Sunday, April 30, 2017

Dot, the Vic and Max - Review:- Friday 28.04.2017

I gave myself two days off from watching Friday's episode. I had things to do on a holiday weekend, and I have to admit, I was more than a little fearful that the upswing in quality generated by Thursday's episode might not be repeated. 

I watched the episode this morning, and I was wrong. Whereas usually the Friday episode is the weakest of the week, this one was, in fact, the strongest; and what amazed me even more was that this episode was written by Jesse O'Mahoney, one of the weakest writers on the team. What next? Katie Douglas writing BAFTA material?

Watching the episode today, with some distance between it's actual airing date and the episode before that, it suddenly dawned on me why these episodes resonated so much as opposed to the rest of the tripe we've been being dealt lately.

These two episodes featured characters and situations about whom and which we care deeply, namely Dot, the Vic and Max.

There's no issue storyline being fabricated out of nothing for no one - instead, this situation is something specifically endemic to society today and concerning a believable character in the bargain, the characters that aren't that likeable are tied to a situation about which there's plenty of interest and concern on the viewers' part, and at long last, we're about to see a truly nuanced character landed smack dab in a situation which conflicts his personal concerns and associations greatly.

I was greatly impressed with the last two episodes.

Dot, Abi and Donna the Passive-Aggressive Bully. The ugly side of Donna was on display in this episode, and what annoyed me about this segment was the fact that the only reason Donna and, indeed, Jay and Ben want Abi to live in the house is for her rent money. That, and the fact that she is someone they know and not an unknown quantity - no "psycho or politician".

In fact, the "politics" of this situation has become very interesting, indeed - Donna, by virtue of being the owner of a 48-inch television, has become the power-player of that household, holding Jay and Ben in thrall to what she wants as far as the house situation is concerned.In short, she's calling the shots.

Of course, Jay and Ben don't want Abi around. She's the ex- of both, and believe it or not, Abi is a pretty sensitive young girl. She'd find it uncomfortable living with Jay and, considering, the unusual circumstances of her relationship with Ben, even more uncomfortable living with him. In another world, Ben would find it equally discomfiting. But Sean O'Connor has turned Ben into a lager-swilling couch potato, addicted to wall-to-wall sports and video gaming, usually to be found scoffing full Englishes in the caff, accompanied by Jay, who's lucky enough to have been given employment by Billy, after betraying his trust, and who still finds any excuse to skive off actually working. Minty and Garry Mach II.

When push comes to shove, Abi is feeling guilty about leaving Dot, and when Dot is honest enough to tell her that she's the one person since Arthur Chubb over whom she's been able to comfort, coddle and for whom she can do things, Abi re-evaluates her situation. Dot is lonely, and she enjoys having someone to care for. She's been far more of a grandmother to Abi than Cora, whom we'll see in some capacity next week, and Abi loves her.

Abi is anything but a fool, and she knew that Ben and Jay, literally, had been forced into accepting her as a housemate - even with Donna badgering her by text in the café, both boys still aren't keen on having her live with them. Also, the fact that Donna's plan to sway them around to letting her stay consisted of having her cook dinner for them just may have made Abi think that that would be her sole function and purpose in living in that house. 

She's comfortable with Dot, who cares for her and shows ample concern for her.Also, Abi is a young nineteen. She still looks twelve, and her recent association with the frat house, consisting of Jay, Ben and Donna has been in extensive clubbing, partying and all-night drinking sessions. I can't reiterate enough the fact that every member of Abi's maternal family has been a victim of alcohol abuse, and she very well may have an addictive personality as well.

There's another aspect, which - on second sight - is a bit skewed in her friendship with Donna.Abi is 19; Donna is 30. She's older, she has her own business,and you have to wonder why she's so keen to have Abi move into the house-share with them. It may mean that Abi is a familiar face, and everyone in the house knows her. Of course, it's easier living with someone you know rather than a stranger, but Abi is also someone who, at times, can be easily led. The jagerbomb session resulted in Abi taking a sick day off work, when Donna was hale and hearty and on her stall first thing in the morning.

