Thursday, March 16, 2017

Manipulation - Review:- Thursday 16.03.2017

Manipulation, along with misogyny, seems to be the norm on EastEnders these days. If it's not one, it's the other. Tonight's episode, I thought, dealt with manipulation in various ways, some subtle, some overt and some showing onerous results.

Manipulation - The Results: Rebecca. Can we all agree that Rebecca is a silly girl? She's about as much of an adult as Ollie Carter is. Seriously. Only now, she's sitting at home, red nose buried in online information about an apprenticeship as a trainee sound engineer, and guess what?

She finds out that the successful applicant needs to have GCSEs, which is something she doesn't have at the moment. 

I'm still Team Martin on this. Stacey can be lackadaisical as she likes, telling Martin to "give Rebecca time" - this, after she had refused to go to school, and he had concocted a lie about a migraine as the reason she wasn't attending. Stacey looked critical of him, when he insisted that Rebecca would return the next day, and that he wasn't giving up insisting that she go. In this respect, Stacey's being stupid. There, I said it. 

She planted the idea in the mind of an adolescent, whose thought processes have yet to develop critically, and told her, effectively, that the rest of her life is more important than her education at the moment. Martin thinks otherwise, and he's the adult in the room. He's right - Rebecca leaving school before taking GCSEs will result in Martin being fined by the authorities for her truancy. 

Who remembers Stacey the hot-head, who refused to register for school at fifteen, when she came to Walford, and the education authorities threatening to go after Charlie Slater, her guardian? Education might be no big deal to Stacey, who, all of her adult life, has either had a man (Bradley, Luke, Martin) or someone's generosity (Kat and Alfie) taking care of her financial needs. Stacey's never felt the need for education because she's never really had to fend for herself for any great length of time.

The fact that Kush was the person who managed to make Rebecca see sense, for me, was interesting; because Kush is genuinely an interesting character. His worst traits are his self-absorption, but he gets that back from his putrid mother; however, Kush is one of those rare characters on the programme who actually has a conscience, and who feels bad about the way things turn out, if he has had a hand in them.

Throughout this episode and in prior ones, you felt that he felt miserably for Martin in this situation because of the uncomfortable and shameful looks he shot him across the market. Kush genuinely likes Martin and values his friendship. You felt that throughout the crisis surrounding Stacey and Arthur, and it began to resolve itself tentatively over time - the odd drink here and there, Martin inviting Kush to his stag night, Kush offering to take wedding photos of Martin and Stacey. It's been a long process, only to be set back by this.

Of course, Martin is annoyed with the Kazemis, especially Carmel, after the gloves came off regarding her hidden agenda to get custody of Arthur, deeming Stacey "unfit" because of her mental health history. But Carmel is a prize bitch in the extreme, using her position as market inspector to get in little personal digs at Martin. Kush feels bad about this and does his best to rein her in, even castigating her in the café, offering sympathy for Shakil who's had her on one side haranguing him and Martin harassing him - which is some sort of exaggeration on Kush's part.

At last Stacey brings it upon herself to take up for Martin. At last, she understands how worried and upset he is because Rebecca's refusing to go back to school. That was a good and righteous rant from Stacey, reminding Kush that Shakil was let off lightly with Martin only "harassing" him. Any other father would have done worse. Interesting to note that, whilst Kush had a chord struck by the news that Rebecca wasn't returning to school, Carmel offered only a sly, snide smirk.

Just wait until karma bites her skinny arse.

Then we had Kush do what he always does when he has a crisis of conscience. He attempts to make amends. When he visits Rebecca, I don't know if he's referring to Martin or to Shakil when he rushes to assure her that "he" doesn't know Kush is there. Why Rebecca should listen and take on board what Kush has to say about the importance of education, when she was digging her heels in against Martin's wishes is anyone's guess - except that he basically said pretty much the same thing as Stacey, but with different emphasis. Yes, the rest of her life is important, but she won't have much of any sort of life without academic qualifications, and whilst she's still spewing about getting an apprenticeship, she will still have to compete with no GCSE's against kids who have plenty.

