EastEnders celebrated 30 years of the misery and melodrama it does so well with an exhausting extravaganza of sequins and sociopathy in a week of live shows. It could rightly be termed a “kitchen sink drama”, in that they threw everything but the kitchen sink at it. Albert Square stalwart Dot was carted off by the feds, and presumably into retirement, after turning herself in for the murder of her irredeemably bad son, Nick Cotton (a modern day Sweeney Todd with a penchant for smack and Superkings). She didn’t actually kill him, rather she let him die of an overdose of the heroin she had scored for him while he was holed up in the burnt out shell of Kat and Alfie’s old home for reasons too convoluted to even try to explain. Suffice to say, Nick’s nefarious deeds in this, his umpteenth reign of darkness, included faking his own death, trying to kill his son’s fiancée, seducing Mrs Doyle off of Father Ted and deeming a Swiss roll a suitable place to stub out a fag butt (the swine). And that was just in the last few months.
There was the by now de rigueur unexpected birth in an inconvenient place as Kim went into labour two months early in the Vic’s loos, having been induced by a poisonous screeching match with Denise. In a circle-of-soap-life moment, Sonia did the delivering. That is, after she had recovered from the indignity of having had her face shoved in the wedding cake (oh yeah, there was a wedding going on) by an outrageously drunk Kat, who lurched round the square variously puking, seducing and bawling, mostly all at once. Double Cockney Danny Dyer marauded about like a murderous gorilla in an elegant coat after seeing Dean had returned. Dean had a psycho beard and a mind to blow the Vic up from the cellar but was stopped by Mick’s boot. On his throat. Nancy tried to approach the police dealing with Dot to say “there’s a body” – er yeah, you’re going to have to be more specific there Nancy – but to no avail, they’d taken down Albert Square’s big don and that was enough for them.
Old faces returned in Christian, Tanya (whose face after fumbling one of her first lines was the textbook definition of stricken panic) and raspy-voiced temptress Kathy. And finally, there was a flashback to Lucy’s final night where she stomped around in a suit arguing with everyone: an inexplicable altercation with Billy over fish, an incomprehensible argy bargy with Ben and Jay about Miami… Denise had a go, as did Abi Branning. Enders strayed into the realm of experimental post-modernism by pushing the limits of how many times one actor can turn round and say “oh, it’s you.” Lucy had had the world’s most poised descent into drugs hell – wearing a chignon with not a hair out of place and suspiciously competently applied eyeliner (more of Rainie please to show how it’s really done) but apparently had been enough of a pain to end up being bludgeoned to death. The culprit turned out to be… her 10 year old brother Bobby. I’d been suspicious of him ever since he did a creepy reading from Winnie the Pooh at the wedding. It seems the little guy had absorbed all the tumult the lovely Square had to offer: the slanging, the shouting, the many, many, many murder cover-ups, the cheating, the lying and the terrible, terrible furnishings and had become this century’s answer to Damien off of The Omen.
I was left with a few questions such as, what was Phil up to, scurrying about on the side-lines of this high-octane nonsense? Why is Linda’s surname Carter when she and Mick aren’t married? Will we get to see more of drunk Kat? What was Billy going to do with all that fish? And will there be so many murder cover-up intrigue plots that eventually Enders will just have to cover all of itself up and be half an hour of blankness?
It was brilliant, ludicrous, insane stuff. I was surprised, and perhaps a little disappointed, that the fireworks at the end of Friday’s episode didn’t take out the Vic. Thank you for entertaining me for all these years Enders but now I need a lie down.