There’s another visit to Rob on the cards for Tracy, but in the meantime, Johnny attends for his. It transpires that Rob has seen a photo of him in the paper connecting him with Underworld, and this, combined with a memory of his drunken mother telling him about a one night stand she had with Johnny in his Vauxhall Cavalier, is enough for Rob to presume Carla is his daughter. Johnny’s reaction is all that remains to convince him that it’s true. Johnny’s weak deflections are not enough to dissuade Rob, and £10,000 is the price to keep him quiet. While Johnny seemed ruffled, his departure was somewhat triumphant, revealing that Tracy is shacked up with someone else, and announcing that he’s off for a pint.
To me, this feels like a storyline that’s been wedged in, with explanations peppered about to justify it. Why haven't we seen so much as a glimmer of this possibility in any scenes between Johnny and Carla? Why did Rob never tell Carla about his mother's confession? Apparently because he never believed her. Why would Rob, who was so traumatised at the prospect of going to jail again and whose sole motivation for keeping his murder of Tina a secret was keeping out of prison, risk adding time to his sentence by engaging in further illegal activity? Who knows. What we do know, is that his deviousness arises from boredom. The insertion of a Bill Clinton-esque line from Rob, “Did or did you not have sexual relations with that woman?” seemed rather odd as he was referring to his own mother, and didn’t appear to be making a joke. I did enjoy what were strong scenes between Johnny and Rob, however, and it’s great to see the return of Marc Baylis.
Johnny later attends Nick and Carla's engagement party at the Bistro. After telling a concerned Carla that Rob merely wanted to know how things were going at Underworld, he looks wistfully on as she asks Roy to give her away. I found this to be a rather awkward scene. Roy saying it would be an honour was lovely, but Carla made some rather strange expressions in response. Considering their friendship, and Carla’s ever confident demeanour, I didn’t think her response to a question she had posed would cause her to feel so uncomfortable.
Elsewhere at the party we had ill-wishing Gail swilling the sauvignon, Sally discussing Tim’s toenails, and a frankly bizarre set of scenes involving Aidan’s missing silk seal-pup-like socks in which emergency phone calls to Spain, thievery and flirtatious sock related one-liners all played a part. In fact, I can’t decide which was the stranger; the socks, or Johnny buying a green shirt on the basis that he heard Liz liked Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood. In any event, she likes the shirt, and almost hears a confession from tipsy Johnny, but Carla interrupts and her parentage remains a secret for another day.
Ever the good friend, Roy is disappointed that Ken doesn’t make it to the ball. After Audrey deliberately gives Nessa the updo from hell, and Amy has a good laugh at her expense, Ken's lady friend swaps her party frock for Tracy’s dressing gown and a takeaway. He can’t say or do anything right, and judging by the disgruntled looks on his face throughout, he appears to be wondering if all this is worth the hassle. He still agrees to her staying a second night, which leaves me wondering, who’s looking after Alex?
Sadie Shimmin is doing a great job at portraying this playful, nosy, coy, yet strangely insecure character. Nessa has a presence about her, and I can see a role for her on the street, but not with Ken. At least the Renshaw twins thought her hair was "chic", and I would pay good money to see David Platt cutting their hair simultaneously.
Sarah Platt seems to be under an unwarranted amount of surveillance with Kylie now getting in on the act by reading her phone and searching her bag. I’m not sure what Kylie ran out of the pub for on finding an address for an abortion clinic in Sarah’s purse, as she didn’t urgently impart the news to anyone, and the next we saw of her she was calmly doing her make-up at the kitchen table. In any event, she squeezes an admission from Sarah and sympathises with her at the news that she has booked in for an abortion.
It’s a bit of a contradiction to find Rita joining in with Norris and mocking Mary and her “crackpot convention” while at the same time showing concern when she realises Brendan is married. While she is coming across as interfering, she seems to have Mary's best interests at heart, and one of my favourite scenes of the two episodes was when she revealed the news to Mary only to learn she is already fully aware.
Mary proceeds with their day out together, and as they talk of their mutual enjoyment of the convention, the pair kiss. There was a point some time back when Mary’s character took an unwelcome turn, but in these scenes, and over the past few weeks, she has been one of the highlights of every episode. From confessing that her favourite part of the convention was the moment when Brendan put his hand on her knee, to bashfully telling him “I’ll be thinking of you”, she was a joy throughout. I never would have had Mary down as a mistress and can see her character being vehemently against infidelity, but I feel the manner in which this has played out justifies a change of heart on this score. She is focussed on what she wants it to be rather than what it is. As Mary continues to reside in the afterglow of her magical day, Rita persists with home truths telling her Brendan doesn’t love her, and won’t leave his wife. “I can’t stand back and say nothing” she tells Mary who replies, “You can and you should" and accuses her of being sanctimonious and bitter.
While I'm no fan of infidelity, you can't but feel sorry for her, as I do fear things will turn out as Rita predicts. Here's hoping the outcome is that it won't be long before Mary meets someone who deserves her, as being loved and in love certainly becomes her.
By Emma Hynes
Deirdre: A Life on Coronation Street - official ITV tribute to a soap icon. Available here.
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