When Kush sought to remind her of the false equivalency of Shakil suffering for his part in this as much as she, I'm glad it rang a hollow note with Rebecca and that she emphasized the double standard. People laughed at Shakil's willy and nothing more; but Rebecca was dubbed a "tramp", and whilst Shakil still had his mates and chose not to answer their phone calls, Rebecca has no one fighting her corner at school. 

This is true, but it's also true that Kush took on the mantle of sin eater for this situation, blaming himself for not getting Shakil to delete his photos, but then, he only saw them after Shakil had sent them to Rebecca. That's when he castigated him about using this method to pull a girl instead of talking to her. It would have been even sweeter had someone amongst the two of them acknowledged that Rebecca's situation now was a result of "poor Shaki" manipulating her into having sex with him, before she was ready for such a thing and in the misguided belief that he loved her, and that this manipulation further morphed into other people manipulating the situation around them (Keegan, Louise, Sniggle and Snaggle) for their own amusement. As with Carmel, karma does strike.

At least, he got Rebecca to return to school, and all in all, Kush is a flawed, but an essentially good guy - in short, he's human. He's the best of the Kazemis, and I actually like the character.

Can we please move on from this now?

Manipulation: The Slow Drip of Max. We keep getting snippets and hints that Max isn't all he seems to be. It's true, however, since that family dinner he hosted at the beginning of the year after the Blisters had died, he's had precious little to do with either of his daughters since. Abi didn't even acknowledge him when she verbally blasted Jack for upsetting Dot a few weeks ago, and even though he's across the Square, he spends more time with Jack's kids and his pseudo-kid than he does his grandson.

Lauren, of course, is making her life all about Lauren. When has she not done so? I think her slow-burning non-relationship with Steven is developing into an eventual revelation that Steven is, was and always has been gay. 

I think Steven is Sean O'Connor's Dominic Treadwell-Collins's Ben moment. DTC put Ben back in the closet and had him come out all over again, at Abi's expense. This time, I think SOC's put Steven back in the closet. Steven craves normality and acceptance from Ian (as much as Ben craved normality and acceptance on Phil's terms). So, Steven the edgy neurotic who upset the apple cart the last time he was hanging around, is now Mr Normal, the devoted son - encouraging Ian in an exercise plan and accompanying him on a jog around the Square; preferring to work extra shifts at the café to having lunch with Lauren.

Lauren doesn't seem mature enough to appreciate what a committed relationship, involving a small child, entails. It's not always hot sex on a rainy afternoon, it actually is saving for Christmas or saving for a holiday or saving for the baby's new shoes. It could also be Steven using all of this as a mask for his sexuality and keeping Lauren at arm's length, liking her, wanting to be a father to Peter's son, but hoping all the while that this is all it takes to help him to stake a claim in Ian's heart as a real Beale and not a Wicks' by-blow.

To add insult to injury, Lauren has to find out from Stacey that Max has been looking after Jack's kids whilst Jack's gone to Paris to see Penny. It's Stacey who has to encourage Max to see Lauren, and so - as we're getting Max in dribs and drabs, we had a scene that was a little bit irky for me. I thought, when Max had returned, he'd had the ubiquitous heart-to-heart with both Lauren and Abi, how he'd forgiven them and wanted to put the past behind him and move on. Now he and Lauren confront each other about much the same thing.

It was Stacey who had to remind him of how little he'd seen his own children since his return, and it's a pretty uneasy Max who visits Lauren. At least we now realise that Lauren actually has been having pangs of guilt over what was actually her betrayal of Max - her pointless return right before Louis was born where one day she was going to fight for Max's clearance (knowing full well from Peter who the real killer of Lucy was), then wanting him to go to prison for trying to frame Abi, then wanting to clear his name and doing nothing until Max realised that Lauren knew the real killer and had known for the better part of a year.

Remember his last words to her? You're dead to me.

