Saturday, 16 July 2016

Coronation Street double episode review, Friday 15 July 2016

A review like this is not easy to write. Why? Because it attempts to capture the essence of something that has cut to our very core, that for which raw emotion is the only viable substitute for words. It’s hard to think of last night’s Coronation Street as a construct, so competently did its parts succeed in coming together to form that intangible something that has had audiences rapt for centuries. But, like such plays and dramas preceding it, the secrets always lie in its careful crafting. Nothing is accidental. Not the inclusion of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, not Maria’s splash of red jam, not the fish colouring book, not the open blue sky that becomes encroached by trees and cables as death lies in wait. In the hands of Chris Fewtrell, this was always going to be special.

Kylie’s new energy infused the first episode with a fresh optimism at the prospect of going somewhere where she had no past. “It feels like it’s been throwing it down my whole life” she told David, “I can finally chuck the umbrella and catch some rays.” To Gemma, she declares, “Life’s what you make it, if you don’t like it, you change it. That’s what I’m doing.” And after a beautiful scene with Gail in which she appeals to her love for David to make her understand why she needs to leave for Max and Lily’s sake, she announces to Audrey and Freddie“I get a shot at the person I always wanted to be.”

Of course, knowing as much as we did meant each of these lines were charged with a tragic inevitability. As she emerged from the Rovers on the phone to David, champagne in hand, and he exited the Bistro with Bethany, Max and Lily, cutting back and forward between them talking as they walked towards one another signalled the impending gulf between them. She appeared already unreachable by them, unable to be saved.

As I watched, I couldn’t help thinking about the claims that it would be something that had never been done before, and as Clayton attacked Gemma outside the kebab shop, and Kylie ran towards them, I was in denial that this could be what was to happen. Even as Clayton stabbed her, I couldn’t believe that that would be it, and spent the intervening half hour wondering at the possibilities. Maybe she stabbed Clayton with the bottle? No, he was clearly wielding the knife. Maybe there’d be a twist, like there was with Tina McIntyre? No, as it transpired. Kylie Platt would meet her end being stabbed outside a kebab shop. 

If we had been told this in 2010 when she first blazed on to the cobbles, we might have been less surprised. But I initially thought, considering how far she’s come, she deserved more than to meet her demise at the hands of someone who just entered the show and in such circumstances. But such is life, and therein lies the tragedy. What she had been waiting for was finally in her grasp, but would never come to pass.

The second episode was a masterpiece. As Kylie lay cradled in David’s arms on the cobbles, between the salon and the Rovers, Jack P. Shepherd and Paula Lane put in the performances of their lives. The love between the pair, the account she makes of her life in her dying moments, his desperation to stop it all from happening, was so beautiful and raw, you truly felt you were intimately witnessing a real death. 

Those looking on as they waited interminably for an ambulance were fittingly sparse and quiet. A sober Gail offers immense support, an incredulous Bethany weeps, Roy, with futile first aid kit, delivers with delicacy the sad realisation that “I don’t think there’s much we can do that you’re not already doing” and Sally offers one of the most powerful lines I’ve heard on the Street in some time, “it’s always just another day.”

Kylie’s final words are fittingly resonant. “It was great wasn’t it. We were great.” As she slips away, and broken hearted David lets out a perishing cry, I defy anyone not to be deeply moved. As he later told the children the news, I was similarly floored.

Now that I’ve seen it, I must say that I can see no necessity for us to have known in advance that she was going to die, and the potentially misinterpreted claim that what happened has never been done in soap before unfortunately has some people complaining instead of focussing on what was different, innovative and brilliant about its aftermath. It's quite clear now that if Corrie had intended for Kylie's actual killing to be ground breaking, Gail would never have mentioned Brian Tilsley. I would have also had Gemma find out the news in a more sensitive manner, and I would have reserved the Kate and Caz scenes for another day. But to address the criticisms of others, Craig's inaction, the proximity of the quite possibly closed medical centre and the length of time it took the ambulance to come are all simply viable circumstantial threads in the tapestry.

This powerful, unforgettable departure for Kylie, and by extension, Paula Lane, was a masterpiece in writing, performance and direction. It shows what Coronation Street remains capable of, and I hope with all my being that we see more of it. 

“We’re going to live our lives in colour” David tearfully assured her before evoking immense sympathy by revealing that he’d been looking on the internet at the kinds of fish you can see snorkelling in Barbados. Later held in bloodstained hands, all that remained of that dream was an aquatic themed colouring book.

I leave you with Beckett, whose words from Waiting for Godot provide the most apt of conclusions.  

