Saturday, 6 June 2015

Coronation Street double episode review, Friday 5 June 2015

If Friday’s Corrie had an overarching theme, it was loss. The Nazirs mourned Kal, the Grimshaws peered into the gaping Todd-crafted chasm of what could have been, and Craig lost daylight hours to sleep as well as a chance to see Beth and Kirky’s mayonnaise infused homage to 50 Shades of Grey; perhaps more of a gain that one. 

Dev’s reaction to Kal’s loss is to seize the day, but Julie may be misinterpreting this as a planned proposal, and Nick doesn’t want to lose Steph despite her being complicit in Andy’s deception.

Both episodes were so beautifully written by Damon Rochefort and Jan McVerry that I watched them twice. The dialogue flashed with witty exchanges and observations, none of which appeared forced, while the sensitive moments were evocative and poetic. Indeed, there were so many lines worthy of their own mention that collective praise will have to suffice.

Todd Grimshaw is a man happy to play the long game in order to get the most out of a scheme, and his attention to detail in exacting revenge made tonight’s reveal a rather enjoyable watch despite his cruelty. The prelude to his confession was nicely intercut with scenes of Seán and Jason’s mock date at the bar.

Eileen thinks she is meeting Jeff from Dubai and is as shocked as Jaseán to find Todd and Adrian waiting for her. There’s no denying that Eileen has behaved badly in stringing Adrian along, and while Todd was the architect of her demise, she did take the bait. But she is needlessly punished for it with jaw dropping callousness by her own son. 

Standing there in a red top with an apple martini in hand, Eileen realises that Jeff from Dubai is indeed Todd from Weatherfield, and as both watch Adrian walk out the door, it makes his victory all the sweeter. Mocking her dreams of a house in the country, he sneers, “You break out in hives more than ten yards from the Arndale.” He further demonstrates his lack of respect of her by pointing out “[it’s] all about what you could do for him, never about what he could do for you. You see, even in your dreams you’re a doormat.”

While Eileen and Jason erroneously remark that he has always been “jealous and twisted,” Julie is closer to the mark when she asks “How did you get so cruel?” to which Todd replies, “Swimming with sharks”. He reminds them that they stood him up when he arranged a family meal in the Bistro by way of an apology for his behaviour last year, and that it is as a result of this that he ended up wandering the streets, being beaten up and scarred. “See even if I wanted to forget I can’t” he cries, “cos it’s there every time I look in the mirror reminding me you’re all two faced spineless sheep.”

He reveals to Jason how he even orchestrated the plot to split him and Eva up. As with Eileen’s betrayal, Jason provided him with the raw material when he allowed himself to become enraged with jealousy and, as Todd rightly points out, chose to drown his sorrows than fight for her. The clever part of Todd’s deception is that he knows his victim’s weakness and uses it against them.

The thing is, Todd still fulfils the role of outside observer looking in, and I can’t help but enjoy this aspect of his character. His comments on Adi and Asha being “something [for Julie] to parade around the park”, and Jason and Eva being “great for the beach shots, not so great for the gene pool. Darwin sleeps easy” are a case in point.

He appears to enjoy meting out justice on all that have hurt him and reveals more of himself than he might like when he remarks how he’d love to be “dumb enough not to be hurt by the world” and laments how he is pushed away for being “too bright, too sensitive, too ambitious”. While the former is undoubtedly true, he is wrong about the latter. Indeed, Jason was once jealous of the pride and special place Eileen held in her heart for Todd.

He departs with a comment from Julie about dying a lonely man and cries out that at least he’ll have lived. Todd is a character that continues to fascinate me and now that all of this has been revealed, I wonder what lies ahead for him.

As the Nazirs prepare for Kal’s funeral, each scene that unfolds is uniformly sensitive and dignified in its subtlety with the exception of Ken's tactless comment about looking forward to witnessing a muslim funeral, and Roy presenting a cheque to the family on behalf of Carla. Let's be honest, knowing all three characters as we do, neither of these incidents would have happened.