I've always been surprised at how easily Lauren slotted into a friendship with Jane, knowing what Jane had done and how complicit she and Ian had been in watching Max go to prison. I've always wondered how much guilt she felt when she returned to Peter, especially knowing that the bent copper binned her statement, telling all, as a jealous revenge against Max. Yet here she was, wondering aloud to Max that his avoidance of her was actually his resentment that she had betrayed him, and as much as Jacqueline Jossa could muster this i her limited acting range, we sorta knda got the idea that Lauren had been feeling guilty about what she'd done to Max. 

She offered no reasons behind her behaviour. She could have at least told him that she did, indeed, give a statement about the real killer, only to have the policeman destroy it. And then we had weeks and weeks of both Lauren and Abi being offended by the fact that Max had returned the letter he wrote them, unopened, as if he were writing them out of his life. For a great while, she seemed to struggle to understand exactly why Max had disowned them both. Lauren isn't the brightest lightbulb in the pack, but she isn't that stupid.

But tonight, in a segment which could have been longer and, thereby, more interesting, we actually did get Max to admit that he was bothered by her betrayal, that he was bothered by the fact that it cost him a year of his life spent in prison, which was horrible. Prison changed him, he said. That, and what was said next, was probably the most honest Max has been with his daughter since his return.

We know that prison changed Max. He's self-harming, or he was. There was prescience in his words to Lauren. He doesn't want to dwell on the past; instead, getting things back to normal with his daughters is going to take time. Yes, it will; yes, she did betray him, even though she cack-handedly tried to save him. Yes, Abi turned her back on him even before he was accused of killing Lucy. They both, in their own ways, treated him abominably.

But at the end of the day, they are his children; and he does, indeed, love them - although I think he'll probably end up using Lauren, if only to expose to her the ilk of the family with whom she's now involved.

For one brief moment, when Lauren plaintively asked Max if he wanted things to go back to the way they were, I felt sorry for her. I could actually feel Lauren's loneliness. She's stuck in a household, in a relationship with a man who's either a cold fish or a closet gay or both, who has a history of real mental illness, she's treated by Ian like an unwanted stepchild, and a lot of her time, when she isn't taking care of her son, she's helping out with Jane's disability. She didn't sign up for all of this, and she didn't ask to be abandoned by Peter, if, indeed, he did abandon her. Her mother is away, her sister has her own life, Stacey has three kids and a husband to look after and Whitney is more concerned with trying to bed MIck and rid his life of Linda.

She needs her father, but somehow, Max's reassurance that he wants his daughter back with things the way they were, sounded more than just a bit cold,and whilst Lauren was happy to have a hug from her dad, Max had other things on his mind.

Max has, indeed, changed. Time was, wild horses wouldn't have kept Max away from his kids. They may have treated him badly, but Max was ever one to love unconditionally - unless, he's trying to keep them out of the crosshairs of whatever his revenge is going to be.

I hope they don't take too long about this, because the longer the dripfeed continues, the more chances our interest will wane.

The Real Deal: The Manipulation of Linda Carter. Wow, this really made me angry. First, Linda is one clued-up woman. She nailed everything about Lee. In fact, as soon as she sees dirty Whitney making herself at home and poncing about in her jimjams around Mick, she suspects something's up.

For all Mick's humming and hawing, he can't be truthful to Linda at all. In fact all of everything he told her was a tissue of lies. First, he lied about Lee losing the flat and not being able to afford it, then he tells her Lee left. Linda hones right in, nailing Lee's vulnerability, castigating Mick for turfing him out with Lee's history of depression. 

Linda has it sussed - the miscarriage, the big wedding, the flat - all stress, all triggers. Right. She knows her son, and our girl has probably been doing some online research about depression, even if Mick hadn't. When Lee's depression first surfaced, Linda was dealing with the aftermath of her rape and then planning her wedding. Any involvement in Lee's problems were more than likely pushed aside by Mick demanding time. 

