There was something distinctly different about Friday’s double Coronation Street. While the action proceeded at pace, there was something wonderfully measured about how it unfolded, showing the value of allowing time for scenes and dialogue to resonate, and that this doesn’t have to mean dragging out the plot.
After the planning committee approve the development, Eileen, Phelan and Vinny celebrate. Phelan pops home on the premise that he’s going to ring the architect to kick things off, but instead, tells them their services aren't required. Suspicious Todd hides in the kitchen, and on revealing he’s heard everything, a brilliant confrontation ensues between the pair.
Before Todd can get to Eileen, Phelan calls Vinny who damages her phone before driving her straight to the proposed development where Phelan meets them.
There is a pantomime element to Vinny’s aside about the building being a death trap, which is a source of humour, but does have us wondering what Phelan intends to do with Eileen once they get in there, especially when he asks Vinny to stay around in case he needs a hand.
What follows is a fantastic rooftop scene which exposes Eileen’s greed and sees Phelan masterfully manipulate her into acknowledging that she doesn’t trust Todd. There was a point at which I genuinely thought he would push her from the roof and it got me thinking how spectacular an occurrence like that would be. In the complete absence of any spoilers, we would have been flabbergasted. If Eileen had met her demise, it would be the strongest proof that spoilers aren’t essential to making headlines, getting viewers to tune in or talk about the show. I was watching alone and the ad break cliffhanger in which Phelan asked her if she was ready for her real surprise as she sat precariously on the edge had me asking the cat if we were about to see something astonishing.
Eileen emerged unscathed, but I wasn’t disappointed, as if this segment is anything to go by, the future looks bright.
Eileen is taken elsewhere by Vinny as Phelan heads home to a frantic Todd. Eileen’s failure of a son (her description, not mine) demands to know where she is, but Phelan calmly persuades him not to worry before revealing the details of his plan. He claims to love Eileen and want a better life for her and appeals to Todd’s vanity, flattering his intelligence and pointing out that being a florist is a waste of his potential before telling him he could be part of it if he wanted to. It’s also interesting how he justifies his actions. According to Phelan, divesting people of a few thousand will not damage them, and even constitute a life lesson; it's as if he's doing them a favour. Whether Phelan actually believes this or not, he's attempting to assuage guilt in the hope that Todd will join him. Does he really want Todd on board, or is it a case of Phelan keeping his friends close, and his enemies closer? Either way, it’s brilliant.
There was another twist in the tail with the arrival of Weatherfield police. Phelan departs with them to discuss allegations of fraud and kidnap while Todd looks a tad uncomfortable. Despite suspecting Todd put in the call, hearing Phelan say ‘the offer still stands’ as he brushes past him is rather bracing, and has me intrigued as to what’s to come. Considering these form two of my top seven favourite Corrie characters, you can imagine how much I was enjoying this anyway, but tonight brought the plot to another level, and it’s great to watch.
Audrey and Freddie’s Bistro dinner is cut short by the arrival of his old friend Angelica. I actually thought it was his wife at first, and we were witnessing another shock retcon. Spying from the bar, she waits to strike while Audrey’s in the ladies. Frankly out of order, she accuses him of crying crocodile tears at Sadie’s wake and getting over his wife too quickly. Freddie then leaves a baffled Audrey high and dry. This was a deliberate action on the part of this woman, and a tad creepy if you ask me; of all the Bistros in all the land, etc.
I’ve already conveyed my thoughts on Beth’s bigamy, and tonight we saw the aftermath in which she unsuccessfully tries to justify her deceit, and a devastated Kirk moves to Maria’s. It’s disappointing to hear Beth lash out as if everyone else is wrong, particularly when the police arrive at the factory, and she asks Kirk how he could do that to her. Irony, anyone? I did enjoy the reaction of the factory staff, including Johnny’s discomfort at her tears. It was great to be surprised that Craig called the police. What an exceptional character he is. I hope the drinking to cope was a one off, as I wouldn’t like to see him go down that route.
Another marvellous scene came courtesy of Roy who struggled with whether or not to share a room with Cathy. There was no dialogue required as he looked at his wedding picture on the bedside locker, and sat silently on his side of the bed, patting what once was Hayley’s. Beautiful. While he agrees, it has to be on his terms, as he doesn’t want Cathy in the same bed or room he and Hayley shared. Upset, Cathy feels she’s rushed him into it, and Anna tells her Roy has to do things in his own time, despite her being the one who prodded him in the first place. Sigh.
An important decision is also being deliberated by Billy who thinks he’d be better off leaving the church. Considering his favourite part of the job is helping people, a conversation with Sarah makes him realise he can do this in another profession. It’s great to see Todd taking this so seriously and pointing out what a massive decision it is. To add to the rooftop and Roy scenes, we have another in which Todd tells Billy he loves him, and beaming Billy returns the sentiment.
Despite my reservations about the bigamy storyline, I really enjoyed this double episode. It certainly feels like change is in the air, and there is plenty to be excited about.
Coronation Street: The Official Colouring Book
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