Sunday, 22 April 2018

Eastenders Review: "A Bland Exit"

The Eastenders writers had quite the task on their hands last week as they said goodbye to not one, but two characters. Whilst Michelle might've got as fitting a farewell as a character who got reintoduced with a schoolboy lover could get, Vincent's exit left just as many question marks as his arrival.

For a quick recap on that, Vincent came to the square hailed as the new 'big bad boy' and was in a love triangle of sorts with Ronnie & Kim. This was at a time when Roxy was sort of having an affair of sorts with Ronnie's husband Charlie, and Ronnie was struggling to regain control of her life, whilst we'd heard for months that Kim had gotten pregnant through a mystery man. Mystery man was Vincent who'd had a mystery connection with Ronnie off-screen, and with said affair of sorts between Roxy/Charlie, Ronnie for a short time was fighting Kim for Vincent's affections, whilst Vincent was caught between the two ladies.

If that sounds like a massively, complicated, mess, it's because it was. The writers eventually shelved the love mess and Vincent settled into a relationship with Kim, and his former bad boy ways were left behind. Vincent had his family now and that's all that mattered. Over New Year, Vincent got involved in the big heist and has been having money problems of late, which have all been building up to his exit.

To try and solve his money problems, Vincent did the absolute worst thing anyone on the square could do - he agreed to be a police snitch. That right there, even if news of Richard Blackwood leaving the soap hadn't already been confirmed, seals a person's fate. The Detective that he thought was helping him got taken off the case, a new one brought on and thanks to Phil putting in a call to our scary gangster Aidan, Vincent left the square for good with his fate hanging in the balance. Was he killed? That's been left for audience interpretation, with the path seemingly left open if Richard does ever decide he wants to return.

We knew given the fact Tameka Empson wasn't leaving with Vincent that there would be no happy ending, but still it feels like he's left with a whimper and that no-one will ever find out Fatboy's fate. Vincent had a lot of promise when he was first introduced, but the turnover in Eastenders producers seriously hampered his progress. As did the messy relationship business. The soap could never decide whether he was going to be a true out and out 'bad boy' or one with redemption, and introducing his mother and giving him a sister in the shape of Donna didn't really help at all. Vincent also had a negative effect on Kim's family life at first, with her constantly at odds with Patrick & Denise over her support for him. Granted they have come a long way since then, but with better direction or more accurately a more precise vision for the character, his stay on the square would've been much better than it actually was. Instead what we're left with is a mix of people sad to see Richard leave the soap, and those of which won't even notice his absence.

Another storyline at play this week was Ian and Masood competing for business investment. As is extremely predictable with Ian Beale, he looked down his nose at Masood, thoroughly believing that his business plan was better because people like Masood just don't make it with the big guns. As was also extremely predictable, Ian ended up attending his business meeting with Masood's business plan, which was a winner and Ian was soon rumbled. With Masood's business plan going down a storm, Ian was soon dripping poison into his ear in an attempt to muscle in on the project. At points he did have Masood going but as always with Ian, he just can't help looking down on people.

With the offer of an increased investment Ian and Masood find themselves in quite the predicament; can they actually work together? Of course the answer is no because Ian Beale doesn't play with others, but with serious money on the table, they are both forced to put their pride aside and paint a happy face.

Elsewhere Kat and Stacey are at odds. Kat receives a call from Alfie and after prodding, Stacey admits she called him to see how he was which Kat isn't happy with. Stacey accuses Kat of being too stubborn to make the first move with him, and burying her head in the sand to try and distract herself from the fact she's missing her family. She massively touches a nerve as Kat is soon on the defence, throwing a tirade at Stacey who is equal measure to her cousin's rage. They are soon making their peace of course, though Kat ended Friday's installment giving the impression she was off with Alfie & the boys whilst she was in reality sitting on her own outside a takeaway. It's clear she's very much wrestling with herself, and the Slater stubbornment that comes so naturally to them. Are her boys really better off without her? And most importantly, is this all paving the way for Alfie to eventually return?

I very much hope the answer to that second question is no. Having Kat, Mo and a bit of Jean back on the square and in & around Stacey works perfectly. Each of the actresses still has that natural chemistry with one another that has made the Slaters one of Eastenders most loved families. Whilst Martin is a tolerable character & still has a wealth of story to tell, Alfie really doesn't and whilst it may be an unpopular opinion, he does drag Kat's character down. Honestly the two of them haven't been the same since she had a completely implausible affair with Derek Branning, and then of course Alfie went off and married Roxy Mitchell.

Last weeks Eastenders wasn't a complete and utter dud, and the show is continuing to improve under its new leadership, but looking back at Michelle and Vincent you can't help wondering what might've been.