But she also is quick to realise that Whitney is a cheater, and that she did, indeed, cheat on Lee in the past - the revelation of which, by Babe, caused him, first, to sleep with Abi and then to propose to Whitney as a means of forgiveness. Linda hasn't forgotten Whitney's hankering after Mick, and hanging in the air like a dirty stink throughout all of this is the biggest secret of all Mick is still keeping from Linda - the fact that he, himself, has cheated on her with that snog with Whitney.

Whitney absorbed that remark, canting bitch that she is; because Linda didn't disappoint. She was totally right to give Mick what-for about the state of play, most especially the fact that her child, her first-born son, has literally been cast adrift, whilst Whitney's there cosy and lording it over everything. Linda is Lee's mother, and she knew. She knew exactly that undue stress would affect Lee adversely, and she was right in accusing Mick of neglect.

And you know what? Mick knew she was right. He couldn't even look at her, because he knew that Lee's perceived weakness had boomeranged on him as a man, himself. Once, however, she shows compassion about Lee, the dirty, scummy bitch that Whitney is gets unleashed. 

Whitney dominates that scene, and she dominates Mick, stepping up and taking it upon herself to tell Linda about the robbery. Not just tell her about it, but emphasize the most abject parts about it. Who the hell is she to speak to Linda like that? Calling her "love" and patronising her, even insinuating that Linda, herself, was leaving them to wallow in it whilst she took care of her mother. Who the hell is this piece of riffraff, who has no right, even to be in that pub amongst that family now?

But even after that, Linda still knows Lee better than anyone. And why shouldn't she? He's her son. She loves him, and she'll defend him to the death. Once she learned Lee's problem was money, she knew exactly where the blame for his behaviour lay, and she was right ... Notice how she completely ignored Mick maligning Lee about having lied about his job, saying he was an executive when he only worked in a call centre, but getting nasty in saying how Lee had to "be the big man."

Gee, I remember that scene when Lee confessed what his job was to Mick, and how understanding Mick was about why he lied to Whitney about the job, about wanting to live up to her expectations and, above all, wanting to live up to Mick's image. But Linda knew. Lee's money problems stemmed from Whitney - the big wedding he really didn't have to pay for, the flat, new this and that. Whitney was always spending; Whitney bled him dry.

Linda was right.

But then Mick pulled the sucker punch, telling her that Lee had beaten Whitney. 

Beaten her. He called him a "wife-beater." 

Lee had smacked her, not even hard, not leaving a mark. It was wrong, and he was instantly contrite and hating himself. Lee was never a wife-beater.

Yet another lie Mick tells her. 

And he leads her to believe that all Mick's debts come from paying off Lee's mistakes, which simply isn't true. Linda knows he's lied now. And actually, he's doing the same to Linda that Lee did to Whitney, only worse -because Whitney and Mick have that sordid little secret of their own.

The amazing thing about all of this is Linda never wavers in her defence of Lee. She's angry, but she knows her son. Something must have made him plan the robbery (yes), maybe he was being victimised (yes), as she keeps on insisting, she knows her son. She raised him. But Mick is adamant. 

I actually think Mick hates Lee now. Every excuse Linda offered in trying to explain his behaviour, Mick batted away. Afghanistan? Very much a reason. Countless numbers of army vets suffer from PTSD and depression. No, it serves Mick's purpose to hate Lee; he hates Lee, even moreso now, because he has, in effect, had to see his own weakness in himself. Lee suffered from genuine depression, which causes a person to act outside the norm. It brought him to the brink of suicide; but Mick's weakess comes from the fact that Linda, the strong person in this marriage, the one who regularly fed Mick's ego and the myth of the provider male, was away. And, truth be known, Mick was jealous of Lee, jealous that he had a woman who flirted shamelessly with Mick and to whom he was attracted enough to stick his tongue down her throat.

At the very least, Mick takes a sideswipe at admitting responsibility for making Lee the way he was, sparing her the callous details of the times he told Lee simply to "man up." He still won't admit that he saw Lee's depression the same stupid way Whitney saw it - as a weakness. Whitney was the one who said he didn't need counselling, just her moving into the Vic with sex on tap.

