The separation of his parents, and Martin starting a new family, hit him hard. As did Gail’s less successful attempt at moving on, when husband Richard Hillman nearly killed them all via a watery spin into the canal. The intervening years have been more flooded than Hillman’s Honda (may not have been a Honda) with scheming, violence, plotting and deception, often courtesy of David’s penchant for a lively hate campaign.
When Kylie arrived in 2011, however, David started to show potential for normality, and it never looked more like he might have left his evil ways behind him. He wanted to settle down and start a family, and his love for Max indicated that he was maturing.
That was, however, until he learned Kylie had slept with Nick, and couldn’t be sure his wife's much longed for baby-to-be was his or his brother's. While many might wonder how they’d react or cope in such a situation, we could be pretty sure that David’s response was going to be spectacular.
His revenge included keying Nick’s car, and making the authorities believe there were drugs and watered down spirits at the Bistro. In an attempt to sabotage his brother’s relationship with Leanne, he ordered mystery flowers and planted both objects and ideas that lead Nick to believe she was having an affair with Peter Barlow. Finally, he undid Nick’s seat belt before causing a crash which put his brother in a coma and left him with lasting (ahem) brain damage. Despite his happiness at the baby being confirmed as his, he was disowned at Lily’s christening when his role in Nick’s illness was revealed.
Then Kylie killed Callum.
Through what was a compelling and impressive live performance from Jack P. Shepherd we witnessed an earnest and decisive David deal with the situation without any hesitation, consistently urging Kylie in the aftermath that it was “for the kids”.
The persistence of his family motives, and the fact that, well, Callum wasn’t a very nice chap who terrorised them for months on end, might have you believe that the new David is still in our midst.
To my mind, David’s reaction to Callum’s death and his burial under the floor, is more terrifying than anything he has been capable of thus far. I think this is because instead of being explosive or overly dramatic, it's cold, calm, subtle, unwavering, and consequently downright chilling. The coolness, continual gags and asides and utter indifference to the idea that his mother will be living in a room with a decomposing body beneath, makes you feel our very own Weatherfield Psycho is genuinely capable of anything. Indeed, the only things that appear to have upset him are that he can’t adopt Max or ever move house.
Hatred of Callum wouldn’t be enough to invoke this response in any balanced individual, and so we can only conclude that Psychoplatt’s Mr. Hyde is alive and well and merely residing in his own manhole until the situation requires that he be unleashed.
I’m perversely enjoying the fact that this is the case. Aside from facilitating his brilliant dead pan humour, it means he continues to be a complex character whose core callousness remains unchanged and who has the potential to do just about anything, making for bloody great viewing. Literally.
By Emma Hynes
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