There's some sort of determined desperation on Donna's part to make sure Abi takes the spare room in the house, whereas neither Ben nor Jay, who are the principal lessees on the property, don't seem too fussed; yet Donna plays the passive-aggressive bully card extensively in this episode - first by ordering Jay to stop by Dot's and subtly strongarm Abi into fulfilling what Donna perceives to be her commitment. Knowing he'll fail, she then plants an advert for a housemate strategically in the café where Abi is sure to see it.

Donna was proper nasty in this episode, and you'd think that she was the lessee of that house, trying to fill the spare room. When Abi had found the advert, she pressured her by saying that they needed her commitment now, because they needed the money for the rent. Were I Abi, and with any nous, I'd have realised then and there that the room was being offered only on the chance that Abi had a regular income and money to help with the outgoings in the house -also that she would, more than likely, be the one who'll cook, clean and answer the door.

But she was well out of order in the pub when she determined that they should tell Dot about Abi moving out, themselves,and this would have been after Abi had left a voicemail saying she'd decided, ultimately, on staying with Dot. After making that decision, you could tell by Abi's smile that she was comfortable with her decision. However, Donna was totally tactless and uncouth in barging into Dot's home like that, with the two boys reduced to subservient idiots and playing along with something of which Ben certainly disapproved - after all, he was the one who said it wasn't Donna's place to tell Dot anything - at the price of having a television available to watch. The idea of Ben and Jay being bought into subservience at the price of a flat-screened television is too preposterous to consider.

Donna's snidey, condescending attitude when they arrived at Dot's was truly nasty. At least, Jay had the perspicacity and integrity to apologise to Abi for what was about to occur.

We couldn't miss out on the fun, could we, boys?

What a sarcastic, patronising and condescending remark that was in answer to Dot's question. Abi had made her decision, and who was this woman to ascertain that, by living with her grandmother, Abi's chances of having "fun" in her life would be severely diminished to non-existence. It was sarcastic and disrespectful to Dot.

Well, we were going to stay in with our new flatmate, but when she didn't show, we thought we'd come around and see if she'd change her mind.

Passive-aggressive bullying at its best - humiliate Abi and make everything her fault. There were no documents signed and two-thirds of the residents in that house didn't want Abi living there, as she reminded them, so she's well within her rights to decide to stay with Dot.

Or this piece of snark:-

You've got board games and a cat.

Dot, however, was gracious in defeat. She was right in ascertaining that Dot was a safe haven in Abi's life after the past few years when Tanya and Max finally called it quits and the awful situation she found herself in with Ben. Dot loves her and cares for her and offered her stability. In actual fact, Dot didn't impose any restrictions on Abi at all. She came and went as she pleased, and ultimately, she was happy living there. It wasn't guilt which made her decide to stay. The look on her face after having made her decision was proof that she was satisfied.

Yet Dot encouraged her to go and live with her friends, to sample independence, even, finally, telling her that leaving suddenly like that, was often the best thing to do. Actually, it's not as if she's leaving Walford. She's only just across the Square from Dot, but you can bet from now on, until the shit hits the fan in some way in that house, that Abi won't be near Dot's house anytime soon. It was a terrific sacrifice for Dot to make, and even scurvier of Donna, acting as if butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, in thanking Dot,by telling her how "kind" it was for Dot to make leaving easier for Abi, but Dot knows Abi, and she knows that she's not as strong as she makes out. The words of farewell from Dot to Abi about her living with her friends had a particular bend about it. Dot knows that none of these people are really Abi's friends, and that out of the three, possibly only Jay or maybe Ben might fight her corner. 

With friends like Donna, however, Abi will need no enemies.

And once again, Dot is left alone with her pet. We're concerned for Dot's plight, because we know her, and we also know that elderly people living alone is a problem in today's society; but Abi's living in a house with her two exes, one of whom, who lied to her, cheated on her, humiliated her and left her with an STD,describes her as "one olive short of a pizza" and a much older woman who probably only wants Abi around because she's responsible enough to cook and clean.

I find it almost laughable that Abi has no friends. There surely must be people with whom she keeps in touch from school, and she surely must have friends and colleagues from the vets' practice where she works. Donna's more than a decade older than she, and you wonder if she's targeting Abi as someone whom she can easily dominate.

