I’m having trouble picturing Carla in a cottage, especially wearing the amount of leather on show tonight. Nevertheless, in need of a quick sale, the estate agent is set to go with a cash buyer, and Carla’s disappointment prompts Nick to secretly speed up the sale of the Bistro to Robert and buy her dream home.
Meanwhile, Tracy arrives at Carla’s, hot on the heels of an effervescent estate agent whose pep is doused at the mention of viewing the “slapper’s boudoir”. Tracy insists Carla hurry the Bistro sale, and I’m thinking she could’ve just marched around as usual without wasting everyone’s time, but I’m all for extras with speaking parts, and there were plenty in tonight’s double. As Carla refuses, corks are popping at the Bistro. Steph’s face when Robert jokes that he’s going to turn the place into a themed restaurant is nothing compared to Carla’s when she and Tracy learn the news.
Tracy naturally gets busy rearranging the place and showing no class. Robert won't tolerate it however, and asks why she can’t just support him rather than lording it over everybody. Calling her nasty, juvenile and boring, he makes the fatal mistake of comparing her to how Carla might behave in the same position, and she storms out.
Tracy later tells Carla not to underestimate the pleasure it would bring her to tell Nick, and goes so far as to ring him on speaker to show “how easy it would be to smash your smug little life to smithereens” before Carla does just that to her phone.
As this whirligig spins on, the only person deserving of anyone’s pity is Nick who is victim of a genuinely gross deception.
As if having Tracy Barlow connected with your workplace isn’t bad enough, Andy and Steph are struggling with Michael’s current situation; his faux-son doesn’t want him to leave, and she can’t wait to have their flat back. Michael sadly overhears her, and with the speed of a melting screwball, has an ice-cream van purchased, and is off to Brighton for the summer season.
While Michael cuts a sorry dash, we have humour throughout which is fitting, as he consistently embodies both. Another exuberant extra selling him a van announces that “Ice cream is the opium of the masses” before declaring that “creating a good whippy is all in the wrist action, and Michael is one of the best”. Disarmed in the face of ice-cream innuendo, Andy recovers to assure his faux-Dad that Gail was good for him before being treated to a solemn speech from Michael about her dainty, delicate feet-of-a-foal and batch bake.
Her feet may be dainty, but the way she treats Michael is anything but. Mary’s dalliance with the inexplicable is pitted against Gail's six husbands and she assures her that quality is better than quantity. This apparent authority sees Gail heed her advice to cool it with Michael and the poor man, approaching her in the Rovers about a reconciliation, is dismissed with a rather gauche “laters”.
As Michael departs, he has some lovely words for Andy whom he tells that if he could’ve chosen a son, he would’ve been like him before saying “bye son”. I like their relationship, but could never quite buy into how it came about. His “son” is the bearer of bad news for Gail who realises she’s blown it. Leanne scoffing at her taking relationship advice from Mary raised a titter, as did nemesis Eileen’s deadpan reaction to Gail skipping out to the tune of an ice-cream van.
As she runs to the hatch like a child with her pocket money, Gail encounters, not Michael, but third speaking extra of the night, Ernie whose perky demeanour is no consolation. Tim and Eileen looking on while making Mr. Whippy quips and remarking “Look at her little face” as she’s comforted by her mother in a manner more reflective of her not having enough money for a 99, had me laughing out loud.
While I have no sympathy for Gail, the scene back at the house with Audrey is lovely, and I’m sorry to see Michael go, even if it's just for now.
As Gail pines, David and Kylie bring Max to meet half-brother Harry. David reassures Sarah that he has warned Marion to stay away, but she looks uncomfortable after they leave, and Kylie worries about what will happen when real life kicks in again. Max lends a nice normality to proceedings.
Dev is off to a wedding and while Mary is thrilled at the opportunity to liberate her “jaunty hat” from the mothballs, persuades him to take Erica instead; a positive development for her character. After a stint in the upper echelons of chez Dev, he extends the invitation. Of their no strings arrangement, Erica notes “The benefits are good and the more we go on claiming the better” but reveals she wants more and he agrees. I wasn’t sure about this pair at first, but I enjoyed their banter tonight, and there was some definite chemistry there.
“Not one single drop found its way on to my bush” declares Sally of Tyrone’s paint job, and one thing does indeed lead to another as she offers him more odd jobs. She’s not the only one as Tim takes him on at Street Cars and gives him a booking. It’s quite something to part-own a cab company and not know your drivers need a special license to qualify, and Eileen puts a prompt stop to the caper on these grounds. Tim encourages disappointed Tyrone to pay the £300 needed as he'll have the money back in no time. Fiz feels he's overstretching himself, and I'm also wondering with the expanded garage how he'll fit it all in.
Cathy pining for Roy in her pinny, the innuendo and comic turns were tonight's highlights for me; the celebration of normality and humour is ever welcome.
By Emma Hynes
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