Estragon: I remember the maps of the Holy Land. Coloured they were. Very pretty. The Dead Sea was pale blue. The very look of it made me thirsty. That's where we'll go, I used to say, that's where we'll go for our honeymoon. We'll swim. We'll be happy.

By Emma Hynes
Twitter: @ELHynes
Facebook: @EmmaHynesWrites

See also The Incomparable Kylie Platt in which I take a look back at this great Corrie character.

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Sophie Bird said...

A great review of two fantastic episodes.You pointed out things I didn't notice. I wonder why no one ran into the Medical Centre for help.

Tvor said...

I feel a slight annoyance at ITV for the somewhat misleading publicity but they were indeed beautiful and exquisitely difficult episodes to watch. Very moving. Corrie at it's very best. Thank you!

Antiphon said...

I do wonder if the only reason the producers decided to kill Kylie off was because she was going on maternity leave again so soon after the last time. I think I read that Jack P. Shepherd had said that it was originally intended that Callum's body would not be found for several years but it was decided to bring its discovery forward as Paula wanted more time off. Perhaps if things had worked out differently Kylie might have been kept on in the show for some time yet.

Anonymous said...

Craig being too shocked/frightened to do anything is realistic though.

What's probably going to happen:

- Craig and Gemma will be threatened into silence by Callum's friends
- David will still suspect it was one of them and go on the warpath
- The same police that hounded David almost daily over Callum will be completely useless
- Clayton will walk free and torment everyone around him for months before he dies

Emma Hynes said...

Thank you so much Sophie. My guess is that it would have been closed at 6 on a Friday evening.

Emma Hynes said...

I agree with you about Craig. As above, it's very viable. Knowing how sensitive he is, I think he'll suffer deeply for that. He already regrets it.

John McE said...

This was one of those times where you'd expect nearly everyone to put in an appearance, yet the Street was strangely deserted. No Norris, Rita, Kevin, Tyrone, Fizz or any of the factory workers, No Dev or Mary (thank goodness!), No Eileen, Sean, Todd, Billy, Tracie. No Steve or Liz. No Nazirs, and not even Nick. And for me that is what is wrong with the programme these days (and will surely get worse when the episode count goes up). Actors are worked so hard when they are at the centre of the action, that they are regularly given extended leave, and there is little general interaction between the various families, even though such tragedies somehow demand them.

Great acting from Paula Lane though - I will miss her.

Anonymous said...

Thoughtful review! Didn't notice the connection between Godot and Kylie's death. I disagree very strongly, though, that this is Corrie at its best. It's Corrie at its sensationalist worst--taking good actors and beloved characters and instead of crafting good stories for them, getting a lot of cheap thrills by killing one of them off in a shocking, graphic, and unexpected way. What's next? Emily taken hostage and beheaded on camera by South American guerillas while Norris watches on his laptop in the corner shop?

Sure, the death was unsettling and moving and it did seem like a "real" death-they did it in a painstaking, detailed, and realistic way, right down to the close up of Kylie's face when she slips away and David's agony as he watches--knowing she's leaving to a place he can't follow. The only thing that wasn't accurate was that Kylie wasn't in a pool of blood.
But depicting a graphically realistic death of a beloved character when it is not prepared for in any way, is barely integrated in the storylines (Clayton has been around for, what, all of two weeks?) and is totally unrealistic in the larger scheme of things (how many young women die from random stabbings in the UK every year?)--is not great drama--it's cheap sensationalism.

You have a strong character like Kylie who has built up a lot of emotional capital over the years through good story lines and good acting from P.L.; the actress decides to leave the show; and so the writers/producers say let's cash in all that capital by watching her die in close-up. Exploitative and disgusting. And the writers trying to make the death deeper and more meaningful than it is by linking it to Beckett's Waiting for Godot--what a joke.

@NickJay6 (Manchester) said...

Great review and I agree re the bad, misleading publicity. I thought maybe she'd slip and fall onto the broken glass or get pushed down onto it but no a stabbing? I mean come on Corrie, what are you playing with? Eastenders did it years ago after Nick Cotton knifed that landlord chat, whose name escapes me now.

Shame about Kylie who could have been there longer but that's what happens when actresses take the p!ss having too much time off to have more and more sprogs. :(

Oh well will be interesting to see what happens now. Probably all the residents were inside watching on the telly, which is why nobody was about? lol

Humpty Dumpty said...

A lovely review, Emma, very eloquent.

My concern now is that we have a long period of police investigations, witness intimidation etc etc. As I mentioned before, someone, seeing their loved one dying on the cobbles, would say: 'What happened? Who did this to you?' It seems strange that David didn't ask.

Antiphon said...

After considering the matter carefully, I think I would have to say that I do not think that this is necessarily the best exit that Kylie could have had.