The Vic: Woody's Mutiny and Johnny the Whiny Little Bitch. Watching the scag-ends of the Carters bicker amongst themselves and whatching Shirley knowing that she's suddenly out of her depth and that the freeholder has the remaining Carters by the short and curlies is getting more interesting by the minute.

Johnny, however, is an insufferable and frankly whiney little bitch. He's not even qualified as a solicitor yet and with total assurance, he's telling Shirley how Fi can't do anything other than advise the Carters what to do - and you don't have to take advice.

The first dilemma is Tina waking up in Mick's and Linda's bed with Woody. Based on what was said, it looks as though Tina's sharing a room with Shirley and Woody's drawn the short straw and has to share with Johnny.

The one thing that struck me throughout this segment is that the character of Johnny was meant to be based on DTC, himself. In fact, Johnny was DTC. Now under SOC, Johnny-Dominic Treadwell-Collins has become one - dare I say it again? - whiny little bitch.

He's affronted that Tina has slept with Woody, especially after what Woody did in setting Johnny up with a non-date, and calls her a "part-time lesbian."

You what?

Jesse O'Mahoney missed his chance at relevant dialogue with that one. Tina's retort should have been:- Johnny, I'm fluid in my sexuality, at least I'm not stagnant like you.

He's totally up himself, from the remark he made to Woody - On a personal level, you're deeply unpopular - (only with Johnny and Shirley) to his final remark - This is a family business, and your last name ain't Carter.

I am sorry, but I have a big problem with supposedly educated people using poor grammar. Lauren throwing "ain'ts" about like two pence coins is one thing. She has no qualifications, but Johnny is a law graduate, When you're educated for a purpose, good grammar stays with you, and this is why I have a problem with the likes of Johnny, Sonia and NuMichelle, even Saint Denise and her GCSE course - they all have a propensity to use "ain't" exclusively, and it doesn't stick as authentic, especially with Michelle and Denise, who are supposed to be teachers/students of English grammar.

One thing is made clear, and that is that Fi was sufficiently impressed with Woody to obtain his mobile number and include him on all of the discussions about the re-organisation of the Vic. That says one thing to me, and it isn't that Woody is a tool in Max's game of take-over. It just means that Grafton Hall or whatever, via Fi, know that Woody is the one person working in the Vic with the least emotional attachment to it. The Carters and Sharon have too much of an emotional attachment to the place for Grafton Hall's purpose. To Woody, it's just a job. My guess is that somewhere along the line, Shirley/Mick/Linda are going to pull some sort of epic fail and lose the Vic, and Woody will be the last man standing. Woody's allegiance is to whoever pays his wages.

That said, I like him. Lee Ryan was even good at depicting someone, especially a man, asleep after a night of bonking,without a care in the world. The "If Looks Could Kill" prize this round goes to Whitney - first for the look on her face when she saw Tina do the Walk of Shame out of Mick's room, having spent the night with Woody and later the snarly look she gave Shirley when Shirley swept Fi upstairs to talk over the Vic's books.

I think there's still a connection between Woody and Tina, but I couldn't figure out why he'd suddenly decided to leave, ostensibly just because Tina told him no one liked him, yet then just as suddenly decided to stay, simply because Shirley and Sharon thought he would be the most logical person for the Vic to shed. Being told they need to shed two people, it was astute of Sharon to suggest to Shirley that ridding the place of Woody would be the equivalent of getting rid of two people because as manager, he would be getting the wage of two people.

I've never understood why Linda charged Sharon with looking after the place and then hired Woody as manager, but then I don't understand a lot of plot-driven drivel. Fi literally gave the game away in remarking to Woody that his staying was what Grafton wanted. And it was then that Woody fought back and like Donna with Ben and Jay, took control of the situation.

He knows he has the Carters over a barrel. They can't complain to Mick because that would entail telling him about the freehold. Now, in an unusual circumstance, the entire Clan Carter are keeping a whopper of a secret from Mick. Fi is one sharp cookie and another new character I like. She's like Ronnie without all the neuroses, the psychopathy and the tragic heroine shit. A viable businesswoman - nothing personal, she's just out to get the best dividend out of this business.

Basically, Shirley's test is shedding two, ultimately one, staff member in order to cut costs. Myself, I'd have shed Whitney and Johnny. Johnny isn't a full-time employee at all. He works as and when and he'll have his qualifying year's studies to do come the autumn, so he can't really be classed as staff and on the payroll.

