, always making sure that she's saying something either pejorative or mildly worrying about Lee - look sad, brush away a non-existent tear and sigh about how Lee hasn't called her, how she's looked at the phone all morning and even tried calling him, but he wouldn't answer. All of this shit reinforces the idea to Mick that Lee is the one doing the wrong. She's also daubed Babe in it as well, tattle-telling Mick that Babe also thought her wanton spending of Lee's money the reason why he was deeply in debt, and that only adds to Mick's already poor opinion of Babe, after the ratshit incident in the café. Babe's already skating on thin ice, but she susses Whitney's game and remembers the last time she caught Whitney coming onto Mick.

She still doesn't realise that the nature of Lee's job means he can't call her or be on tap for her needs and vagaries during the working day. When he turns up mid-day, she's cold and off-putting with him, playing the high and mighty Carter princess to such a degree that Lee actually does feel now that he has to kowtow to her to gain some sort of acceptance or approval from his father - surprisingly, Mick was so concerned by the fact that Lee hadn't come groveling to Whitney for forgiveness, he was ready to go have a word that morning.

I hate Whitney's show of self-righteousness. It was finding out about her interest in Mick which caused Lee to go off the rails and cheat with Abi, and had Lee not come into The Albert that night, even though she pulled away from his attempted kiss, Whitney was openly flirting with Danny Mitchell. When Lee confronted her at the end of her night out with Stacey, she couldn't handle the home truths and went running to Mick for support. He was wrong to give it to her. 

And, I'm sorry, but what are Lee's dirty clothes doing at the Vic? There was this lengthy and contrived scene, showing Whitney sorting through his dirty boxers and trousers at the Vic, in order to do some washing, when she finds his payslips and is shocked that he earns as little as he does. Apparently, Lee's lied to her about his wages. So that's another nail in his figurative coffin.

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