Mick does admit that he's now the same with Linda as Lee was with Whitney. Lee was trying, to his wit's end, to live up to the image of the hunter-gatherer that Mick provided, but it was a sham image; and now, widdle Mick doesn't want his son around him - even though Linda is right in wanting him home. Mick doesn't want him there because of two reasons - first, he'd be forced to acknowledge his own weakness in Lee, and secondly, with Lee's marriage ended, Whitney would have to leave, and Mick isn't going to give that up - going as far as telling Linda what a "rock" she's been. Linda's antennae should have been raised at that point.

And so Mick does what he always does when he wants to get Linda on side about something - this time, coming home. They have sex. That does the trick: Linda's coming home ... or so she thinks.

Once again, we're treated to Whitney, subtly treating Linda like a guest in her own home, strutting into the bedroom to hang up a gaggle of Mick's ironing, which she's done - a wife's duty. Linda even apologises to her, but not an unqualified apology - she still insists that Lee is a good person, but Whitney brushes that aside. She doesn't want to know. 

(She doesn't want to know because she's already moved on, with Mick in her sights). Because of this, the last thing she wants is Linda coming home. So she, effectively, guilt-trips Linda into changing her mind. Whitney is a sly, snide bitch - who can't forget that hard glinty look she gave to Mick as she gazed out the upstairs window at Lee leaving? She infers that they're all very well in the Vic, thank you very much. She has a lot of ideas, and they have a lot of money-making events scheduled. As she puts it, they're "on top of it", with a tacit pat given to her own back. She preys on Linda's guilt about putting Elaine into sheltered housing with care, and says the one thing that makes Linda change her mind - that Mick will feel all the more guilty if Linda returns home, only to have Elaine lose her independence and her pub.

Besides, purrs Whitney, Linda's only at the other end of a phone. Once again, she preys on Linda's vulnerability and her concern for her mother. The canting bitch.

The phone phrase becomes a meme thereafter. Linda repeats a variation of it, when saying good-bye to Mick, as if to convince herself that she's doing the right thing.

Of course, widdle Mick puts on a brave face, but the spoiled child comes out. When he storms through the pub, Whitney, at first, thinks Linda's daubed her in it, seeing him angry. She thinks it's because Linda's told him that Whitney suggested Linda go; but that's not the case.

Widdle Mick is angry because he feels Linda's abandoned me. She saw how much widdle Mick needed her, but she left, anyway. And Whitney does a double fucking dirty. She deftly presents Linda in a bad light, whilst hiding her venom with honeyed words.

But Mick, Linda didn't want to go. She had to. Elaine needs her.

Subliminal message for Mick? Pssst! She'd rather nurture her mother than be here comforting her ... but, hey, I'm here.

With Linda home, Whitney had a shelf life. She'd be relegated to the back benches, to the Sunday league; and Mick would forget all about his snogging dalliance, and she would have to play the part of the dutiful daughter-figure if Linda allowed her to remain under her roof, and Linda certainly has the measure of Whitney, and it wouldn't be long before Whitney would be forced back to Bianca or up to Yorkshire and her brother.

Whitney subtly implied to Linda that this was her territory now. She was taking care of everything, and Linda just needed to take Ollie and trot home to her mother. With Linda out of the picture, vulnerable Mick was in the palm of her hand, even as he stood in the rain, making a Brando-esque cri de coeur ...

What about MEEEEEEEEEE????????????????

Because everything is all about Mick, and now Whitney has him where she wants him. 

I imagine, since this wasn't Kelly Bright's actual return, that he'll sleep with Whitney, realise what he's done and slope off, only for Shazza to take control. 

I do hope Denise tells Linda what she saw. I want Linda to bitch-slap Whitney about the Square, and I don't want to see an ounce of sympathy touted for Whitney. She doesn't deserve it.

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