And the Carters owe Whitney nothing. Why is she still there? She's no longer related to them, and it's not as if she were without family. She's got nursery nurse qualifications, and she has vague connections to Martin and Stacey, stronger connections to Bianca in Milton Keynes and even stronger connections to her brother, King Drip, in Yorkshire.

I must admit I thought the two candidates for the sack would be Sharon and Tracey, and I loved the fact that Woody called Sharon out for not volunteering to go, saying - quite truthfully - that she didn't need the job.Line of the episode:-

You don't need this job.You just use it as an extension of your social life.

The die is cast. The worm has turned. Shirley realises now that holding the leasehold, instead of the freehold means dancing to the tune of whoever owns the building. They are also de facto owners of the business, and Fi was right. The success of the Vic as a business is commensurate to the level of rent paid and profit accrued that the Carters are allowed to keep.

I like the way Fi just breezes in, warning the Carters that freebies from the bar isn't allowed (Tina's Coke) - keep in mind how much booze both Tina and Shirley have pilfered from Mick in the past; and she isn't in the least fazed or initmidated by Shirley's rudeness. In point of fact, Shirley is pretty cowed by all of this, and they all end the segment being cowed by Woody's newest assertion and clouded by the fact that they're holding a big secret from Mick.

I imagine the much-touted "big fight" to occur between Mick and Woody will be when Mick returns to find Woody in charge.There will be a big bust-up (think Mick and Dean during that infamous Christmas) until Shirley screams out, Mick, we ain't got the freehold anymore!

Max Is Now a Conflicted Man. The dominant theme throughout this episode was basically  the worm turning - Donna emerging as the dominant force in the house-share dynamic, and coming across as a thoroughly nasty passive-aggressive bully; Woody, asserting his position not only as manager but the chosen vessel for Grafton Hall or whatever; and finally, Max being upended in a turn-up for the books - that Josh the creep is actually Max's boss, most probably being Weyland's son, and his asserting his own dominance in a situation that affects the entire Square.

Think of the domino effect. If Carmel, with her planning position, is Max's useful idiot, then Max is, quite possibly, the useful idiot of Josh, and in this episode, I think Max just realised this. I thought that Max would encounter a conflict in his grand design, and that that conflict would come in the person of Lauren, his daughter. 

It seems that, at first, Max seemed to be on board with Weyland & Co's cultivation of Lauren - or, in particular, Josh's cultivation of her, offering her a job for which she was way underqualified. Josh wants Lauren for sex, and I would imagine once he found out that Lauren was Max's daughter, things became a lot sweeter for Max; but Max has had time to think about the situation, and he doesn't want Lauren involved with these people. 

Instead, Josh "creates" a job for Lauren, lying to say that people were sufficiently impressed with the photos from her phone that they had to create a position for her - Creative Team Assistant, which really means that she's probably going to do for the "Creative Team" exactly what she did with her web designer internship - make tea and serve biscuits and be on tap to bend over the desk in Josh's executive office for on-the-spot sex.

On the one hand, she has Steven the Condom-Popper, plotting an unplanned pregnancy to keep her closer to home, and on the other, we have Josh, who's a creepy obsessive and who isn't put off in the least by the fact that she has a committed boyfriend or a child. I would imagine that Josh has a wife and a kid or two, himself. As for Lauren, I don't know if she is as attracted to Josh as she initially was. Steven's made an effort, and she seemed genuinely moved by his dinner efforts to want to repay him sexually, and got caught in a revealing outfit by the unexpected arrival of Josh. 

There's going to be something happen here, that will all end in tears. I don't know if she'll suddenly become interested in him or if he'll rape her and then make it seem as though she were complicit in the act. DTC had his own rape storyline, there's no reason to think SOC won't. There'll be some doubt about this, enough to give Josh the benefit of the doubt, but I think there's going to be some sort of tragic ending to this. Steven's first action with the knife on the condom was fairly overshadowing.

But consider this - Max has "done well" with the Vic, according to Josh. Ian Beale's chippie site is up for sale, and Sharon and Phil received an over-the-odds price for the car lot. Just how far is this going to go?

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