This is no reflection on the quality of the acting, as both Paula Lane and Jack P. Shepherd gave very moving and harrowing performances, but I still think Kylie's exit had a lot to do with the producers being annoyed at Paula Lane going on maternity leave again so soon after the last time.

I wish that some way could have been found of letting her return later. For example, Kylie and David could have decided to go away somewhere else, possibly Barbados, for only a few months until all the fuss over Callum's death had died down and then returned. However, this would have meant Jack P. Shepherd also leaving the show for several months, which he presumably did not want to do. Alternatively, Kylie might have confessed to killing Callum but been convicted of manslaughter rather than murder, therefore spending several months in jail and ultimately returning to Coronation Street after being released on full remission. However, this would probably have meant David visiting her on a regular basis while in jail for it to be realistic and reporting to other street residents on how she was coping. Perhaps the writers could have made this scenario work, which would also have shown David coping a a single parent for a time, although he would have been assisted by Gail and Audrey. Presumably the writers had no interest in going down this road, or were not permitted to do so by those in charge. I suppose it would not have been credible for Kylie to simply do a runner again for a second time and once again reappear later.

As has been mentioned, I was also surprised that there were relatively few people in the street when the tragedy occurred. I would certainly have expected Dev, Mary, Kevin, Tyrone, Norris, Rita and Eileen amongst others to have come out to see what all the commotion was about, although I suppose Underworld might already have closed for the day if the tragedy occurred in the early evening. I suppose the relatively small number of witnesses was due to the difficulty of getting all the desirable actors together at the same time to shoot the scene due to issues with working hours, contracts etc.

I also wonder if these episodes were suitable for showing before 9pm due to the graphic depiction of the stabbing.

No, I would have preferred that the door could have been left open in some way for Kylie's eventual return. I wish Paula Lane every best wish for the future but it was not necessary for her exit to have been so gory and final.

Anonymous said...

Humpty Dumpty,In David's defense,I think he was too shocked to ask but I hope Craig does come forward though.
With regardfs to all the hype that Kylie's death hasn't been done before,a stabbing has been done as Nick's and Sarah's father Brian Tilsley was also stabbed outisde a nightclub.
I wonder if Gail will remember this?

Anonymous said...

Craig was inactive before...remember he saw what went on regarding Sunita's death........

Anonymous said...

There was nothing original about Kylie being stabbed and there was a lack of any other storyline to bolster the plot. I think there was just a great deal of hype over nothing.

OvenMaster said...

I don't understand the concern about Craig not being able to identify Clayton when Gemma can do it in a snap.

Well done episode, but - again - another good actress is gone.

Anonymous said...

Superb review, Emma. You have made my few criticisms of these episodes seem trivial. The Godot reference was genius. Kylie's death was shocking in its randomness. Stabbed by a wee thug outside a takeaway. No guns, crashes, no 'explosive exit'.
Talking of Waiting for Godot, I would love to see Ken meet a woman who is his intellectual equal. He and Audrey are not suited at all.

coconno196 said...

Martha the actress (Stephanie Beacham) was a better cultural match for Ken, but he was married to Deirdre at the time 😈. But why the rush to pair him off, he's already had far more women than most 80-odd year-olds. Ditto Freddie. Most folk would just be grateful to have so many friends and family on the same street.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you are absolutely right. Most 80 year olds are happy with telly and family! If the writers are desperate to pair Audrey off, the. Freddie is more her type.

coconno196 said...

Yes, I agree Audrey and Freddie are better suited but I'd rather they were just friends (without benefits 😉). Plus I'd hope Freddie would show more respect for his supposedly beloved and only recently deceased wife.

Anonymous said...

I did shout out at the TV when I heard Chesney (increasingly annoying pillock) , immediately tell Gemma of Kylie's fate - I don't believe anyone would do that to someone just being brought around from being knocked out! But ye is an idiot, so yeah maybe the writers got it right!

MartesBC said...

Very good episode for all positive notes mentioned above... Gut wrenching tear jercker...but honestly, I just didn't have the stomach for this on the heels of terrible world events. I do prefer a dialed back Corrie, some positive, humorous escapism. But there is nothing but bad,bad things to come of this, so I feel even more raw and conflicted.

MartesBC said...

Love the character Ms. Beacham plays in Boomers...she does remind me of Audrey in a in a way. I lovef Martha's narrow boat.

Christine K said...

I wonder if Paula really thought by having a second child she would be written out of the show for good? It would be terrible if that were true, as if it was a punishment by the producers.

Rapunzel said...

Not just terrible, but illegal in most jobs!

Anonymous said...

Christine K it was Paula Lane's choice not to return.

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