There is a poignancy to Sharif worrying about Zeedan while he himself is grieving, and it was a lovely touch to have Ken empathise with him about losing a child and express his gratitude that Kal saved Amy. The silent tears at the muslim funeral are very moving, as are the scenes between Zeedan and Alya, and Yasmeen and Sharif who talk about their heroic son in the garden. She declares herself sorry for setting the bar too high “I should’ve let him be more ordinary,” she laments, “he’d still be with us now”. But Sharif says they did that together, and it’s what made him the leader and hero he was.

Zeedan wishing for one more minute with his father to tell him he looked up to him, and Alya replying that some things don’t need to be said was a beautiful scene. Qasim Akhtar has really come into his own, and I find myself enjoying any scene he is in at the moment. Alya pledges to stay working with Carla with a view to using her and setting up on her own and this has me pondering her possible involvement in Carla's exit story later this year.

Both Todd and the Nazirs tend to evoke differing opinions among fans, but as far as I'm concerned, these episodes were all the better for having both families centre stage.

By Emma Hynes
Twitter: @ELHynes

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OvenMaster said...

I cheered when Jason punched Todd in the mouth, and savored it again and again. I don't know about anyone else, but I really hope Todd is gone for good.

Anonymous said...

He is seeking revenge on his family for standing him up, but they were not the ones who beat him up. His blame for his facial scar shoulders with the bashers, not the Grimshaw. For someone who is described as smart, it seems a pretty obvious breach of logic. If he really was bent on revenge for the scarring, he should direct his plotting skills against the perpetuators of the crime. Weak, cowardly sort misdirect it upon family because they are easier targets. Hence I find nothing fascinating about Todd, except the actor's good looks.

Anonymous said...

Todd's whining self pity was nauseating. I'm also hoping he is gone for good.

abbyk said...

The bit about Kens excitement on seeing a Muslim funeral and Roy as Carla's proxy were indeed jarring. Perhaps the writers wanted to portray European awkwardness with Muslim traditions, but I think they did a much better job on Wednesday when Yasmeen and Alya helped Leanne find a head scarf. Ken redeemed himself when he showed the Nazirs friends the picture of Amy and how indebted he was. I could have seen my dad doing the same.

I was never bothered that Eileen kept a correspondence with Jeff as I don't believe that dinner and a few drinks mandate exclusivity. Adrian is pleasant and she seems to be enjoying his company but they are just not in that deep. I can't stand Todd and his teeny weeny correctable scar, but this was a tidy little tale, with good acting all around and satisifaction thanks to good son Jason's not so tiny fist. May Todd's permanent exit be Corries best kept secret.

Anonymous said...

Although it was a bit jarring,in Roy's and Carla's defense,they both experienced loss of loved ones,[Hayley,Paul and Liam]and were trying to reach out to the Nazirs.As for Ken's 'excitement' over seeing a muslim funeral[why would he be there anyway?I thought the scenes of Eileen and Paul crashing Sunita's wake and the two 'celebrating' after his wife's Leslie's funeral and practically dancing on her grave were much more callus.

Anonymous said...

I loved Jason landing one on Todd. Lets hope we finally get to the bottom of what happened in 'that London' to change his personality so much! One thing that really bugged me this week was Jack popping off to Aunty Pams! When exactly did Pam and Bill split? Last I knew she was in Germany with him and now shes five miles away from Kevin?? - Micky

Anonymous said...

I think Ken was at the funeral because Kal died saving his granddaughter's life. Why weren't Liz or Tracey there? (Okay, I can understand that no one would want Tracey there.)

