It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a woman in possession of an annex within which a body has been found must be in want of an excuse to forget all about it, and Gail Platt is determined to do just that on the basis that it’s Bethany’s 16th birthday and they’re having a party. Many have had cause to wonder what has happened to Gail of late, and I never questioned this more as she sang Abba's Waterloo into Bethany’s face while Sarah sat looking every bit like a person in the midst of a murder enquiry should.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy funny Gail when the moment merits it, but I had hoped this gruesome discovery would have heralded the return of old Gail. However, it seems she is to remain farcical, even in the worst circumstances, leading me to believe that her response to being a member of the Platt family, and all that comes with it, is to simply pretend she isn't.
While I appreciate it was Bethany's birthday, I couldn’t quite believe they were having a party, and carrying on as normal, considering their current situation, seemed easier than it should be.
Thank goodness for Sarah, Billy, Jason and Todd whose responses are at least fittingly serious, and David Platt, whose reaction to everything is perfectly typical. Tina O’Brien continues to play a star turn as Sarah becomes paranoid about Bethany’s safety, worrying about who she’s getting presents from, and embarrassing her daughter by texting and running to meet her in front of her friends.
In a marvellous scene between Sarah and Todd which bridged the end of the first and the start of the second episode, she tells him she saw Callum’s dead body, and claims to be responsible for his death. Todd’s shock is real and palpable as he takes this to mean she killed Callum. A suspicious David arrives on the scene and escorts Sarah away as Todd looks on, a shot which I found to be fittingly sinister. I was slightly disappointed that Sarah and Todd used Billy’s anniversary as an excuse for their visible upset, but I suppose they had to come up with something.
This now leaves Todd in an impossible, and therefore compelling, position. After earlier vowing to distressed Jason that he’ll figure out a way to get him off the hook, does he now go to the police and tell them about Sarah’s ‘confession’? It seems he doesn’t feel he can. So what does he do? In another great scene, he confides in Billy who is suitably flabbergasted, and now wonders if Sarah had been trying to confess to him before. Todd begs him for advice and all Billy can say is that he should do the right thing. Meanwhile, Jason rather unhelpfully has to be publicly held off Gemma in the Rovers after she calls him a murderer, and he shouts that he’s glad Callum is dead.
Norris is ripped off when tile man Alistair drives off with his slates, and Mary’s Camilla mug. Of course Phelan is on stand by to offer his assistance at a knock down price, having set the whole scam up, and Mary insists Norris accept his kind offer.
I just love the nature of Phelan’s villainy; always smiling, always entering stage left at the right moment to save the day. I normally like to know what has made someone so evil, but Phelan’s behaviour is such that I can accept that he’s just a bad ‘un, plain and simple. Afraid of nothing, capable of anything, and therefore, deliciously terrifying with a satisfying dash of humour for good measure.
Over at the Rovers, Tracy’s efforts to take Amy home fall flat as her daughter decides she’s staying put. It’s quite something to think that anyone would be so eager to return a child to the care of Tracy Barlow, but Michelle and Steve both feel, for some reason, that she’d be better off at home with her Mam. Enter surprise visitor Will, and Amy’s new source of blackmail. Suspecting Will is more than an old friend, she tells Michelle that she’ll be staying or else Steve will be finding out about the mystery visitor.
There was still clear chemistry between Will and Michelle in those few moments, and again, I think I’d rather see her with him than Steve, as I don’t really believe in them as a couple any more, and I'd rather see fireworks.
Another couple that I don’t believe in and really should split are Chesney and Sinead. After her attempted kiss with Aidan was rather mean spiritedly revealed by Eva, Chesney is angry and doesn’t believe her when she says she doesn’t want anyone else, and that she was merely drunk and upset. After a chat with Gemma which made me wonder if they’d be better off together, Chesney has a change of heart, brings some flowers home and they make up. Why? There is no chemistry between them and they don’t appear to bring out the best in one another. Chesney needs a good uplifting storyline, and Sinead needs someone who isn't jealous of the fact that she's an underwear model.
Troubled couple number three are Zeedan and Rana. With Yasmeen and Sharif off to Newcastle, he invites her over, telling her they’ve the house to themselves. It’s not long before she tries to lead him upstairs and he’s having none of it on the basis of his belief that they shouldn’t have sex before marriage. She’s none too pleased and walks out accusing him of picking his beliefs over her. It’ll be interesting to see if he holds fast, or gives in to her.
Out of these two episodes, my favourite aspects were Todd excelling with a storyline he deserves, Phelan's conniving, Billy's shock, every scene with Sarah in it, and Gemma. From heading straight to the pub in her 'walk of shame' clothes after being ditched by her one night stand in a sports car to lamenting the ladybird not being number one on the most loved insects list, and consoling Chesney, she continues to light up every episode she's in.
By Emma Hynes
The Little Book of Carla Connor
A Decade in the Life of a Soap Queen
An unofficial Coronation Street companion book
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