I think the cheque on the day of the funeral would have been jarring in cultures other than Muslim. That's why it is usual to make donations to a designated charity in the person's name, rather than handing money to the family.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, as always, Emma for a wonderful review. I agree very much with what you say about Todd and appreciate the nuances of your analysis. They've made him into a Shakespearean character - an outside observer, as you say - who mostly deals in asides. He is Aaron from Titus Andronicus, Edmund, and Iago. Didn't Coleridge call Iago something like "motiveless malignancy"? These are characters who resent the centre-hunters of the world, despise their conventional drives, and, while living at the fringe, believe they are superior and, therefore, entitled to revenge. I agree with you that his outsider status makes him interesting and watchable, at the same time, in this current era, viewers are not very patient with "motiveless malignancy" and want psychological explanations for what propels his actions. I think Coronation Street has always incorporated a meta-voice one way or another, that is, a voice that reflects on the petty moral compass of the residents, critiquing their pieties, blind-spots, and aggrandising self-narratives. Again, in my opinion, this is what has made it such an interesting and watchable show over time. Unfortunately, at the same time, it would be nice if the observer role was spread out over a larger cross-section of characters, not just down to the villain. It might be interesting to ponder who performed that role in the olden days. As I recall it, there was a checks and balance system, so Dierdre's down-to-earth human appetites served as a foil to Ken's sterile self-centredness, Elsie Tanner's put-it-out-there attitude served as a foil to Hilda Ogden's faux-moralistic gossip-mongering, and Bet Lynch's playful sexuality was part of a cat-and-mouse game to make the endlessly prudish Alf Roberts blush.

Emma Hynes said...

Thank you in turn for your comment; a most enjoyable read. I love the concept of motiveless malignancy and your description of such characters. I think the meta-voice is so important. David, and to a lesser extent Nick, possess it intermittently but Todd is still its finest example. You might enjoy a piece I wrote a few months back in which I delve further into his character and role in this regard: The Strange Case of Todd Grimshaw

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the reference, Emma. I look forward to reading your piece!


(Sorry, I forgot to sign the previous comment...)

John McE said...

The mention of Auntie Pam was odd - but was it meant to be "Bill's Auntie Pam", or a completely different character. ISTR he said something that inferred it was a different person entirely. In all probability the writer didn't even know about the "real" Auntie Pam.

Anonymous said...

Someone should pick up on these things John, it's sloppy isn't it. She is in Germany!- Micky

Emma Hynes said...

That was mentioned in my house too Micky & John. I looked up Coronation Street Wiki who appear to have had to fill in the gaps on Pam and Bill and presume they've split.

Anonymous said...

Ken, who isn't even related to, or even a friend of the Nazir's can take part in the funeral, but Kal's own mum and sister have to watch from behind some sort of screen? How heartwarming.
Plus, Ken wasn't even a part of Susan and Peter's upbringing so him saying that he understood what they (the Nazir's) were going through was a load of tosh.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Emma. It just annoys me how these slip ups happen nowadays.Last we heard they were engaged then Bill had his heart attack. I wonder if this means they are planning on having Pam selling her butties and pies in the rovers again anytime soon!Great write up by the way! - Micky

Emma Hynes said...

Thanks Micky! Yes, definitely a discrepancy there.

Emma Hynes said...

Hope you enjoy it ELK.

Anonymous said...

Emma, thanks again for the link. I thought your piece on Todd Grimshaw and doubles was brilliant. The references to Oscar Wilde were spot on and Shakespearean fools (my academic specialty) put me in mind of Hamlet as the high IQ, madcap grieving son - but, the question you also raised, grieving what? They've incarnated this potentially great character, with wonderful potential to steer audience perspective, but to what end?

I loved how you put this: "I like to think of Todd as railing against the utter disappointment of his failure to achieve his potential in life, and that his machinations are the result of sheer boredom, bitterness and frustration. He uses his intelligence for bad rather than good, and gains satisfaction from making others miserable. He is therefore a complex character..."

Complex indeed and, therefore, worthy of development.

On a different note, I also loved your allusions to Wilde because, when I'm thinking about Coronation Street, I get excited about its break-through history as a show that, without anyone noticing, brought a gay perspective to bear on numerous social issues, from morality to gender to power dynamics. There's an oblique quality to what the show does best. I fully believe that its famous humour is steeped in camp and a sly critique of conventional group-think.

If this is an angle you think worth pursuing, reformulating, even refuting, maybe we could co-write an article! I know I'd be really interested:) Glenda has my email.


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